Insurgent outfits in Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district had been illegally mining coal, using the proceeds for buying sophisticated weapons from arms dealers based in Thailand and China.
On March 26, 2012, the Union home ministry wrote to the coal ministry — drawing its attention to the illegal mining being undertaken at the 45-km-long Khasang block by Naga militants. The home ministry also requested the coal ministry to consider taking over all the coal mining operations in the state.
On May 15, the coal ministry wrote to the Arunachal government, asking it to take steps to stop the mining. “The Arunachal government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that these outfits no longer use the mines,” said Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (N-E), Union home ministry.
Changlang, a hub of insurgent activity, is located close to the China-Myanmar international border, where thousands of fighters belonging to at least nine insurgent outfits from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland stay in well-fortified camps. The weapons possessed by these groups include Kalashinov rifles, Heckler and Koch assault rifles, American M-16 and M-17 rifles, and rocket launchers.
Another issue highlighted in the communication was the contractor’s “illegal” right to sell coal extracted from the 29-sq km Namchik-Namphik coal block. “As this is in gross violation of the CMN Act (Coal Mines Nationalisation), the coal controller is being instructed to have coal mining in the Namchik-Namphik coal block stopped immediately,” the coal ministry letter said.
The Namchik-Namphik block in Changlang, which has been allotted to the Arunachal Pradesh Mineral Development & Trading Corp, has estimated reserves of about 84 mn tonnes of high-quality coal in the open cast mine. While rules allow Arunachal Pradesh to mine coal on its own, it can only use the same for captive projects such as thermal power plants in the state — not selling it outside.