PMO deputes Raja to break Uranium deadlock in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Sep 21 (UNI) After the visit of Atomic Energy Commission Chief Anil Kakodkar to Meghalaya, the Prime Minister's Office has deputed Principal Advisor, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), V P Raja to convince the state government and NGOs to allow Uranium mining.

Mr Raja, who arrived here today on a three-day visit, will hold talks with political leaders of Hill State People Democratic Party and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement, who have been opposing Uranium mining tooth and nail.

He would also meet anti-Uranium groups, besides state government officials, to break the deadlock over the uranium mining.

The state government has not been able to take a concrete decision on Uranium mining following various NGOs and political parties raising a hue and cry on the issue.

Most of these 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 Advisor, DAE, would hold talks with people from various quarters to address concerns about Uranium Mining,'' Meghalaya Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee said.

Mr Chatterjee also reiterated that mining would be taken up only with people's consent. ''The people must decide when they want this project to come up or whether not at all,'' 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 Uranium Mining and allay fears of people so that people made an ''informed decision.'' A couple of weeks ago, AEC chief Anil Kakodkar visited Meghalaya and briefed Chief Minister Donkupar Roy and the members of the All-Party Committee on Uranium Mining, besides anti-mining groups and 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.

The Chief Minister, however, has not given any commitment to the Centre, saying, ''Health hazard is still a major concern for us (government).'' UNI RRK DPM RSA VC1535

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