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Illegal mines along Arunachal border are disasters waiting to unfold, warns Coal India

PW Bureau

CIL also admitted that illegal mining of raw coal is being carried out in an extensive way, right under its nose New Delhi: As rescuers race against time to save 15 miners trapped in a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya, a letter circulated by Coal India has placed the focus on rampant illegal coal mining activities along Assam-Arunachal border and has sounded the alarm bell about the likelihood of more such accidents in the region. Margherita-based Coal India Limited (CIL) administration operating under North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) in Assam’s Tinsukia district has said that illegal mining activities thrive near the mines of Tirap and Tikak Collieries.

The letter cited a nexus between politicians, the state machinery and mine owners as a primary reason for illegal ‘rat-hole’ mining in Margherita, Ledu, Lekhapani and Jagun areas, despite the ban.

The letter (Ref No. NEC/GM/18/168/187) addressed to Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner and dated December 21, said, “Such serious illegal coal mining accidents may happen anytime in the Assam-Arunachal border where rampant illegal mining is being undertaken… The NEC has been facing the plight of illegal coal mining near the mines of Tikak and Tirap collieries in Margherita.” The state-owned coal producer also admitted that illegal mining of raw coal is being carried out in an extensive way, right under the nose of the Coal India administration and security agencies. The letter cited a nexus between politicians, the state machinery and mine owners as a primary reason for illegal ‘rat-hole’ mining in Margherita, Ledu, Lekhapani and Jagun areas, despite the ban. Despite ban by the National Green Tribunal, the mining of raw coal continues unabated at the cost of the ecology and environment, resulting in sharp rise in man-animal conflict and pollution. Most of the collieries or the extracted coal depots in Assam’s Margherita are located along Assam-Arunachal border of Tinsukia and Changlang districts.