Even as the notion is that coal mining degrades the land, new projects of Coal India Ltd. (CIL), under the Ministry of Coal are not only reclaiming land to its original shape but also enhancing Green cover along with Coal Mining activity. Emphasis is to have simultaneous backfilling of land after opencast Coal Mining operation and dense plantation thereon to maintain environmental equilibrium.
Out of many such greenfield projects, one of the largest projects of CIL, the Jayant Opencast Coal Project in Singrauli District of Madhya Pradesh is forging ahead with a mission of looking beyond coal mining with the land restoration & enhancing green cover day by day. This has helped in lowering down the effect of pollution substantially & has also helped in increasing Carbon offset. The Coal project is under Northern Coalfields Ltd. (NCL), a subsidiary of CIL.
During a detailed review of environmental & forest clearance of Jayant Project by Secretary (Coal), Ministry of Coal in New Delhi, the satellite data of the Coal project presented by NCL revealed more Green cover than the pre-mining forest cover, which is an outstanding achievement for any mega Coal project operating in large leasehold area.
Jayant Coal Project operates in an area of about 3200 hectares with an annual coal production capacity of 25 Million Tonnes. Mining operation in the project started way back in the year 1975-76. Coal production started from the year 1977-78 by deploying larger capacity Heavy Earth Moving Machines (HEMM) such as Dragline, Shovel, Dumpers, etc. Coal produced from the project is linked to Singrauli Super Thermal Power Station of NTPC located at Shaktinagar, Uttar Pradesh, which has a generation capacity of 2000 MW. Coal is being transported to the power plant through a dedicated Merry-Go-Round (MGR) system.
In line with the Green Cover Mission, the massive plantation is being carried out every year in and around the project which includes reclaimed area & overburden (OB) dump areas with the help of Madhya Pradesh Rajya Van Vikas Nigam Limited (MPRVVNL). Saplings include species such as Jamun, Jungle Jalebi, Seesam, Sirus, Mahua, Subabul, Bel, Amla, Kachnar, Karanj, Neem, Amaltas, Bamboo, Bougainvillea, Cassia, Gulmohar, Khamer, Peltophorum, etc.
The pre-mining forest cover was around 1180 hectares which have now increased to the level of 1419 hectares of Green cover as per the Land Reclamation Report based on Satellite Data for the year 2020. This is about 45% of the total leasehold area of the Project. The target is to have over 2600 hectares of the area covered under Green cover after the closure of the mine, which will be more than double the pre-mining stage.
All new coal projects have a mandatory well-laid mine closure plan which apart from other activities, becomes a guiding factor for the restoration of land to its original condition after completion of mining activity. Action on such restoration begins right from the start of the project wherein backfilling of the void by overburden becomes a major activity after mining & simultaneous plantation over the land becomes a key activity for early biological restoration.