After much uproar in the state against uranium mining in the Nallamala forest area in Telangana, the state government on Sunday clarified its stand on the issue. Municipal Administration and IT Minister KT Rama Rao said on the floor of the Telangana Legislative Council that his government has not given any permission for uranium mining in the area – and will not give permission in future either.
Speaking on the second-day of the state Assembly session on Sunday, KTR explained that there is a difference between exploration and mining, and that while exploration comes under the union government’s purview, mining will come under the state government’s purview. “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 take a decision based on national interest. This is all under the purview of union government,” KTR explained.
“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,” KTR said.
“The exploration will be carried out by the Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) for Expansion and Research, and after the AMD exploration, the state government has to give permission (to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited) for the actual mining,” he explained, clarifying that the state government has no intention of giving permission.
Have announced the Govt stand on Uranium mining issue in Legislative Council today:— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 15, 2019
NO mining permission has been accorded by Telangana Govt
We will NOT permit any uranium mining in Nallamala forest area
He also added that the State Wildlife Board which is being headed by Chief Minister KCR has categorically refused to give the permissions.
KTR also said that no government has bad intentions in giving permissions for uranium mining, and that everyone has been very careful since the Chernobyl disaster. “Uranium is not just used for power generation, it is also used for space projects like Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan,” he said.
The minister slammed the opposition and media, accusing them of fear mongering around the issue. Referring to allegations that the Krishna river water was being polluted, he said, “There is no question of contamination till the mining process is done. There is no mining right now.”
The controversy surrounding uranium mining in the Nallamala forest area has been gaining steam in the last few weeks.
Earlier in May, a proposal was considered by the Forest Advisory Committee after the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recently recommended an 'in-principle' approval to the Department of Atomic Energy for survey and exploration of uranium in over 83 square kilometres of land in Nallamala forests in Amrabad area. The FAC in its approval noted that there were 'certain deficiencies' in the proposal by the DEA – but went ahead and gave the permission for exploration anyway.
In the last week however, the Save Nallamala movement gained momentum after celebrities from the Telugu states joined the fight against the proposed uranium mining and exploration in the forest.