Seek expert opinion on environment protection laws: Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly

Guwahati, Jun 24 (PTI) The Assam Assembly should seek inputs from experts on environment protection laws and mining activities to decide whether the existing ones should be amended or new legislation framed to protect the long-term interests of the state, Leader of Opposition in the House Debabrata Saikia said on Wednesday.
In a letter to the Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, Saikia alleged that the “wrong policies” of the Central and state governments have endangered the environment and ecological balance of the northeastern state.
He requested the speaker to ensure that Assams natural resources are utilized in a balanced way with responsibility and restraint so that the state and its people can benefit for a long time.
In the letter, he mentioned that the former Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Jairam Ramesh had recently stated in a letter to the current incumbent Prakash Javadekar that the influence of “politically powerful power producers” was “very evident” in the decision to open up coal mining in ‘no go’ ecologically fragile and sensitive zones.
Saikia further pointed out that a report submitted by officials of the Shillong-based Regional office of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on November 25, 2019 had indicted Coal India Limited (CIL) and the Assam government for various acts of omission and commission pertaining to coal mining in the Dehing-Patkai Biosphere Reserve.
The Congress leader also referred to a letter written to Javadekar by Raman Sukumar, member of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), which said that during a meeting held on October 19, 2019, CIL officials had provided wrong information regarding mining activity in the Dehing-Patkai area.
Any law or policy framed on the basis of false data can never be correct, Saikia said.
He also accused the state government of flouting orders issued by the Supreme Court as well as the Gauhati High Court in connection with protection of the environment and wildlife in Assam.
The Congress leader asked the speaker to advise members of the Act Implementation Committee of the Assam Assembly, who would undertake a three-day visit to the Dehing-Patkai and Baghjan areas from June 28, to also take a look at new construction activity near the National Highway in the middle of an elephant corridor in the Kaziranga National Park.
“This is in complete violation of the Supreme Court order of December 11, 2018 which declared a 10-km Eco- Sensitive Zone pertaining to the Kaziranga National Park as well as the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and also the apex courts order of April 12, 2019 which directed that no construction activity should be allowed even on private lands in the nine identified animal corridors of the Kaziranga National Park,” he said.
Similarly, based on a PIL filed by him, the Gauhati High Court had passed an order on October 21, 2019 asking the state government to set up a Mines and Minerals Task Force Battalion by the third week of January this year but the state government has ignored that order as well, he said. PTI