Tura, Feb 15: The worst nightmare of East Garo Hills that had hardly been brought into light is now the centre of attraction after an order from the Deputy Commissioner of East Garo Hills, HB Marak ordered sealing the coal pits within the Rongrengre Forest Reserve.
The order follows complaints of the recently filled coal pits within the Reserve as early as about a year ago. Taking a tough stance against the illegal act, the DC in an order entrusted executive magistrate, Tennystar R Marak with the task of once again sealing the coal pits within the Reserve.
The Reserve has within it huge reserves of coal all just by the bed of the river which runs through it and has allowed illegal settlers and coal smugglers with very easy access to coal that is transported through various routes.
The Reserve itself has been plagued by problems which are three fold in nature. While of the one hand the depletion of trees due to the rampant illegal timber smuggling has reduced the once flourishing Reserve to an almost barren piece of land, the illegal settlement of people within the Reserve has created huge problems.
“While not all of the illegal settlers are involved in illegal acts, some of them have been active participants in the entire smuggling of coal as well as timber. This has accentuated the rate of depletion of trees,” said a source from near the town of Williamnagar, who did not want to be named.
Last year, the former DC of EGH, Cyril Diengdoh had also pushed for the filling up of coal pits within the Reserve in an attempt to curb the illegal acts, however in a few months from the closure, reports of the pits being reopened came through.
“Coal was being transported from within the forest even when the entire state was under the order of the NGT. This coal went through various routes to later land up in the state of Assam,” said another source.
Forest personnel of Rongrengre Reserve have been in a protracted battle to save the Reserve and many instances of the foresters being attacked have come forth. The incidents occurred while timber as well as coal was being illegally transported from the area.