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Uranium Mining in Nallamala Forest

  • 17 Sep 2019
  • 5 min read

Recently Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has granted in-principle approval to the Department of Atomic Energy to survey and explore for uranium in 83 sq km of the Nallamala Forest Reserve.

  • The Telangana State Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Central government not to permit uranium mining operations in Amrabad Tiger Reserve part of Nallamala forests and other areas of Telangana.

Background

  • About 63 organizations, including political parties, several environment activists have come together to form the ‘Struggle Committee against Uranium Mining’
  • This committee aims to strengthen and take forward the campaign ‘Save Nallamalla Forest’ to stop mining in the tiger reserve.
  • Uranium Mining in these areas also threatens the survival and livelihoods of Chenchu tribals, who live in the Amrabad forests.

Legal Framework For Uranium Mining

  • In pursuance to entry at serial No. 54 of List I, the Parliament has passed ‘The Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957’. However, with respect to minor minerals, the rulemaking powers have been delegated to the States through this act.
  • Since Uranium is a major mineral, it is managed by the Union Government under provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
  • The policy and legislation relating to Major minerals are managed by the Ministry of Mines But Uranium being an atomic mineral is managed by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
  • Many of these mineral deposits are found in rich forest reserves and thus approval of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change becomes necessary.

Uranium Mining In India

  • In India, Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks.
  • It occurs along the Singbhum Copper belt (Jharkhand); Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Significant quantity of reserves were recently discovered in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between Seshachalam forest and Sresailam (Southern edge of Andhra to Southern edge of Telangana).
  • Uranium is used as a fuel for nuclear power reactors for electricity generation, in the manufacture of radioisotopes for medical applications and in nuclear science research.

Impacts of Uranium Mining

  • Drilling of 4,000 deep holes will end up destroying the Amrabad Tiger Reserve which is home to a vast variety of wildlife.
  • The exploration will expose and pollute surface water, groundwater and leech minerals, and dangerous chemicals into the Nagarjunasagar Dam.
  • Construction of roads will fragment and degrade the dry forests, which may never recover after such a massive exercise.
  • Rare, endangered and unique species of flora and fauna and overall biodiversity will be destroyed.
  • Radiations from these mines will cause harm to the lives of people who live around them, which has been observed in Jharkhand’s Jaduguda.

Nallamala Forest Reserve

  • Nallamala Forest Reserve is located in Nallamala Ranges of the Eastern Ghats.
  • A part of the forest reserve belongs to the Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve which is the largest Tiger Reserve in India.
  • Amrabad Tiger Reserve also lies in the Nallamala hills.

Chenchu Tribe

  • The Chenchus are Scheduled Tribe in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Odisha. But many Chenchus live in the dense Nallamala forest of Andhra Pradesh.
  • They are an aboriginal tribe whose traditional way of life has been based on hunting and gathering.
  • The Chenchus speak the Chenchu language, a member of the Dravidian language family.
  • Chenchu's relationship with non-tribal people has been largely symbiotic.

Source: TH

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