How the environment ministry lets Coal India break the rules

Overlooking the poor record of the public sector unit’s mines on checking pollution and complying with environmental safeguards, it approves their expansion requests under a special arrangement.

In 2017, as India faced a crisis due to the shortage of coal, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change offered a special concession to India’s coal mining sector. It allowed existing mines to expand their output by up to 40% without conducting a public hearing in affected areas. 

At the time, many of India’s biggest coal mines—such as the Gevra mine in Chhattisgarh, India’s largest supplier of power-grade coal—were known to be causing air and water pollution in the areas around them and for flouting environmental safeguards. 

Public hearings are avenues for local residents to raise concerns over …


Meenakshi Kapoor

Meenakshi is an independent researcher based in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. Her bylines have appeared in The Third Pole, Article 14, Mongabay-India and Caravan, among others. Her interests include the environment, land and agrarian policies.



Krithika is an independent lawyer and researcher working on environmental law and policy issues. She previously worked with communities affected by environmental injustices, particularly in Gujarat and Odisha. She also works on labour rights issues affecting workers in the informal economy.


Sneha Thapliyal

Sneha is an environmental economist with research interests in biodiversity conservation, environmental governance and policy, and socio-economic inequalities. She is currently an associate professor at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru.