Jharkhand: How Nuclear Mining Has Poisoned The River And People Are Forced To Live With It
Nuclear pollution in Subarnarekha
Farmers staying on the banks of Subarnarekha river, flowing across the Chota Nagpur plateau in East India, have been complaining for decades that the river is poisoned. One research study found that the water was adulterated with radioactive alpha particles that cannot be absorbed through the skin or clothes, but if ingested cause 1,000 times more damage than other types of radiation. In some places, the levels were 160 percent higher than safe limits set by the World Health Organization.
Nuclear mining scenario in India
Radiation from installed nuclear plants in India have breached international safety standards for the past 20 years. There is a big hush-hush over the nuclear sector in India. In many cases, local communities have been strong-armed for their protests against nuclear firms. In places like Jaduguda in Jharkhand Uranium remains openly exposed and scattered everywhere; on roads, rivers and drains, and people in the surrounding barely take any protection to resist the contamination. Findings have revealed that the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd is sitting on a mountain of 1,74,000 tons of raw uranium.
After starting work in 1967 with a single mine, the corporation now controls six underground pits and one opencast operation that stretch across 1,313 hilly acres, extracting an estimated 5,000 tons of uranium ore a day, generating an annual turnover of $123 million. It supplies nine of the reactors that help India produce plutonium for its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and is thus considered vital to India’s security.
Indian uranium deposits are of medium size and the country has a modest uranium resource. Only a small part of the land mass of the total of 3.28 million sq km of Indian sub-continent is assumed to be geologically favourable for hosting uranium deposits. Of the total uranium resources identified so far, Jharkhand accounts for about 45%, Andhra Pradesh 26%, Meghalaya 16%, Rajasthan and Karnataka 4% each and remaining in other states. Nuclear power in India shall continue to draw greater attention in view of demand for clean and secured energy in coming decades. Therefore, uranium production, the front end activity of nuclear programme of the country shall continue to face the uphill task of meeting the increasing need.
A glimpse of how nuclear project is affecting people
People living close to Nuclear plants are opposing the existence of the structures because of the harmful effects of radiation.
1. According to one study by Green Peace, hair samples of 80% of 149 neurologically disabled children, mainly from Malwa region, had high levels of uranium.
2. Two water samples in Doda found the nitrate levels at 94.3 mg/l and 72.8 mg/l, much above the WHO safety limit of 50 mg/l.
3. Besides many other damning statistics of nuclear pollution, there is a reported shortfall of 97% for diagnostic radio-biology facilities.
The statistics vary for the worse in different nuclear plants across India.