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Illegal coal mining in Dehing Patkai

The Dehing Patkai is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam, which covers an area of 111.19 sq. km

Dehing Patkai

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  26 May 2020 3:17 AM GMT

The Dehing Patkai is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam, which covers an area of 111.19 sq. km rainforest. The rainforest stretches for more than 575 sq. km in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, and Sivasagar. On 13th June, 2004 it was declared a sanctuary and also a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. One part was declared as wildlife sanctuary and the other falls under the Elephant Reserve.

During the lockdown imposed for COVID-19 pandemic, a coal mining project was approved in the Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest, which is a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve Forest, on 7th April, 2020. This decision was taken in the National Board for Wildlife's 56th meeting through a video conference. The committee had to use a large proportion of Saleki land for coal mining project by North Eastern Coal Field (NECF).

Following the move, the environmentalists, student communities, civil societies have opposed the decision to approve the coal mining site in the area.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya to visit the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary as the social media campaign turned into a major controversy. He played it smartly by sending Suklabaidya where there is large-scale destruction but the disputed site was not there.

Ex Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi also contributed in the battle where he said that during his Chief Ministership he never gave permission to mine in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

Congress MP Pradyut Bardoloi released video footage establishing the rat hole mining in the Dehing Patkai reserve.

The AASU has opposed it.

Students are protesting on social media with hashtag "Save Amazon of East from Coal Mafias" and "I am Dehing Patkai" against illegal mining. The Assam Forest Department has slapped a penalty of Rs. 43.25 crore for carrying out illegal mining for 16 years i.e. from 2003 onwards.

The Forest Department has also filed an FIR at Judicial Magistrate's court against officials of the PSUs who were responsible for the illegal activity in around 73 hectares of land. Coal mining inside the Dehing Patkai will have an adverse impact on the ecological balance of the area. The elephants of the regions are facing threat of extinction.

A mining lease was given to CIL in 1973 for 30 years. According to sources, the lawyer communities are planning to approach the NGT over the issue and therefore, much to be disclosed in the coming days.

Anindita Kalita,

(uditakalita87034@gmail.com)

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