Coal Ministry to set up ‘Sustainable Development Cell’ for mining to address environmental concerns

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NEW DELHI: The Coal Ministry on Sunday said it will establish ‘Sustainable Development Cell’ (SDC) for promoting sustainable coal mining in the country and address environmental concerns at closure of mines.
The SDC envisages to address environment mitigation measures in a systemic manner and provide a better environment to people working and residing in the vicinity of mines, the ministry said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Coal has decided to establish a ‘Sustainable Development Cell’ in order to promote environmentally sustainable coal mining in the country and address environmental concerns during the decommissioning or closure of mines,” it said.
The SDC will advise, mentor, plan and monitor mitigation measures taken by coal companies for maximising utilisation of available resources in a sustainable way, minimising adverse impact of mining and mitigating it for further ecosystem services, and will act as nodal point at Ministry of Coal level in this matter.
The cell will also formulate the future policy framework for environmental mitigation measures, including the Mine closure Fund.
The SDC will adopt a systemic approach, starting from collection of data, analysis of data, presentation of information, planning based on information by domain experts, adoption of best practices, consultations, innovative thinking, site-specific approaches, knowledge sharing and dissemination with an aim to ease the lives of people and communities in general, the statement said.The cell will also do land amelioration and afforestation.
In India approximately 2,550 sq km area is under different coal mines and there are plans to bring more areas under it. These land masses require both extensive and intensive amelioration measures.
The cell will collect all the baseline data/maps related to different coal mines like total mines/block areas, OB dumps areas, water filled voids, reclaimed areas, unutilized areas, plantations from various coal companies, it said.
All the data/maps will be collated and analysed on a GIS based platform and different thematic information and maps will be prepared.
These will be updated at regular intervals. All GIS based activities will be carried out with active participation of Central Mine Planning &
Design Institute Ltd.
The cell will also help coal companies identify areas where plantation projects could be taken up immediately, along with identification of various species of plants, suitable for specific regions to create large carbon sinks for climate change management, it said.
It will also identify the activities to be taken up for creation of additional land suitable for plantation, stabilization of slope, soil treatment, creation of levelled land, dewatering as per timeline under Mine Closure Plan.
It will check the possibility and plan for productive reuse of these land for rehabilitation, integrated modern township, agriculture, horticulture, FCA compensatory land, renewable energy farms etc.
About the air quality, emission and noise management, the cell will advice coal companies for effective implementation of environmental mitigation measures (water sprinkling, dust suppression methods, noise barriers etc.) related to air and noise pollution generated due mine activities, heavy earth moving machines, transport of coal.
It will analyse environment management plans (EMP) of different companies and advise coal companies to making it more effective.

On mine water management, the cell will collect data regarding present quantity, quality, surface runoff, drainage of mine water, future availability of water collected in UG (under ground) or OC (open cast) coal mines etc., and analyse it on a GIS based platform to prepare model Coal Mine Water Management Plans.
The plan will suggest ways and also have innovative planning for storage, treatment and re-use of such water for drinking, irrigation, fisheries, tourism, industrial or any other sustainable purpose.
For sustainable overburden management, the cell will also check feasibility and suggest measures to reuse, recycle and rehabilitation of over burdened dumps in a sustainable manner.
It will examine and plan out use of overburdened material for use in different infrastructure projects, earthen bunds, among others.
For sustainable mine tourism, it will explore and conceptualize a plan for beautification and creation of eco-parks in reclaimed areas, which will also include water bodies, for recreation activities and tourism purpose.
It will also explore tourism potential and plan it out in few underground mines.
For planning and monitoring, it will analyse Mine Closure Plans o different companies and advise to make it more effective. The cell will help coal companies finalise timeline for execution of different mitigation activities/projects in all mines in phased manner, the statement added.
It will also monitor effective utilization of Mine Closure Fund and Environment Budgets of Different Coal Companies.
The cell will hire experts/institutions/organisations to conduct specific studies for establishing a robust knowledge base. It will organise consultative meetings, workshops, field visits, exposure study tours to enrich the knowledge base, known best global and ideas for environmental mitigation planning and monitoring.
The cell will conduct regular workshop and seminar for company level officials to educate them in new methods, technologies, approaches and also global practices, the statement said.

source- The Economic Times