State-owned CIL on Wednesday said its efforts to curb environmental pollution through the implementation of mechanised coal transportation and loading through coal-handling plants resulted in a significant reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other air pollutants.
This was revealed in a first-of-its-kind pilot study sponsored by Coal India Ltd (CIL) in two of its opencast mines.
At a time when the country under COP26 commitment has pledged the reduction of CO2 emissions towards net-zero march, CIL's efforts in this regard will help the national cause.
To reduce emissions for a cleaner environment, CIL in a major step is switching over to mechanized transportation of coal through conveyor belts and loading by CHP/ silos under its first-mile connectivity (FMC) initiative.
In addition to 151 million tonnes (MT) of coal currently transported through this means, CIL has identified 35 coal mining projects where additionally 415 million tonnes (MT) of coal will be loaded through environment-friendly CHP/ silos by 2023-24.
To come up at an investment of around Rs 10,500 crore, FMC projects will lift the total mechanised loading quantity to 566 MT.
CIL is dovetailing FMC projects with main rail lines, strengthening the rail connectivity at an investment of about Rs 2,335 crore. The company is also investing Rs 3,750 crore in 21 new rail sidings. Evacuation of coal is more challenging. Silo loading compared to prevalent loading through sidings also leads to productivity gain on quality and quantity fronts.
CIL has engaged the services of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, a unit of the Council of Scientific Industrial Research, to evaluate potential environmental advantages of loading coal through CHP/ silos in Lingaraj and Gevra opencast projects of MCL and SECL, respectively, as a dipstick survey.
''The result of the study is encouraging. Mechanised loading offers a bouquet of environmental benefits like reduced CO2 emissions, other air pollutants and ambient noise levels.
''Reliability in coal despatches also increases, especially during monsoon, as silo loading avoids road transport,'' the company said.
With Lingaraj Opencast Project (OCP) having 16 MT CHP/ silo loading capacity per annum, the pilot study established an annual reduction of 10,288 tonnes CO2 emissions. This indicates an overall 54 per cent drop in emissions compared to despatch through rail sidings. Reduction in particulate matter and other gaseous emissions was around 73 per cent, which translates into a better quality of life.
In the case of Gevra, which has 10 MT CHP/ silo capacity, the reduction in CO2 emissions was 1,658 tonnes per year for loading through silos, around 21 per cent fall against loading through sidings.
There was a reduction of around 84 per cent in particulate matter and other gaseous emissions.
Though CIL has constructed bypass roads for trucks, mechanised loading leads to reduced density on the road network enhancing better road safety and lowering accidents.
Another offshoot of mechanised loading is savings that accrue out of a decrease in diesel consumption and road transportation costs. A total saving of 58.38 lakh litres of diesel from payloaders and tippers was indicated in Lingaraj OCP entailing a benefit of Rs 105 crore, including transportation costs.
In the case of Gevra, savings on diesel was to the tune of 26.95 lakh litres benefitting a little over Rs 65 crore, including transportation costs. The diesel price considered was of January-February 2021 when the study was conducted.
Environmental and economic benefits would be significant when FMC projects of 415 MT capacity become operational by 2024. CIL accounts for over 80 per cent of the total domestic coal production.
(With inputs from PTI)
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