India is growing. It needs energy, and coal is cheap and plentiful. Now the country is grappling with the environmental and social consequences.

“It’s not by choice. It’s by compulsion,” says Anil Swarup, secretary of India’s Ministry of Coal. In India, 300 million people live without electricity.

Mr Swarup’s job is to boost production at Coal India, the state-owned company that currently produces the bulk of India’s coal. He is aiming for a billion tonnes of coal a year by 2020.

“We don’t have any other option,” he says when I visit him at his office in Delhi.

“Presently, per capita consumption of energy in India is at the level of late 19th and early 20th century US. Read more