The erstwhile kingdom of Panna that was once under the ruling of Maharaja Chhatarsal Bundela of the Bundelkhand region, has been etched in the history of India for its sparkling past. Famous for its diamond mines and rich biodiversity, it is also home to the famous Panna Tiger Reserve. Diamond mines in Panna are managed by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC Ltd) and in some cases, mining land is leased to prospective miners every year by the government organization. The diamonds excavated by this process are all collected by the Diamond Office of Panna and are auctioned later. The miners or labourers in such cases are paid for the diamond-find after deducting government taxes.
Finding Rs 40 lakh worth diamond
Recently, a laborer and his three partners who were working in a leased diamond mine for nearly 15 years in the hope of hitting jackpot, actually did so, as they found a diamond weighing 8.22 carat. According to local reports, the diamond may get sold for about 40 lakhs and as per officials, the proceeds from the auction would be given to the respective miners after the deduction of government royalty and taxes which is estimated to be 11.5 percent.
After depositing the precious stone at the government office, Raghuvir Prajapati told the media that they had spent the last 15 years quarrying in various mines in their quest to find diamonds, but fortune smiled on them for the first time on Monday, reported LiveMint.
Finding diamonds - not so rare
However, this isn't the first time that locals have been blessed with a fortune such as this one, albeit through all the hard work done. According to reports, last month, a farmer mined high-quality diamond for the sixth time in two years, from leased land, another labourer had dug out a 14.09-carat diamond which went unsold. In December 2020, similar news surfaced in the media, of a 45-year-old farmer whose 14.98-carat diamond fetched Rs 60 lakhs during the auction.
The dark side
While the bright side of this glittery adventure sounds promising, stories of misfortune rarely make it to the public eye.
"I was 20 years old when I started exploring the local mines for diamonds. I continued to search for diamonds for the next 50 years. I even sold off four acres (1.6 hectares) of agricultural land to fund my adventure," 70-year-old Khelayin Sahu was quoted in a report by Gaon Connection published last month.
He furthered, "I have spent my entire life looking for diamonds and all I have found is small deposits of industrial-grade diamonds that were sold between Rs 100 and Rs 1,300. That's all I have earned out of diamond mining in Panna."
Next week, on September 21, the diamond office is likely to auction 139 precious stones, weighing 156.46 carats which have been found by small-scale miners