Guwahati: Moments after his release from quarantine, Assam Congress President Ripun Bora launched a stinging attack on the ruling 'Bharatiya Janata Party' over its alleged permission for mining in the protected Dehing Patkai rainforests and Dibru Saikhowa National Park areas in Upper Assam. Bora said that the Congress will oppose this move tooth-and-nail and threatened to carry out protests if the mining projects are not scrapped.
"BJP said that the BJP would protect the environment and biodiversity. However, instead of preserving, they have destroyed the environment. The Government has given its nod for mining in both Dehing Patkai and Dibru Saikhowa", Bora charged, addressing media here today.
Blaming the Assam Government for this alleged clearance for mining, Bora said that mining was put on hold because of the earlier Congress regime's reluctance to give clearance. "In 1973, the Indian Government gave a lease to the Coal India Limited in 1972, but it expired after a period of 30 years. After the lease period came to an end in 2003, the Vajpayee Government urged the Congress-led Assam Government to extend the lease, but we refused it", Bora said.
Bora said the when the Government changed in 2016, the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government give its assent to open-mining in Dehing Patkai and hydrocarbon mining in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. "It was subsequently cleared by the Environment and Mining Ministries", he added.
The Congress leader, launching a scathing attack on the State CM Sarbananda Sonowal, said "Sonowal sent his Forest Minister to enquire on the state of affairs, however, Sonowal himself has given permission to the Centre. What was Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya expected to unearth?"
Digging up a 2019 letter written by the Director of Geology and Mining to the Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia in which it was claimed that 500-1000 truckloads of coal were being mined and transported, Bora said, "In this letter, 18 people have been named as illegal coal smugglers; has the Chief Minister taken action against these smugglers? Why have they gone scot-free?"
"The other day, Minister Chandramohan Patowary claimed that there will be no loss to flora and fauna. They have permitted 98.58 hectares of Saleki to be dug up for mining. It is a part of Dehing Patkai", Bora said, accusing the ruling dispensation of duping the citizens of the state of over this issue, Bora said. "Thus, when coal will be mined there, the adjoining areas will also undoubtedly be affected." It is pertinent to mention here that Bora, after his return from the national capital Delhi, underwent 4 days of Institutional quarantine and was later shifted to home quarantine for 10 days.
Meanwhile, Northeastern Coalfields, Margherita, in a release on Tuesday, clarified that coal mining operations in Tikak have been suspended since October 2019 on the directive of the Assam forest department and that it is awaiting stage II clearance from the ministry. "Currently, production is on hold in Tikak OCP," it said.