23 January 2014

Oily Moily

'Dear Diary,

What a day :)

Today, I cleared 20 projects in one stroke. I must be improving really fast. I barely spend 5 minutes reading one.

I am loving handling multiple portfolios. All my old friends from the Petroleum Ministry & the industry are also loving it. And they talk about conflict of interest! Gosh!!

I have been chosen to bridge the gap between the petroleum and environment ministry, two ministries always at loggerheads with each other, but I will change all that.

In the next few days I am planning to improve my speed, I also secretly love giving autographs and don't really care how many trees are cut or animals or tribes are displaced. Also, think about it, if there is no environment to protect or forest to conserve I save so much money by combining both ministries.

As long as money doesn't grow on trees I have no use for them.'

This is sadly not entirely fiction.

In late December 2013, Veerappa Moily was handed the reins of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Yes, Moily who is also in charge of the Petroleum Ministry. Its shocking to see a minister whose job is to promote one of the most polluting industries, given another ministry whose job is to regulate pollution. It all seems very convenient especially if you consider the fact that Moily has cleared 70 projects within a span of 3 weeks. And there is more to come.

The next few weeks will decide the fate of nearly 60 coal blocks, some of them allocated during the period of coal scam. One such coal block is the Mahan Coal Block, in the Singrauli Coalfield, allocated to Essar and Hindalco.

Mahan Coal Block is located in the middle of the Mahan forest and it was given first-stage forest clearance by an empowered Group of Ministers (GoM). This after the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh raised concerns and here are some of the facts from the official document available here - http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Mahan.pdf.

He said that mining the Mahan Coal block would fragment an area rich in biodiversity[1], nearly 6 lakh trees growing there for generations would be cut down[2], the Rihand River Basin would be irreversibly damaged[3] along with the rich flora and fauna, and forest communities would be displaced and their livelihoods snatched away[4]. And all this for a coal bed which will provide coal for a mere 14 years[5].

'Shortsightedness or Development?' You choose.

As for me all I will say is, "The answer, my friend is blowin in the wind".

Moily is here to give clearances for all these controversial projects before general elections. Why? Could it be as crude as a Congress bid for corporate funding? At the very least it aligns Congress with investors and corporate giants, while playing with the heritage and future of our country - and doing so shows how little the party cares for the votes of ordinary Indians.

The appointment of Moily is rash and his handling of the ministry till now proves that he has vested interest and he should be immediately removed.

Its time to draw battle lines. The government does not know the 'Power of its people': it's time we join our hands and raise our voices against this system.

We need to save forests like Mahan because they are part of the fabric of our nation, our heritage, and our future. To save Mahan, click here - http://www.junglistan.org/

We need to demand for an impartial minister, not someone who in fact serves the interests of environmental destruction.

To demand Moily's resignation, click here - http://www.greenpeacex.in/petitions/oily-moily-needs-to-go-1

To listen to stories from the Mahan forest, visit Radio Sangarsh at http://www.radiosangharsh.org/

Sources: http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Mahan.pdf

[1]Page 3, Heading 10, bullet 1&2

[2]Page 7, Second Paragraph

[3]Page 4, Point (13)

[4]Page 66, Point (vii)

[5]Page 4, Point (12)