India has initiated exploration for uranium close to the Indo-Chinese border in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The development comes a few days after China’s parliament adopted its 14th five-year plan under which a hydropower project will be built on the Brahmaputra River in Tibet, close to the Arunachal Pradesh border, over which India has raised concerns.
Scientists from India’s Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research have started exploration barely three kilometres away from the Indo-Chinese border, in the village of Mechuka on the Indian side. Mechuka was a strategic location during the 1962 Indo-China War.
The exploration has been taken up about 619 metres from ground level in Aalo town in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders with China.
“We have started explorations in the entire north-eastern states like Tripura, Assam of the country including various parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Exploration at Mechuka is at the initial stage and it will take a long time before we start drilling”, a highly placed official at the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research told Sputnik on the condition of anonymity.
The official underlined that a shortage of geoscientists has been creating hurdles in the exploration, but emphasised that the organisation will start exploration in more areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
“Any border issue (conflict) is not creating hurdles for us. We will go as per our plan”, the official underscored.
China considers Arunachal Pradesh, the size of Austria, to be a part of “South Tibet” and Beijing made attempts to establish its sovereignty by announcing standardised official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh in 2017. Despite serious objections raised by Beijing, India is continuing with a massive infrastructure build-up, including advance landing grounds for fighter jets near the China border.
India has developed air-connectivity with Mechuka, as it operationalised the upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in 2016. Mechuka is capable of landing larger aircraft like C-130J planes.
The chairman and chief executive of the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Dinesh Srivastava, has attributed the accessibility of the site as one reason for uranium exploration in Arunachal Pradesh. This, coupled with encouragement from the federal government, has led to efforts being made for uranium exploration.
Uranium is primarily used for producing nuclear energy, which is considered by many a source of relatively clean energy.
As many as 11 states in India have uranium reserves, with the state of Himachal Pradesh joining them after two sites of exploration recently confirmed the presence of uranium. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Meghalaya have the largest reserves of uranium.