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The Full Story Of Buxwaha Forest Diamond Mine | Save Buxwaha Forest.

In Madhya Pradesh, more than 2 lakh trees of the Buxwaha forest are at risk of getting cut for the building of a diamond mine. This is not something new. I take you through the history of diamond mining in this region which was first proposed by an Australian company called Rio Tinto. How both BJP and Congress govt of Madhya Pradesh have tried to sell this area for diamond mining. I also propose a simple solution of lab-made diamonds which the companies like Aditya Birla can adopt.

In the Buxwaha Jungle of Madhya Pradesh, more than 215,000 trees are at risk of being cut down. For a diamond mine.

The government has given the diamond mining permission for this jungle as per which not only will the trees be cut down, but many plant and animal species will also be at risk because of this. There will be an adverse impact on tiger conservation.

The livelihoods of more than 7,000 tribal people would be taken away. And perhaps the biggest issue is that that area is a drought-prone region. There is a severe scarcity of water there. And diamond mining will bea water-intensive project. A lot of water will be used for the mining.

On the other hand, the Government claims that there is nothing to worry about. That they’ll plant more trees than they’ll cut. And people will get employment, and it’ll help in boosting economic growth.

So who is right here? Come let’s look at the details of the story.

A story that started 15-20 years ago. A story where BJP and Congress are to be blamed equally. Approximately, 650 km from Delhi in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, lies the region of Buxwaha where the Buxwaha forest is located. The total population here is around 10,000 according to the 2011 census. This forest has been there for ages.

Our story begins in January 2004 when an Anglo-Australian company called RioTinto discovered that underneath this area, there is a large deposit of diamonds. This diamond deposit is then named Bunder (monkey). Because, apparently, there are a lot of monkeys in this area.

In October 2010, this company signs a State Support Agreement with the Government of Madhya Pradesh. It is then decided that the government will get 10% mining royalty from the sale of diamonds by this company. That will be recovered from this site. And 90% of the profits will go to RioTinto. It is estimated that 27.5 million carats of diamonds will be unearthed from this area. It’s a huge number. It may be one of the biggest diamond deposits in our country. It reeks of money.

But why are you getting excited? Don’t bother, you wouldn’t get this money. 10% will go to the State Government according to that agreement. And 90% would go to the company, RioTinto The total area then was 971 hectares. And they had been given clearance for 954 hectares. It was estimated then that more than 500,000 trees would have to be cut.

The Panna Tiger Reserve was beside it It is a national park where tigers are found. The lifeline of the Panna Tiger Reserveis the Ken river. Alligators are found in it. In fact, there was even a Ken Gharial (Alligator) Sanctuary here. Apart from these, there is a nature reserve in the Buxwaha forest. With rich wildlife and nature. Our country would’ve lost these gems of nature because of some corporate and governmental profits. But fortunately, it did not happen. Thanks to environmental activist Shehla Masood.

It was 2011, the Congress government was at the centre. Shehla wrote a letter to the then Home Minister of India. And filed a written complaint with the Select Committee of the Parliament. On the other hand, the Madhya Pradesh High Court asked the State Government and the Centre Government the reason for the gross violations of the rules and regulations taking place there. Shehla Masood was not only an environmental activist but also an RTI acitvist. She had also participated in the 2011’s Anna Hazare’s Anti Corruption Movement.

On 16th August, Shehla was on her way to collect the response to her RTI appeal. She sat in the driver’s seat of her car.

And suddenly some people came up to her. And murder her in broad daylight. Several people suspect that the persons behind this murder may be the RioTinto company, Diamond Mafia, and some local BJP politicians. But the then Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Uma Shankar Gupta dismisses these accusations. She says that it was an unfortunate incident that Shehla was murdered. But no one in the government wanted to kill her.

A spokesperson of the RioTinto company responded to this by stating that “…We condemn such acts of violence and loss of life…” “We cannot understand why our name is being linked with this tragedy.” They claim that RioTinto follows high ethical standards. After this, it was claimed that Shehla was murdered because of a property dispute. Because the Madhya Pradesh Police wasn’t quite trusted, this case was transferred to the CBI. And CBI comes up with the conclusion of this case that there might’ve been a love triangle at the heart of this unfortunate death. But the story is quite deep. Several activists and locals like the famous conservationist Valmik Thapar, and the NGO Pahal, take this movement further.

In March 2016, a Forest Advisory Committee declares that this area is an Inviolate Category. Because it is a ‘rich forest area.’ And it is a tiger corridor between Panna Tiger Reserve and another wildlife sanctuary. The National Tiger Conservation Authority comes up with a similar report. After this committee report, the government finally rejects the mining permission. Remember that it was in 2016 when Shivraj Singh Chauhan led BJP government was in power in MP.

In response, the company carries out some desperate attempts to retain the mining permission for at least a part of the area. And submits a new proposal in which only 76 hectares are talked about. But the Forest Advisory Committee says that even in that area, mining would pose a huge danger to the high-quality forest area that we cannot afford to lose. So in August 2016, RioTinto company finally gives up.

And states that they do not want to carry on with this project. They decide that all the project infrastructure available there would be handed over to the State Government.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had tried a lot to get clearances for this company. But the project had to be shelved because of the report from one committee. On 7th February 2017, the company bids adieu finally. And the things left behind by the company are handed over to the State Government. In our forest, trees, rivers, wildlife, tigers, and tribals, everyone was saved.

But in 2018, there were elections in Madhya Pradesh. And the Congress government comes into power. Kamal Nath becomes the new Chief Minister. And he decides that this project would be revived. He carries out an auction. The total capital cost of this project is estimated at Rs25 billion. With an opportunity of earning Rs550 billion. Several companies place in their bids. Aditya Birla Group, Adani Group, Vedanta Group, Essel Mining, and Industries Limited, and National Mineral Development Corporation.

Aditya Birla’s group has the winning bid. And is given 364 hectares of forest land on a lease for 50 years on which they can mine for diamond. In this new contract, this new deal, of the profits from the diamond mining, approximately 58% will go to the Aditya Birla Group. And 42% will go to the State Government.

Try to understand what’s happening here in a broad sense. The forests in a country, the forests, rivers, hills, and mountains, to whom do these belong? Each and every citizen of the country. All of us breathe the air from the forests. So every citizen should have a right over the forest.

But what’s happening here?

A government basically is trying to decide to take the forest and sell it to a private company, so that the company can earn profits from the forest. 58% of the profits will go to the private company to the rich people that own the private company. 40% of the profit will go to our government.

And what do the citizens get? For the sake of saying, they’d say that people will get employment. But by employment, they mean the laborers who will work in actually mining the diamonds, and will be given monthly wages with which they’d barely be able to make ends meet. And what will be the output? Diamonds are unearthed here.

How do diamonds benefit the country and its citizens?

99% of the people will get no benefits. Diamond is a decorative luxury item. The top 1% of the people will get yet another luxury item. In our opinion, this entire case is a great example of Crony Capitalism’s negative consequences. Here our governments are selling our natural resources by which only a few handful of people benefit.

As a fun fact, if we tell you, that the Aditya Birla Group, was one of the top donors of the Congress party in 2004 and in 2012. In 2018 too, the Aditya Birla Group was included in the list of the top donors of the BJP party. After that, our Modi government passed the Electoral Bonds so that the political donations made by the companies remain anonymous to us. If you want to thank someone for it, thank our beloved Mr Modi. Here the ‘Money Begets Money’ situation crops up too. Only the people with a lot of money can invest in this diamond mine to earn more money.

It is ridiculous to think that a common citizen of the country would have enough money to bid for these diamond mines. Only the people who are already billionaires will have the required funds. Only they can fund political parties. So that these political parties are pressured into selling forest lands. So that those people may earn profits.

Bolivia is a South American country. Where the government had once privatised even its water supply. What followed when the private companies exercised their right over the water was that they increased its prices and drinking water became unaffordable for the common people. Because of this, the Water War ensued in Bolivia. People began fighting over the water there.

Do we want the same to happen in our country? The Bundelkhand region in Madhya Pradesh is a drought-prone region. There is a scarcity of water there. And if diamond mining is carried out there which is a water-intensive project, and a lot of water will be used, will it then not affect the water supply of the common people? Will the people there get a proper water supply? Will there not be a water war in the future there? Speaking about the exact numbers, it has been estimated that the processing plant of the mine will require 5.9 million cubic meters of water per year. 1 cubic meter is 1,000 litres of water. 5.9 billion litres of water. will be used every year for this.

The most interesting thing is that what will be the output of it all?

The government says that people will get employment. Who wants to work as a labour in a diamond mine? Would you want to? No, you wouldn’t. Have the tribal people that live in the forest being asked? If they want to leave their profession who have been living and working in the forest for decades, would they give up their forest and work in the diamond mine as labourers? Shouldn’t they be asked too?

What are the other outputs?

Diamonds! Who actually needs a diamond? Interestingly, diamonds are something whose value has been created. Its value doesn’t actually exist. The diamond industry is often considered a scam around the world because a few companies have established such strong control over the supply of diamonds, that as soon as the prices start to fall they stop or decrease their supply so that the value of the diamonds can be maintained.

On top of it, films like Blood Diamond have masterfully exposed the evils of the diamond industry. We definitely recommend that you watch this film. Even after this, some people would still argue for the diamond minings. That because some people like wearing a diamond they should be allowed to. And that diamonds should continue to have a place in our society. So there is a brilliant solution for it too.

Nowadays, diamonds can be created in labs. Diamonds aren’t something that forests need to be cut and then mined. Because the same quality diamonds can be created in the labs efficiently. Some diamond companies claim that the diamonds made in the labs are fake. And not of the same high quality. But all of that is blatant lies to protect the profits of the companies.

In reality, a diamond is a carbon structure that has been recreated in labs. In fact, it is cheaper to create in labs. According to the latest reports, it is cheaper to manufacture diamonds in the labs. Some companies have even promised that they wouldn’t mine for diamonds anymore. Instead, they will create diamonds in labs only. And because diamonds are made of carbon, the Carbon Dioxide in the air can be captured, and it can be used to create diamonds in labs.

There will be two advantages of it. Killing two birds with one stone. First, mining wouldn’t be done. Forests wouldn’t have to be cut down. Diamond mines are anyway very harmful to the environment. And the second advantage will be that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is adding to global warming.

If we start capturing carbon dioxide and making diamonds from it, it can reduce the levels of carbon dioxide as well. You’d of course find this idea laudable in theory, but may still be unsure about putting it into action. I’m not making this up. This is a technology that has been already successfully implemented.

Some companies have already started to do it. Making diamonds out of the captured diamond. So at the end of this article, this will be our suggestion to the Aditya Birla Group, Please, consider this alternative. Give up on mining for diamonds. There will be tremendous damage due to it. Not only will the forests be but down but the water, tiger reserves, and the tribal people will also be adversely affected.

Why do you need to risk doing all these? Adopt this new technique. Implement these solutions. We hope you found this article informative.

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