DOOMDOOMA, June 21 - Close on the heels of the North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) of Coal India Limited (CIL) suspending mining activities temporarily since June 3 following the Dihing Patkai controversy, various organisations, including labour unions have agitated and demanded opening of coal mining operations as the future of several thousand workers and ancillaries are in jeopardy.
In the backdrop of relentless protests renting the air in Margherita sub-division, the Margherita Journalists� Association (MJA) organised a mass convention recently to create public opinion in support of coal mining activities.
�Phase-wise curtailment of employees is a conspiracy of CIL to shut down NEC even as there exits wide prospect to rejuvenate the British-era mines� said Dr Ranjit Dutta, former general manager of NEC while delivering his keynote address at the convention organised by MJA at Ledo Rangamanch with Ramprasad Ambedkar, president of MJA in chair in the presence of a large gathering.
Dr Dutta maintained that closure of coal mining would have catastrophic consequences on the livelihood of scores of people in Margherita, Ledo and nearby areas, besides 2,700 employees and workers along with their dependents, who have been sustaining themselves on the industry for decades.
Asserting that the coal mines did not fall within the elephant corridor as claimed, Dr Dutta called upon the management to furnish reasons behind the closure in public domain as the public has a right to know what led to the closure.
Explaining the objective of the meeting, Ranajyoti Neog, general secretary of MJA warned in clear terms that conspiracy with an objective to privatisation or commercialisation would not be accepted. Any political move to jeopardise the economic fabric of Margherita sub-division would be opposed tooth and nail, Neog said.
The convention, moderated by Manas Pratim Gogoi, was addressed by Dr Kripa Prasad Upadhyaya, Principal of Ledo College, social worker Debojit Baruah, Sukhdev Sarma, workers� leader Bipul Roy, former teacher Someswar Neog and Abani Chaliha, among others.
The convention after day-long deliberations opined that coal mining activities should be resumed in a scientific manner. It demanded withdrawal of orders pertaining to suspension of mining operation and transfer of employees, or any move to privatise the NEC.
It also demanded that the Central Government must announce a special package for infrastructural development of NEC, besides functioning of a coal-based thermal project at Lekhapani.
The meeting forewarned that a strong mass agitation would be chalked out in the days ahead to revive the coal industry after generating public opinion.