A campaign to save Madhya Pradesh’s Buxwaha forest has been gaining momentum, as a diamond mining project taken up by Aditya Birla group’s Essel Mining & Industries Limited (EMIL) risks felling of over 2 lakh trees as well as increasing air and water pollution.
Moreover, the execution will change the whole biodiversity of the nearby land.
The proposed project concerns an area of 384 hectare in Buxwaha Protected Forest and located near Village Sagoria.The project is about 80 Kms from Chhatarpur, the district headquarters and 260 Km from Bhopal the state capital. The estimated resources in the block is around 53.70 million tonnes of kimberlite ore containing about 34 million carats of rough diamonds.
According to reports, EMIL plans to develop a fully mechanized opencast mine and processing plant for diamond. The project is estimated with an investment of INR 2500 Cr. EMIL is currently in the process of obtaining various regulatory clearances such as approval of Mine Plan, Environment & Forest clearances required for the execution of mining lease. The company targets the execution of the Mining Lease by end of the year 2022 and thereafter initiates the mining activities.
The block consists of 7000 villagers and over 17 tribes which are forest dwellers and directly depends on the forest products such as mahua ,tendu leaves, chironji and Amla for livelihood . The project when executed will clear the land by cutting over 2 lakh trees and will require an estimated 5.9 million cubic meters per day of water that will be fulfilled by making a dam diverting a seasonal nallah (canal) which can store upto 17 million cubic meter.
According to Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the top three diamond reserves states of India are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh . Among which Madhya Pradesh alone accounts to have 90.18 percent. The mine is estimated to have the potential of the biggest reservoir of diamonds in Asia . Earlier the project was given to the world largest diamond miner’s of Australia , Rio Tinto but they existed the project later gifting the project to the state government , the official never provided with a specific reason but was mainly due to light of bad press.
People concerned over the project have created a nationwide protest and online awareness campaign #savebuxwahaforest. Marking the world environment day on June 5, a group started an initiative of the symbolic Chipko movement and called out people from different communities to join the campaign spreading awareness. Earlier a public interest litigation (PIL) has been submitted to the Supreme Court in order to put a stay on the diamond mining project by EMIL.