India: Uranium mining linked to gross ill health in Jharkhand's Adivasi women & children Print E-mail

Tuesday January 30 2007

Miscarriage, stillbirths after mining

Mineral Resources at Jharkhand

Jadugoda (Jharkhand), Jan. 29: Several hundred adivasis in Jharkhand are reportedly paying an extremely heavy price for India’s nuclear ambitions. A visit to Jadugoda village, 35 km from the steel city of Jamshedpur, in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district makes that evident. In Jadugoda, home of the country’s first uranium mine, where the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) started mining in 1967, almost each and every family is suffering from mental and physical disorders of one or the other kind. Women over 30 are about to turn barren.

An extensive study conducted by the Jharkhand Organisation Against Radiation a few years back, one of the few such exercises to be conducted in the tribal heartland, threw up hair-raising figures. Some 47 per cent of women living close to the uranium mines reported disruptions in their menstrual cycle while another 18 per cent adivasi women had sudden miscarriages and stillbirths. It was also reported that around 30 per cent of adivasis reported some sort of problem in conception, while a majority of local women complained of fatigue, weakness and depression. Children are next. Five-year-old Gudiya is one of the “victims” of radiation. Managing to come out of her mother’s womb alive, after her mother had five miscarriages, Gudiya now cannot walk and cannot talk.

“This is not just the tale of my daughter, there are many children in the village who have met the same fate,” says Mangal, the girl’s father. Subsequent surveys by a other NGOs also claim that children living in more than two dozen villages surrounding the uranium mines have also shown signs of mutation. While walking through the lanes in this tribal-dominated village, one can easily spot children with twisted limbs and mutilated body parts sitting on the lap of their mother, quietly and curiously looking at every stranger passing by.