SHILLONG, March 19 (IANS): A Meghalaya assembly panel Friday recommended that the government take up a uranium mining project in the West Khasi Hills district without further delay but subject to some conditions.
The 10-member committee, headed by Congress legislator H.D.R. Lyngdoh, made the suggestion regarding the Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah uranium mining project in its report tabled in the assembly.
Lyngdoh heads the committee on Welfare of Scheduled Tribe/Castes and Other Backward Classes in the Meghalaya assembly.
The panel, which visited several uranium mining sites at Jadugoda in Jharkhand and the Uranium Corp of India Ltd (UCIL) units, found that miners who had worked in uranium sites and processing plants for 30-35 years had suffered no radiation effects.
The members visited the proposed Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah (KPM) uranium mining site in the West Khasi Hills.
However, the committee recommended that the government set up a dedicated health service unit and environmental survey laboratory by UCIL to monitor the workplace and environment at the mining site.
The unit should be independent of administrative control of UCIL so that proper reports are available, it said.
It also wanted UCIL to hold medical camps in surrounding villages at least once in a week to provide free medical check-ups and medicines.
UCIL should also provide assistance in literacy and education programmes to the locals.
The UCIL had proposed to invest Rs.209 crore to undertake pre-developmental project activities to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure at the site.
However, anti-mining groups are opposing the project, fearing health and environment hazards.
The central ministry of environment and forests has given clearance to UCIL to start mining in the state, triggering strong protests from parties and NGOs.
The UCIL plans to produce 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tonnes a day.
It has also proposed to set up a Rs.1,046-crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant in Meghalaya. The state is estimated to have 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits.