Dehing Patkai to be upgraded as National Park

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Daily Current Affairs - July 7, 2020.

Amidst controversy surrounding the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, the State Government of Assam has decided to upgrade the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary into a National Park.

About Dehing Patkai

Dehing Patkai
Dehing Patkai

The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Santuary, also known as Amazon of East, is a home to a vast variety of flora and fauna. It is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam. It covers an area of 111.19 sq. km . The Dehing Patkai was declared a sanctuary on 13 June, 2004. It is located in a rain forest that stretches for more than 575 sq kms and extends to the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Charaideu. Under Project Elephant the Wildlife Sanctuary and a part of Dehing Patkai Rainforest were declared as Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve in 1992.

The Controversy

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  • Coal India Ltd was mining in the Dehing Patkai since 2003. It applied for clearance only in 2012 but got rejected.
  • In 2019, CIL applied once again for clearance of an area of 98.59 hectares. It can be noted here that CIL was already mining in an area of 73 hectares.
  • In December 2019, the Central Government gave Stage I forest clearance to the CIL for 57.20 hectares with 28 conditions that includes fines and actions against officers violating the Forest Conservation Act.
  • As the PSU was mining illegally since 2003, the Assam Forest Department slapped a penalty of Rs 43.24 crore on Coal India Ltd.
  • But on 7th April, 2020 the National Board of Wild Life(NBWL) in it’s 57th meeting of the Standing Committee recommended CIL’s proposal to legalize the illegal activities for approval provided it fulfils the 28 conditions.
  • This sparked the controversy and several protests including through social media were undertaken since April, 2020.
  • On June 4 , Gauhati High Court issued notices to the centre , state, CIL and other stakeholders after filing a suo moto case against Coal India Limited.

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