A 10-member Assembly committee on the environment has recommended a health survey of residents of the uranium-rich lands of Domiasiat, South West Khasi Hills, to gauge if they have suffered ill effects due to radiation.
The committee, led by independent MLA Syntar Klas Sunn, also expressed concern over the relatively higher radiation levels found along the Jimiri River, which flows near a uranium mining site and repository tanks used to store treated waste from exploratory drilling conducted in the 1990s by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd and Atomic Minerals Directorate.
“As the surface water is the main source of drinking water for the villages adjoining Domiasiat, the uranium content in water bodies have to be monitored on a regular basis,” the committee said in its report tabled in the Assembly today.
“Considering the varying radiation level in and around the area, the committee has also recommended that a health survey may need to be conducted to ascertain the health condition of people residing in the area and report may be submitted to the Assembly by the Health Department,” the report read.
Seven of the committee’s members undertook an inspection of Domiasiat, Nongbah-Jynrin and Wahkaji on November 3 following reports by members of the public over supposed high levels of radiation in the area.
Cracks in the tanks that led the initial reports of radiation leakage in September could have been around five years old, the committee quoted the Syiem of Hima Langrin as saying as very few people ever visited the remote area.
The committee admitted that background radiation levels in the area are comparatively high due to the presence of uranium deposits in the soil but recommended the state government engage an independent agency to conduct a study on the radiation level in the uranium-rich areas in the district. As of now the government has tasked North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) and IIT Guwahati with conducting separate studies.
The panel also recommended that the three test pits and two repository tanks be declared as off-limits to the public and, given its remote location, that a police outpost be set up in Wahkaji to secure the location.