Centre still deliberating on uranium mining in Meghalaya
Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday that the Central government is still discussing on the proposed mining of uranium ore in Meghalaya.
“There are some issues under discussion, but we will try to move ahead in a best possible way,” he told journalists here in the remote village about 70 km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.
“These things (proposed mining of uranium) have to be deliberated upon and discussed. We cannot make instant decision on this,” Singh said.
In fact, the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya government had annulled the decision taken during the previous D.D. Lapang regime to lease 422 hectares of land to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for pre-mining activities in South West Khasi Hill district.
The decision to annul the leasing of land to the UCIL was adopted after the government-owned mining company had recently floated the expression of interest (EOI) for a mine and processing plant of uranium ore in South West Khasi Hills without the consent of the state government.
The anti-uranium groups at present also opposed the government’s plan to build two-lane projects which will connect the uranium site. Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
The state accounts for 16 per cent of India’s uranium reserves, with deposits estimated to be around 9,500 tonnes and 4,000 tonnes respectively at Domiasiat and Wakhaji, both in South West Khasi hills district.
However, the proposed open-cast uranium mining in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district has been hanging fire since 1992 after several groups expressed fears of radiation impact on human health and environmental degradation. The UCIL had pegged Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah project in Meghalaya for Rs 1,100 crore.
The ores are spread over a mountainous terrain in deposits varying from eight to 47 metres from the surface in and around Domiasiat.