There is a huge landmass covered with forest in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh near Panna that is called Buxwaha Forest. During the year 2014, in the summertime, this Buxwaha Forest caught fire and started burning. However, there are large suspicions over the fact that the forest fire might have been an intentional one. Since then there are several doubts and questions regarding it owing to the reason that there is a strong context behind this Buxwaha Forest fire as well as the fires in Panna and Chhatarpur forests.
— SAVE BUXWAHA FOREST (@SaveBuxwaha) May 27, 2021
A public hearing had taken place during 2014 February in the Kasera village of Chhatarpur district. This hearing was conducted amongst the Policy of Environmental Assessment, Rio Tinto which is a mining company based in Australia, the Pollution Control Board, the villagers, and the local administration of the district. In addition, the District Collector during that time was also present in the public hearing.
The hearing was conducted because of the forthcoming project of Bunder Diamond. However, this project is likely to cause enormous damage to the Buxwaha Forest as well as destroy the environmental balance. The tribal people in that region will face a livelihood crisis. This is why the people of that region have joined hands in protesting and demanding to Save Buxwaha Forest.
People Protest Against Buxwaha Forest Destruction
Administrative officials from Rio Tinto company tried hard to convince the local residents. The officials from the mining company also promised them that Buxwaha Forest Diamond Mine Project will be giving employment to over 400 people.
Image Credits Manoj Namdev
Despite all efforts, this project had been vehemently opposed during that time mainly because of environmental impact, eviction of the tribal communities, and the disruption of livelihoods. Buxwaha Forest is known to provide a livelihood to 5,000 people with the help of natural resources. Due to all these reasons, the project slowed down.
However, this Diamond Mine Project soon gained renewed momentum in 2019 after the report of environmental assessment had been changed inaccurately. The government of Madhya Pradesh released a tender for auctioning Buxwaha Forest in 2019 and Rio Tinto made their application.
Meanwhile Essel Mining & Industries Limited of Aditya Birla Group won this tender leaving behind Rio Tinto. As a result, the MP government leased an enormous 62.64 hectares of this invaluable diamond region to Birla Group for the next 50 years. This triggered the destruction of human rights and the environment to extract treasure.
The land in Buxwaha Forest is going to be mined deep or excavated to obtain diamonds. According to the census from the forest department, Buxwaha Forest has trees estimated at 2,15,875. These include Teak, Behda, Ken, Arjuna, Tendu, Banyan, Jamun, and many medicinal trees that will be chopped off.
Large amounts of diamonds were found in Buxwaha Forest and the treasured natural resources are being eradicated to obtain the diamonds. The organizations have already destroyed almost 382 hectares of forestland.
Image Credits Manoj Namdev
The social media campaign has raised a storm over this issue. Twitter has also started a campaign under the hashtag #SaveBuxwaha from 15th May. A young resident protested using surprising means by carrying a tank of oxygen and wearing a mask. This gesture indicated that humans need trees for oxygen and other essential purposes more than diamonds.
This Buxwaha Forest Project is absolutely appalling and will completely unroot tribal people residing in the region for over 100 years. These communities have protected the natural resources for generations and cultivated the woodlands with the help of ancient and traditional knowledge.
Sign the Petition to save your say and make a difference: https://www.change.org/p/aditya-birla-group-save-buxwaha-forest-government-is-cutting-down-2-15-lakhs-trees-for-digging-diamonds