The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified a list of polluted cities, which refers to cities which violate standards prescribed by the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS, 2009). The identification is based on the ambient air quality data obtained under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) during the period of 2011-2015. In 2018, a total of 102 cities were identified as “non-attainment cities” in India based on the non-compliance to the NAAQS 2009. The city of Dhanbad is synonymous with coal and the story of India’s coal industry is incomplete without Dhanbad. The Dhanbad-Jharia coal-fields host some of India’s oldest coal mines, some dating back to 125 years. As of August 2021, the state of Jharkhand contributed to 16% of India’s coal production.
The city of Dhanbad is surrounded by about 112 coal mines with a total production of 27.5 million tonnes, generating an annual income of 7,000 crores. Some of the biggest mine operators in the region include Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), Eastern Coal-Fields Limited (ECL) and Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO). The region also hosts 8 coal washeries, 3 captive thermal power plants, 126 beehive coke oven plants, 118 brick kilns, 72 refractory plants and 25 soft coke plants.
Alarming levels of pollution in the region has had its human costs. According to a study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), improving the air quality to the WHO guideline value of 10μg/m3 could extend the life expectancy of citizens in Jharkhand by 7.3 years.