Dehing Patkai
Dehing patkai. Courtesy: Highway Odyssey

Dehing Patkai Is Wailing! India, Are You Listening?

May 18, 2020

The existence of Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam has been threatened!

This threat has come after the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) allowed opencast coal mining in an area of 98.59 hectares of the reserve forest that is a part of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve.

The mining is to be carried out by the North-Eastern Coal Field of Coal India Limited.

The decision was made at the 57th Meeting of the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife held on April 17 through video-conferencing.

The body further allowed to use the rest of the area for underground coal mining.

The Opposing Voices

The decision has been severely condemned by the environmentalists from across the country.

"Coal mining will destroy the ecology of Dehing Patkai," said Bitupan Sarkar, a Guwahati-based environmentalist.

"This rainforest is often considered as the Amazon of the East and it holds a key to the rich flora and fauna of the Northeast," Sarkar added.

Sarkar is not the lone green warrior who has opposed this decision of allowing coal mining in the area.

Several protests campaigns have already begun in Assam, where apart from environmentalists, students have also joined in large numbers.

To create a pan-India awareness on the issue, the Gauhati University Eco Club has begun a digital campaign called 'Moi Prokriti' (I Am Nature).

The aim of this campaign is to create awareness across India and start several other such campaigns for the protection of Dehing Patkai.

"One can take part in this campaign by positing against the coal mining decision and use the #SaveDehingPatkai hashtag," stated media release by the Club.

"The proposed coal mining is supposed to be carried out in Saleki- an area of the forest which is a designated elephant reserve," the statement added.

The club further said that the opencast coal mining will leave the land bald and will affect the elephant habitat.

"This will give rise to an ecological imbalance," the statement added.

Here are a few online campaigners and their appeals opposing the coal mining-

Abhineet Mishra Speaks on Dehing Patkai

Similar thoughts were also shared by renowned stand-up comedian Abhineet Mishra.

In a YouTube video titled as 'Behas Mishra on Dehing Patkai | ft. Abhineet Mishra', the former journalist questions if the rest of India has heard of Dehing Patkai and the possible threat looming over it.

With his style of humour and sarcasm, Mishra urges the Indian citizens to stand up for Dehing Patkai the way they did during the 2019 Amazon rainforest fire in Brazil.

"The current proposal for coal mining in the area is dependent on a feasibility study," Mishra said in the video.

"This study is being carried out by Coal India Limited (CIL)- the company that will eventually get the approval for coal mining here," he further said.

"Interestingly, the CIL for the last 16 years have been carrying out illegal coal mining in the area! Illegal because CIL's license expired in 2003," Mishra further said.

"The Assam Forest Department recently slapped a penalty of Rs 43.25 crore on CIL," Mishra further said.

"The same company is now carrying out the feasibility study for a project which is eventually come to them. Now, isn't this funny?" Mishra asked.

"The lockdown has taught us one important lesson- never ever temper with nature," Mishra says towards the end of the video.

"Someone somewhere tampered with nature and the entire world is paying for it," he adds on.

" Jeff Bezos is rich because of Amazon. We also have our own local Amazon. Please let's protect it," Mishra further says.

"My single voice may not be powerful, but if you voices join then it can bring about the change," the video ends with this appeal.

WATCH VIDEO | Behas Mishra on Dehing Patkai | ft. Abhineet Mishra


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), during this lockdown period, has passed several projects and allowing coal mining in Dehing Patkai is just one of those.

A number of these projects will prove to be detrimental for the generations to come.

It's time that India wakes up and speak out against all these projects.

It is time that India wakes up and joins Assam in its fight to protect the Dehing Patkai- the lungs of Northeast.

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