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Uranium Mining in Meghalaya, India


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
Name of conflict:Uranium Mining in Meghalaya, India
State or province:Meghalaya
Location of conflict:West Khasi Hills
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Meghalaya 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:422
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,390,125,000.00 USD
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30000
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) from India
Relevant government actors:Meghalaya government, Chief Minister office, Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Khasi Students Union (KSU)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Khasi Students Union (KSU)
Forms of mobilization:Strikes
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.
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-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsThe 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.
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Opponents question the very meaning of development and what kind of development the region wants and needs.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Uranium Mining Proposal in Meghalaya Rejected by MoEF
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong, Mawtahbah uranium project
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KPM Uranium Mining in Meghalaya: A Controversial Project
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EPW: "Simmering Problem"
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New Uranium Mining Projects - Meghalaya, India
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'Uranium Mining killing the fish in Meghalaya'
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'Meghalaya governor bats for uranium mining'
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'Uranium mining keeps Meghalaya on toes'
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'Meghalaya Governor advocates uranium mining'
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Bremley speaking on Uranium Mining in Meghalaya
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Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Experimental Uranium Mining
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Bremley speaking on Uranium Mining in Meghalaya
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Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:933
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