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New Delhi | March 20, 2015 | The Ministry of Coal confirmed in a Right to Information [1] reply that the Mahan coal block will not be auctioned, pursuant to the MoEF’s recommendation that it be kept off limits to mining. The move comes as another blow to Essar Energy, which had hoped to mine the forest to supply coal for its nearby power plant.

In reaction, Greenpeace Senior Campaigner’s Priya Pillai said, “After being termed “anti-national” by sections of this government, it is refreshing to see them accepting what Greenpeace and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS)have been saying for years – this is a fabulous forest, home to endangered species and crucial to the livelihoods of thousands, and that is why it needs protection.”

Speaking from Amelia village in the Mahan forest block, Bechanlal of the MSS said, “Celebrations started as soon as we heard the news! The government has finally accepted that this forest, which gives thousands of us so much, must not be destroyed for the profit of a few. We will continue to fight for the recognition of our community rights over the forest, so that we never again face such a threat to our livelihoods. This is not the end of our struggle; it is the start of a new phase.”