Coal mining in India

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Coal reserves in BTUs as of 2009
Coal production in India, 1950-2012

Coal mining in India has a long history of commercial exploitation covering nearly 220 years starting in 1774 with John Sumner and Suetonius Grant Heatly of the East India Company in the Raniganj Coalfield along the Western bank of Damodar river. However, for about a century the growth of Indian coal mining remained sluggish for want of demand but the introduction of steam locomotives in 1853 gave a fillip to it. Within a short span, production rose to an annual average of 1 million metric tons (1.1 million short tons). India could produce 6.12 million metric tons (6.75 million short tons) per year by 1900 and 18 million metric tons (20 million short tons) per year by 1920. The production got a sudden boost from the First World War but went through a slump in the early thirties. The production reached a level of 29 million metric tons (32 million short tons) by 1942 and 30 million metric tons (33 million short tons) by 1946.[2]

With the advent of independence, the country embarked upon the 5-year development plans. At the beginning of the 1st Plan, annual production went up to 33 million metric tons (36 million short tons). During the 1st Plan period itself, the need for increasing coal production efficiently by systematic and scientific development of the coal industry was being felt. Setting up of the National Coal Development Corporation (NCDC), a Government of India Undertaking in 1956 with the collieries owned by the railways as its nucleus was the first major step towards planned development of Indian Coal Industry. Along with the Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) which was already in operation since 1945 and which became a Government company under the control of Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1956, India thus had two Government coal companies in the fifties. SCCL is now a joint undertaking of Government of Telangana and Government of India sharing its equity in 51:49 ratio.

Coal Mining Regions[edit]

Coal reserves in India is one of the largest in the world. As on April 1, 2012, India had 293.5 billion metric tons (323.5 billion short tons) of the resource.[1] The production of coal was 532.69 million metric tons (587.19 million short tons) in 2010-11. The production of lignite was 37.73 million metric tons (41.59 million short tons) in 2010-11. As on 2011, India ranked 3rd in world coal production.[3] The energy derived from coal in India is about twice that of energy derived from oil, whereas worldwide, energy derived from coal is about 30% less than energy derived from oil.

Distribution of coal reserve by states[1][edit]

State Coal Reserves
(in million metric tonnes)
Type of Coalfield
Neyveli 80,356.21 Gondwana
Jharkhand 80,356.20 Gondwana
Orissa 71,447.41 Gondwana
Chhattisgarh 50,846.15 Gondwana
West Bengal 30,615.72 Gondwana
Madhya Pradesh 24,376.26 Gondwana
Telangana 22,154.86 Gondwana
Maharashtra 10,882.09 Gondwana
Uttar Pradesh 1,061.80 Gondwana
Meghalaya 576.48 Tertiary
Assam 510.52 Tertiary
Nagaland 315.41 Tertiary
Bihar 160.00 Gondwana
Sikkim 101.23 Gondwana
Arunachal Pradesh 90.23 Tertiary
Assam 2.79 Gondwana
TOTAL 293,497.15

The top producing states are:

Other notable coal-mining areas include:

Nationalisation of coal mines[edit]

Right from its genesis, the commercial coal mining in modern times in India has been dictated by the needs of the domestic consumption. India has abundant domestic reserves of coal. Most of these are in the states of Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.[4] On account of the growing needs of the steel industry, a thrust had to be given on systematic exploitation of coking coal reserves in Jharia Coalfield. Adequate capital investment to meet the burgeoning energy needs of the country was not forthcoming from the private coal mine owners.

Unscientific mining practices adopted by some of them and poor working conditions of labor in some of the private coal mines became matters of concern for the Government. On account of these reasons, the Central Government took a decision to nationalize the private coal mines. The nationalization was done in two phases, the first with the coking coal mines in 1971-72 and then with the non-coking coal mines in 1973. In October, 1971, the Coking Coal Mines (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1971 provided for taking over in public interest of the management of coking coal mines and coke oven plants pending nationalization. This was followed by the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1972 under which the coking coal mines and the coke oven plants other than those with the Tata Iron & Steel Company Limited and Indian Iron & Steel Company Limited, were nationalized on May 1, 1972 and brought under the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a new Central Government Undertaking. Another enactment, namely the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1973, extended the right of the Government of India to take over the management of the coking and non-coking coal mines in seven States including the coking coal mines taken over in 1971. This was followed by the nationalization of all these mines on May 1, 1973 with the enactment of the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1973 which now is the piece of Central legislation determining the eligibility of coal mining in India.[5]

All non-coking coal mines were nationalized in 1973 and placed under Coal Mines Authority of India. In 1975, Eastern Coalfields Limited, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, was formed. It took over all the earlier private collieries in Raniganj Coalfield. Raniganj Coalfield covers an area of 443.50 square kilometres (171.24 sq mi) and has total coal reserves of 8,552.85 million metric tons (9,427.90 million short tons). Eastern Coalfields puts the reserves at 29.72 billion metric tons (32.76 billion short tons). That makes it the second largest coalfield in the country (in terms of reserves).

The North East Indian states enjoys special privileges under constitution of India. The Sixth Schedule of constitution and article 371 of constitution allows state governments to formulate its own policy in order to recognize customary tribal laws. For example, Nagaland has its own coal policy which allows its natives to mine coal from their respective lands. Similarly, coal mining in Meghalaya was rampant till imposition of ban on coal mining by National Green Tribunal. The Nagaland Coal[6] and Meghalaya Coal[7] has large buyers in North India, Central India and Eastern India.

See also[edit]

  1. Indian Coal Allocation Scam
  2. 1965 Dhanbad coal mine disaster
  3. Coal Mining & Mistris of Kutch
  4. Mafia raj


  1. ^ a b c "Inventory of Coal Resources of India - Ministry of Coal". 
  2. ^ "Coal Mining in India: The Past". Ministry of Coal, Indian government. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Coal & Lignite - Indian Minerals year book - 2011" (PDF). Indian Bureau of Mines, Government of India. October 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Coal India Limited - About Us". 
  6. ^ "CoalDunia - Nagaland Coal". 
  7. ^ "CoalDunia - Meghalaya Coal". 

Further reading[edit]