File Photo: Debabrata Saikia

Leader of Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, on June 15 urged Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami to urgently lead an all-party delegation of legislators on a fact-finding tour to the areas affected by mining and the recent oil well blowout and fire.

Saikia wrote to the speaker and claimed that the government’s new mining policy had led to adverse reactions and protests among the common people of Assam. He pointed out that “the central government had recently eased laws pertaining to protection of the environment in order to exploit natural resources without hindrance”.

He mentioned that the earlier law had mandated public hearings before permitting new mining/drilling activity in eco-sensitive zones.

However, the central government recently amended the relevant law and included extraction of oil, natural gas, coal, etc. in the ‘B2’ category “solely to avoid holding of public hearings”.

The leader of the opposition maintained that immediate intervention of elected members of the House has become imperative because this sensitive issue would have considerable impact on the political, economic and social scenarios of Assam in the time to come.

Assam has been witnessing widespread protests against coal mining near Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary, while an oil well blowout in Baghjan area on May 27 has led to continuous gas leakage and subsequent fire.

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