By : Shashank Suresh
According to an interim judgment made public on Thursday, the National Green Tribunal’s Bhopal bench has instructed the Madhya Pradesh government to guarantee that no tree be felled without the forest department’s approval at Buxawaha in Chhatarpur district for diamond mining.
Over the years, the planned Bunder diamond block in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining & Industries Limited diamond mining project, which might destroy over 2,00,000 trees faced black skies again due to environmental concerns.
The proposed project will cover 364 hectares in the Buxwaha woods, which are located around 225 kilometers northeast of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital. The rough diamonds in the block are believed to be 34 million carats. The current diamond mine of the National Mineral Development Corporation is around 175 kilometers from Bunder.
With an expenditure of over Rs 2,500 crore, the mining company aims to build a fully mechanized opencast mine and state-of-the-art processing plant for diamond recovery. It was observed that fully operational, the project has the potential to become one of Asia’s largest diamond mines. The mining lease should be completed by the end of the fiscal year 2022, according to the firm.
The idea, however, was met with strong resistance, including social media campaigns. In the Supreme Court of India, a Public Interest Litigation was filed, seeking a stay on the project that Essel Mining & Industries Limited had acquired in 2019.
According to the June 26 ruling, which was posted on the NGT website in the evening, the NGT bench, which included judicial member Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and expert member Kumar Verma, has instructed the applicant in the matter to give a copy of the petition and necessary documents to the respondents.
On environmental grounds, a citizen of Jabalpur and a lawyer filed petitions before the NGT Bhopal challenging the diamond mining project in Buxawaha. Both petitions concern a single matter in which the federal and state governments, as well as a private mining firm, have been named as respondents.
“The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Madhya Pradesh would ensure that no trees are chopped down without prior forest permission. The applicant is required to give the responders a copy of the application and any relevant documents. Respondents have four weeks to submit their response and affidavit through email, preferably in the form of Image PDF, OCR support PDF, and not in the form of Image PDF “, the bench remarked.
The petition claims that the proposed project will affect the ecology in the region and that the state government’s award of a mining lease in 2019 was illegal. According to the petition, the project will kill around 4 lakh trees and harm thousands of tribals who live in the forest.
The NGT’s Central Zone Bench said that no development is conceivable without some negative impact on the ecology and environment, and that public utility projects cannot be abandoned, and that it is important to balance the public’s interest with the need to preserve the environment. The Bunder Diamond project, which is located in the Buxwaha tehsil of the Chhatarpur district, seeks to be a role model for the country’s sustainable development by striking a balance between development and environmental conservation.
A parallel tree planting drive will commence considerably ahead of the projected mining activities under this project before the mining process begins. The mining operation is anticipated to begin in 2023, with the first tree likely to be impacted in 2024. Over the following ten to twelve years, the diversion will take place in stages.