The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund met for annual meetings Tuesday in Washington, and while most of their talks likely centered on economic problems facing Europe and the United States, a delegation of activists from India called on the World Bank to follow through on proposed rules to cut funding for coal-burning power plants. And over the rest of the week, the Indian activists will travel to West Virginia to meet with activists who have fought coal plants and protested the use of mountaintop removal mining.
The Indian activists are visiting West Virginia to observe and learn the tactics used by American environmental activists and unite around the cause of saving the environment, as Vaishali Patil, a member of the delegation told InterPress Service:
“There is tremendous unrest,” Patil said, referring to the impact of the projects on her community. [...]
“I am looking forward to seeing what the civil society advocacy strategies are here,” Patil told IPS. “I want to learn from them, to share our struggle for community rights, for the right to natural resources, to save the land and sea – we feel this struggle is for our survival.”
As India’s economic growth continues, its reliance on coal has boomed. According to the Sierra Club, India authorized 150 coal-burning power plants in 2010 and plans to increase that number by 600 percent over the next 20 years. Though Indians consume much less energy per person than Americans, they are beginning to feel similar effects from coal-related pollution felt in West Virginia, where mountaintop removal mining in particular has destroyed mountains, contaminated water supplies, and caused health problems, including birth defects and cancer, in an untold number of local residents.
American activists have pushed back even as Republicans and anti-environment Democrats continue their attempts to make environmental destruction easier for coal and energy companies. Protesters temporarily blocked a mountaintop removal project in West Virginia by staging a week-long tree-sit, while other movements and stricter EPA rules have led to the closures of coal-fired power plants in West Virginia, Kentucky, and other coal states. The Indian activists will get a first-hand look at West Virginia activists in action, as they will attend a Moving Planet Day rally there on Sept. 24, before further events take place in India.