ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why India Needs a Coal Mines Environment Authority

Given India’s continued dependence on coal to supply power for industrial and residential consumers at affordable prices, the country needs a unified coal mines environment authority staffed with multidisciplinary expertise to assess and minimise the adverse environmental impacts of coal mines with an integrated approach to ensure more efficient, effective, and transparent environmental governance. This authority must be created by enacting a sustainable coal mining bill before private sector commercial coal mines commence operations.


This study was funded by the SERB Grant No SB/IR/NIAS/2016. The first author is grateful to the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) for permitting him to conduct his PhD dissertation research titled “Consolidation of Laws Related to Environmental Protection in Coal Mining in India–Prospects and Challenges.”

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 must be reviewed to strike a correct balance between sustainability, local livelihoods, and developmental pressures (Lele et al 2009). The well-documented violations of mining, environmental, and forest laws in Goa, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Karnataka also indicate the need to reinforce the environmental governance of the mining sector when multiple private miners are allowed to undertake mining operations (Justice M B Shah Commission of Enquiry 2013a, 2013b, 2013c; Samaj Parivartana Samudaya and Others v State of Karnataka and Others, 2013).

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Updated On : 19th Dec, 2021
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