New Delhi, August 21, 2012: Even as Parliament was debating the CAG report, Greenpeace activists unfurled a giant 60 ft by 60 ft banner that said 'Dr Singh Defend Forests not Coal Scams' on Rajpath, the road leading to the PMO. The Environment Ministry has been under severe pressure from the PMO and Coal Ministry to fast track clearances even though they have cleared more than 210 GW, 60GW more than the power requirements for the entire 12th Five Year Plan(1).
22 August 2012
Greenpeace activists on Rajpath urging our PM to protect forests © Karan Vaid / Greenpeace
“Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has presided over the gifting of rich forest areas to politically connected companies to access cheap coal. Many of these companies were mere speculators. Only 28 of 142 blocks have started production and many others who were allocated blocks have subsequently transferred ownership at huge profits. The Environment Ministry has been blamed while the PM and coal ministry have been complicit in bending rules to ensure windfall profits for private players”, said Arundhati Muthu, Campaigner, Greenpeace.
The final Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report has put the undue gain to private corporations from coal block allocations at a staggering 1.86 lakh crores, ($33 billion). The allocation process was neither transparent nor objective and the government delayed for over seven years the implementation of a competitive bidding process.(2)
“The same corporate – government nexus has been actively denying community rights over forests in mining areas, and clearing fragile habitats such as Mahan in Singrauli, Tara, Parsa and Kente in Hasdev-Arand for short term gains. Coal mining has serious repercussions on the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities and on forest cover, biodiversity and water sources. We need to press the pause button on all new block allocations and forest clearances till the murky issue of allocations is impartially probed”, added Ms Muthu.
Greenpeace is calling for the cancellation of all coal block allocations made in the period covered by the CAG audit. The organisation is also calling for a moratorium on any further allocations and forest clearances for coal mining, until a transparent public consultation process is held to arrive at the criteria for determining 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 to Editor:
For more information, contact:
Arundhati Muthu, Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 900892500 arundhati.muthu
Jagori Dhar, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 9811200481 jagori.dhar