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Catholic Church calls for dialogue on UCIL
Correspondent SHILLONG, OCT 29:
Published on 29 Oct. 2009 11:54 PM IST
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Calling for constructive dialogue over the proposed open-cast uranium mining, the Roman Catholic Church in Meghalaya said that the government should ponder responsibly before taking a final decision to it. “Whatever we do, it should be on the basis of human development and there has to be serious pondering about the impact of the decision taken,” Archbishop Dominic Jala said. Stating that the Catholic Church was yet to take stand on the proposed mining of uranium in state’s West Khasi Hills district, the Archbishop said, “This is a political decision to be tackled at the political level.” He added that the Church would not be readily committed to participate in tomorrow’s hunger strike protest against the government’s decision to start “pre-mining developmental projects” in the proposed uranium areas. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI’s document on Charity and Truth, Archbishop Jala said that the proposed mining of uranium and other natural resources in the state should be “approached from the question of faith” and not “as politicians and economists” do. “Our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it,” Archbishop Jala, of the Shillong Archdiocese, which is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee year as a diocese from November 1 to 8 next, observed. According to Archbishop Jala the stand that Pope Benedict maintained is that decisions taken by leaders “could mean the growth or destruction of our society.” He said according to Pope Benedict this means being committed to making joint decisions “after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.” Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of Social Organisation (CCSO) today temporarily suspended its hunger strike tomorrow to protest following the Meghalaya government’s invitation for dialogue. The Organisation is protesting against the government’s decision to lease 422 square hectares of land in uranium-areas of West Khasi Hills district to Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL). “The CCSO have decided to call off its proposed hunger strike to facilitate talks with the Chief Minister on our demand to scarp its decision to lease land to the uranium mining company,” CCSO Chairman Emlang Lyttan said. The government has proposed to hold a dialogue on November 3 after Lapang returns to the state from Mumbai. The Chief Minister is also expected to hold separate meetings with pro-uranium mining groups, who had for long demanded to operationalise the Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah uranium project in the state. Similarly, the KSU which was spearheading the anti-uranium mining protest, had also temporarily suspended its agitation after the government’s offer for talks. The KSU and CCSO has demanded from the government to scrap its decision to lease 422 square hectares of land in uranium-rich areas of West Khasi Hills district to the UCIL for 30 years. The UCIL will undertake ‘’pre-mining developmental projects’’ in proposed open-cast uranium areas. The UCIL would invest Rs 1,000 crore to undertake pre-developmental project activities to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Initially, the government-owned mining company would invest Rs 209 crore for these projects. The proposed Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah Uranium Project in the state has been hanging fire for three decades due to opposition from tribesmen of the state. Various groups, including political parties, were opposing to mining of uranium apprehending health and environmental hazards following the uranium projects.

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