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March 29, 2012

The Spark That Ignited India's Grassroots Anti-Coal Movement

India’s grassroots are on fire. All across the country a social crisis is brewing as a wave of coal plant proposals creates a toxic brew of land acquisition, corruption, and environmental degradation.  Now a new TV documentary captures the dark side of this coal boom exposing for the first time to a global audience what Indian communities are facing:

The story of grassroots resistance to this boom however has not yet been told. Communities and activists all across India are increasingly standing up for their right to a clean environment and a prosperous livelihood. While these protests have grown in breadth and depth, it was only recently that one community’s fight was able to ignite the tinderbox that India’s coal rush had created.

That community was Sompeta. In January 2010, more than 3,000 community members stood up and fought plans to sacrifice their land, their water, their air and ultimately their livelihoods for a new coal plant. Their protest was met with brutal repression, including the deaths of three community members. This valiant struggle galvanized public opinion and ground the project to a halt.

Now all across the country communities and activists are inspired by Sompeta, and they are fighting back. Here is a video I made that tells their story:

-- Justin Guay, Sierra Club International Program

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