Uranium reserve sparks border dispute

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Lampih (Assam-Meghalaya border), June 2 (UNI) Potential discovery of Uranium in a remote village, bereft of roads and electricity, inside the dense forests of the Assam-Meghalaya border, has sparked a major border row between the two states.

''The Lampih area is extremely mineral rich,'' Assam government Spokesman and Health Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma said, as he led a huge convoy through the dense forest and muddy slippery jungle track over a mountain to assert Assam's right over the disputed land and announce a slew of packages for 3,200 villagers who have to travel for six hours on horseback to reach the nearest road fit for motor vehicles.

''Not only is the whole area mineral rich, but also a great potential hill station and we are committed to improve it and as a first step, we are are building a road with a cost of Rs 12 crore,'' he said.

The area has never been visited by any government officials in the past 61 years since Independence, except polling personnel and school teachers.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the boundary, Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy asserted, ''This is our land and we have written to the Union Home Ministry to restrain Assam from making any illegal encroachment. We will use force if needed.'' Dr Roy visited the area along with local MLA Hopingston Lyngdoh, also the Meghalaya Home Minister.

The contentious village is just 97 kms from Guwahati and predominately populated by Nepali, Garo and Khasi people.

While the Khasis are in favour of being with Meghalaya, the Nepalis and Garos want to be with Assam.

Although the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) remained tight-lipped, official sources said both the state governments had been informed officially about the possibility of mining Uranium in the area, which made both the state governments sit up and take notice.

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