Raja to push forward Uranium mining in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Sep 2 (UNI) Principal Adviser, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), V P Raja would visit Meghalaya on September 22 to convince the state government and NGOs to allow uranium mining.

The state government has not been able to take a concrete decision on uranium mining after several NGOs and political parties raised hue and cry on the issue.

Most of the NGOs opposed mining citing radiation-related health and environmental hazards, besides displacement of 30,000 people.

In fact, the Prime Minister's Office had rushed Union Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Anil Kakodkar here to clear the doubts of the government and anti-mining groups.

'' The Principal Adviser, DAE, would hold talks with people from various quarters to address their concerns over uranium mining,'' Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee said.

Mr Chatterjee also reiterated that mining would be taken up only with people's consent. ''The people must decide whether they want this project to come up or not,'' he added.

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.

Mr Chatterjee said the Centre was sending officials to the state so as to disseminate the ''maximum information'' on the mining of the radioactive metal and to allay the peoples' fears so that they made an ''informed decision.'' AEC chief Anil Kakodkar, who briefed Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy and the members of the All-Party Committee on Uranium Mining, besides anti-mining groups recently, said, ''Uranium mining is safe.

There is no fear of any health and environmental problems due to its mining.

We have advanced technologies for safety performances in all the nuclear plants, at par with any international standards.'' The Meghalaya Chief Minister, however, has not committed to the Centre saying that ''Health hazard is still a major concern for us (government).'' UNI RRK KK SP RK1935

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