The world’s largest coal producer, the state-run Coal India Ltd., plans to massively expand mining in forest areas to help meeting surging demand for electricity, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“Our future growth has to come from forest areas,” Coal India chairman S. Narsing Rao was quoted as saying in a recent interview with India Real Time. Rao said that the company is planning new mining projects in forest areas in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, “more than half of India’s total coal resource of 285 billion tons falls in forested areas.” A 2009 ban on mining in forest zones was overturned this year by the country’s environmental minister.
While India has touted net increases in forest cover in recent years, the state has not published any credible data on natural forest cover. Independent analysis by scientists however suggests that India’s native forests declined between 0.8 percent to 3.5 percent per year between 2000 and 2005, a rate of forest loss higher than Brazil.
(08/01/2012) Burning coal fuels climate change, causes acid rain, and spreads toxic pollutants into the environment, but now a new Greenpeace report warns that coal may also imperil the world’s biggest feline: the tiger. Home to world’s largest population of tigers—in this case the Bengal subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris)—India is also the world’s third largest coal producer. The country’s rapacious pursuit of coal—it has nearly doubled production since 2007—has pushed the industry into tiger territory, threatening to destroy forests and fragment the tiger’s already threatened population.
(02/28/2012) In a bid to fast-track industrial projects, India’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is opening up 25 percent of forests that were previously listed as “no-go” areas, reports the Hindustan Times. The designation will allow between 30 and 50 new industrial projects to go ahead rapidly, including road construction and coal mining. Reportedly the changes came after industry representatives met with the Prime Minister’s Office, headed by Manmohan Singh, to complain that projects were being held up by environmental regulations, in some cases taking six years for approval.