Activist likely to visit UN again over uranium mining

SHILLONG: Activist and writer Morning Star Sumer is planning to meet representatives of the United Nations again, possibly at its headquarters in New York City, soon.
Sumer, who recently raised the issue of uranium mining at the 17th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held from April 16-27 in New York, said he is waiting for the official letter from the UN though he has got an assurance in this regard.
“I am grateful that they invited me for a second hearing,” said Sumer, who had, in the past, raised several issues on land alienation in Meghalaya.
When asked about other issues, besides uranium mining, which he would flag during his meeting with UN officials, Sumer, who is currently advisor to the South West Khasi Hills unit of the Khasi Students’ Union, said violation of the Land Act is rampant and he want to discuss on this.
“However, my primary concern is health hazards. There is no more need to talk about the hazards of uranium ore mining because this has been discussed at various levels,” said the activist, adding that he had visited the place in West Khasi Hills where exploratory mining was carried out and he had witnessed “the sufferings of people there”.
When asked to elaborate on “sufferings”, Sumer said locals there suffered from various complications, including cancer. He admitted that so far he does not have any scientific documents to prove that the river pollution and the impact on human health are results of the uranium exploration.
“But I would like independent researchers visit the place and run tests on samples. I am not a scientist to remark on specialised topics,” said Sumer.
During the recent UN forum, besides the common issues raised by the Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal People’s North East Zone (ICITP-NEZ), North East Indigenous Indian Mongolian Peoples’ Cultural Organisation (NEIIMPCO) and the South West Khasi Students’ Union (SW-KSU), complete halt to uranium mining in Meghalaya was also demanded.
“In India, successive governments have failed to satisfy us that they, or anyone else, can prevent or forestall the disastrous occurrences that would eventually lead to the things that we fear most: the miserable existence and slow, painful and untimely death of our succeeding generations and the consequent extinction of our race within a few hundred years,” the leaders of the three organisations had stated.
) The organisations also urged the UNPFII to intervene with the Indian government to stop uranium mining in West Khasi Hills.
The three organisations have also demanded that under Article 244 (A) of the Constitution, an autonomous state for Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao should be created.
The joint statement, signed by Jones Ingti Kathar, Coordinator, NEIIMPCO; Jebra Ram Muchahary, President, ICITP-NEZ and Sumer was submitted in the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
On coal mining, which has been banned in the state by the National Green Tribunal, Sumer said, “I have to think. I have to sit with some NGOs. If need be then we will (flag the issue at the UN).”
The leaders of the three organisations said, “The indigenous people of North East India such as Khasis, Karbis, Boros, Twiprasas, Dimasas, Nagas, Rabhas, Garos, Hmars and other tribes have their own territories and kings since time immemorial”.
They recommended that the “anti-indigenous people’s land laws must be repealed and the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India must be implemented in letter and in spirit.

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