Meghalaya students oppose to nuclear plant

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Shillong, May 6 (UNI) The influential Khasi Students' Union (KSU) in Meghalaya has opposed the proposal of setting up of a nuclear plant and reiterated its opposition to mining of uranium in the state.

''We are totally against this proposed uranium mining and also the proposal to set up a nuclear plant in the state,'' KSU President Samuel Jyrwa told UNI here.

Union Minister of State for Power, Jairam Ramesh had told mediapersons that the Union government was not averse to the idea of setting up the nuclear plant in Meghalaya if uranium is to be mined in the state.

The Union Minister also said the Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar would soon set up a committee to study the techno-economic feasibility of setting up of the nuclear plant.

Infact, the Meghalaya Chief Minister during the meeting with the Union Minister had said that his government is not averse to setting up of a nuclear plant in the state itself provided that the Uranium Corporation of India Limited could convince the NGOs and the people of the state that there will be no ill-effects of uranium mining.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had planned to develop open cast mining for production of 375,000 tonne of uranium deposits at Kylleng-Pyndeng-Sohiong village and a processing plant at Mawthabah in West Khasi Hill district.

Uranium ore deposits there have an average grade of 0.085 per cent.

''It is an established fact that uranium is a highly radio-active element, which can unleash terrible contamination on people and the environment when disturbed,'' Mr Jyrwa said, adding that the effect it will have on the health of the people will be crippling and deadly as has been the case with the indigenous people of Jharkhand in India, the Aborigines in Australia, the Novajo Indians in America and others.

Further, he said the proposed uranium mining project will result in large scale displacement of the indigenous Khasi people.

'' The Uranium Corporation of India Limited, by its own admission, has plans to initially acquire 10 Sq Km of land which will be further extended as the project progresses,'' the KSU leader said.

Mr Jyrwa said the proposed uranium mining would also bring along with it largescale influx of non-indigenous people into the Khasi territories. ''The marginalised indigenous Khasis will be forced to move out of their homes and land holdings to be supplanted by technologically advanced communities from outside the state,'' he claimed.

The KSU also said that 75 per cent of the people who attended the public hearing had raised a strong opposition to the proposed uranium mining citing the reasons on the grounds of the effects on health, influx of non-indigenous people, land alienation, militarisation.

Meanwhile, the Union also urged the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, whose mandate is to look after the protection of land and its resources and also the welfare of the indigenous local community, not to renew/extend the expired NOC or to grant any fresh NOC so as to respect the wishes of the people and to safeguard the interest of the future generations.

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