Uranium smugglers arrested in Mizoram

November 4th, 2008 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Nov 4 (IANS) Two uranium smugglers who were on their way to Myanmar have been arrested from a hotel in Mizoram, security officials said here Tuesday.Paramilitary Assam Rifles troopers along with Mizoram Police during a joint raid Monday caught the duo at a hotel in Champai, 112 km west of here, bordering Myanmar, an official of the Assam Rifles said.

“Tawia, 20, a resident of Manipur, and Sangkhuma, 58, a local, were nabbed with a bottle filled with gray material,” the official said.

“During interrogation, the detainees confessed that the material was uranium, which they procure from neighbouring Meghalaya, and display to find prospective buyers in adjoining Myanmar,” the official added.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had proposed a Rs.10.46 billion open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah in the West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, the northeastern state having an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits.

However, the UCIL had failed to make any progress to convince the state government, political parties and anti-mining groups, who opposed the move.

Last month Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar accompanied by union cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar visited Meghalaya and told the anti-mining groups that uranium mining was safe and there was no fear of any health and environmental problems due to uranium mining.

“We have advance technologies for safety performances in all the nuclear plants, on par with any international standard,” Kakodkar said.

The Meghalaya government last month formed an expert committee to examine the views and apprehensions on health and environment to decide on open cast uranium mining in the northeastern state.

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