People throng dam site in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna looking for diamonds

Updated on Nov 01, 2022 03:16 PM IST

Officials said the land belongs to the water resources department and anybody can dig out a pit up to 2.5 feet

Shallow mines are leased out in the region. (HT PHOTO, representational)
Shallow mines are leased out in the region. (HT PHOTO, representational)
ByAnupam Pateriya

Hundreds of people, including those from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, have been digging the soil near an under-construction dam at Vishramganj in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna district after videos and messages went viral on social media claiming a contractor found diamond gravel there.

The construction of the dam over an eight-kilometre area over the Runjh river to irrigate 12,000-hectare farmland started this year. Officials said the land belongs to the water resources department and anybody can dig out a pit up to 2.5 feet.

HT in August last year reported that 77.72-carat diamond was found in Panna since January 2021, the lowest over the last five years. The resumption of mining at the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)’s mine at Majhganwa in Panna was expected to boost the diamond business. The NMDC mine was closed after 60 years as its environmental clearance ended on December 31, 2020.

There are shallow mines in the region that are leased out. The state mining department and NMDC organise auctions of diamonds in Panna.

Police said that thousands of people have come with digging equipment and created law and order problems, prompting them to act.

Sub-divisional police officer Kalyani Verkade said they have seized over 100 motorcycles in a fortnight. “Everyday police visit the area to check the law and order situation but people are not ready to give up. Now, they are coming by foot.”

Rajkumar Gond, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Banda, said he came to know a labourer found diamond worth crores. “The land is going to be submerged and we are just trying our luck before the construction of the dam.”

Hari Prasad Prajapati, who is from Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot, said they can dig up to 2.5 feet to excavate diamonds. “So we are just doing so. At other sites, people have to take permission from the mining department but here it is open to all. This is an opportunity for us.”

Ramilan Singh, a resident of Chhatarpur, said that nobody has found any diamonds but residents told them the land has precious stones in abundance. “So we are trying hard.”

Residents demanded action against outsiders. “Vishramganj is my native village. We saved nature for years but now the outsiders are exploiting it. They are uprooting trees...The administration should take action against them and make arrangements to stop them,” said Vishu Gond, a local resident.

Panna diamond officer Ravi Patel said the land has been allotted to the water resources department for the construction of the dam and they cannot take any action until a complaint is received. “We are discussing the matter with the collector. Further action will be taken as per his orders.”

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Tuesday, February 07, 2023
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