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UCIL land leased after owners agreed: Lapang
Correspondent SHILLONG, SEP 1:
Published on 2 Sep. 2009 12:55 AM IST
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In the wake of people’s protest against the leasing 422 acres of land to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang said the decision to lease out the land was taken after landowners agreed to give their land to the government-owned uranium mining company. “The Cabinet’s decision on leasing of land to the UCIL has been made after land owners agreed to give their land for UCIL which they (land owners) have also signed an agreement with the UCIL on this,” Lapang told journalists here late last night. He said the land will be lease out for 30 years in the uranium-rich West Khasi Hills district for Rs 1,000 crore ‘’pre-project’’ developmental works. Initially, the UCIL would invest Rs 209 crore. “This only a pre-project developmental work to provide better educational institutions, hospitals and roads and other infrastructure to the people in the area,” Lapang said. The developmental project would entail Rs 1,000 crore, Lapang said, adding the Corporation would invest Rs 209 crore in the initial phase. However, the cabinet’s decision has mirred into a controversy with the anti-mining groups terming the Cabinet approval as an “attempt to lay the groundwork for uranium mining in West Khasi Hills district”. The Khasi student’s Union (KSU) which is spearheading the anti-uranium mining a 15-day ultimatum to the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance coalition government to reverse its controversial decision. “If the government failed to reverse the decision, the students’ body will then decide its next action plan to force the government to cave in to its demand,” KSU Chief Samuel Jyrwa said. ‘’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 1,046 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. The UCIL, however, has failed to 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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