Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is not safe and one should not get carried away by the claim made by Nature's Beckon.
This was stated by a number of environmental activists while reacting to a video of Soumyadeep Datta- Nature's Beckon president.
Datta, in a video on Tuesday, said that the famed wildlife sanctuary of Assam is "safe".
"No coal mining is being carried out in the premises of the sanctuary," he had said in the video.
The video stirred the hornets' nest and various wildlife and environmental activists have vehemently opposed his views.
"I do not think every view or opinion that Soumyadeep Datta shares are correct. He is not the final authority," said Asif Hussain, a wildlife enthusiast from Nalbari.
"No doubt he has immense contribution in getting Dehing Patkai identified as a wildlife sanctuary. But I don't agree to what he said yesterday," Hussain further added.
Hussain is not the lone person who has opposed Datta's statement.
Several persons took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and directly countered Datta and said he was misleading the people on the entire issue.
"Either Soumyadeep Datta is misleading us or he is being misled by someone because whatever we are reading and seeing are contrasting," said Guwahati-based journalist Shushmita Kapinjal.
Taking to her Twitter handle, popular singer Zublee Baruah wrote, "We are already going through a disastrous period, so it’s high time we realise the importance of Mother Nature & save it. It’s now or never. I stand for Dehing Patkai"
We are already going through a disastrous period, so it’s high time we realise the importance of Mother Nature & save it. It’s now or never. I stand for Dehing Patkai#savedehingpatkai #iamdehingpatkai #savemothernature pic.twitter.com/uTWfojq2eH
— Zublee Baruah (@zublee) May 20, 2020
Several other Twitter users also echoed Zublee Baruah's sentiments and they requested the government to scrap the proposed coal mining project.
"The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is a home to different species of lives and deforestation will lead to loss of biodiversity and endanger the lives of the species," tweeted a user Upasana Gohain.
"It is our responsibility to stop this violence against nature and save our forest," she added.
The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is a home to different species of lives and deforestation will lead to loss of biodiversity and endanger the lives of the species. It is our responsibility to stop this violence against nature and save our forest. #savedehingpatkai pic.twitter.com/nZyWhBeFHI
— Upasana Gohain (@gohain_upasana) May 18, 2020
Another user, Bedabrat Deka, wrote, "I have spent most of my childhood days with Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary."
"And seeing all these destructions makes me worried every time," he further said.
"And these problems are being involved for a long time. Obviously, we must stand up and fight to conserve this Amazon of the East," he added in his tweet.
Nature's Beckon Soumyadeep Datta, however, has remained unfazed by this social media outrage and he has stood by his claim that he made on the video.
Speaking to The Story Mug, Datta said, "If coal mining takes place inside the sanctuary premises, then I will fight till my last breath."
"As per my knowledge the government has not decided to carry out mining anywhere inside the sanctuary," he further said.
"If the government has decided to carry out mining inside Dehing Patkai then where is the order copy?" he questioned.
"I have been working in the field and I have visited the area and I can say with full confidence, there is no mining activity going on inside the sanctuary premises," he reiterated.
"Moreover, the government has no plans to carry out mining activity here as well," Datta reiterated.
"I have fought for getting the area recognised as a wildlife sanctuary. It is more than a sanctuary to me. I will be the first one to oppose any activity that threatens its existence," Datta further said.
He further said that a false report regarding the coal mining inside the Dehing Patkai is being circulated.
"Someone is trying to serve its own agenda by circulating this false information about mining," he further said.
Datta also found wide support from various people on social media.
"Can someone point out the designated area or show the map where coal mining inside the sanctuary is planned?" tweeted a user named Ajit Kumar Sarma.
?????-?????? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????? ??? ????? ?????? ???? ???? ????????? ??? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ??? ?'? ???? ??????? ??? ????? ?????????? ???????
— ajit (@AKSarma1) May 19, 2020
Replying to Zublee Baruah's tweet one user name Sumit wrote, "I know your concern is genuine and I appreciate it. But my humble request is don't fall into a trap of politically motivated campaign."
@zublee ba please read this articale and you will know every fact. I know your concern is genuine an i appreciate it. But ba my humle request dont fall in a trap of politically motivated campaign.
— Sumit ????? ?? #BackToWork (@sensumitmca) May 20, 2020
Sharing his views with The Story Mug, Pune-based environment enthusiast Neelom Bhattacharyya said, "Dehing Patkai is not safe and I request every one- please don't be blinded by false assurances."
"For a moment, let me agree and say that coal mining has not been permitted inside the sanctuary," he said.
"But then the question is- do we know where has it been allowed?" he asked.
"The permission for coal mining has been given in an area which is at close proximity of the wildlife sanctuary and the elephant reserve. The mining will affect these adversely," he further said.
"Then how could we say that the wildlife sanctuary and the designated elephant reserve is safe? No, it's not safe," Bhattacharyya reiterated.
"Hundreds and thousands of people are protesting against the permission and numerous online campaigns have been launched. Is everybody an idiot?" Bhattacharyya added.
"Those showing concern are matured and they know what is right and what is not. To label the entire movement as politically propagated and motivated is wrong. This needs to be investigated," he added.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday, in fact, directing an inquiry has asked the state forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya to visit the Dehing Parkai Wildlife Sanctuary and check regarding the complaints raised.
However, the question still remains- why was the minister not asked to visit the Dehing Pataki elephant reserve area where the disputed mining site has been located.
A lot of questions still remain unanswered and the Dehing Patkai tale is getting twisted with every passing day.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.