Dehing Patkai crisis: when protectors turn predators

by Arindam Sen Baishya

The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary with the larger Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve that constitute one of the lastgest vestiges of the country’s rainforests have been faced with an unprecedented crisis, stemming ironically from the callous handling by the authorities mandated with the task of forest protection.

In a mind blowing instance of protectors turning predators, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had during the nationwide lockdown have given the green signal to the Coal India Limited to use 98.59 hectares of land of a proposed reserve forest (PRF) belonging to the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve for coal mining. Significantly, when a little more than half (57.02 hectares) of forest land has already been used for mining by Coal India Limited for several years,albeit in violation of forest rules, it is the NBWL approval that to allow the rest 41.39 hectares for coal extraction that has been stunned conservation circles.

It seems like the things has just started. The unbroken area in Saleki PRF having a forested hill slope forms an elephant corridor linking it with the adjoining Deomali Elephant Reserve of Arunachal Pradesh.


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