Shillong (Meghalaya ), Aug 31:The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) has said it has been “compelled” to shut down its offices in Meghalaya and terminate the services of all contract workers employed in two of its offices here.
The company has around 10 contract workers at its offices in Shillong and uranium-rich Wahkaji village.
Anti uranium mining groups like Khasi Students’ Union have been campaigning against leasing out land to UCIL for pre-mining development projects. They alleged it was a ploy to allow UCIL to mine uranium.
“The UCIL has been compelled to temporarily close down its establishments in Meghalaya.” a UCIL communique quoting its deputy general manager S K Sharma said.
UCIL had started mining activities in Meghalaya about 15 years ago but is yet to receive mining lease and other statutory permissions from the state government. The UCIL official, however, said efforts were on to get the requisite permissions from the state government.
UCIL staff posted at its offices here had lodged strong protests against the company’s decision to shift all materials to its Jharkhand office.
Requesting the cooperation of staff whose services were terminated, the UCIL official assured that the company may avail their services once permissions were received to start its Meghalaya project.
About 10 contract workers were working in the tow offices who have expressed anguish at the loss of livelihood following their termination.
The UCIL announcement came nearly a month after the Centres Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) announced it would stop exploratory drilling for uranium in Meghalaya’s South West Khasi Hills district bordering Bangladesh.
The announcement was made following the assault of three AMD officials, including a scientist, while they were trying to extract uranium samples from small boreholes for laboratory purposes.
The state cabinet had in 2016 decided to cancel the 2009 cabinet decision on an agreement to lease land measuring 422 hectares in South West Khasi Hills to the UCIL for pre-mining activities.
Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh and the deposits account for about 16 per cent of the country’s uranium reserves (9,500 tones in Domiasiat area and 4,000 tones at Wahkaji) – Agencies