Anne sent this link about the Essar protest in Singrauli outside the Essar offices here and in London. In January, the Business Standard reported that Greenpeace activists had organised public meetings (picture below) and demonstrations against the proposed coal mining project which would destroy biodiversity-rich sal Mahan forests in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh (in the background above).
Masquerading as building cleaning agents, they entered the company’s office in Mumbai. An Essar spokesperson said “In this illegal act, the trespassers misused the office premises to spread anti-corporate, misleading and false propaganda.These people suspended themselves from the top of the building. In doing so, they endangered lives of those working in the building and disrupted normal working of the employees”. The police later arrested all activists for trespassing.
The 1,084 hectare mine block is a rich source of forest produce and livelihoods for the Baigas.
Villagers in the Mahan forests were part of the protest outside the Essar building.
“We have travelled 2,000 km to send them a strong message that our voices cannot be silenced,” said Kripanath, a resident of Amelia village in Singrauli district.
Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh and the present minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, had opposed the allocation of the Mahan coal block, saying mining would lead to destruction of the rich biodiversity of the area. However, after refusing to grant forest and environmental clearances four times, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) approved the controversial Mahan coal block in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh. The coal will be used for Hindalco and Essar industrial units in the region, including a 3,000 MW power plant and a aluminium smelter.