Meghalaya govt not averse to uranium mining: Lyngdoh

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Shillong, May 9 (UNI) The Meghalaya government was not averse to uranium mining, provided the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) and Atomic Energy Department ensure that there was no health hazard from radiation.

''They can go ahead with mining of uranium if they can really prevent radiation emanating from the uranium ore,'' Deputy Chief Minister hoping stone Lyngdoh, who spearheaded the anti-uranium mining campaign in the state over the last two decades, told newspersons here.

Rejecting that there was no move for setting up of nuclear plants in the state Mr Lyngdoh said it was only a statement of Union Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh.

''How can the Centre set up the nuclear plant when the people of the state are still opposing uranium mining,'' Mr Lyngdoh said.

The UCIL had proposed for mining of uranium in West Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya under the Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong Uranium Mining Project amounting to around Rs 1200 crore.

State Chief Minister Donkupar Roy, a few days ago, had said the government would allow the mining provided that the UCIL could convince the people that there would be no ill-effects.

''We shall never compromise on the issue of health and environment at any cost,'' Dr Roy said, adding that, ''The Prime Minister's Office should also make it clear what special benefits the state would gain, apart from the proposed royalty to the state worth Rs 20 crore annually, if uranium is allowed to be extracted,'' he said, ''Ours is a people's government, and we will go by the people's verdict,'' Dr Roy stated. Earlier, Mr Ramesh had said mining of uranium will be carried out only with the people's consent and will be done in an environmentally responsible manner in consultation with the local authorities.

Urging the state government to take a positive stand on the issue, Mr Ramesh said, uranium mining would be beneficial to the state but all depended on the state government and the people.

''The department of atomic energy and UCIL has formulated a detailed mining plan and forwarded it to the state government and awaiting its consent,'' the Union Minister said.

Last year, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest granted environmental clearance to the UCIL to mine uranium ore at Kylleng-Pyndeng-Sohiong area in West Khasi Hills district, based on the public hearing report, submitted by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board.

However, despite environmental clearance issued for the project, its implementation remained uncertain due to strong protest from the Khasi Students' Union (KSU), Meghalaya People's Human Rights Council (MPHRC) and two political parties - Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) headed by Mr Lyngdoh and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) headed by Urban Affairs Minister Paul Lyngdoh.

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