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Uranium mining: KSU against road project

SHILONG: Reiterating its stand on proposed uranium mining project in West Khasi Hills district, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has opposed the Centre’s decision to go for the two-lane road project connecting the villages of the district which have a large deposit of uranium.
The leaders of the union as well as the NESO (North East Students’ Organization) chairman Samuel Jyrwa have expressed their suspicion that this two-lane road project is definitely meant to facilitate uranium mining  in the State.
Earlier, the Central government had sanctioned the two-laning of the 68 km Nongstoin-Domiasiat-Mawthabah road at a cost of Rs 470 crore.
Speaking at a public meeting organized to observe the Khasi National Awakening Day on Saturday here, Jyrwa said that the Centre was showing its interest afresh on the abandoned uranium mining project in the State.
“Without any doubt, this road project is aimed at facilitating transportation of uranium from West Khasi Hills through Assam to the rest of the country,” the NESO chairman said.
Jyrwa made it clear that his organization would not allow the Centre to mine uranium at any cost.
In his speech, the KSU general secretary Auguster Jyrwa said that the UCIL had adopted various tactics to start mining of uranium in the State.
“Following pressure from several pressure groups, the UCIL was forced to abandon its pre-project developmental works’ in the uranium-rich areas,” Jyrwa said.
Meghalaya is the third uranium rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The state accounts for 16 per cent of India’s uranium reserves, with deposits estimated to be around 9,500 tonnes and 4,000 tonnes respectively at Domiasiat and Wakhaji, both in West Khasi hills region.
The UCIL had to wind up its mining operations in Khasi Hills soon after it started in early 1990s due to fierce and violent protests. It had made a fresh application for uranium mining with the state government in 2001. The mining project, which was estimated at Rs 300 crore in 1990s, has now escalated to around Rs 825 crore.

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