MAC: Mines and Communities

India: Save lives in Jaduguda uranium mining hub, pleads MP

Published by MAC on 2016-01-09
Source: Telegraph (India) (2016-01-09)

Save Jaduguda, MP pleads PM

Pheroze L. Vincent

The Telegraph (Calcutta)

8 January 2016

New Delhi - JMM Rajya Sabha MP Sanjiv Kumar has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and save the lives of thousands of people in uranium mining hub Jaduguda in the wake of a report by US-based Centre for Public Integrity in December 2015 which stated radiation levels were over 60 times the safety limit.

"Medical surveys warn of a high incidence of infertility, birth defects and congenital illness among people living near Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) facilities," the JMM MP wrote to Prime Minister Modi on January 5.

A fifth of India's uranium used to be generated from Jaduguda until a central directive to suspend mining was enforced in September 2014. But, Kumar stressed the damage had already been done.

There were leaks of liquid radioactive waste in 2006, 2007 and 2008 in Jaduguda. At least 35,000 Santhal, Ho, Munda and Mahali tribals in 1,313 acres of hills where mining happens, were directly affected.

MP Kumar, quoting from the US report that cites worrying findings by Japanese scientist Hiroaki Koide and Calcutta-based Jadavpur University on Jaduguda's radiation dangers, added his personal findings from testimonies of local residents in the mining hub had concurred.

Scientist Koide, who has been working intermittently in Jaduguda since 2000, had in 2004 found that "uranium rock and finely ground mine tailings (waste) had been used as ballast for road levelling and house building." He had also found radiation levels were 10 times higher than the safe limit in residential areas and lethal radioactive waste from a reactor somewhere else in India has also been dumped in Jaduguda without being treated.

Jadavpur University found the water "adulterated with radioactive alpha particles" that cannot be absorbed through skin or clothes, but if ingested can cause 1,000 times more damage than other type of radiation. "In some places, the levels were 160 percent higher than safe limits set by the World Health Organization," the university report had said in 2009.

MP Kumar concluded his letter calling for the PM's intervention in not just Jaduguda, but also India's nuclear regulatory scenario as a whole.

The MP also quoted a PAC report of 2013-14 on the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which said: "Need for granting independent and autonomous status of AERB... Deficiencies noticed in the realm of nuclear regulatory oversight framework must be addressed with a sense of urgency."

"Health problems in Jaduguda are widespread. Fish have died in Subernarekha river in places. Groundwater is unsafe in parts. As atomic energy comes under the PM's responsibilities, I hope Modi ji can intervene to save the people of Jaduguda," Kumar, a Shibu Soren loyalist who was also his lawyer, told this reporter.

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