Environmental activist Brikesh Singh, from the NGO Greenpeace, ended his month-long stay on a tree on the fringes of the Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra on Monday.
Mr. Singh began his unique protest on September 1, as a part of the ‘Janglistan’ campaign “to draw attention to the threat that coal mining poses to biodiversity and forest-dependent communities.”
His occupation drew the support of villagers, local NGOs and citizens, celebrities and prominent politicians. During his stay, Mr. Singh gathered 1,13,977 signatures “to protect India’s forests from coal mining.”
“He will now head to Hyderabad and hand over these signatures to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be hosting the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity,” Greenpeace activist Jagori Dhar told The Hindu.
The petition urges the PM to stop allocating new coal blocks and clearing more forests for mining until the coal scam is investigated and there is a clear demarcation of areas where mining shouldn’t be allowed, said a press statement issued by the Greenpeace.
Referring to the Maharashtra government’s recent rejection of Adani’s Lohara coal mine proposal on the basis of its impact on the wildlife, Mr. Singh said: “Saving Lohara’s forests was just the beginning. Lakhs of hectares of forest are facing destruction from coal mining throughout the Central India. A month on this tree made me realise that our forests give us infinite resources and millions of Indians want them to be saved; it does not make economic sense to destroy them for dirty coal which will only last a few years and will impose huge costs on society.”
Before leaving Chandrapur, Mr. Singh led a bicycle rally to the Durgapur coal mine bordering the TATR, along with local activists and volunteers.
A 135-foot fabric representing the signatures collected in support of the campaign, was used to highlight that “forests should not be axed for coal.”
The proposed Durgapur coal mine expansion, according to forest officials and local activists, will threaten about 120 hectares of forest land, a critical tiger habitat.