Illegal Coal Mining in Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in Assam and Consequent Violation of the Provisions of Forest Conservation and Wildife Protection Laws

  • Dr. Matiur Rahman
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  • Dr. Matiur Rahman

    M.A., LL.M., Dip. Labour Laws, Ph.D. (Law) and Assistant Professor of Law at University Law College, Gauhati University, India

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The Constitution of India, which is the supreme law of the land, under the Indian Legal System, is a green document, itself, that provides for adequate protection and conservation for ecology, environment and biodiversity. Apart from that, from the jurisprudential point of view, the Constitution of India is also a supreme document of trust and the State as a “trustee” of all natural resources is under a legal duty to protect them. The theory of Public Trust Doctrine, as such, emphasizes the State’s affirmative duty to protect the fragile ecosystems. But to the utter disregard of the mandates of the Constitution and the theory of Public Trust Doctrine, the vast tracts of the Elephant Reserve besides the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in the Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts of Assam have been lost due to rampant illegal mining, logging and encroachments. It needs to mention that the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the “Amazon of the East”, constitutes the last vestiges of the State’s rainforest. Facts remain that a proposal for coal mining by the North-Eastern Coal Fields (NECF) of Coal India Limited (CIL) inside the ecosensitive zones of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve was granted approval by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) despite a Rs. 43.25 crores penalty on CIL by the Assam Forest Department. Altogether four Public Interest Litigations including one of the Gauhati High Court, itself, have been filed on the issues of mining in the Dehing Patkai Region. In the meantime, the Supreme Court of India calls for finding middle path between ecology and economy. The aim of this paper is to study the ecological issues of the Dehing Patkai Rain Forests, and, thereby, establishing the fact that the State has got an affirmative duty as a “trustee” to protect and preserve the elephant corridors, as well as, the environment. The paper also focuses on the mandates of Public Trust Doctrine and the provisions of forest conservation and wildlife protection laws which need to be taken into consideration by the Apex Court while maintaining a balance between environment and development.


Research Paper


International Journal of Legal Science and Innovation, Volume 3, Issue 3, Page 562 - 575


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