Undeterred by the government of India trying to halt her speech when she was barred from boarding her flight to London, Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai stuck to her commitment of taking the voices of struggle from Mahan to a global stage and addressed a gathering of MPs at the Parliament in London on Wednesday.
On Sunday 11 December as Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai prepared to travel to the UK on the invitation of Members of Parliament, she was detained at Delhi airport and told she could not leave the country “on government orders”.
She had planned to address the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Indo-British relations about the plans of London-registered company Essar Energy who want to build a coal mine in the Mahan forest.
MPs Virendra Sharma (Lab) and Martin Horwood (LD) speak with Priya Pillai over Skype
Priya was able to meet with MPs over Skype saying “I am here to represent the people of Mahan and talk about their struggle to ensure that their rights guaranteed under the constitution of India are not trampled upon … I urge you to exercise your influence over the London-based company Essar Energy to help stop the environmental and human rights violation going on in Mahan”.
MPs from the APPG were disappointed Priya could not appear in person as Skype is not the best way to explain and understand the delicate situation, but listened intently to what she had to say.
Members of the APPG on Indo-British relations speak with Priya Pillai over Skype.
Community members of Mahan had been planning to join her but were subjected to harassment from local police. “We are very proud that for the first time our problems have been taken to an international stage. We want to show the whole world whose development this project is going to serve. For us the forest of Mahan is our provider, protector and God and we will not allow it to be destroyed to earn profits for Essar,” says Anita Kushwaha, a resident of Mahan.
Essar Energy, part of Essar Group, are planning to build a coal mine in the Mahan forest, one of the last remaining sal forests in India. Rich in biodiversity and depended on by local residents for their livelihoods, the forest would be destroyed if the mine is allowed to go ahead.
Read more about the story of Mahan here.
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