Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary to be upgraded into a National Park
After months of Controversy, the Assam State Government has decided for the up-gradation of the status of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary to National Park. The decision was taken on 6th July 2020 and was announced by the Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal.
A protest campaign led by environmentalists was conducted through social media during the nationwide lockdown in the month of April 2020. This campaign was due to the controversial decision made by the National Board for Wild Life’s (NBWL) during its 57th meeting of the Standing Committee on 7th April 2020 by giving preliminary approval for coal mining to Coal India Limited’s subsidiary North Eastern Coalfield (NEC) inside 98.57 hectare of land Saleki Proposed Reserved Forest.
Saleki Proposed Reserved Forest falls within the ‘Eco-Sensitive Zone’, that is within 10 Km of radius from the Dehing Patkai Wild Life Sanctuary. The Saleki Proposed Reserved Forest is at a distance of exact 9.1 Kilometers from the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.
After the controversy, coal mining operations were suspended at the site from 3rd June 2020 onwards.
Coal India Limited’s unit NEC was mining at the location since 2003 without any official clearances. For this, the Forest Department of Assam has imposed a penalty of Rs 43.24 crore on Coal India Limited in May 2020.
Under the Project Elephant of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in 1992 Dehing Patkai was declared as an Elephant Reserve. Later on 13th June 2004, Dehing Patkai was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary.