August 29th, 2012, Nagpur: India is hosting the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October this year to discuss conservation of biodiversity. “It is ironical that my government, which is writing off forests in central India for coal mining, is playing host to one of the largest gatherings on biodiversity, while completely disregarding the rights of forest communities and the importance of this habitat for the country. We can protect the forests and still have energy to power the country – we need a commitment from the Prime Minister that forests will not be handed over to the mining lobby till this criterion is debated and put in place,” says Brikesh Singh, who leads the public engagement work in Greenpeace India.
Brikesh Singh will be occupying a tree in Chandrapur from 1st September and will be living on it for a month to protest the destruction of our biodiversity and the displacement of thousands of forest dependent communities by the expansion of coal mining into forest areas. During this period, he will be sharing his experience of living in the forest with the rest of the world and inviting people to become citizens of Junglistan (a virtual republic encompassing central and eastern India's last remaining forests). The tree itself is symbolically located in the forest on top of currently untouched coal reserves, and overlooks an operational coal mine, highlighting the awaiting devastation if urgent measures are not taken to protect it. Brikesh Singh will deliver all the support he gathers in the form of petitions to the Prime Minister of India before the CBD.
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.[i]
The report, ‘How coal mining is trashing tigerland’, released by Greenpeace India on 1st August 2012, warns that coal mining threatens over 1.1 million hectares of forest only within 13 coalfields in Central India. Almost all the coalfields overlap with habitats of endangered species and threaten communities dependent on the forests.[ii]
“Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on new forest clearances for coal mining until an assessment is made of coal reserves in existing mines, and a transparent public consultation process is held to arrive at the criteria for determining forests closed to mining. These criteria need to take into account biodiversity, livelihood dependence, hydrological values and the value of intact landscapes,” added Nandikesh Sivalingam, Campaigner at Greenpeace.
For information please contact
Brikesh Singh, Manager, Public Engagement, Greenpeace, 09880092210.
Nandikesh Sivalingam, Campaigner Greenpeace, +91 9686450785,
Jagori Dhar, Media Officer, Greenpeace, 9811200481,
Nitya Kaushik, Media Officer, Greenpeace, 098199 02763,