GUWAHATI: A Congress MP in Assam claimed that 4,000-5,000 rat-hole coal mines had sprung up in the state over the past three years and that too in 11 reserved forests and a wildlife sanctuary.
Nagaon MP, Pradyut Bordoloi, alleged that a coal mafia, aided and abetted by the Tinsukia district administration in Upper Assam, had been systematically destroying the rainforests and running a huge illegal coal mining and trading.
His allegations come close on the heels of the Gauhati High Court directive to two district magistrates in the state to file affidavits on illegal mining activities.
“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,” Bordoloi alleged.
The BJP-led coalition has been in power in Assam since May, 2016.
“…So far I know, 80 miners and two baby elephants perished and (the deaths were) covered up by the nexus,” he tweeted.
The MP alleged that the “unprecedented illegal coal mining operation” was being carried out by a coal syndicate. He also alleged that around 20,000 hectares of forest area in Tinsukia district had been destroyed due to 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, 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. Demanding a probe, he said the DM could not get away given the alleged illegal activities in the district. Recently, he had challenged Sonowal to pay a visit to the reserved forests to get an idea of the level of illegal mining activities.