Guwahati: A tripartite meeting among the Union ministries of coal and environment and the Assam government will be held next month to discuss resumption of coal mining in the state, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

After a meeting with officials of PSU major Coal India Limited (CIL) at Margherita in Tinsukia district, Sarma said that issues like pollution, and forest and environmental clearances are involved in resuming mining activities.

He discussed various issues pertaining to restarting mining activities by the North Eastern Coalfields (NEC), an official release said.

The NEC, a unit of the CIL, had announced suspension of all its mining operations in the state in June last year following protests against the company’s activities inside the Dehing Patkai forest.

According to a senior official of the Geology and Mining Department, work in all coal mines, including opencast ones, have stopped since mid-2020.

The tripartite meeting would be held next month in New Delhi to make a final decision on resuming coal mining in Assam, Sarma said after the meeting.

He said that all stakeholders must come together to find a solution to restart mining safely, according to the release.

Sarma said that the CIL should come forward by taking steps such as contributing to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which promotes afforestation and regeneration activities.

Also read: Assam to implement two-child norm for availing govt benefits: CM

Pitching for a concentrated and scientific approach towards coal mining, the chief minister said that steps would have to be taken in a phased manner to achieve a balance between mining and forest protection.

Sarma and said that a way would be found to resume economic activities in and around Margherita without harming the environment.

“Steps have to be taken for sustaining economy, livelihood and environment,” he said.

The chief minister also received memorandums from various organisations and stakeholders on this matter.

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