In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development. Discuss.

India has been practicing coal mining activities since 1774. And now India is one of the leading countries for coal mining operations. Coal fulfills about 67% of the total commercial energy consumed in India. The states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh have a huge amount of coal reserves.

Coal mining has a direct link with environmental destruction. It is yet not replaceable as it is a major contributor to industrialization and due to the unavailability of any substitute.

Impacts:

  • It is responsible for the destruction of the rocks near the mining area and the wildlife habitats.
  • Deforestation is needed before starting the mining operation which results in the loosening of topsoil.
  • The process of coal mining may cause groundwater contamination.
  • Mining wastes like mercury, sulfur dioxide causes acid rain, and the formation of particulate matter plays a significant role in air pollution.
  • Possibilities of methane (Greenhouse gas) leak out in the environment.
  • Underground coal burning due to mining causes decay of resources.

Why immediate cessation is not possible:

  • It is one of the largest sources of electricity in the world. Coal-based plants generate 72% of India’s electricity.
  • It is available in more than ten states in India.
  • It is cheaper in cost.

Way out: It is impossible to tackle climate change without reducing the dependency on coal. BP Energy Outlook 2019 predicts the possibility of a decline in dependency over coal by 2014. Reducing the dependency on other fossil fuel and increasing renewable energy installation and its application would definitely work well to bypass environmental challenges.

Question for UPSC Mains:
In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development. Discuss. (150 words)

Published: October 30, 2017 | Modified:August 18, 2020

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