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Forests Not Coal: Greenpeace In An Epic Battle To Save Forests From Coal [Episode 2]

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By Ignatius Joseph:

Continuing his quest to save forests from coal mining, Greenpeace activist Brikesh Singh takes us to Singrauli, a district located on the border of Eastern Madhya Pradesh and Southern Uttar Pradesh, better known as the energy capital of India. He finds that about 14,450 megawatts of electricity is generated here which is about 12 percent of India’s total energy production from coal.

But of course, the energy capital had to bleed to earn this reputation. Not so long ago Singrauli was covered with dense, thriving forests. So wild were these jungles that Kings of the Rewa state, who ruled the area till 1947, used these forests as an open air prison since escape from here was unthinkable. Today a different sort of prison exists here. Forest communities who were tending their land and collecting honey, herbs and other produce from the forest have been thrown out of their homes by powerful coal companies. Thousands of hectares of forest that wildlife and forest dwellers depend on for their survival have been lost to get to the coal.

Brikesh explains the process of coal mining and electricity generation and the impact this has on the environment. After the forests have been cleared and the coal dug- out, it is crushed and sent to the thermal power plants nearby where it is burnt to boil water to produce steam. The steam in turn runs a turbine which produces the electricity. From these power plants the electricity is sent to the central grid from where it is finally distributed to the entire country.

Burning coal pollutes the environment as carbon dioxide and other toxic gases are released into the atmosphere. The ash that is left behind, tainted with mercury, other heavy metals and sometimes radioactive elements, is mixed with water and just dumped in available open spaces forming huge polluted ash ponds. Pollution from these ponds leaches into the soil and ends up affecting the ground water and other fresh water sources as well. The enormous quantities of water required by the thermal power plants results in water scarcity and conflicts with other uses, such as agriculture.

The deforestation and the displacement of forest dependent communities and wildlife for coal have a devastating effect on our natural resources. This is the price we are paying for coal-fired thermal plants and electricity generation in our country. Watch out for the next episode where Brikesh visits the Mahan forests to see firsthand the destruction caused to forests and forest dwellers all for the sake of coal.

To help Brikesh on his quest to save our forests visit junglistan.org/home. Watch him in action:

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  1. sadique Ansari

    Brikesh u r a hero…

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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