NAPM strongly opposes the destruction of Buxwaha protected forest region in Madhya Pradesh,  for proposed Bunder diamond mining project. Government must immediately withdraw all projects which threaten the ecological and socio-cultural significance of Buxwaha

Bunder Diamond Mining

5th July, 2021: NAPM condemns the decision of the Government of Madhya Pradesh to carry out the proposed Bunder diamond block in the Buxwaha protected forests of Chhatarpur. The project, spearheaded by Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining and Industries Ltd. (EMIL), will lead to irrevocable destruction of dense forest land, including over 2 lakh trees. We convey our full solidarity with the struggle of the local communities and citizens campaigns to save Buxwaha forest and call upon the Govt of MP to scrap the diamond block project with immediate effect. 

EMIL is currently in the process of obtaining regulatory clearances for a fully-mechanized open-cast mine and processing plant for diamonds on 364 hectares of protected forest land near Sagoria village. The project is expected to begin in 2022 and the company claims that it has the potential to be the biggest diamond mining plant in Asia.

However, the mine will have devastating social and environmental effects on the Buxwaha protected forests and surrounding region. It will lead to the cutting of at least 2.15 lakh trees, severely threatening the region’s rich biodiversity and the local Adivasi communities. The project threatens critical wildlife habitats, including those of at least seven species listed in Schedule I of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. It will also adversely impact the tiger corridor between the Panna National Park and the nearby Nauradehi forests of Bundelkhand. 

Moreover, Bundelkhand is drought prone and the water situation in the Buxwaha region itself has been declared as ‘semi-critical’. The large water requirement for the mining project (1.6 crore litres per day) will lead to diversion of vital seasonal water sources found in the forests. Mining to depths of more than 1,100 feet will also severely deplete the already low groundwater levels.

Instead of fulfilling their responsibility to protect forests and support local communities, government officials are going out of their way to facilitate the project. Reports by Chhatarpur’s District Forest Officer (DFO) and Chief Forest Conservator (CFC) assert that no wildlife species of specific importance or belonging to endangered categories are found in the region. They also make the blatantly false claim that Adivasi communities are ‘not dependent’ on the area. However, at least 8,000 residents from more than 20 nearby villages rely heavily on these forests for their livelihoods and food security. Such attempts by the government to sacrifice natural resources and local communities for private profit are highly condemnable.

The experience from the Sardar Sarovar dam and other dam projects in the Narmada Valley also shows that the MP government cannot be relied on to carry out proper ‘compensatory afforestation’ programs to compensate for the proposed destruction of Buxwaha forests. In many compensatory afforestation areas of the Narmada Valley, no tree plantation was ever carried out, or the trees have already died and the land is now degraded. It is also important to recognize that no compensatory afforestation can replace the old, dense forests and rich biodiversity of Buxwaha.

The project has already seen severe opposition from affected communities and activists. Groups like Buxwaha Jungle Bachao Abhiyaan and Paryawaran Bachao Abhiyaan have come together as part of the struggle to save Buxwaha from corporate intrusion. In keeping with recent trends where a lot of young people are expressing solidarity with environmental issues across the country, #SaveBuxwaha Campaign has also been highlighted through social media. Despite officials trying to prevent ongoing peaceful forms of local protest like Harit Satyagrahas, the people of the region are determined to save the forest.

The latest order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to temporarily stay felling of trees and set up an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act is a welcome step which brings some immediate relief. However, concrete government actions are needed to ensure the project is fully withdrawn. 

Madhya Pradesh, a state with rich biodiversity is also recklessly pushing ahead many other environmentally destructive projects like the Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project, Bundelkhand Expressway and other proposed projects in the Bundelkand region, which will cause irreparable damage to local communities and ecosystems.  All these projects violate existing legal provisions and their socio-ecological costs need to be critically reviewed.

National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns the Govt of MP’s prioritizing of profit over the lives, livelihoods and culture of Adivasi people, and at the cost of irreparable destruction of the environment, in blatant disregard of existing legislation. We stand in solidarity with the people’s protests against the proposed Bunder diamond mine and destruction of Buxwaha forests. We demand that:

  1. Existing sanctions for development of the Bunder diamond block should be immediately revoked.
  2. An urgent social and environmental impact assessment of the area should be conducted, which accurately recognizes the Adivasi communities’ dependence on the area for their livelihood and food security, and records the true extent of the loss of biodiversity and wildlife due to the project.
  3. Govt of MP must not allow diversion of forest land without full recognition and settlement of forest rights under FRA, 2006. Outstanding Community Forest Rights of affected villages over Buxwaha forests under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 should be recognized with immediate effect. 
  4. The Government of Madhya Pradesh should stop inviting fresh bids for mining in protected forest areas and offer unconditional protection to Buxwaha Protected Forest and Panna National Forest regions from similar projects in the future.

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti; Rajkumar Sinha, Chutka Parmaanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, Amula Nidhi, NAPM, Madhya Pradesh;

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information; Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kailash Meena NAPM Rajasthan;

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Manorama, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti; Lingaraj Pradhan, Satya Banchor, Anant, Kalyan Anand, Arun Jena, Trilochan Punji, Lakshimipriya Mohanty and Balakrishna Sand, Manas Patnaik, NAPM Odisha;

Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party of India); Richa Singh & Rambeti (Sangatin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan, Sitapur); Rajeev Yadav & Masihuddin bhai (Rihai Manch, Lucknow & Azamgadh); Arundhati Dhuru & Zainab Khatun (Mahila Yuva Adhikar Manch, Lucknow), Suresh Rathaur (MNREGA Mazdoor Union, Varanasi);  Arvind Murti & Altamas Ansari (Inquilabi Kamgaar Union, Mau), Jagriti Rahi (Vision Sansthan, Varanasi); Satish Singh (Sarvodayi Vikas Samiti, Varanasi); Nakul Singh Sawney (Chal Chitra Abhiyan, Muzaffarnagar); NAPM Uttar Pradesh

P Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU, Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM, Chakri (Samalochana), Balu GadiBapji Juvvala, NAPM Andhra Pradesh;

Jeevan Kumar & Syed Bilal (Human Rights Forum), P. Shankar (Dalit Bahujan Front), Vissa Kiran Kumar & Kondal (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Ravi Kanneganti (Rythu JAC), Ashalatha (MAKAAM), Krishna (Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika-TVV), M. Venkatayya (Telangana Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union-TVVU), Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana;

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union; Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere, NAPM, Nalini Gowda, KRRS, Nawaz, Dwiji Guru, Nalini, Madhu Bhushan and Mamatha Yajaman, Susheela, Shashank, NAPM Karnataka

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai; Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation;  Suthanthiran, Lenin, Inamul Hasan, Arul Doss,  Vikash NAPM Tamilnadu;

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan, Prof. Kusumam Joseph, Sharath Cheloor, Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, Majeendran, Magline, NAPM, Kerala;

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti; Basant Hetamsaria, Aloka Kujur, Dr. Leo A. Singh, Afzal Anish, Sushma Biruli, Durga Nayak, Jipal Murmu, Priti Ranjan Dash, Ashok Verma, NAPM Jharkhand;

Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai, Krishnakant, Parth, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti; Nita Mahadev, Mudita, Lok Samiti; Dev Desai, Mujahid Nafees, Ramesh Tadvi and Bharat Jambucha, NAPM Gujarat;

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan; Jabar Singh, Uma, NAPM, Uttarakhand;

Manshi Asher and Himshi Singh, Himdhara, NAPM Himachal Pradesh

Eric Pinto, Abhijeet, Tania Devaiah, Caroline, Diana Tavers, Emil, Francesca, NAPM Goa

Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha; Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Alok Shukla, Shalini Gera, NAPM Chhattisgarh;

Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, Binayak Sen, Sujato Bhadro, Pradip Chatterjee, Pasarul Alam, Amitava Mitra, Tapas Das, Tahomina Mandal, Pabitra Mandal, Kazi Md. Sherif, Biswajit Basak, Ayesha Khatun, Rupak Mukherjee, Milan Das, Asit Roy, Mita Bhatta, Yasin, Matiur Rahman, Baiwajit Basa, NAPM West Bengal;

Suniti SR, Sanjay M G, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Mukta Srivastava, Yuvraj Gatkal, Geetanjali ChavanBilal Khan, Jameela, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan; Chetan Salve, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Pervin Jehangir, NAPM Maharashtra;

J S Walia, NAPM Haryana;  Guruwant Singh, Narbinder Singh, NAPM Punjab;

Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan; Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch;  NAPM Bihar; Sr. Dorothy.

Rajendra Ravi, NAPM; Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini; Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri, Satark Nagrik Sangathan;  Sanjeev Kumar, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch; Anita Kapoor, Delhi Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union; Sunita Rani, National Domestic Workers Union; Nanhu Prasad, National Cyclist Union; Madhuresh Kumar, Priya Pillai, Aryaman Jain, Divyansh Khurana, Evita Das; Anil TV, Delhi Solidarity Group, MJ Vijayan (PIPFPD)      

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