By 2030, India has committed to generating 50% of its power from renewable sources, but for this to happen, India must ensure an equitable transition away from coal.
Coal-fired power plants generate more than 70% of all electricity generated in India. Additionally, coal generates significant taxes and royalties for all levels of government and, of course, provides employment and lives for a large number of people.
According to a recent study by the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies on how to implement a just transition in coal-dependent communities in India and South Africa, the coal sector supports over 300,000 direct jobs and nearly one million indirect jobs in the coal supply chains and service sectors in the Indian state of Jharkhand.
However, many million extra individuals labor as illegal coal miners, the most of whom are local peasants scavenging coal from abandoned mines. Together, these occupations account for approximately 10% of the state’s workforce.
On the ground in India, there is some grassroots movement toward a just transition. Not least, in the heart of Jharkhand, the nation’s coal capital that serves as a model for replication.
For instance, an abandoned open-cast coal mine in Ramgarh has been converted into a fishery as a result of a Central Coalfields effort, providing employment for a large number of local people.
Another example is the ecological restoration work on the overburden dump in Jharkhand’s Khas Kusunda district, which was formerly used to dispose garbage from coal mines.
In 2018, nine distinct plant species were discovered on formerly barren ground in Khas Kusunda as a result of an ecological restoration initiative.
Promoting fisheries, planting trees and establishing forests in abandoned mines, and establishing renewable energy projects all contribute to a just transition.
In short, diversifying the Indian state’s economy through the facilitation of growth in six potential sectors in consultation with local residents namely: agriculture, tourism, non-coal mining, manufacturing, renewable energy production, and non-timber forest products, is demonstrating positive results toward a just transition away from coal for the state of Jharkand.
Reference- BBC, Forbes, The Guardian, Just Transition Initiative website