BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
The Indian government is being praised as they recently decided to ditch a diamond-mining project worth more than $3 billion USD. The land where the surface mining would take place is home to a large portion of India’s declining tiger population. Preserving the land and sustaining the tiger population ended up being worth more than the money.
Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies, has been awaiting an answer for 10 years. According to Global Citizen, if the proposed project was accepted, India would have been ranked one of the top 10 diamond producers in the world.
However, with one of the biggest causes of extinction being loss of habitat, it comes as no surprise that India would vote against the mining project that would ruin 971 hectares of forest land, or about 492,000 trees, which is about 1,800 football fields worth of forest habitat. According to Good News Network, protecting this land will also save an estimated 130 million pounds of oxygen to be produced in the next year.
Holding over half the world’s tiger population, the latest tiger census report released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority in 2011 stated that the current tiger population stands at an alarming estimated number of 1,700. The Chhatarpur forests, where the mining would’ve taken place, would also affect tribal communities and animals like leopards, sloth bears, Indian gazelles, and endangered species like peacocks and cheetahs.
Even though Rio Tinto attempted to create an environmentally friendly mining project, ultimately an environment ministry panel voted against the mining company. This decision coincides with the Indian government’s recent efforts to save the tigers. This positive move is a step forwards for India, while also sending a message to corporations that some things are worth more than money, even if it is billions of dollars.