Assam: Environmentalist, Congress, AASU, KMSS oppose coal mining in Dehing Patkai forest

Assam: Environmentalist, Congress, AASU, KMSS oppose coal mining in Dehing Patkai forest

GUWAHATI | MAY 21, 2020:

In Assam, the Congress, All Assam Students' Union (AASU), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), and an environmental activist Jadav Payeng on Wednesday strongly opposed coal mining activities inside Dehing Patkai forest.

People have been demanding on social media a ban on mining inside the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, which is spread over Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts with the hashtag "Save Amazon Of East from Coal Mafias."

An online petition in this regard has already attracted over 52,000 signatures.

Environmental activist Jadav Payeng said "Coal mining should be stopped to protect our climate and environment. I appeal to the central and state governments to ban mining inside Dehing Patkai."

Congress MP from Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi said, "Since this BJP government came to power in Assam in 2016, illegal coal mining increased many-fold and is patronized by the ruling politicians. He alleged that hundreds of rat-hole mines are operational there and police are not taking any action despite complaints by various quarters.

He further said that the Congress will hit the streets against such devastating steps once the lockdown is lifted.

The forest department has also filed an FIR against officials responsible for the alleged illegal activity in around 73 hectares of land inside the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve forest between 2003 and 2019.

AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said Dehing Patkai has rich biodiversity and any step to tamper with its characteristics will not be accepted.

"It has some endangered species, unique orchids, and many other habitats. The NBWL move for approval is not appreciable. Even if the CIL gets the final approval, we will not recognize it and will oppose it strongly," he added.

KMSS president Raju Bora said the organization and people of the state will do everything possible to protect the "second Amazon" of the world.

"If we destroy Dehing Patkai, the entire North East will suffer. After the lockdown is over, we will launch an aggressive campaign against coal mining inside the forest," he added.

A mining lease was given to CIL in 1973 for 30 years. After its expiry, CIL was supposed to apply for forest clearance but they applied only in 2012. However, mining continued there till last year, a senior forest department official said.

However, the Coal India Limited (CIL) may get an official license to resume if the PSU major fulfills a set of 28 conditions, according to the notification.

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