Mahan celebrated as an icon of the global movement to Break Free from Fossil Fuels; Mahan Sangharsh Samiti pledge to implement Forest Rights Act in surrounding villages

Press release - March 31, 2017
Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh | March 31, 2017| A day after the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) acknowledged the hazards of thermal power plant emissions on human health and accepted a petition signed by over 1 lakh Greenpeace supporters, several miles away, campaigners in the Mahan forests of Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh held a peaceful public meeting and vowed to break free from fossil fuels.

Hundreds of villagers from about 20 villages around Mahan forests congregated in Amelia village to voice their dissatisfaction against the apathy around the implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Even 10 years after the historic Forest Rights Act (FRA) was passed in India,only 3 percent of villages or communities have been able to secure their rights over forest resources [1]. The members of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) -- the group instrumental in saving Mahan forests from coal mining two years ago -- pledged to continue their work of saving Mahan forests and make more and more people aware about their Community Forest Rights (CFR) as per the Act.

Even as the centre attempts to dilute the Forest Rights Act [2], and the MoEF is continuously pressured to give clearances to new coal projects in forest areas [3], MSS celebrated the second anniversary of their victory in saving the Mahan forests. “Our struggle to save our forests was punctuated by frequent threats and illegal arrests. We are proud that the government finally acceded to our demands and crossed out Mahan coal block from the list of blocks allocated for auctioning. Now we want to see the state government take heed of the local demand for proper implementation of the FRA in the villages in and around forest areas and grant the Community Forest Rights claims that have been filed. The Act empowers forest dwellers to take decisions regarding the management and governance of the forests they own collectively - it is the very tool we need to make sure that the struggle of Mahan is not repeated again,” says Kripanath Yadav, member of MSS.

Greenpeace campaigner, Akshay Gupta, who has been working in the area for the past several years spreading awareness about the Forest Rights Act, said: “The MSS-led victory in Mahan breathed new life to people’s movements across the globe. World over, local communities leading campaigns against fossil fuels look at the Mahan example for inspiration. Now, we are keen to work in partnership with the government to ensure that FRA is implemented in the villages in and around Mahan forests in a fair and just manner.”

The public rally in Mahan is a part of a series of activities that were carried out globally against the use of fossil fuels. In a coordinated series of global activities between March 12 and March 31, local communities from all over the world declared that they want to break free from fossil fuels. As part of the global Break Free movement, which culminated with this mass gathering at Mahan, dramatic and awe-inspiring events were organised in several countries across the globe. While in Spain, activists and local communities held 30 events, on March 28, demanding that their country should break free from fossil fuels, fishing communities and activists in Indonesia occupied a the coal piling barge at the Batang coal pant for 11 hours and blocked the ongoing construction process yesterday [4].  

“The continued use of fossil fuels not only puts human health at risk,  due to air and water pollution, it also destroys precious forests; rich, biodiverse ecosystems which support so many different species along with being the primary source of livelihood for several forest dwellers across the country. If the government is serious about keeping the global temperature rise below 2 Degree Celsius as per the Paris Agreement, it needs to stop mindless approval of new coal projects, and save the forests and lives of millions of Indians,” said Gupta.

Notes to the Editor




[4] you can follow the activites of the Break free movement on Facebook:

For further reading:

Link to Boom and Bust: English:

Link to overcapacity report: