Shillong, May 16 (UNI) The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited would soon constitute a technical study group for setting up India's 18th nuclear reactor in Meghalaya.
''The possibility of setting up the nuclear reactor here can be confirmed only after the technical study group submits a report,'' Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) Executive Director A C Kundu said.
Chief Minister Donkupar Roy during a meeting with Union Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh, a fortnight ago, had asked if setting up of a nuclear reactor in West Khasi Hills district was possible.
Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Public Awareness Division Head Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra said the total amount of power generated from 17 nuclear reactors in the country was around 4120 MW.
''There is a shortage of 10,000 MW. We need more uranium for fuel for the nuclear reactors to meet the huge demand for power generation. Meghalaya can contribute towards meeting this demand,'' Mr Malhotra added.
''Meghalaya could contribute 16 per cent of the country's need for uranium. The contribution can even go beyond that as the DAE is also carrying exploration work in Garo Hills where there is uranium deposit,'' the DAE official said.
The 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 Hills district.
Uranium ore deposits there have an average grade of 0.085 per cent.
However, the government went slow on the issue in view of public protest against mining of uranium fearing health hazard.
''We shall never compromise on the issue of health and environment at any cost,'' Dr Donkupar Roy said.
The department of atomic energy and UCIL had formulated a detailed mining plan and forwarded it to the state government and awaiting its consent, official sources 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.
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