Assam Government today denied any fresh mining around Dehing Patkai forest and asserted that till date no final approval for mining had been accorded.
The mining has been stopped since October 2019 by the State Government. M/S Coal India Ltd and the Forest Department would have to fulfil the 28 conditions and the compliance report will be placed before the Govt. of India for grant of Stage II clearance.
Only on the grant of Stage II clearance, mining can begin. The area in question does not fall in the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
This was today announced by Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya and Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary in a joint press conference.
There has been a huge uproar on social media over the Dehing Pataki illegal coal mining as RTI queries have revealed at the area in question has been broken illegally by Coal India Limited when the permission to the same area had not been issued.
The area in question, Saleki, is in the proposed reserve forest but away from the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Forest minister today said that the Government of Assam is committed to protecting the environment & forests of the State and in no condition would allow mining by destroying its forests.
Mr Suklabdiya had inspected the area on March 26 as per the instruction of the Chief Minister and released a statement saying that no mining has been going on at this moment.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had ordered Suklabaidya, who is the forest minister, to visit Saleki, which is a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, to conduct a field survey on the backdrop of protests against coal mining inside the forest.
Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 111.42 sq km, while the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve with 937 sq km of area is surrounding the sanctuary in its periphery across Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.
Along with Suklabaidya, officials of the CIL, forest department and district administration visited the site on Wednesday and carried out a detailed study of the coal mining by CIL.
The Centre has given in-principle (Stage-I) clearance to CIL for mining in 57.20 hectares inside Dehing Patkai forest in December 2019 with 28 conditions, including payment of fines and action against officers responsible for violating the Forest Conservation Act.
Opposition parties and environmentalists opposed coal mining in Dehing Patkai saying it will harm the ecological balance of the forest