Written by Ananya Chakraborti , a grade 9 student.
First, where is Buxwaha Forest?
Buxwaha forest is in the Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, about 260 kms northeast of the state capital of Bhopal. There are 17 tribal villages in the territory that depend solely on forest products. The total population of this region is around 10,000 according to the 2011 census.
Why is everyone saying – “Save Buxwaha Forest”
It’s because more than 215,000 trees are at risk of being cut down for a diamond mine. Not only will more than 7,000 tribal people lose their livelihoods, but even the drought-prone area will become worse. Also, the diamond mining project that’s going to be carried out is a very water-intensive project.
Who is carrying out this project and why?
This story started in January 2004, when a company called Rio Tinto discovered that there are large diamond deposits underneath this area. They wanted to get to these deposits and started a project to do this – it was called the Bundar Mining Project.
In October 2010 the company signed a State Support Agreement with the government of Madhya Pradesh in which it was decided that the government would get 10% as mining royalty (money from the profits). It has been estimated that 27.5 million carats of diamonds are underneath this area.
What happened then?
An environmental activist named Shehla Masood took it upon herself to stop this. However, she was killed in August 2011. In March 2016 a Forest Advisory Committee declared that this area comes under an Inviolate category – meaning that it could not be touched. A similar report was released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
After this committee report, the government finally rejected the mining permission. Rio Tinto tried many times to carry out this project but always failed finally in August 2016 they gave up.
What’s happening now?
In 2019 the Congress government decided to revive this project. An auction was held to grant the rights to the project, and the Aditya Birla group won the auction.
The profit from this project is said to be around 550 billion Rupees. The State government is set to take 42%of the total profit. In the meanwhile,
more than 7,000 tribals will lose their livelihood and a lovely forest will be
A group of environmentalists has come together to save the Buxwaha forest.