Meghalaya Govt. leases out land for uranium mining despite locals protest

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Shillong, Sep.30 (ANI): The Meghalaya government has decided to lease out 422 hectares of land in the West Khasi Hills region for 30 years to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for pre-project developmental works, a step which is agitating a number of locals.

According to locals, Meghalaya's environment has been destroyed by the through unscientific mining of coal, limestone and other natural resources.

They claim that uranium mining will only add to environmental degradation of Meghalaya.

"First thing is the health-issue relating to uranium mining and the impact it will have in those areas where there will be uranium mining, and the second point is that the amount of royalty that the government will get," said Michael Syiem, President, Mait Shaphrang Movement, an NGO spearheading the protest against uranium mining.

"Will it be just something which you see--- peanuts are we really getting our worth from the wealth the God has given us?" said Syiem.

Apart from the Mait Shaphrang Movement, the Khasi Students Union (KSU), several other NGOs have joined the crusade against the prospecting of uranium.

They allege that pre-development works are only a precursor to the mining of radioactive mineral, which in turn could lead to serious environmental and health problems.

"We are opposed to this pre-project development activities on the ground that the government is misleading the people of the state and also the district that this pre project development activities is for the area and also for the whole of West Khasi district, which is in fact, not true and very misleading," said Samuel Jrywa, President, Khasi Students Union (KSU), Meghalaya.

As per UCIL estimates, there could be 3, 75,000 tonnes of uranium deposits in Meghalaya.

While exploratory surveys were carried out in early 1990s, the mining project is yet to begin. By Hempi D.Henpilen (ANI)

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