Coal mafias rule the roost in Arunachal’s Kharsang

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Police-politician-insurgent nexus unearthed

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Feb 19: The illegal coal mining at Kharsang in Arunachal Pradesh has reached an extreme point in the last few years. After prolonged protests and legal battles by environmentalists across the nation, coal mining was finally banned by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014.

However, the Supreme Court revoked the NGT ban in 2019 just eight months post the unfortunate rat hole mining gate which resulted in the death of all 15 miners at Ksan in Meghalaya which shook the entire nation.

Illegal mining is nothing new for Northeast which is abundant in natural resources.

Many such illegal mines run from Jowai in Meghalaya to Dima Hasao in Assam and even Arunachal Pradesh.

With the involvement of big players in the illegal trade running into several hundred crore of rupees, the question arises as to who will bell the cat? Illegal activities are rampant in every spheres of mining operation, be it in extraction, transportation, documentation both within and outside operational and leasehold areas Kharsang of Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The mining in Kharsang has been suspended since May, 2012 after a direction by the Centre following involvement of insurgent groups in the extraction process.

However, the state cabinet meeting has decided to resume coal mining in the state on July 19, 2019.

Even as there is no official notification for resumption of the coal mine, illegal mining is going on unabated with full knowledge of police, politicians and top bureaucrats.

It has been alleged that the miners have to pay a huge amount of ransom to the insurgent groups operating in Tirap and Changlang districts of the neighbouring state for illegal mining and its transportation.

Sources here informed that two miners identified as Satyanarayana Agarwal and Satish Sharma have been running such illegal activities in league with Navin Singhal who is known as the “coal king of Northeast”.  Singhal has backings from high police officials and politicians.

According to the information, currently 250 to 300 trucks of coal are being sent from Kharsang and all the consignments are being brought to Beltola in Guwahati city during night hours.

Everyday about 250 to 300 coal laden trucks coal leaves the mines and is being allegedly sold at black markets in Beltola, Guwahati. The value 20 MT of coal ranges from Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 2.50 lakh, in such a way the miners have been extracting coals worth Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore on daily basis.

According to the report, half of the income of the illegal coal mining were shared with top politicians and police officials of the neighbouring state. This is the reason why the government and the police have deliberately kept their eyes closed on this lootraj on such a large scale.

Notably, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) vice president and Lok sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi has been demanding a CBI and ED probe into the illegal mining of coal in Assam and Northeast. However, the government has not initiated any move to check such illegal mining for the reasons best know to it.

It is learnt that coal mafia Navin Singhal is behind this entire syndicate. A CBI investigation has been already on against Singhal in connection with an illegal coal mining case in Nagaland.

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