Negative impacts of coal on health

Negative impacts of coal on health

Question:-To fulfill the needs of the fastest developing industry, coal is a critical input to the major infrastructure industries in India but it has adverse effects on environment and health. Elaborate.

Coal is the largest source of energy for producing the electricity worldwide. India is the third largest coal producer and consumer in the world.

Coal industries in India – The top coal producing regions in India are Odisha, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Around 90 percent of the coal in India is produced by government owned companies.

At present, most of the coal industries are unable to meet the demand and thus, India has to import coal to meet its requirements. Around 75% of the Indian power sectors depend on coal for energy.

Coal India (CIL) is an Indian state owned coal company which is headquartered at Kolkata. It is the largest coal producing company in the world and contributes around 80% to the coal production in India.

Coal industries have a great impact on the environment and the health of the people.

Impact on environment:

- Coal industries can cause waste management, land use. Mining changes the landscape of the environment in the surrounding land. Removing the soil that covers the coal minerals result in loosing of the topsoil.

- It also causes air and water pollution. When coal is burned in any plant, it produces ash which contains Calcium Oxide (CAO). It gets easily dissolved in the water and gets carried away by rain water water to nearby rivers or areas.

- The burning of coal leads to formation of ponds which attracts a lot of flies. It affects the environment of a particular area.

- Mining of coals may also harm the wildlife directly or indirectly.

Impact on health – There are severe health effects that are caused by coal industries or burning of coal.

- Reduction in life expectancy
- Chronic or asthma attacks
- Black lung caused due to the coal dust
- Non fatal cancer
- Adverse impacts are severe for elder people and children
- Consuming fish from oceans which has a high mercury level causes ill effects to the health.
- Coal industries causes a lot of air pollution resulting in acid rain. It damages the life and property of humans.

Regulatory framework for coal power plants in India:

- Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Act) 1957 – The act came into existence on 28 December 1957. It extends to the whole of India and apply to every coal mine. The act states the process and conditions necessary for acquiring a mining license in India.

- National Mineral Policy – The first National Mineral Policy was framed in 1993 for liberalization of the mining sector.

The National Mineral Policy of 2008 brings a change in the role of Central and State government to motivate the private sector investment in mining. Mining done on small scale industries contribute around 6% to the entire cost of mineral production.

- The Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should jointly set up a working group to prepare a sustainable development framework.

- Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill 2011 – It specifies that the mining plan will be prepared within the sustainable development framework and allow the transfer of mines to promote the better utilization of ore resources.

Facts and Figures

- Coal generates 40% of the world's electricity.

- Around 15% of the total coal production is used by the steel industry.

- Coal India Ltd is responsible for 88% of coal output in India.

- In India, coal reserves are accumulated in the states of Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

- In 1972, the fuel coal mines were nationalized.
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