The country wants energy, government and corporates want money. Does anyone 'need' forests?
The coal mining companies are mining where ever they find it easy to mine coal. Their mining practices are highly inefficient because efficiency requires high investment; high investment affects 'the bottom line' - company profits. As they go mining the top layers of coal from allocated mines, they need to mine more and more land to power their furnaces and fill their pockets. And the corrupt government is not hard to "convince".
Why do I care? A lot of the coal lies under dense forests that are hundreds or even thousands of years old. These forests are not just home to trees but to thousands of life forms, which will be lost when the forests are destroyed.
So when the coal companies eye the forests in Central India, they are also eyeing the homes of tribal communities, endangered species like tigers and many other forms of life that support whole eco-systems. As a human being, I care for other living beings. If I don't support them now, I can't expect their support, when my way of life is threatened.
The concern is not just the dying forests and living beings. Numerous experts have said that even if we mine all the coal that is available all through the country, we will still run out of coal in around 40 years. What then? We will import, they say. What about when the coal runs out there as well or becomes too expensive? The answer is: start planning now for other sources. Renewable energy.
In October, India is hosting a Convention on Bio Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad where world leaders will get together to talk about how to conserve bio-diversity by putting the right policies in place. We are asking the Prime Minister to come up with categorisation which will protect some of India's biodiverse and ecologically important forests from any future mining plans Additionally, we need to start planning for a future where we can switch most of our energy generation from coal to renewable.
- The forests are home to various other life forms.
- The forests are a carbon sink in our increasingly polluted country.
- Coal destroys forests, livelihoods and then our health.
- Coal is going to run out one day.
- Government has already lost more than a few lakh crores of tax payer's money by not smartly allocating mines instead gifting them away.
- Renewable energy can meet most of our electricity needs – many governments are already on the right path.
It's time they stop thinking about making money and start thinking about a better future for generations to come.
I'll stand up and express my 'need' for the forests to stay; do you care to JOIN me?