Environment Minister gives go-ahead for coal mining in degraded forests
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has given Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal the go-ahead for coal mining in degraded forests across the country. This has caused consternation among climate activists who point out that the double-barrel assault would not only prevent the future regeneration of such forest lands, but spew millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
An added worry now is that with 55 to 60 per cent of India’s total forest land officially acknowledged as degraded, the floodgates may have been opened to mine almost two billion tons of coal in the years to come. This step runs counter to government articulation that it intends to increase the physical area under forests in India from 19 per cent to 33 per cent. Meanwhile, the Coal Ministry has begun marking out future coal mining sites, which are almost exactly the same sites that we need to nurture so as to claim money from the United Nation’s Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) process.