MAC/20: Mines and Communities

India: Tribunal halts tree cutting in Madhya Pradesh's Buxwaha amid protests

Published by MAC on 2021-07-05
Source: Tribune India, The Logical Indian, News18.com

Rio in Bunderland – diamonds or dust?

The National Green Tribunal central zone bench Bhopal stayed felling of trees in Buxwaha project until further orders. The environment watchdog instructed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) to make  sure that no tree is felled. It also instructed the formation of an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act. Environment experts are apprehensive that the destruction of the forest could worsen the water availability in the parched Bundelkhand region, while the area has been leased out to private miners for 50 years. 

Previous on MAC:

2021-06-04 India: Resistance to Buxwaha Diamond building up in Madhya Pradesh

2013-12-10 Uma questions diamond mining by Rio Tinto in Bundelkhand

Rio in Bunderland –  diamonds or dust?report by Nostromo Research, April 2013

NGT Stays Felling of Trees in MP's Buxwaha Forest Amid Public Uproar

A public awareness campaign is proposed in Chhatarpur from July 24 to 26 which comprises inspection of the forest, meetings with villagers, handing a memorandum to the district administration and public representatives.

Vivek Trivedi

https://www.news18.com/news/india/ngt-stays-felling-of-trees-in-mps-buxwaha-forest-amid-public-uproar-3916556.html

July 02, 2021

The National Green Tribunal central zone bench Bhopal on Thursday stayed felling of trees in Buxwaha project until further orders.

The lush green forest has plunged into a mega diamond mining project and according to government estimates, close to 2.15 lakh trees are to be cut down in the forest while the environment experts and activists claim that the number is much larger.

The environment watchdog in its order instructed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) for making sure that no tree is felled. And it also instructed the formation of an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act.

The tribunal has issued notices to the Centre, state government, forest government and the private mining company for furnishing a reply within four weeks time. And also ordered the petitioners to hand over all the relevant documents and copies of the petition to the respondents. The matter has been posted for hearing on August 27.

Nagrik Upbhokta Manch a volunteer organisation from Jabalpur led by PG Najpande, Guna-based resident, Dr. Pushprag and Ujjawal Sharma had moved to NGT in separate petitions over felling of trees in Buxwaha forest. The petitioners had also challenged the approval assigned for the diamond project in the forest area.

Claiming recovery of prehistoric rock paintings in the forest area, the petitioners on June 21 had urged the tribunal to direct the Archaeological Survey of India to submit a report in the matter.

The counsels of the miner company claimed that the matter is already pending with the high court and the Supreme Court and two petitions are now pending with the NGT and alleged that the private company is being harassed unnecessarily.

The NGT was told that there is no wildlife sanctuary or reserve forest area within ten kilometre periphery of the forest area and no protected wild animals are present in the region. An estimated 3.80 lakh trees will be planted in the area as against 2.15 lakh trees which will be felled, the NGT was told by respondents.

After completing the hearing on June 30, the NGT bench had reserved the order and delivered it on Thursday.

Advocate Pushprag on the decision said that the NGT has served notices to all the respondents and also directed the forest dept that not a single tree should be cut down unless all the clearances are secured which is a major success for environment lovers.

According to initial estimates, scores of varieties of trees including herbal plants will be cut down in a 382-hectare area for the diamond mining project and 8,000 dwellers of nearby 20 villages will be impacted. The region is estimated to have 3.42 cr carrot diamonds and the area has been leased out to private miners for 50 years.

Environment experts are apprehensive that the destruction of the forest could worsen the water availability in the parched Bundelkhand region.

Besides natives of Chhatrapur, locals of Sagar, Damoh, Panna, and others have raised voices against the destruction of this forest. Volunteer Anand Patel claimed that 140 big and small organisations have pledged support for the ‘Save Buxwaha campaign’. A national coordination committee has been formed with participation from volunteers from states like MP, Punjab, Rajasthan, and many others, said Patel.

A public awareness campaign is proposed in Chhatarpur from July 24 to 26 which comprises inspection of the forest, meetings with villagers, handing a memorandum to the district administration and public representatives. The volunteers are persisting with a campaign on and off social media in the last couple of months.

Kids from India, Bhutan, US, Nigeria, UK, and others have extended support to the campaign on social media.

Convener of Buxwaha Jungle Bachao campaign, Sharad Singh Kumre said that recently during the Harit Satyagrah protest in Chhatarpur, villagers including people of all age groups pledged to save the forest. If the government has closed down all routes of dialogue, we have started conversation with the public, said Kumre.
 
PIL filed with SC

An environment lover Neha Singh had in May this year moved a Public Interest Litigation with the Supreme Court of India against the felling of trees in Buxwaha seeking a stay on the proposed diamond project. The plea had urged the apex court for stopping the destruction of natural resources of the country in the name of development. Permitting deforestation has violated environmental laws and people’s rights, said the plea.

‘Those opposing diamond project are communists’

Speaking to a regional newspaper recently, the BJP state head VD Sharma had alleged that those opposing the diamond project were of communist ideology and always hindered the nation’s growth. He had affirmed that the state government functions within the limits of the law. The project will bring large-scale employment, said Sharma.



NGT Halts Tree Cutting In Madhya Pradesh's Buxwaha Amid Protests

#SaveBuxwaha has been making rounds on social media for the past several weeks, as people from across the country have been raising objections to the diamond mine project that would result in the felling of over 2 lakh trees.

Nishit Navin

The Logical Indian https://thelogicalindian.com/environment/savebuxwaha-diamond-mining-deforestation-forests-29306

2 July 2021

The National Green Tribunal's Bhopal bench has stayed the felling of trees in Buxwaha for diamond mining. Through an interim order released on Thursday, July 1, the Tribunal told the Madhya Pradesh government not to cut even a single tree without clearance from the forest department.

The bench consisted of judicial member Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and expert member Kumar Verma. The environment watchdog also ordered the applicants of the case to provide the respondents—the Centre, state government, forest government, and the private mining firm a copy of the plea and relevant documents.

"The applicant is directed to provide the copy of the application and relevant document to the respondents. The respondents may file their reply, affidavit within four weeks by email preferably in the form of Image PDF, OCR s

As per News18, the bench has also directed the formation of an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act. Meanwhile, the case has been posted for hearing on August 27.

The Order
 
The bench instructed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) of Madhya Pradesh to ensure that no trees were felled in connection with the project. It had received two petitions, one from a resident of Bhopal and the other from a lawyer, opposing the mining of diamonds in Buxwaha, NDTV reported.

The petition claimed that over two lakh trees would be cut down due to the project, drastically affecting the Tribal communities in the region and adversely impacting biodiversity.

"Learned counsel appearing for the applicant argued that if the project in question of open mining of diamond by way of cutting the lakhs of trees and deforestation is continued, it may adversely affect and cause deforestation, elimination of about 4 lakh trees, and thousands of tribal living in this forest will be pushed into poverty," the Tribunal said.

#SaveBuxwaha Campaign

#SaveBuxwaha has been making rounds on social media as people from across the country have been raising objections to the project. Essel Mining & Industries Limited plans to develop a fully mechanised opencast mine and set up a state-of-the-art processing plant for recovering diamonds with an investment of about ₹2500 crore. Once completed, it will be one of the largest diamond mines in Asia.

The project is witnessing opposition from environmentalists and people alike for the lives of tribals in the area. Around 7000 villagers live in the region who solely depend on forest products for their livelihood. Besides, the water requirement of the project is around 5.9 million cubic meters per day. Buxwaha already falls in drought-prone areas of Bundelkhand, with several reports of water scarcity in the past.



Children raise voice against MP govt to save Buxwaha forests

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/schools/children-raise-voice-against-mp-govt-to-save-buxwaha-forests-258810

May 26, 2021

Children in Madhya Pradesh have come forward to raise their voice against the proposal by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to handover the forests of Buxwaha located in Chhatarpur district of Bundelkhand to a private company for mining diamonds.

Children have not only pointed out the impact of cutting down forests to the state government but have appealed to it not to cut them.

In the past Bundelkhand was vastly rich in terms of water and forests. Unfortunately, the area is no longer covered with greenery and has scarcity of water sources. This exploitation of the environment continues and now the last green cover left is being slowly plundered.

The Buxwaha forests have been given on lease for diamond excavation but protests have also started growing against it. This is probably the first time in Bundelkhand when public awareness to protect the environment is taking centre stage because the Covid-19 pandemic has made the people realise the importance of oxygen.

Oxygen is considered to be essential for the survival of Covid-infected patients which is emitted by trees.

To protect the forests of Buxwaha, people are raising their voices not only in Bundelkhand but in many parts of the country. The children which are the future of the country are also not far behind.

Several videos of children have gone viral on social media where they are trying to tell the government about the significance of trees for the people. Children have penned poems to save the Buxwaha forests and urged the government with folded hands to reconsider cutting down trees through these videos.

People of all classes and age groups have joined the campaign to save the Buxwaha forests and are trying to give the message that they will not allow forests to be cut.

On the one hand, the forest is an important part of the environment and on the other hand, it is also a means of livelihood for thousands of families living in villages in the Buxwaha area besides being the habitat of wildlife. There are rich water sources and these forests are revered in Indian culture so everyone is coming forward in the campaign to save the forests.

There is a huge stock of diamonds in the forests of Buxwaha with nearly 34.4 million carat diamonds believed to be buried here estimated to be worth several thousand crores of rupees. The private company which has shown keen interest in taking up diamond mining has demanded nearly 382 hectare of land in the area. If this happens then 2.5 lakh trees in this area will be cut down.
 
 
 
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