Assam mine minister Sum Ronghang (centre) visited Silonijan area on Friday . Image credit - Northeast Now

Days after Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi raised the issue of illegal coal mining, Assam minister for mines and minerals Sum Ronghang on Friday admitted that illegal coal mining and said the government is taking steps to legalise mining of coal.

The minister said this after making a sudden visit to Silonijan area along the Assam-Nagaland borer in Karbi Anglong on Friday and witnessed how coal mining is going on illegally despite a blanket ban imposed on coal mining by the Supreme Court.

Also read: Illegal coal mining in Assam: Probe by inter-ministerial fact-finding team sought

The minister visited the Silonijan area on Friday with the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of the district and witnessed spill over of coal dumped on the roadside, which indicated that illegal coal mining has been going on uninterrupted in the district.

The minister’s visit assumes significance as the Lok Sabha MP from Nagaon constituency, Pradyut Bordoloi, recently raised the issue of illegal coal mining in Assam.

Bordoloi claimed that as many as 80 miners died during rat hole mining in Assam and that the illegal mining has threatened the state’s rainforests.

Bordoloi, a Congress MP, also said the illegal cartel involved in coal mining is being operated from the office of the chief minister.

“In what may be an unprecedented illegal coal mining operation carried out by the coal syndicate, around 20,000 hectares of forest area in Tinsukia district have been destroyed due to rat hole mining since 2016.

“It deeply pains me to see such rampant destruction of our forests,” Bordoloi tweeted later.

Minister Ronghang said, “Whatever mining is going on in Karbi Anglong is illegal. We are taking steps to stop these illegal coal mining and its transportation.”

“We have also written to the Central government so that steps could be initiated to legalize the coal mining,” said Ronghang.

The minister further said steps will be taken to amend the Dealers’ Rule so that coal mining could be legalised.

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