VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) will conduct a hearing on September 5 on the complaints of groundwater pollution due to uranium mining in Vemula Mandal of Kadapa district. The APCCB has issued a show-cause notice to Uranium Corporation of India Limited in the first week of August in this regard. During an interaction with media persons in Vijayawada, APCCB Chairman BSS Prasad said there were several apprehensions on the release of slurry after the treatment of the mined uranium into the tailing pond.
He said though the tailing pond was lined with bentonite to prevent the seepage of the chemicals into the ground, as a precautionary measure, the APCCB had recommended for lining the pond with a layer of polyethene with an adequate protective layer of clay or sand of 250 mm. “However, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited is yet to implement the same. Meanwhile, we have received complaints from Kadapa MP YS Avinash Reddy and the people from 6-7 villages in Vemula Mandal that the water from the borewells sunk in the area is getting contaminated, leading to illness,” he said.
The APCCB had directed the UCIL to submit a time-bound action plan to remediate the existing tailing pond and shift all the tailings from the existing pond to the proposed tailing pond. Meanwhile, without any permission, the UCIL has started construction work to increase the height of the earthen pond of the tailing pond without taking required preventive measures to avoid the possible contamination and pollution problems that may arise. “We have issued a show-cause notice and now a hearing will be held, which is likely to be attended by higher officials of the UCIL,” he said.
People in villages of Vemula Mandal near the uranium mining area are demanding that the UCIL provide piped water supply, which is expected to cost around Rs 8 crore, jobs for locals and acquire 120 acres of land that was earmarked for future expansion of mining activity.
Prasad said several apprehensions are also being expressed over the proposed uranium mining in the Nallamala forest and at Peddagutta located in Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir. According to him, people are fearing that any seepage of the radioactive mineral into the water while mining will adversely affect the drinking water supply, as people in four districts of Andhra Pradesh are dependent on Nagarjuna Sagar for drinking water.