The Assembly Committee on Environment today undertook a study tour of the uranium rich sites at Wahkaji, Mawthabah and Domiasiat in South West Khasi Hills district.
It may be mentioned in September this year that there were reports of alleged leakage of radiation from a concrete tank storing uranium effluents at Nongbah Jynrin.
These tanks were built a few decades ago reportedly for storing wastes extracted during the exploratory drilling for uranium deposits.
“We came here after seeing reports in the media that there are cracks in the tanks storing radioactive wastes from the exploratory uranium mining. Reports also stated that due to this radiation level has increased in the area,” committee chairman and Mawphlang legislator Syntar Klas Sunn said.
The Assembly Committee on Environment chairman said that the members decided to undertake a study tour of the area since they were concerned if there was any contamination to the environment due to the radiation.
“It is our duty to come here and get first hand information from the residents, pressure groups if such claims are true or not,” Sunn added.
He said that after the views of all concerned in the area the committee will have a sitting and discuss what the way forward is.
The delegation of the Assembly committee was accompanied by officials of the Atomic Mineral Division (AMD) and doctors from the State Health Department.
Recently, the State government has entrusted NEHU and IIT Guwahati to form a panel of experts for an in-depth examination of the tanks storing uranium ores at Nongbah Jynrin.
Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits. It is the third uranium-rich State in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
Exploratory drilling of uranium deposits in and around Mawthabah and adjacent areas in the past was undertaken by the AMD.
However, on August 29, 2017, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) which was tasked with mining and processing of uranium in the area temporarily closed down its establishments as it did not receive mining lease and statutory permission from the State government.
In the past, the UCIL had proposed to set up an open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah in the district.
There was a proposal by the Centre and the UCIL to mine uranium from the Kylleng-Pyndengsohïong-Mawthabah area in South West Khasi Hills district, leading to stiff opposition from anti-uranium groups including the KSU and other organisations.
The Centre’s move to build a two-lane road, including a 68km two-lane road that will connect to Mawthabah was also stopped as anti-uranium groups protested against construction of the road which they said was to facilitate uranium mining.