Coal mining: Future tense

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“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.”

– Julius Caesar


The backward regions of a developing country like India, have their natural resources being exploited unofficially by mafias that have spread its tentacles into the administration. One is forced to think that the authorities are turning a blind eye to the illegal coal mining in Karbi Anglong district otherwise the question of how the coal can be mined with impunity in the district does not fail to raise eyebrows. The coal is spread all over Karbi Anglong in places like Langvoku, Sainilangso, Langsibu and others. In West Karbi Anglong there are reports of illegal coal mining at the interstate border of Assam and Meghalaya. The illegally mined coal is stored along the national highway 36 at places like Disobai, Langmili and others. The illegally mined coal stored at Langmili is a very mysterious case. To store the coal the dumpers carrying the coal have to pass through the campus of horticulture farm that belongs to the Agriculture Department and have to take the same way out as there is no other way.

 But there are no official complaints filed by the Agriculture Department officials on this matter. On top of that there are reports of the Forest Department’s frontline staff being assaulted at Langmili and the coal that was supposedly seized by the Forest Department was transported away by the resourceful mafia. Amazingly, no FIR was filed at any police station about either the assault or the thief. The illegally mined coal laden dumpers after leaving the site of lifting, i.e., the storage site, drive all the way to the neighbouring state of Nagaland on one way and to Hojai and Nagaon districts on the other on the said National Highway 36, with the authority claiming that they are unaware of it. One cannot help but imagine a silent understanding between the coal mafia and the local authorities. Reliable sources suggested that Rs. 3,000/- is collected from each dumper of illegal coal by corrupt Forest Department officials. The dumpers carry a minimum load of 20 tons. If on an average six trucks of illegally mined coal leave Karbi Anglong district on each night the sum amounts to Rs. 65.7/- lakhs per annum without taking into account the illegal payments made to officials along the way till the point of delivery. That is a big amount for a backward region like Karbi Anglong. The money can be utilised for developing connectivity as this is the main reason keeping the district backward. In this scenario Chief Executive Member (CEM) of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council Tuliram Ronghang welcoming a CBI enquiry into the whole issue is fresh air. CEM admitted that there is illegal coal mining in the district and that is a good start as a problem cannot be solved without first admitting that there is a problem.

Bokajan MLA of Karbi Anglong Dr. Numal Momin is of the opinion that as Karbi Anglong is one of the backward regions in Assam, it will only be beneficial to legalise the coal mining that will bring in revenue for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and employment to the youths who are forced to go to as far as Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune to work as security guards for a meagre salary of Rs. 3,000/- per month. The sooner the issue of illegal coal mining is looked into the better it is for the district, otherwise the mafia which assaulted the Forest Department officials will soon resort to murder and other criminal activities.

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