Jadugoda: The Nuclear Graveyard

By 2032, India hopes to generate 63 gigawatts of nuclear power that would cut it's dependence for energy and put it on the path to progress. But progress, they say, comes at a price. Jadugoda (also spelt as Jadugora or Jaduguda), in the eastern state of Jharkhand, is that price.

This small township is home to the world's finest uranium ore, magnesium diuranate, the fodder for India's nuclear dream and Jadugoda's nightmare. This lethal feed for the country's reactors is slowly finishing an entire generation of tribals living in the area. The photo essay documents this dark legacy of Jadugoda, the horrifying expense of unchecked progress through the eyes of its people. Jadugoda produces over 100 tonnes of uranium every year. That's nearly 300,000 tonnes of nuclear waste, radioactivity from which will last for at least 2,50,000.

A native of Jadugoda, Laxmi Das has had three miscarriages and lost five children within a week of their births. When her ninth child, Gudia, survived, she considered herself fortunate until she discovered that her baby has cerebral palsy and would be bed ridden for life. Gudia passed away recently, leaving the scars of her memory.

In Jadugoda,  a uranium-rich district in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, there are many women who share Laxmi's poignant fate.

Radiation and health experts across the world charge that toxic materials and radioactivity released by the mining and processing operations are causing widespread infertility, congenital deformities, spontaneous abortions, genetic mutation, death of newborns, cancer, lung diseases etc. .

With more than hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste stored in the tailing ponds of Jadugoda which is constantly producing large amount of toxic gases and nuclear radiation contaminating the water, vegetation, soil and subsequently entering the food chain. The dumped nuclear waste can remain radioactive and dangerous for millions of years.

UCIL, the company responsible for mining, refuses to acknowledge the problems of the local communities and is opening new mines around Jadugoda and in other parts of the country. The company should respond to the demands of the people, comply with international safety standards in handling radioactive materials and provide proper medical care to the radiation-affected victims.

Jadugoda, which means the land of magic in the local sadri language, was once a place of scenic beauty, dense forest, small villages surrounded by hills and hardworking tribal people, is now a man-made hell.  Left to fend for themselves, the people of Jadugoda are being sacrificed at the altar of development.

------------------------------------------------------ कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.