Greenpeace to respond to Essar’s ‘bullying’ legal suit

Greenpeace’s protest against Essar to expose the company’s violations in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh

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Press release - January 27, 2014
27th January, 2014: Greenpeace India would take legal recourse to respond to the defamation suit of Rs. 500 crore filed by Essar. The company has filed the legal suit in the Bombay High Court against Greenpeace India and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) - an organisation set up to defend the rights of those, who derive their livelihood from the Mahan forests. This comes after 14 Greenpeace forest activists scaled the company's headquarters in Mahalakshmi last week and unfurled a giant banner. The MSS and youngsters from Mumbai had staged a dharna outside the entrance of the company's building protesting the proposed destruction of Mahan forests – a biodiversity rich forest in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh by the company.

"These are bullying tactics, plain and simple. Essar is trying to sue us for an amount that is multiple times more than our annual income, which comes from our committed individual supporters. Our protest at Essar's headquarters last week was simply to draw people's attention towards Essar's plans for rampant destruction of the environment, forest, human and wildlife by coal mining, in the biodiversity rich forest of Mahan. We believe it's a matter concerning larger public interest," said Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India. Along with the demand that Essar cancels its proposed coal mine in Mahan, Greenpeace India has also sought the sacking of MoEF, VeeraPpa Moily for his speedy clearances at the cost of the environment from the Prime Minister of the country.

Essar has demanded a bizarre sum of Rs. 500 crore from an NGO that is almost entirely funded by donations from individual supporters and the members of MSS, who earn their livelihood from the Mahan forests, which Essar plans to clear to make way for coal mines. The company has also pressed for gag order on Greenpeace on social and traditional news media and demanded the NGO to stay away from its premises. "We are not in any way deterred by the charges pressed by Essar and we are determined to defend our actions under the provisions of 'fair comment' that guarantees the freedom of the press to express statements on matters of public interest," added Samit Aich. It is morally repugnant from a billionaire corporation to demand such ridiculous amounts of money from peaceful protestors who were only demanding their rights over their forests, Aich explained.

Apart from this defamation suit, the Mumbai police had arrested 67 Greenpeace activists including members of the MSS and youngsters from Mumbai, who had participated in the protest outside Essar's building. All the activists have been granted bail by a sub-divisional-magistrate's court in Mumbai.

Greenpeace will continue to relentlessly expose violations by private corporations and the government wherever they attempt to work against the environment and the people.

For further information, please contact:

Arundhati Muthu, Campaigner, Greenpeace amuthu@greenpeace.org, +91-98806 39937

Jagori Dhar, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace, , +91-9811200481

27th January, Mumbai: In a Press Release on Monday, January 27, 2014, Greenpeace had stated that Essar has sued Greenpeace India and MSS (an organization of villagers of Mahan in Singarauli district of Madhya Pradesh) for Rs. 1,000 crore damages, for draping Essar headquarters in Mumbai with 'We Kill Forests: Essar' banner and holding a protest at the building's gate. The damages claimed are Rs. 500 cr and not Rs 1,000 cr. We regret the error.

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