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Diamond v/s Environment

In this paper we explore the scope of how deforestation would lead to a greater impact on environment, tribes and wildlife. PIL was filed against the company who took the contract of diamond mining. It enhances how the government prioritizes the development of the nation over the environment. In my research paper I have included the many problems, such as water scarcity etc faced by the citizens living there, acts which can be used against the issue.

My primary aim is to throw some light on the environmental concern. We can't afford environmental loss at this point of time due to pandemic as we are in critical need of oxygen because of the arrival of the third wave in some states of India. The court hasn't given any decision on the same yet but I believe that this decision should be worth waiting for.

Introduction
The forest of Buxwaha lies in Buxwaha which is a tehsil and a Nagar Panchayat in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. A significant area of diamond mine was located beneath the Buxwaha forest. Articles like diamonds surely make a person greedy enough to forget what effect it'll have on the environment and the communities living in the area. They will be felling more than 2 lakhs of trees for this diamond mine which will affect the nature in a crucial aspects like shortage of oxygen and water resources and the habitats of the wildlife.

The Madhya Pradesh Government and EMIL company has signed a contract of the same just for money knowing that deforestation has many disadvantages shows that the government is willing to focus on the revenue that will be generated by the mine rather than focusing on the loss suffered by the surrounding. This situation was also witnessed in the case of Aarey Forest where the forest was cut down to build a metro car shed.

The contract of Buxwaha forest was awarded to the Rio Tinto in 2006 on which they spent 90$ million but the mining did not start till 2016 due to the denial for permit by the government since they believed that the mining plant would endanger the rich forest area and a tiger corridor lying between the Panna Tiger Reserve and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary. The bidding again started in 2019 for the same contract for 384 hectares for 55000 crores yet the actual mining will take place in just 64 hectares and remaining area will be used for dumping rocks and debris. Does it really make sense to cut down 215,000 trees just for some diamonds?

Impact On The Environment (Wildlife, species, trees, water and tribes)

All of this could generate almost 1550 crores of annual revenue for MP Government. EMIL is in the process of getting approvals for implementing the mining plans. In the view of the EMIL, its implementation is planned for the end of financial year of 2022. In this forest there are many medicinal plants and many species which will be wiped out in a time of only few years because of the sad mentality of our country which is more interested in what's under the surface than above.

The Buxwaha forest reserves is one of India's largest diamond mines that renders a major help for government in increasing its GDP. Many studies indicate that it has almost 34 million carats of rough diamond here but to possess this treasure we have to cut almost 2.15 lakhs trees which is indeed a huge loss.

The deforestation will be a huge loss for more than 8000 livelihoods living around the area which completely depend on the forest for their survival. Estimates state that 1/10th of area will be cleared during the deforestation which is as bad as cutting off a limb thereby ruining the entire ecosystem.

The project was given to the Easel Mining & Industries Limited in 2019. Buxwaha forest has already been declared as semi critical and water stressed area. Moreover, resources imply that this mine will use almost 5.9 million cubic meters of water every day, therefore the dam which will be used for this project will create water scarcity in the surrounding areas.

This project will take almost 14 years hence the tribal people are unsure if there will be any water left for them. Therefore, they are anxious and suspect the company of using all the ground water in the end. According to some sources the Bundelkhand region, which already experiences scarcity of water, is about to be excavated for 5 million tonnes of diamond-bearing Kimberlite ore per annum according to the sources. There is also a 24% rain deficit according to the meteorological department.

Some acts which can be used against the deforestation in Buxwaha forest and even for the water conservation are given below:

National Environment Policy Act, Forest Conservation Act, National Forest management Act, Forest and Range renewable resources planning, The Endangered Species Act 1973, The Clean Water Act, The Water Act, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

What is important Oxygen for the Pandemic or Diamonds for the revenue?
If deforestation takes place, one of the consequences would be depletion of oxygen which will make a great impact on our nation as the third wave of corona is arriving. Therefore, it should be made sure to avoid the felling of trees without figuring out suitable methods of reserving the environment.

PIL, Protest, NGT puts stay on felling of trees

Many local communities, celebrities, NGOs and environmentalists were protesting against the deforestation of Buxwaha forest for a month. The PIL was filed by the PG Najpande, a local activist at the National Green Tribunal (NGT). It was stated that deforestation leads to many environmental changes that have a negative impact on the mankind.

It was stated again that development was more important for government rather than the environmental loss plus the negative impacts it will have on the future generations. This would generally lead to 3.70 metric tonnes of soil waste, 16.34 metric tonnes of OB waste and 5 metric tonnes of tailing waste annually. A huge part of the Forest will be used for the solid waste. Almost 56 hectares of land will be used for tailings, 12 hectares for solid waste and almost 86% for OB waste.

The dangerous tailings will be dumped off in the ponds and dams on mining site. The toxic substances from the dumping which contain ore processing reagents will seep into the ground and thereby will affect the water at large extent. The water which contains this harmful substance will further destroy the aquatic life as it includes harmful substances like ammonia, mercury, and naphthenic acids.

Neha Singh, the environmental activist, also filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against continuation of the Project. Similarly, many other environmentalists filed the Pill in the Supreme Court. Recently, Madhya Pradesh High Court gave a notice to state and central government to discontinue this project under the orders of Mohd. Rafiq. Madhya Pradesh High Court stated that it would lead to a larger negative impact, full of destruction of the ecological environment.

The PIL was filed by Sudeep Singh Sainy where the public trust doctrine was used for the solution regarding the deforestation. It was stated by the petitioner that a forest takes more than 100 years for plants to mature to maintain the economical balance.

NGT instructed PCCF (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest) to ensure that none of the trees would be felled anymore. Even the Forest Conservation Act was used to instruct the PCCF, however this act is used when deforestation takes place in India. NGT is going to furnish their replies by another one week's time latest by estimated date of 27th August.
Nagrik Upbhokta Manch, a volunteer organization guided by PG Najpande, Dr Pushparaj and Ujjwal Sharma has filed the petition against the deforestation in Buxwaha forest. Petitions are still pending in the High Court, Supreme Court along with other 2 petitions in NGT. Company which took contract for mining are being harassed a lot as per their own allegations.

The solutions mentioned by the NGT were to plant more than 3.80 lakhs trees after cutting 2.15 lakh trees, but the question is, Will this be practically and sincerely done by the community involved. Is it right to cut 50100-year-old trees to plant the fragile new saplings?

However, Ecosystem is getting ruined thereby creating an imbalance in environment as all of the Wildlife will get drastically affected. The relevance of this solution is compromised as the fact that the new saplings cannot be a home for tribes and the wildlife is disregarded.

Respondents contended that no wildlife and animals are there in the vicinity of 10 km.

However, Volunteer Ananda Patel declared that 140 organizations have given support to the 'Save Buxwaha campaign'. A national coordination committee was established involving volunteers from states like MP, Punjab, and Rajasthan.

Conclusion
The decision of the court is worth waiting for. Many organizations, Local activists protested against this project. Lastly, the government is mainly interested in development rather than environmental loss. The solutions given by the government aren't that logical. Deforestation should not take place as there are many dis-advantages as listed above, this will only create an ecological imbalance and nothing less. In this case diamonds only have a demand because we think that the value of the diamonds is greater than that of 2.15 lakh trees.

Nothing Will Change, Unless We Take Efforts.

Citations:
  • https://www.news18.com/news/india/ngt-stays-felling-of-trees-in-mps-buxwaha-forest-amid-public-uproar-3916556.html
  • https://kashmirreader.com/2021/07/29/what-does-the-nation-need-diamond-or-oxygen/
  • https://www.fs.fed.us/forestmanagement/aboutus/lawsandregs.shtml
  • https://scroll.in/article/996817/in-madhya-pradeshs-buxwaha-forest-a-diamond-mine-could-claim-two-lakh-trees
Written By: Samiksha shirish Khandekar

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