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Indian coal reserves: Classification of coal and where it is found in the country

Coal is the main source of energy in India as it fulfils almost 67 per cent of the total commercial energy consumed in the country. This fossil fuel is found in a form of sedimentary rocks and is often known as ‘Black Gold’.

It is originated from organic matter wood. When large tracts of forests are buried under sediments, wood is burnt and decomposed due to heat from below and pressure from above. The phenomenon makes coal but takes centuries to complete.

Coal can be classified on the basis of carbon content and time period.

Types of coal on the basis of carbon content
Anthracite is the best quality of coal which carries 80 to 95 per cent carbon content. It ignites slowly with a blue flame. It has the highest calorific value. It is found in small quantity in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bituminous carries 60 to 80 per cent of carbon content and a low level of moisture content. It is widely used and has high calorific value. It is found in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Lignite is often brown in colour. It carries 40 to 55 per cent carbon content. It is an intermediate stage which happens during the alteration of woody matter into coal. It has high moisture content so it gives smoke when burnt. It is found in Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam), and Tamil Nadu.

Peat has less than 40 per cent carbon content. It is in the first stage of transformation from wood to coal. It has low calorific value and burns like wood.

Types of coal on the basis of a time period
Gondwana coal: Around 98 per cent of India’s total coal reserves are from Gondwana times. This coal was formed about 250 million years ago.

Tertiary coal is of younger age. It was formed from 15 to 60 million years ago.

The coal reserves in India can be spotted state-wise as:

Jharkhand has the first rank in coal reserves and its production. Most of the coal fields in the state of Jharkhand are located in a narrow belt running in the east-west direction almost along 24 degrees north latitude from the Gondwana period.

The main coal mining centres of the state are Auranga, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Jharia, Giridh, Karanpur, Ramgarh and Hutar.

Jharia coalfield is one of the oldest and richest coal fields of India. It lies south of Dhanbad and stores the best of metallurgical coal (bituminous) in the country.

Bokaro coalfield lies in Hazaribagh district.

Odisha has the second largest coal reserves in the country and it carries more than 24 per cent of the total coal reserves. It produces about 15 per cent of the total coal production of India.

Most of the coal deposits of the state are found in Sambalpur, Dhenkanal, and Sundargarh districts.

Talchar coalfield of Odisha stretch over Dhenkanal and Sambalpur districts covers an area of about 500 sq km.

Other coalfields of the state include Rampur-Himgir and Ib river.

Chattisgarh has the third largest coal reserve in India and carries about 17 per cent of the total coal reserves. However, the state has the first rank in the production of coal.

Korba coalfield lies in the valley of river Hasdo (tributary of Mahanadi).

Other coalfields of the state include Hasdo-Arand, Chirmiri, Jhimli, and Johilla.

West Bengal
West Bengal carries about 11 per cent of the total coal reserves of India. The deposits are found in Bardhman, Darjeeling, Bankura, Jalpaiguri, and Puruliya districts of the state.

Raniganj coalfield is the most important coal reserve and mining coalfield of West Bengal. It stretches over 185 sq km in Bardhman and Birbhum district to the northwest of Kolkata. It is known for good quality coal with about 50 to 65 per cent carbon content.

Madhya Pradesh
About 8 per cent of the coal reserves of the country are found in Madhya Pradesh. The main coal deposits of the state lie in Singrauli, Muhpani, Satpura, Pench Kanhan and Sohagpur.

Singrauli is the largest coalfield of MP. It supplies coal to the thermal power plants at Singrauli and Obra.

Andhra Pradesh
India’s 7 per cent of the coal reserves are found in Andhra Pradesh. Godavari valley holds the coal of the state and Singareni coalfield (185 km to the east of Hyderabad) is the main mining area.

Kamptee coalfields (in Nagpur district) and Wardha valley (stretched over Nagpur and Yavatmal districts) carry most of the coal deposits in the state. However, the coal deposits of Maharashtra mainly belong to the Tertiary period.

The coal here carries more moisture and has less carbon content.

Palana and Khari mines of Bikaner district in Rajasthan carry Lignite deposits (inferior quality of coal). The coal produced is mainly used in the thermal power plants and railways.

The coal found in Gujarat is of poor quality and contains only about 35 per cent of carbon. The moisture content in this coal is quite high. It is found in Bharauch and Kachchh districts of the state.

Tamil Nadu
The coal deposits of Tamil Nadu (lignite coal) are found in Neyveli in the South Arcot district.

Jammu and Kashmir
Coal in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is of inferior quality and is found at Shaliganga, Handwara, Baramulla, Riasi, and Udhampur districts along with the Karewas of Badgam and Srinagar.
Source: India Today

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