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15-day ultimatum to review lease of land to UCIL
Correspondent SHILLONG, AUG 31:
Published on 31 Aug. 2009 11:29 PM IST
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Opposing the Meghalaya government decision to lease 422 acres of land to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in the uranium rich West Khasi Hills district, the Khasi Students’ Union today decided to serve a 15-day ultimatum to reverse its decision. The powerful student’s body decided to serve the ultimatum to the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance coalition government after reviewing the recent Cabinet decision to lease land to government-owned mining company. “We will serve a 15-day ultimatum to the government on Tuesday to reverse the cabinet decision allowing leasing of land to the UCIL,” KSU President Samuel Jyrwa said. He said that if the government fails to reverse the cabinet decision, the students’ body will then decide its next action plan to force the government to cave in to its demand. In the Cabinet meeting, the Meghalaya government had approved leasing of land to the UCIL for 30 years to take up pre-project developmental activities on West Khasi Hills district. Chief Minister D D Lapang, however, had said that the decision of allowing the UCIL to lease land was purely for its development activities in West Khasi and not for mining of uranium. Under the pre-project development, UCIL would undertake building up of roads, schools, hospital and other infrastructure in this improvised district at an estimated cost of Rs 209 crore in the initial stage. However, the cabinet decision has snowballed into a controversy with the anti-mining groups termed the cabinet approval was an attempt to lay the groundwork for uranium mining in the state. “The issue does not concern only the students’ body but the whole state; it will also seek support from other anti-mining groups to force the government to reverse its decision,” Jyrwa said. The UCIL had proposed a Rs 1046 crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah in the West Khasi Hills district which has an estimated deposit of 9.22 million tonne of uranium ore. However the UCIL has failed drum up support for the project, with several NGOs and anti-mining, civil and human rights groups opposing the proposed mining.

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