Guwahati: Expressing serious concern over the decision of the Centre to allow extraction of coal at Saleki in Dehing Patkai elephant reserve in upper Assam, senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi has requested Union minister for environment and forest Prakash Javadkar to cancel the permission and protect the biodiversity hotspot.
In a letter to Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar, the Lok Sabha MP from Kaliabor constituency said, “Assam is the 6
most bio-diverse region in South Asia and Dehing Patkai is a special region within Assam with rare species of birds, butterfly, fish, animals and water bodies. In 2003, the Assam government had protected this region as Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve because an elephant corridor runs through this area… In 2012, Assam State Wildlife Board refused permission to Coal India Ltd for casting coal in this wildlife sanctuary.”
“This is not possible without the blessing of local political leaders. People of Assam want protection of our biodiversity, not its destruction. Even though the State Wildlife Board has made this anti-environment recommendation, your Ministry has the power to recall the permission (given) to Coal India Ltd. On behalf of the people of Assam, I request you to protect Dehing Patkai as an Asiatic biodiversity hotspot and elephant reserve,” Gogoi said.
Earlier, amid the increasing public outcry over the decision of the Centre to allow extraction of coal at Saleki in Dehing Patkai elephant reserve in upper Assam, state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that Assam government is committed to protecting the environment and biodiversity while developing the state.
In a significant development, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) had last month permitted Coal India Limited to carry out coal extraction in 98.59 hectares of the elephant reserve, triggering opposition from various organisations and individuals.
Reiterating his commitment to protect the environment and biodiversity while developing Assam, the CM took to Twitter to say that his Cabinet colleague and minister for environment and forests Parimal Suklabaidya will visit Dehing Patkai, which is also known as the Amazon of the East, to take stock of the situation, very soon.