Greenpeace occupies trees outside Ministry of Coal

Demands halt on new coal mining till forest criteria in place

Press release - September 11, 2012
New Delhi, September 11, 2012: As the Union Coal Minister continues to face criticism over the ‘Coalgate’ scam, Greenpeace activists occupied trees across the road outside the Minister’s office at Shastri Bhavan. They unfurled a 50ft banner reading “Ministry of Coal Scams and Forest Destruction”, as part of a direct communication to the minister asking him to stop using the corruption-induced coal shortage to mine in forest areas.

Speaking at the Coal Ministry, Greenpeace campaigner Arpana Udupa said, “It’s now clear that corruption is the real reason behind the coal shortage, not slow environmental clearances. Mr. Jaiswal and the coal lobby can no longer use the power shortage as a pretext to destroy more forest areas for coal mining. More than 2,50,000 Indians are demanding a halt on new forest clearances till clear criteria are in place to prevent mining in areas relied on by forest communities and endangered species, including the tiger.”

The Greenpeace activists were acting in solidarity with activist Brikesh Singh, who has been occupying a tree from September 1st 2012, near the Padmapur mine in Maharashtra on the edge of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger reserve, which is threatened by indiscriminate coal mining. Volunteers in ‘Sheru’ and ‘Bhalu’ costumes engaged with the public on the road outside the Ministry, speaking to people about the Coal Ministry’s role in pushing coal mining proposals that are destroying forest areas. Singh intends to remain on the tree till the end of the month, to call attention to the impact coal mining is having on forests in Central India.

Speaking from the edge of the Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Brikesh Singh said, “Coal mining is the biggest threat to forest communities and endangered species like the tiger in Central India.(1) Next month, India will be hosting the international Convention on Biological Diversity; we need to set an example by protecting both biodiversity and forest-dependent communities. More than 2,50,000 people have already signed on to a petition to the Prime Minister to stop this destruction and stand up to the corrupt coal lobby – it’s time for him to act.”  

In August 2012, Jayanthi Natarajan refuted the charge that the Ministry of Environment and Forests is responsible for the power shortage facing the country, stating that the environmental clearances for coal mining and coal-fired power plants actually exceed the Indian government’s own targets till 2017.(2)

Greenpeace is calling for a halt on any further allocations and forest clearances for coal mining, until a transparent public consultation process is held to arrive at criteria or standards to determine which forests should be permanently closed to mining. These criteria need to take into account biodiversity, livelihood dependence, hydrological values and the value of intact landscapes.

Notes:

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

 (2) Press release by MOEF on 1st August 2012. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=85649

For more information please contact:

1. Arpana Udupa, Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 9535152000

2. Jagori Dhar, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 9811200481 jagori.dhar

3. Brikesh Singh, Manager Public Engagement, Greenpeace India, +91 9420376230

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