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Meghalaya not to allow UCIL take up any mining activity

By Raju Das

SHILLONG, July 22 - Meghalaya will not allow Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to take up any preliminary or pre-mining developmental activities in the uranium deposit areas in South West Khasi Hills district. The decision was taken after a meeting between the State Government, chaired by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and several NGOs including the representatives of some villages in South West Khasi Hills opposing uranium mining.

�Unless UCIL can convince the people of the State on the safety aspects or how it can insulate the people from the ramifications of uranium mining, no activities can be undertaken by the organisation,� the Government stated.

At the present moment there is widespread opposition towards Uranium mining. Nine organisations, under the banner Joint Action Committee of Social Organisations, are opposing the mining and also a 20-km proposed road from Wakhaji to Mawthabah, an area rich in Uranium reserve in West Khasi Hills. There are a group of NGOs from West Khasi Hills which are welcoming the road project, but have stated that they are against the mining.

Sangma said the people should not interpret the construction of the proposed two-lane road project as facilitating uranium mining in the State since the Government would not take any decision on the matter unless a consensus was reached with all the stakeholders and people of the State are fully convinced about it.

He added the road project to Mawthabah is part of Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North East.

�The road projects should not be linked to uranium mining in the State as its objective is to upgrade National Highways in the State, to connect the State capital of the Northeastern States with the East-West corridor, to connect district headquarters with National Highways and upgrade the State Highways into double-lane�, Sangma said and appealed to the NGOs not to oppose the road project.

Meanwhile, Khasi Students� Union president, Daniel Khyriem, one of the opposing NGOs, said, the organisation along with other like-minded organisations have �strongly opposed Uranium mining and the construction of the road in Mawthabah.� However, one of the NGO members from Mawthabah, Woodslight Lyngdoh said: �we need the road, but have taken no decision on Uranium mining.�

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