The Madhya Pradesh government has allotted 382.131 hectares to Aditya Birla group’s Essel Mining & Industries Limited (EMIL) for diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest located near Village Sagoria. The project is 80 km from the district headquarters and 260 km from the capital Bhopal.
The estimated resources in the block are around 53.70 million tonnes of kimberlite ore containing around 34 million carats of rough diamonds.
How many trees being cut in Buxwaha?
According to The Indian Express report, 2,15,875 green trees standing on this will be felled for an open-cast diamond mine to operate here.
Bakswaha Forest is a dense and biodiverse forest located in the Chhatarpur district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and numerous trekking trails, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.
Why trees being cut in Buxwaha?
According to initial estimates, 2,15,875 varieties of trees, including herbal plant trees need to be felled in an area of 382 hectares for the diamond mining project.
Essel Mining company is involved in the extraction of iron ore from the forest region, which has raised concerns among environmentalists and local communities about the impact of mining on the forest’s biodiversity and the livelihoods of local people.
The mine project will require about 5.9 million cubic meters of water per day. The Madhya Pradesh state has a maximum number of forest areas compared to other states in the country.
The Buxwaha region of Chhatarpur district has already been declared semi-critical by the Central Ground Water Authority.
Environmental activist Hari Krishna Dwivedi said that “the entire Bundelkhand region is facing a water crisis and this forest is essential for the local ecology.”
“In addition to providing livelihoods for the locals, it also provides shelter for many species of wildlife,” Dwivedi told Mongabay-India. “Seasonal streams from the forest are a source of groundwater recharge and contribute to the Betwa River, a lifeline for Bundelkhand. The project will have an impact on all aspects of the environment.”
On July 12, 2016, the Ministry of Environment’s Forestry Advisory Committee (FAC) warned that the block, located near the Panna tiger reserve, would “potentially disturb the character of the landscape.”
Save Buxwaha Forest campaign
The mining operations of Essel Mining have been subject to controversy and criticism from various stakeholders. Environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact of mining on the forest’s ecosystem, which is known for its rich biodiversity and wildlife.
Underlining this narrative are concerns raised by a key panel of the Central Government’s Environment Ministry, social media campaigns with high-profile activists joining the “Save Buxwaha Forest” drive.
Local communities have also expressed concern about the impact of mining on their livelihoods, as many of them depend on the forest for their livelihoods. Mining activity can displace communities and disrupt their traditional way of life, which can have social and economic consequences.
Although the company and the government said that these trees will not be cut in once, but cut in 12 pauses and 1 million trees will be ‘planted’ in their place.
Bijawar Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Rahul Siladia said that an active afforestation drive will be carried out in the region. Notably, a phased falling of 15 years has been proposed in Buxwaha. Rahul Siladia also said that tree cutting and planting of new trees for diamond mining will be done simultaneously.
Along with the employment of the people of this area, the quality of life of the residents will be improved by utilizing the resources of the area.
MP government conducted survey
The Madhya Pradesh government conducted a survey in 2010 with the help of Australian company Rio Tinto to search for diamonds in the Bundelkhand region.
During the survey itself, kimberlite stone rocks appeared around Bakswaha. Diamond is found in these kimberlite rocks.
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