Guwahati: Announcing that no approval has been given to conduct mining at Dehing Patkai reserve forest in upper Assam, state forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya denied any fresh mining around the world-famous rain forest of the state.
Addressing media persons, Suklabaidya — along with Assam minister for transport Chandra Mohan Patoway — said that the mining was stopped since October 2019 by the state government.
“Coal India Limited and the forest department would have to fulfill 28 conditions and the compliance report will be placed before the government of India for grant of stage II clearance. Only on stage II clearance, mining can begin,” said Suklabaidya, who visited the reserve forest on May 26 following instructions from state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
There has been widespread public outrage following reports of granting permission for mining in the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctury to Coal India over an area of 98.59 hectares at Tikok Open Cast Project (OCP).
“The area in question doesn’t fall in the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary. The government of Assam is committed to protect the environment and forests of the state and in no condition would allow mining by destroying its forests,” he added.
The area in question, Saleki, is in the proposed reserve forest but away from the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
Earlier, reiterating his commitment to protect the environment and biodiversity while developing Assam, CM Sonowal 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.
Expressing serious concern over the alleged decision of the Centre to allow extraction of coal at Saleki in Dehing Patkai elephant reserve in upper Assam, people from different sections of society, leading social organisations like the All Assam Students Union (AASU), people’s representatives and MPs like Ajit Bhuyan, Gaurav Gogoi, etc., and political party like the Congress along with other leading organistaions associating with protection of environment have expressed their resentment and wrote to the Centre to cancel the permission and protect the biodiversity hotspot.
It is also reported that 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.