India's quest for uranium is posing threat to big cats
Hyderabad, July 12: India's quest for uranium has now reached Nallamala forest in Telangana home to one of India's oldest tiger reserves.
The area proposed for mining falls under the Amrabad and Nudigal Reserved Forests of the 'core area' of the tiger reserve. The reserve is also home to leopards, spotted and barking deer, wild bores, striped hyena, rock python, etc besides tigers.
Environmentalists and villagers in the area fear the move will lead to a bigger exploration, ultimately leading to the forest's destruction and uprooting of its indigenous inhabitants.
Nation interest VS national animal
A panel under the Ministry of Forest and Environment has recommended for "in-principle" permission for exploration of Uranium in Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telangana.
The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) under the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change made the recommendation at its meeting on May 22.
The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) had earlier sought the permission from the Ministry of Forest to carry out survey and drilling of boreholes around Amrabad-Udimalla (Mahaboobnagar district)-Narayanpur (Nalgonda district), with the aim to establish Uranium deposits.
"The FAC under the Ministry of Forest observed that there are certain deficiencies in the proposal.
However, considering the fact that the proposal is of critical importance from national perspective, it recommended for in-principle approval subject to submission of all required document/information in due format.
After receipt of the same, the complete proposal may be placed before the Competent Authority for approval," the FAC said in the minutes of meeting.
This proposal had in the past seen a lot of back and forth movement with previous attempts for similar clearances being strongly opposed by villagers in the tiger reserve that resulted in a temporary halt to the process.
A 2015 study suggested a rich lode of uranium in Nallamala's Amrabad forest range.
Uranium-based nuclear plants are key to India's future energy plans, where a quarter of the 1.2 billion people has little or no access to electricity. The country imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan, and operates 20 mostly small reactors.
The government hopes to mine uranium, and shift gradually from its dependency to coal-fired power stations.
Created in 2014, the Amrabad tiger reserve is spread across an area of 2,611.39 square kilometres. It is the second-largest tiger reserve in India after Nagarjunsagar Srisailam tiger reserve which has an area of 3,296.31 sq km