Uranium trouble in Meghalaya

While the governments in the state and the centre are engaged in the development of the mineral rich south Meghalaya there are dissenting voiced from within the state. The influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) has intensified its agitation against the proposed uranium mining project in the state.

“We will make our agitation stronger until the state government considers our demand and revokes the leasing of 422 hectares of land to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for 30 years,” KSU president Samuel B Jyrwa told media. The KSU and several local parties have been spearheading the movement against the Meghalaya government’s decision to allow the UCIL to carry out pre-project development programmes in 422 hectares of the uranium-rich areas of West Khasi Hills. A number of NGOs under the banner of Ka Synjuk Seng Bhalang West Khasi Hills (KSSBWKH) issued ultimatum to the Congress-led government in Meghalaya to withdraw its decision on the pre-project development programmes of UCIL.

Directing the police to take stern action against the agitators, Chief Minister DD Lapang told reporters: “The uranium reserves are a national property and no one can stop the government from using them.The government has waited for 20 long years to persuade the people to allow uranium mining at Domiasiat in West Khasi Hills district of southern Meghalaya.”

Meanwhile various organisations supporting the authorities’ move held a massive rally to show their support for the project. The rally was organized by the newly formed pro-mining organization - Associations of Meghalaya for Development and Advancement (AMDA), a conglomerate of NGOs from various districts. AMDA supports the state government’s move to go ahead with the Rs 2.09 billion first-phase development by UCIL in the mineral-rich west Khasi Hills district. The union ministry of environment and forests has already allowed UCIL to start mining for the annual production of 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore and process 1,500 tonnes of the mineral ore per day in West Khasi Hills district. UCIL has proposed a Rs 1,046 crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Domiasiat in the West Khasi Hills district. Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits. UCIL would invest Rs 2.09 billion to undertake pre-developmental project activities to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure.

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