Activists decry silence of scientists on radiation hazard around Jharkhand mine

Kolkata, Sep 23 (IANS) Decrying the “silence” of nuclear scientists on the alleged health hazards of uranium mining in Jharkhand, a group of activists on Friday said they handed over “radiation contaminated” soil and water samples from villages around the Jaduguda mine to a section of researchers here, as a form of protest.

Alleging radiation exposure hazards from the mine is triggering deformities and neuromuscular weaknesses among villagers in the vicinity of the mine, activist group Jal Jangal Jameen passed on the samples to scientists of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, who they said have turned a deaf ear to their grievances on radiation hazards.

“Due to mutation from radiation, deformed babies are born. We conducted a health camp recently and we discovered 46 patients out of 193 families had various deformities,” Chhandak Chatterjee, a member of the activist group which includes doctors, told IANS.

The Jaduguda Uranium ore of Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) is located in the mineralised zone of East & West Singhbhum districts of Jharkhand.

Mining operations at Jaduguda began in the year 1967. The mine has the distinction of being the first uranium mine in the country.

“The radioactive waste seeps through water bodies and is impacting the village. However, the scientists are not considering the matter at all. They say it is due to malnutrition but we are questioning why there are high numbers of deformities in that particular area,” said the activist.

In addition, he pointed to the fact that the food canteens which the UCIL officials use, procure their produce from West Bengal and Odisha.

“Vegetables and fruits also grow in area around the mine. If they claim nothing is wrong with the soil and water, then why do they procure produce from outside. If the samples are safe, they should be able to keep it with them in their rooms,” added the activist.

The forum plans to hand over similar samples to eminent nuclear physicist Bikas Sinha on Saturday.

–IANS

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