MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining by Uranium Corporation can lead to serious ailments: Survey

Published by MAC on 2003-08-21

Mining by Uranium Corporation can lead to serious ailments: Survey

21 August 2003

New India Express

Hyderabad: Congenital deformities, tuberculosis, lung diseases and serious ailments will be a regular feature if the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) commences its mining and ore processing operations in the Nalgonda district if a survey conducted by a voluntary agency at Jaduguda in Jharkhand is any indication.

The Gujarat-based Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya Vedchhi (SKVV) conducted the survey in two villages in the vicinity of Jaduguda (where a similar plant has been in operation for many years) and two other villages at a distant place from the plant.

It was found that the number of infants born with genetic disorders was six times higher than normal due to the harmful radiation emitted by UCIL's operations for more than two decades.

Of the 70 such cases reported, 60 were born with congenital deformities in villages close to the Uranium plant whereas 10 were born in non-affected areas. Moreover, 16 out of the 60 were mentally retarded compared to one in other areas.

Cases of infants born with Polydactyl (extra fingers or toes) and synductyl (fused or missing fingers and toes) is also common in the affected areas.

"By this, we can safely conclude that living in the vicinity of a Uranium mining and processing plant is an invitation to produce deformed children," Dr Surendra Gadekar of the Vedchhi, who was here to study the proposal to set up a Uranium mining unit in Nalgonda district, said.

Similarly, out of the 107 Tuberculosis cases reported in the area, 50 cases were from the 591 persons working in the mines and the remaining 57 from the general population of 7,051.

The survey said that while the incidence of the lung cancer and silicosis was high amongst the people engaged in mining and processing of Uranium ore all over the world, not a single case was reported in Jaduguda even though the incidence of Tuberculosis was high among the locals. "Wrong diagnosis helps the company since silicosis is a occupationally caused disease whereas Tuberculosis is not," Gadekar alleged.

Company's Version: The UCIL officials, however, dismissed there allegations saying that the health and demographic studies conducted from time to time around the company's operating units have proved that there has been no adverse effect on the health of the residents in the vicinity of the plant.

"We assure that the people of the four villages in P A Palli mandal of Nalgonda district will not suffer on account of the mining and processing operations," they said.

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