DST – NIAS Sustainable Pathways to Energy Utilisation – Volume 2: State of the Environment in the Ramagundam and Dorli-Bellampalli coal mines in the State of Telangana (Research Report No. NIAS/NSE/EEP/U/RR/07/2021)
Source:NIAS, Bangalore, p.66 + ix pages, 8 tables and 51 Figures (2021)
Keywords:AOD; Air pollution, mine closure, NDVI; Coal mines, Pit lakes, Thermal Power Plants
India’s per capita electricity consumption is less than one-third of the World’s average though 72 percent of the electricity generated in India is powered by coal of which India is the World’s second-largest producer. Coal mining and thermal power generation are critical for India to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but their long-term sustainability must be ensured.
In this report, the trends in air quality, vegetation, and water quality before, during, and after closure of opencast coal mines are compared by analyzing the data collected from two study areas in the State of Telangana to study the impact of coal mining on the air, water, and land environment. In addition to ambient air quality data, AOD550 values and NDVI values have been extracted from MODIS to study the long-term trends in PM concentrations and vegetation cover, respectively.
The ambient PM concentrations around the opencast coal mines and TPPs studied exceed the NAAQ standards. However, the ambient SO2 concentrations around the TPPs studied are well below the standard of 50 μg/m3. This is due to the location of TPPs in a tropical region where the climatological conditions, low-Sulphur content of Indian coal, and the stack heights of TPPs act synergistically to disperse SO2 concentrations below the NAAQ standards.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)must encourage research on the use of geospatial data for monitoring air pollution and mine closure by enhancing CPCB funding to operate continuous air quality monitors in all coalfields of India and extend the National Clean Air Program. To assess the utility of pit lakes for the local communities, the Ministry of Coal (MoC) must conduct inter-disciplinary studies to assess the current and upcoming pit lakes in terms of their utility to the surrounding communities with an integrated approach.Finally, the UNFCCC must convince the developed countries to meet their commitments as per the Paris Agreement and also release funds from the GCF for low-carbon energy pathways like IGCC power plants and nuclear power plants in addition to grid-scale battery storage and grid integration of variable renewable energy sources (e.g., wind and solar). This will enable India to meet the NDCs committed in the Paris Agreement while protecting India’s energy security with 24x7 power supply to all Indians as per SDG 7.