GUWAHATI: Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi claimed that 4,000-5,000 rat-hole coal mines had sprung up in from Assam over the past three years and that too in 11 reserved forests and a wildlife sanctuary.
Bordoloi alleged that a coal mafia, aided and abetted by the Tinsukia district administration in Upper Assam, had been systematically destroying the rainforests and by running huge illegal coal mines.
The coalfields of Ledo, bordering Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, are located in Margherita.
The allegations by the MP from Nowgong come close on the heels of the Guwahati High Court directive to two district magistrates in the state to file affidavits on illegal mining activities. The BJP-led coalition has been in power in the Northeast state since May, 2016.
“In 11 reserved forests and Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tinsukia district, this mafia has dug up 4,000 to 5,000 rat-hole coal mines which are very unsafe. More often than not, during the rainy season, the rat-hole coal mines routinely cave in, trapping and killing the poor daily wage labourers. This phenomenon is going on for last three years,” the Congress MP alleged.
“So far I know, 80 miners and two baby elephants perished and (the deaths were) covered up by the nexus,” he tweeted. Bordoloi alleged that around 20,000 hectares of forest area in Tinsukia district had been destroyed due to illegal rat-hole coal mining. Recently, Bordoloi alleged that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was involved in the coal-syndicate running in Margherita Assembly segment of Tinsukia district.
He also sniffed the involvement of district administration, forest department, and government officials besides journalists in the syndicate.On Friday, Bordoloi had threatened to file an FIR against the Tinsukia district magistrate for the latter’s alleged connivance in the coal syndicate.