Diamond Mining Project in MP's Buxwaha Violates Environmental Laws, Threatens Forests, Biodiversity

Reported by

Rishabh Shrivastava

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Moushumi Sharma

Updated by

Published on

March 13, 2022

March 13, 2022

Updated on

March 13, 2022

Location of Conflict

Buxwaha

Sagoria Village

Chhatarpur

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Diamond mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

8000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

382

ha

Starting Year

2019

State

Madhya Pradesh

Sector

Mining

A new diamond mining project in the forests of Buxwaha have come under the radar of activists and environmentalists. The state government, in December 2019, awarded a mining lease for the Bunder Diamond Block to Essel Mining & Industries Limited, an Aditya Birla Group company. The Bunder block is spread over 364 hectares of forest area in Sogoriya village in Buxwaha tehsil. The block is estimated to have 34 million carats of rough diamonds (diamonds occuring naturally inside the earth). The district administration has diverted 382 hectares of forestland for the project. 

Two petitions filed in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by P.G. Najpande and Ujjwal Sharma claimed that the project will cause deforestation by cutting four lakh trees and will exacerbate the water crisis in the Bundelkhand region. The petition also noted that the government cleared the project in violation of several environmental laws. Accepting the arguments put forward by the petitioner, the NGT bench imposed an interim stay on the project in July 2021. The bench also noted several legal anomalies, including violation of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, failure to get permission for groundwater extraction, lack of a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and the absence of a working plan for the conservation of wildlife. 

Talking to LCW, Rambabu Tiwari, a local student activist working on water issues in Bundelkhand and part of the Save Buxwaha campaign, said, “The company has succeeded in brainwashing the village people. They are supporting the project because the company has promised them employment, flats, roads and airports at the costs of unsustainable development and indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources like forests and water.” Expressing concern about the fate of forests in Buxwaha, Tiwari added that the campaign was losing momentum as the company was more powerful and had more resources at its disposal. “They have the support of the government, but this project is harmful for the region,” he said.

Save Buxwaha is an online/community mobilisation campaign aimed at spreading awareness about the problem of bauxite mining in the region and garnering support for the cause.

Buxwaha had witnessed similar protests earlier in 2016 when a mining lease was granted to Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The company made an unexpected exit in 2017, handing over the project to the state. Stiff resistance and environmental concerns are speculated as reasons behind the company’s exit.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Complaint against procedural violations

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2500

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2019

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [No state government can pass orders de-reserving a reserved forest without prior approval of the Union government or allowing forestland to be used for non-forest purpose); Section 3 [Union government to create advisory committee to grant approval under Section 2]
Central Ground Water Authority Guidelines for issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for ground water withdrawal
Section 3.1.2 [Conditions stipulated for NOC for groundwater withdrawal for mining projects. NOC not to be granted for extraction of groundwater for construction activities in critical/over exploited areas]
In re: T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India and Ors. (WP (C) No. 202 of 1995, Supreme Court)
Section 2 [Prior Environmental Clearance to be sought for certain projects]; Paragraph 1a(i), Schedule [Prior Environmental Clearance to be sought for mining of minerals]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Section 2 [Prior Environmental Clearance to be sought for certain projects]; Paragraph 1a(i), Schedule [Prior Environmental Clearance to be sought for mining of minerals]
Indian Forest Act, 1927
Section 3 [State government to declare areas as forestland]; Section 4 [State government to publish notification to declare areas as forestland in Official Gazette]; Section 26 [Activity prohibited in forestland to include clearing or breaking up of forestland for cultivation or any other purpose]
National Forest Policy, 1988
Para 4.4 [Forestland not to be treated merely as a resource for projects but as a national asset that requires protection] 
Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957
Section 4 [Prohibition on undertaking any mining operations except in accordance with the terms of the lease granted under the Act]; Section 4A(1) [Licence/Lease can be terminated for preservation of the environment]
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal (Central Zone)

Case Number

O.A. 34/2021 and 35/2021 (CZ)

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Applications were filed in the National Green Tribunal (Central Zone) to challenge the grant of mining lease over 364 hectares of forestland to Essel Mining Industries Limited. A number of anomalies were detected by the NGT in its order on June 30, 2021. These included Expert Committee and Advisory Committee not being constituted under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and a comprehensive impact assessment not being carried out. The NGT passed a lengthy order reiterating the provisions of the National Forest Policy, 1988, the Forest Conservation Act and the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The tribunal directed the respondents and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Madhya Pradesh, to strictly follow the guidelines contained in Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act as well as the guidelines issued in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs. Union of India (1997) 2 SCC 267. The matter is slated to be listed next on March 21, 2022.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Public campaign

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Media-based activism/alternative media

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest department, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

LCW reached out to Krishan Sinha, general manager, Essel Mining & Industries Limited, via phone and email but did not get any response.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Essel Mining & Industries Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

LCW reached out to Krishan Sinha, general manager, Essel Mining & Industries Limited, via phone and email but did not get any response.

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

National Alliance of People's Movement, Save Buxwaha Movement

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
New clipping highlighting the cutting down of 3,311 trees

New clipping highlighting the cutting down of 3,311 trees

Image Credit:  

Chhatarpur Bhaskar

New clipping highlighting the cutting down of 3,311 trees

News report on the contribution of women and children in the Save Buxwaha movement

Image Credit:  

Patrika

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Join Now