Shillong, Mar 27 : Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and pressure groups have expressed their strong opposition to the Central Government's plan to start the uranium mining process in Meghalaya.
The row over the proposed uranium mining, which started way back since 1987, has become complicated with the biggest student body of the State, the Khasi Student Union (KSU), spearheading the campaign saying that such a step will pose threat for the people in the region.
"Whenever we talk about development, at what cost? Development at the cost of the identity of people, development at the cost of the life of the people, development at the cost of cultural identity, and our special identity we have as the indigenous people," said Samuel Jyrwa, the president of the pressure group.
"We do not call that a development we call it as the aggressive development being brought about by the government. We have the State Government and it is their duty to look after the development without having this uranium mined from our land," he added.
The proposed mining site is in the Mawthabah and Domiasiat area of the West Khasi Hill District about 30 to 40 kilometres from the main town of Nongstoin.
The uranium-mining project has also been hindered by delay in environmental clearance and land transfer from a tribal to a non-tribal under land regulation act.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), which is seemingly through with the formalities in terms of environment clearance, organized awareness campaign and mass public hearings in support of the project.
It said that students would be given scholarships to undergo training to acquire required skill for the mining process.
According to experts the mining process needs to be implemented with care keeping in mind the negative aspects so that it doesn't affect the lives of people in the region.
"If we keep on harping on the hazardous aspect without listening to the other side then it will run into problems. For that we need another independent agency to carry out the monitoring," said B. Jyrwa, a nuclear physicist of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong.
The enduring protest and awareness campaign by NGO's on the hazardous effect of mining have influenced residents who feel that job of mining is not secure.
With majority of people against the uranium mining in the State and the new Government in the State unlikely to bypass the majority view, the project may have to wait.
According to the official sources, the uranium reserves at the proposed site are expected to last over 24 to 25 years and is expected to generate 700 to 1000 jobs in which 75 per cent of them would be for non-skilled workers and the remaining 25 per cent for the skilled employees.