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Left may launch stir against AP Uranium mining project

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March 09, 2006 23:33 IST

The Left parties on Thursday threatened to launch a mass agitation against the proposed Uranium-mining project at Peddagetta in Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India asked the state government to oppose the Uranium-mining project, as it would turn out to be "a curse to the local people."

The project envisages opening of the Uranium mine at Lambapur-Peddagetta over a lease area of 527 hectares, including 447 hectare forest land and 80 hectare of fallow land. Forestry clearance has been obtained in August 2005 for diversion of 447 hectare forest land.

The boundary of the buffer zone of Rajiv Gandhi Sanctuary (part of Project Tiger) is at a distance of 3 to 5 km from the core zone of the mine site (that is, the core zone of Rajiv Gandhi Sanctuary is at a distance of 30 km from the mining lease area).  Nagarjunasagar is at a distance of 1.6 km at a lower level in comparison to the mine site elevation. The project involves resettlement and rehabilitation of people of two villages- Nammapuram and Yellapuram -- with 105 land losers.

The UCIL estimates that the area has 11.02 million tonnes of Uranium reserves spread over Peddagetta and Yellapuram villages. The corporation plans to invest Rs 91 crore on Uranium ore mining unit. About 1,250 tonnes of ore a day will be mined for 20 to 25 years. The annual combined production capacity of the mining project is 375,000 tonnes per annum of Uranium ore.

Working will be both open cast (for Lambapur mine) and underground (Peddagutta) by mechanised method involving blasting. The government has acquired 527 hectares of land for mining in the two villages and 318 hectares for processing plant in Dugyal and Mallapuram villages. The processing plant entails an outlay of Rs 315 crore.

Speaking to the media, CPI-M floor leader Nomula Narasimhaiah and CPI member Julakanti Ranga Reddy said that the AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) has also opposed the project as it would contaminate the water of Nagarjunasagar project, the main irrigation source in the state and a major source for drinking water supply to the state capital, Hyderabad.

They pointed out that people in the area were already suffering due to fluoride content in the water and the proposed Uranium mining project would make their lives more vulnerable. The elected representatives and local people also opposed the project in a single voice at the public hearing organised by the government, they added.

Stating the area earmarked for the proposed project has large tribal population, they said the project would displace the tribals. Local people would also be exposed to radiation effects, resulting in health disaster, they alleged.

If the government failed to scrap the Uranium-mining project, the left parties would launch a mass agitation against the project soon. "We will not allow the construction of the project at the place at any cost," they warned. 

Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who as leader of opposition in 2003 had strongly opposed the project, is not only defending the project but also lobbying with the Government of India for another such project in his assembly constituency Pulivendula in Kadapa district.

Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, the issue figured during question hour in the State Legislative Assembly. All the opposition parties expressed concern. CPI and BJP staged a walkout protesting against the state government's stand on establishment of the Uranium mining project at Serpally village in Devarakonda assembly segment in Nalgonda district. Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, CPI-M and Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen also registered their protest against the project.

The government assured to clear all the apprehensions over the project. Minister for Mines and Geology Mrs. P Sabitha Indra Reddy appealed to all political parties to cooperate with the government for the establishment of Uranium mining project. She pointed out that the Nuclear Fuel Complex was established in the middle of Hyderabad city in 1965, and there was no harm to the people all these years.

The Minister admitted that the APPCB did not give its consent to the project but referred the matter to the State government. The latter had forwarded the matter to the Government of India, highlighting certain issues pertaining to environmental impact assessment submitted by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited.

However, the Government of India had accorded environmental clearance to the Lambapur-Peddagetta Uranium mining project stipulating stringent conditions in December 2005, she explained.

Raising the issue during Question Hour, BJP floor leader G Kishen Reddy criticised the government for its indifferent attitude towards the people's agitation against establishment of the Uranium mining project in Nalgonda district. The project was opposed by one and all, including the APPCB, since it would result in pollution of Nagarjunasagar, a drinking water source for Hyderabad and surrounding areas. He lamented that the establishment of this project would have adverse impact on people's health.

CPI floor leader Chada Venkat Reddy criticised the Government of India for its decision to go ahead "blindly" with the project works. "There is abundant scope for contamination of Nagarjunasagar waters," he asserted.

CPI-M floor leader Nomula Narasimhaiah held the state government responsible for making the issue controversial. In spite of various objections raised by APPCB and the authorities concerned, the government's decision to further examine the issue was not correct, he observed.

TDP deputy leader T Devender Goud urged the state government not to be adamant on the issue since it related to people's health. The government should take into consideration the views expressed by various sections of the society on the project.

TRS member Nayini Narasimha Reddy asked the government to come out with alternatives since the project would pose threat to both Nalgonda and Hyderabad districts. MIM member Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri termed the issue as sensitive.

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad