'Uranium deposits necessary for power generation'

Shillong, July 5  — Uranium deposits in Meghalaya are needed for meeting the country's power generation needs, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Adviser, T.K.A. Nair, said here Wednesday.

"Uranium is a very precious resource and utilising it for power generation is one of the ideas," he told journalists after a meeting with Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.

However, when asked whether he raised the issue on much delayed uranium mining project with the chief minister, Nair said: "I don't exactly know what the latest on this is and our discussion with the chief minister was on the developmental projects of the state."

In fact, the proposed open-cast uranium mining in Meghalaya's West Khasi Hills district has been hanging fire since 1992 after several groups cited radiation effect on human health and environmental degradation.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had pegged Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah project in Meghalaya for Rs.1,100 crore (about$240 million). The ores are spread over a mountainous terrain in deposits varying from eight to 47 meters from the surface in and around Domiasiat, 135 km west from here.

The UCIL plans to produce 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tonnes of the mineral a day.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that his government would not bulldoze the uranium mining project in the state.

The union ministry of environment and forests has given clearance to the UCIL to start mining in the state.

However, civil society groups including political parties in Meghalaya has been opposing the uranium project citing health and environmental hazard.