The MoU with Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education will facilitate eco-restoration of 430 mines
Coal India Limited (CIL) and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), on Thursday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for monitoring environment-related issues in coal mining projects in the country.
As per coal secretary Anil Swarup, the MoU will facilitate third party environmental audit of coal mines.
Seminal step by CIL & Indian Council for Forest Research. Sign an MoU to collaborate for 3rd party environmental audit of coal mines.— Anil Swarup (@swarup58) September 1, 2016
As per media reports, this is the first alliance by CIL for eco-restoration of all 430 mines in the country owned by the public sector coal giant. ICFRE would monitor plantation, eco-restoration activities, preparation of wildlife management plans and environment impact assessment. It will also help in improving the rehabilitation and reclamation of the mined areas.
Swarup told the media that the coal ministry is investing nearly US $8 million dollars (~Rs 53 crore) for the restoration project.
“This arrangement would help CIL in proper compliance and monitoring of the conditions that are laid down by the MoEF&CC while according environment and forest clearances,” a press release from the Ministry of Coal said.
The MoU also covers preparation of environmental management plans and capacity building for the executives of CIL on environment and forestry issues.
Environmental impacts of coal mining
Coal mining is considered the root of many environmental problems. Mining often causes clearing of forests, soils and movement of indigenous communities, whose well-being is correlated to their environment. The wildlife in these forests also loses its habitat.
Other than that, coal mines have been blamed for coal fires and air pollution as well as contaminating water supplies.
Open cast mines blast landscapes to reach coal, leaving a lasting impact on the environment. Minerals and heavy metals in the soil can dissolve in mine wastewater and enter the water table, increasing the risk of groundwater contamination and acid mine drainage.
Even after the mine shuts, it leaves behind barren land that stays contaminated. Re-seeding is difficult because mining damages the soil.
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