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Diamond Mining In Buxwaha Forest Threatens Tribal Livelihood

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In the Buxwaha Forest in Madhya Pradesh’s Chattarpur district, 650 km away from Delhi and 260 km Northeast of Bhopal, the State Capital of Madhya Pradesh, more than 2 lakh trees are at risk of being cut down for diamond mining. The government has given permission and many animals and the tribals now live in danger.

The History Behind The Project

Buxwaha Forest
Representative Image.

This project was started in January 2004, when an Anglo-Australia mining Giant named Rio Tinto Exploration India Private Limited discovered that underneath the Buxwaha Forest area, there was a large deposit of diamond. They started the project as the “Bundar Project“. They signed for a total of 971 hectares area of the forest, in which they could use 954 hectares for mining.

In October 2010, the company signed a State Support Agreement with the State government that saw the government get 10% royalty from the sale of a diamond from this company and 90% of the profit would go to the company.

Protests Against This mining Project

In 2011, Environmental and RTI activist Shehla Masood wrote a letter to the Home Minister of India and filed a complaint with the Select Committee of the Parliament. On the other hand, the Madhya Pradesh High Court asked to reply to the Central and State government about the gross violations of the rules and regulations taking place there.

On 16 August, she was brutally murdered in daylight. Some thought that the murder was caused by the diamond Mafia, Rio Tinto Company, or by some BJP Politician. But all the accused were dismissed, and finally, the CBI said that the murder was caused due to a love triangle.

In March 2016, a Forest Advisory Committee declared that the area was a rich forest area. After that, the MP government rejected the project and in 2017, the company finally made its exit.

The Current Scenario Of The Project

In 2019, when the Congress government came into power, they re-opened the project. The MP government issued a tender to auction the forest for the mining Project. Aditya Birla Group, Adani Group, Vedanta Group, Essel Mining and Industries Limited, etc., took part in this auction.

Finally, the Aditya Birla Group won the bid and got permission to mine 62 hectares for 50 years. The total cost of this project is estimated at ₹25 billion and the profit from this diamond mining Project will be ₹550 billion. The State government will take 42%of the total profit and 58% will go to the company.

Effects On The Tribals And Wildlife

  • Economic Effect:

The government has said that mining would be a great resource of employment for the Tribal Community. But the question is, what kind of employment? They will work in Dimond Mine through which they will get a little amount of money for their livelihood.

  • Effect on Wildlife:

The Buxwaha Forest is not only a wildlife sanctuary; it is also a tiger conservation named Panna Reserve. It also has Alligators in the Ken river. As this forest is situated beside the Narmada Valley, many deciduous trees are also present like Banyan, Jamun, Tendu, Arjuna, Benda, Ken trees, and many medicinal plants.

The MP government has leased 62.64 hectares, but the diamond Project will destroy 382.131 hectares of the forest.

  • Effect on the Livelihood of Tribals:

The diamond mining Project will affect the livelihood of 7,000 Tribals who spend their lives by using the forest resources.

  • Effect on Water Resources:

The biggest issue is that the area is drought-prone. Therefore, there is a severe scarcity of water. As this project is a water-consuming one, the underground water level will keep on decreasing, which may cause many problems in the livelihood of Tribals.

  • Afforestation:

The MP government says that after cutting 2,15,000 trees, the government will plant more than 4 lakh trees. But is it really worth it? That they will cut 50–100-year-old trees and plant newer, small trees. Is it possible to conserve all the wild animals that will lose their lives?

As we are all citizens of India, we have a right to every natural resource like mountains, forests, rivers, etc. But the government is trying to sell these natural resources to a particular private company for profits.

Surely this project will give us 34 million carats of rough diamond, but in this country where 70% of people are poor, is it possible for them to buy diamonds. Maybe some people will buy diamonds for their own enjoyment, but cutting more than 2 lakh trees is not a suitable process.

We can artificially make diamonds since they have no property value like Gold. So then, why is the rate of diamonds so high? Like other scams, it is also a scam by the diamond mafia.

So, we all need to do a mass protest against deforestation to save our Nature, Our Wildlife and the Livelihood of our Tribals.

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