Record-breaking Coal and Lignite Production in India

GS-3 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes

Question : Discuss the distribution of coal deposits in India and the types of coal resources available. Evaluate the importance of coal in India’s energy mix and its contribution to various industries.


  • India achieved a record-breaking coal and lignite production of 1 billion tonnes in FY 2023-24.
  • This surpasses the previous year’s total of 937 million tonnes (MT).
  • Production has grown over 70% in the last decade due to government support for capacity expansion.
  • India is the world’s second-largest coal consumer after China.

Coal Deposits in India

  • Gondwana sediments (eastern and central India) are the primary source of coal deposits.
  • Tertiary coal deposits are found in the northeast (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya).
  • Major coal resources are located in: West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and some northeastern states.

Types of Coal

  • Lignite: Low-grade brown coal, high in moisture. Used for electricity generation (mainly Neyveli, Tamil Nadu).
  • Bituminous coal: Most common type, formed from buried coal exposed to high temperatures.
  • Anthracite: Highest quality hard coal.

Importance of Coal in India

  • Accounts for 55% of India’s energy needs and is crucial for industrial development.
  • Over 70% of India’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants.
  • Essential input for steel production and other industries like cement, fertilizer, chemicals, paper, etc.
  • Provides direct and indirect employment opportunities, contributing to socio-economic development.

Issues and Challenges

  • Environmental impact: Coal production and use release pollutants into air, water, and land, harming ecosystems and human health.
  • Resource depletion: Coal reserves are depleting faster than production is increasing. Reasons include:
    • Rising power demand
    • Unseasonal rainfall in coal-bearing areas
    • Non-payment by power sector consumers
    • Labor/industrial relation issues
    • Land acquisition problems
  • Balancing development with clean energy goals:
    • India is increasing renewable energy capacity but will rely on coal until it reaches developed nation status.

Way Forward

  • Implement clean coal technologies to reduce emissions from the power sector.
  • Revise emission standards for coal power plants.
  • Promote reuse and recycling to minimize environmental impact.
  • Continue efforts towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

Recent Coal Sector Reforms

  • 1973: Nationalization of coal mining (private sector only for captive use)
  • 2014: SC cancels coal blocks allocation
  • 2015: Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act (CMSP) allows private sector participation through auction
  • 2020: Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act:
    • Removes restrictions on coal end-use
    • Grants right to exploit coal bed methane (CBM) and minor minerals
  • Prakash Portal: Online platform for coordination in the coal sector
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan promotes infrastructure development in the coal sector
  • Single-window clearance system for coal projects








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