Shillong, Aug 23 (UNI) Meghalaya can not only play a significant role in contributing to India's energy requirements, but also bring economic prosperity to the state, Union Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar said.
Mr Chandrasekhar, accompanied by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar and top Uranium Corporation of India Limited and AMD officials, held extensive parleys with Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy and members of the All-Party Committee on Uranium Mining about the country's requirement.
''India has plans to generate 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020 and in order to achieve that target the country needs uranium.
Meghalaya (by clearing the project) will not only make enormous contribution to the country's energy needs, but also bring economic prosperity to the state,'' Mr Chandrasekhar told reporters late last night.
The UCIL has proposed a Rs 1,046 crore opencast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah in the West Khasi Hills district of the state, which has an estimated deposit of 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore.
However, the government-owned mining company failed to make any progress to convince the state government, political parties and anti-mining groups.
''We are currently targetting to generate 20,000 MW of electricity through nuclear energy. We need uranium resources to achieve this goal. We have started uranium mining projects in three states except Meghalaya where there are some problems in this regard,'' Mr Chandrasekhar said.
He, however, maintained that it was up to the state government and the people of Meghalaya to take a decision on the issue.
''We have come here to understand the concerns of the people and help clarify the doubts in their minds,'' Mr Chandrasekhar said.
AEC chief Anil Kakodkar, who briefed Chief Minister Donkupar Roy and the members of the All-Party Committee on Uranium Mining, besides anti-mining groups, said, ''Uranium mining is safe. There is no fear of any health and environmental problems due to uranium mining.
''We have advanced technologies for safety performances in all the nuclear plants, at par with any international standards,'' he said.
However, the Meghalaya Chief Minister said he and his Cabinet colleagues did not make any commitment to the visiting officials.
''Health hazard is still a major concern for us,'' Dr Roy said, pointing out that his government is awaiting the reports from the experts' groups constituted by the All-Party Committee on Uranium Mining.
One of the expert panels, comprising state Health Department officials, will look into the local concerns of health hazards. The other panel of specialists from the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) will look into the pros and cons of the uranium mining project.
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