Greenpeace: Indian Government must stop the destruction of vital biodiversity

Press release - October 10, 2012
Hyderabad/New Delhi, October 8, 2012, On the eve of a major international conference on biodiversity, hosted by the Indian Government, Greenpeace is demanding that the Indian government re-look its massive expansion of coal mining in forest areas by immediately introducing a moratorium for new coal mines. The Government’s present policy of increasing coal mining is destroying the environment including the habitat for the endangered Indian tiger. It is also forcing tens of thousands of its own citizens to leave their homes.

A Greenpeace mapping study shows that 13 coalfields in the central Indian landscape alone will destroy more than 1.1 million hectares of pristine woodland. As a consequence of this environmental vandalism over 14,000 tribal people in one region alone will lose their homes and livelihoods, with many indigenous communities being forcibly removed and placed into so called ‘rehabilitation centres’ with no way to earn a living.  (1)

Commenting hours before the opening of the UN biodiversity conference, Samit Aich, Executive Director from Greenpeace said:

“India’s mad dash to mine coal is destroying the precious biological assets that this country should be protecting. Instead of showing leadership as the host of this prestigious conference, the government is leading the way on the destruction of tens of thousands of hectares of forest.”

“The impact on the environment in the short term is the decimation of a vital part of India��s biodiversity. They are removing the forests that are the natural habitat of the already threatened iconic Indian tiger. In the long term the damage to the planet with increased CO2 emissions by burning coal would be irreversible.”

“The destruction of the natural habitat and the lives of over thousands of people is not the type of progress India or its people want. The Indian Government must take a political and moral lead and end this state-sponsored vandalism by immediately introducing a binding moratorium on new coal mining, given that clearances already exceed government energy targets. ”

The conference being held in Hyderabad is the 11th time the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been held. Delegates to the conference are made up of environment ministers from all member states of the United Nations. The conference has the powers to agree to future international agreements to protect the planets biodiversity.

One of the major areas of discussion at the conference will be marine protection and sustainability in international waters. On the agenda will be ways to agree the most important areas globally that deserve protection (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas), sustainable fisheries and the adverse impacts human activities on coastal and marine biodiversity.

Governments must also use this conference to agree to tackle illegal and unregulated fishing practices in order to protect fish stocks for future generations.

Commenting on the need for urgent action to protect marine species, Aich said:

“The present free-for-all that is depleting the world’s fishing stocks is unsustainable. We need urgent action now to protect marine life before it is too late."

“This conference offers the Indian Government a unique opportunity to take a lead and show that it is committed to protecting the oceans by banning the destructive fishing practices that are resulting in massive over fishing. They need to introduce laws and enforce them to ensure the illegal fishing industry is hunted down."

“It is important to recognise that all the world’s oceans are connected that is why we are asking the  Indian Government to take a more active role internationally by advocating ocean protection. If the Indian Government adopts these measures, then they will become an international leader in supporting sustainable oceans.”

The conference will be held in Hyderabad between the 8th and 19th October. Greenpeace India will be present throughout and will be providing regular updates.

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/publications/How-coal-mining-is-trashing-tigerland/

For any further information please contact:

Jagori Dhar, , +91 9811200481

Shuchita Mehta, s, +91 9560990606

Abhishek Srivastava, , +91 9999180790

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