Jadugoda: India’s nuclear graveyard, one of its best kept secrets

  • Doctors and international radiation experts say that nuclear chiefs have repeatedly suppressed or rebuffed their warnings.
World

The Subarnarekha River roars out of the Chota Nagpur plateau in eastern India, emptying 245 miles downstream into the Bay of Bengal, making it a vital source of life and, lately, of death.


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Reportedly, not many Indians have ever heard of Jaduguda or its sad legacy. It remains the world’s largest democracy’s best-kept secret. Cursed, because it has India’s largest uranium mines. Uranium has poisoned generations and will continue to haunt all future generations, as it has started exhibiting the harrowing shadows that it will cast on the future.

What the foreign teams uncovered was hard evidence of the toxic footprint of the country’s secret nuclear mining and fuel fabrication program. The program is now the subject of a potentially powerful legal action that shines an unusual light on India’s nuclear ambitions and casts a cloud over its future reactor operations.

Every year countless children are being affected by nuclear radiation. Dhanram Gope, 13, is mentally weak and was born with congenital deformity.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Several cases of cancer and skin diseases have been reported from people living near the tailing ponds.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)

Increases in miscarriages, impotency, infant mortality, Down’s syndrome, skeletal deformities, thalassemia have been reported. With raw radioactive ‘yellow-cake’ production to increase and more than 100,000 tons of radio-active waste stored at Jadugoda the threat to the local tribal communities is set to continue.

Two-year-old Babua Ho, who died suddenly, is buried in the backyard of his house, with his hands put in a glass and a pot of brass according to tradition.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
An orphan from a young age, Rapda Sardar was like any other healthy man in his village. But at the age of 21, his limbs suddenly started becoming deformed. (Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Young girls sit over the tailing pipe, which carries nuclear waste to the tailing pond.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)

On Aug. 21, 2014, however, a justice in this state’s court ordered an official inquiry into allegations that the nuclear industry exposed tens of thousands of workers and villagers to dangerous levels of radiation, heavy metals or other carcinogens, including arsenic, from polluted rivers and underground water supplies that have percolated through the food chain — from fish swimming in the Subarnarekha River to vegetables washed in its tainted water, according to Huffington Post’s exclusive report.

After a few decades of mining in the region, people living around the mines and the tailing ponds are finally falling prey to radiation like young Rakesh.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
The tailing pipes carrying the nuclear waste pass through roads used by locals.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Once a place of scenic beauty, dense forest, low mountains, small villages surrounded by hills and hardworking tribal people, Jadugoda is now a nuclear wasteland.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)

Huffington reported that an international team of experts found that 47 percent of women suffered disruptions to their menstrual cycle, while 18 percent had had miscarriages or stillborn babies in the previous five years. One-third were infertile. Many said their children were born with partially formed skulls, blood disorders, missing eyes or toes, fused fingers or brittle limbs.

People wash leafy vegetables in a river where nuclear waste is released. The vegetables are then sold in local markets as well as regions that are free from radiation.
Sanjay Gop, 8, is mentally disabled and has had weak limbs since birth. He attends the local school but is not allowed inside the premises without an aide.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
A truck driver stands on top of a dumper carrying uranium to the UCIL mill. The uranium dumper drivers are hired by the contractors.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)

Given the absolute secrecy that surrounds the nuclear sector in India, the case is a closed affair, and all evidence is officially presented to the judge. But the Center for Public Integrity has reviewed hundreds of pages of personal testimony and clinical reports in the case that present a disturbing scenario.

Babloo, 7, has been bed-ridden since birth. He suffers from Cerebral Palsy. His father, Bukan Singh Bangkira, works in UCIL as a uranium miner.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Laxmi Das has lost eight children within a week of their births. Her ninth child, Gudia, survived but succumbed to cerebral palsy.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Maneesha, who is three weeks old, was grossly underweight and weighed merely two pounds.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)

India’s nuclear chiefs have long maintained that ill health in the region is caused by endemic poverty and the unsanitary conditions of its tribal people, known locally as Adivasi, or first people. But the testimony and reports document how nuclear installations, fabrication plants and mines have repeatedly breached international safety standards for the past 20 years. Doctors and health workers, as well as international radiation experts, say that nuclear chiefs have repeatedly suppressed or rebuffed their warnings.

Villagers of the Ho tribe lament the death of a young one in a village.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
More than a hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste stored in the tailing ponds is constantly producing large amount of toxic gases and nuclear radiation that contaminate the environment. The dumped nuclear waste remains radioactive and dangerous for millions of years.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
The mill complex of The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at Jadugoda where the uranium is extracted from the ore.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Suffering from congenital deformity, Mohan, 19, has six toe fingers. His father, a miner in the uranium mines, died of lung cancer.
(Image: Exclusivepix Media)
Dasmati Kunti, of the Ho tribe, gives blessing to her two-year-old son, Babua, who died under unknown circumstances. (Image: Exclusivepix Media)

Note: Photos and captions are taken from Mirror’s exclusive report.