air pollution Current Affairs - 2020

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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.

Highlights

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.

Mine Closure

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.

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GoI to allot six Coal Mines to reduce coal imports

On December 13, 2019, Ministry of Coal initiated the auction process of 27 coal mines. Out of the 27 coal mines, applications were received for 6 mines. It includes mines at Bikram, Brahmapuri, Bhaskarpara, Jagannathpur and Jamkhani.

Highlights

The mines will add 5 metric tonnes of coal per annum. Also, it will generate Rs 15,000 crores of revenue for the state governments. The purpose of these auctions is to reduce the dependence of the coal industry on imported coal. India is currently importing 233.56 million tonnes of coal (2018-19). Coal imports increased by 8.8% as compared to 2017-18.

Government Measures

Government of India is currently planning to decrease dependence of coal and its imports. In order to achieve this, Coal India aims to raise its annual output to 880 million tons by 2024. This will help in reducing imports and eventually stop the country’s energy dependence on coal. This will also aid in India’s plan to expand the economy to 5 trillion USD by 2024.

The Government of India is also using Clean Coal Technology to reduce air pollution caused due to usage of coal.

Clean Coal Technology

Some of the Clean Coal Technology methods that are currently used in the country includes pre-combustion capture, oxy-fuel combustion and post-combustion capture. Pre-combustion capture includes production of heat through gasification of feedstock. In this process, a mix of hydrogen and Carbon dioxide rich gas is produced and the mixture can be separated easily. In Oxy-fuel combustion, fossil fuel such as coal is burnt in recirculated flue gas and oxygen rather than air. This eliminates nitrogen largely.

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