If the recent recommendations of the environment impact monitoring panel are accepted, the world-famous Panna diamond mines may have only three more years to bedazzle the world.
Field director of Panna Tiger Reserve RS Murthy, who is a member of the monitoring committee, told HT that the committee met recently and came up with the recommendation that Panna diamond mine ought to be closed by June 2017.
"Our recommendation is in line with earlier apprehensions that mining activity in the tiger reserve and sanctuary will affect the wildlife, especially the population of tigers. We have informed the National Mineral Development Corporation (NDMC) about our recommendation and have sought a detailed mining closure plan from them," he said.
This is not the first time that a phase-wise closure of the mine has been suggested over a definite period.
In 2005, the MP state wildlife protection board had given mining clearance to NMDC with the condition that it should phase out its operations by 2020.
Again in 2006, the central empowered committee (CEC), appointed by the apex court, had remarked in its report on Panna mine that it was undesirable to allow mining indefinitely within protected areas and asked for a deadline for closure.
During last one decade, the Panna diamond mines have been closed thrice for want of environmental clearances and other related issues. The longest period for which it remained closed was from August 28, 2005 to June 19, 2009.
After the mine was closed in 2005, the NMDC moved the Supreme Court against the order. The SC then appointed a seven-member CEC that visited the Panna mines and surrounding areas in 2008 to take stock of the ground reality.
In September that year the Supreme Court revoked ban on diamond mine in Panna tiger reserve turning around its 2002 directive.
The court however ordered formation of a monitoring committee chaired by the chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh. The committee was mandated to be responsible for approval of the mine closure plan, prescribing and monitoring of various safeguards for mine operation and so on.
The panel comprises member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority, field director of Panna National Park and a non-official member of the National Board for Wildlife.