Ministry of Coal forms Sustainable Development Cell
On December 15, 2019, the Coal Ministry announced that it is to establish “Sustainable Development Cell” (SDC) to promote environment friendly and sustainable coal mining. The main objective of the cell is to address environmental concerns that arise during closure of mines. The cell will mentor, advise, plan and monitor mitigation measures to provide better environment to the people residing near the mines.
The cell will act as a nodal point to minimize the adverse impacts of mining. It will also formulate future policy framework focusing in environmental mitigation measures. The SDC will focus on sustainable mine tourism, mine water management, air quality and sustainable overburden management. The cell will also set up Mine Closure Fund.
Tasks of the cell
In India 2,550 square kilometres of land is under coal mines. The cell will help the mines locate land areas where afforestation can be done. It will advise the mines on air quality, noise management and emission. The cell will also suggest reuse and recycle of overburdened dumps in sustainable manner. It will help the mines to manage tourism and frame policies.
The guidelines for mine closure was issued by the Ministry of Coal in 2012 and the idea was mooted in 2009. According to the guidelines, the mining authority will have to work on two plans namely concurrent mine closure plan and final mine closure plan. Under concurrent mine closure plan, there are activities that are to be done continuously during the entire period of mining operations. Under the final mine closure plan, the activities will start towards the end of the mine life.
Mine Closure Guidelines
The guidelines make it mandatory for the authority to mention the reason of closure such as lack of demand, exhaustion of minerals, uneconomic operations, etc. The authority should also include water quality management, air quality management, top soil management, management of coal rejects from washery, disposal of mining machinery, existing infrastructural facilities.