The Charminar, was the venue Greenpeace activists chose in Hyderabad to protest against coal mining destroying forests in Central India. On October 8, the first day of the Convention on Biological Diversity being held in the city, activists unfurled a 60 foot banner from the balcony reading - ‘Stop Coal Crimes – Save Indian Forests’. The Prime Minister’s photo was also on the banner, leaving no doubt as to who was addressed. Actress and environmental activist Amala Akkineni supported this campaign to save our forests, but not just in words. She stood firm before the Charminar with a banner that read - Stop Coal Crimes.
08 October 2012
The banner at the Southside of Charminar © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
Soon after the banner was unfurled, the security and police officials in the area got to the task of pulling it away. Ten activists including Amala Akkineni and Greenpeace campaigners Vinuta Gopal and Jagori Dhar were detained by the police. They were released after two hours.
“Coal mining is destroying the huge bio-diversity in India. It is destroying the homes of tens of thousands of forest-dependent communities and it is threatening the natural habitat of tigers. That is why I am protesting today along with almost a quarter of a million people who have signed Greenpeace India’s petition demanding the government to stop destroying our forests,” said Amala Akkineni.
08 October 2012
Amala Akkineni carrying the banner outside Charminar © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
This protest took place just hours after Jayanthi Natarajan, Minster of Environment and Forests, concluded her inaugural address at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-11) at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) being held in Hyderabad. Signed by 150 government leaders, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and conserving bio-diversity. Greenpeace urges the government to prove that they are really concerned about conserving bio-diversity in the country by protecting Central Indian forests from coal mining
Vinuta Gopal, head of Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy campaign said: “It is utterly hypocritical for the Minister of Environment and Forests to stand up in front of thousands of delegates at this conference on bio-diversity while at the same time her government is engaged in acts of wanton environmental vandalism that is demolishing millions of hectares of forests and affecting thousands of forest dependent communities and their families.”
08 October 2012
Police and security remove the banner © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
On October 15, 2012, Greenpeace and the environmental action group Kalpavriksh will release a report highlighting how coal mining in Central India is destroying the lives of thousands of forest dependent communities. This study will be released on the eve of the Prime Minister’s speech at the convention.
07 October 2012
Amala Akkineni and Greenpeace activists were released after being detained for two hours © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
Playing host to the international Convention on Biological Diversity has no meaning if our government does not pledge to protect our forests, tigers, other wildlife and forest dependent communities. According to government figures, elaborated on in a Greenpeace report, coal reserves in India will not last more than 40 years so we would have to find alternatives soon enough. So, is it logical to destroy our precious forests for a short term energy fix?
The Greenpeace petition to the PM to save our forests has received over 2,40,000 signatures till date. This proves that there are a lot of concerned individuals but as citizens of this country we must all stand up to protect our natural resources before they are gone forever. Let us keep trying to protect what rightfully belongs to us all. To support this campaign and help save our forests and wildlife, visit www.junglistan.org/home.