The recent announcement by the Indian Government to auction coal blocks to private companies for commercial use of coal gathered mixed reactions from various stakeholders. Some called it a long awaited major reform. However, State governments of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra opposed the auction by either registering their concern via a letter or a legal challenge. Coal miners unions opposed privatisation fearing negative impact on Coal India Limited (CIL).
Environmentalists and human rights groups raised concerns that expansion of coal mining could lead to destruction of more than thousands of hectares of forest land and displacement of indigenous people in the last remaining contiguous forest of India.
The main reason highlighted while putting these blocks for auction is the “need for expansion in domestic coal mining capacity to meet the increasing demand and reduce import dependence of the country”. In this paper we made an attempt to answer the question Does India need new coal mines to meet its 2030 demand?