Finally the day has come, the day where we all can celebrate! The Environment Ministry has declared the Mahan forests as a no-go zone for mining!

It’s been a long fight and we are all proud of the time, effort and sheer heart, our supporters have put into this cause. Without your support, we would not be here today! Some of us found ourselves hanging off of Essar's building, some picked the Mahua and Thendu leaves with the locals of Amelia village and some of us worked day and night behind the scenes, in the shadows.

But we all have one thing in common- we chose to fight the fight! When all seemed bleak, we chose to take a stand with high hopes and spirits!

22 January 2014

Activists protest against Essar's destructive coal mining plans for the Mahan forests at the Essar headquarters in Mumbai. © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra

On 22nd February 2015, in response to an RTI filed by Greenpeace, the MoEF responded that Mahan might not be auctioned as it falls under ‘inviolate’ forest. This is great news for the people of Mahan and their fight to protect their rights and livelihoods.

More than 365 days after the tigers climbed up onto Essar’s head office in Mumbai, the villagers of Mahan can finally see a ray of sunshine through the ugly smoke stacks of the thermal power plants!

In the past one-year, we have seen multiple malicious leaked reports from a so-called “reliable” government department, threatening and trying to derail us from the true cause. Absurd lawsuits, arrests and travel bans later, we stand vindicated. We stood our ground and did not let cheap shots discourage us. Instead, we chose to believe that the truth will prevail. Like the Mahatma once said, even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.

Essar has been all over the news with controversial e-mails and communications being leaked. Essar officials have allegedly been placing stories in the media, showering government officials with gifts and planting questions in parliament sessions!

I ask the government…who is the real anti-national? A foreign-funded corporate or a people's movement fighting to protect India’s pristine forests?

Malcolm X once said, “If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

This isn’t the end. Our fight is just beginning. Your support can ensure that the coal ministry takes the MoEF’s recommendation seriously and doesn’t put Mahan up for auction!

We may only be a handful of people, but we proved that activism and Greenpeace is a force to be reckoned with.


Sajan Ponappa is an activist with Greenpeace India.