Protest Over Uranium Mining In Nallamala Hills

  • 11 Aug 2019

  • On 11th August, 2019, a protest was staged again by the Joint Forum for People’s Democratic Rights against the Uranium mining in the ecologically fragile area of Nallamala hills of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Andhra Pradesh, and more recently Telangana, is the other state where uranium deposits have been found. The Cuddapah basin in Telangana has been found to have the potential for high grade and extensive uranium deposits.
  • The Department of Atomic Energy(DAE) has zeroed-in on the lush forest of the Amrabad Tiger Reserve for the mining of the Uranium.

Nallamala Hills

  • Also called the Nallamalla Range, these are a section of the Eastern Ghats which stretch primarily over Kurnool, Nellore, Guntur, Prakasam, Kadapa and Chittoor districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh and Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda districts of the state of Telangana, in India.
  • These hills comprises of NagarjunasagarSrisailam Tiger Reserve which is the largest reserve in India and the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, the second largest tiger reserve.

Reasons for Protest

Environmental Issues:

Threat to Forest Ecology:

      • The uranium mining in the forests would inevitably damage the delicate ecology of the protected areas. Further, the construction of roads and other infrastructures will fragment and degrade the dry forests, which may never recover after such a massive exercise

Water Pollution:

      • The exploration will expose and pollute surface water, groundwater and leech minerals and dangerous chemicals into the Krishna River as well as Nagarjunasagar Dam. Improper toxic waste management will further aggravate the situation giving rise to serious health issues.

Social Issues:

      • The exploration in the region has particularly triggered concerns about the Chenchus, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) in Telangana, who already are witnessing a decline in their population. Most of them reside deep in the Nallamala forest.
      • First this PVTG may face relocation problem and second the uranium mining will affect livelihood of these people, who solely dependon the forest for their living. The major concern is that they will be exposed to uranium contamination, resulting in serious health related problems.

Wildlife Protection Issues:

      • The Nallamala Hills comprises of Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam and the Amrabad Tiger Reserves. Mining here will adversely impact its variety of wildlife thriving in both the reserves. The project seems poised to destroy the entire ecology of both the tiger reserves.

Way Forward

    • Given the rising demand of energy across the country, the nuclear energy will definitely provide a long lasting solution to country’s energy scenario but at what cost. Despite large investment of money and resources, nuclear energy remains a small blip on India’s energy horizon, providing barely 3% of the electricity produced in the country.
    • Of course the uranium mining will benefit country’s people and economy but destroying entire ecosystems and scarce water bodies can hardly be compensated. Uranium mining which provides fuel for the nuclear energy can be substituted with other renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, etc., to meet both the public and country’s energy demand.