Legal Aspect of Uranium Mining in India: Issues and Concerns
14 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020 Last revised: 15 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 7, 2020
A large number of nuclear energy power plants being set up across India with 22 nuclear power plants working produce 2.8% of the total electricity generated across the country. Also, there are 6 under construction and 31 under a proposal for construction have the basic fuel requirement as the radioactive minerals like uranium isotopes, plutonium, and thorium. The demand for the fuel is going to increase with time and there is a need to either import or to excavate out the ores of radioactive substances like the Uraninite ore deposits found across the states of Jharkhand, Telangana, Meghalaya, etc. that fulfill the requirement. The ore is excavated out by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited which is controlled by the Department of Atomic Energy and the mining and processing of the same is regulated by the Atomic Energy Act 1962. In the research paper, the author has acknowledged the issue of contradiction between the mining grants given to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the environment protection laws like Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which declared the area as restricted area for any human activity. The scope of powers given to UCIL under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 for the mining of uranium and the restrictions that can be put on the same by the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is also critically analyzed. India's ratification of the International Atomic Energy Association's Additional protocols and the UCIL's way of dealing with the sustainable development goal of IAEA, in line with its "Atoms for peace and development" set out in the United Nations Agenda (2030) for Sustainable Development is also examined. In its conclusion, the author has said that there was a violation of the Article 19 (1) (d) and (e) and Article 21 in the Jaduguda mining project and non-compliance with the procedures mentioned under the various environmental laws in the uranium mining projects in Nalgonda like Environment Protection Strategy (EPS) 2002, Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2006 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006. It is also concluded that the best stand of government could be to import uranium from the other nations by complying with the IAEA guidelines and by bilateral treaties like the Indo-US nuclear deal of 2007 thus surpassing the restrictions placed on the country for not being the signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and not being the member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Keywords: UCIL, Uranium, Atomic Energy Act, 1962, IAEA
JEL Classification: K29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation