Diamonds are expensive but the extraction of diamonds is even more expensive. The Bunder Diamond Mining Project is estimated at 2,200 crores. But what about the cost of
- Destroying 4.92 lakh trees that is spread over 971.595 hectares of forest land
- Putting the lives of the endangered species at risk
- Destroying the habitat for the wild animals
- Destroying the various kinds of vegetation from ground flora to tall trees
- Utilization of 16050 cubic meter (1 cubic meter is 265 gallons) of water per day
- Diverting this water to support the mining which otherwise would benefit the wildlife and forest crop particularly in the long dry spell of over 4 months
- Ignoring the voices of concern and the issues of people whose lives are at stake
It’s not like the state is not sympathetic to the cause of forests and it’s fauna and flora. By law, the company is required to identify non-forest land equivalent of 971 hectares for afforestation. Based on the official sources, the land has already been identified, all of it, and there have been no issues in allocating this land. There have been no issues of encroachments nor encumbrances. Either the government is very efficient or the people are extremely cooperative.
Oh and almost forgot, the company will also be required to take up CSR activities. Phew, almost forgot about this – a sure game changer, this CSR is. I’m sure one of the CSR activities will be to start planting trees in the 971 hectares of non-forest land.
Although some officials did express concern as part of their impact assessment, based on the govt. reports, most likely the project is likely to be approved.
Now for the Project details:
Proposal for diversion: 971.595 hectares (1 hectare if the size of a football field) of forest land
- Project Name: Bunder Diamond Mining Project
- Location: Chhatarpur forest division, Madhya Pradesh
- Company: M/s Rio Tinto Exploration India Private Limited
Item-wise break-up of the land usage:
The project involves clear felling of 4.92 lakh trees
Wildlife species that inhabit the forest land:
- Monitor Lizard
- Sloth bear
The proposed area is good miscellaneous dry deciduous forest with varied species diversity what a good mixture of teak at patches. The density of crop is up to 0.6 and the age class is middle age with adequate presentation of miscellaneous species. The Chief Conservation of Forests, Chhatarpur Circle has mentioned in his inspection report that the site forms corridor between Panna National Park in the North East to Naradehi, Wildlife Sanctuary in the South West.
Compensatory afforestation has been proposed over equivalent non-forest land site for raising CA has been identified in 6 villages of Chhatarpur District involving an area of 633.0 ha and 6 villages of Sagar districts involving an area of 338.595 ha.
- 800 – Direct employment
- 1500 – Indirect employment
Gram Sabha Resolutions: Thanks to the Forest Rights Act, the local people’s consent or dissent has to be given at the Gram Sabha’s. However, in most cases, the Gram Sabha’s have been reduced to a mere formality and a resolution in favor is passed with or without the local people’s actual involvement.
The project will need 16050 cubic meter of water per day and study has shown that such massive quantity of ground water is not available from ground water sources. Therefore, it is proposed to utilize the water available in Nallah passing through lease area by regulating water flow and it’s retention at appropriate point.
Otherwise the flow of Nallah will interfere with the harvesting of ore body form the lease area. This water source will benefit the wildlife and forest crop particularly in the long dry spell of over 4 months.
While the government decision is still pending and it may go either way, question is whether we can afford the loss of habitat, loss of flora and fauna and the loss of irreversible environment destruction – or may be we are willing to accept that it’s not the diamonds that are forever, it’s the forests.