Thursday March 21, 2019
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Our Children Might Fall into the Black Hole of Ecological Disaster

We should sincerely resolve not to pierce the body of mother earth who is copiously bleeding, helplessly moaning and frequently convulsing.

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Coal Mining, ecological
They do not at all want to “listen” to the “warning” from the ecologists about the danger of the unscientific mining.

By Salil Gewali

When we carefully analyze at how aggressively people want to mine coal in Meghalaya, we get a piece of wisdom, if not anything. The greed for money can literally blind a human being, it here gets quite proved.  We don’t see our own “dark future”. We don’t see the sufferings from potential disaster any longer. We do not realize that our wrong ambition is going to plunge our own children into the black hole of miseries and distress. The recent tragedy of trapping of 15 people, who have reportedly died, is not enough to jolt us. Now some political leaders discreetly murmur, and almost poised to mount pressure upon the center to legalize the “rate hole mining” which is fraught with danger only.  They have enough pretexts and pretensions to defend their ventures, nay their indulgences. They are quick to line up the hungry faces whom they have used all along. They do not at all want to “listen” to the “warning” from the ecologists about the danger of the unscientific mining. 

Coal Mine, ecological
They cautioned us and wanted to “save” the state from the nightmare of an ecological fallout.

True, Jaintia Hills is still surviving, Meghalaya is still breathing, the air of freshness and its beauty is still attracting the tourists to this state. The credit for this goes directly, apart from the Creator, to a handful of intellectuals and media. It is those very conscious people who relentlessly struggled to teach people about the potential danger and ecological damages due to the indiscriminate rate-hole mining.  Their scream finally drew the attention of NGT (National Green Tribunal).

COal Mine, ecological
. It is those very conscious people who relentlessly struggled to teach people about the potential danger and ecological damages due to the indiscriminate rate-hole mining.

  Just imagine what would have happened if those concerned activists were “silent” and we all continued to dig the pits after pits! For instance, if NGT would lift the ban what would probably happen? We would mine the coal more aggressively and more randomly? What would be the consequence after 30 to 50 years then? We would definitely witness the endless environmental disaster.  Thank God this state has produced the right-thinking and courageous people too! Without budging an inch, they stood on their ground to safeguard our state. Frankly speaking, now NGT fears them more than any others. Yes, it is those awakened scholars and social activists who have put their best to awaken us through their articles, organizing awareness campaigns. Should we still criticize them and doubt their integrity? How do you regard a person who “saves” you from the attack of a poisonous snake? Should you not be immensely thankful to him/her? Yes, those conscious people and writers deserve our deep respect and high honors. They cautioned us and wanted to “save” the state from the nightmare of an ecological fallout exactly as a mother lovingly wants to protect her children from the possible danger and sufferings.

Also Read: Firefighters of India Battle Air Pollution In The Country’s Capital

I think it calls for our serious introspection.  First, we need to bury all “holes of differences”. We should sincerely resolve not to pierce the body of mother earth who is copiously bleeding, helplessly moaning and frequently convulsing. Please note her “convulsion” is a great warning. Our progeny should not fall into the trap. Or else, their curses might not let our souls rest in peace.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.  Twitter: @SGewali.

Next Story

Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

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FILE - Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

Asia-Pacific
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

Coal
Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

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Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.