Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong

The Meghalaya government on October 16 informed that it has decided to appoint an expert agency to go deep into the alleged leakage of ‘radiation’ from a concrete tank allegedly containing radioactive remnants of an exploratory uranium mining at Nongbah Jynrin village in South West Khasi Hills district bordering Bangladesh.

“The agency will study in details and come back to the government with their findings,” deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong told reporters after a review meeting.

Tynsong informed that state chief secretary MS Rao has been given the task to identify the expert team.

He said that in the wake of alleged high level of radiation in and around the area, the government felt that it was required to go for detailed investigation and engage the experts in the field.

When asked who should be part of the expert team, the deputy chief minister said: “The government would prefer well-established agencies not only from the state but from outside too.”

Stating that the government wants to notify the expert committee by next week, he said: “While issuing the order, the term of reference as well as the timeline (to complete the inquiry) will also be given.”

Recently, an environmental economist from London School of Economics, Bremley Wanbantei B Lyngdoh, who had visited Nongbah Jynrin claimed that there is a leakage of radiation.

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“The radiation ‘counts per minute’ (cpm) in the area was 315, which is very high and detrimental for any form of life,” he said.

Nongbah Jynrin is about 55 km from Mawkyrwat and 135 km from state capital Shillong.

Meghalaya is the third uranium-rich state in the country after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

On August 29, 2017, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had temporarily closed down its establishments in Meghalaya since the government-owned mining company did not receive mining lease and statutory permission from the state government.

Prior to the UCIL temporarily closing down its office, the Atomic Mineral Directorate stopped its exploratory drilling in uranium-rich South West Khasi Hills district after its officials were attacked and machines used for taking sub surface samples were also set on fire.

UCIL had proposed to set up an open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah.

Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tonnes of uranium ore deposits.

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