Failure of filling the abandoned mines leads to sinking of land
Reclamation of an exhausted mine is mandatory and financial provision has to be made for the purpose through mine closure plans. Replies to applications under the RTI have revealed that the failure of Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries to properly fill the mines has resulted in the land sinking at several places which has destroyed nearly 60,000 hectares of land. In the case of underground mines, a task force constituted by CIL identified 121 abandoned mines out of which Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), a CIL subsidiary, had 48 in West Bengal and Jharkhand. 40 out of these 48 mines were closed between 1976 and 2000 where the land has subsided as the CIL failed to stow sand in them. Similarly, it has come to light that another subsidiary, Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) owns seven abandoned underground mines with a total area of nearly 6,500 hectare of which six were closed before 2001. Other CIL subsidiaries like Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) have 20 abandoned underground mines with a total area of 5,500 hectare in Jharkhand and Bengal.