Greening the mines: Coal and lignite PSUs at the forefront of land restoration and sustainability

New Delhi (India), June 4: The Coal Ministry has unveiled a report detailing the progress made by coal and lignite public sector undertakings (PSUs) in land rehabilitation and sustainability.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Coal, amid rising energy demand, these PSUs have not only increased coal production but also made remarkable progress in environmental conservation through extensive land reclamation and greening.

As the global community celebrates the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), World Environment Day 2024 highlights the urgent need for land restoration, desertification control and drought resilience under the theme ‘Our Country. Our future. GenerationRecovery.”

This global focus fits in with the recently released Ministry of Coal report, ‘Greening Initiative in Coal & Lignite PSUs’, which showcases the ambitious efforts of coal and lignite PSUs in transforming demined areas into vibrant green spaces .

The report highlights a wide range of afforestation and ecological restoration projects undertaken by PSUs, which have successfully converted arid landscapes into thriving green areas, read the press release.

These initiatives play a crucial role in combating desertification, increasing resilience to drought, sequestering carbon and conserving biodiversity.

By integrating these greening efforts, the coal sector contributes significantly to global goals for land restoration and promoting environmental sustainability.

Amrit Lal Meena, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, commended the efforts of the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) and the Sustainability & Just Transition Department of the Ministry of Coal for their comprehensive compilation of this report, read the press release.

He expressed hope that the document will attract widespread attention and encourage the adoption of innovative techniques such as seed ball plantation, drone-based seed casting and Miyawaki plantation in coal mines by other entities.

The report meticulously documents the consistent and committed efforts of the coal/lignite PSUs to mitigate the environmental impacts of coal mining through land reclamation and afforestation.

It contains data validated through remote sensing studies and ground truth surveys at selected locations, and provides a detailed account of land use, reclamation efforts and plantation initiatives, read the press release.

This extensive documentation sets a new standard for future scientific studies and emphasizes the importance of sustainable land management.

Coal/lignite PSUs have implemented scientific recovery techniques according to technical and biological schemes in mining plans, and pioneered community-based land uses such as restored forests, eco-parks and eco-tourism sites.

The report shows that these efforts have led to green cover of approximately 50,000 hectares in and around coal mining regions.

This includes the biological reclamation of approximately 29,592 hectares of decarbonized land, additional plantations within mine leases of approximately 12,673 hectares, and plantations outside mine leases of 7,735 hectares, read the press release.

Collectively, these initiatives are estimated to create a carbon sequestration potential of approximately 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Looking ahead, the report outlines a roadmap for future plantation initiatives planned through fiscal year 2029-2030, highlighting progress in land reclamation and the sustainable use of mining-degraded lands.

The Ministry of Coal expects that this report will strengthen the commitment to land reclamation among coal PSUs and catalyze the creation of sustainable green cover for coal mining projects, read the press release.

This greening initiative will contribute significantly to increasing India’s green coverage and help achieve India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target of achieving a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes by 2030.

The Ministry of Coal report not only highlights the sector’s commitment to environmental stewardship, but also demonstrates the critical role of coal and lignite PSUs in advancing national and global sustainability goals.

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