The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of reports about a study highlighting the leakage of radioactive and toxic waste from the country’s oldest and most important uranium mine at Jaduguda in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, amid the alleged government apathy.
The study, conducted by a U.S.-based news organisation, stated that the leakage was affecting people, livestock, rivers, forests and agricultural produce in the area.
Adequate measures have not been taken to prevent toxic leaks from the site by the country’s nuclear establishment, which has systematically overlooked evidence that points to a radiation hazard, according to the study.
NHRC Member Justice D. Murugesan has observed that the contents of the reports, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of the right to health of the workers and local residents, besides damage to the environment, flora and fauna.
The Commission has issued notices to the Union government’s Department of Atomic Energy Secretary, Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) chairperson and Jharkhand Chief Secretary, calling for their reports within two weeks. The State-owned UCIL was reportedly extracting about 1,000 tonnes of uranium ore a day since 1967.
The study, authored by a journalist, relies on accounts of locals and activists, studies which had come out since 1990s and claims filed in the courts to say that mining has exposed workers and villagers to radiation, heavy metals and other carcinogens, including arsenic.