There has been a lack of serious action to deal with alleged radiation leaks in South West Khasi Hills other than having VIPs travel there for photo ops, environmental activist Bremley Wanbantei Lyngdoh said today.
Lyngdoh, who carried out measurements of radiation levels in and around Nongbah-Jynrin village in October, brought the issue of uranium and its ill effects back to the fore in Meghalaya, prompting the government to belatedly call for an expert investigation.
“I have seen no serious steps taken until now except for photo sessions of important people visiting the area,” he told reporters today.
He also said that whoever in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) who gave permission for uranium exploration in the area to the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) committed a blunder and something should be done to address the risk faced by the people living there.
“If our people, especially the farmers, are at risk because of the extreme exposure to radiation from the contaminated soil and water, relocate them like is being done in Japan and other countries because we cannot just abandon our people,” he opined.
Lyngdoh claimed to have come across children born with deformities that could have been caused by their mothers’ exposure to high levels of radiation in the region. He also said that the situation is serious because contaminated river water flows all the way into Bangladesh and has “contaminated everything”.
The local river needs to be off limits to local residents, until it can be cleaned up, and a new water source made available to them, he stressed, adding that there is a need for an independent scientific assessment and research scholars equipped with the right devices that will test the soil and water in the area, including a health assessment team that will collect all the data.