Statement by People’s Movements, Trade Unions and CSOs

Date: 17th January 2023
The central government opening the biggest new coal mine auction, announced in November 2022, is a mockery of the Prime Minister’s own climate announcements at climate change summits, and an invitation to worsening the climate crisis.
In early November 2022, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched India’s biggest ever coal mine auction, comprising 141 mines in as many as 11 states with a cumulative peak rate capacity (PRC) of 305 million ton (MT).

The Indian government announced this just before the opening of the important Climate Change summit CoP-27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which was being called “The Implementation Summit”. The announcement is likely to further exacerbate the climate change crisis that the UN Secretary General voiced as his grave concern at the opening of the CoP-27 – “WE ARE ON A HIGHWAY TO CLIMATE HELL WITH OUR FOOT STILL ON THE ACCELERATOR”.

At last year’s Climate Change summit at Glasgow, the CoP-26, the Indian government offered “pancha amrit” to a world facing climate chaos. As one of the “amrit”, the government promised that India will cut its projected carbon dioxide emissions till 2030, by one Gigatons or 100 crore tons. The opening up 141 new coal mines, Coal being the most CO2 emissions intensive source of energy, is in direct contradiction with India’s commitments at COP-26

While India’s need for more energy is legitimate and well recognised around the world, today the country is in an energy-economy where new coal power plants produce electricity at a much higher rate per MWh than new solar or wind power plants. On top of that, coal burning is also the biggest source of air pollution in India, which causes premature death of about 17 lakh (1.7 million) Indians every year and puts a severe burden of diseases to many more millions, as per global studies. Additionally, coal is the most water intensive energy source which will worsen the critical water crisis that many regions of India faces,
While the whole world is facing a deepening Climate Change crisis, with India facing six massive heat-waves and over 130,000 forest and other fires last summer, also losing its crucial wheat production by a significant percentage, along with millions of working class people being the hardest hit. China and Europe too faced unprecedented long drawn heat-waves till recently. Pakistan got devastated by a super heavy rainfall and flood of “biblical proportions” with one-third of the country going underwater. Repeated strong cyclones hitting India’s coastal states, Pacific island nations and the US Gulf of Mexico coasts in the span of 8-9 months. The list of stronger climate change driven disasters keeps increasing.

In the global stages of Climate and environmental actions, like the UNFCCC climate change conferences or the UNEP conference on controlling plastics, our Indian government has announced some limited measures to combat climate change. However, at home, the actions of the government are exactly the opposite, not only making a mockery of the Indian Government’s climate action pledges, but also committing billions of poorer and working-class people to face increasingly severe climate change impacts and pushing the world towards the dreaded climate tipping points that scientists are repeatedly warning about.
As socially and ecologically conscious groups and citizens concerned about well being of Indian people and global ecological safety, we demand that —

  1. The govt of India scrap this unnecessary and potentially very harmful large new coal block auction forthwith, as this will lead to,
    a. Continued underutilisation of our existing coal mines, built mostly with public money. Reports show that most of these are running under capacity, and if run efficiently, can supply all of India’s present and near future coal requirements.
    b. Large additions to the very high air pollution load already prevalent in major parts of India, leading to serious health damages and sharp rise in pollution related health care costs,
    c. Seriously undermine India’s climate pledges at the international level and its climate action plans at home, by accelerating the adverse changes in climate systems,
    d. Massive deforestation across the remaining dense and biodiverse forest cover, which covers most of these ‘coal reserves’. This will in turn lead to loss of water sources, loss of carbon sink capacity and deprive millions of forest and forest fringe dwellers of lifeline support from minor forest products,
    e. Will accentuate the already serious water crisis in many districts in the summer and winter months, leading to wide-spread distress and possible social strifes,
    f. Undermine India’s renewable energy push by artificially manipulating our energy supply market,
  2. We sincerely appreciate the Government of India delegation’s proposal at the UNFCCC climate change summit CoP-27, for a “phaseout of ALL FOSSIL FUELS”, and hope that the Government of India will live up to its own proposal and start the process at home first. This demands not opening any new fossil fuel exploration processes, and planning a step by step decommissioning of the most polluting fossil fuel infrastructure first, followed by other more carbon-intensive ones. Coal being the most carbon and air pollution intensive among all fossil fuels, its phase out should receive greater attention.
  3. We also demand that the GoI reviews all its economic policies to bring them in line with larger social goals and its own environmental and climate commitments – both internationally and at home. In that connection, related pushes for coal bed methane, coal gasification etc should be stopped or atleast downgraded right away.

Issued by:

  1. Soumya Dutta, MAUSAM Trust
  2. Sreedhar Ramamurthy, Environics
  3. Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia Magazine
  4. Wilfred D’costa, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF
  5. Rajkumar Sinha Bargi Bandh Visthapit evam Parbhavit Sangh, Madhya Pradesh
  6. Prafulla Samantara, Lokshakti Abhiyan
  7. Mujahid Nafees, ​​Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat
  8. Coastal Action Network, India
  9. Friends of Earth, India
  10. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Uttar Pradesh
  11. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
  12. Financial Accountability Network, India
  13. Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai Solidarity Group
  14. Shweta Tripathi, SRUTI
  15. Radhika Jhaveri, Let India Breathe
  16. Krishnakant Chauhan, Pariyavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
  17. Sugan Baranth, Sarvodayi, Malegaon
  18. Kavajit Singh, Madhyam, New Delhi
  19. Sonu Yadav, Delhi Solidarity Group
  20. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Telangana
  21. Professor Arun Kumar, Economist
  22. Binayak Sen, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Kolkata
  23. South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis, Maharashtra
  24. Bharat Patel, Machchimar Adhikar Sangarsh Samiti, Gujarat
  25. Nandini Sundar, Sociologist
  26. Dr. Vasavi Kiro, Torang Trust
  27. Kailash Mina, Avaidh Khanan Virodhi Sangarsh Samiti, Rajasthan
  28. Dr. Mithilesh Kumar Dangi, Member, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand
  29. Aradhana Bhargav, Kisaan Sangarsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
  30. Shivam, Srujan Lokhit Samiti, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh
  31. Umesh Tiwari, Roko Toko Thoko Krantikari Morcha, Madhya Pradesh
  32. Sanjay Namdev, Urjachal Visthapit and worker’s Union, Madhya Pradesh
  33. Hafiz Harun, Lal Jhanda Bidi Mazdoor Union, Madhya Pradesh
  34. Jagruti Narayan Vishvakarma, Banwasi Seva Ashram, Uttar Pradesh
  35. Vivek Pawar, Jan Sangharsh Morcha Mahakailash, Madhya Pradesh
  36. Lakshmi Chand Dube, Prakash Samta Swar
  37. Ramlallu Gupta, CPI(M) Madhya Pradesh
  38. Hari Sinh Maravi, Adivasi Paramparik Gram Sabha, Madhya Pradesh
  39. Roop Narayan Poya, Gondwana Gantantra Party, Madhya Pradesh
  40. Pankaj Kumar, Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Uttar Pradesh
  41. Hiralal, Village head, Chilkadand
  42. Rajesh Manav, Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
  43. S. P. Agnihotri, Central Vice President, National Union, HMS
  44. Savita Rath, Member, Jan Chetna, Chattisgarh
  45. Bhupesh Sharma, Akhil Bharatiya Sarvoday Mandal, Madhya Pradesh
  46. Brij Kishor Sahu, Madhya Pradesh
  47. Vinayak Bhatt, RTI Activist, Madhya Pradesh
  48. Kalika Prasad Gupta, Antyoday Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
  49. Bhagat Sinh, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Maha Sangh
  50. Gambhir Prasad, Kanhar Visthapit Sangh, Uttar Pradesh
  51. Ankush Kumar Dubey, NSUI, East Uttar Pradesh
  52. Dinkar Kapoor, All India People’s Front
  53. Manonit G. Ravi, Nagrik Manch, Uttar Pradesh
  54. Siddhnath Sahu, Rashtriya Khadya Aapurti Vibhag Mazdoor Sangh, Madhya Pradesh
  55. Anil Dwivedi, Aam Aadmi Party, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh
  56. Payal Kakkar, Conservation Photo Artist, New Delhi
  57. Vidya Dinker, INSAF
  58. Anand Lakhan, Deen Bandhu Samaj Sahyog Samiti
  59. Amitabh Pandey, Independent Reporter, Madhya Pradesh
  60. Manish Bhatt, Advocates for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives, Madhya Pradesh
  61. Devendra Prakash Mishra, Jan Adhikar Manch, Madhya Pradesh
  62. Rajesh Kumar Tripathi, Jan Chetna, Chattisgarh
  63. Sajal Madhu, Bhumi Bachao Andolan, Dharamjaygadh, Chhattisgarh
  64. Banshi Pate, Social Worker, Chattisgarh
  65. Lakshmi Chauhan, Social Worker, Chattisgarh
  66. Vishwas Mahesh Dubey, Social Worker, Madhya Pradesh
  67. Rakesh Malviya, Environment Journalism, Madhya Pradesh
  68. Nootan Malvi, Urja Foundation, Wardha and ICan, Maharashtra
  69. Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi
  70. Vijayan MJ, Delhi Solidarity Group
  71. KV Prakash, CPIML Red Star, Wayanad, Kerala
  72. Gautam Bandyopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha – India