Uranium logjam: DAE blames ‘fixed mindset’
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: ‘Fixed mindset’ is the only problem before the proposed uranium mining in the State turning into reality, according to a visiting Central team, which also made it clear that the Centre is never going to abandon the project even as the anti-mining groups stood their ground firm.
“The only problem in convincing the opposing parties is their fixed mindset. Even before meeting us they have already made it clear they are going to oppose this project at any cost,” Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Head of Public Awareness Division, SK Malhotra told reporters after the Central team comprising DAE and UCIL officials gave its representations before State legislators and senior government officials on the uranium project, here on Tuesday.
“For people who are asleep there are possibilities to clarify their doubts and make them understand. But for those who pretend to be asleep, no matter how hard you try to explain to them it will never go to their heads since they have already made up their minds,” the DAE official said.
Meanwhile, the State Government is yet to give any concrete assurance to the DAE and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to go ahead with the uranium mining.
“Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma has not made any commitment even though he laid emphasis on the need to carry out more awareness programmes on the proposed uranium mining project. He has also asked us to continue our efforts in convincing those who are opposing the project,” the DAE official said.
However, the DAE and UCIL officials said there is no question of abandoning this project as the country requires the uranium deposits of Meghalaya.
Malhotra said extra effort could be made to convince the people and the groups opposing the project, but that the project cannot be abandoned at any cost.
He said the DAE and UCIL are only waiting the approval from the State Government. “Once the Government hands the land over to us we will immediately start with the pre-project activities to allow the actual project to take place,” Malhotra said while claiming that they have already received clearance both from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and from the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).
He said the land owners at the uranium mining site in West Khasi Hills have already signed an agreement with the UCIL to lease out their land for uranium mining. “The people of the surrounding villages near the proposed mining areas are also in favour of the project,” according to the DAE official.
“The State Government wants the people to be fully convinced before starting the project. I think this stand taken by the Government is justified,” Malhotra said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said the process of creating awareness among the masses should continue.
“We have also requested the Central officials to make their representation more comprehensive so that the common people would be able to understand it,” Dr Sangma said.
The Central team is scheduled to meet the NGOs on Wednesday.
The Rs 1,046-crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah area in West Khasi Hills district has been hanging fire since 1992 after several groups cited radiation effect on human health and environmental degradation.
The UCIL plans to produce 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tonnes of the mineral a day.
Source: The Shillong Times