Wednesday, February 21, 2024

KHADC firm on opposing uranium mining project in Meghalaya


The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), a constitutional body in Meghalaya reiterated its opposition to uranium mining in the state although uranium mining efforts have been abandoned by the centre.
“There isn’t any official communication from the state or central governments on the proposed uranium mining project. Nonetheless, we have decided against granting no objection certificate to the state or central government to explore or mine uranium within our jurisdiction,” Chief Executive Member of KHADC, Pyniaid Sing Syiem said.
Meghalaya is covered by the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India under Article 244 of the Constitution.
Under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the KHADC reserves the right to grant permissions to acquire land for different kinds of activities by the government as well private organisations.
Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The state accounts for 16 percent 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.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) discovered uranium deposits decades back. In 2009, the Congress-led D.D. Lapang government leased out 422 hectares of land to UCIL for pre-mining activities in South West Khasi Hill district.
UCIL had proposed to set up an open-cast uranium mining and processing project at Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah at an estimated cost of Rs 1,100 crore. The proposed open-cast uranium mining project has remained a non-starter since 1992 after several groups and political leaders expressed fears of harmful radiation impact on health and the environment.
In 2018, the Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) had decided to stop exploratory drilling for uranium in South West Khasi Hills district, while the UCIL reportedly closed down its office in Shillong due to continued protests and opposition after it failed to convince the anti-mining groups and political leaders for years on the safety methods it proposed to employ if permission to mine the ore is granted.
The KSU, meanwhile, has not given up its opposition and urged the new NPP-led council on Wednesday not to relent under pressure from the centre.
“We met the CEM of KHADC and urged him not to grant no objection certificate to any proposal from the centre to facilitate uranium mining in the state,” KSU president, Lambokstarwell Marngar said.
Expressing happiness that the new council too is against uranium mining Marngar added that the council is living up to its promise that it won’t allow such mining in the state.

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