A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed at the Gauhati High Court opposing the Open Cast Project for coal mining projected in the proposed Seleki Proposed Reserve Forest in Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve.
The PIL has been filed by practicing advocate Mrinmoy Khataniar and mountaineer Amarjyoti Deka on May 26. The plea was filed online against the open-cast project by North Eastern Coalfields, a unit of Coal India Limited, near the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is referred to as the Amazon of the East and it is spread over a huge area in the upper Assam region.
Earlier All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) criticized the National Board for Wildlife move to permit Coal India Limited to carry out extraction in 98.59 hectares of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and termed the move as unacceptable.
Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, general secretary, AASU said that the order for the coal extraction is a threat to the bio-diversity to the sanctuary. “A part of it is also an elephant reserve and by the extraction, the habitat will be at grave threat. By no means can this be ever accepted”, he added.
Lurin added that there are a huge number of mammals and birds in the forest and the government now seems to be putting them on the risk just because of making money.
Gogoi added that the AASU warns the government to take the step for mining back and refrain from activities that might deteriorate the environment in Assam.
Postgraduate Students’ Union (PGSU) of Gauhati University said, “Illegal mining has already damaged the rainforest. Recently, NBWL has permitted Coal India Limited to start extraction in 98.59 hectares of land at Dehing Patkai in Saleki– an Elephant Reserve area. It will completely destroy the Sanctuary.”
There are 47 mammal species, 47 reptile species and 30 butterfly species have been recorded in the area.
The most common mammal species of this sanctuary are hoolock gibbon, slow loris, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, capped langur, Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, gaur, Chinese pangolin, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan squirrel, leopard cat, clouded leopard, porcupine, crab-eating mongoose, sambar, sun bear, binturong, barking deer, golden cat and marbled cat.
Dehing Patkai rainforest harbours about 293 bird species, belonging to 174 genera and 51 families.
It may be mentioned that there are several allegations of illegal mining going on in Reserved Forests of Margherita.
Some of the major areas where alleged illegal mining takes place are Bomgara, Namdang, Aradhara, Ledo and Bargolai.
Some sources have named that three persons are the main kingpins behind these illegal mining and transportation. They have been named as Sunil Gurung, Gobin Chetri and Disem Tipomiyan. Along with them, there have been several allegations by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) the BJP-led government in Assam was not taking action against “coal syndicate” as Bhaskar Sharma, the party’s MLA from Margherita in Upper Assam is involved in the illegal business.
Photo Credit: ejatlas.org (Representative Image)