Greenpeace activist ends month-long occupation of tree, garners over 113,000 support;

Will deliver petition to save forests from coal mining to Prime Minister

Press release - October 1, 2012
October 1, 2012, Chandrapur: After gathering 1,13, 977 signatures to protect India’s forests from coal mining, Greenpeace activist Brikesh Singh today ended his month-long occupation of a tree on the fringes of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), Maharashtra. Singh will now be heading to Hyderabad, to hand over the signatures to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be hosting the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Before departing Chandrapur, Singh led a bicycle rally to the Durgapur coal mine bordering TATR, where along with local activists and volunteers, a 135 foot fabric representing the 113,977 people who had joined in support of the Junglistan campaign, was used to demarcate forests that should not be axed for coal. The proposed Durgapur coal mine expansion, according to the forest officials and local activists, is a threat to nearly 120 hectares of forest land which is a critical tiger habitat.

Referring to the Maharashtra government’s recent rejection of Adani’s Lohara coal mine proposal on the basis of its wildlife impacts(1), Singh said, “Saving Lohara’s forests was just the beginning – lakhs of hectares of forest are facing destruction from coal mining throughout Central India. A month on this tree made me realize that our forests give us infinite resources and millions of Indians want them to be saved; it does not make economic sense to destroy them for dirty coal which will only last a few years and will impose huge costs on society.” There is a strong campaign to protect the forests in this region, led by local activists including our partners Eco-Pro, Green Planet and our research partners Satpuda Foundation, he added.

Singh began his unique protest on September 1, to draw attention to the threat that coal mining poses to biodiversity and forest dependent communities. In the last month, his occupation drew the support of villagers, local NGOs and citizens, celebrities, prominent politicians and over 113, 977 Indians across the country. The petition urges the PM to stop allocating new coal blocks and clearing more forests for coal mining until the coal scam is investigated and there is a clear demarcation of areas where mining shouldn’t be allowed.

A recent analysis by Greenpeace of 13 out of 40 coalfields in Central India found that coal mining threatens over 1.1 million hectares of forest(2). Almost all of the 13 coalfields overlap with habitats of endangered species. After the Prime Minister’s Office and the Group of Ministers dismissed the ‘No Go’ policy on coal mining in forest areas, the coal lobby has been demanding that the Ministry of Environment fast track all coal mining proposals in forest areas. In April 2012, the Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan refuted the charge that her ministry was to blame for the power shortage faced by the country, stating that the clearances granted by her Ministry for coal mining and coal-fired power plants in fact surpass the Indian Government’s own targets till 2017.(3)

“Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on all new forest clearances for coal mining until a transparent public consultation process is held to arrive at the criteria for determining which forest areas in coal fields will be permanently closed to mining. These criteria need to take into account a range of factors, including biodiversity, livelihood dependence, hydrological values and the value of intact landscapes,” added Greenpeace Campaigner Nandikesh Sivalingam.

Notes:

1) DNA, September 19, 2012. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_forest-panel-rejects-adanis-coal-proposal_1742575

2) The complete report with maps for each coalfield is available at 

www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/How-Coal-mining-is-Trashing-Tigerland.pdf
3) Press release by MOEF on 1st August 2012 http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=85649

For information, please contact:

Brikesh Singh, Manager, Public Engagement, Greenpeace: 098800 92210,

Nandikesh Sivalingam, Campaigner Greenpeace: 096864 50785,

Jagori Dhar, Media Officer, Greenpeace: 98112 00481,

Nitya Kaushik, Media Officer, Greenpeace: 098199 02763,