Villagers of Gurabandha block in East Singhbhum district have opposed the government’s move to give emerald-mining lease to outsiders. They held a protest meet at Kurian village, a Maoist stronghold, with traditional weapons on Sunday under the banner of ‘Jal, Jangal, Jamin Suraksha Samiti’ (Water, land and forest protection committee). Police said Maoists were instigating villagers against mining lease to stop officials from coming to the area and keep the funds flow from illegal mining intact.
A report from the police’s special branch estimated that proceeds from the emerald mining are adding Rs 25 lakh to Rs 35 lakh to the coffers of the Maoists every month. “Maoists do not want government’s intervention in the area as it is a core forest area. Maoists feel they would lose villagers’ support so they are instigating them to oppose any move to hand over the mines to other parties,” said a police official. The state mining and geological department has completed a survey on the feasibility of emerald mining in Gurabandha, about 60km from Jamshedpur and bordering Odisha. “The area is having a rich deposit of emerald,” said a survey team member. District mining officer Sanjeev Mandal said, “The lease process for emerald mining for Gurabandha will start in March-April 2016.”