The Adani group has been trying to revive its Lohara coal mining project near the Tadoba Tiger Reserve ever since a Group of Ministers announced last year that the "no go" policy was scrapped. This mine was rejected back in 2010 after huge mobilisation in Nagpur and Chandrapur by many dedicated local groups. These groups rightly pointed out that the mine would destroy a large forest area in important tiger habitat.
© Harshad Barve / Greenpeace
But after the the "no go" policy was scrapped, the Coal Ministry encouraged miners to once again send in mining proposals that had been rejected. A slightly modified version of the Adani proposal reared its ugly head again.
A few months ago, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan committed on national television (during NDTV's tiger telethon) that he would not allow mines in tiger habitat. And now just last week, a committee of forest officials that was appointed to look into the new proposal has come out in strong opposition to the mine.
This is somewhat rare as the forest department often tends to do whatever industry wants. That the Maharashtra Forest Department actually took such a strong position is evidence that there are some good officers in the department, and also reflects the excellent ground campaign built up by local groups such as Eco-Pro, Green Planet, Satpuda Foundation and others. These are groups that Greenpeace has been working with for the last couple of years.
It now seems that the Adanis have given up trying to mine this particular forest area, but as always, vigilance is called for to ensure the proposal doesn't resurface.
What does this mean for the Adanis?
They were counting on this coal mine to get cheap coal for their nearby Tirodia plant - they are now going to have to look elsewhere. It certainly means higher costs and possibly delays in plant commissioning, and sends a clear signal to investors that coal is no longer a good investment.
The era of cheap coal is dead, there is going to be intense scrutiny on all coal mining proposals in forest areas, together with public mobilisation and legal challenges. There are many more coal blocks in equally important forest areas across Central India. For the full biodiversity impacts that coal mining will have on Central India, refer to the report Greenpeace India put out in August.
Right now, Brikesh Singh is on Day 25 of his one month occupation of a tree on the edge of another coal mine, Padmapur, which also borders Tadoba. In the run up to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Brikesh is using the occupation to draw the world's attention to the plans of a section of the Indian government to destroy vast forest areas for a few decades of coal. If you haven't yet shown your support for the forests, do so at www.junglistan.org.