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Environmentalist awarded with the 'Green Nobel' for saving Indian forests

  • Posted on May 12, 2024
  • News

Indian environmentalist Alok Shukla won the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize for his decade-long grassroots campaign that saved the biodiverse Hasdeo Aranya forest from coal mining.


The Indian environmentalist Alok Shukla has been given the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is known as the "Green Nobel," for his ten-year fight to save the Hasdeo Aranya forest in central India from coal mining. 

Shukla, aged 43, started his job in 2012, and now he is striving to protect the 1,071 square kilometers (657 sq miles) of Hasdeo Aranya, one of the biggest forests remaining in India. The forest in Chhattisgarh state comprises various biodiversity; it is the place of residence for thousands of Adivasi tribespeople as well as rare animals like elephants, leopards, and sloth bears. 

The forest is located on the top of a coal deposit that has been estimated to be 5. 6 billion tonnes, which means this coal is the most prospective target of coal mining for big multinational corporations like Adani Group. 2010 when the companies wanted to lease out the coal blocks and build multiple new mines in the forest, Shukla realized the danger to the ecology and the lives of people who depend on Hasdeo Aranya's ecological richness. 

He joined hands with the local grassroots resistance movements formed the Save Hasdeo Aranya Resistance Committee, and introduced the communities to their legal rights and the possible ways to oppose the mining plans. The villagers and Shukla tried various measures such as protests, legal campaigns, and even tree-sit-ins to stop some of the mines and create some areas as elephant reserves. 

Success came to them in the year 2022 when the Indian government finally canceled the planned auctions of the coal mining blocks that were in the forest as a result of their hard work over a long period. On the contrary, Shukla asserts that the war is still being fought and the Hasdeo Aranya forest is not yet fully protected from any other mining or deforestation. 

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh Leads India's Tiger Conservation Efforts with 785 Tigers in 2022

By receiving the Goldman Prize on Monday, Shukla declared that he is motivated by the award to encourage other environmental movements across the world and to redirect attention back to the damaged part of the Indian forest. "For me, each tree here is important, and I will fight to save every tree. "

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