NEW DELHI: Citing international geo-political scenario and energy security, an environment ministry panel has recommended for drilling boreholes for exploration of uranium in Betul, Madhya Pradesh that is expected to affect lives of tribals living here for decades.
The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has recommended Stage-I approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for prospecting of uranium and minerals for drilling of 300 boreholes with 4 inch diameter in an area of 1650 hectare in Betul in favour of Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) Department of Atomic Energy Government of India, Nagpur.
Observing that uranium being a strategic mineral and AMD is sole authority for its exploration and upkeep, the FAC after through deliberation and discussion with nodal officer of the State recommended the project for approval.
“Considering the current international geo-political scenario and energy security recommended to accord in-principle (Stage-I) approval,” according to minutes of FAC meeting held on July 31.
The blocks where the department plan to carry drilling has been habituated by Korku and Gond tribes and they have been agitating over not being allowed to enter forest area for collector of minor forest produce, which has been source of living for them for years.
India is expanding its feet in nuclear energy with the DAE planning 21 new nuclear reactors with a total installed capacity of 15,700 MW by 2031. The centre has already approved five sites for these reactors. The centre in January this year has informed the parliament that nine nuclear power reactors are at various stages of construction and are set to complete by 2024-25.
Last month, the FAC gave approval for uranium mining in Amrabad tiger reserve in Telangana citing similar reasons despite the move being opposed by the forest department. The DAE proposed to drill boreholes in four blocks of the reserve, of which three are located inside its core tiger habitat.