Hansraj Ahir, MP who unearthed Coalgate scam visits Brikesh Singh on the tree in Padmapur forest

Demands central government to avoid allocation of coal blocks on forest land

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Press release - September 25, 2012
September 22, 2012, Nagpur: Mr. Hansaraj Gangaram Ahir, the member of Parliament of Chandrapur, who pointed to the coal allocation scam way back in 2005, today joined Greenpeace activist Brikesh Singh in his occupation of a tree in the Padmapur forests, on the fringes of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. Brikesh Singh, who occupied the tree on 1st September, has been living on it for 3 weeks to protest the destruction of forest areas which is the largest remaining habitat of the tiger and will result in the displacement of millions of forest dependent communities.

Support has been growing for Mr. Singh both online and offline and this is the first time that a Parliamentarian has expressed his support for his cause. Mr. Ahir has played a pivotal role in exposing the ‘Coalgate’ scam by writing a letter to the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) to investigate on coal mining way back in 2010. Mr. Ahir who has fought against the coal lobby in Maharashtra expressed his solidarity to Singh and his fight to save the forest from coal mining.

Ahir said, “I admire what Brikesh Singh is doing to save the forests and appreciate the fact that the tree house is fitted with solar panels for power. This is a multi-dimensional campaign, not just raising awareness against coal, but also veering the focus towards solar energy. It is about time that the central government looks towards renewable energy as an alternative to coal. It should avoid allocating coal blocks on forest land”.

In the past three weeks, Singh has been sharing his experience of living in the forest with the rest of the world through his blogs, Facebook posts and other social networking websites, and inviting people to become citizens of Junglistan (a virtual republic encompassing central and eastern India's last remaining forests). So far an overwhelming one lakh thirty five thousand people have become the citizens of Junglistan and 90,693 individuals have signed the petition.

Singh will be delivering these petitions that he is garnering for this one month on the tree to the Prime Minister of India. He will be present at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in Hyderabad from 1-19th October. Singh said, “We are losing these forests to the greed of private mining companies and the corrupt system. India cannot host the convention on bio-diversity and at the same time turn a blind eye to this destruction. Mr Ahir’s assurance today, is an assurance to ensure that the Parliamentarians will take this issue up.” He added that the visit by the MP has boosted his morale and has added a fresh energy to this campaign. “Our leaders need to ensure that it is their responsibility to protect the rights of forest communities and wildlife and if certain government policies compromise on these rights then they should take the lead in rejecting them”, said Singh

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 the forests that should be closed to mining. These criteria need to take into account the biodiversity, livelihood dependence, hydrological values and the value of intact landscapes.

For more information please contact

Brikesh Singh,Greenpeace Activist, 09880092210, 9420376230

Jagori Dhar, Media Officer, Greenpeace, 9811200481,

Nitya Kaushik, Media Officer, Greenpeace, 098199 02763,