Greenpeace demands India halt coal mining in forestsPublished On: Mon, Oct 8th, 2012 | Environment | By BioNews
Actress Amla Akkineni and other Greenpeace activists were arrested by police here Monday after they staged a protest here demanding the Indian government to halt all new coal mining in forest areas if it was really serious about conserving biodiversity.
Amla, who is also animal rights activist and wife of popular Telugu actor Nagarjuna, and five other activists of the environment NGO were arrested after they unfurled a banner from the balcony of the Charminar, the historic monument which symbolizes Hyderabad. They were later released.
The 60-foot banner, emblazoned with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s face, read – Stop Coal Crimes – Save Indian Forests.
The protest was organized to coincide with the eleventh meeting of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), which began here Monday.
“To be a good host for this major international conference, India must take a lead and call a halt to further mining projects in identified forest areas,” said a statement from Greenpeace.
Greenpeace India and Kalpavriksh will release a new report on Oct 15, highlighting how the expansion of coal mining across the central Indian landscape is systematically destroying the lives of thousands of indigenous communities.
This new study will be launched at the UN’s biodiversity conference on the eve of the prime minister’s address to delegates at the conference.
Reacting to Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s address at the COP11, Vinuta Gopal, head of Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy campaign, said it was utterly hypocritical for her to stand up in front of thousands of delegates at this conference on biodiversity while at the same time, her government was engaged in acts of wanton environmental vandalism.
“She presented a glowing report on India and her government’s commitment to protecting the environment, suggesting that India can ‘teach the world’ how to protect biodiversity.
India can only ‘teach’ the world if it gets its own house in order and it must begin by halting its mad dash for coal that is driving mass forest destruction,” said Divya Raghunandan, head of Campaigns at Greenpeace India.
Greenpeace alleged that government’s policies would destroy at least 1.1 million hectares of pristine forest land, and displace tens of thousands of tribal communities.