Feline Voices from the Forest barred from Indian PM’s SpeechBy Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 16: Today, as Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh gave his key note speech to nearly 200 world politicians and international dignitaries at the UN’s conference on biodiversity, three Greenpeace activists accompanied by ‘Tigers’ from the Central Indian forests were stopped at the door of the conference hall where the PM was making his speech.
They were there to present a petition to the PM on behalf of a quarter million people who want to save the forests from mass destruction. Greenpeace delegate and activist Brikesh Singh, who recently spent a month occupying a tree at the edge of the Tadoba – Andhari Tiger Reserve, led the ‘Tiger’ delegation to try and meet with Dr Singh. Most of civil society was excluded from the main hall and had to listen the address from an adjoining hall.
Commenting on today’s protest, Vinuta Gopal, head of Greenpeace India's Climate and Energy campaign said:
“The Prime Minister’s Office is directly involved in pushing for more coal allocations. There are news reports of 54 new coal blocks being lined up for auction, this will lead to state sponsored corporate plunder of the forests. The Indian Environment Minister recently confirmed to the Prime Minister that permits issued for coal mines in forest areas far exceed India’s requirements for the next decade. The logic behind a complete halt to additional clearances is impeccable.”
Commenting on today’s action Brikesh Singh whose protest on a tree top on the edge of a tiger reserve said:
The forests are one of the great natural resources of India. They provide homes for some of our most endangered species like the tiger, as well as for thousands of tribal people. This government should be using its powers to protect that vital natural resource instead of ripping the heart out of them for coal mining.
If this government policy of supporting forest destruction to favour big mining interests is allowed to continue, then the tiger will become the animal of myths and fairy tales for future generations.”
A Greenpeace mapping study shows that 13 coalfields in the central Indian landscape alone will destroy more than 1.1 million hectares of rich forest, impacting more than 62 villages in one region in Mahan alone.