Uranium Mining in Meghalaya, India


Description

Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong, Mawthabah (KPM) uranium mining project is located in the West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state in the North East region of India. Formerly this project was also known as Domiasiat uranium mining project. The Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research in 1972 found evidences of uranium deposits in the area which was confirmed by 1996 after intensive drilling between 1992 and 1996. Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) proposes to mine it using open pit mining method up to a depth of 45 m. The processing plant will be constructed at Mawthabah. It is estimated that KPM deposit in Meghalaya will last for 25 years.

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Basic Data
NameUranium Mining in Meghalaya, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceMeghalaya
SiteWest Khasi Hills
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Uranium extraction
Specific CommoditiesUranium
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMeghalaya is the third uranium rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The state accounts for 16 per cent of Indias uranium reserves, with deposits estimated to be around 9,500 tones and 4,000 tones respectively at Domiasiat and Wakhyn, both in West Khasi hills region.
Project Area (in hectares)422
Level of Investment (in USD)1,390,125,000.00 USD
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population30000
Start Date2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesUranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) from India
Relevant government actorsMeghalaya government, Chief Minister office, Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKhasi Students Union (KSU)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Khasi Students Union (KSU)
Forms of MobilizationStrikes
KSU opposed uranium mining proposal on the ground that it would degrade environment and precipitate health hazards in and around the mines. KSU would not let the UCIL to undertake mining until and unless its concerns are fully addressed.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherThe project will bring large number of people from outside the state who remain alien to the language and culture of local indigenous Khasi tribal population thus posing serious damage not only to the local demography but also to their culture to which the group is very protective.
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesOpponents question the very meaning of development and what kind of development the region wants and needs.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The proposal for a uranium mining project in Meghalaya has been the subject of a raging debate ever since the idea was first mooted. Over the years, the project has attracted strong opposition from the indigenous people of the state, student bodies, activists, and environmentalists. The public debate has justifiably focused on the health hazards associated with uranium mining. However, the social, cultural, and political fallouts of the project might well be just as important.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Uranium Mining Proposal in Meghalaya Rejected by MoEF
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References

EPW: "Simmering Problem"
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New Uranium Mining Projects - Meghalaya, India
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Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong, Mawtahbah uranium project
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KPM Uranium Mining in Meghalaya: A Controversial Project
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Links

'Meghalaya governor bats for uranium mining'
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'Uranium Mining killing the fish in Meghalaya'
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'Meghalaya Governor advocates uranium mining'
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'Uranium mining keeps Meghalaya on toes'
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URANIUM MINING
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Media Links

Bremley speaking on Uranium Mining in Meghalaya
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Bremley speaking on Uranium Mining in Meghalaya
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Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Experimental Uranium Mining
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update09/02/2015
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