Fresh opposition to uranium extraction

SHILLONG: There is fresh opposition to opening up of new uranium deposits at Kylleng -Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah (KPM) project in the State by UCIL.
The Civil Society Women’s Organization (CSWO) in a statement issued here on Sunday opposed the move of the UCIL to open up new deposits at Mawthabah.
“This will destroy the lives of people of our state for generations to come,” CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said.
The organization also opposed any uranium mining in the state and also in tribal areas of the country. According to Kharshiing, uranium mining is the most hazardous form of extractive activity related to mining which will lead to destruction of lives. The CSWO urged the traditional institutions not to allow such destruction for greed.
“Would they want to see their children suffer with cancer of all forms? They should gather the villagers to create awareness on the dangers of uranium mining. Opening the earth is exposing us to the gas within. Uranium airborne dust can be carried thousands of kilometres away,” Kharshiing said adding that KHADC should not allow exploration for mining of uranium.
Quoting scholars Jovana J.Brown and Lori Lambert, Kharshiing said that Navajo Nation, a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering 27,425 square miles, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States, was the site of extensive uranium mining and milling in the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The mining and milling had left a terrible legacy for the people and the land. Kharshiing said that mine and mill workers were left with illness caused by radiation exposure. Many of the workers have died. Moreover, abandoned mine and mill sites at Navajo Nation continue to expose residents to harmful radiation. Water supplies have been contaminated.
“The Navajo Nation banned uranium mining in 2005. Yet the menace of new uranium mines in and immediately adjacent to Navajo communities continues to threaten the people,” Kharshiing said.
According to the CSWO president, the report on Domiasiat by certain experts from NEHU stated that since the uranium ore is low grade, there is low radiation while it is reported in a news report in 2008 that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has estimated that it can extract about 3,75,000 tonnes of high grade uranium ore from Domasiat in West Khasi Hills.
“So if the ore is high grade uranium ore then radiation will be high,” she observed.
Kharshiing said that it is surprising that the UCIL is providing the road, health care and schools in Mawthabah area.
“Why is it that the Government cannot make roads, provide health care and schools in these areas but leaves the rural areas under developed so that companies can come and exploit the tribal people by providing the assistance,” she asked.
“If the UCIL insists on mining, we shall file a criminal case against them for trying to knowingly kill the people of the State. People in these areas and in the State as a whole, should be told and made aware of the dangers of uranium mining and its waste which will cause cancer,” she added.

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