6 July 2020.
The Assam government has decided to upgrade Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary into a national park. This was announced by the Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal.
About Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna.
- The 111.942 sq km Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is located within the larger Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, which spreads across the coal- and oil-rich districts of Upper Assam (Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar) and is believed to be the last remaining contiguous patch of lowland rainforest area in Assam.
- Under the Project Elephant of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in 1992 Dehing Patkai was declared as an Elephnat Reserve.
- Later on 13th June 2004, Dehing Patkai was decalred as a wild life sanctuary.
- It is also the place with the highest concentration of the rare endangered White Winged Wood Duck.
- In its current status, the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary includes parts of the Upper Dihing, Joypur and Dirak Reserve Forests. .
- Post upgradation, Dehing Patkai will be the sixth national park in Assam — the other five being Kaziranga, Nameri, Manas, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa.
About the Controversy:
- Environmentalists came out in protest after the controversial decision by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) during its 57th meeting of Standing Committee on 7th April 2020 permitting coal mining to Coal India Limited’s subsidiary North Eastern Coalfield inside 98.57 hectare of land of Saleki Proposed Reserved Forest.
- Saleki Proposed Reserved Forest falls with in the Eco-Sensitive Zone,that is within 10 km of radius from the Dehing Patkai WLS.
- After the controversy the mining operations were suspended at the site from 3rd June 2020.
- Coal India Limited’unit was mining at the location without any official clearance.
- Assam govt. has hence imposed a penalty of Rs. 43.24 crores on Coal India Limited in May 2020.
- Though there was a controversy regarding this sanctuary but this decision is independent of the controversy as quoted by state Environment and Forest Minister, Parimal Suklabaidya,