PRESS RELEASE- Jharkhandi Organisation against Radiation , Jadugoda


 Press release – JOAR (Jharkhandi Organisation against Radiation, Jadugoda) 

“ A person standing on tailing dam for a period of one year would still not be affected by any radiation” (Translated from hindi)

 Mr. S. K. Malhotra (Head of Public awareness, Department of Atomic Energy (13th April, 2013, Dainik Bhaskar)

This remark came on the concluding day of the much hyped International seminar, first of its kind hosted by UCIL in its long history of its operation in Jadugoda and surrounding areas.

In  Collaboration with International Atomic Energy Agency **(1), UCIL held a  hyped five day Seminar cum Training so called “ Uranium Exploration Strategy, Mining and Processing Techniques in India ” in a Posh hotel in Jamshedpur between 8-12 April. According to Media coverage, this Seminar saw attendance of close to 50 delegates from 25 countries and also 9 scientists from India. 

This Seminar was quite contrary to the way it was promoted as it turned out to be a covert event conducted under high security and no one was allowed to enter the premises without the pass. When students and members of the JOAR tried to attend the seminar, they were prohibited and even became target of threat by the Intelligence Officials. This raises question on choosing a posh hotel in Jamshedpur, when this could have been conducted in their own compound in Jadugoda. This programme actually turned nothing but just a propaganda to counter JOAR’s claim of severe health and environment catastrophe due to uranium mining in the region based on community experience, supported by studies conducted by reputed International organization and Universities** (2). U.C.I.L reiterated the old rhetoric that Jadugoda had low radiation, it had low grade ore here, no harmful impact of radiation, and radiation level was similar in Jaduoda and Jamshedpur…! U.C.I.L once again came aggressively that myths regarding radiation were part of an International conspiracy which was creating those misconceptions among the local People through their agents working in this region. These agents lifestyle has suddenly improved during the last few years and they even go for a foreign trip once a year. In fact CMD of U.C.I.L even said that PMO was aware of the protest happening here and other parts of country and it was keeping a close eye on it. UCIL believes unemployment is one of the main reasons for the protest and not impact of uranium mining on culture and environment.

This high voltage drama took place for five days.  On one of the days, all the delegates were taken for a visit to the Jadugoda Mines. A Foreign delegate was so overwhelmed by the visit to the mines that he later spoke to the media that this was the first time any country had given such open access to the mines. This raises a big question when the UCIL didn’t allow even media enter the public hearing in Bhatin (May 26, 2011), forget about  members and activists of JOAR and others.

.  Why this kindness and whole heartedness of the government has come up after 40 years?  On one hand, UCIL uses crores of taxpayers money to host this lavish seminar inviting foreign delegates whose credibility is unknown, but had it announced an independent study done by independent experts who have good acceptance among the all,  this would have gained  trust of the people and it could have washed some of its old sins.

What seems bizarre is UCIL blowing the same tune regarding health in this  so called International seminar which It has been doing for the last few years. It once again rejected any claim of health hazard prevalent in the region and  said that it had done health check up of 3000 people during the last one year and still no cases of female sterility or cancer was detected in anyone and there were few  cases only related to malnutrition and Malaria ( Weekly test are done and sent to environment ministry), on the other hand  IDPD studies have clearly shown that these health hazards have increased in the area compared to distant villages. (ippnw.org/pdf/jadugoda-health-survey.pdf)   U.C.I.L claimed that there is increase in the number of children in schools every year, that Jadugoda had one of the lowest drop out rate of students and that U.C.I.L has even built four marriage halls in the past one year.

In the seminar, a statement by a UCIL official which has raised alarm bell is that there are plans to not have a separate tailing pond and looking for solution to store the radioactive waste in the mines itself. They will be cautious about the amount of acid leaching and alkali leaching being used, proper care would be taken to  ensure that the rocks beneath don’t melt. With no current remedy for the three tailing dams which will have radioactive waste for thousands of years, this plan may be disastrous for the  entire ecology as the dangerous toxic chemicals may  pollute the underground aquifers, affecting ground water which will impact the entire region. In fact in newspapers(Prabhat Khabar and Hindustan dated 12th April , 2013 ), It has been reported by one of the  Expert who participated in the conference that they are ready with a technology where the uranium tailings can be mixed with sand and chemicals which would be ready for cultivation of diverse plants  and  also an already mentioned remark that even if a person stood on tailing dam for a period of one year,  one would still be not  affected by radiation, on the other hand  the research by Kyoto university professor Koide (http://www.jca.apc.org/~misatoya/jadugoda/english/koide.html ) says that the bank of tailing pond contains 10 to 100 times higher amount of  gamma radiation above normal  permissible levels.

All throughout  the seminar when U.C.I.L repeatedly said that Uranium mining is safe and there is no harm due to radiation, why couldn’t it proceed with mining in Nalgonda ( Andhra Pradesh ) in the recent past  . Why couldn’t they convince the educated people of Hyderabad who have immense pride for the nation compared to Jaduogoda ? These well- off people may not have any vested interest in going for foreign trip once a year. U.C.I.L would not have to invest on building public schools or four marriage halls in the region.

 In a democratic country like ours, U.C.I.L and DAE can’t just ignore the long suppressed voices calling them anti-national, backward etc. The children in Jadugoda will one day raise these questions and the nation have to answer those queries and it can’t  just pull things under the carpet as it did in the just concluded so called international seminar. We want to say that truth can’t be hidden for long especially during these times when people can access information from any part of the world  and know  the truth. U.C.I.L can do a concrete programme showing concern and being  accountable to the people rather than wasting common man’s tax to do these kind of event which is just to boast about its achievements

 JOAR has the following demands :

1. UCIL should follow the international safety standards like  other countries like USA (Like Church Rock clean up –( health, soil and water), Wismut Uranium mine clean up ( Former East Germany Uranium mine)

2. Stop  Uranium mining in new regions and in the existing mines. Follow the latest regulations and safety standards of health and environment.

3. A new law should be passed in the Indian parliament to compensate the workers and community members affected by uranium mining (similar to one like RECA of USA.) Form a high level constitutional committee to investigate the death/sickness of the people in the region.

4. Do base line studies in the recently opened uranium mine sites and comprehensive health and environment study by independent groups of specialist.

5. Give justice to the demands all displaced people by UCIL mining in East Singbhum and West Singhbhum

6. UCIL should declare the future plans, as after few years when mining will cease, People would be left to face the hazardous radioactive waste.  How does it  plan to clean up the waste and reclaim it to same condition as it existed before mining. What about the Plans regarding economy as prior to mines there was an agrarian economy where people were dependent on land, water for survival. Will it abandon the mines? In that situation people would be left with no choice of livelihood .

Ghanshaym Birulee,

Dumka Murmu,

Tikaram Soren

JOAR

Tilai Tand, Jadugoda Jharkhand (India)

 

 

#Mumbai-Senior journalist and witness in #Gujarat riots related case threatened


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent2/8/13

 

Mumbai – A senior journalist and a witness in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat massacre Friday accused an editor of a prominent daily of starting a “vicious vilification campaign” against him by publishing concocted news relating to the case and threatening him with more dire consequences.

Ashish Khetan – a witness in the Naroda Gaam case – sent a mail to RK Raghavan, head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat carnage, accusing Avinash Jain – the resident editor of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper – of carrying out a “vicious vilification campaign” by publishing factually incorrect articles and also threatening him with more dire consequences.

Khetan said, “The Ahmedabad edition of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper dated February 5 published a factually incorrect and depraved account of my ongoing deposition in the Naroda Gram massacre case. On the same day the Delhi edition of the same group published a story claiming that I have retracted my testimony.”

These two articles triggered a vicious vilification campaign against my evidence on social media. Clearly it’s an attempt to not only demoralize me but also vitiate the public opinion against the credibility of my ongoing evidence, he further said.

On sending a mail to Ahmedabad edition’s resident editor demanding an apology and clarification instead of correcting the mistake, the editor  Avinash  Jain called me from his cell phone and threatened that more editions of Dainik Bhaskar Group could also now start reporting that I’d retracted my statement, Khetan alleged.

In the letter, Khetan also accused defense lawyers particularly Chetan Shah of being abusive and insulting while cross-examining him.

“Through out my deposition he kept taunting and humiliating me. Also many of his questions were aimed at insulting and annoying me. But this was not all. On more than one occasion he also tried to intimidate and threaten the presiding judge. He on multiple occasions screamed at her at the top of his voice and humiliated her in front of the packed court room.” he said.

Khetan is examined in connection with the sting operation he had conducted in 2007 while working with Tehelka magazine, wherein  Babu Bajrang, a leader of Bajarang Dal and a couple of other accused persons made extra-judicial confessions.

Eleven persons were killed in the Naroda Gam massacre on 28 February 2002. 84 accused are undergoing trial in the case.

 

After release, Pak scientist Dr Khalil Chisti ‘thanks India’


Dailybhaskar.com | Dec 12, 2012, 11:54AM IST
 Comment

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday freed Pakistani vitologist Dr Khalil Chisti in connection with a murder case.
The court found Dr Chishti guilty of the offence of voluntarily causing hurt but sentenced him for the period already spent by him in jail.

Media reports say that the court ruled that there was no requirement of further custody of Dr Chisti as he has already spent 1 year and 4 months in custody.

Dr Chisti told Dainik Bhaskar: “I’m happy with Indian govt and people of India. Just want to return home (Pakistan).”

 

 

Have censored websites broken any law? #FOE


 

Agency: DNA | Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bigmother has not been around for 28 years now. But she sure is watching over us. She died before the internet happened, yet her devotees celebrate her by blocking websites.

That is some legacy. Seminars about the contemporary relevance of India’s holiest cows are rampant. Banalities are timeless, and hence ever relevant. When a pre-internet disease infects the web, it is a sure sign of a living ideology. In a throwback to times when Bigmother would lock some of us up and tell the world that this is for our own good, her devotees in charge of the Government of India have tried the same. But they lack Bigmother’s courage — she used to be rather public about her harsh dealing and silencing of her wayward children. They have secretly blocked certain webpages. The irony is that the ‘blocked’ website list stands ‘leaked’. Does right to information extend to right to information that the state wants to hide but has been leaked? Let’s not go there.

Transparency and freedom are fundamental to the health of this democratic organism. Without them, it is like a life-size sex doll, which can be inflated, paraded and used at will, only to be deflated till next time. This is why we need to look very seriously at the quivering wizards of Oz at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology who blocked internet content without explanation.

Altogether, 309 items are known to have been targeted. Many of these websites ostensibly could have fanned the flames of communal hatred. That the flame-carriers of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots or hyenas of Gujarat 2002 have not been banned from the grand old party and the saffron sangh is another matter. Websites are apparently more damaging than kerosene.

No reason has been given why a certain website or webpage or Twitter/Facebook account has been blocked. That explanation is important because that potentially opens up such unilateral silencing to legal challenge. How so? Incitement to violence, communal or otherwise, is an offence under the Indian Penal code. If the government thought that it had a legally tenable basis of pre-emptively blocking a website for that reason, it could have said so. Its secrecy and subsequent silence is akin to the hubris of the policeman who is seen taking a bribe but looks on nonchalantly as he knows that the onlooker is powerless. It also signifies a distinct brand of shamelessness that only the powerful have. If the Government of Indian Union thinks that these contents in the web would indeed incite violence, has it proceeded to press charges against the banned websites in Indian and foreign courts? Does it fear that whim of the powerful is at times not a good legal defence?

A summary look at the blocked list is important. Twocircles.net, an Indian Muslim news portal, has been targeted. Its reports of a fatal communal flare-up in Mathura have been blocked. Incidentally, this website, which has received several accolades, did sterling service in trying to check rumours by publishing in toto, the Myanmar government’s response to doctored images claiming to show massacred Muslims in the Arakan province. Did the government media, the Doordarshan do its part is checking rumours that this news portal did? Pages from prestigious news sources like Al Jazeera, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dainik Bhaskar and others have been blocked. Prestige is immaterial here, but I still list these to make a point. It is sad that one has to use this ploy and possibly tells us about the thick skin we have developed to censorship. But what really is at stake is the voice of the frail dissenter, the small fish, us. If a website is lying or is inciting violence, they can be taken to court. But to cede the state the right to indiscriminate, unilateral pre-emption without explanation is to give up our liberties. Does the internet even matter in the Indian Union? It increasingly does, the state knows it and you should too. For, if we think that there are ‘legitimate’ reasons for shutting out certain unsavoury words, then we all risk being shut off, piecemeal, at a time that suits the incumbent power of the day. The BJP has cried censorship and they are right. But I also have three words for them – Maqbul Fida Hussain.

The government, with the heritage of Emergency, has learned from the past. Now it wants to build an atmosphere where Emergency need not even be declared. It is important that it is resisted. For an unaccountable state approximates Coco Chanel who said “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” And that stinks.

Garga Chatterjee is a postdoctoral scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

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