I am an Indian citizen who is not afraid to raise my voice against violations of laws that have been put in place to protect the aam aadmi’s rights. I fight to ensure that rampant coal mining in forest areas is only done in consonance with the laws and policies of the country. I believe that the interest of the forest dwellers, who often are unaware of their rights, is inviolable. I stand up for what I believe in.
Mahan is a clear example of how laws are being flouted in favour of foreign corporations like Essar and against the interest of the people of Mahan. I believe the government, which is duty bound to implement the law, has instead decided to act in favour of Corporate interest – in this case Essar, a London based company. The Gram Sabha consent for mining in Mahan has been forged and environmental clearances have been granted under pressure despite the area falling under dense forest cover that was originally classified as ‘No Go’. I have comprehensive evidence that establishes this, such as the names of long-expired individuals in the gram sabha resolution granting permission to mine! The voices of vulnerable tribal people and forest dwelling communities who have been granted special rights under the Forest Rights Act are thus being quashed with impunity.
03 March 2014Peaceful Forest Protest in India © Greenpeace
I am Indian citizen and have a right to campaign for what I believe is against the laws of the land. Greenpeace and I have raised these issues with various Members of Parliament, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Environment, local authorities in Mahan and we have organised Fact Finding Missions. Finally, I have filed cases in the High Court in Madhya Pradesh, the National Green Tribunal and in the local court in Waidhan. To ensure that Essar, which is registered in London, does not get away scot free, I decided to speak to British MPs who are concerned about tribal rights. It is essential for them to let Essar know that it is not acceptable to violate Indian laws.
If this is not in National interest – what is?
How can raising questions about a London based company violating Indian laws be against Indian interest?
Priya Pillai is a climate & energy campaigner at Greenpeace India