Last fall, Tom Zeller at The New York Times Green Inc. blog wrote an eye-opening piece on a possible Indian government and corporate venture in Appalachia's coal mines. And as the Sierra Club's Carl Pope pointed out, an even bigger coal story took place this week in India. Members of parliament from various political parties in the eastern part of the state of Maharashtra put aside their differences and called on the Prime Minister to stop a coal mine in a forest reserve. The politicians declared: "Adani Power Ltd has been allocated 1,750 hectares of rich forest land having coal reserves at Lohara neat Tadoba. We are of the considered view, based on incontrovertible information, that operation of the proposed opencast coal mine will cause irreparable damage to the rich biodiversity in and around TATR and seriously endanger the very existence of the tiger." For more information on India and coal, check here. For Carl Pope's own dispatches from India this summer, go here.
Back in Appalachia: Over the past year, demanding a sustainable economy, green jobs and an end to the destruction of their mountain communities and watersheds, an uprising against government-sanctioned mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachian coalfields by residents and national environmental organizations has emerged as one of the most powerful social justice movements in the country.
A movement against a massive bauxite strip mine in the mountains of Orissa, in India, has now made international headlines. Last week in London, mountain villagers from the Dongria Kondh tribe converged on the British finance center to demand a halt to British mining company Vedanta's intent to destroy their sacred mountain and community. Joining up with the international human rights organization, Survival, and best-selling author Arundhati Roy and various London celebrities, the Dongria Kondh have emerged as a fearless and inspiring example of local resistance against the hellbent ways of absentee mining companies. Roy declared: "If Vedanta is allowed to go ahead with its plans for mining the Niyamgiri Hills for bauxite it will lead to the devastation of a whole ecosystem, and the destruction of not just the Dongria Kondh tribal community, but eventually all those whose livelihoods depend on that ecosystem." With the blessing of the Indian Supreme Court, Vedanta plans to launch its own version of mountaintop removal on the Niyamgiri mountain, which the Dongria Kondh worship as their god. According to Survival: "The mine will destroy the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area." The Dongria Kondh, though, aren't surrendering to the huge multinational company. Hardly. The mountain community has set up road blocks, organized human chains to stop the incoming bulldozers, and reached out to the international community to bring pressure on the British mining company. The Survival organization has done a great job at debunking the mining company's bogus claims of jobs, environmental protection, community support or the even more despicable disregard for human habitation in the proposed blasting area.
Sound familiar? These are the talking points of Big Coal and its mountaintop removal campaign in Appalachia. Here is a link to Survival's debunking of the corporate lies. And here's a trailer for the film on the egregious situation, Mine: Story of a Sacred Mountain. For more information, go here.