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Meghalaya to form House panel to inspect uranium boreholes

The Meghalaya government on Thursday conceded to the demand of opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) to constitute an Assembly Committee to inspect the 1,500 boreholes drilled for exploration of uranium in Meghalaya’s South West Khasi Hills district.

HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, who moved a resolution to “veto any attempt of government of India to extract uranium from any part of the state” in the assembly, demanded from the government to visit the sites where the radio-active mineral is explored.

“We will proceed with this and find out the fact and accordingly articulate the matter to the Centre based on our firm stand,” Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told said while replying to the resolution.

He said the state government had communicated its stand to the Centre to ensure there is no activity related to uranium unless the people of the state are taken into consideration.

Sangma, who also holds the Mining and Geology portfolio, said the state government had similar communication to previous central government headed by Manmohan Singh

“The Government of India has never ‘pressurised’ the state on the issue after 2010 till now. After the Uranium Corporation of India Limited couldn’t convince us (about the negative and positive aspect of uranium mining), we asked them to go back and do their homework,” he said.

Moreover, he said the state government had taken a “bold decision” and revoked the 2009 Cabinet decision to leased land to the UCIL. “In absence of land, how will they (UCIL) mine? Moreover, we have laws to protect us,” the Chief Minister said.

“It has been one of the most sensitive issues in our state and it will remain sensitive as long as there is a continuous attempt on the part of the central government to extract this deadliest metal on earth,” Basaiawmoit told the assembly.

Opposition United Democratic Party legislator, Paul Lyngdoh also supported the idea of Basaiawmoit that an Assembly Committee should be constituted and visit the 1,500 boreholes drilled for exploration of uranium.

“UCIL have tried to push mining of uranium in many forms which has led to panic amongst the residents of West Khasi Hills district. Therefore, it is only fair that the House should take a stand as how to approach the matter,” Lyngdoh said.

UCIL has proposed to set up an open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah. Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits.

Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

UCIL had pegged Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah project in Meghalaya for Rs 1,100 crore. The ores are spread over a mountainous terrain in deposits varying from eight to 47 metres from the surface in and around Domiasiat, 135 km west from here.

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