September 27th, 2016
While India is dreaming of becoming energy efficient by 2032 by generating 63 gigawatts of nuclear power, it is taking a major toll on human lives in a small township of Jharkhand. Jadugoda has the deposits of world’s best quality uranium ore, magnesium diuranate. It is because of the rich deposits of Jadugoda; India is capitalising its nuclear power dreams. The whole belt of the reactors is affecting the indigenous people disproportionately in and around the uranium mining operational area.
The natives of Jadugoda are being exposed to radioactive materials directly and indirectly. Miners working in the mine areas inhale the dust and radon gas. Besides, the uranium ore is transported in open trucks through roads that are full of bumps. This causes the debris to fall off on the sides of the road. Radiation is also caused by dumping of mine’s tailings in uncovered ponds.
Villages lying close to the tailing ponds are the worst affected. During the dry season, dust from the tailings blows through these villages. During the monsoon rains, radioactive waste spills into the surrounding creeks and rivers, causing further internal radiation as villagers use the contaminated water for washing and drinking and also use the nearby ponds for fishing.
Children living near the mines are born with swollen heads, blood disorders and skeletal distortions. Cancer as a cause of death is more common in villages surrounding uranium operations. According to a study by Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD), 68.33 per cent people are dying before the age of 62. The local river Subarnarekha that is flowing across the place is highly contaminated with uranium.
Nuclear waste that is found in tonnes in the ponds of Jadugoda is polluting the entire place and now creeping through soil into vegetation.
Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), the company that takes up the charge of mining, however, has denied any such claims that it is affecting the small town and the communities living around it. There is hardly any safety standards the company is following to handle radioactive materials.