1st September 2012
It was only when I woke up in the morning that the feeling started sinking in. I am actually going to be spending a month in the middle of the forest!
The excitement started at 2 am in the morning when almost 8 cops landed up in my hotel room, 4 in uniform and 4 in civil. They woke me up for a routine enquiry about why I was climbing up a tree in the forest. My brain took a few seconds to start functioning properly again and what followed was 45 minutes of conversation on why the forests need to saved from coal mining and why it’s so important for me to occupy the forest for a month. They left smiling and asked me to drop a copy of the permission letter to the nearest police station.
Thus began another journey to the forests, this time I knew I was going to be there for much longer. On my way to my new residence in the forests, I stopped at St Mary’s school and told them about the protest. They were already aware of the issue and they pointed out to me the overburden behind their school. They were aware about the problems coal mining causes and they supported me in my cause.
The walk from Padmapur forest check-post to the tree is about a couple of kilometers. There was a lot of support from local NGOs and media, who came to see me off. Only after every one had left by 2 pm did I have the forest to myself.
View of the chimney of the thermal power plant from Brikesh’s tree house. Image: © Brikesh Singh / Greenpeace.
When I looked out of the tree house, my accommodation for the next one month, I realized that the problem of coal mining is literally standing at the doorstep of this beautiful forest. Three times a day the ground beneath my feet shakes because of the blasting that is being done in the Padmapur open cast mine, which is to my left.
The smoke from the blast slowly rises to completely cover the overburden but only for a few minutes. A little to the right I can see the chimney of the coal power plant and behind me the buffer zone of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve. Unfortunately there is a lot of coal under this forest. Sooner or later when they run out of coal in the existing mines there is going to be open season in the forest behind me and I don’t want that to happen.
Our government is destroying these forests in our name. They tell us, ‘you need electricity’, but we need to tell them that we do not want our forests to be destroyed for electricity and that’s the reason why I have decided to make this forest my home for the next one month.
In October, our country is hosting the UN Convention on Biodiversity where world leaders will be talking about plants, trees, animals, birds, forests and there could not be a better time than this to tell our leaders that the country is united when it comes to saving India’s forests from destructive coal mining.
Over the next one month, I will be constantly be in touch with you through tweets, blog, I will be posting on Facebook, taking lot of pictures of sightings of birds and animals so you can see what all is at stake. You will see what I see, you will feel what I feel and all I need from you is your support. Please log on to www.junglistan.org/act and sign the petition and share it.
When I get off that tree on September 30th I don’t want to have a feeling that I am alone. Till then hang around on our Facebook page for Junglistan diaries.
Help reach a 100,000 by October. Sign the petition now!
The image used in the blog has been taken by Brikesh Singh