Essar is the name of a giant Indian energy corporation, and its project is a coal power plant in central Indian state of Madya Pradesh. The plant needs millions of tons of coal to operate, and that coal lies beneath the nearby forests of Mahan, a rich habitat that supports the lives and livelihoods of over 14,000 people from 14 villages. But in Mahan the people are fighting back. They’ve set up an organisation to fight for their rights, Mahan Sangharsh Samiti.

 Their voice where not listened by Essar, until a group of Greenpeace activists scaled Essar's imposing Mumbai offices to expose their plans, while protesters gathered outside their London operations in solidarity. An unusual alliance between urban youth groups and the people of Mahan, to show that the future of the forest is not a local concern but of profound importance to the whole Indian subcontinent.

For the local environment, coal extraction will be devastating, putting endangered plants and animals at risk. The trees are one of the last ancient sal forests in Asia. To the south lies a tiger reserve and the forest in this area is part of important wildlife corridor, allowing animals to move between different regions. The Mahan forest is critical to the huge forest area that extends into Chhattisgarth and Jharkhand states, so if Mahan is not protected then it is likely the entire forest will be demolished with companies like Essar leading the charge.

India’s forests are also vital for its long term ecological and social welfare: destroying them is part of a pattern of economic behaviours that threaten India’s long-term future. Thousands of people rely on the forests in line for destruction, putting their lives and livelihoods at risk. Ignoring people’s rights, threatening them with eviction and dispossession is not just of local interest, it's a globally significant act and will have a profoundly negative impact on the image Essar projects around the world.

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