|PM urged to protect biodiversity of Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary|
DOOMDOOMA, May 26 - Doomdooma Press Club (DPC) staged a protest against the National Board for Wildlife’s (NBWL) recent approval to the North Eastern Coalfields, a unit of Coal India Limited, for coal mining in Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest under Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve of Lekhapani Range of Digboi Forest Division in Tinsukia district, besides environmental clearance to Oil India Limited (OIL) by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for extensive drilling and hydrocarbon testing at seven locations of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district.
Following lockdown guidelines, the DPC members braved inclement weather and formed a human chain over NH-37 in front of the ASTC bus stand here by holding a placard each and raising their collective voice of protest.
They demanded the government to protect the biodiversity of both the forest lands which are the abode of thousands of rare species of flora and fauna.
In the memorandum which was later dashed off to the Prime Minister through the Circle Officer of Doomdooma Revenue Circle Nandita Roy Gohain, who came to the protest site, DPC president Arjun Baruah and secretary Manoj Dutta stated that the Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and the larger Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve that stretches over a vast area of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts in Upper Assam is one of the last vestiges of the country’s rainforests.
Because of its rich biodiversity, this forest is often referred to as the ‘Amazon of the East’. But recently, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has granted permission to the North Eastern Coalfields, a unit of Coal India Limited, to use 98.59 hectares of land of the Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest under Lekhapani Range of Digboi Forest Division in Tinsukia district of Assam belonging to the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve for coal mining.
As the site allowed for coal mining falls on the boundary of 10 km radius from Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and thus is well within the ‘Eco Sensitive Zone’ of the sanctuary, hence any type of human activity, including coal mining would definitely affect the biodiversity of this rainforest, which is unique. Further, the services they provide to mankind are immeasurable.
In the memorandum, it was also stated that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has accorded environmental clearance to Oil India Limited (OIL) for extension drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at 7 locations in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district.
The abode of several endangered species of flora and fauna, including White Winged Wood Duck (Deo Hanh) and the Feral Horse, the National Park is also rich in biodiversity. Hence, the drilling and testing activities of OIL would hamper the biodiversity of the National Park.
The scribes’ body therefore urged the PM to take necessary steps to stop all kinds of coal mining as well as drilling and testing activities in these two forest lands in order to protect their valuable biodiversity.
Besides the DPC members, the Tinsukia district committee AJYCP’s Surajit Moran and adviser of Doomdooma regional committee of All Moran Students’ Union Joykanta Moran also took part in the protest.