The Mukul Sangma government in Meghalaya on Monday annulled the decision taken during the previous D.D. Lapang regime to leas 422 hectares of land to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for pre-mining activities in South West Khasi Hill district.
“We (the Cabinet) have revoked the earlier Cabinet decision taken on August 24, 2009, relating to pre-mining activities, which is a precursor to uranium mining,” Sangma told journalists after chairing the Cabinet meeting.
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.
“This decision is a strong message that any initiatives relating to pre-mining activities, which is precursor to uranium mining, cannot be allowed until and unless the people of the state are taken on board,” Sangma said.
He said the Cabinet has also directed the departments concerned to communicate the decision to the UCIL.
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, 135 km west from here.
The UCIL plans to produce 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tonnes of the mineral a day.