N. C. Joshi**,,
The Government has evolved a very cautious procedure for mining projects in view of apprehensions expressed time to time about the Coal mining impact on social forestry, environment and social life of locals residing around mining areas. Before commencement of production from coal mines, the impact on existing social forestry and environment due to the project is assessed by an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for each case and accordingly Environmental Management Plans (EMP) are prepared. EMPs deal with the various pollution mitigation measures to be undertaken to mitigate the impact of pollution, in order to reduce any adverse effect on health of people in and around the mining area, as per requirement of the project. The EMPs are submitted to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for obtaining Environmental Clearance (EC).
The measures are taken for each coal project as per Environmental Management Plan (EMP’s) and strict monitoring mechanism has been provided to ensure all norms are followed. Air, Water, and Noise pollution control has been taken up seriously to safeguard environment.
Air Pollution Control : Air pollution is being controlled by regular spraying of water on haul and coal transportation roads by fixed as well as portable water sprinklers and also on Coal Handling Plants, all coal transfer points, Coal & Overburden (OB) faces, coal stockpiles etc. Other steps include – fitting drills with dust collection systems wet drilling, black topping, concreting of coal transportation roads. Efforts are being made for use of more and more belt conveyors, rail etc. for coal transportation and minimizing road transportation to reduce pollution. Massive trees plantation in and around mines also minimises the impact of air pollution on neighboring areas.
Water Pollution Control : Mine water is being passed through sedimentation pond to arrest sediments and clean runoff is being used for beneficial use such as domestic, industrial and agricultural purpose, after treatment to extent possible, before discharging into natural water courses. Effluents from workshops is passed through Oil & Grease Traps and recycled for dust suppression and for cleaning purposes. In major mines, domestic effluents are being treated in Domestic Effluent Treatment Plants and in other mines in septic tanks.
Noise Pollution Control : Noise pollution is controlled through the careful selection of equipment, proper maintenance and insulation. Persons exposed to high noise level are being provided with ear muffs. This is besides tree plantation between work places and residential areas.
Ecological Damage Control : Damage to ecology is being controlled by plantation on physically and biologically reclaimed mined out areas and on the OB dump areas, plantation in and around mines, road sides, township / residential areas, available vacant spaces and implementation of conservation plan for protection of flora and fauna as per EC. This is apart from the payment made for compensatory afforestation to forest departments. In addition the environmental protection measures are taken in compliance to condition of consent to operate from respective State Pollution Control Boards. Regular monitoring of various environmental attributes are carried out as per Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to assess the efficacy of environmental protection measures taken and if required additional measures are taken to keep the various environmental attributes within the prescribed limits of the Regulatory Agencies.
Health Protection : Coal India Limited has specific Schemes to protect the health of the people living in and around the coal mining areas. As per the Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme of CIL there is a separate fund allocated at the rate of Rs.5/- per tonne of coal production of last year and the entire fund is year-marked for expenses towards well being of the people living in and around the coal mining areas/belts and in the state in which projects are situated. From the fund a lumpsum provision is made for schemes for the benefit of Tribal Population in the CSR Policy of Coal India Limited. As per Policy out of total CSR Budget, 8% of the Budget is allocated separately and exclusively in the Annual Plan for undertaking welfare activities for the development of Scheduled Tribes Population.
Rehabilitation of Tribals : Displacement of tribals is avoided by exploring alternate plans for the projects but in unavoidable circumstances due to geological reasons, locals,tribals people have to be displaced and resettled in some of the areas of the Subsidiary Companies. The same has been done in conformity with the various extant laws of the land. Since inception in Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) tribal people have been displaced in Rajmahal, SP Mines, Mugma, Sonepur Bazari, Pandaveswar and Kajora as also for South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) in Gevra OCP Expansion and in Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) for areas like Piparwar, NK Dakra, Argada, Barkasayal, Rajrappa, Dhori, B&K, Kathara, Kuju, Hazaribagh (Charhi), Rajhara. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has acquired land belonging to Tribals in Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Angul districts of Orissa. In coal projects of Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) people residing in Gaonthan areas, Betul Tahsil, Tamla & Jamal Tribal Blocks, Seergaon Khurd, Kirwani of Patwari Circle, Chhindwara, Rajura Tahasil tribals are resettled after providing compensation of land/houses and other Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) benefits as per provisions of R&R Policy of Coal India Limited (CIL).
Better Rehabilitation Package : The compensation package for the project affected persons and others has been revised recently, in 2012,to make it more rewarding. Now in the case of displacement of tribal people, in addition to land compensation as per State notified rate, interest, escalation, solatium at the rate of 30% of the land compensation is paid. Besides this one employment for each two acres of land is also provided to the affected family. There is additional special provisions for tribals who are dependent on forest produce and there are provisions in the rehabilitation policy to ensure Cultural and economical sustainability of the displaced Tribal community. In addition to this at the rehabilitation site all amenities like school, road, street light, pacca drain, pond, dug well,tube well for drinking water supply, community centre, place of worship, dispensaries, grazing land for cattle and play ground etc., are provided to have a better life. Monitory compensation in lieu of house plots and shifting & resettlement allowance @ Rs.3 lacs per family as per heir choice according to CIL R&R Policy, 2012. There is a Special Training Scheme for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Project Affected Persons in which they are being given training in the Technical Trade and Statutory jobs to make them employable during outside recruitment to fill up the vacancies of the Subsidiary Companies. During the training period there is provision of stipend and accommodation.
*Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely hir own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC.