Published: Sunday 15 October 2000

In a landmark move, the Supreme Court (sc) admitted a public interest petition filed against mining going on in the Jadugauda mines of Bihar. The writ petition was filed in April 1999 by lawyer and activist BL Wadhera against the Union of India, particularly the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (ucil), a government of India enterprise. This is for the first time that a nuclear establishment in India has been brought to the court by a civil petition ( Down To Earth , Vol 8, No 2).

Uranium mining in Jadugauda, Wadhera says in his petition, poses grave danger to the people, animals and vegetation. After the petition was filed last year, Wadhera sent a fact finding team comprising of five members to investigate the ground realities of the mining site and the areas around. The report of the fact finding team, which has been submitted to the sc , reveals horrendous details. "Jadugauda tailing ponds have become the nuclear waste dump for the entire country. Nuclear waste from various installations and hospitals are brought to Jadugauda for dumping in tailing ponds," says the report. The result, says Wadhera, is anomalies among the people, animals and vegetation of the area. Wadhera added that plants and animals of the area have mutated, crops have been affected, the whole environment is poisoned and human beings are in the grip of deadly diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and leukaemia. "Jadugauda presents an unique opportunity to study the low dose radiation affect on population," says the report of the fact finding team. The ucil , however, denies all the allegations and says that all of them are baseless and there is no danger to the environment near the mining area. A counter affidavit filed by the ucil after Wadhera's petition says that things are done as per the safety regulations and the petition is devoid of merits and is based on imagination.

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