GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has issued notices, which are returnable by June 28, to the Central Government, State Government, Coal India Limited, National Board for Wildlife and State Board for Wildlife in connection with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which has alleged illegality in renewal of coal mining leases of the North Eastern Coalfields in Assam.
Citing the report of the One-Man Commission of Justice (Retd) BP Katakey regarding unregulated coal mining in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, the petitioners have submitted that the Government of Assam renewed the coal mining lease and licences of Coal India Limited's subsidiary, North Eastern Coalfields, by violating provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation & Development) Act, 1957 as well as provisions of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.
They petitioners have specifically questioned the legality of renewal of four coal mining leases – the 2.38 sq km Tirap mining lease, the 4.48 sq km Lekhapani-Tipongpani mining lease, the 4.00 sq miles Ledo & Borgolai mining lease in the Tinsukia district and the Jeypore mining lease in the Dibrugarh district. They contended that illegal coal mining in the areas concerned, including rat-hole mining, "is causing total destruction of the rain forests of Assam".
The petitioners have further submitted that the report of the Justice (Retd) BP Katakey Commission mentions that many aspects of the matter could not be gone into "due to lack of cooperation of the Government departments".
While issuing the notices to the Central Government, State Government and others, the High Court mentioned that the interim prayer of the petitioners for termination and quashing of the renewal of the leases in question, will be considered at the next hearing of the matter.