Meghalaya rejects N-plant, oppose uranium mining

May 10th, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by admin  

Shillong, May 10 (IANS) Meghalaya Saturday rejected the Indian government’s idea of setting up a nuclear power plant in the region and also opposed any move to allow uranium mining in the state. “We have no such plans and will oppose any move to set up a nuclear power plant or mine uranium in the state,” Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Hopping Stone Lyngdoh told journalists.

Lyngdoh was reacting to a statement by Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh last week about setting up of a committee by the Director of Atomic Energy (DAE) to study the techno-economic feasibility of setting up a nuclear power plant in the region.

The minister during a two-day visit to Meghalaya last week held meetings with the chief minister to review the power position in the state, besides exploring possibilities of setting up a nuclear power plant. Meghalaya is rich in uranium ore.

According to surveys by DAE, there could be up to 375,000 tonnes of uranium in Meghalaya’s Domiasiat area - by far the largest and richest sandstone-type deposits in the country.

The ores are spread over a mountainous terrain in deposits varying from eight to 47 meters from the surface in and around Domiasiat, 135 km west of Shillong.

After initial operations, the Uranium Corp of India Ltd (UCIL) was forced to wind up mining in the mid-90s following opposition from villagers and other pressure groups in Meghalaya who alleged that emission of radioactive uranium was posing serious health hazards.

Uranium is an important mineral ore for making nuclear weapons. Experts say the untapped reserve at Domiasiat could be a potential resource for India’s nuclear research programme.

“We want to be absolutely sure about the health hazards that uranium mining could pose to the lives of people living in the area,” Lyngdoh said.

The Meghalaya cabinet is meeting next week to discuss uranium mining.

Ramesh had said that India was running short of 50 percent of nuclear fuel that might severely affect its power projects.

“The shortage has become a life and death issue for India as most of the nuclear reactors are running short of fuel by 50 percent and the power projects cannot expand. If uranium is mined in Meghalaya, it would help the country to fight this shortage,” he told journalists last week.

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