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Gogoi moves PM against coal mining in Assam elephant reserve

GUWAHATI: Former Assam chief minister, Tarun Gogoi has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke the recent decision of the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) permitting open cast mining of coal at Saleki proposed reserve forest, which is a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in Upper Assam.

“The Dehing Patkai region is very rich in biodiversity having various rare species of birds, butterfly, fish, animals, water bodies. This decision (NBWL) will not only destroy the biodiversity of the Asiatic hotspot, which is the richest in the whole of Asia, but will also change the ecological balance and lead to pollution, flood, erosion, etc in the near future,” Gogoi stated in a letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

NBWL, which is under the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, had after detailed discussions last month, recommended for approval a proposal for mining under a project by North Eastern Coal Field (NECF), a unit of Coal India Limited.

“In 2012, Coal India Ltd wanted permission for casting of coal and the Assam State Wildlife Board, of which I was ex-officio chairman, refused permission,” Gogoi stated in the letter to the PM.

“Unprecedented illegal rat hole mining with the connivance of local political leaders, police and district administration is going on at Dirak Likhajan area. Also, huge illegal mining is going on at Saleki under Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. Daily, almost hundreds of loaded trucks are carrying illegally mined coal from this region to other parts of the country,” the veteran Congress leader alleged in the letter.

“Today, people are agitating against the decision. I on behalf of the people of Assam, request you to kindly withdraw the decision so that Dehing Patkai remains an Asiatic biodiversity hotspot and an elephant reserve,” he stated.

Source: The Shillong Times

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