Row over uranium mining in Meghalaya
the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (moef) cleared a controversial mining project by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited in Meghalaya last month, triggering fresh protests by local human rights and student groups in the state. The Rs 814 crore proposed Kylleng Pyndengso-hiong opencast uranium mining and processing project at Mawthabah in the West Khasi Hills district requires 351 hectares and will impact over 75 villages within a 20-km radius of the project area. The population of these 78 villages, according to the 2001 census, is 26,108.
The ministry cleared the project saying the area was primarily wasteland and "no ecologically sensitive area such as national park, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or tiger reserve is reported to be located in the core and buffer zone of the mine'. Local organizations, like the Khasi Students Union and the Meghalaya People's Human Rights Council, have "strongly objected' to moef's clearance and threatened "further agitations'. In June 2007, a public hearing on the project was held amid a general strike in the state and fierce opposition on health and environmental grounds by civil rights organizations and political groups (see