Ministry weakens protections against coal mine expansion

Policy matters this fortnight
24 May 2022
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Work in progress in coal mines in Jharsuguda (Image Source: Makarand Purohit)
Work in progress in coal mines in Jharsuguda (Image Source: Makarand Purohit)

Ministry weakens protections against mine expansion using coal shortage excuse

Coal mines with existing environmental clearances to increase their production by 40 percent can now hike production by up to 50 percent – without a fresh environmental impact assessment or public consultation. The Union environment ministry has permitted this through an office memorandum dated May 7 and used the excuse of “huge pressure” on domestic coal supply, after being requested by the Union coal ministry.

Coal mining in India is restricted by various rules and regulations due to its social and environmental impact and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and consultation with people and public hearings are mandatory before opening or operating a coal mine (Science, The Wire).

The NHRC issues an advisory to the Centre, states/union territories and High Courts to mitigate the impact of environmental pollution on human rights

The NHRC has finalised the advisory after consulting domain experts and by examining the effects of air and water pollution and ecological degradation on basic human rights. The Commission observed that in spite of having one of the world’s best statutory and policy framework for environment protection, India is experiencing a serious problem of air and water pollution and ecological degradation.

The NHRC said the Central and state governments should make efforts to take action on polluters and violators of environmental laws and should also act on strengthening of Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) and other regulatory authorities, creation of separate investigation and prosecution wings in PCBs and regular training of the staff. (NHRC media Press Release)

India needs to redesign irrigation policy, say the authors of a recent article in the RBI Bulletin

The article analyses the trends in the cost and efficiency of irrigation across 19 agriculturally important Indian states using the Comprehensive Cost of Cultivation data published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, for the period from 2002-03 to 2017-18

The article argues that India needs to promote improved technological interventions in the wake of recurrent episodes of drought and declining ground water levels as ensuring irrigation efficiency is extremely important for sustainable agriculture (The Week)

The Maharashtra State Cabinet approves funds to increase cotton and soyabean production

The Maharashtra State Cabinet has approved funds of ₹1,000 crore to increase cotton and soybean production in the State. The government will use the funds to introduce new technology to farmers to increase productivity and to create a value chain in the next three years and create basic infrastructure including storage facilities, processing units and cleaning and grading units

The government will also involve agriculture colleges to strengthen the seed chain and also provide grants to farmers so that they can use quality fertilisers. (Business Journal)

Bihar's organic farming model fails to impress

The Organic Farming Corridor Scheme is an ambitious programme of the Bihar government. Under the scheme the farmers are given a grant of Rs 11,500 for a maximum period of three years and the farmer has to spend at least Rs. 6,500 on buying certified compost and plastic drum from the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) and undertake vermicomposting from the remaining Rs. 5,000.

However, organic farmers are struggling with low yield, limited selling avenues and unavailability of effective pest management on the crops (Mongabay).

This is a roundup of important policy updates published from May 6 - May 23, 2022.  Also read news updates this fortnight

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