Bhopal: After the previous Madhya Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party Government had failed to parcel out prime forest land in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, which is a Protected Area, to the diamond giant Rio Tinto, mainly due to technical objections raised by senior journalist Lalit Shastri, earlier through the columns of The Asian Age and then through exclusive reports published by Newsroom24x7, the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, presided by Chief Minister Kamal Nath, has decided to auction 364 hectare of forest land in Chhatarpur for diamond mining.
The forest area in Chhatarpur, according to the State Government, has an estimated diamond mineral storage of about 34.20 million carats. Its estimated storage value is Rs 60, 000 crores. This is based on the selling price published by IBM.
Two new conditions have been added in the interest of Madhya Pradesh for auctioning the Chhatarpur area for diamond mining. This includes the first auction in Madhya Pradesh and after the first auction the patta or lease holder will be entitled to export and sell it to any body. The Mining Department has been authorized to start the auction process and obtain necessary permissions from the central government.
(In the map, coordinate C stands for Sagar; A-D is the proposed Rio Tinto diamond mining area and coordinate B is the core of Panna Tiger Reserve. Mark the water channels that criss-cross this area and the land, stretching over a distance of about 60 kms (as the crow flies) between the proposed mining site and one end of Panna Tiger Reserve, is a perfect watershed).
Rio Tinto Bunder project background:
Rio Tinto had submitted the application for prior environmantal clearance and obtaining TOR for Bunder Diamond Mine (a mechanized opencast mine) in a lease area of 954 hectare in Bakswaha Tehsil of Chhatarpur district on April 4, 2012. In its application, the company said: “Whole area, a protected forest land, will be utilized for Mining and related operations, including opencast pit, dumps, reservoir and essential surface infrastructure.” It further said that a reservoir would be constructed outside lease area in forest land for water supply. Existing vegetation would be cleared over most of the area and two local nallas (natural water channels) flowing over mineralised zone would have to be diverted. The diversion will be carried out by impounding it to create water reservoirs for supplying a part of water to project, including the beneficiation plant.
Rio Tinto Exploration India Private Limited had a reconnaissance Permit over an area of 10,000 sq. kms. followed by two prospecting licenses over 45 sq. kms. The proposed lease stretching over 954 hectare was selected from the two prospecting lincences. Madhya Pradesh government had already issued the letter of intent for mining lease.
Check the following for the aborted Rio Tinto move to exploit the Chhatarpur forest area for diamond mining purpose:
- Diamond giant Rio Tinto’s Indian connection and questions that need to be addressed
- Take Action: Rio Tinto and the Bunder Diamond Mine
- Rio Tinto’s Exit from India: Did Tigers Trump Diamonds?
- Storm over diamond mining in Panna belt
- MP may allow diamond mining near Panna reserve
- Please stop Rio Tinto from devastating an eco-fragile zone through commercial mining of diamonds in Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh in central India