Mumbai: Villagers of Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district will launch a protest on Thursday against the forest clearance given to a joint venture of Essar Power Ltd and Hindalco Industries Ltd to mine coal at Mahan forests there.

“The event marks the beginning of a mass satyagraha which will continue until the forest clearance is revoked and Forest Rights Act is implemented in the region," read an invitation to the press by environment activist group Greenpeace on Monday.

It claimed 12-14 villages will participate in the protest at Amelia village.

Mahan Coal, a 50:50 joint venture between Essar Power and Hindalco Industries, plans to extract about 8.5 million tonnes (mt) of coal a year from the block for their respective power plants in the vicinity.

The ministry of environment and forests issued a Stage II clearance to Mahan Coal on 12 February, and two days later Greenpeace gatecrashed environment minister Veerappa Moily’s function in Delhi with a campaigner dressed as a tiger protesting coal mining in Mahan. Late in January, Greenpeace scaled Essar Power’s office in Mumbai and rolled down a banner campaigning against Mahan.

Indian companies face a severe shortage of coal with domestic production at around 562mt, but demand around 185mt higher, according to data by Oreteam, a natural resources website.

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