The Goldman Prize, in its 25th year, is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism given annually by Goldman Environmental Foundation based in San Francisco, the foundation said in a statement Monday.
Agrawal, who ran a small internet cafe in Raigarh city in India’s Chhattisgarh state, has been awarded for his contribution to control the unchecked industrial development throughout India.
“Agrawal succeeded in shutting down a proposed coal mine by Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.(JSPL), one of the largest in Chhattisgarh,” the statement said.
The social worker is among six global recipients of the award this year and each of them will be given an individual cash prize of $175,000. The other winners hail from Indonesia, Peru, Russia, South Africa and the US.
Agrawal founded Jan Chetana, a grassroots movement to protect people and the environment from rampant industrialisation.
He organised local villagers in the state for environmental violations and filed Right to Information (RTI) applications on their behalf.
The foundation’s website said: “Starting in 2008, Agrawal organised residents to voice their opposition and filed numerous petitions highlighting JSPL’s failure to hold mandatory public meetings and obtain environmental clearance for the project.”
Agarwal acted as a watchdog for rural communities who did not have access to computers.
Commenting on the honoured environmental heroes, David Gordon, executive director the of Goldman Environmental Prize said: “From fracking to palm oil development, the 2014 Goldman Prize recipients are not only tackling some of the world most pressing environmental problems; they are also achieving impressive environmental victories and inspiring others to do the same.” The winners will be awarded at a ceremony Monday at the San Francisco Opera House.
The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman.
The prize is awarded to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions.