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Rediff.com  » News » Kakodkar to hold talks on uranium mining in Meghalaya

Kakodkar to hold talks on uranium mining in Meghalaya

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August 22, 2008 18:21 IST
In a bid to break the logjam over the uranium mining project in Meghalaya for the past one and a half decades, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar will hold talks on Friday with Chief Minister Donkupar Roy and groups opposed to mining in the state.

Besides Kakodkar, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar will also hold parleys with NGOs, including the Khasi Students Union, Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People, and seek their cooperation for an early start of the Rs 1000-crore project, official sources said.

Kakokdar will also meet Governor R S Mooshahary and the All Party Committee on Uranium Mining.

In the past one and a half decades since the exploratory survey, done by Atomic Energy Department, confirmed high quality uranium deposits in West Khasi Hills region in Meghalaya, uncertainty still prevails over its mining.

The proposal has come under attack from various tribal organisations, NGOs and the influential Khasi Students Union, besides two parties of the ruling coalition--The Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM)--from day one.

While the anti-mining groups apprehended health and environmental hazards arising from mining, in December the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest gave nod to Uranium Corporation of India Limited to go ahead.

The clearance has been given for an annual production of 3,75,000 tonnes of uranium ore by open-cast mechanised method and processing of 1500 tonnes per day of ore processing plant involving total land requirement of 351 hectares at Mawthabah in West Khasi Hills district.

The Meghalaya government had formed two separate expert groups to study the possible impact of the mining. The state government would decide on giving the nod to the project only after the expert groups submit their report.

According to estimates, Meghalaya's uranium can meet up to 16 per cent of the country's demand. The Centre also plans to set up a nuclear power plant in Meghalaya at a time when all existing nuclear power plants in the country continue to run on low plant load factor of 50 per cent or below due to shortage of uranium.

The current installed capacity of nuclear power plants is 4,120 mw which is roughly three per cent of the total power generation in the country.

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