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Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation (JOAR)

Peace Now, carried an article titled "Jadugoda Tribals Live under the Shadow of Nuclear Terror" by Tarun Kanti Bose  in its Volume 7 : Issue 2, dated June 2009 (also in some e groups). While it starts out by strongly detailing the ground situation in Jadugoda and the duplicity of the Central and State governments in responding to the needs of the people, it has made some unfounded and rather damaging allegations against JOAR and some people associated with JOAR. We, as members of JOAR, want to set the record straight in this piece.

We value Mr Bose's interest in the issue of Jadugoda, and his attempt in trying to highlight it nationally. However, we are deeply disappointed by his uncalled for remarks against JOAR. While we welcome honest criticism and are happy to engage with questions about our strategy and our failures, of which we are only too keenly aware, we are taken aback by the personal nature of the attacks in his article.

We are aware of the importance of robust internal critique within any movement, and are open to suggestions for improvement and course correction for our organization. However, the criticisms aired in Mr. Bose's article border on slander; they are not constructive and do not help us move forward.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang, but with a whimper

- T.S. Elliot

 

This is what seems to echo in the minds of people living in and around uranium mines in Jadugoda and surrounding villages. With their land, culture, forests, and future generations in line to be victims of radiation, the requiem for their tragedy is Kafkaesque! Even as the Indian state pushes ahead for further nuclearization, voices of dissent at the grassroots level are not only smothered by the interests of those supporting "clean" nuclear energy, but as it has been found out, even by pretentious NGOs and ambitious stakeholders involved in the making of history. 

"Displacement was easy to explain to people. The concept of Radiation was hard to explain. Even when Shibu Soren, then the president of Jharkhand Parishad came to Chatikocha revolt, we could not completely get him to understand the effects of radiation and how it works"

-      Ghanshyam Biruli, president of JOAR, talking about the challenges that JOAR faces to this day.

Laying the foundation for State-engineered genocides

Post-independence, the Indian state welcomed its subjects in this state by killing a thousand people when they resisted being a part of Orissa - the Kharsawa police firing took place on January 1, 1948. This was followed by the Mihijam firing in January 1949, by the Bengal police: the reason being that people protested against displacement through the Chittaranjan Locomotive factory. In the 1960s, Jahangir Homi Bhaba, the pioneer of India's nuclear programme sealed the fate of people in Jadugoda when he discovered Uranium.

The state of Jharkhand (then Bihar), is abundant in mineral resources like copper, coal, bauxite, Manganese, Mica, Iron ore and Uranium. Mines that were run by British, became the base for uranium mining. By the early decades of 20th century  Tata too had marked his territory, and his band of cronies convinced the indigenous people here that mining was the beacon of their progress.

Thousands and thousands of Jharkhandis (majority were tribals) were pushed into displacement and although a few lucky ones got meagre compensation, the majority ended up in slums, doing whatever manual labour assured them food.

Jadugoda was no stranger to these "development packages" of the state. On one side there was the Tata (in Jamshedpur) and on the other, the government. But Homi Bhaba convinced the people of being inclusive in a way that would make power cheaply available for everyone to enjoy.

Around the 50s and the 60s , the camps aiming for industrialization started arriving. Camps with 'sahebs' who were looking for 'rocks' and 'soil'. And hence the people, out of courtesy and the fealty of hegemony, served the people in these camps with food, water and manual labour.

Since then, the industrialization programme has been carried out in the manner that simply suited the state and completely excluded the people here.

Says Kariya Majhi of Mechua village, "They mentioned some digging and some jobs were promised and to this day things have not changed much. People never have a clue about what is going on in their neighbourhood." He added: "It's a tragedy that not many of us are alive today to give an account of these things."

 Thus, what followed independence in this region, were state engineered genocides in the name of development. Thanks to the tendency of genocide denial amongst civilized people, these atrocities are usually not found in recorded history. This genocidal saga of development thus continues to this day with Nehruvian notions of "development" still followed and celebrated along with a bonus surprise of the free-market. To this day, history repeats, over and over again...

 

Resistance – the politics of representation

Politically, however, the region was not passive during this time. Tata Nagar has a vibrant history of labour unions, where even political bigwigs like Subhash Chandra Bose, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Abdul Bari and Jaipal Singh of Jharkhand party had participated. Along with this on the east side of Tatanagar all the way till West Bengal and Orissa, there were several copper mines where all the big trade unions operated. Hence, it would be inappropriate to call Jadugoda - which lies just 25 kilometres away from Tata Nagar - a politically alienated place.

 Despite the presence of the ICC Workers Union (Indian Copper Complex Worker Union) and other trade unions, leadership and political power remained in the hands of non-adivasis. One of the members of ICCU even went on to become an MLA from the region

The adivasi and tribal identity were used only as a political card and there were mere Adivasi representatives – this, in a region where adivasis and tribals make up __ of the population.

Even with the CPI-ML backed Indian Federation of Trade Union (IFTU), the representation of adivasis did not improve. This was one and a half decade after the Naxalbari uprising which was a shot in the arm for aggressive left and progressive movements in the eastern region.

The problem of the mainstream political left haunted the movement here as well. There was division amongst the left groups, because some of them were deeply committed to the idea of centralized planning and rapid industrialization, and could not relate to the issues of the adivasis facing displacement. The call for land, water, culture and identity, which were heard all around the world, even then wasn't really grasped by this section of the left. No labour unions, not even those of the Left talked about displacement as they thought of these debates as anti-industry. Hence speaking against radiation was never in the agenda of any left union and this continues to this day.

"IFTU movement was basically run by Satyanarayan Singh who was an extremist. Actually no trade union took up the cause of radiation simply because none of them were informed or even concerned about it. But then somewhere, there was mention of radiation allowance" says Shamit Carr, who was a student back then and used to be brought to these regions as supporter of IFTU for protests and dharnas.

Charan Murmu, a Pargana (traditional leader) says, "If at all there was to be knowledge about radiation and its hazards on local population around that time, the uproar against UCIl would have started much earlier," says Charan Murmu. Murmu was a worker in Rakha Copper Mine and member of ICCU and today, is one of the leaders in JOAR (Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation).

And hence, disillusioned with the left, during the early 70s adivasi movements, comprising youth, started taking shape under the aegis of organizations like JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) and AJSU (All Jharkhand Students' Union).  Major events unfolded in the Singhbhum region, which went on to become the stronghold of the AJSU and JMM of Jharkhandi identity politics. 

AJSU quickly became the political voice of adivasi youths and started taking up issues of displacement, compensation and even issue related with radiation with boldness. Even in AJSU radiation and related uranium mining issues were not in the main agenda due to which, Ghanshaym Biruli and others started the Jharkhand Adivasi Visthapit Berojgar Sangh (JAVBS) to fight for the tribal land rights/ compensation/ jobs.

The events of 27 January 1996 were a milestone for several reasons. On that day, thirty houses were bulldozed in Chatikocha for the construction of the third tailing Dam. This pushed people's tolerance and they began the struggle for their rights. Although talking against radiation was considered "anti-national" activity at the time, the JAVBS managed to force UCIL to fulfil the demands of the people.

During this struggle they realized the brutal reality related to radiation. The then leaders also realized that job compensation would only be the temporary demand, as there was a huge and never ending danger they were facing.

The greater realization of the effects of radiation, however resulted in great anxiety and demanded a much more organized movement. Hence, Ghanshyam Biruli and other members of AJSU, started Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation – JOAR - on February 14, 1998 contrary to the article's claims that he started JOAR in 1991. Since its inception JOAR - based in Jadugoda - has reached far off places like Turamdih and Baghjanata that are 25-40 K.M. Away.

The uranium mine in Turamdih was closed down around 1985 as the ore percentage was very low. The scores of people who lost their land to this mine got no compensation, and the land was further degraded making it a place devoid of any employment opportunity.

In 1998 after the second atomic test, Indian nuclear program required the procurement of indigenous uranium and that had to come from Jadugoda. The government had plans of not only opening the closed mine in Turamdih, but also opening a new mine at Banduhurang.

Consequently in 2004 UCIL announced a public hearing for that new mine. Here people's opinion was divided as a large number of people wanted the new mine so that there would be employment opportunities, but a good number of people were against with the project also. (This is the 'Jan Sunwayi' mentioned on Page 54 of Mr Bose's article)

JOAR was working there with Banduhurang village head Magilal Padya as head for that area. He was facing immense pressure from UCIL, the local administration, and local political parties.  He was charged with false cases and had even escaped an attempt on his life. The public hearing was banal - the big tent filled with UCIL workers.  A huge number of police were brought, the villages were there as expatiators with a good number of youth and displaced people from Turamdigh.

Ms. Sunita Dubey from HNRL( Human Rights Law Network) New Delhi, came to the hearing and talk about legal issues. The Environment Impact Assessment and Environment Management Plan reports were unavailable to those whom it mattered the most. Only the Executive Summary was distributed just a few days ahead of the hearing.

JOAR president Ghanshyam Biruli said that hearing: "We are illiterate uneducated people we don't know much about radiation and its effect but our experience in Jadugoda tells us that uranium mining has created a lot of health problems and our life is worse." That public hearing also saw people expressing their absurd situation. They said: "We will die later with Alpha, Beta, Gama, but we are dying every day of hunger."

JOAR has NEVER supported UCIL as Shamit Carr claims. As for JOAR's alleged support at the Banduhurang 'Jan Sunwai', JOAR has video evidence to substantiate that it has not supported UCIL. Shamit Carr himself has admitted that he was falsely quoted as saying, "JOAR supported UCIL and BIRSA opposed UCIL" (P.No.54)

At the public hearing in Baghjanta (40 k.m away from Jadugoda) on Sep. 18, 2004, a similar kind of drama unfolded. This area is very remote, surrounded by forests and badly connected. It is also the battlefield of government supported anti-naxal groups and the ultra-left. Here too, JOAR along with Ms. Bedoshruti Sadhukhan Environmental Justice Initiative, New Delhi and Bibhut pd. Tripathi  (Bhubaneshwar) - a Supreme court lawyer – was present and under police guard all the members were asked to leave the campus of the hearing. It is important to note that no members of BIRSA, MM&P, or JMACC were present at that hearing.

This was the time when JOAR was taking up the issue of radiation at a national and international level. JOAR members visited international conferences and put Jadugoda in the ranks of international anti-nuke movements. Also, JOAR was able to successfully group with WSF Mumbai, and other anti-uranium mining organizations including two members of these organizations from Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh and go to Japan to raise the mining issue in the nuclear debate.

Here, it is appropriate to mention that even in the anti-nuke movements indigenous people's voices were always cornered even though majority of uranium mining is happening in tribal land. Even as intellectuals/activists debate on whether nuclear energy is safe or not, or discuss the atom bomb as a deterrent to US imperialism, it is shocking that no one talks about the plight of the communities who are suffering uranium mining.

JOAR requested HNRL, Delhi to publish in Hindi and English, two important posters on the effects of uranium on health and environment, and books on uranium and radioactivity.

Meanwhile, in Jadugoda, UCIL employed a different strategy. They spread malicious propaganda saying that JOAR is anti-national, about the involvement of a foreign hand etc. Even after the film 'Budhha Weeps in Jadugoda', posters, booklets thrown at them, instead of answering the questions they were resorting to targeting individuals in JOAR.

JOAR silently worked on more scientific data and research, and brought out the first health study done on Jadugoda by Dr. Sanghamitra and Surendra Gadekar. JOAR members approached Professor Hiroaki Koide from the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University, Japan. The radiobiological study he did was a major milestone as it was the first time an independent study exposed naked truths about heinous crimesof UCIL/Department of Atomic Energy.

Also around the same time, with the help of journalists from Ranchi, the Environmental Committee of Bihar legislative Council with Pr. Jabir Hushen as chairperson, and headed by Goutam Sagar Rana, visited Jadugoda. They presented a picture of the very hard realities of mining impact in and around Jadugoda.

During 2001-02 some  anti-nuke  groups from Japan visited Jadugoda many times and showed solidarity for JOAR's struggle. They helped us to set up a rehabilitation centre for the disabled children of Jadugoda. JOAR had acquired land 12 km away from Jadugoda and involved the villagers in the task. Some foundation work was done, and a borewell was dug. Unfortunately some incidents happened - a few loads of bricks were stolen from the site and it happened for a while. Then JOAR realized that the villagers did not perceive this project as their own, but felt that it was some charitable work done by outsiders. JOAR too realized that running a rehabilitation centre is not an easy job. We need doctors and nurses who can give those children specialised care. Plus, a real fear was that families with disabled children would place the complete lifetime responsibility of their children on the 'charitable hospital'. The simple rationale for this possibility is the gut-wrenching poverty that exists in these areas. But JOAR does hope that in the future it will be able to start this work in this direction.

 JOAR lead the movement against uranium mining inside India and went to Nalagonda (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh), Cudappa (Rayalseema)2006, MAUP/ Shillong, to support movements against uranium mining. JOAR also participated in various anti-nuke programmes organized by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) in Delhi.

JOAR's efforts have been recognized not only in India, but also internationally. JOAR was selected for the prestigious Nuclear Free Future Award-2005, which was given in the Jaipur conference of the CNDP. The following year, we participated in World Indigenous Uranium Submit in New Mexico-Arizona.

In April 2006 JOAR participated in the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War conference (IPPNW) in Bonne. Here leaders of JOAR met John Lutarze, who along with its India chapter, India Doctors for Peace and Development, carried out a very important health survey whose results and Video - Jadugoda- The Black Magic – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIOmavVcG3M) were presented in the Royal School of Medicine, London.

Meanwhile, between 2006 and 2007, tailing pipes burst three times. JOAR effectively campaigned against this and made it an issue to be reckoned with. Many organizations joined to send petitions.

 One of the major victories of JOAR came in Mahuldih public hearing on 29.August 2005. In Mahuldih the situation was contrary to our regular experiences. For a change, UCIL and State Pollution Board officials were forced to leave the hearing. Two comrades from Nagpur Mr. Prakash Meghe and Mr. Aravind Ghosh were present in that hearing.

But the initial victory was not indicative of things to come. In a major setback, one of the leaders of JOAR from that village asked the central leadership of JOAR to stay away from the issue assured management of handling the issue by themselves. In the absence of the central leadership, this man from Mahuldih was arrested. The movement in Mahuldih was suddenly leaderless and lost its direction.

On the other hand UCIL went ahead with the local JMM-MLA, and organized the Repeat Hearing two km away from Mahuldih village near the MLA's house with hired goons and heavy police presence. (Video on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxhBs86q_hY&feature=related) 

After Chatikocha struggle ,1996, JOAR spread over an almost 50 sq. kms area around UCIL's operations. But this also made JOAR vulnerable, and with excess pressure, the members found it difficult to face diverse situations. JOAR is perceived as an enemy by various political parties near to Tata Nagar(including Jharkhandi party also) that have a strong presence in those areas. These parties are also apprehensive about JOAR's growing popularity.

As JOAR gained popularity, it also faced increasing challenges. Some core JOAR members faced tremendous pressure of threats or inducements and could not continue to function. As word about JOAR spread, many new volunteers joined in, but were temporary only, putting great strain on the functioning of JOAR. These pressures are not new or unique to JOAR, but are faced by all groups that have attained a certain measure of success.

Hurdles/ successes

With Jharkhand Navnirman Abhiyaan, more than 20 organizations joined together and  demanded cleaning of the waste emitted in and long term development of the area in 2005-06. The aim has been to make the company more responsible and answerable to people. But JOAR has not been achieved this because the company divided the people  on the pretext of distributing money allotted for development, between adverse groups. Instead of bringing development which created job opportunities, the company resorted to small namesake constructions like lampposts, urinals etc.

We failed to control these happenings. To this day JOAR has not been able to push the UCIL to open a permanent clinic to examine the local people apart from its workers. Even after having comprehensive scientific surveys and studies on JOAR's side, it has not been able to create enough pressure on UCIL to carry out independent or unbiased studies on the effects of radiation on people's health. JOAR has often failed to get/give big relief to the victim's families.

The "experts" and the institutions appointed by UCIL who did conduct studies carried out the task by staying in UCIL bungalows. The reports have never been accessible to people.

 JOAR has carried out a fierce battle with UCIL for a long time, and it continues to do so. The members braved great hazards and threats from UCIL and several other vested interests.

Clarifications

Even as JOAR fights a daily battle against UCIL, with financial constraints and other difficulties, it is extremely sad that members of JOAR are having to reply to unfounded allegations.

Some of the clarifications that JOAR needs to give in response to Mr Tarun Kanti Bose's article are as follows:

* Ghanshyam Biruli and other AJSU members started JOAR on the February 14, 1998 contrary to Xavier Dias' claims that he started JOAR in 1991. But it is true that Xavier was a part of JOAR for some time. Photographs of that event are available in the JOAR office. Activists from other organizations (i.e. Kapur Bagi, Amar Sengal) also attended that meeting .

 * In 1989, Ghanshyam Biruli and Hariram Murmu had gone to meet Father Mathew in Chaibasa, they met Xavier for the first time in Jadugoda. This was in 1989 and proves that Xavier was not a part of any movement in 1979 as he claims to be in the article. (P.No.50)

*JOAR was preceded by Jharkhand Adivasi Berojgar Visthapit Sangh (JABVS) or the Jharkhand Tribal Unemployed Displaced Committee. It was set up on June 5, 1995 and not in 1989 as the article claims. (P.No.50).

*Sukumar Murmu is a fictitious Character. Durga Prasad Murmu is the Chairman of Talsa Village Assembly. This discredits "Sukumar Murmu's'  allegations that "Ghanshyam Biruli is acting like a broker of UCIL" (Pg 54). And the village Barakata is 20-25 km away from Talsa village. (P.No.54)

*The name of former working president of UCIL Kamgar Union has been mistaken as M.M.Bhagat. It is N.N.Bhagat. (P.No.48)

*The first notice for land acquisition in Chatikocha was issued in 1989, and not in 1985 as the article claims. The bulldozing of homes started on 26 January 1996. (P.No.51).

* JOAR has never supported UCIL as Shamit Carr claims. As for report's claim that JOAR supported UCIL at the 'Jan Sunwai' in February 2004, JOAR has video evidence to negate this. Shamit Carr himself has admitted that he was falsely quoted as saying, "JOAR supported UCIL and BIRSA opposed UCIL" (P.No.54)

(recorded evidence available)

 * There are No 17 tribal organizations in Banduhurang as Shamit Carr claims in the article.(P.No.54)

*As for allegations on Ghanshyam's income and wealth; Ghanshyam was adopted by his uncle. Both his father and his uncle died of lung cancer. Both of them were employed in UCIL. Hence whatever the ancestral property there was came to Ghanshyam. After PESA (Panchayatraj Extension to schedule area Act- 1996) Ghanshyam got good amount of royalty for his land. In fact stone, quarry operations are still going on his uncle's land.

*The pond in front of Ghanshyam's house is owned by Buddhia Munda and was not dug by Ghanshyam as the article claims.

*The assumption that adivasis cannot be prosperous stems from the same old caste and class prejudices many of us hold. These questions probably would not have been raised if it was an upper-caste person in the place of Ghanshyam. (P.No.54)

*Tarun Bose has not spoken to either Ghanshyam or Dumka Murmu in the last 6 years, but they have been quoted nonetheless. The last time he spoke to even Shamit Carr was in 2004. The quotes have been used as per the writer's convenience.(P.No48, 50, 52, 54, 59)

*JOAR is disappointed that of all the people available in Jadugoda, Tarun Kanti Bose has based his entire article on either false testimonies, or those from this one person Surai Hansda.  Surai Hansda is welcome to his opinions about JOAR, but Mr Bose, as a responsible journalist should have at least talked to more people and quoted them accurately, or given JOAR the opportunity to answer the criticism.  Mr. Bose's article flouts all norms of responsible journalism.

"These letters issued on the internet is out of our area of politics or even interest. We are rightly placed in our land and we work on the ground level. We do not believe in ranting on the internet and neither do we need certificates from those people on the internet. Let them come and work here instead of attempting to defame and demoralizing us on the internet" adds Charan Murmu, a paragana (traditional community leader) and one of the elderly leaders of JOAR.

 

 Comments on criticisms

 Besides the clarifications that JOAR has put forward, it is open about the criticisms levelled against the way it functions. The article pointed out some right criticism, but with bad intent perhaps.

 As per allegations about change in strategy of JOAR goes, this is what JOAR collectively believes: "To demand better jobs and better working conditions in UCIL for people displaced because of UCIL is a sign of helplessness of JOAR. JOAR deals directly and personally with harsh realities of people living in Jadugoda and near-by villages."

With regard to the alleged rifts in JOAR Tikaram Soren said, "The people who found work in UCIL, for reasons of helplessness stopped participating in the activities of JOAR. Otherwise everyone is still there."

Responding to allegations of leaders being from middle-class and their inability to "declass" themselves, Dumka Murmu said "UCIL has impoverished the people here. They have displaced and destroyed the agricultural lands of adivasis here. Those adivasis who haven't been displaced or affected by UCIL are not poor. They have enough food on the table for subsistence."

"These are our new enemies. Till now we used to believe that only CRPF, CISF personnel, Forest guards and lobbying politicians were our enemies working against our interests and alienating us from our livelihoods. But these people are more dangerous," Mr. Murmu added.

As for allegations of uniformity point out to the challenge he added, "We cannot carry out people's movement at the time of agriculture. Our livelihoods are dependent on agriculture. In carrying out the movement we cannot forget our everyday realities."
 

JOAR's course of action

Our response to the judgements pronounced by the article on JOAR's approach, work and the methods adopted to sustain the movement against uranium mining is as follows:

JOAR is uncompromising in its opposition to the setting up of new uranium mines as it deals directly and personally with the harsh realities of people living in Jadugoda and near-by villages. Yet, due to helplessness, JOAR is forced to demand better jobs and better working conditions in UCIL for people displaced because of the existing mines.

To prevent new mines from being set up, JOAR constantly works with various groups of people to create public opinion, through awareness of the effects of radiation on the people of Jadugoda and surrounding villages.

It works with the elders of communities at the grassroots, and meets Majhis and Parganas (traditional heads of tribal communities), on a constant basis to keep the movement going.

Simultaneously, it carries out awareness programmes to communicate the effects of radiation to educated people so that the information disseminates. It also tries to reach schools through these programmes.

 "Displacement was easy to explain to people. The concept of Radiation was hard to explain. Even when Shibu Soren, then the president of Jharkhand Parishad came to Chatikocha revolt, we could not completely get him to understand the effects of radiation and how it works" says Ghanshyam Biruli, president of JOAR, talking about the challenges that JOAR faces to this day.

 "Even when Xavier or (Shri) Prakash were not here, the andolan was there. Our society and our families are at risk here. And fighting is the only option for our survival. We may not get immediate results, but it is not that we depend solely on support groups. We take help from them in terms of experience.

"In fact even when we went to Navajo nations in United States of America, we did not bring back dollars. We just learnt from their experiences from fellow tribal communities of USA. And with this we'll fight. We'll fight for our lands at any cost," says Charan Murmu, expressing great anguish.

 

 Achievements

JOAR's achievements and level of success may not seem much. But amidst the gruesomeness of the reality unleashed by UCIL in Jadugoda, there are small but extremely crucial measures that we have forced UCIL to take. Some of them are:

1) Getting UCIL to fence tailing dams. Earlier, tailing dams used to be open grounds and people oblivious of its risks would play, graze their cattle, fetch firewood, roam around and even fetch water. Now these dams are fenced and are guarded by private security personnel who replaced CISF personnel. These security personnel are usually hired on a temporary basis so that the company does not have to bare the health costs of these personnel.

2) Getting UCIL to cover open trucks used to carry ores. Earlier ores and mill tailing used to be carried in open trucks. Today, UCIL covers the ores with Tapeline sheets that are usually torn anyway. Earlier when Ore used to fall off from the trucks, nobody used to bother even if entire truck load of ore used to fall on the road or agricultural fields. But today it's cleaned instantly. The last time being, August 1 this year, when a truck fell into an agricultural field and the ore spilled. It was cleaned within a matter of five hours in the middle of the night.

3) Earlier Mine tailing was given to people to build their houses, roads, boundaries, and compound walls. Today that practice has been stopped. In front of Narua Pahad mines, a small hillock has been made out of mine tailing. It used to be open and the residual water used to join Gurra river, which is a tributary of Suvarn Rekha river. But today there's a cover of soil on top of that hillock and a lining has been constructed to stop the flow of water into the river.

4) Earlier miners used to bring home their clothes and women used to wash them. They don't anymore. Miners today are asking questions pertaining to safety levels, whereas earlier it was not even an option in the minds of workers. Even if it is on a low-pitch questions are raised nonetheless and once workers retire from their jobs they usually support JOAR.

5) Before the tailing pipe burst, till around 2006-07, water used by people used to be ground water or surface water. But after the disaster the company took the responsibility of providing pipe water.

 Public hearing in May 2009

In recent past, the organization has been passing through hurdle after hurdle. The May 2009 UCIL Campus Public Hearing was a complete farce. The public hearing in question was held inside the UCIL campus next to the camp of Central Industrial Security Force.

Section 144 was 'declared' in the area, and was imposed only against those suspected to be critical of UCIL's plans. The stated atmosphere of terror was engineered to create a fear-psychosis among the local population.

Employees of UCIL and its supporters were brought in by buses in large numbers, while those suspected to be critical of UCIL were terrorized by police and paramilitary forces. The entire hall in which the public hearing was held was occupied by UCIL employees and those who claim to support UCIL. Many others such as us were prevented from entering the hall and were forced out by the employees of UCIL (with help from police). Left with no other choice JOAR had to boycott the public hearing and people sat on a dharna outside the premises.

 Consequently, JOAR wrote a letter to the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh with following demands:

(1) The public hearing of 26 May 2009 be annulled and a new hearing be held in a place that allows free and fair participation of the people.

(2) UCIL be ordered to prepare credible EIA and EMP reports

(3) A moratorium be declared on opening new uranium mines and that International rules and standards be followed in existing mines

(4) An independent and credible study be held with regard to health and radiation problems in Jadugoda

(5) Those suffering from radiation be adequately compensated and laws such as those formulated in USA (viz., Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act 2000 of U.S.A) be implemented

(6) The health of the people and environment be monitored regularly

(7) UCIL be made responsible for the development of the villages located in the vicinity of the mines

(8) People displaced by the mines and those whose lands were taken over by UCIL be compensated and employed by the company

Post 123 agreement, Jadugoda mines have become 'Strategically important' to the Indian state. This has made it extremely tough for JOAR, especially at a time when their morale has been taking a constant beating. But then, struggle has been a way of life for adivasis and their spirits cannot be broken; history is a witness to this fact. Hence, we at JOAR are not going to stop our struggle at any cost, in fact it is time we intensified it. Even though, we are disappointed with Peace Now for publishing Tarun Kanti Bose's article without checking the authenticity of the statements it made, we do expect assistance and support from CNDP in the future. We need greater assistance from scientists, doctors, media and the civil society as the issue demands an all-out effort from everyone, especially with solid scientific factual approach.

We welcome whatever help comes our way, as long as it suits us ideologically. Even though for now we are at our wits end, we still have hopes of a radiation-free tomorrow for the coming generation.

Our rhetoric though, is not about JOAR. It is about the wretched human beings with their human bodies whose cries do not find any place in the larger noise about security, nationalism, jingoism, deterrence and so on. The sobs of mothers with deformed babies or babies who just could not make it, of women who have been dumped by their in-laws because of their infertility and of those people for whom cancer and tuberculosis has become an everyday reality get registered absolutely nowhere, as it seems.

Otherwise, comments like the one which came from S K Malhotra, Head, Publicity Division, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) on mining in Jadugoda would have been a bit more closer to sanity.

He said: "The ores mined at three mines - Jaduguda, Bhatin and Narwapahar – are of very low grade (uranium content 0.06%) as compared to those available in other countries. The congenital malformations occur the world over and the ocurrence is known to be due to several factors such as maternal age, consanguinity, ethnicity, nutritional status etc." (scribd.com/doc/2605958/Radiation-hazards-at-Jaduguda-and-Kerala)

 

A health study by Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) paints a very terrifying reality of people's health in Jadugoda. Here are some basic findings:
 

1. Congenital Deformities

The investigation shows that babies whose mothers lived near uranium mining operations areas suffered a significant increase in congenital deformities. While 4.49% mothers living in the study villages reported that children with congenital deformities were born to them, only 2.49% mothers in reference villages fell under this category.
 

2. Primary Sterility

For the study purpose, the criteria of primary sterility were laid down to be a married couple not having conceived for at least three years after the marriage, and not using any method of contraception. The result shows that while 9.60% of couples in study villages have not conceived even after three years of marriage, only 6.27% of couples from reference villages fell under this category. The finding demonstrates that couples living near uranium mining operational area are approximately 1.58 times (odds 1.58) more vulnerable to primary sterility
 

3. Cancer

On being asked the cause of the last death in the household, 2.87% households in study villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, whereas, 1.89% households in reference village fell under this category.

The study reveals that the cancer as a cause of death among people living near uranium mining operational area

is significantly high.
 

4. Life Expectancy

The study shows that increased numbers of people living near uranium mining operational area are dying before completing 62 years of age (the average life expectancy in the state of Jharkhand is 62 years).

The study shows that 68.33% the of deaths in the study villages were happening before attaining 62 years of age, whereas 53.94% deaths were reported in reference villages under this category. The findings are discerning and the difference is significant.
 

Other variables

The study tried to look at few other health variables as well, such as the prevalence of spontaneous abortion among married women, still births and chronic lung diseases. The prevalence of all these health variables was definitely more in the study villages as compared to reference villages. When poverty, unemployment, hunger and Radiation get linked with terms like nationalism, aggression from neighbouring nations, imperialism, clean and safe power generation from a distance, it all seems like a bunch of lunatics pulling different threads of a rope at the height of their lunacy. That is the tragedy of Jadugoda, we have too much talking going on, too isolated from sanity.

JOAR

Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation

Vill- Tilaitand, PO Jadugoda

Dist- East Singhbhum

Jharkhand (India)

 
 
JADUGODA
 
 

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