Former three-time Assam Chief Minister and the senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on May 20, 2020, demanded revocation of the open cast coal mining project, permitted by the Central government, at the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam.
Writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the octogenarian leader said, “The decision of the government will not only destroy the biodiversity of Asiatic hotspot, which is the richest in the whole of Asia, but also will change the fragile ecological balance leading to pollutions, severe flood and erosion in the near future.”
Also read: Dehing Patkai: What led to the end game?
It may be mentioned, the region was declared as Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve by the state government in 20030 and subsequently in June, 2004 this region was declared as Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
Moreover, saying that Coal India Ltd sought permission for casting coal in 2012, Gogoi said, “Assam State Wilde Life Board refused to grant permission for casting coal in this region.” Gogoi was the ex-officio chairman of the board.
Further, the senior Congress leader alleged that illegal rat hole coal mining is going on at Dirak Likhajan coal mining under the wildlife sanctuary in connivance with the local political leaders, police and the district administration.
Meanwhile, condemning the decision of the Central government, people have started a movement on social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for protection of the rainforest. Well, known singer Papon Angarag Mahanta also demanded the government to withdraw the decision and to protect the sanctuary, which hosts about 293 different species of birds.
On April 7th, 2020, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in its 56th meeting through video conferencing under the chair of Prakash Javedekar, the chairman of NBWL and Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate of India approved a coal mining project in the Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest, which is a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. The NBWL’s standing committee had discussed the proposal for use of 98.59 hectares of land of Saleki, proposed for a coal mining project by North Eastern Coal Field (NECF) — a unit of Coal India Limited— and gave nod to it. The NBWL is under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
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