Guwahati: Meghalaya’s Opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) has reiterated its opposition to uranium mining in the State.
HSPDP president Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told newsmen in Shillong on 16th October that his party would continue to oppose any move by the Centre to mine uranium in Meghalaya, the country’s third uranium rich state of the country.
‘The HSPDP will continue to oppose any move by the Central Government through the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to start Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah (KPM) project in Meghalaya as it would affect the health hazard and environment,’ Basaiawmoit asserted.
Basaiawmoit, who was elected as new president of the HSPDP, the oldest regional political party of the Northeast, said that his party was against the pre-mining development projects funded by the UCIL in the uranium sites.
The UCIL has proposed to set up an open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah. Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits. Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The state accounts for 16% 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 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 the KPM project at 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, about 135 km west from Shillong.
The UCIL plans to produce 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tonnes of the mineral a day.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had that said his government would not bulldoze the uranium mining project in the State after various civil society groups, including political parties, opposed on health and environmental grounds.
Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh recently said scientific studies even in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on those working there found no adverse health effect.
‘We need to do public awareness for this. The kind of mechanism, which is in place now… there is no obvious health hazard reported so far. No scientist himself has suffered,’ he said.