After over 15 years of uncertainty, uranium mining in Meghalaya took a step towards reality with the State’s Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) finally deciding to hold a public hearing at the proposed site for open cast mining.
Public hearing is mandatory as per guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
According to MSPCB member secretary D Hooroo, June 12 has been set as the day of public hearing in the Mawthabah area of the State’s West Khasi Hills district.
Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had proposed to carry out open cast mining of uranium ore besides a processing
project at Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong in the area.
"The Pollution Board is required to get public views, suggestions or objections on the proposed project," said Hooroo, who is also heading the Environmental Public Hearing Committee. “We have accordingly invited suggestions, objections, comments from the general public and ecological organizations prior to the public hearing.”
The UCIL had in February submitted an application to the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government for mining natural uranium in the State.
It had submitted four sets of documents, including white paper, executive summary on environment, detailed project peport and a mining lease to the government and MPSCB.
Estimated at Rs. 814 crore, the project was strongly opposed by the Hills State People's Democratic Party and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement, which are the allies of Congress-led MDA government.
The influential Khasi Student's Union, Meghalaya People's Human Rights Council and the local Langrin Youth Welfare Association are also against the project citing health and environment reasons.
Notably, the Atomic Minerals Directorate of the Department of Atomic Energy had in 1991-92 had established the presence of 10,000 MWe of uranium deposit at Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong.