'Tiger on my farm': Indian coal mining hub brings new dangers for villagers

(Reuters, 9 Sep 2021) India is the world's second-largest coal producer and is ramping up mining to meet energy needs - but impacts are mostly negative for local communities, environmentalists say.

The hillocks dotting the coal hub of Chandrapur are a green oasis in the central Indian region pockmarked with coal mines, where even rain puddles are black and a coal-fed thermal power plant belches smoke into the sky.

Yet locals live in fear of these hills - dunes formed with the sand removed from coal mines and covered by a blanket of green - as they have created a new habitat for tigers and other wild animals responsible for a string of devastating attacks.

Coal mining is more commonly criticised by environmentalists for polluting air and water, degrading landscapes and fuelling climate change than for creating new wildlife habitats.

But Santosh Patnaik, who manages programmes aimed at securing a green and fair transition with New Delhi-based Climate Action Network South Asia, noted the coal industry "has outcomes we don't really know about yet".

India is the world's second-largest coal producer after China, yet supplies are falling short for the needs of its domestic industry and the government is ramping up production.

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Reuters, 9 Sep 2021: 'Tiger on my farm': Indian coal mining hub brings new dangers for villagers