India’s Volte-Face On Sustainability: Where Are We Headed?
The Brundtland commission had defined the concept of Sustainable Development way back in 1987, but twenty-five years later, India is yet to comprehend its true meaning. In what comes as a shocking turn of events, the Government of India has decided to clear over 1.1 million hectares of forest area in central India in order to expedite coal mining projects in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
This regressive move has come in the wake of the coal block allocation scam which has allegedly cost the government exchequer a whopping Rs.1.86 lakh crore. A recent analysis by Greenpeace, an NGO working for environment protection, has revealed that the habitats of endangered species like tigers and leopards will bear the brunt, in case the government moves ahead with this plan. The recent large scale power blackout in northern India and unavailability of any good alternative on an immediate basis are being seen as the reasons why the government has chosen coal mines over forests.
The proposed deforestation will undo all the good work done by the National Tiger Conservation Authority in keeping the habitats conducive to the big cats for so long. Furthermore, many communities in this under-developed region depend upon the forests as their sole means of livelihood and stand to lose whatever little they have got.
The powerful coal lobby is exercising all of its political muscle in pressurizing the Ministry of Environment and Forests to clear power projects and mines to further its interests. With India’s ever-increasing carbon footprint, it is going to be all the more difficult to reverse the damage to the environment caused by indiscriminate deforestation and this will only be a precursor to the high scale impact that will follow in the form of environmental disasters.
It takes a lot of strength to stick to one’s guns when going against the tide. It is true that India faces an energy crisis, but no solution to it should be sought by compromising the present and future needs of the communities at large. Let us join hands in this moment of reckoning and sign on the petition below, asking the government to stop any further coal allocation and forest clearance until there is a clear demarcation of areas that should not be mined.