India’s growing informal coal workforce complicates energy transition

(Eco Business, 30 Nov 2023) Despite rising coal production in India, job losses loom over the sector as mines are closed. The most vulnerable people in India’s energy transition are the growing numbers of informal workers and their families.

India’s coal sector will remain in expansion mode for another decade. About 48 gigawatts (GW) of thermal power capacity is estimated to be added to the existing coal-based thermal power base of 211 GW by 2032.

This growth, however, brings little cheer to India’s huge coal sector workforce. 

Kalimuddin Ansari, a coal miner in his late 40s in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, one of the country’s major coal-producing states where some of the oldest mines are located, is worried that he and many of his colleagues may have to accept early retirement. They do not see any alternative income opportunity when these mines are depleted. 

Ansari is an employee of Eastern Coalfields (ECL), a subsidiary of Coal India (CIL), a public sector company that is the world’s largest producer of coal. CIL alone produces around 83 per cent of the country’s entire coal output. CIL and its subsidiaries are on a workforce downsizing drive and are closing down unprofitable mines

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Eco Business, 30 Nov 2023: India’s growing informal coal workforce complicates energy transition