India has a tough choice to make. Will it be a Rs20,520 crore ($3 billion) diamond mining project or one of the world’s most beautiful wild beasts and nearly 1,000 hectares of pristine forest with other exotic flora and fauna?
For close to a decade, this question has riled decision-makers in the country as they have weighed the pros and cons of letting Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies, look for diamonds under the Chhatarpur forests in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Now, India’s forest advisory committee—a statutory body in charge of environmental clearance—is deliberating the proposal to award the final clearance. Once the committee gives its final say, the environment ministry seldom rejects those recommendations.
Rio Tinto’s proposed project will be located in Madhya Pradesh’s Bunder region and will be spread over 971 hectares of forest land.
Activists say the project could destroy a tiger corridor—a stretch through which the big cat moves from one forest to another—that falls in the area, besides felling some 492,000 trees and displacing many native tribal communities and animal species.
Only the Narendra Modi government can stop that.
“The project is still under consideration and is being studied,” S S Negi the director general of forests and head of the forest advisory committee, told Quartz over phone.
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