The arguments for introducing GM food crops are more frequently in the news than new energy technologies, but on Monday, the FT reported that India’s Supreme Court has declared that more than 200 coal mining licences have been illegally awarded to private industrial groups.
India, one of the world’s largest producers of coal, has coal-rich regions in eastern states like Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and pockets in the central and southern parts of the country, which provide more than half of its commercial energy.
In 2011, BBC World News reported on a note from the federal ministry of mines which said that “legal and regulatory loopholes and inadequate policing have allowed the illegal mining operations to flourish and grow”.
A few influential oligarchs in collusion with politicians are said to have made massive profits
An ombudsman reporting on mining in Karnataka found that the promoters of privately owned mining companies in the Ballery region – where most of the mines are located – paid off politicians, and then joined politics themselves, rising to positions in the state government.
Monday’s Supreme Court judgment which caused sharp falls in the share prices of mining companies said the process of allocating 218 licences to dozens of private groups since 1993 had been “arbitrary and illegal”. A further hearing will be held next week to assess the future of the illegally allocated mines.
Ironically, most of the coal licences awarded to private companies since 1993 have not been developed. Many mines in remote rural areas proved too costly to bring into operation, while environmental restrictions delayed the development of others.
Mining worldwide – though often profitable to owners and shareholders has immediate dangers to the poorest who work in them – and crippling long-term damage to health.
The future? The country’s carbon tax on the coal industry which raised fifty rupees for each metric ton of coal used in India was doubled in July by the new finance minister and the money is directed to India’s National Clean Energy Fund to provide low-cost finance to the renewable industry. State of play: