Open cast mining threatens Assam
A subsidiary of the central ministry of coal in Assam is steadily refusing to compensate for crop damages wrought by its open-cast mining. This is after the Gauhati High Court told the company to pay compensation of more than Rs 4 crore in its January 2007 order. The North Eastern Coalfields (nec), an arm of Coal India Limited, in April appealed to the court against its order; the matter is pending. The January decision was in response to a July 2005 petition by landowners affected by the mining operations near Margherita town in Tinsukia district.
Opposition to open-cast mining is quite old. nec took over the mine in 1973 from the uk-based Assam Railways and Trading Company. In 1985, it switched from underground mining to open-cast mining, despite protest from residents and the state environment ministry. Discharge of acidic effluents from excavated pits have damaged the water sources, while coal particles have rendered large farming areas unproductive. The pollution control authorities issued nec a closure notice.
Cast open Several tribes have made their home in the Patkai hills, which form a natural border with Myanmar, and are very fertile and biodiverse. The hills also have coal