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Villagers near Dehing Patkai lack basic amenities amid illegal coal mining

“Even after 73 years of our country’s independence, we have not seen any Electricity”, said Janu Langching. Lanching is in her 60’s and is a local resident of 3 Number Mullong Langching Gaon under Ledo Gaon Panchayat of 124 Number Margherita Constituency. The residents of the village lack basic essential amenities for their livelihood. “We have not seen electricity. We don’t have safe drinking water supply and there is lack of schools and medical facilities”, said Janu.

As observed by our reporter, the roads leading to the village are in bad condition. One of the reasons for the dilapidated condition has been due to the trucks crossing the area. As coal is found in abundance at 3 Number Langching Gaon, locals allege illegal coal mining being carried out in the area. These trucks have made it difficult for the locals to even cross the roads and the heavy vehicles further deteriorate the current roads.

There are a total of 23 House at 3 Number Langching Gaon with Adivashi, Nepali, and Langching tribe people. Following the menace of coal mining, the residents of the area have given application to Margherita BJP MLA Bhaskar Sharma but so far now of them have been addressed.

The issues are not something that has happened recently. Even in earlier governments, they faced similar problems. “Congress has ruled 18 years and former MLA Pradyut Bordoloi has not any development work at our area. Just before the election they come to get take votes from us but this time before the 2021 Assembly Election we shall not cast our votes till basic amenities are provided to us”, said a frustrated Janu Langching.

roads in delapitated condition

As per sources, illegal Coal work is going on at Lalpahar Paharpur under Tipong Reserve Forest of Lekhapani Forest Range, Balijan Tirap Forest Reserve, Bomgada Namdang under Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest of Lekhapani Forest Range, Assam Namphai Tinkupani Reserve Forest under Jagun Forest Range which all falls under Digboi Forest Division of Tinsukia District. This comes at a time when the contested area Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) has been the news after the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) approval of a coal mining project in the Saleki PRF.

Also read: Dehing Patkai: What led to the end game?

Following the opposition of student bodies and civil society, the Assam govt has decided to take stock of the situation in Dehing Patkai. CM Somowal has sent the State Forest Minister to look after the issue.

However, the plight of the villagers of 3 Number Langching Gaon reveals unabated illegal mining which has been carried out openly. The issue is not limited to the Saleki PRF, which the decision of NBWL is limited to.

The Dehing Patkai is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam, which covers an area of 111.19 km2 (42.93 sq mi) rainforest. The tropical wet evergreen forest consists of three parts: Jeypore, upper Dihing River, and Dirok rainforest. The rainforest stretches for more than 575 km2 (222 sq mi) in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, and Sivasagar.

Only in due course of time, we will understand how these activities are curbed. Till then uncertainities and harsh living conditions await these villagers.

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