The environment ministry on Friday rejected the government's big ticket uranium mining project in Meghalaya on the ground that the state government had failed to prevent illegal coal mining in the area.
The Department of Atomic Energy has sought the environment ministry approval for exploratory drilling in Rongcheng Plateau in Balphakran National Sanctuary in south Garo Hill District of Meghalaya. The area is said to have rich reserves of minerals including uranium.
"The Standing Committee (of National Wildlife Board) took this decision keeping in view the sentiments of the local people and a number of representations received from local civil society groups," said a ministry's statement.
In the same vein, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh emphasised on augmenting domestic uranium supplies.
The standing committee also discussed a report on illegal coal mining in Balphakran National Sanctuary, which said that the mining has been allowed in violation of Forest Conservation Act and Environment Protection Act.
"The district officials have failed to stop illegal private mining even though they have powers to do so," the committee said in the report.
The committee asked the state government to immediately implement the recommendations of the committee, which includes ban on all mining activity inside the sanctuary and a plan to restore the green cover.