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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 876

India: Toxic Hotspot of Uranium & Nuclear Wastes

By Zaheerul Hassan

Last year Asian giant has made significant increase of 17.6 percent over the previous amount of defence budget for 2011-12. Her defence budget for 2012-13, was US $40.3 billion for the Defence Services that include the three armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Ordnance Factories.

The major portion of the Civil Estimate is however accounted for by defence pensions, which amounts to $8.1 billion in 2012-13. If we include it in the allocated budget then total defence budget would be $49.6 billion.

Increase in defence spending has posed direct threat to China and Pakistan. India is maintaining one of the of the top militaries of the world, She has 3.8 million troops being the 2nd largest army on earth, 4th largest air force in the world, and 5th Largest Navy in the world, The Indian Armed Forces also have a large Coast Guard but the rank is not known. Ultimately, India’s Militaries strength is 3rd ranking in the world.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has developed nuclear warheads which can be launched on strategically and tactically vital targets from land, sea and air. She is also holding over 100 nuclear bombs and conducted 17 missile tests this year to prove her supremacy in Asia.
Notably, India is running 22 nuclear, chemical and Biological plants for hegemonic design in addition of spending huge amount on arms and aircraft purchases’ deals with U.S. and Russia.

But unfortunately, Indian top brass failed to take measures of stopping gas leakage, uranium theft cases and disposal of nuclear wastes. In fact, self-styled ‘Shining India’ is portraying a false image of exemplary patriotism, largest democracy and prosperity, whereas the UN reports reveal that nearly 69% of the Indians are living under $2 PPP a day. Moreover, most of the people living surrounding areas nuclear plants are facing horrible nuclear pollution and demanding shifting and closing of these plants. In this regard, Indian doctors and scientists from various parts of the country have attended three-day Punjab Science Congress Bathinda, in the second week of February of this year. According to the Indian media, some scientists were of the opinion that all the three major types of toxicity —chemical, radiation and biological — were rampant in Punjab. They said that the adverse effects of toxicity on animals and humans are visible and some studies have proved this. Dr SS Gill, Vice Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) has also confirmed the spresence of uncontrolled chemical, radiation & biological toxicity in thickly populated “Punjab”.

In this connection a top German laboratory revealed that hair samples of 80% of 149 neurologically-disabled children, mainly from Malwa region, had high levels of uranium, a study by Greenpeace suggested that all the three major types of toxicity — chemical, radiation and biological.? Among villages with high levels of nitrate pollution in drinking water is Doda, a village of Gidderbaha, the constituency of Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal. ‘Anti-pollution laws only on paper in Punjab’

Bathinda: The fertile state of Punjab now battles grave chemical toxicity. Gidderbaha, the constituency of finance minister Manpreet Badal, is known for high prevalence of cancer cases. Two water samples in Doda found the nitrate levels at 94.3 mg/l and 72.8 mg/l, much above the WHO safety limit of 50 mg/l.

In Muktsar, the home district of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, a state health department survey revealed that 1,074 people died of cancer between 2001 and November 2009 and 668 others are on their deathbed. In Lambi, the home constituency of Badal, 211 residents lost their lives and 164 got afflicted with cancer in the last eight years, revealed health department survey report.

Earlier too, on August 23, 2012 global nuclear experts went into shock after reading the Indian national auditors’ report on India’s nuclear safety and declared that Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), a weak regularity body. Indian Comptroller and Auditor General have also confirmed the auditor’s report and warned a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster, if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed by the government. IAEA, an independent regularity authority is one of the report also mentioned “out of the 168 standards, codes and guides identified by AERB for development under various thematic areas, 27 safety documents still remained to be developed. The report said off-site emergency exercises highlighted the inadequate emergency preparedness to deal with situations involving radiological effects from a nuclear power plant which may extend to public areas. It is also a matter of concern that approach road to the plant site of Tarapur Atomic Power Station was highly congested, which would pose serious problems in dealing with any future emergency.

Nevertheless, on 28 February, 2012 an expert committee appointed by the Tamil Nadu government on submitted its report on the safety aspects of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNNP) to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, marking a crucial stage in the debate over the project.

Precisely, commenting the major incident in nukes pants, theft cases of enriched Uranium, murdering and harassing of nuclear staff by intelligence agency and leakage of gases are in increase. Reportedly, because of poor safety and security arrangement on May 14 2010, another incident of poor radiation security green place radiation experts have identified eight hotspots in New Delhi Mayapuri area which have 5000 times the natural background radiation defined as safe by the department of atomic energy. In this incident one individual died and eleven others were injured. The nukes experts always have shown strong concern over Indian poor safety and nuke arrangements on the nuclear plants and handlers. In this reared New Delhi never paid heed to IAEA concerns over nukes safety and security. Almost 160 cases of theft, loss and misplacement of radioactive source have been registered in the local police. In April 2007 a radiography Camera stolen from Jadadishphir near Lucknow could not be found till to date. In November 2009, fifty five employees consumed radioactive material after titrated founded its way into the drinking water cooler in Kaiga Nuclear plant in Karnataka. The leakage of 4-14 tones of heavy water from the pipes at madras atomic processing plant in Tamil Nadu. Six workers have been exposed to high doses of radioactive radiation.

Indian police found dead body of the nuclear scientist, Lokanathan Mahalingam from Kali River in Jun 2009. The scientist was in possession of highly sensitive / classified information. Anantha Narayanan, a scientific working in the computer department of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam is missing since Feb 2010. A 48 year old Madhadevan lyer, scientist of the BARC was found dead in his official residence in Feb 2010. Reportedly, all these scientists and employees have been killed as result of RAW’s torture.

Mr. Thirumala Prasad Thenka, a scientist of Raja Ramanna Centre for Advance Technology (RRCAT) committed suicide by hanging himself on 12 Apr 2010. On 28 April 2010, Delhi Police traces Cobalt – 60 to DU Chemistry Department. Coming back to the current report, the most serious problems relate to ensure the safe use of radiation in medical and industrial facilities across India. In this context, the AERB was ordered by the Supreme Court in 2001 to set up radiation safety directorates in 35 administrative areas, but by July 2012 it had achieved this in only two. The AERB has never set out standard inspection periods for radiation facilities and the comptroller’s report noted an 85% shortfall in inspections at industrial radiography and radiotherapy units, compared to IAEA norms. For diagnostic radiobiology facilities the shortfall was “over 97%”. There is no detailed inventory of radioactive sources to help ensure safe disposal and no “proper mechanism” to check the safe disposal of radioactive waste. It is also worth mentioning here that the Indian state nuclear establishment has not drawn on the services of the IAEA to peer-review its regulatory system and comment on its effectiveness.

Indian scientists and authorities are lacking expertise in handling sensitive and dangerous material related to nukes and gases. IAEA should send some team to inspect the plants for saving Asian masses form nuclear pollution since India has become a Toxic Hotspot of Uranium & Nuclear Wastes.

- Asian Tribune -

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