The North-Eastern Coalfields (NEC), a unit of Coal India Limited in Assam, has temporarily halted its operations following protests over its impact on a subtropical rainforest nearby.
According to reports, an official order signed by NEC’s general manager based in eastern Assam’s Margherita said all mining operations have been suspended with effect from June 3.
The NEC has two existing open cast coal mining projects : one in Tirap Colliery in Arunachal Pradesh and the other in Tikok Colliery in Assam.
After the National Board of Wildlife’s (NBWL) gave nod for coal mining in a part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, virtual protests and campaigns gathered momentum.
The Reserve believed to be the last remaining contiguous patch of rainforest area in the region spreads across the coal- and oil-rich districts of Upper Assam.
The NBWL’s Standing Committee had on April 7 discussed a proposal for the use of 98.59 hectares of land from the Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest land for a coal mining project by NEC. The NBWL is under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Last week, the Gauhati High Court took suo-motu cognisance after hearing two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) regarding the permission to mine in the rainforest. The court has issued notices to the Assam government, the Centre, CIL and others, asking for a response. The next date for hearing is July 20.