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Home > India > News > Report

Want uranium? Give us nuke plant: Meghalaya

K Anurag in Guwahati | May 03, 2008 19:57 IST

The Meghalaya government has sought a nuclear power plant either in Meghalaya or any other suitable part of the Northeast India as a pre-condition for uranium mining in Meghalaya provided there would be no health or environment hazards because of the mining process.

Union Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh, who held a meeting with Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy and Deputy Chief Minister Hoping Stone Lyngdog on Saturday, said the Meghalaya government's request for a nuclear power plant had been conveyed to the Department of Atomic Energy. Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr Anil Kakodkar also participated in the conversation over mobile phone.

Ramesh said Dr Kakodkar had agreed to set up an expert committee to carry out techno-economic feasibility study for setting up of a nuclear power plant in Meghalaya or any other part of the Northeast.

Stating that India's nuclear programme depended heavily on the proven uranium deposits in West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, Ramesh said the DAE and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited were now faced with a huge challenge to convince the people of Meghalaya and its government to allow extraction of the radioactive mineral in their state.

"Uranium mining in Meghalaya is a matter of life and death for India's nuclear programme. However, uranium would be mined only when we have the consent of local people and also approval of the state government," Ramesh told media persons in Guwahati.

According to Ramesh, nuclear fuel is the key to the country's future power need as most of the nuclear reactors in the country were now running at 50 per cent of the total capacity because of shortage of Uranium, the basic reason for the country to go for a nuclear deal with the US.

He informed that the DAE would prepare a White Paper by May 31 on proposed uranium mining in Meghalaya detailing about safeguards to be provided to local people in response to apprehensions being aired about health and environment hazards, benefits to be derived by the local people and the state government.

"The White Paper will be given to Meghalaya government for discussion in the state Assembly as well as to be thrown open for public debate," he said.

Meanwhile, the DAE -- as part of its public outreach campaign -- will bring a team of doctors and scientists from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai to Meghalaya to interact with the people there to address the fear about cancer being caused by Uranium mining

The DAE recently invested Rs 1800 crore in a similar project of uranium mining at Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh and will take legislators and civil society representatives from Meghalaya to see that projects to acquire first hand knowledge how uranium mining is being done in  the southern state.