Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Sunday, April 09, 2000

Front Page | National | International | Regional | Opinion | Business | Sport | Science & Tech | Entertainment | Miscellaneous | Features | Classifieds | Employment | Index | Home

National | Previous | Next

'Jaduguda operations safe'

Mr. S. K. Malhotra, Head, Publicity Division, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India writes: This refers to the article titled ``Radiological Pollution/Jaduguda's Woes - The Price for Nuclear Capabilities?'' by Ms. Aarti Dhar in TheHinduon April 6.

The article is not based on scientific facts and gives a `story' about UCIL as narrated to the author. Incidentally this is not the first such article. It is ironical that such stories get published without the facts being verified from the `alleged party.' Similar question has been raised by Ms. Nirmala George in her report titled `A hefty dose of clap trap,' filed after a site visit and which appeared in `The Indian Express' dated August 22, 1999. In this article Ms. George has raised the question ``So how and perhaps more importantly why, did these reports of radiation induced abnormalities get play in the newspapers without their veracity being checked out?'' She in fact has provided the answer herself in the same article by saying ``The recent radiation scare about the Uranium Corporation's mining operations suggests an attempt to compromise Indian's nuclear competence.'' It further says - ``Atempts have been made to whip up a scare among the villagers here about radiation from the uranium mining operations at Jaduguda. Mining officials see it as an attempt to strike at the basis of Indian nuclear competence.''

Contrary to the allegation that no independent survey has been conduced by UCIL or DAE, we have in fact, commissioned two independent surveys in the villages around Jaduguda. The first one was by the faculty from Radiotherapy and Radiology Department of the Patna Medical College and in their report, they say that the radiation emission in the areas were well within the tolerance limits and also that none of the villagers from these villages have mentioned any problem to them related to radiation hazard. The second survey undertaken on request from the Bihar Government covered inhabitants residing within 2 km radius of the tailings pond. The medical team compressed the civil surgeon of East Singhbhum District, a physician and nuclear medicine specialists from the Tata Main Hospital Jamshedpur, a senior medical officer from the Mercy Hospital. Jamshedpur and doctors from the BARC Hospital, Mumbai, and the Chief Medical Officer, UCIL. The unanimous view of this team was that the cases examined had congenital anomalies, diseases due to genetic abnormalities such as thalassaemia major and retinitis pigmentose, moderate to gross spleenomegaly due to chronic malarial infection (as this is a hyper endemic area), malnutrition, post encephalitic, post head injury sequelae and certain habits (alcohol) and have no relation to radiation. Here it may be worthwhile to note that while the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has estimated the national average incidence of cancer to be 74 per one lakh population, in Jaduguda the incidence is only 22.

A radiation survey of the area around Jaduguda was also conducted by scientists from BARC and they have concluded that the operations undertaken by UCIL in the Jaduguda environment have not resulted in any increase in the natural background radiation levels beyond levels prescribed by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The background radiation prevailing at Jaduguda is about 1179 uGyly/year which is about the same level as observed in other parts of East Singhbhum District, e.g. at Jamshedpur it is 1150 uGy/year and at Ghatsila it is 1226uGy/year. The limits of radiation exposure for general public is 1000uGy/year over and above the natural background radiation.

In 1999 a team of journalists visited the tailing ponds along with officials of the UCIL and Environmental Survey Lab, Jamshedpur. The three ponds which cover an area of 82.88 acres, 35 acres of 76 acres are surrounded on three sides by verdant hills. The first two have solid embankments on the fourth side as prescribed by the AERB. The bund for the third is under construction. During this visit radiation measurements in air were done in and around these ponds in the presence of the journalists. Except for inside the pond, the radiation level was shown to be below the permissible limit set by ICRP.

As far as effluents from UCIL operations are concerned, they are treated fully before they come in contact with the local aquatic stream. The concentration of uranium in Gara Nala, Subernrekha river and Gara river have been always found to be less than the limits set by AERB and World Health Organisation. An independent Health Physics unit regularly monitors the concentration levels and discharges, if any. It ensures that the activity is not polluting the environment. The Environment Survey Laboratory collects the environmental samples for analysis for surveillence of environment. This includes: samples of streams passing through Jaduguda and local river upto several kilometres away downstream, ground water samples from wells and tube-wells from Jaduguda and surrounding areas. Samples of soil, grass, vegetables, food stuffs and aquatic organisms such as algae and fish, measurement of Gamma radiation and environmental radon in and around Jaduguda, evaluation of the natural background gamma radiation at Jaduguda and other localities upto a distance of two km.

Thus it can be concluded that the mining and milling operations at Jaduguda are conducted in a safe manner and adequate precautions are taken so that the stipulations laid down by ICRP and AERB are strictly followed to maintain the radiation exposure levels to the workers as well as to the public well within the limits.

Further, we would like to add that out of the 102 acres of total land acquired for slime dam, private land is about 51 acres. For private land, the company has paid compensation for land and house and has given employment to every adult of the relocated families. For rehabilitation the UCIL has paid for building houses and has also arranged land. The land was levelled and tube wells with hand pumps have been provided by the UCIL. We understand that the members of Environmental Committee of Bihar Legislative Council had given the responsibility of shifting these persons to Mr. Ghanshyam Biruli of JOAR. But so far he has not been able to take any concrete steps.

Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Section  : National
Previous : India, Tunisia sign extradition treaty
Next     : Maharashtra Cong.(I) resolves to form govt. on
           its own

Front Page | National | International | Regional | Opinion | Business | Sport | Science & Tech | Entertainment | Miscellaneous | Features | Classifieds | Employment | Index | Home

Copyright © 2000 The Hindu

Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu