Amid the countrywide lockdown, the National Board for Wild Life has recommended coal mining in a part of an elephant reserve in Assam.The NBWL’s Standing Committee had proposed for use of 98.59 hectares of land from the Saleki proposed reserve forest land for a coal mining project by North-Easter Coal Field (NECF), a unit of Coal India Limited.This move is expected to have an adverse impact on the flora and fauna in Dehing Patkai elephant reserve, which is part of Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary spread across 111 square kilometres in Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts. The sanctuary is said to be the largest tropical lowland rainforest in the country.“Illegal coal mining in Dehing Patkai has been going on for many years, but the NBWL’s move to allow coal mining in the Saleki area will erase the reserve from the country’s map.
Wiping of the forest would lead to less rainfall, shift in climate change would bring in drought and severe flooding in the region, loss of biodiversity and create an ecological imbalance.
While India should prioritize health and economic recovery in the after math of Covid-19 crisis, there is also an opportunity for clean energy transition. Its important for the governments and investors to view this outbreak as a signal to speed up investments in renewable energy sector as this move will not only reduce the economic burden of energy bills but also create jobs and reboost our economy.