Greenpeace activists, some dressed as tigers, demonstrated outside the central headquarters of the Ministry of Coal in central Delhi on Wednesday, until Minister Prakash Jaiswal agreed to see them. Greenpeace has been protesting India’s coal policy, citing damage to forests in central India.
After about an hour of demonstrations outside the ministry’s headquarters, the group was invited into the minister’s office, a spokeswoman said, where they presented him with petitions signed by 112,000 people asking for changes in India’s coal policy. Minister Jaiswal has asked the group to come back for a longer meeting next week, the spokeswoman said.
In particular, Greenpeace has been investigating the impact coal mining is having on Maharashtra’s Chandrapur region, near the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. The forests outside the reserve are shrinking because of mining and industrialization, a Greenpeace report says, which is impacting the reserve animal population, who use the forests as a corridor to travel to other reserves.
The amount of coal India produces fell far short of government plans in the last fiscal year, a fact the ministry blames in part on the difficulty of getting the necessary environmental clearances to mine.