CIL begins satellite surveillance

Coal India Ltd has initiated satellite surveillance of its open cast mines to have an idea of the environmental impact of its activities. The aim is to assess the remedial measures required for environmental protection and to utilise the reclaimed land for larger socio-economic benefits in a planned manner.

CIL intended to have a clear picture through such satellite surveillance on the areas of backfilled zone, plantation status, status of OB dumps, social forestry, active mining area, water bodies, distribution of waste land, agricultural and forest land and status of settlement.

The procedures adopted had been multi-pronged. CIL procured satellite data from NRSA, Hyderabad. These were RESOURCESAT (LISS-IV) data. It also obtained collateral data that is ancillary data related to concern OCP from the relevant coal company. Next step was Satellite Data Processing. Data processed using ERDAS image processing software. Information had been stored on GIS platform for temporal analysis. It had been used for ground truthing i.e. selective ground verification of land use classes to be validated in each project. Then the report is finalised and uploaded in websites of CIL, CMPDIL and concerned subsidiary.

The summary result of CIL as a whole has been encouraging. It had identified a total of 171 open cast projects. Out of these 49 projects producing more than 5mm3 (Coal+OB) per annum are now being monitored once a year. 122 projects producing less than 5 mm3 (Coal+OB) per annum will be monitored once in 3 years. Surveillance for 35 projects producing more than 5 mm3 per annum has been completed under Coal ministry’s 100 days programme. Study reveals that in all OC projects, plantation area, green coverage and backfilled area have increased.

Following are the salient observations from the CIL study. In Ashoka OCP, CCL, land reclamation has increased from 6.25 sq km (2006) to 6.91 sq km (2008). In Gevra and Dipka OCP, SECL, plantation increased from 2.99 sq km (2003) to 7.80 sq km (2008).

In Singrauli Coalfield, NCL, area of plantation has increased from 55.49 sq km (2007) to 61.06 sq km (2008). In Wardha Valley Coalfield, WCL, area of plantation has increased from 11.48 sq km (2005) to 14.05 sq km (2008). The result of the satellite surveillance indicates that in the 35 mines monitored there had been an overall increase of plantation to 50 per cent of the area. So far Coal India has accredited 30 projects for ISO: 14001 certification.

The 35 mines monitored have shown that out of a total mined out area of 196 sq km, the active mining area had been just 51.57 sq km. While 144.78 sq km had been reclaimed. During 2009-10 the seven subsidiaries of CIL will monitor 49 projects and use the data to study the environmental safeguards required to be introduced in these mining areas.

The factor that has saved the mining regions from getting degraded had been the built in checks introduced by the coal Navratna as a matter of process. The corporation follows the following as a matter of routine. Extensive tree plantation programme is undertaken every year by the subsidiaries of Coal India. Avenue plantation, plantation on the OB dumps, plantation around mines, residential colonies, and available land is undertaken in existing as well as new projects. It had planted over 70 millions of plants since 1993-94 covering an estimated land area of 28335 hectares and will continue plantation activities depending upon availability of land. CIL has spent more than Rs 129 crore in planting over 7 crore saplings in areas spread over 28335 hectares since 1993-94 till 2008.

Land Use ClassArea (Sq. Kms)
(OB Dump, Backfilled (50.55%)area. Social Forestry)
Backfilled Area
(Without Plantation)
Active Mining Area51.57

Coal Company No. of Projects
WCL 10
MCL 06
ECL 01

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