GUWAHATI, July 28 - In response to a petition filed before the Gauhati High Court challenging suspension of mining operations by Coal India Limited in Assam, the court today issued notices to the Central government, including the Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Assam, besides Coal India Limited and North Eastern Coalfields directing them to file reply within six weeks before the court.
The petition was filed by all the four trade unions of the North Eastern Coalfields, Coal India Limited, Margherita � Purbuttar Khadan Mazdoor Sangh, Rashtriya Coal Mozdoor Union, Assam Colliery Mozdoor Congress and Assam Janata Mazdoor Union.
Following a massive public outcry against allowing Coal India Limited to run mining activities in Dehing Patkai forests, the Gauhati High Court has also seized the matter in a number of PILs filed in this regard.
Since it was assured on behalf of the Coal India Limited that no coercive action will be initiated towards closing down the coalfields and its employees, and the North Eastern Coalfields awaits only the forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment & Forest for reopening of all its coalfields, the court did not find any requirement to pass further order at this stage.
Advocate Suman Chetia, who represented the petitioners, has informed that because of the hue and cry in the public at large, the State forest department had been constantly pressurising the Coal India Limited authorities to close down all its mining operations.
Under such circumstances, the Coal India authorities not only suspended its activities but also initiated a process to close down the entire coal industry in Assam and as a part of it trying to relocate its machinery and equipment from its present locations of coalfields at Ledo and Margherita to other coalfields in the country, besides further initiating process for disposal of its immovable properties, he said.
Chetia further informed that if Coal India Limited shuts down its operations in Assam, then many other industries will also to be shut down for lack of fuel to run their industries.
The Bokajan cement factory had regularly procured coal from the Coal India Limited, Margherita for running it. Similar is the situation for the National Thermal Power Corporation, Bongaigaon that produces electricity using coal procured from Coal India Limited, Margherita.
Besides Chetia, senior advocate Dr Ashok Saraf, and Supreme Court advocate Kaushik Choudhury also appeared on behalf of the petitioners.