HC asks for coal mining coordinates in Assam elephant reserve
COAL & MINING

HC asks for coal mining coordinates in Assam elephant reserve

The Gauhati High Court asked for the coordinates of the sites where coal mining activities were resumed in an eastern Assam elephant reserve in March after a two-year gap.

Following reports of illegal mining in forestlands and protests over its impact on the 111.19 sq km Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, upgraded to a national park in June 2021, the North Eastern Coalfields (NEC), a unit of Coal India Limited (CIL), halted operations in Tinsukia district's Tikak open cast project in June 2020.

The national park is part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, which covers 937 sq km and contains British-era collieries, the oil refinery town of Digboi, and various tea farms.

On May 17, the High Court's acting Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh heard a set of petitions filed by green activists Mrinmoy Khataniar and Amar Jyoti Deka and ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia district to file an affidavit justifying the authority under which such mining is taking place in Tikak.

The court said in its order that the affidavit might be supplemented by the coordinates of the mining area so that it is specific as to the geographical location of the mining area where the mining is taking place.

It also directed the State government to file an updated affidavit detailing the actions taken thus far.

Petitioners claimed that state officials authorised coal mining in Tikak, despite Supreme Court and Environment Ministry orders, and said the mining was completely unauthorised. The next hearing date has been set on June 3.

When the National Board for Wild Life advised utilising 98.59 hectares of a projected reserve forest within the elephant reserve for coal mining in April 2020, environmentalists protested loudly since 57.20 hectares had already been cut up by the NEC, and operations were halted due to protests.

According to the NEC, the Tikak open cast project and the Tikak expansion open cast project are likely to produce 4 lakh tonnes of coal each year.

The Tirap open cast project, which would increase coal output to 10 lakh tonnes per year, would begin soon.

Image Source

Also read: Coal India plans to auction 20 closed mines in next few weeks

The Gauhati High Court asked for the coordinates of the sites where coal mining activities were resumed in an eastern Assam elephant reserve in March after a two-year gap. Following reports of illegal mining in forestlands and protests over its impact on the 111.19 sq km Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, upgraded to a national park in June 2021, the North Eastern Coalfields (NEC), a unit of Coal India Limited (CIL), halted operations in Tinsukia district's Tikak open cast project in June 2020. The national park is part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, which covers 937 sq km and contains British-era collieries, the oil refinery town of Digboi, and various tea farms. On May 17, the High Court's acting Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh heard a set of petitions filed by green activists Mrinmoy Khataniar and Amar Jyoti Deka and ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia district to file an affidavit justifying the authority under which such mining is taking place in Tikak. The court said in its order that the affidavit might be supplemented by the coordinates of the mining area so that it is specific as to the geographical location of the mining area where the mining is taking place. It also directed the State government to file an updated affidavit detailing the actions taken thus far. Petitioners claimed that state officials authorised coal mining in Tikak, despite Supreme Court and Environment Ministry orders, and said the mining was completely unauthorised. The next hearing date has been set on June 3. When the National Board for Wild Life advised utilising 98.59 hectares of a projected reserve forest within the elephant reserve for coal mining in April 2020, environmentalists protested loudly since 57.20 hectares had already been cut up by the NEC, and operations were halted due to protests. According to the NEC, the Tikak open cast project and the Tikak expansion open cast project are likely to produce 4 lakh tonnes of coal each year. The Tirap open cast project, which would increase coal output to 10 lakh tonnes per year, would begin soon. Image Source Also read: Coal India plans to auction 20 closed mines in next few weeks

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