Lapang firm on decision to lease land to UCIL

Lapang firm on decision to lease land to UCIL

Shillong: Adopting a tough posture, Meghalaya chief minister D. D. Lapang on Saturday said the state government would be firm in maintaining law and order if any organisation tried to take law in their hands over the controversial uranium mining issue.

In the face of a 15-day deadline by the powerful Khasi Students Union (KSU) seeking withdrawal of the cabinet decision to lease land to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Lapang said, law and order would be maintained at all cost. The administration and the law enforcing agency would be firm in dealing with any situation.

Amid threats of large-scale agitation by anti-mining organisations led by the KSU, Lapang ruled out any review of the cabinet decision to lease land to the UCIL for pre-project developmental works in the uranium rich areas of the state.

The chief minister, however, said he was ready to discuss with KSU on the issue but added that the talks initiative should come from the other side.

The Meghalaya cabinet had decided to lease 422 sq ha of land having uranium deposits in West Khasi Hills for 30 years to UCIL for pre-project developmental works. The UCIL had agreed to earmark Rs209 crore to carry out pre-project development programmes, including health care facilities, power, drinking water, educational institutions and roads.

The mining issue in Meghalaya has been hanging fire for more than two decades now with some prominent NGOs and political parties, and KSU vehemently opposed to the proposal on the grounds that it would lead to degradation of the environment besides opening the doors of the tribal state for others.

According to UCIL estimates, there could be 3,75,000 tonnes of uranium deposits in Meghalaya. While exploratory mining was done more than one and a half decades back, the mining project is yet to start due to the vehement opposition.