Skip to main content

MP diamond mining project to 'destroy' 2.15 lakh trees, 'threaten' biodiversity, Adivasis

Counterview Desk 

The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), a top civil society network, even as “strongly opposing” the destruction of Buxwaha in protected forest region in Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region for the proposed Bunder diamond mining project, has demanded that the government “must immediately withdraw all projects which threaten the ecological and socio-cultural significance of Buxwaha.”
In a statement, NAPM said, “The project, spearheaded by Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining and Industries Ltd (EMIL), will lead to irrevocable destruction of dense forest land, including over 2 lakh trees.” Pointing out that the government is making “the blatantly false claim that Adivasi communities are not dependent on the area”, NAPM claimed, “At least 8,000 residents from more than 20 nearby villages rely heavily on these forests for their livelihoods and food security.”
“Such attempts by the government to sacrifice natural resources and local communities for private profit are highly condemnable”, it added.

Text:

NAPM condemns the decision of the Government of Madhya Pradesh to carry out the proposed Bunder diamond block in the Buxwaha protected forests of Chhatarpur. The project, spearheaded by Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining and Industries Ltd (EMIL), will lead to irrevocable destruction of dense forest land, including over 2 lakh trees. We convey our full solidarity with the struggle of the local communities and citizens campaigns to save Buxwaha forest and call upon the Govt of MP to scrap the diamond block project with immediate effect.
EMIL is currently in the process of obtaining regulatory clearances for a fully-mechanized open-cast mine and processing plant for diamonds on 364 hectares of protected forest land near Sagoria village. The project is expected to begin in 2022 and the company claims that it has the potential to be the biggest diamond mining plant in Asia.
However, the mine will have devastating social and environmental effects on the Buxwaha protected forests and surrounding region. It will lead to the cutting of at least 2.15 lakh trees, severely threatening the region’s rich biodiversity and the local Adivasi communities. The project threatens critical wildlife habitats, including those of at least seven species listed in Schedule I of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. It will also adversely impact the tiger corridor between the Panna National Park and the nearby Nauradehi forests of Bundelkhand.
Moreover, Bundelkhand is drought prone and the water situation in the Buxwaha region itself has been declared as ‘semi-critical’. The large water requirement for the mining project (1.6 crore litres per day) will lead to diversion of vital seasonal water sources found in the forests. Mining to depths of more than 1,100 feet will also severely deplete the already low groundwater levels.
Instead of fulfilling their responsibility to protect forests and support local communities, government officials are going out of their way to facilitate the project. Reports by Chhatarpur's District Forest Officer (DFO) and Chief Forest Conservator (CFC) assert that no wildlife species of specific importance or belonging to endangered categories are found in the region. They also make the blatantly false claim that Adivasi communities are ‘not dependent’ on the area.
However, at least 8,000 residents from more than 20 nearby villages rely heavily on these forests for their livelihoods and food security. Such attempts by the government to sacrifice natural resources and local communities for private profit are highly condemnable.
The experience from the Sardar Sarovar dam and other dam projects in the Narmada Valley also shows that the MP government cannot be relied on to carry out proper ‘compensatory afforestation’ programs to compensate for the proposed destruction of Buxwaha forests. In many compensatory afforestation areas of the Narmada Valley, no tree plantation was ever carried out, or the trees have already died and the land is now degraded. It is also important to recognize that no compensatory afforestation can replace the old, dense forests and rich biodiversity of Buxwaha.
The project has already seen severe opposition from affected communities and activists. Groups like Buxwaha Jungle Bachao Abhiyaan and Paryawaran Bachao Abhiyaan have come together as part of the struggle to save Buxwaha from corporate intrusion. In keeping with recent trends where a lot of young people are expressing solidarity with environmental issues across the country, #SaveBuxwaha Campaign has also been highlighted through social media. Despite officials trying to prevent ongoing peaceful forms of local protest like Harit Satyagrahas, the people of the region are determined to save the forest.
The latest order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to temporarily stay felling of trees and set up an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act is a welcome step which brings some immediate relief. However, concrete government actions are needed to ensure the project is fully withdrawn.
Madhya Pradesh, a state with rich biodiversity is also recklessly pushing ahead many other environmentally destructive projects like the Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project, Bundelkhand Expressway and other proposed projects in the Bundelkand region, which will cause irreparable damage to local communities and ecosystems. All these projects violate existing legal provisions and their socio-ecological costs need to be critically reviewed.
National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns the Govt of MP’s prioritizing of profit over the lives, livelihoods and culture of Adivasi people, and at the cost of irreparable destruction of the environment, in blatant disregard of existing legislation. We stand in solidarity with the people’s protests against the proposed Bunder diamond mine and destruction of Buxwaha forests. We demand that:
  1. Existing sanctions for development of the Bunder diamond block should be immediately revoked.
  2. An urgent social and environmental impact assessment of the area should be conducted, which accurately recognizes the Adivasi communities’ dependence on the area for their livelihood and food security, and records the true extent of the loss of biodiversity and wildlife due to the project.
  3. The Government of Madhya Pradesh must not allow diversion of forest land without full recognition and settlement of forest rights under FRA, 2006. Outstanding Community Forest Rights of affected villages over Buxwaha forests under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 should be recognized with immediate effect.
  4. The Government of Madhya Pradesh should stop inviting fresh bids for mining in protected forest areas and offer unconditional protection to Buxwaha Protected Forest and Panna National Forest regions from similar projects in the future.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Nehru legacy? GDP-centric growth has had 'no positive impact' on people's livelihood

By Dr Kamal Nayan Kabra*  Experience has shown that many counties adopt measures to go in for the growth of their GDP, basically in the existing framework, though also going in for, at the same time, new products and technologies and similar other changes. It is believed that by means of this process enough new job opportunities would emerge to meet the economy’s needs both in terms of numbers as also in terms of the requisite remuneration (wages) as also the supplies of the goods and services to maintain the economy on an even keel.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Conceived as infrastructure, western approach 'not fit' for building Indian cities

By Arjun Kumar* A recent webinar on Rethinking the City, organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) at the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, even as stating that Western concept of city cannot be applied on India, insisted, urban areas were conceived as infrastructure, disregarding the actual inhabitants who live in there. Those who participated in the webinar included Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani, Faculty and Dean, School of Advanced Studies and Research, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design & Technology, and Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla and Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI. The session was initiated by Tikender Singh Panwar providing the context on the current state of city planning in India. He emphasized the need for more sustainable models in order improved urban habitation. Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani focused on two important factors that force us to rethink the city as a construct and a space of habita

As Afghan economy crumbles, West working out emergency plans for 'cash airlifts'

By MK Bhadrakumar*  The Taliban is getting many suitors lately. It is far from the “pariah” that the Biden Administration thought it was destined to be. During the past month alone, the Taliban received six suitors from the region and beyond offering courtship – the foreign minister of Qatar; the special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan; the High representative of UK Prime Minister; and the foreign minister of Uzbekistan who visited Kabul on Thursday.