Assam Originals

Media sensation, Dhruv Rathee posts about Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam; what’s happening there would intrigue everyone. Read here

-Abhishek Sengupta

Amid nationwide lockdown, the National Board for Wild Life gave its nod to use about 98.59 hectares of Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary that stretches over Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts in Upper Assam, for coal mining, a move that invited widespread protests and criticism of the government. Digital campaigns and protests have been organized by NGOs, conservation groups, and students. Here’s what that actually happened:

  • Dehing Patkai Wildlife sanctuary that stretches over 1,119 hectares of land adjoining the Deomali Elephant Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh’s, besides having a sizeable population of Asian elephants, is also home to hoolock gibbon, Tiger, various wildcats, Chinese pangolin among 47 species of mammals, 47 reptiles and 293 avian species. It was declared a sanctuary on 13 June 2004.
  • 57.20 ha of hilly forestland inside the sanctuary were already broken up by North East Coal Fileds, a unit of Coal Authority of India.
  • Illegal coal mining has been alleged to be done in an open cast pit mining in Saleki, Tinsukia. Over 4,800 metric tonnes of coal from “unauthorized breaking up” of 16 ha of the area had been seized.
  • The NBWL had in July 2019 formed a committee comprising its member R. Sukumar, Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden, and a representative of the local wildlife division for assessing the mining area.
  • In April this year, the NBWL gave assent to include 41.39 hectares more to be broke as part of the mining.
  • Due to the ongoing lockdown, nature lovers had to take this issue up through social media with hashtags such as #SaveDehingPatkai , #IAmdehingPatkai , #SaveBiodiversity, trending.
  • Gauhati University’s Eco Club, Moi Prakriti, had been at the forefront of the protests.
  • Environmentalists say, though, the mining area is about 20-25 km away from the elephant corridors; it will harm the biodiversity inside the sanctuary.

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