The path towards just transition will be determined by various factors like alternate vocations, skulking, healthcare, education and dependency of 50 lakh people on coal mining
A top government official stated on Monday that India will advocate for a "just energy transition" at the G-20 talks, pointing out that 50 lakh people are directly dependent on coal mining. According to Union coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena, the nation has chosen a path of climate justice and aims to pursue a balanced growth model based on the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities.
The nation is eager to accelerate its pace of development in order to care for an increasingly aspirational population. "As per our estimation, about 50 lakh people are engaged directly or indirectly in coal mining activities, especially in eastern Indian states. So, just transition has to cater to that challenge," he said. Meena stated that when determining the best course of action, concerns about the 50 lakh people's livelihoods, alternative careers, skulking, healthcare, and education must be taken into account.
When asked about India's specific objective for the third meeting of the G-20 energy transitions working group, which started on Monday in the financial capital, he did not provide an answer. He also did not discuss the consensus that India is aiming to reach. A question regarding the difficulties he expects from the delegates, particularly from countries that are adamantly pressuring India to take more action to help reduce the effects of climate change, was also left unanswered.
According to him, India has identified 30 mines where coal mining is no longer taking place, and coal companies have begun a 2- to 3-year programme to close them. In addition, Meena stated that India is using the de-coaled land in an environmentally sustainable manner, which may entail planting trees with fly ash or using it for farming.
According to him, the nation needs coal to help it reach its economic growth goals, and the government is working to increase private sector participation in coal mining. Meena stated that the goal is for private businesses to extract up to a fourth of all coal by 2030 and noted that the private sector's response to the seventh round of coal mine auctions has been "encouraging".
Meena underlined that 87 mines have already been given to private companies since 2020 through six rounds of auction, and the goal is to have 500 million tonnes of installed private capacity at peak rate. Meena also noted that it can take up to four years for a mine to begin producing after it is given to a company. Four of the 87 mines have already begun operations, according to Meena, and the majority of the remaining 77 will do so by FY25. According to him, the nation wants to expand its total coal production from 892 million tonnes in FY23 to 1,012 million tonnes in FY24. He said, as the nation begins to rely more on renewable energy sources, coal production will plateau after reaching a high in 2040.
Meena responded when asked about the effects of the power ministry's decision to only build new thermal power plants in addition to those that are already under development. "We now have the capacity to supply adequate coal to the power plants". At present, the coal ministry is also focused on ensuring that wherever possible, "we can reduce the coal imports" and within two years, the "substitutable" one will be done. He continued, "However, India will continue to import coking coal used in steel plants since there is absolutely no local production of it."
(With inputs from PTI)