ON AUGUST 24, the Meghalaya government
decided to hand over a large parcel
of land in West Khasi Hills to the
Uranium Corporation of India Limited.
Citizens' groups have opposed the decision
to lease 422 hectares (ha) of land
for uranium mining saying it will affect
Chief Minister D D Lapang claimed
the government took the decision after
consulting the local people. "The
landowners have allowed us to go ahead
with the pre-project development
works," said Lapang. "The government
is now concentrating on development,"
said deputy chief minister Bindo
Lanong who holds the mining portfolio.
UCIL plans to spend Rs 209 crore on
healthcare facilities, power plant, drinking
water, road development and educational
institutions, he said. UCIL had
tried to mine uranium in the area in
1990 but had to abandon plans due to
Citizens' groups called the development
works a bribe. "The Centre should
realize that development work will not
mitigate the health hazards caused by
uranium mining," said Samuel Jyrwa,
president of the influential Khasi
Students' Union. H S Lyngdoh, president
of the Hill State People's
Democratic Party, said: "We'll oppose
the project as there is no proof showing
that radiation effects can be contained."
The state government's decision follows
the Union environment ministry's
clearance to UCIL's proposed mines and
processing plant in 2007. Meghalaya has
the third richest uranium reserves in
the country (13,500 tonnes) after
Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh
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