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Good InfoHe Saved One of the Largest Forests in India from Coal Mining,...

He Saved One of the Largest Forests in India from Coal Mining, Wins 2024 Goldman Prize

Alok Shukla – credit Goldman Environment Prize

Winning what’s been called the ‘Green Nobel’ an Indian environmental activist has been recognized for saving a 657 square-mile forest from 21 coal mines.

From the New Delhi train station to high-end hotels to the poorest communities, virtually no one in India is free from periodic blackouts. As part of the Modi regime’s push for a developed and economically dominant India, power generation of every sort is being installed in huge quantities.

GNN has reported this drive has included some of the world’s largest solar energy projects, but it also involves coal. India is one of the largest consumers of coal for electricity generation, and Hasdeo Aranya forests, known as the “Lungs of Chhattisgarh,” are known to harbor large deposits.

The state government had been investigating 21 proposed coal mining blocks across 445,000 acres of biodiverse forests that provide crucial natural resources to the area’s 15,000 indigenous Adivasi people.

Along with the Adivasi, tigers, elephants, sloth bears, leopards, and wolves, along with dozens of endemic bird and reptile species call this forest home. It’s one of India’s largest intact arboreal habitats, but 5.6 billion metric tons of mineable coal threatened to destroy it all.

Enter Alok Shukla, founder of the Save Hasdeo Aranya Resistance Committee, which began a decade ago advocating for the protection of Hasdeo through a variety of media and protest campaigns, including sit-ins, tree-hugging campaigns, advocating for couples to write #savehasdeo on their wedding invitations, and publishing a variety of other social media content.

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Shukla also took his message directly to the legislature, reminding them through news media coverage of their obligations to India’s constitution which enshrines protection for tribal people and the environments they require to continue their traditional livelihoods.

Hasdeo Aranya Forest is one of the most biodiverse in the country – credit Goldman Environmental Prize
Shukla worked closely with some 15,000 members of tribal groups in Hasdeo forests – credit Goldman Environmental Prize

Beginning with a proposal to create a single protected area called Lemru elephant reserve within Hasdeo that would protect elephant migration corridors and cancel three of the 21 mining proposals, Shukla and the Adivasi began a 160-mile protest march down a national highway towards the Chhattisgarh state capital of Raipur.

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They hadn’t even crossed the halfway mark when news reached them that not only was the elephant reserve idea unanimously agreed upon, but every existing coal mining proposal had been rejected by the state legislature, and all existing licenses would be canceled.

“We had no expectations, but the legislative assembly voted unanimously that all of the coal mines of Hasdeo should be canceled, and the forest should be saved,” Shukla says in recollection to the Goldman Prize media channel.

“That was a very important moment and happy moment for all of us.”

Shukla shares the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize with 5 other winners, from Brazil, the US, South Africa, Australia, and Spain.

WATCH 4-minute story of Shukla’s fight for Hasdeo…

CELEBRATE This Man’s Success With Your Friends On Social Media… 


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