Affordable and Clean Energy

Indian Forests to Become Coal Fields

India is preparing to cut down ancient forests, displacing tribal communities and impacting biodiversity, to make way for 40 new coal fields under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan for a "self-reliant India" post COVID-19.

Habitats and tribal villages will be destroyed as thousands of trees are removed to make way for the mines and access roads.  As much as 80% of the area to be cleared is believed to be home to various forest communities containing 6000 indigenous people, and wildlife such as the Tadoba tiger reserve.  Four other state Governments have opposed the plans, which has since saved the area containing the tiger reserve, Maharashtra, from being felled.

This is not the first time India has opened new mines – in 2011 two were opened nearby to the forests, which caused a wave of pollution in the surrounding areas.

The controversial plans have been introduced as other countries move firmly away from the coal industry due to zero emission target plans.  Portugal has recently ceased burning coal completely 2 years ahead of their proposed schedule, and one of the last remaining active coal mines in Durham, UK, drew their last coal supply earlier this month.  Coal has been shown to be one of the most carbon intensive fossil fuels to release emissions, which has a damaging impact on the environment and is the largest contributor to global warming.

Posted by Claire Edwards 26 August 2020

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