Cabinet approves land use policy for coal-bearing areas acquired under the 1957 Act

Coal-Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957 [CBA Act]: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the policy for use of land acquired under the Coal-Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957 [CBA Act] with the goal of facilitating the utilization of lands that have been mined out or are practically unsuitable for coal mining, as well as increasing investment and job creation in the coal sector. The policy calls for the use of such land for development and the construction of coal and energy-related infrastructure.

CBA Act allows for the acquisition of coal-bearing lands

The CBA Act allows for the acquisition of coal-bearing lands and their unencumbered vesting in government entities. The policy, which has been authorized, establishes a clear policy framework for the use of the following types of lands acquired under the CBA Act:

  1. Lands no longer suitable or economically viable for coal mining activities; or
  2. Lands from which coal has been mined out / de-coaled and such land has been reclaimed.

Lands to be acquired under Coal-bearing Areas Act, 1957

The government coal firms, such as Coal India Ltd. (CIL) and its subsidiaries, would continue to own the lands acquired under the CBA Act, and the policy only authorizes leasing for the objectives mentioned in the policy. Private cash can be deployed by government coal firms in collaborative projects for coal and energy-related infrastructure development.

The government corporation that owns the land would lease it for a set amount of time as specified in the policy, and the leasing entities would be chosen through a transparent, fair, and competitive bid process and mechanism to produce the best possible value. The lands will be considered for the following activities:

  1. to set up Coal Washeries;
  2. to set up Conveyor Systems;
  3. to establish Coal Handling Plants;
  4. to construct Railway Sidings;
  5. Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Project Affected Families due to the acquisition of land under the Coal-Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act or other land acquisition law;
  6. to set up thermal and renewable power projects;
  7. to set up or provide for coal development-related infrastructure including compensatory afforestation;
  8. to provide Right of Way;
  9. Coal gasification and coal to chemical plants; and
  10. to set up or provide for energy-related infrastructure.

Lands that have been mined out or are practically unsuited for coal mining are vulnerable to unwanted intrusion, resulting in unnecessary security and maintenance costs. The approved policy under Coal-bearing Areas Act would result in the creation of a large number of direct and indirect jobs by establishing diverse coal and energy-related infrastructure without transferring control from government firms.

CIL will be able to set up coal-related infrastructure and other projects such as solar plants on its own land as a result of this unlocking of non-minable land for other purposes, as it will be able to use different business models in partnership with the private sector to set up coal-related infrastructure and other projects such as solar plants on its own land. It will make coal gasification projects feasible because coal will not have to be delivered to far locations. 

The proposal to use the land for rehabilitation purposes would ensure proper land utilization and eliminate wastage of all-important land resources, avoid the acquisition of a new piece of land for the rehabilitation of Project Affected Families, avoid adding to the projects’ financial burden, and increase profit. It will also cater to the needs of displaced families, who desire to remain as near to their original residences as feasible. It will assist in garnering local support for coal projects, as well as providing land to the State Government for afforestation in place of forest area diverted for coal mining.

The Policy will contribute to the achievement of Atmanirbhar Bharat’s goal by stimulating indigenous production, reducing import dependence, and creating jobs, among other things. The strategy will free up land for various coal and energy infrastructure development projects, encouraging investment in the country’s poorest districts. The use of the previously acquired property would help reduce new land acquisition and accompanying displacement, while simultaneously promoting local manufacturing and industry. 

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