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 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 support PDF and not in form of Image PDF," the bench said.
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 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 has been making rounds on social media as people from across the country have been raising objections to the project.
Essel Minning & 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.