India’s Coal and Lignite Production Hits All-time High

India’s Coal and Lignite Production Hits All-time High

In News
• India has for the first time crossed the milestone of 1 billion tonnes of coal and lignite production in the
financial year 2023-24.

About the Coal Deposits

• The Indian coal deposits are primarily concentrated in the Gondwana sediments occurring mainly in the
eastern and central parts of Peninsular India, although Gondwana coal deposits also occur in Assam and
Sikkim in the north eastern part of the country.
• The Tertiary coal-bearing sediments are found in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
• Coal resources have been found mainly in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya
Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and a few states of North-Eastern Region.

Do you know ?

– Lignite is a low grade brown coal, which is soft with high moisture content.
– The principal lignite reserves are in Neyveli in Tamil Nadu and are used for generation of electricity.
A. Other areas where lignite deposits have been located are Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Rajasthan, West
Bengal and Puducherry
– Coal that has been buried deep and subjected to increased temperatures is bituminous coal.
– It is the most popular coal in commercial use.
– Anthracite is the highest quality hard coal.


• India’s total coal and lignite output was at 937 million tonnes (MT) in the preceding 2022-23 fiscal, as per
official figures.
• Owing to favourable support from the Government resulting in capacity expansion, coal and lignite
production has grown by more than 70 per cent over the last 10 years.
• The world’s second largest consumer, after China, had produced 937.22 mt of coal and lignite in FY23.
• India surpassed the one billion tonnes production milestone on March 22, 2024, going past FY23’s entire
production 25 days in advance.
• Majorly imports: Indonesia, Australia and South Africa


• Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India. It accounts for 55% of the country’s energy
• The country’s industrial heritage was built upon indigenous coal.
• Coal accounts for over 70% of India’s electricity output, and utilities account for about 75% of India’s coal
• Coal plays a pivotal role in sustainable development and an essential input to most steel production
• In addition, other industries like cement, fertilizer, chemical, paper and thousands of medium and smallscale industries are dependent on coal for their process and energy requirements
• Apart from creating direct employment opportunities, mining activities also generate significant indirect
employment, contributing to socio-economic development.

Issues and Challenges

• Environmental: From mining to coal cleaning, from transportation to electricity generation to disposal, coal
releases numerous toxic pollutants into the air, water and land.
• These disrupt ecosystems and endanger human health
• As coal production is increasing, resource is depleting at a faster rate
• The biggest reason for coal shortage is the increasing power demand.
• Un-seasonal and extended Rainfall in the coal bearing areas.
• Non-Payment of commensurate Coal value along with huge outstanding dues by Power Sector consumers.
• Frequent Labour/ Industrial Relation (IR) issues in the Coal fields.
• Land acquisition issues.

Conclusion and Way Forward

• India is increasing renewable capacity but it will also have to rely on coal power until it achieves developed
country status
• Countries reached a historic deal on a ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ at COP28 in Dubai while emerging
economies like India and China strongly resisted the targeting of coal.
• There is a need to revise the emission standards for coal power plants for particulates and introduce new
emission standards for other pollutants.
• Reuse and recycling can also reduce the environmental effects of coal production and use.
• India’s long-term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070,it must continue to implement clean coal technologies
to reduce the power sector’s emissions.

Recent Coal Sector Reforms

– 1973: Nationalisation of Coal mining was done.
a. Pvt. Sector only uses it for captive (own) purpose.
– 2014: SC cancels Coal blocks.
– 2015: Coal Mines (Special provisions) (CMSP) Act introduced (Pvt Sector involved through auctioning)
– 2020: Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act (Removal of restriction on end-use of coal)
a. Right to exploit coal bed methane (CBM) and minor minerals have been provided
– Others: Prakash Portal for coordination, Infra under AtmaNirbhar Policy.
a. Online single-window clearance system.