On the one hand, a $3 billion diamond mining project, on the other, one of the world’s most beautiful wild beasts and nearly 1,000 hectares of pristine forest and other exotic flora and fauna face destruction. A decision on whether to allow Rio Tinto to explore for diamonds under the Chhatarpur forests in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been boiling for the past decade, but now could be approaching resolution with the government of India to decide its fate. India’s forest advisory committee, a statutory body in charge of environmental clearance, is considering the proposal to award the final clearance. Once the committee gives its final say, the environment ministry seldom rejects those recommendations, reports Quartz.com.
The Rio Tinto project would be located in Madhya Pradesh’s Bunder region and spread over 971 hectares of forest land. Activists say the project could destroy a tiger corridor through which they move from one forest to another—that falls in the area, in addition to destroying almost half a million trees and displacing many native tribal communities and animal species. A spokesperson for Rio Tinto said the firm is making progress on the Bunder project working through the approvals process with the government and advancing the work required to enable the mine to proceed into development. The Bunder project could yield over 34 million carats of diamonds with a value of $3 billion, according to the report, and make India one of the top 10 diamond producers in the world. The miner has invested $90 million in exploration, evaluation and pre-feasibility studies.