To avoid catastrophic effects of climate change, India needs to reduce consumption of fossil fuels such as coal.
A transition from coal is already underway as many coal mines are temporarily or permanently closed, told various speakers at the virtual event of the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST) while launching its India Just Transition Centre (IJTC).
A sharp decline in coal demand to 50% in the next two decades will impact the livelihood and employment of about two crore workers. Transition will require the diversification of local economy and livelihoods in coal regions of Odisha, particularly in coal districts such as Sundargarh , Angul and Jharsuguda, they opined.
The District Mineral Foundation (DMF) is one of the key resources for economic diversification in coal districts. Odisha is the topmost State with more than Rs12,000 crore accrual in DMF. About 24% of this comes from coal mining which is predominantly spread in Angul, Sundargarh and Jharsuguda districts, they stated. The inaugural session of the event was attended by MPs Jairam Ramesh, Jayant Sinha and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal Vinod Kumar Tewari.
Participating in the discussion on “Economic, Social & Policy Dynamics of Just Transition” at the launch of IJTC Sundargarh Collector Nikhil Pavan Kalyan emphasised on the role of DMF in livelihood diversification in non-mining avenues such as agriculture.
CEO of iFOREST Chandra Bhushan said, “The IJTC is envisioned as a platform to bring stakeholders together to work on various aspects of just transition in India. The IJTC will support policies and planning, provide technical support, promote best practices and build capacity of various stakeholders.” The countrywide DMF accrual is about Rs 47,600 crore of which Odisha accounts of 26% share. Coal districts account for about 24% of the total State DMF collection, with most contributions coming from Sundargarh, Angul and Jharsuguda. The total DMF collection so far in
Angul is more than Rs 1,500 crore and in Sundargarh it is Rs 3,000 crore, it was pointed. “While many resources need to be brought together, industrial policy needs to be revised to bring in investments.
The DMFs at the district level provide a chance to start on investments to diversify livelihoods and creating social infrastructure for the local areas,” said Just Transition, iFOREST director Srestha Banerjee.
MP Sinha told that phasing out coal over next two to three decades is essential to meet climate goals. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal Tiwari said, “Fossil fuels like coal have a finite life and hence, a transition is inevitable.” A new report titled “Five Rs: A cross-sectoral landscape of Just Transition in India”, was released at the event.