New Delhi, 22 November 2011: Seeking people’s support to stop destruction of forests for coal mining, Greenpeace today launched the imaginary Republic of Junglistan from its embassy at Jantar Mantar. Bhaalu and Sheru, the endangered and threatened residents of Junglistan, handed out virtual citizenships and passports to people who pledged their support for the fast depleting forests and diversity.

India is witnessing an unprecedented boom in coal mining and establishment of new coal-fired thermal power plants. A significant proportion of the planned power plants, and virtually all of the new coal mines, are located in a region broadly referred to as central India – covering the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of Orissa and eastern Maharashtra.

Moreover, about 26,000 hectares of forest land has been diverted for coal mining alone since 2007 making it one of the biggest threats to forests in the country. Forests are not only habitat for the wild and the people dependent on them but also provide essential services to cities by being sources to their water resources and lungs for the cities.

“Coal India Limited already has 200,000 hectares of land with them of which 55,000 hectares is forest land. Hence their contention that forest clearances are hampering power generation is misleading. The ministry’s insistence on more land for mining is nothing short of land grab, which is also endangering our forests, our tigers, elephants and bears, biodiversity and the fabric of life of forest communities. We are inviting people to join Junglistan as a show of support to our forests,” said Usha Saxena, public engagement campaigner, Greenpeace India.

There are alternate sources of energy that are cleaner and sustainable and India will have to make that choice if it wants energy security as well as a safe environment.

This nationwide mobilisation drive will register people’s support across cities on ground and online. The campaign is being launched in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai simultaneously and will reach Bangalore and Chandrapur next week. The mascots of Junglistan, Sheru and Bhaalu, will be touring Delhi to gather support and members for Junglistan and spread awareness about the threat to their habitat.

The first passport was presented to the first citizen of the country, President Shrimati Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, by children on Children’s Day.

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