Centre puts tigers before diamonds, says no to Rs 2,200 Cr mining project

The proposed area falls in the Tiger Corridor between Panna Tiger Reserve and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Published: 28th July 2016 10:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st July 2016 09:23 PM   |  A+A-

2016-04-28T114943Z_1_LYNXNPEC3R0TR_RTROPTP_3_INDIA-DIAMONDS

An employee sifts diamonds at a diamond cutting and polishing factory in Surat in Gujarat. REUTERS

  • An environment ministry panel has deferred forest clearance to the Rs 2200 crore project saying it would lead to permanent loss of the high quality forest areas.
  • The project has been pending for forest clearance since 2014.
  • Rio Tinto said that nearly half a million trees would have to be cut down to make way for the diamond mine.

NEW DELHI: Raising concerns about possible damage to the tiger landscape by mining giant Rio Tinto’s Rs 2200 crore diamond mining project in Madhya Pradesh, an environment ministry panel has deferred forest clearance for the project, saying it would lead to permanent loss of high-quality forest area.

The project has been awaiting forest clearance since 2014. It was discussed in the Forest Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests on July 12 and it was decided to put it on hold. The proposed area falls in the Tiger Corridor between the Panna Tiger Reserve and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary.  

It was deferred in a March 2016 meeting also as it was falling in a dense forest area. It requires clearing of 971 hectares of forest area in Chhatarpur region of Madhya Pradesh.    

“As per NTCA report, the project can potentially disrupt the landscape character vis a vis tiger dispersal around the Panna landscape. As such this may be taken only when the Ken-Betwa (river) interlink is finalised as well as a detailed study is done to assess other alternatives,” observed the committee.

Asking the company to explore the possibility of underground mining, the advisory committee further said that the revised proposal submitted by the company is highly dependent on surface extraction which would entail greater extent of forest land use leading to permanent loss of the high quality forest areas.

Rio Tinto said that there are diamonds worth Rs 20,520 crore in Bunder and nearly half a million trees would have to be cut down to make way for the diamond mine. An agreement was signed in 2010 between the Madhya Pradesh government and Rio Tinto Exploration India Pvt. Ltd (RTEIPL) for diamond mining.

As per the agreement, the company is expected to evaluate, develop, construct, finance, operate and manage integrated diamond mining and processing operation at Bunder diamond deposit and carry out all related operations, infrastructure and facilities required to support and implement the operations.

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