On Thursday, July 1, the National Green Tribunal central zone bench, Bhopal issued an interim order to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) to ensure no trees are felled in the Buxwaha forest area for Essel's diamond mining project until cleared by the forest department and further investigation into the matter.

NGT has also asked for the formation of an expert panel under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act and issued notices to all parties involved to respond within four weeks' time. The matter has been posted for hearing on August 27.

The Buxwaha diamond project demands the felling of over two lakh trees in the region
The Buxwaha diamond project demands the felling of over two lakh trees in the region                             Fridays for Future

In the last few months, Dr. P. G. Najpande of Nagrik Upbhokta Margadarshak Manch, an environmental awareness volunteer organization from Jabalpur, Dr. Pushprag from Guna district, and Ujjawal Sharma had moved the Green Tribunal in separate petitions over felling of trees in the Buxwaha forest. The petitioners had also challenged the approval assigned for the diamond project in the forest area.

Collector calls social media campaign misleading

On July 2, Chhatarpur district collector Sheelendra Singh took to his Twitter account to share that the social media campaign against the Buxwaha diamond project is deceptive and pleaded the citizens to not believe misleading information.

He stated that the trees will not be cut at once but over a period of 12-15 years as per need. He argued that the project is not likely to displace any residents and disturb the environmental balance as nearly 3.4 lakh saplings are going to be planted by the company for which an amount of Rs. 16 crore has been deposited. He added that the company has also assured an additional contribution of Rs. 200 crore for promoting reforestation efforts in various other regions.

Save Buxwaha campaign gains momentum

However, the collector's stand and remarks were criticized by the youth who are the voice of the save Buxwaha movement. Some of them responded by stating that such orders are 'mostly on paper' and how will the government ensure that the same native tree saplings that are felled will be planted and taken care of until grown well.

Shaunak Chakraborty, founder of Fridays for Future that promotes environmental awareness shared on Friday, "We human beings are becoming selfish day by day, but we shouldn't forget that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. #SaveBuxwahaForest"