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Why India Needs a Coal Mines Environment Authority
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Why India Needs a Coal Mines Environment Authority

India’s continued dependence upon coal to supply power to its industrial and residential consumers at affordable rates means that it needs a unified authority for coal mines environment. This authority must be multi-disciplinary and have multidisciplinary expertise to assess the environmental impact of coal mines and provide an integrated approach to environmental governance to ensure transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. This authority must exist by enacting the sustainable coal mining bill prior to private sector commercial coal mines being opened.

On 18 June 2020, the Government of India (GoI) launched an auction process of coal blocks for commercial mining (PIB 2020). This step is the culmination of earlier initiatives taken by the GoI, including the enactment of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015, the cabinet approval for the methodology of auctioning coal and lignite mines/blocks for the sale of coal/lignite, and lastly the enactment of the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020 (Gupta and Goyal 2018; PIB 2018).

India’s environmental governance needs to be reviewed in order to strike the right balance between sustainability, local livelihoods and developmental pressures (Lele, et al 2009). The violations of mining, environmental and forest laws in Goa and Odisha, Jharkhand and Odisha are well documented and indicate the need for strengthening the environmental governance of India’s mining sector when multiple private miners can undertake mining operations (Justice M B Shah Commission of Enquiry 2013, 2013b, 2013c). Samaj Parivartana Samudaya and Others V State of Karnataka and Others, 2013).

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