Gauhati HC asks Assam govt to set up task force on mines and minerals

The Gauhati High Court on October 21 directed the Assam government to constitute a Mines and Minerals Task Force Battalion under the Mines and Minerals Department for taking timely and independent action to prevent illegal mining of any kind.

The order came on a public interest litigation filed by Assam’s Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia last year seeking the court’s intervention in stopping the illegal mining in and around the Dikhow river.

“The court has asked the Assam government to institute the Task force within 3 months’ time,” said Advocate SB Rahman, counsel of Saikia.

“The High Court also directed the state government to set up a high level committee comprising representatives of the Home and Political Department, Water Resources, Mines and Minerals, Forest and Environment, Revenue and Disaster Management, Soil Conservation departments and Pollution Control Board to study the fragile eco-system of the river Dikhow and recommend measures for its preservation,” Rahman said, quoting the court order.

Saikia has been permitted the liberty to provide all available evidence to the High Level Committee, he said.

He had filed a PIL last year seeking intervention of the High Court to stop rampant illegal mining in the river Dikhow and adjoining areas.

The High Court, in January this year, directed the government to investigate the matter, take suitable action and inform Saikia.

Saikia has already raised the issue of illegal mining in river Dikhow and other areas of the state on a number of occasions in the Assam Legislative Assembly and other forums.

He had also urged the state government to curb illegal mining in view of unabated devastation of the environment, as well as revenue loss for the government.

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