India is increasingly powering itself on coal. About three-fourth of India’s electricity is coal-based, its dependence on coal is growing faster than any other country in the world (6 per cent a year) and coal extraction has doubled to 500 million tons since 1994. It’s killing people.
“The coal complex in India has significant health impacts — mainly through local air pollution — including premature mortality, ranging from 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths per year,” says the study, published in ‘Ecological Economics’ by Elsevier this month. Workers and people living around coal mines contract diseases by inhaling coal dust and drinking polluted water.
Besides, mining accidents have also been taking thousands of lives: “From 2001 to 2014, more than 7,000 accidents were reported across all coal mining companies in India. In the three years between 2015 and 2017, more than 200 coal miners lost their lives in such accidents.”
This is linked, the authors point out, to the fact that despite an increase in renewable sources of energy, India continues to depend on coal. “Both hydroelectricity and nuclear are being promoted as sources of energy production in India, and both result in socio-ecological justice movements