Diamonds for a hundred rupees!

Chhattisgarh, November 13:

Imagine diamonds worth millions selling at just a hundred rupees! Unemplo-yed tribals here have apparently been illegally mining millions worth of the precious stones and selling them to Mumbai- and Gujarat-based merchants at throwaway prices.

Pailikhand, 145-km from the state capital Raipur in central India, comes under the Mainpur block. The Bhunjia tribals have been digging diamonds there since 1990 after a local found a diamond stone piece during cultivation.

“Searching for diamonds is a passion here. Everyone spends most of his time to get diamond stones and sell it to ‘seths’ (Mumbai and Gujarat merchants) for enough money to buy some liquor,” said an 18-year-old Pailikhand resident Birju Netam, “It’s basically like playing lottery. But in most of the cases we get positive results sooner or later.” Pailikhand has huge diamond deposits, according to the directorate of geology and mines (DGM).

But the firm B Vijay Kumar Chhattisgarh Exploration Pvt Ltd (BVCE) bagged a prospecting licence for 4,600 sq km area in Devbhog and Mainpur in January 2000 but its licence was cancelled in December 2001 on charges of not maintaining ‘transparency in the survey’.

They have challenged th-e government’s cancellatio-n order in the High Court.