Karnataka: Villagers resist uranium mining project

UCIL, a Government of India undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy is engaged in exploratory mining for uranium in the village from 2007.

Bangalore: A demand has been made for the
constitution of an independent team of experts to look into
the health and environmental implications of the proposed
uranium mining project in Yadgir district of Karnataka.

Stressing that any Government-commissioned study may
`suppress` some facts to favour the project, a Congress MLA
has called for an independent team of experts in the field of
uranium and nuclear energy to look into villagers` fears over
perceived health and environmental safety hazards.

Shahapur MLA Sharana Basappa Darshanapur said, "We need
an independent team of experts to give its report, based on
which we can move forward. Health of the people is of
paramount importance. The project is not as important as the
health of the people at any cost."

He said some "experts and activists" visited the village
a couple of months ago airing serious concerns about water
contamination and radiation-related health problems spreading
even to 25 or 40 km from Gogi.

"Resistance to the project will grow going forward,"
Darshanapur said, adding that with reports of Australia
agreeing to supply uranium to India, people are asking the
need to take up the project in Gogi.

Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a Government
of India undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy is
engaged in exploratory mining for uranium in the village from
2007 in 32 hectare out of 39.133 hectare taken on lease on the
outskirts of the village.

Darshanapur said a sinking shaft of 225 metres depth has
already been sunk.

UCIL intends to start main mining operation on commercial
scale for large-scale extraction of uranium.

"It has estimated total deposit of uranium oxide would be
around 4,250 tonnes. It is reported that this deposit has 0.1
per cent uranium (per tonne of uranium oxide). The proposed
unit will have capacity of 0.15 metric tons per year and may
run for about 15 years," says a report of Western Ghats Task
Force, which recently brought out a `first hand report`.

Darshanapur said lack of in-depth knowledge on the
project is contributing to fears of people, adding, questions
like how the processed ore would be disposed off needed to be

According to the Task Force, the proposed mining project
would require 102.234 hectares for ore processing. It falls in
Saidapura and Diggi villages. The forest land in Umaroddi
reserve forest and Muhadapura reserve forest area would also
fall in this proposed project area.

The proposed area comprises agricultural land, ponds,
forest land and marginal lands.

UCIL has now applied for permission from different
regulatory agencies.


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