Greenpeace activist, Brikesh Singh leaves the tree-house in the forests of Chandrapur today, on October 1. This was his home since September 1 when he decided to embark on a tree-top protest to save our forests. He will now make his way back to the city, where he will try his best to meet the Prime Minister in Hyderabad and deliver over 2,30,000 individual sign-ups to the petition to save our forests from coal mining. The PM is hosting the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and what better time than this to ask him to pledge to save wildlife and forests in Central India from coal mining.
01 October 2012
Brikesh Singh at the tree-house on the fringes of Tadoba-Andhari © Sunny L / Greenpeace
This year the petition was created on July 19, 2012 and it quickly surpassed its target and stands at almost 1,14,000 signatures presently. With the signatures from last year the support for forests has crossed 2,30,000. Now, this should convince our Prime Minister that people all over the country don’t want our forests and wildlife destroyed for coal, especially when we have alternatives like renewable energy to generate electricity.
Before leaving Chandrapur, along with local activists and volunteers, Brikesh led a cycle rally to the Durgapur coal mine bordering the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. The proposed coal mine expansion here is a threat to many hectares of forest which is also a critical tiger habitat. The activists demarcated forests that should not be destroyed for coal using a 135 foot fabric, representing the online petition supporters.
01 October 2012
Brikesh leading the cycle rally © Harikrishna Katragadda / Greenpeace
The forests in and around the Tadoba Tiger Reserve are home to about 74 tigers but at least six coal mines are already operational around the reserve and many more have been allocated. But during Brikesh’s stay here the forests got a much needed reprieve. A special committee of Maharashtra forest officials rejected Adani Power’s proposal to set up an open cast coal mine in Chandrapur's Lohara block. They observed that any more coal mining here would result in fragmentation of the forest and isolation of the Tadoba reserve from other Central Indian forests.
The long campaign to protect forests in the region by local organisations such as Eco-Pro, Green Planet and others finally bore fruit. Greenpeace has been working with these groups over the last few years.
On this victory for the forests Brikesh said, “Saving Lohara’s forests was just the beginning – lakhs of hectares of forest are facing destruction from coal mining throughout Central India. A month on this tree made me realize that our forests give us infinite resources and lakhs of Indians want them to be saved; it does not make economic sense to destroy them for dirty coal which will only last a few years.”
Recently Greenpeace analysed 13 coalfields out of over 40 in Central India. As the coal lobby seeks to expand coal mining, more than 1 million hectares of forest land will come under threat in just these 13 coalfields. That's almost twice the area of India's top five metros combined. This clearly shows that Brikesh’s work is not done, in fact, this is just the beginning.
Greenpeace Campaigner, Nandikesh Sivalingam says, “Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on all new forest clearances for coal mining until a transparent public consultation process is held to arrive at the criteria for determining which forest areas in coal fields will be permanently closed to mining. These criteria need to take into account a range of factors, including biodiversity, livelihood dependence, hydrological values and the value of intact landscapes.”
01 October 2012
The stretch of fabric asking coal miners to leave the forest alone! © Harikrishna Katragadda / Greenpeace
It is a very urgent need right now to protect and preserve the last remaining forests in our country. Tigers and scores of other wildlife depend on these forests. How can we just turn a blind eye to them and thousands of forest dwellers?
So much life in the forests cannot just become collateral damage on India’s development path. True development must be inclusive which means thriving forests and the survival of all species. We need to let the government know that we will not accept anything less. As Brikesh gets ready to meet the Prime Minister, show your support for India’s forests and wildlife, visit www.junglistan.org/home.