Our Bureau

Kolkata, Jan. 8

Uranium mining in Meghalaya is to start in five-to-six months, according to the State's Chief Minister, Mr D.D. Lapang.

The State Government is hopeful of resolving issues soon with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed to mining, he said.

Addressing media persons on the sidelines of the 5th North-East Summit organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here on Friday, Mr Lapang said, “A joint committee of NGOs has been formed and we intend to resolve all issues within the next three months. I am hopeful that the mining will start within the next five-to-six months.”

Relief package

The State Government has submitted a proposal to the Centre seeking Rs 2,098 crore for undertaking development work in the mining area, he said.

“We want to start with the developmental work first, and the mining part can either follow this or go along consecutively,” he said.

An estimated 16 per cent of the country's uranium reserves are located in the West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.

The deposits in the two uranium rich areas of Domiasiat and Wakhyn are estimated to be nearly 9,500 tonnes and 4,000 tonnes respectively.

Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) plans to establish an open-pit mine in the Domiasiat area, for which various pre-project activities, including preparation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Environment Management Plan (EMP) report and Detailed Project Report (DPR) have been undertaken, Mr Lapang added.

Talks with ulfa

Meanwhile, the Assam Chief Minister, Mr Tarun Gogoi, said that his Government was expecting a written offer for talks from the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

“We are expecting something in writing from ULFA,” Mr Gogoi told media persons when asked to clarify his statement earlier this month that “positive indirect signals” for talks have been received from the outfit.

“The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now growing at eight percent. Many of the ultras are surrendering because employment opportunities are being generated,” Mr Gogoi said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 9, 2010)
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