It is one of India’s best kept secrets-A Nightmare Called Jaduguda #Mustread


Disclaimer: this article contains some disturbing pictures.

Anuj Wankhede

The Dark Underbelly of Uranium Mining in India

It is one of India’s best kept secrets. This is the story of genocide.

After over 50 years of Independence, there is another India which nobody talks about.

Why?

Because nobody knows about Jaduguda.

I spoke to hundreds of people in Mumbai and not one person has ever heard of Jaduguda or its sad legacy.

What is happening in the name of National Pride and Self-Sufficiency is a NATIONAL SHAME. A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

Next time you charge your mobile phone, switch on the AC or your TV, think about the enormous and horrifying cost being extracted. Jaduguda in Jharkhand is one such cursed place. Cursed, because it has India’s largest uranium mines. A curse called uranium has poisoned generations and will continue to haunt all future generations too.

This is a story which a few people have tried to tell. Many times over.
Yet, no solution is in sight to this living horror.
But then, probably nobody has found an answer because nobody WANTS to find an answer?

SUMMARY:
The power that is fed into homes using nuclear energy has its genesis in Jharkhand, from where the raw material – Uranium – to power the reactors is extracted.

India has sufficient uranium deposits to build a few hundred nuclear bombs but it does not have the required amount of uranium to fuel its Atomic Power Plants. The largest deposits were found in the 1960s at Jaduguda and the nuclear lobby in India rushed in to exploit the ore there. Since 1967, the Jaduguda region of Bihar has been exploited for its uranium and so have its people.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) formed the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) with a mandate to explore and mine this precious ore. UCIL started the exploitation of man and nature the very next year in 1968.

Forty four years later it has created a tragic legacy which includes loss of health, disease, deaths, ruining of social fabric and professions, environmental destruction and irreparable damage to the ecology.

The only ones who have profitted from this deprivation are those associated with the Nuclear Club – those who need uranium for dubious power and atomic weapons.

THE FACTS:
The Jaduguda mines (and to a small extent, the uranium mines in Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh) supply the bulk of the uranium needed as fuel to the ever increasing reactors in India. Currently, India has one Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) at Hyderabad in Southern India which is over a thousand kilometers from Jaduguda and even further from the North Eastern mines in Meghalaya.

The original mines at Jaduguda have since been expanded and now include the Narwapahar mines a few kilometres away. Together, they make it possible to extract thousands of tonnes of earth each day using a mix of techniques.

IN THE BEGINNING:

As it usually happens, the land where the uranium was discovered belonged to the tribals (adivasis), who had lived there for hundreds of years and co-existed with nature. Elders recall that the tribals were strong and rarely (if ever) fell ill. The ecology was self-sufficient with man and nature providing and caring for each other.

Enter UCIL.

As usual with any nuclear project, there was complete secrecy. This was easy in India of the 1960s and remains so even today. Anything nuclear is considered top secret and classified information and the DAE has to be brought kicking and screaming into courts before they divulge any information – at times even misinformation.

UCIL’s job was of course made easier because of the remoteness of the mines and the lack of education among the tribals. Moreover, the tribals were a trusting lot – as they would later discover to their peril.

Ergo, when UCIL commenced operations there, they acquired tribal land and made no mention about the kind of material that would be mined. Nor did they inform the locals about the hazardous nature of radiation.

As long as uranium remains in nature, buried deep within the earth, it is not dangerous. But the mining process brings it out in concentrated quantities, which is further ground into dust, and it is this phase where radiation starts taking its toll by entering the body and the ecology.

To understand this better look at the uranium cycle below -

At Jaduguda, the ore is mined, milled, refined into Yellow Cake and despatched to the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), Hyderabad by road and then by trains.

As can be seen, uranium ore goes through a number of processing phases and at each stage it pollutes the environment in more ways than one.

It is important to note that unlike this diagram above, it is alleged that the depleted (or spent) uranium waste is brought back to Jaduguda for “disposal,” i.e. thrown away as debris!

When UCIL started operations, locals were promised firm jobs, medical facilities, schools, roads, better opportunities and some say even bribe money. There are stories of locals being taken to far off nuclear facilities so as to impress them about the high technology, cleanliness and safety of the project.

The tribals trusted the government and were trapped.

For UCIL, there was a need for people to go down into the bowels of the earth and come up with the uranium ore for which it deployed the tribals. They needed labour because even the best of mining technology still needs physical labour. The open pit mining requires people to physically go deep down into the mines to dig further and load the ore for transportation to the surface. From there on, the other processes are also labour intensive.

What this means is that ALL these people working in the mines were subjected to radiation for prolonged periods of time. They inhaled the uranium, worked with no protective clothing and ate contaminated food. When they finished work, they returned home and their contaminated uniforms were handled and washed by the other people at homes who started getting affected by the secondary contamination.

This, however, was only one form of the uranium poisoning.

The process used for uranium extraction involves conversion into a slurry from which the precious metal is extracted. The rest of the sludge is sent into to the “tailing ponds” which are supposed to hold the highly radioactive slurry.

In reality what happens is that the tailing ponds are unable to hold all the slurry and frequently overflow, especially during the monsoons. More radioactive uranium seeps into the ground and contaminates the groundwater and rivers.

The locals are forced to use the downstream river waters for everything ranging from washing, bathing, sowing and irrigation.

It is from here that the whole uranium contamination/ poisoning cycle takes a massive leap into the food chain spreading far and wide via crops, fruits, and animals. The grass growing here is highly radioactive and when animals graze, it enters their bodies and contaminates the milk and meat.

In short, uranium enters every part of the ecosystem and continues to spread further and further via the rivers, fish, the vegetables and fruits grown there and thus, what starts as a local mine affects a vast region within no time at all.

It was the legal, moral and ethical duty of UCIL to warn the locals about what was about to hit them. But that would obviously have not suited the government.

Ideally, the whole land which was acquired for mining, blasting, processing should have been out of bounds for people and the tailing ponds made in such a manner that there is no seepage into the ground. Warning boards put up to indicate high radiation and danger zones, limit the access to site only message workers and decontaminate all material worn and handled by the workers at the site itself. The processed ore should have been safely transported in well covered vehicles to the nearest railway yard for its thousand kilometer journey to NFC Hyderabad.

All this is not a utopian dream. It is common sense.

But then, I forgot that we are talking about the DAE and UCIL. Agencies for which only the ends matter – not the means to achieve these nefarious ends.

Here are the stark realities at Jaduguda and Narwapahar -

The river, which runs past Jaduguda, is met by the murky outflow from the mine workings. Here, people wash vegetables, sow and bathe in this extremely poisonous water.

Nowhere in the region does one see warning boards. It is an open invitation to use the resources here and get poisoned.

Trucks which carry the processed material from the mines are open dumpers with just a piece of plastic thrown over the top – most often, even this is missing. The dumpers spill the material on the roads all the way from the mines to the rail yards. Radiation level meters (Geiger counters) frequently go berserk as the radiation count exceeds the maximum limit which can be displayed on these meters.

Scientists designing these counters probably never imagined that any civilian region would possibly have this amount of radiation.

School buildings have been made of stone which was extracted during blasting of the mines. Placing the radiation meters on their walls makes the counters beep furiously.

Probably military grade instrumentation with higher limits needs to be used in these “civilian” areas.

Transport

The transport from the mines to Hyderabad is another horror story. Look at the picture of this open topped dumper truck below. Often, not even a plastic sheet is thrown over it. The trucks spill the ore along the way on the road sides. The hazardous material is loaded casually on goods trains which carry this material along with rakes filled with edible items.

Look at the handling of the drums in advanced countries and how the handling happens in the developing world.

A technical committee advising the government, comprising representatives of pollution control board, industries wing and a retired atomic energy expert, noted that radioactive radiations were less than the permissible limits in Jaduguda.

The Director of UCIL’s technical department Diwakar Acharya said this in defense – “They are all retired employees. Mining methods have changed a lot in the past two decades. Earlier, the workers’ health was in grave danger due to the lack of protective clothing and modern machinery. The technology we have today keeps them, as well as the local population, completely out of harm’s way,” he says.

The sad truth is that NOTHING has changed over the years here.

What has changed is the increased greed of UCIL, NPCIL, DAE and Government of India for more and more yellow cake…….

 

Anuj Wankhede

Anuj is a Microbiologist and has a Masters in Management. A keen observer and commentator, he is an avid environmentalist who believes that ‘bigger the problem, bigger the opportunity.’He can be reached at benchmark.anuj (at) gmail.com and 9757475875.

Kudankulam project cleared by PCB: counsel


 

CHENNAI, August 2, 2012

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

“The board gave the consent after fully satisfying itself”

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) gave its consent for operating the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project on July 23, its counsel submitted before the Madras High Court on Wednesday.

During the resumed hearing of a batch of petitions before a specially-constituted Division Bench, comprising Justices P. Jyothimani and M. Duraiswamy, counsel Rita Chandrasekar said that the board gave the consent after fully satisfying itself and due inspection.

The order issued by the Member-Secretary stated: “Consent is hereby granted under Section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and under Section 21 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.” The consent was subject to provision of the Acts, rules and orders and also subject to the terms incorporated in the special and general conditions.

A copy of the order was filed before the court.

No to public hearing

Mohan Parasaran, Additional Solicitor-General, appearing for the Centre and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, said that units I and II of the KKNPP were initiated in 1989 itself. No useful purpose would be served if a public hearing for the units was held now when adequate awareness and various expert committees had gone into various issues/concerns raised in respect of the project.

The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 1991 was prospective and, for a project initiated in 1989, the notification could not be applied. An administrative note was also placed before the court whereby the PMO had clearly advised that the project should be exempted from any CRZ regulations that may come into force. Further, the 2001 CRZ notification clearly exempted Department of Atomic Energy projects from obtaining CRZ clearance.

On the issue of spent fuel of the plant, an additional affidavit was filed stating that the spent fuel would be buried deep as per Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards.

Krishna Srinivasan, counsel for the project, said that the pollution control board had given consent in 2004 for establishing the plant. It was valid for two years or till such time the company took steps to initiate the project. It had been demonstrated that the company had taken various steps to initiate the project within two years.

I.S. Inbathurai, Special Government Pleader, said the district administration conducted an offsite drill at Nakkaneri on June 9 this year. He filed the AERB’s report in this regard.

 


  • “The spent fuel will be buried deep as per AERB and IAEA standards”
  • Special Government Pleader says he had filed AERB report on offsite drill at Nakkaneri

 

Mangalore attack: Girls should skip parties, Karnataka women’s panel boss says #WTFnews


 

TNN | Aug 2, 2012,
Mangalore attack: Girls should skip parties, Karnataka women's panel boss says
BANGALORE: If the girls brutalized by moral vigilantes in Mangalore last week were looking for any womanly understanding from the Karnataka StateWomen’s Commission, they were in for a big disappointment.Commission chairperson C Manjula, who on Wednesday arrived in Mangalore to inquire into the attack on college girls and boys at Morning Mist home stay, had little to offer except: “Home stay parties mislead young girls.”

She told reporters that the commission had already condemned the attack. “I have come here to conduct an inquiry and to seek answers as to why such incidents are repeatedly taking place in Mangalore. The issue will be discussed with officials and we will try to find solutions to put an end to the menace,” she added.

Instead of taking on the vigilantes interfering in the lives of young people, she said that holding parties in remote places leads to suspicion. “I will discuss the issue with Mangalore Universityvice-chancellor TC Shivashankara Murthy and principals of colleges in the city to find solutions for the protection of young women students,” she said.

 

Poster purge: Mumbai targets Jism 2 #Censorship #Moralpolicing


 

 

 

 

 

MUMBAI: An NCP MLC has succeeded in goading the city’s mayor into playing the moral police. The latest victim is the film Jism 2, starring Sunny Leone, whose posters will now have to be removed from all BEST buses.

NCP MLC Vidya Chavan knocked on the doorsof chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, state home minister R R Patil, the special branch of Mumbai police, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte and ultimately city mayor Sunil Prabhu over the last couple of days, finally eliciting the response she was looking for from Prabhu.

The mayor took up the matter with the BEST and the BMC administrations and, by Wednesday evening, every “objectionable” poster was removed from 75 BEST buses and 25 depots, besides electricity poles and bus shelters.

The strange alacrity with which the BMC and the BEST responded drew sharp protests from legal experts and Bollywood fraternity and even other politicians.

IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh found the entire exercise a violation of personal freedom. “There are specific laws to deal with this. People having objections should have approached a court of law and it was for the court to give whatever directives it deemed fit,” he added.

A Congress MLA from the western suburbs thought it was unfair to judge the film by its posters. “Aren’t we jumping the gun and infringing on someone else’s freedom?” he asked.

Legal expert Mihir Desai felt it was completely unjustified. “The level of tolerance is going down in Mumbai and, instead of focusing on law and order, the administration wants to impose its own morality on the city,” he added.

Filmmaker and writer Mahesh Bhatt, whose daughter Pooja was the producer of the film, said he had decided to remove the posters from all over Mumbai as “it was a battle not worth fighting”. He said he had decided to replace the old posters with new ones.

“Censoring images created by the human mind has been going on since the dark ages. In recent times, I remember Qurban’s posters were pulled down by the moral police. I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same. Individual freedom has always been trampled upon under the name of larger good by the political class,” Bhatt said.

But will all this affect the film’s business? Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, “This will not affect the box-office business of the film.” Another trade pundit said there was a lot of curiosity about the film.

The moral brigade, however, saw things differently. “What is the film industry’s definition ofentertainment these days? Is making money their only motto? We talk about sexual harassment of women and the next thing we see nude posters on BEST buses and electric poles. What is the message we are giving to the youth? The Jism 2 posters are downright vulgar. Even school-going kids get to see them on roads,” was Chavan’s logic. Chavan was actively involved in closing of dance bars in the past.

Prabhu said instructions were issued to the BEST general manger to issue notices to advertising contractors to remove the posters immediately. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said, “We received a message from BMC officials that the posters were objectionable and I immediately advised the contractors to remove them.”

A representative from Rakesh Advertising that handles the advertising rights for BEST buses, told TOI: “We had overlooked the posters and it was not done intentionally. I personally received a request from Gupta and ordered my men to go to all 25 depots and remove posters from 75 buses within an hour.” The posters were also removed from other areas including bus stops and electricity police subsequently.

Civic chief Sitaram Kunte said the BMC was “concerned only with properties belonging to the BMC”. “There was a complaint from Chavan and I asked the BEST general manager to check for violations in obscenity clauses and take the necessary corrective action on BEST stands, buses and electric poles. We have nothing against the movie. We shall verify about the obscenity,” he added.

(With inputs from Rebecca Sammerval)

 

160 sorties failed but BMC to go for #cloudseeding again


 

This image explaining cloud seeding shows the ...

This image explaining cloud seeding shows the chemical either silver iodine or dry ice being dumped onto the cloud which then becomes a rain shower. The process shown in the upper right is what is happening in the cloud and the process of condensation to the introduced chemicals. Sources for image: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Linah Baliga, TNN Aug 1, 2012,

MUMBAI: Having failed to make artificial rains despite 160 attempts in 2009, the civic body will resort to the same technique this year to make for the shortfall. On Thursday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will hold a video conference with officials from India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and Israeli firm Mekorot to decide on cloud seeding methods in catchment areas of lakes supplying water to the city. Mekorot will assist BMC with technological infrastructure like radar and aircraft.

Though civic officials admitted that last time they were unsuccessful, they said this year they are trying to correct the past mistakes. “This time we are doing it under expert guidance, as we had not sought help from agencies like IMD and IITM earlier. After discussing it with IITM they have come to a conclusion that cloud seeding is now a well established science. It’s a proven thing that cloud seeding makes inefficient clouds efficient,” additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said.

 

IITM has told BMC that Israel has extensively developed its technology on cloud seeding and has been using it for over 50 years. “Fortunately, we had a MoU with Israel’s water and energy department in June, last year. Since the past 15 days, we have been in touch with Israel’s national water company Mekorot to undertake this experiment,” he said.

In 2009, attempts were made over Tansa and Modak Sagar lakes with the help of Hyderabad-based Agni Aviation and the civic body spent Rs 8 crore on the project. Civic officials from the hydraulic department claimed that the experiment failed as BMC was unable to calculate the difference in amount of rainfall in catchment areas after cloud seeding was carried out.

Jalota said that the last experiment in 2009 at Tansa and Modak Sagar was done with the help of an aircraft and also by burning silver iodide crystals.

This time around, the experiment will involve sprinkling of silver iodide on clouds over Tansa, Bhatsa, Upper Vaitarna and Modak Sagar lakes to induce precipitation and subsequently artificial rains. “The technicians will be sitting inside the aircraft to monitor every step. The cloud seeding will be done at the base of the cloud when the cloud is having an updraft and has a reflectivity between 30dbz and 35dbz. This is the time the cloud is best suited for cloud seeding. It takes half-an-hour for the clouds to be efficient and it rains. The average speed of the cloud will be 15 metres per second,” Jalota said.

He said the civic body is in touch with Mekorot’s Mumbai base in Bandra Kurla Complex. “The modalities will be worked out on Thursday, whether or not to use IMD’s radar. We will also decide on whether Mekorot will provide us with just the aircraft or even manpower to operate the aircraft,” said Jalota.

If all goes well, Mumbaikars will also get an additional 455 million litres per day, as gates of Middle Vaitarna dam will be opened and water from the dam will be released by September.

Don’t make water supply out to be rocket science

The BMC should stop looking at outlandish ideas for maintaining supply to taps. Statistics indicate that Mumbai would not have to go through water cuts had the BMC simply turned its attention to plugging the leaks in the distribution chain and the widespread pilferage. The BMC has managed to keep the level of water cut down to 10 per cent this year but some long-term planning and attention to basic details could have done away with even this bit of pain.