India’s domestic uranium enrichment programme has received another setback. Mining in Andhra Pradesh has been put on hold since September after flash floods swept uranium deposits into agricultural land, sparking protests by farmers.
Although no radiation was detected, central government sources said the floods delayed mining in the Lambapur-Peddagattu area in Nalgonda district in central Andhra Pradesh. Work had started in this area earlier this year.
The chairman and managing director of the public sector Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) Ramendra Gupta however said, “There is nothing like that (setback). We have faced a few problems which are being sorted out,” he told HT from his office in Jharkhand’s Jadugoda town, 35 km from Jamshedpur.
But the World Nuclear Association had reported last month that the new mining project in Nalgonda had hit a roadblock because of people’s protests.
Temporary stoppage of mining in Andhra Pradesh is an example of how India’s bid to increase its domestic uranium production capacity has been hit.
India produces only 260 tonnes of uranium every year but has plans to increase its domestic production with an additional 690 tonnes by 2012.
Most of the additional uranium is expected from two sites — Domiasiat and Wakhyn in Meghalaya and Lambapur-Peddagattu and Tummallapalle in Andhra Pradesh.
Mining in Meghalaya has been on hold since 1992 following protests by residents who don’t want to part with their land. With only 30-25 per cent of fuel available, India’s nuclear plants are running at only 50 per cent of their capacity.