Concerns have been raised about Oil India Limited’s (OIL) bid to drill for hydrocarbons in a national park in Assam after a similar ecological threat was perceived because of the central government’s recent approval for coal mining activities inside an elephant reserve in Upper Assam.
On May 11, the Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) gave green clearance for the extension drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations by OIL under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park area in Assam’s Tinsukia district.
The MoEFCC clearance comes close on the heels of the National Board of Wild Life’s (NBWL) approval on April 17, allowing Coal India Limited to carry out opencast and underground coal mining in a portion of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in the state. An online campaign has been launched by the state’s college students to stop the move.
Spread over 340 square kilometres, Dibru-Saikhowa is one of the five national parks in the north-east region’s most populous state. The park, which is also a biosphere reserve, is home to 36 mammal species including tiger, Gangetic dolphin, feral horses, etc. and 382 bird species.