‘New Delhi: The Telangana state government on Sunday sought to quell the state’s uranium mining controversy, saying that no permission would be given for any exploring or mining activities in the Nallamala forest area.
Over the last five months, a groundswell of local opposition has been building against the department of atomic energy’s (DAE) move to survey and explore for uranium in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve.
The DAE was given approval by the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change to search for the radioactive material in Amrabad, which also happens to be one of the largest tiger reserves in India.
Over the last few weeks, over 60 organisations, including local political parties, environment activists and wildlife enthusiasts have formed the ‘Struggle Committee against Uranium Mining’, a coalition that media reports say will take forward the ‘Save Nallamalla Forest’ campaign.
On Sunday, however, Telangana IT minister K.T. Rama Rao pointed out that while exploration for minerals came under the purview of the Centre, the actual mining would have to be approved at the state government level.
“Mining has two phases. One is exploration – if there is material at all it needs to be studied/researched, and those researchers will be involved in the primary phase. Geologists will go and do studies, then if they find that there are minerals in the area, they will dig borewells and drills to see how much it is there and by what time it can be available. Based on the availability and quality – the government will make a decision based on national interest. This is all under the purview of the Union government,” KTR, chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s son, was quoted as saying.
“Even if uranium is found in the forest area, for us national interest is Telangana’s interest. Our state government has not given any permission as far as mining is concerned. And will not accord the same (permission) in the future as well,” he added, while speaking on the floor of the state assembly session.
A little later in the day, K. Chandrasekhar Rao echoed his son’s views and said that an appropriate resolution would be passed in the assembly and council, expressing the opinions of both houses.
The chief minister added that the proposed exploration may contaminate river Krishna, on which Hyderabad depends for drinking water. He said the state government had never accorded permission for uranium mining post-June 2014.
“We have no intention of allowing uranium mining… We will not allow Nallmala forests to be destroyed. It will contaminate the Krishna river from which we get drinking water. It will impact our capital city Hyderabad. So at any cost, we will not allow uranium mining. This is our firm decision. I request the people of the state not to worry about it.”
Rao said that even if the Centre insisted on going ahead with the exploration, the state would fight it in a united fashion.
(With inputs from PTI)