Essar’s affidavit in Bombay High Court comes in response to some videos about saving Mahan forests.

Mumbai: In a bid to end all debate and discussion on its controversial coal mine in Mahan forest, Essar has filed an affidavit in Bombay High Court looking for a blanket ban on any criticism of them or the project. The affidavit comes in response to a 30-second Greenpeace video being aired in Fun Cinemas, and a Youtube video about saving Mahan forests.

“As the movement against, Essar’s proposed coal mine grows Essar is trying to use the courts to muzzle all voices of opposition against their proposed coal mine. We have pointed out the grave damage the mine would cause to the environment and to people’s livelihoods,” says Arundhati Muthu, campaigner, Greenpeace India.

“The videos in question do not flout any court guidelines. The YouTube video showed protests against the Mahan project in a hundred cities across the world, as an indication of growing opposition to Essar’s plans,” she further said.

Earlier this year in January, Essar Group had pleaded with the Bombay HC for an interim gag order on Greenpeace. The court restricted Greenpeace from making certain statements, including allegations that Essar has intimidated members of the local community, and that the forest clearance decision was based on a forged Gram Sabha, until Greenpeace presents its evidence for the truth of the statements. This was an aftermath of a dramatic protest at Essar’s headquarters in Mumbai on January 22, against forest destruction for the planned coal mine in Mahan forests of Singrauli city of Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Essar also filed for Rs 500-crore of damages from Greenpeace and villagers in Mahan.

Essar has also tried to introduce a leaked IB(Intelligence Bureau) report into the SLAPP(Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation)case. The said report maliciously claimed that foreign funded NGOs (Greenpeace in particular) were stalling India’s growth.  The relevance of the report to the case was however, questioned by the court.

“Such attempts to stifle criticism are unacceptable in a democracy. This way Essar is trying to divert attention from the real issues,” says Muthu.

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