Meghalayaâ€™s anti-uranium mining matriarch dies at 95Published by MAC on 2020-11-03
Source: The Hindu, Indian Express
Over the years, Langrinâ€™s name has become synonymous to the anti-uranium movement.
Ms. Langrin rejected a lucrative offer from the government to buy her land after the Atomic Minerals Directorate had undertaken an exploratory drilling for uranium deposits in 1993. “Money cannot buy me freedom,” she said — to eventually became the face of Meghalaya’s anti-uranium movement and motivate locals against its “environmental ills”.
The daughters of Mei-ieit Spility Lyngdoh Langrin, the ‘Iron Lady’ of Meghalaya who stood firm against uranium mining in Domiasiat, South West Khasi Hills have made their stance clear that they will ‘continue to oppose uranium mining tooth and nail till their dying days’.
Deep respects to the spirit of Domiasat and our heartfelt condolences. As a tribute, we link this photo report by Madhavan exhibited during WSF 2004, where MAC had heavy participation: "Beyond Headlines. A Photo Exhibition on Uranium mining. Jadugoda today, Domiasiat tomorrow?"
We will oppose uranium mining till our dying day: Spility’s daughters
Nov 2, 2020
Mawkyrwat: The daughters of Mei-ieit Spility Lyngdoh Langrin, the ‘Iron Lady’ of Meghalaya who stood firm against uranium mining in Domiasiat, South West Khasi Hills have made their stance clear that they will ‘continue to oppose uranium mining tooth and nail till their dying days’.
Speaking to The Shillong Times on Saturday after their mother’s funeral, Silnola Lyngdoh Langrin, elder daughter of Mei-ieit Spility said, “After I understand through the story told by her mother on the impact of uranium on the health of humans and animals, and the basis of her stance on uranium mining, I have decided and promised that I will oppose uranium mining till my dying day”.
Smirila, Mei-ieit’s fifth daughter said, “As taught by my mother day by day, I am firm in my stance against uranium mining just like my mother who stood up until her last breath. I will follow onto the footsteps that we should not allow uranium mining.”
Asked about their youngest sister whom The Shillong Times could not meet as many people came to meet her to convey their condolences, both Silnola and Smirila said that she also shared the same opinion that they will not allow uranium mining in Domiasiat.
Asked about the stand of the whole family of Mei-ieit Spility on uranium mining, Silnola and Smirila said, “Till now as a family we are still united on the issue of uranium mining and we will continue to fight just like our mother”.
Mei-ieit Spility’s son in law, NB Syiem said, “Just as Mei-ieit Spility had rejected crore of rupees to protect her land and the people from the danger of uranium mining by saying “money cannot buy my freedom”, I will continue to fight against uranium mining in our district”.
Syiem also said that as of now all her children and grand children are still united in the fight against uranium mining.
“After Mei-ieit Spility passed away, as a family we had talked about this issue and all of us have decided that we will stand firm against uranium mining until the end,” Syiem said.
Syiem said that the visit of Cabinet minister Hamletson Dohling, North East Student Organisation Chairman Samuel B Jyrwa, HSPDP chief KP Pangniang, PBM Basawiamoit, Dr. Bremly WB Lyngdoh, Prof. JE Warjri and the KSU leaders and others have inspired the whole family to stay united in the fight against uranium mining
Meghalaya woman who resisted uranium mining dies at 95
Spility Lyngdoh Langrin mobilised opposition to Uranium Corporation’s plans in the 1990s.
The Hindu https://www.thehindu.com/news/
October 29, 2020
Spility Lyngdoh Langrin, the face of resistance to uranium mining in Meghalaya, passed away on Wednesday night. She was 95, members of her family in the uranium-rich Domïasiat area of South West Khasi Hills district said on Thursday.
Ms. Langrin became a household name when she rejected a lucrative offer from the government to buy her land after the Atomic Minerals Directorate had undertaken an exploratory drilling for uranium deposits in 1993. “Money cannot buy me freedom,” she had said — to eventually motivate locals against the “environmental ills” of uranium mining.
In 2009, the State government granted permission to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to undertake exploratory activities on 422 hectares in South West Khasi Hills district. The State was then estimated to have 9.22 million tonnes of high-grade uranium ore deposits.
Relentless protests by the locals, wary of the effects of uranium mining in Jharkhand’s Jaduguda, made the government revoke the permission in August 2016.
The Khasi Students’ Union, which had backed Ms. Langrin’s resistance, mourned her death. “The matriarch who withstood the onslaught of UCIL and its agents to forcibly mine uranium in Meghalaya has departed from us. May her soul rest in peace,” it said in a statement.
How Kong Spelity became the face of Meghalaya’s anti-uranium movement
Meghalaya’s Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin died on Wednesday at age 95. Who was she and why is she considered an icon in Meghalaya?
November 2, 2020
On Thursday, Meghalaya woke up to the news of loss. Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin — the face of the decades-long anti-uranium mining movement in Meghalaya — had passed away at her home in Domiasiat area of South West Khasi Hills district the night before. She was 95.
While not many know of Langrin in the rest of India, she was considered an icon in Meghalaya for turning down a multi-crore offer from the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a Public Sector enterprise that wanted to mine her land. “Money cannot buy me freedom,” Langrin had famously said, rejecting the offer.
In the early 1980s, Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) — a government body which identifies and evaluates uranium resources in the country — began exploratory drilling in various uranium-rich villages of Meghalaya. “She lived in a land which has India’s largest deposits of uranium,” said Tarun Bhartiya, a Shillong-based filmmaker, who has met Langrin several times. “She initially allowed AMD to start prospecting — basically search for uranium deposits — when they reached her village in the early 1980s.”
Soon, however, Langrin started noticing the hazardous impact the activity caused around her. “[Impact] on the health of her family, on her cattle — most of which died,” said Bhartiya, “Since then, she made it clear that they [the mining company] were not welcome and asked them to leave.”
In the early 2000s, when the UCIL arrived looking for ways to lease land from the villagers (most of Meghalaya is under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and any commercial activity — like mining — requires consent of local tribal councils), Langrin refused point-blank. “Money cannot buy me freedom” she told them and went on to install signboards around her home that read: “Private Property”, “Do Not Trespass” etc.
“She was very courageous,” said ND Syiem, Langrin’s son-in-law, “She refused to surrender her land. She was the only daughter in her family.” Since the Khasis are a matrilineal society, Langrin was the owner of the land.
“Even around her, as UCIL managed to convince [other] villages, Kong Spelity remained resolute and held her ground,” said Bhartiya, “And that is how she became the face of Meghalaya’s anti-uranium movement.”
The country’s largest and richest uranium deposits are located in Domiasiat and Wahkyn areas of Meghalaya. As per the AMD website, “Exploration for atomic minerals in this part of the country began way back in the 1950’s; initially, in Meghalaya and later extended to other states of Northeast India.”
The Domiasiat uranium deposit, also known as “Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong-
However, mining ambitions of the government have been met with stiff local resistance ever since the AMD arrived in the 1980s. The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Meghalaya’s influential student body, has been in the forefront of this opposition, citing environmental and health concerns.
“There was exploratory mining of uranium in the region in the 1990s but Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin, KSU, late Hopingstone Lyngdoh (MLA of Nongstoin) and the people of that area were able to stop it after seeing the impact first hand,” said Forwardman Nongrem, South West Khasi Hills District’s KSU president, “The KSU’s stance is simple: ‘no’ to uranium mining and exploratory drilling of uranium. We will not compromise on our position, come what may.”
Over the years there have been several attempts by the government to push exploratory mining in the state. In 2007, a private Kolkata company was given permission by the AMD to carry out exploratory drilling in the Nongjri region. However, in June 2011, the company was compelled to surrender its license. In 2009, UCIL had been granted 422 hectares of land in Mawthabah area. Again, stiff opposition led the government to revoke its decision in 2016.
Kong Spelity, Who was Kong Spelity, Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin, Who was Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin, Meghalaya Kong Spelity, Meghalaya uranium mining, Indian Express Her name synonymous to the anti-uranium mining movement, Langrin’s face was often plastered over banners during anti-uranium protests in Meghalaya. (Photo credit: Tarun Bhartiya)
Last month, after a crack was noticed in one of the concrete uranium effluent tanks built by the AMD in 1993 in the Nongbah Jynrin area, and locals alleged that there was a leak, the Meghalaya government constituted an expert agency to probe it.
The legend of Kong Spelity
Over the years, Langrin’s name has become synonymous to the anti-uranium mining movement — her face often plastered over banners during anti-uranium protests in the state. “While the movement has a wide coalition of people (students’ groups, women’s groups), she is the undisputed face,” said Bhartiya, “It is also because of who she was: an old lady, a mother… who had the courage to refuse such an offer. It got people thinking, if she can do it, so can others.”
According to environmental economist Dr Bremley WB Lyngdoh, Langrin inspired an entire generation. “Without her pushing, there would be full scale mining right now; for her, land was the most precious. She did not want to sell her land and everyone to suffer in her name,” he said.
Agnes Kharshiing, renowned social activist known for her battle against illegal coal mining in Meghalaya, described Langrin as a “legend.” “I admire her strength to protect her land. She lived a full life, and so should her children,” said Kharshiing, “I express my condolences to the bereaved family, and will stick by them to ensure that their land is always protected.”