Shabby extraction of Tiniang uranium, Government asleep
SHILLONG, Nov 28: The controversy over uranium mining in Domiasiat, Wahkaji and Mawthabah areas of West Khasi Hills district is more than two decades old, while various social organizations hit the headlines for spearheading movements to counter any move to mine the ore in those places. However, amidst the controversy, a small hamlet Tiniang appears to have been forgotten, sand-witched as it is perhaps by the three big names, rich in uranium ore.
Tiniang, in West Khasi Hills is situated about 138 kms from Shillong. A visit to Tiniang is a test of skill and endurance for drivers and passengers alike. At Tiniang, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) had set up a camp where they conducted exploratory drilling for rock samples and relevant information had been collected since 1995. It was found that Tiniang had uranium deposits of around 4,000 tonnes. But, the AMD camp at Tiniang village revealed shocking facts when journalists and the Nongtre Youth Development Organization, led by general secretary Ricky Jumiong visited the area on Friday.
Sheds constructed with galvanized iron sheets formed the AMD Tiniang Camp. Inside the three sheds, hundreds of boxes, each measuring about three inches in thickness, 12 inches broad and 6 feet high, packed with uranium ore were found. But the ores appeared to be crushed into sand like substance. There were black ore in the bags too. The sand-like substances were also found in packets and open plastic bags, the substance scattered. The doors of the sheds were marked with ‘Store 15.3.2001.’
While no officers were present to explain about the usage of the packed uranium ore and the sand-like substance, journalists also failed to get a reaction from Starwin Sangriang, a security guard and Ferdinand Paliar a mining head, who were employed since 1990, in the area. However, a resident of the area Relina Puwein informed that the land was given on lease for Rs 10,000 annually. Asked about the period of the lease, Puwein said, “The clan elders would know about it. But I also learnt that the period had ended but the AMD had got it extended for another three years.”
According to Relina, the Puwein clan bifurcated into two sub-clans- Puwien Nonglanglieh and Nongpathar. The Nongpathar clan ratified leasing of land to the AMD, she said, adding, “I don’t know what uranium is, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. Though I don’t subscribe to leasing of land to the company but I have to listen to what the elders say.” THE SENTINEL