Coal mining a sign of environmental degradation in Nagaland
NAGALAND: Coal is one resource which can uplift the economy of the local people and the Nagaland State in general if utilized properly. Coal deposits are distributed in eight districts of the State. Existence of coal was first known in 1842, yet a detailed and comprehensive report of coal deposits in the State is yet to be brought out, according to a booklet on 'Study of coal mining areas in Nagaland and its impact on environment,' published by Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPCB) in 2015.
In Nagaland, the Department of Geology and Mining introduced Coal Policy 2006 to achieve the best use of available coal resources through mining, beneficiation and economic utilization, keeping in mind the constitutional safeguards provided to the State under Article 371-A of the Constitution with regard to land and its resources.
The most practiced coal mining method in Nagaland is rat-hole mining. In districts like Mon and Longleng, open cast mining is actively practiced as well. As of now, The current sight of coal mining areas both abandoned sites and ongoing mining activities in the State are not in pleasantry conditions as as they have been carried out reluctant of any proper planning leading to wastage of coal reserves and causing hazards such a landslide and subsidence in many areas.
"This poses threat to the flora, fauna and the local people living in the vicinity," the booklet stated, adding that "mining may be for a short period of time but the impact caused is long lasting and grievous. Its impact can be seen on air, water and land environment." The booklet also stated that exposure of underground rocks and mineral releasing toxic gases on reaction with oxygen, water and sunlight caused air pollution which contributes to global warming, climate change etc. Excessive dust from mining interferes with photosynthetic & physiological activities of plants thereby retarding their growth. It also disrupts the air quality leading to many air borne diseases. The booklet also stated that excavation of large areas also releases many toxic minerals which are harmful to aquatic organisms, because of its acidity.
It is also reported that people living in the vicinity of mining sites have problems with drinking water because of the presence of high iron content and complaints of water borne diseases like typhoid, jaundice, cholera etc. The booklet also stated that agriculture, which is a source of livelihood for villagers, is facing hazards as cultivable lands have started losing their fertility because of mining activity which removes the top soil and contaminates the land and water with its toxic discharges. These result in uprooting the indigenous people from their native place. Noise and vibration lead to wild animals and birds being driven away from the nearby forests due to blasting and operation of machines.
"This show that blessings can sometimes turn out to be a curse if we fail to utilize them in a proper way," the booklet added. "Mining must be done in a scientific and sustainable manner without much harm to environment for strengthening the social structure," the booklet stated. "Coal is one of the major resources of Nagaland and coal mining has been practiced since 18th century. Coal mining requires deforestation and soil excavation thereby leads to disturbance in the forest cover besides water pollution from the leachates," stated Parliamentary Secretary of Industries and Commerce, Amenba Yaden in the preface.
Yaden stated that NPCB has been trying to implement the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 beside other Acts and Rules through consent management and regulating mining activities "so that our resources is utilized with minimum damage to our environment by following proper Mine Closure Plans." Akangmeren Imchen, scientists B Khriehunuo Rutsa and Lhaihoichoing Singson, both junior research fellows, besides others were instrumental in this project.
Featured Image: The Morung Express