Dense ash dust floats over the Singrali open pit coal mine India, The largest excavations carry fuel that contributes to economic growth, but also contributes to the country’s environmental pollution.
Singrali’s open-pit mines illustrate the dilemma facing the world’s second-most populous country and its opposition to the gradual ejection of coal proposed during the recent climate summit. COP26 Glasgow.
India is trying to better spread the benefits of development among its 1.3 billion people, many of whom do not have access to electricity.
But the price to pay is high. With more than a dozen coal mines and power plants, Singrali is home to trees, houses, cars and even cows.
When dark, sticky mud blankets, trucks, trains and cable cars carry large loads of coal on the roads, black dust overwhelms passers-by.
Everyone is condemned to breathe terrible dust and harsh air that irritates the eyes and throat.
“Our air, our water and the whole environment are seriously polluted. Even the cows here are like buffaloes, ”said Sanjay Namdev, a trade unionist who was surrounded by cranes and containers in the coal seas.
“But forget the gradual discharge, it is not possible to phase out coal in a country like India,” he admitted.
“Millions of people depend on coal for cheap electricity,” he explained. “I do not know how one day will end,” he added.
As Asia’s third largest economy grows, their appetite for coal is increasing, and the middle class needs electricity for their refrigerators and refrigerators.
Consumption of coal, which supplies 70% of India’s electricity grid, has doubled in the last decade. Only China uses more.
As international pressure mounts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in October that India aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070, a decade after China and 20 years later than other major CO2 emissions.
Despite being the third largest emitter in the world, the government insists that emissions per citizen are lower than the US average.
The future without coal
About 30,000 workers and thousands of alternative workers at the Singrali mines are worried about the future. Coal. Despite the increasingly severe heat and flooding they face, climate change does not seem to be a threat to them.
“Pollution is serious here. I am well aware that it is detrimental to your health, but what will I do if the coal mines are closed? How am I going to feed my babies? Asked Vinod Kumar, a 31-year-old miner.
Northern Coalfields, a public mining company that owns more than 80% of Singrali’s coal assets, produces 130 million tonnes of ore a year.
“We want to go for completely green coal,” said community spokesman Ram Vijay Singh. “Every year we organize free consultations to look into the health problems of local people.”
Environmentalists say such fragmentary measures do not serve a specific purpose.
“There are machines and techniques to reduce pollution, but companies do not take them too seriously,” says unionist Namdev.
“There are anti-pollution guidelines, but they avoid them without full punishment,” he added. “The only thing they care about is quick profits,” he stressed.
According to Harjeet Singh, an expert and member of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative, an international network of civil society organizations, employs more than 13 million people in India in the coal mines and related sectors.
“The brutal eradication of coal in India will lead to economic collapse,” he warned.
“In a country where most people depend on coal for their income and energy, we need to ensure social justice in moving to a future without fossil fuels,” Singh added.
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