Community Issues in Coal Belts
A short descriptive report on Barddhaman District outlining areas of public health and indicators of health, nutrition and environmental pollution, MDGs. A blog www.alongtheburntcoalcorridor.wordpress.com elaborates more on specific issues of health and education.
1. Introduction and Background to the Region
Barddhaman District of West Bengal bordering Jharkhand State’s Dhanbad District forms a contiguous industrial and coal mining belt. As history records it, it was in the late 18th Century, that the first contours of extracting coal from Raniganj coalfields emerged during the British rule, even today the history parallels the present. India has several energy hubs in the country producing energy from coal extraction and has given rise to associated industries like steel plants, metallurgical industries, thermal power plants, manufacturing and many more.
The Damodar valley Corporation was first ever attempt to harness energy from the Damodar river which used to flood parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, DVC was created through an Act of Parliament in 1948. It was during the mid 20th Century and alongside the freedom gained by Indian Republic that industrialization began in this valley, SAIL established Durgapur Steel Plant and it was also the beginning of several energy generation projects from the Damodar valley which is rich in thermal grade coal. DVC has an installed capacity of nearly 6400 MW, largely from coal.
Jharia coalfield has deep seated coal seams with availability of quality coking coal whereas Raniganj coalfields have largely non-coking coal. In post reform era, several attempts to attract foreign investments and recently auctioning of minerals took a centre stage and new laws were framed, these however, didn’t created a space for communities to strengthen their demand for redressing externalities and impacts that mining has caused over the years. Read more