Uranium mining in Meghalaya has expectedly hit the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) wall.
Barely a week after taking charge, Meghalaya chief minister Donkupar Roy has made it clear his government would not allow mining of the potentially radioactive mineral unless the “local people change their minds”.
Uranium mining has been a touchy issue in Meghalaya ever since Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) marked the Domiasiat area in West Khasi Hills district to have rich deposits of the mineral. However, efforts to begin the project have come a cropper since 1995 owing to opposition from local villagers and various pressure groups.
Following clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests, UCIL had in June last year conducted a public hearing at Nongbah Jynrin in the uranium belt towards setting up the Rs 1,000 crore project. That the belt with 16 per cent of India’s uranium reserves was key to the country’s nuclear programme underlined the UCIL’s urgency.
UCIL had apparently banked on a “change in mindset” after the MPA took over from the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance.
Roy, however, dashed any trace of hope on Sunday, hours after India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Agni-I missile off the Orissa coast.
“Ours is a people’s government, and we will go by the people’s verdict,” Roy told reporters in State capital Shillong, indicating a rethink would depend entirely on what the local stakeholders decide.
He added all the constituents in the NCP-led MPA concurred on opposing the uranium project. Roy is the chief of the regional United Democratic Party, which opposed uranium mining even as an ally of the Congress in the previous government.