Journal Articles

Intergenerational Labour and Just Transition in Coalfields

Suravee Nayak

The India Forum

June 1, 2023

In coal mining districts, the nature of labour dependence on working coal may change over time, but generations will continue to rely on the industry for their livelihoods. This leaves coal communities extremely vulnerable to an energy transition.

India’s coal dependency is more complex than that of countries in the Global North. Amidst deliberations on coal phase-down and just transition planning and strategies post COP-26, the intricacies of this dependence make any phase-down a delicate and intense socio-economic and political process. Apart from the country’s reliance on coal for energy security, this dependency is also spread across economy, especially amongst coal communities.

Several studies have mapping coal reliance and its effects on states’ revenues, railway freights and fares, the economy of coal producing districts, as well as on industries such as transport, power, sponge iron, steel and bricks.

More importantly, accounting for the impact on livelihoods and jobs of coal communities are at the core of coal dependency discussions in the country. There are two approaches to examine coal labour in India. The first is to map direct, indirect and induced employment and the other is to study formal and informal labour in the coal ecosystems. However, these studies largely focus on the magnitude of labour dependency.

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