Coal transition will impact more than 13 million people in India: Study – Know Details here

135 districts out of these 266 coal-bearing districts in India will be affected severely due to phasing out of coal, noted the NFI’s report to assess the ‘Socio-economic impacts of coal transition in India’.

Created On: Nov 23, 2021 13:37 IST
Coal transition will impact more than 13 million people in India: Study; Image: PTI
Coal transition will impact more than 13 million people in India: Study; Image: PTI

Coal transition will impact more than 13 million people in India employed in coal mining, transport, power, iron, sponge, bricks, and steel sectors, noted a report to assess the ‘Socio-economic impacts of coal transition in India’ released on November 22, 2021, by the Secretary, Ministry of Coal Anil Jain. The report has been prepared by a think tank National Foundation for India (NFI). The report based its study on impending coal transition in India in reference to India’s agreement at the COP26 Glasgow Climate Summit to a clause in the Glasgow Climate Pact that calls for phase-down of coal.

Coal transition in India will impact more than 13 million people: Study

The report to assess the ‘Socio-economic impacts of coal transition in India’ by the think tank National Foundation for India (NFI) gathered data from assessing around 266 coal-bearing districts in nine states in India namely Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

The report showed 135 districts out of these 266 coal-bearing districts in India will be affected severely due to phasing out of coal. These 135 districts are hugely dependent on coal such as a coal mine, steel plant, thermal power plant, or sponge iron plant. These districts above will have social, political, economic, and financial consequences as they have been largely dependent on coal for the past 200 years.

Coal transition in India will be a messy and complicated exercise that will severely impact Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana. At least half of all the districts including 15 districts in Jharkhand, 11 districts in West Bengal, 9 districts in Chhattisgarh, and 30 per cent districts in Odisha will be severely impacted in the next 30 to 50 years amid the coal transition in India.

The report further noted that Jharkhand will be worst impacted during the coal transition to renewable energy sources. 15 out of 24 districts in Jharkhand will be impacted of which four districts will be severely impacted. These four districts are Pakur, Ranchi, Palamu, and Koderma. While in three districts namely Latehar, Deoghar, and Seraikela, laborers are highly dependent on coal mines for their livelihood.

COP26: India will achieve net-zero carbon emissions target by 2070, PM Modi at climate summit in Glasgow

Way forward: Will India stop using coal?

The Executive Director of NFI Biraj Patnaik noted that as India moves towards a more climate-resilient future, it must develop its own approach to climate change. While launching the report by NFI, Jain also noted that India must prepare its economy, its workforce, and its communities for a post-coal future.

At the COP26 Glasgow Climate Summit, PM Narendra Modi had announced 5 ambitious targets of India that included achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, achieving carbon intensity reduction of 45 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030, reducing 1 billion tonnes of projected emissions from now till 2030, sourcing 50 per cent of energy requirement from renewables by 2030, and installing non-fossil fuel electricity capacity of 500 GW by 2030.

However, coal remains a dominant source of energy in India which accounts for 70 per cent of electricity output. India is the world’s 2nd largest coal producer with about 730 million tonnes annually. Though cutting coal out of energy sources is the solution to achieving the targets however at present India is dependent on coal for 200GW of electricity generation and providing livelihood to more than 13 million people.

Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav who represented the Indian delegation at the COP26 Glasgow Climate Summit during the COP26 noted that how one could expect developing nations to make promises about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when they still have to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication. Yadav raised the question while nearly 200 countries accepted the Glasgow Climate Pact to phase out coal.

India’s agreement to phase down coal aids a developing nation such as itself to meet its energy requirements with its own resources, increase installation capacity of renewables which the country currently has 100GW of installed renewable capacity, expand the commercial viability of storage and technologies to scale up renewables, provide livelihood alternatives to those dependent on coal among other implications of phasing out coal.

Immediate coal phase-out in India cannot happen. The country is moving away gradually from coal and therefore there will be a decline in coal power generation in India. Coal phase down is considered to be a part of an eventual coal phase-out which India will have to adapt sooner or later to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, stated experts.

Why is India facing a coal shortage? How will it impact power generation and industries?

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