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After gathering over a lakh signatures to protect India’s forests from coal mining, Greenpeace activist Brikesh Singh Monday ended his month-long occupation of a tree on the fringes of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) here.

Singh, who practically lived on a tree since Sep 1 to spread awareness about protecting forests, will now be heading to Hyderabad to hand over the signatures to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be attending the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Oct 16.

Before leaving Chandrapur, Singh led a bicycle rally to the Durgapur coal mine bordering TATR. Brikesh Singh and over 200 people held up a 135-feet eco-friendly fabric banner that asked coal giants to stay away from the forests.

The activists protested against the proposed Durgapur coal mine expansion which, according to them, is a threat to nearly 120 hectares of forest land which is a critical tiger habitat.

“Saving Lohara’s forests was just the beginning – lakhs of hectares of forest are facing destruction from coal mining throughout central India. A month on this tree made me realise that our forests give us infinite resources,” Singh said after the rally.

The campaign was joined by local activists including Eco-Pro, Green Planet and Satpuda Foundation.

Singh began his protest Sep 1 to draw attention to the threat that coal mining poses to bio-diversity and forest dependent communities.

In the last month, he drew the support of villagers, local NGOs and citizens, celebrities, prominent politicians and 113,977 Indians across the country.

The petition urges the prime minister to stop allocating new coal blocks and clearing more forests for coal mining until the coal scam is investigated and there is a clear demarcation of areas where mining shouldn’t be allowed.

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