Activists say NO COAL to the PM, while he talks conservation with the world

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Feature story - October 17, 2012
As Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was addressing the world about biodiversity and the need to protect it at the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity on October 16, Greenpeace India’s online activists were sending him a very special tweet.

17 October 2012

This was the message the PMO's Twitter account received

 

Hundreds of people tweeted a very simple message to @PMOINDIA- “NO COAL”. They were asking him to save the forests of Central India. Facebook wasn’t left out either. Thousands of people shared an image of the PM with “No Coal” written all over it. These were among the 2,50,000 people who signed the petition to show their support for the forests in Central India, threatened by the government’s plan to mine coal in them. One of their main demands was that the PM should meet Brikesh Singh who wanted to deliver the 2,50, 000 petitions to him in person.

Several celebrities like Dia Mirza, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Shiamak Davar, Ken Ghosh and Anushka Manchanda also added their voice to support the forests. Through last week over 100 cyber activists have mailed the PM asking him to give Brikesh a hearing.

This is not the first time Greenpeace India’s online activists have taken to social networks to get the message out. On August 23rd, hundreds of them, along with celebrities and other advocacy organisations got together in the first ever attempt to Occupy Social Media. On that day junglistan.org became the most tweeted link in India and #SaveForest was trending nationally on Trendsmap.

Greenpeace India is calling for an immediate moratorium on all forest and environmental clearances for coal mining and coal-fired power plants in forest areas and the withdrawal of mining licenses already granted in known biodiversity hotspots. This is immensely important if we are to protect our forests. Furthermore, the process to declare forest areas off limits to coal mining must be open to public consultation and be based on their biodiversity value, hydrological importance, forest density and livelihood dependence for local communities.

17 October 2012

A graphic of the PM on Facebook that was shared extensively

 

A recent Greenpeace study showed that coal mining in 13 coal fields in Central India threatens over 1.1 million hectares of forest. With no access to the forests over 14,000 forest-dependent communities in one region alone will lose their homes and livelihoods. This is just the tip of the ice berg as there are over 40 coal mines in Central India.

The CBD, being hosted by India in Hyderabad this time, is the most important convention on protecting the Earth’s biodiversity. Delegates are made up of environment ministers from all member states of the UN and the convention has the powers to agree to future international agreements to protect the planets biodiversity.

While it is a matter of pride for India to host the CBD it is sheer hypocrisy if our government is not fully committed to protecting biodiversity in our own nation. Greenpeace is urging the Indian government to be a responsible host and demonstrate leadership by protecting the forests in Central India.  To support the campaign to save our forests, wildlife and indigenous forest communities, sign the petition to the PM at www.junglistan.org/home.

-Ignatius Thekaekara

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