Assam Margherita
Representative image

Dibrugarh: Coal thieves have been said to have become quite active in certain parts of Margherita in upper Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Sources stated that coal thieves are now actively extracting coal from restricted colliery areas in Margherita.

As per the sources, security personnel and guards who were hired by North Eastern Coalfields(NEC) to keep a strong vigil on unauthorized activities are now allegedly allowing coal thieves to steal coal from collieries.

They allegedly take a part of the money these thieves make by selling the illegally extracted coal.

It needs to be mentioned that only the Tikak colliery has been functioning while the others have been shut for quite some time now.

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The thieves have started to take advantage of these shut collieries and are now stealing the extracted coal. 

A source informed that these thieves are using excavators and backhoe loaders to execute their operations. The rampant stealing of coal has been reported from Namdang, Borgoli, Tipong, Ledo OCP and Tirap collieries. 

The thieves with the support of the security guards, appointed by the CIL execute the job. 

“All the collieries are situated at Patkai hills,” said a source.

It North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) presently operates in Tikak colliery in Margherita, Tinsukia with two opencast projects (OCPs), namely Tikak OCP and Tikak Extension OCP with a combined coal production capacity of 4 lakh tonnes per annum.

In June 2020, North Eastern Coalfields India Limited Margherita ceased all coal production due to environmental concerns. 

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But on March 26, this year Union Minister of coal and Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma resume the operation of Tikak colliery.

A local resident of Margherita alleged that the gang of coal thieves climb the Patkai Hills to extract coal and for each bag sold, they get around Rs 500 from the “coal mafia” who run the racket.

“The coal “mafia” is backed by the political leaders. They are running the illegal coal business in a coordinated way by managing everyone in the Margherita region”, the local said.

Some even accuse that the police know everything about the illegal dealings and yet remain silent.

Some have termed this stance of the police as political patronage.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com