Image Source: Change.org

The Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining and Industries Limited (EMIL) has planned to cut down 2.15 lakh trees in the Buxwaha forest in the Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh to make way for the mining of diamonds.

The plan has come after the group won the tender aired by the MP government for the auction of the forest. The government has leased 62.64 hectares of treasured forest land to the Birla Group for the next fifty years.

Resistance against the plan by the local tribal population, activists, and people all around the country has gained momentum. The social media campaign that was initiated by various groups to register their opposition to this project on May 15 intensified on the occasion of World Environment Day on Saturday.

It is to be noted that the destruction of trees on such a large scale will prove to be detrimental to the fragile ecology of the area which is already drought-prone as well as destroys the livelihood alternatives for more than 5,000 local people who are dependent on the resources from the forest to fulfill their daily needs and lead to forced displacement.

More than 2 lakh trees are currently at the risk of being struck down for this project to happen. Protesters fear the loss of trees, including varieties of Teak, Ken, Behda, Banyan, Jamun, Tendu, Arjuna, and other medicinal trees.

The corporate sector has been eyeing the area for a long time now. The project had received vehement opposition from the local population back in 2014 as well. During a panchayat hearing under the Environment Assessment Policy, the locals had explained their concerns of forced eviction and environmental damage and halted the work. The Environment Assessment Policy now stands amended leaving lesser rights and legal options for those who have traditionally lived in the forests.

On April 9, Neha Singh, a social worker from Delhi has filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme court seeking a stay on the project on the grounds that it will cause incalculable damage to the Bundelkhand’s rich biodiversity apart from snatching livelihood of thousands of poor tribals who subsist on the minor forest produce.  The PIL pointed out that the project site is already a water-stressed region, the Deccan Herald reported.

Also read: Aarey forest: SC stay order on trees felling after corporation cuts 2,134 trees


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December 2023


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