02 April 2014, Abuja – Environmental pressure groups in the country have called on the Federal Government not to go ahead and sign agreement with Jindal Power and Steel, India to revitalise coal mining in the country.
The groups allege that, “Jindal operations in other parts of Africa continue to impact negatively on host communities.”
In a statement, the pressure groups under the umbrella of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said, “Not only is this planned engagement with Jindal disturbing, it clearly indicates that the Nigerian government is yet to get a grasp of the magnitude of environmental challenges that dirty energy ignites. Our position is that government must stop hobnobbing with so-called investors only interested in promoting dangerous and outdated extractive operations.”
“Will the Nigerian government feign ignorance of Jindal’s tango with communities in Tete province of Mozambique where the company is extracting coal from an open pit mine without an environmental impact study or ensuring the safety of the local communities? Did our government carry out background checks on this company before engaging in this clear misadventure,” said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo.
“In Mozambique the company is said to have promised it would not extract coal before resettlement of the communities, or occupy lands without first negotiating with their legitimate owners. It however breached these agreements, sparking protests in the communities where local folks also complain of environmental impacts.
“The way to go in Nigeria is clean and safe renewable energy that is cheap and community based which do not erode livelihoods or negatively affect the environment. This is not the time for risky misadventures. We do not support any deal with Jindal or any other company that does not respect people and the environment,” said Ojo.
He noted that Jindal usurped community farms with standing crops without any warning, thereby seriously undermining their food sovereignty.
He said: “The company’s operations are said to have inflicted communities with respiratory and other serious problems due to their proximity to open pit mines. The company also has internal issues such as discrepancies in salaries pay and subsidies.”