WHEN ITS CONVINIENT US TURNS A BLIND EYE
Times of India reported on November 30, 2009 about radiation contamination at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka. The locals residing in surrounding area suffered with heavy damages in the shape of casualties of inhabitants and livestock worth millions. Indian Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh has denied any radiation leakage and said there was "nothing to worry about". He further added that he has been briefed that it is a small matter of contamination and is not linked to any leak. In this regard global nuke experts really got astonished over Indian PM statement in which he tried to tone down the most serious crisis of India i.e. Safety and security of Indian Nuke Plants . Should we consider that Manmohan Singh statement is a mater of poor knowledge or extremists Hindu lobby present in the government deliberately reluctant to share confidential nature of information to their Sikh PM.
Indian Intelligence Agencies seem to be holding back sensitive information from their PM like the involvement of minorities’ killer “Lt Col Prohit’ and elimination of their loving son “LTTE Chief Prabharkan”. In this regard, Sikh community has kept on stressing to Indian government to punish the real culprits and publish the investigations report in connection with the brutality against Sikhs in 1984, not knowing that their PM probably cannot even review the sensitive nature of information about nukes and investigation reports on communal violence thus their demands fall on helpless hands. Indian intelligence agencies again embarrassed their rulers on the issue of Ajmal Kassab too. The agencies did not inform ruling authorities that actual culprits of Mumbai attack have been killed in the encounter. According to Indian media, arrested main accused in a dramatic retracted from his earlier statement and claimed he was forcibly made to confess. Thus, we can only say that Indian PM should show some assertiveness to control her intelligence agencies and nuke programme.
Coming back to the title I would like to disclose that Kaiga incident is not the first accident which cropped up on November 30 this year. In this connection, 300 cases of similar nature have already been accounted for in their record. Kaiga plant incident is not a simple case of leakage. The Initial investigation disclosed that it was possibly an act of mischief and security breach too. Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, also confirmed in New Delhi while talking to the press that it was a breach of some security measures.
In fact, poor security arrangements have been noticed on various Indian nuke plants. One can astonished to know that there are certain important places where security cameras are not even installed .The employees working on the nuke plants have been found in stealing and selling Uranium in the local market. According to Hindustan Times, Navi Mumbai Crime Branch arrested three people — Panvel-based gemologist Premsingh Savitri (40), Vashi-based transporter Srinivas Puryar and Ghatkopar resident Tulsidas Bhanushali a dealer in gunny bags — for illegal possession of 5 kg of depleted uranium. As per police Savitri was a former constable. The police are trying to ascertain from where how Savitri had stolen the Uranium. Earlier too, John Khongmin, son of an Atomic Mineral Division (AMD) employee and one of those accused of stealing uranium “yellowcake” with seals of the AMD but Government of India failed to take actions for the safety and security of the nuke plants .
IAEA is also well aware of poor security measures of Indian nuke plants. These arrangements are worsening by the day as we know that few years ago, a similar malicious act was also observed in Tarapur atomic power sub-station where the culprits were dismissed after investigations by the Department of Atomic Energy. In December 1952 US sold, Tarapur reactors suffered with the accident and area up to Tarapur Railway Station got contaminated with nuclear radiation. Many engineers got exposed to radiation and died.
On June 13, 2009 Indian famous nuke scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam found dead from Kali River. The scientist was working on Kaiga Atomic Power Station since last eight years. Reportedly, he was in possession of highly sensitive information and might be doubted for Indian nuke proliferation. Mahalingam was involved in training apprentices on a replica of the actual reactor.
It would not be wrong if we say that Indian authorities are least pushed about the safety of their public. The concerned authorities never bothered on the proper disposal of nuke waste .The rulers are busy in point scoring on the opposition while concluding more and more nuclear pacts with other countries on the cost of the health of general public. For example according to “Times of India “report of October, 2009: The Gujarat Pollution Control Board has admitted that the 18,503 metric ton US toxic ship, Platinum II, parked in Bhavnagar waters for dismantling at Alang contains more than 20 MT of Poly Chlorinated Bi-Phenyls or PCBs, aggravating the dilemma that the Centre has faced since the toxic ship reached Indian waters. The report further disclosed that the presence of the ship is volatile of the Basel Convention which bars signatory countries like India from accepting such toxic wastes from countries which have not signed off on the international pact. Poor Gujarat government did not able to ask US toxic ship to turn back or stay out of India’s waters since central government has recently concluded Civil Nuclear Deal 123 with USA.
Gujrat government tried to hide the actual facts from the people while saying that ship could break up on the high waters. Most probably Indian public do not aware of the fact that how much precarious these toxic agents to human and animal lives. Indian people should know that USA has used orange colour toxic agent in Vietnam War. These were first developed by the U.S. Army as an instrument of chemical warfare at Fort Detrick, Maryland. These agents were proven to be very deadly to the plants and life when tested for production on mass scale. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara suggested further testing be done on jungle vegetation during the Vietnam War. Once the programme was called to a halt in 1971, herbicides had destroyed an estimated 4.5 million acres of countryside. Now the same ship has been sent to India for dismantling without realizing that how much dangerous would be for the sea life. Indian public must think that why such type of dismantling could not be done in American Sea. In this connection the public and Indian leadership should know the conclusion of Vietnam veteran Mr. Paul Reutershan. He concluded that his terminal cancer could be traced to his extensive exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Similarly accidents of Keiga and Tarapur plants have left very dreadful signs over the inhabitants of effected area. Contaminated drinking water, leakage of radiation in Keiga and Tarapur nuke plants caused irrecoverable losses to the lives and stocks. According to the Indian media the accidents also caused genetic damage to the people. There were the cases of refusal of marriage with those who linked to India’s nuclear programme as they were in the opinion that genetic damage will pass on to future generations. In this regards female engineers are suffering a lot since local males are in the opinion that marriages with them might face problems in giving birth to their next generation. There is one school of thought in India that girls have all the eggs, at the time of the birth and any exposure to radiation can damage the egg and the genetic defects can be passed on to the future generations.
Earlier too on November 11, 2006, Director of Uttaranchal Space Application Centre, Dr Anil Kumar Tiwari, was also shot dead by an unidentified person near his residence. About six weeks ago, another NPC non-technical employee Ravi Mule was found dead in the township. He too had gone for morning walk. Police have not cracked the earlier cases and similarly still is clue less in the current case of scientist.
In short, the revealing of all above such incidents do dictates that Indian government failed to establish proper command and control mechanism to deal with 17 nuke programmes. Staffs working on the nuke plants are losing confident over the higher ups. The panic in the staff working at the plants is on its climax. Agencies use to pick up the scientist and other employees on the name of safety and security. The smuggling and cases of the uranium thefts are on the top. Low paid nuke staffs and inhabitants of surrounding area of nuke plants are also worried about their health and future. IAEA should look into the problems facing to the employees and also carry out in detail inspection of Indian nuke plants. It would be more appropriate that if time being the plants be closed till making of proper security arrangements on nuke plants. World community, USA and Russian nuke experts should suggest to their governments to reconsider nuke deals with New Delhi since the later failed to ensure proper nuke safety and security arrangements. It is further added that UNO should ensure that all ships which remained in use of transportation of chemical and biological agents or carrying any related material should not be sent for dismantling to any other country. India should also return back US Toxic Ship present in high water of Gujrat (Indian start) sea.
The US silence on this issue who otherwise creates lot of noise on nuclear concerns is quite intriguing. The US must act and force IAEA to take the punitive measures to halt such criminal neglects.
Zaheerul Hassan writes on regional issues. He is a regular writer with Opinion Maker