DOOMDOOMA: Doomdooma Press Club (DPC) on Tuesday staged a protest against National Board for Wildlife's (NBWL) recent approval to the North Eastern Coal Field, a unit of Coal India Limited, for coal mining in Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) under Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve of Lekhapani Range of Digboi Forest Division in Tinsukia district and the environment clearance to the Oil India Limited (OIL) by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for extensive drilling and hydrocarbon testing at seven locations inside Dibru - Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district.
Following the guidelines of lockdown, the DPC members, amidst incessant rain, formed a human chain on the NH - 37 in front of the ASTC bus stand premises holding placards. They demanded the government to protect the biodiversity of both the forest lands which were the abode of thousands rare species of flora and fauna.
In the memorandum which was later dashed off to the Prime Minister of India through the Circle Officer of Doomdooma Revenue Circle, Nandita Roy Gohain, DPC president Arjun Baruah and secretary Manoj Dutta stated that the Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and the larger Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve that stretched over a vast area of Tinsukia , Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts of Upper Assam, was one of the last vestiges of the country's rainforests. Because of its rich biodiversity, this forest is often referred to as the 'Amazon of the East'.
But recently, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had given the permission to the North Eastern Coal Field, a unit of Coal India Limited, to use 98.59 hectares of land of the Saleki PRF, which is a part of Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve under Lekhapani Range of Digboi Forest Division in Tinsukia district of Assam for coal mining. This site allowed for coal mining falls on the boundary of 10 km radius from Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and is very much within the 'Eco Sensitive Zone' Hence any type of human activity, including coal mining, would definitely affect the biodiversity of this rainforest which is classified as biodiversity hotspots.
In the memorandum it is also stated that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had accorded environmental clearance to the Oil India Limited (OIL) for extensive drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations inside Dibru - Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district. The abode of several endangered species of flora and fauna, including White Winged Duck (Deo Hanh) and Feral Horse, the national park is also rich in biodiversity. Hence, the drilling and testing activities of OIL would obviously destroy the biodiversity of the National Park.
The scribes' body, therefore, urged upon the Prime Minister to take necessary steps to stop all kinds of coal mining as well as drilling and testing activities in these two forest lands in order to protect the rich biodiversity.
Besides the DPC members, Surajit Moran of Tinsukia district committee of AJYCP, and the advisor of Doomdooma Regional Committee of All Moran Students' Union, Joykanta Moran also took part in this protest.