Essay on the Environmental problems in coal mining areas of India

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Case Study: Damodar Valley Coalfields: Environmental pollution is arising from the mining industry in the Western World and the developing nations. Cross-cultural perception studies are needed to understand similarities and differences, if any, in human response to environmental problems between developed and developing countries.

The Damodar Valley coalfields of Jharia and Raniganj, share a relatively serious pollution problem. The Damodar Valley coalfields located in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal contain most of the productive coalmines in India. Underground mining, predominantly by board and pillar methods accounts for most of the production.

Nature of Environment Problem

Amongst the multiple adverse impacts of coal mining on the environment, subsidence damages, ravages of mine fires, and air and water pollution are severe in the Damodar Valley Coalfields of India.

The subsidence, which causes loss of agricultural land and damage to surface structures, is severe in the Jharia coalfields. The extent of land damages due to the caving methods of underground mining without stowing is summarized in the table.

The magnitude of mine fire problems is very large in the Jharia coalfield which was dotted with 25 fires in 1975. The fires have pockmarked the coalfield and threaten main railroads and highways in many places.

Acid mine drainage from coal workings and abandoned mines constitutes a serious problem. The effluents from coal washing plants form a major pollution source over a stretch of 112 kilometres of the Damodar River.

The impact of coal washeries on water pollution is highlighted by a recent survey, which disclosed that one coal washery alone was discharging about 40 tons of fine coal into the Damodar River each day. The suspended coal particles cause difficulties in water works situated downstream while the deposits of ash and coarse coal particles are having endangered the spawning of fish on the river.

Air pollution attributable to coal mining and ancillary activities poses a problem of serious magnitude in Jharia and Raniganj fields the practice of coke making in beehive ovens and that large volume of atmospheric pollutants as evidenced by the damage to vegetation, depreciation buildings, poor visibility and smoke density.

Thermal inversions and smog's are a recurrent problem in some parts of Jharia and Raniganj coalfields with attendant traffic safety problems! Wind-borne dust is also a major nuisance. Noise and airborne concussion or ground vibration duel to blasting in shallow workings and open cast mines close to urban settlements is another environmental problem complaints of annoying noise and uncomfortable vibration from residents of the town of Jharia in 1973 led to the prohibition of blasting as a means of coal mining below this town in the Damodar Valley.

The environmental problems, which are already critical, are being magnified because of the increasing quantum of output, increasing mine size and concentrated] production in Jharia.


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