Guwahati: Amid the row over alleged approvals to allow coal mining in Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam Forest and Environment Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya said that any mining activity can start only after stage II clearance is given from the Central Government.
Mining has been stopped in October, 2019 and till date no final approval has been accorded, the minister said briefing the media here. Coal India and Forest department would have to fulfill 28 conditions and the compliance report will be placed before the central government for grant of stage II clearance.
"Our government will not allow any coal mining at the cost of environment and we have not applied for any approval for coal mining", Forest Minister Shuklabaidya said.
At the behest of the Chief Minister, Suklabaidya had recently visited the Sanctuary to take stock of the situation. A report is to be submitted by forest and Coal India officials after from geo-mapping of the area and according to reports, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been looking into the issue himself.
"Illegal coal mining has been going on since 2003-2013. It is when Coal India applied for post facto approval and the matter came to the state government, mining was stopped eventually. Coal India is paying the royalty and the elephant corridor is almost 10 sq km away from where the mining is happening now," Assam Industries and Transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said.
"As a responsible minister me and Forest minister Suklabaidya under the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government will not allow mining by destroying environment", he added.
It is pertinent to mention here that there have been widespread protests against the alleged approval given for coal mining in Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) for an open-cast coal mining project by the North-Easter Coal Field (NECL), a unit of Coal India Limited.
Saleki is a part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve that includes the 111.19 square km. Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and several reserve forests in eastern Assam's Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.