GUWAHATI: Altogether 12 organizations from Assam have sent a memorandum via email to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, to revoke the decision of coal mining at the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary. The organizations have urged the PM to annul the mining activities by Northeastern Coalfields Limited, Coal India Limited Assam, at the Saleki Protected Reserve Forest (PRF) adjacent to the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) under Digboi Forest Division.
In the memorandum, the organizations argued that the proposed coal mining, without any proper environmental impact study, will threaten the endangered white gibbon, endemic to this region, along with golden cat, slow loris, and pygmy hog among 293 various species of mammals over the small area of 111.19 square kilometers.
In the memorandum, the organizations said that the local people of various indigenous communities were not consulted before proposing the mining.
"It is a well-known fact that various State and non-State actors were found mining in these forests illegally. Coal India limited, the government mining company, was recently fined for mining 73 hectares of land inside the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve Forest, between 2003 and 2019. While there should have been a complete ban on any mining or industrial activity in the vicinity of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary after imposing the fine on Coal India Limited, we are shocked that the same company is being allowed to carry out mining in the area," stated the memorandum.
Rubul Das, president of the Anusuchit Jati Yuba Chatra Parishad, Asom — one of the signatories of the memorandum – told The Sentinel, "We will never allow any such activities in Dehing Patkai. If necessary, we'll carry out massive protests with the help of the masses. A high-level team of all the organizations will make a ground-level assessment in the area."
The organizations further made a slew of demands that include also the following:
• Annul the diversion of Saleki PRF land for the proposed coal mine of Coal India Limited.
• Carry out an 'Environment Impact Assessment and Cumulative Environment Impact Assessment' report of the proposed coal mining on the people and the wildlife in the area.
• Conduct multiple public hearings of all affected parties to be impacted by coal mining activities
• Recognition of the forest and habitat rights of all indigenous forest dwelling communities in Assam under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
• Investigation of all the cases of illegal coal mining as well as of oil-and-gas drilling in all the protected areas including Dehing Patkai and prosecution of all the accused persons by appointing the highest investigative agency.
The organizations that submitted the memorandum are the Anusuchit Jati Yuba Chatra Parishad, Asom; Swaraj Asom; Jeepal Krishak Sramik Sangha; Tai Ahom Yuba Parishad, Asom; Durnity Birodhi Manab Adhikar Suraksha Mancha; All Assam Goria Parishad; All Assam Nath Yogi Student's Union; Bihattar Asomiya Yuba Mancha; All Assam Unnayan Parishad; All Assam Ekotrito Yuva Parishad; Tai Ahom Mahila Parishad; and the All Kalita Student's Union.