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Green lobby opposes opening up forests for mining

 

Wed March 16, 2011, by IANS

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) With over a week left for group of ministers (GoM) on forests to decide on “go, no-go” areas for mining, environmentalists Wednesday appealed to the central government that forests should not be opened up for the activity.

“As a concept, ‘no-go’ is acceptable but that does not mean that ‘go’ areas should be opened up for mining,” said Ritwick Dutta from Lawyers Initiative for Forest and Environment.

Civil society groups have criticised the GoM on coal mining and other development projects for what they have termed its lopsided constitution, lack of public consultation and suspicious mandate.

The GoM chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to meet March 25 to identify forest areas in which mining can be allowed.

Calling for greater transparency and consultation around the GoM’s deliberations, Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace India said: “It is a mockery of democracy that a handful of ministers are deciding the fate of over 600,000 hectares (6,000 sq km) of India’s forests, behind closed doors and without any public consultation.”

“Coal mining has huge environmental and social impact and any decision on sacrificing forest areas for coal has to address these issues,” he said.

“There is not a single example of a coal mine in this country that has not had devastating impact on livelihood and the environment. Angul in Orissa and Bokaro in Jharkhand are just two of the many examples,” said R. Sreedhar from NGO Mines, Minerals and People.

 

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