Coal India takes e-route to monitor mining

Coal India Ltd (CIL) has devised a novel way to help sustain the environment and at the same time to explore coal resources for the nation. The Navratna public sector giant is busy putting the satellite surveillance in place to ensure the environmental balance where mining activity is on.

According to Coal India chairman Partha Bhattacharya, an active proponent of environmentally sustainable mining activity, “The aim is to ensure ecological balance while not to lose sight of the need for exploring coal resources for economic growth.”

In order to ensure a collective participation to the cause, CIL has decided to celebrate the current year as the Environment Year. The PSU intends to carry the message that for sustainable growth one must maintain the delicate balance between ecology and mining.

For Coal India this issue is a critical one. “We have to mine coal from the forest land. Most of the virgin coal deposits are located in environmentally fragile zones. As responsible corporate citizen we cannot wink at the need for not degrading the forest lands,” said Bhattacharya.

Coal India plans to maintain satellite images of the open cast mines which cause major environmental degradation. To begin with there will be regular monitoring of 35 such open cast mines. The images will be uploaded on the web site of the PSU for all to monitor.
CIL is also in the process of using the satellite surveillance of mines to keep an eye on illegal mining activities. This is rampant in the coal districts of West Bengal and Jharkhand. This, too, will curb the unchecked degradation of forests in the fast vanishing forests of Jharia and Ranchi regions.

“During the Environment year, our emphasis is on reclaiming land from mining activity and regenerating forests in the areas where mineral exploitation is complete,” said Bhattacharya.
By returning land to forests Coal India is keen to set a global leadership position as an environment friendly mining giant.
CIL chairman wants to showcase his efforts to the state governments and the Ministry of Environment in Delhi. The aim is to convince the guardians of environment the commitment of CIL in sustainable development.

“I’m confident the effort will win us speedier environmental clearances,” he feels. “Reclamation of forest land will-win CIL support from the locals. This will go a long way in bridging the divide between the natives and the miners.”

Bhattacharya has always been a vocal critic of the general tendency among the resource exploiters. They do not feel in necessary to create a friendly, sustainable environment for their economic activity. More often than not there is an undercurrent of hostility between the natives and resource gatherers who mostly are outsiders to the mineral zones.

“Unless a balance is maintained among the locals, miners and officials no productive activity, let alone mining, can be sustained,” said Bhattacharya.

There is an urgent need for emotional participation of those who live and sustain their livelihood from mining and other activities in the mineral zones.

In order to extend the benefits of mining activities to the miners and their families the chairman has announced a new initiative. The mining giant recruits a large number of engineers every year. The chairman has decided to sponsor children of miners who qualify for studies in intuitions like the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad. In the current year, there are six such students from the families of miners and other workers in the collieries who will benefit from the CIL scholarship. Not only their cost of education will be borne by the PSU once graduate they all will be employed in the Navratna company.

“We have 4,12,000 workers and 16,000 officers. We plan to remove the class barrier. Through our affirmative action we hope to recruit out entire requirement of 1,000 or so officers eventually from the children of miners and workers,” hopes Bhattacharya.
The benefits of a national coal company working in difficult terrains of Ranchi, Jharia and Dhanbad is there for all to see. Coal India runs 85 hospitals in the area. It has mobile dispensaries and mobile medical vans in operation. Around 1,600 doctors work for the company. The facilities so created are available not only to the employees of Coal India but also to the local population.
No wonder Coal India has the maximum acceptability among the people of the region. The goodwill created by CIL will increase manifold when they will experience how Coal India removes the ecological issues eventually and restores the environment after mining coal from the forest land.

“I’m confident when the outsiders like state government officials and environment ministry official see the local support and also the active effort of CIL in restoring forest land it will be easier for us to obtain environment clearance for further mining activities,” hopes Bhattacharya.

That CIL is on a right tact was evident from a recent communication from the representatives of the Officers’ Association. Satisfied with the wage revision agreement with the chairman, the Association urged its members to pledge their skills for furthering the cause of the nation through increasing productivity of the company.

The resolve to reclaim lands for forest in its Environment year is yet another element of this effort.

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