On July 6, 2020, the government of Assam has decided to upgrade the 111.942 sq km Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary into a national park which is located within the larger Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, spreading across the coal- and oil-rich districts of Upper Assam (Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar).
- This decision followed the National Board of Wildlife’s (NBWL), under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), conditional clearance to a coal mining project by Coal India Limited (CIL) in the 98.59 hectares of Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve which resulted in virtual protests in the state.
-Background: Notably, Dehing Patkai, also known as Amazon of East, forms the largest stretch of tropical low-land rainforests in India and is believed to be the last remaining contiguous patch of low land rainforest area in Assam. Besides Asiatic elephants, leopards, hoolock gibbons, pangolins and bears, Dehing Patkai is also home to over 200 species of birds, various reptiles and many species of butterflies and orchids. It is also the place with the highest concentration of the rare endangered White Winged Wood Duck. Therefore, concerns were raised that the habitats of these species would be affected due to wanton coal mining.
–In order to expedite the process of upgrading Dehing Patkai into a national park, the state’s forest department will prepare a draft notification for public hearing and will also take necessary actions for up-grading Dehing Patkai into a national park in consultation with the MoEFCC.
-The wildlife sanctuaries are protected areas which permit some activities such as grazing but national parks require complete protection status under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
-The Dehing Patkai was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2004.
-Post upgradation, Dehing Patkai will be the 6th national park in Assam. The other five are Kaziranga, Nameri, Manas, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa.
Chief Minister (CM)- Sarbananda Sonowal
Governor– Prof. Jagdish Mukhi