Jadugoda: unsafe handling of uranium ore

Jadugoda: unsafe handling of uranium ore

Jharkhandis Organization Against Radiation’s press release on the
latest scam of the UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Limited )

Press Release:

It is extremely shocking and shameful that the senior officials of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at their Jadugoda Headquarters have decided to bypass all rules and regulations. They have not only indulged in corruption but also nepotism by distributing jobs among their own kin.

This is made easier by the routine cloak of “national interest” which prevents any sort of questioning by the people about the actions and activities of UCIL. Right from its inception, UCIL has been unjust to the tribal people of this region. The land acquisition policy, then as now, was authoritarian, and land for the project was grabbed virtually at gunpoint.

For the construction of Tailing Dam No. 3, thirty homes were bulldozed in 1996. After a lot of struggle, the displaced people managed to get the company to agree to some demands, but the displaced families of Chaatikocha are yet to be rehabilitated even after 20 years of waiting neither got jobs till date. Moreover, they are forced to live within 100 metres from the bank of uranium tailing dam.

This is the situation on the ground not just in Jadugoda but also in the other mine sites including Badhjanta, Baduhurang, Mahuldih, and Turmadih.

Nor is UCIL’s attitude to its own employees very different. When UCIL took over Bhatin and Narua Pahar mines from the Atomic Mineral Department in 1980, 70 workers were tricked who have worked for 10 years. After protests, ten percent of these were taken back, while the others were told they would be taken back later. A promise that is yet to be kept! The workers have pinned their hopes on the High Court.

Corrupt practices are deeply entrenched. Insiders cite serious malpractices in the contracts/tenders given out for machinery,
minerals and other material. Even the trucks hired to transport the uranium ore are part of the racket. Raising questions on all these practices is considered anti-national.

On several occasions, the pipes transporting radioactive waste have burst, leaving this dangerous radioactive slurry around people’s homes, seeping into the ground or contaminating the water sources. It is not surprising, therefore, that the local people of Jadugoda are suffering from a range of diseases from tuberculosis to cancer, as well as an abnormally high rate of miscarriages, still births and inability to conceive.

Until the 90’s, the local people were unaware of the dangers and continued to use the radiation-affected land for grazing and water for fishing. Children even played football around the tailing dams!

JOAR was one of the first to uncover information about the fallouts of uranium mining in Jharkhand. With the help of the renowned IDPD -Indian Doctors for Peace & Democracy – a health survey of the area was conducted. UCIL, that never felt the need to conduct a health survey over the 4 decades of its existence, now put all its resources into undermining and trashing the results of the IDPD survey. Instead of doing something to ameliorate the conditions of the people, the Company’s focus seems to weaken the organisations working for the people. (See one example)

It is against this backdrop that the recent hiring policy must be understood. Having crushed the fundamental rights of the tribal peopleof Jadugoda, UCIL is now determined to uproot them completely. It is for this reason that the Company is bringing in outsiders to work here, so none of the benefits go to locals who have given their lives – and their children’s’ health – to keep UCIL going.

Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR)
Dumka Murmu
Ghanshyam Birulee
Pitho Majhi
Sudan Soren

Vil- Tilaitand,
PO/PS- Jadugoda
Dist- East Shinghbhum
Jharkhand