India’s ambitious plan to become nuclear energy self-sufficient is not far as the country is all set to generate 63 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2032. The fact that the plan will lead India in the path of progress is definitely true but it is said that achievement and success come with a lot of sacrifices. And in this case, Jaduguda, a small township nestled in the Dalma range is the sacrifice India is making which the world does not know.
Jaduguda located in the East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, 31 KM from the steel city of Jamshedpur, houses the first Uranium mine of India. Yellowcake, also known as Urania is a soul of every nuclear program, and Jaduguda produces the finest Urania in the country that is sent to 9 nuclear reactors in India.
The township is perhaps just a small dot in the Indian map but it has deposits of the world’s finest uranium ore, magnesium diuranate, the ingredient of India’s nuclear dream, and Jaduguda’s nightmare.
It all started when large deposits of Uranium ore were discovered here in the year 1951. The mineralized zone where Uranium ore is found stretches over an area of 160 KM comprising the East Singbhum, West Singhbhum, and Seraikella-Kharsawan districts of Jharkhand. The area has a total of 7 uranium mines namely, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Turmadih, Bagjata, Narwapahar, Banduhurang, and Mohuldih.
Mining activity in India started in the year 1967 at Jaduguda mines which brought a whole new nuclear revolution in the country and a whole new scar to the tribal town of Jaduguda, India’s best-kept secret.
Locals were initially excited as the mines promised new employment opportunities but the excessive mining by UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India) has given the people more than just employment.
Cancers, Miscarriages, Deformalities and More
Over the past 53 years, the aggressive and unchecked mining by UCIL has destroyed the surrounding environment. The tribals have been exposed to excessive radioactivity and toxic emissions which led to blood disorders, cerebral palsy, facial tumors, muscular dystrophy, deformed skeletons, thalassemia, lung cancer, curved spines, miscarriages to name a few.
Approx 99.28% of the Uranium ore is a waste product called tailings, which are highly radioactive and can remain toxic for centuries. The treatment plant responsible for the removal of radioactive matters dumps the tailings in the ponds surrounding the township mercilessly.
Tribal people residing in the area have no choice but to drink water from the ponds having unsafe levels of heavy metals including lead, manganese, and mercury. The radioactive elements also enter the soil, livestock, rivers, forests, and agricultural produce creating havoc. The effects can be seen at a radius of 20 miles.
Further, the dumped tailings undergo radio decay only to produce other radioactive substances such as radium-226 which in turn produces radon-222, a highly toxic cancer-causing gas, that emits high-energy alpha and gamma particles.
Jaduguda has the capability to become a mining tourism site of the country but all you will find are deformed children playing around and dying, mothers weeping over the loss of their children, deformed, and cancer patients welcoming you.
The company, UCIL responsible for the mining pays no ears to the problems of the locals and media makes no reports about the felonious activities happening years after years. No one bothers to talk about this nuclear graveyard and no one wants to know about the sorrow the people here are going through.
While India enters a new phase in nuclear energy, the people of Jaduguda will be left alone to suffer in silence and will be choked to death in front of the entire nation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jaduguda located in the East Singhbhum district in the Indian state of Jharkhand houses the fist Uranium mine of India. It produces the finest Yellowcake also known as Urania and Magnesium Diuranate in the country.
The full form of UCIL is the Uranium Corporation of India. It is a public sector undertaking, under the Department of Atomic Energy for uranium mining and uranium processing. The corporation was founded in 1967 and is responsible for the mining and milling of uranium ore in India.
The Tummalapalle Mine located in Tumalapalli village in Kadapa of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is the largest Uranium mine in India.
Uranium ore was first discovered in Jaduguda in the year 1951.
Mining activity started in Jaduguda in the year 1967.