NGT directs inquiry into alleged illegal mining in wildlife sanctuary

ITANAGAR, Feb 11: The Kolkata-based eastern zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the district mining officers and district magistrates of Tirap district in Arunachal Pradesh and Tinsukia district in Assam, and the Assam State Pollution Control Board to inspect alleged sand and boulders mining in the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and the Makum Pani Reserved Forest in Digboi, Assam.
It has also asked the officers to look into the matter of illegal coal mining and operation of coke oven plants around Margherita in Assam, and the impact on the Northeastern coalfields due to ‘overburden and acid mine drainage.’
Asking them to verify the correctness of the allegations, the NGT bench said, ‘If there are illegal mining and illegal operation of the coal mines and coke oven units in the area as alleged, appropriate action be instituted.’
The NGT gave this order while hearing the original application No 11/2018/EZ in the matter of R Sreedhar Vs Union of India & Others, dated 25/01/2018, regarding illegal sand and boulders mining within the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary/Makum Pani Reserved Forest, Digboi Division, Assam.
The mining in Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is alleged to be taking place in the riverbed of the Dirak river on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border by various mechanical means, adversely affecting the dynamics of the river’s flow and change in the rivers’ course, as well as affecting the Namtok river, resulting in increase in erosion of the river’s bank and causing adverse impact on the riverine ecosystem.
The NGT also issued a notice which is returnable in three weeks. The next hearing is fixed on 1 March.