TINSUKIA: After North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) of Coal India Limited (CIL) suspended its mining activities temporarily since June 3 following the Dehing-Patkai controversy, various organizations, including labour unions, began stir demanding opening of mining as the future of several thousand workers and ancillaries was in jeopardy. While relentless protest has been going on in the Margherita belt, the Margherita Journalists' Association (MJA) organized a mass convention on Tuesday to garner public opinion in support of mining activities.
"Phase-wise curtailment of employees is a conspiracy of CIL to shut down North Eastern Coalfields even as there exists wider prospects to rejuvenate the British-era mines," said Dr Ranjit Dutta, former general manager of NEC while delivering speech as key speaker in the mass convention organized by MJA at Ledu Rangamanch with Ramprasad Ambedkar president MJA in the chair in presence of a large gathering. Dr Dutta maintained that the closure of mining would lead to catastrophe for the people in Margherita, Ledo and nearby areas, besides 2,700 employees and workers with their dependents who have been sustaining on the industry for decades. Asserting that the coal mines did not fall within the elephant corridor as claimed, Dr Dutta called upon the management to furnish reasons behind the closure in public domain as the public had the right to know what led to closure.
Outlining the objective of the meeting, Ranajyoti Neog, general secretary of MJA, warned in clear terms that conspiracy to privatize or commercialize would not be accepted. Any political move to jeopardize the economic fabric of Margherita subdivision would be opposed tooth and nail, Neog said.
The convention, moderated by Manas Pratim Gogoi, was addressed by Dr Kripa Prasad Upadhyaya, Principal of Ledo College, and other dignitaries. The convention resolved after day-long deliberations that the mining activities in the closed mines should be resumed in scientific way. It demanded withdrawal of orders pertaining to suspension of mining operation and transfer of employees and any move to privatize the NEC. It also resolved that the Central Government must announce a special package for infrastructural development of NEC, besides functioning of coal-based thermal project at Lekhapani. The meeting also slated that a strong agitation would be chalked out to revive the coal industry after generating public opinion.