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Deocha-Pachami Mining Project: Compensation Disbursal begins but details of plan Hazy

  • Published
    1st Mar, 2022
Context

The Government of West Bengal has started disbursing compensation to residents of villages under the Deocha-Pachami and Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal blocks.

About

About Deucha-Pachami Mines:

  • Deucha-Pachami-Dewanganj-Harinsinga coal block is the second-largest coal block in the world; it is the largest in India.
  • The block has a thick coal seam trapped between equally thick layers of rocks, mostly basalt. It has a great economic value.
  • The existence of these thick basalt layers, however, makes mining of coal difficult; foreign investment and technology will be hence needed for mining.

Issues:

  • The Deocha-Pachami-Harinsingha-Dewanganj mining block will not only displace 21,000 people but also destroy local ecology, which the tribal community relies on.
  • A majority of the local population belong to the Santhal community — a Schedule Tribe.
  • This region, however, does not fall under Schedule V.
  • The Panchayat (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, which empowers the Gram Sabha to put forth the people’s opinion and consult them for such projects, is also not applicable here.

A Schedule V area is declared, according to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, based on the following criteria:

  • Preponderance of tribal population
  • Compactness and reasonable size of the area
  • A viable administrative entity such as a district, block or taluk
  • Economic backwardness of the area as compared to the neighboring areas

About Coal:

  • Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock with a high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. 
  • Coal is classified as a non-renewable energy source because it takes millions of years to form. Coal contains the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy forests.
  • Coal is also called black gold.
  • Coal contains carbon, volatile matter, moisture, and ash & [in some cases Sulphur and phosphorous].
  • Mostly used for power generation and metallurgy.
  • Different varieties of coal arise because of differences in the kinds of plant material (coal type), degree of coalification (coal rank), and range of impurities (coal grade).

Types of coal found in India:

  • On the basis of a time period:
    • Gondwana coal: Around 98% of India’s total coal reserves are from Gondwana times. This coal was formed about 250 million years ago.
    • Tertiary coal: It is of younger age. It was formed from 15 to 60 million years ago.
    • On the basis of carbon content:
    • Anthracite: It is the highest grade of coal containing a high percentage of 80 to 95% carbon content. It is hard and brittle. It is found in smaller quantities in regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Bituminous: It is a medium grade of coal having high heating capacity and carries 60 to 80% of carbon content and a low level of moisture content. It is the most commonly used type of coal for electricity generation in India. Most bituminous coal is found in Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Lignite: It is the lowest grade coal with the least carbon content.  It carries 40 to 55% carbon content. It is found in the regions of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu & Kashmir.
    • Peat: It has less than 40% carbon content. It is in the first stage of transformation from wood to coal. It has low calorific value and burns like wood.

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