BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Environmental activist group Greenpeace has staged a peaceful protest today at the national convention wherein Union Minister Veerappa Moily hobnobbed with head honchos of leading firms including Essar Oil and Essar Foundation.
Activists dressed in tiger suits held placards that read ‘Essar loves Moily, Axes Forests’, embarrassing Moily and Essar in the convention organized by UN Global Compact Network at Hotel ITC Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi.
The protest came two days after the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) granted Stage II forest clearance to Mahan coal block, located in Madhya Pradesh.
Since his appointment late last year, Mr. Moily has been granting clearances to big ticket projects with no regard to the impact they would have on the environment or on communities that stand to lose their livelihoods, the activist group said in a statement.
Commenting about the clearance given to the Mahan coal bock clearance, Greenpeace campaigner Arpana Udupa said, “We are here because we do not accept Mr. Moily’s speedy clearances, which bow down to demands of corporates like Essar.
“Granting stage II clearance to Mahan coal block is a blatant violation of the Forest Rights Act and we will continue to stand with the people whose livelihoods would be ruined by this project, to defend their rights”, she added.
The Stage I Clearance, which was granted two years ago to Mahan coal block with 36 conditions, required implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) means holding free and fair gram sabhas in villages that would then decide on whether they want a mine or not.
In March last year, a special gram sabha on FRA was conducted in Amelia village in Mahan region, which according to villagers was fraudulent. Though 184 people attended the gram sabha, the resolution had 1,125, signatures, clearly indicating forgery. Seven of the signatories have been dead for three years.
“The flavour of the season is the love affair currently going on between Mr Moily and Essar. It is evident in the fact that Essar announced granting of stage II clearance even before the announcement was made by the Ministry of Forest and Environment,” expressed Udupa.
“The company has also been trying to protect its Valentine – Mr Moily, seeking an injunction to prevent Greenpeace from asking for Mr. Moily’s resignation.”
Greenpeace activists draped Essar’s 21-storey building with a banner on January 22 showing how Essar’s activities threaten forests. As a result, Greenpeace slapped with a Rs 500 crore defamation suit by Essar. The firm also moved an injunction in Mumbai High Court demanding Greenpeace to stop demanding Moily’s resignation from all its communication.