Skip to main content

"Nuclear poisoning" in Jharkhand village: Hair-raising account of evading responsibility for radiation pollution

Ankush Vengurlekar
By Our Representative
In a hair-raising account of nuclear poisoning, Ankush Vengurlekar, a freelance communications trainer to non-profits, on a 900-kilometre solo cycling expedition to the tribal regions of Jharkhand, finds what he calls "cancer of denial, apathy and evading responsibility of the radiation pollution" in the tribal village of Bango.
Visiting one house after another in the village in East Singhbhum district to see the evidence of radiation pollution on people’s lives, about which media has "grossly underreported", Vengurkelar says, he found himself "slowly sinking to see so many cases of physical deformities in such a small population of about 2,400 people, all in one village."
Sanjay Gope
In the first house, Vengurlekar met Sanjay Gope, who is 12, and developed "severe muscular dystrophy at the age of 4." The writer adds, "This condition meant that his movement was severely restrained and so was his speech."
Entering the house via a short doorway that forces one to bend, he says, he saw that sitting cross-legged on a charpai on the right was Sanjay, a smile beaming from his face.
“He has been like this for the past 8 years, restricted to this cot. One of us has to be here constantly, we cannot leave him by himself,” the boy's grandfather is quoted as saying. On trying to converse with Sanjay, all that the writer managed were "muffled sounds."
Parvati Gope
Then Vengurlekar met Parvati Gope in a muddy house situated nearby. This 17-year-old girl was "suffered from lumbar scoliosis, an S curve formation of her vertebral column", he says, adding, "Parvati’s photos have been widely used by the anti-radiation poisoning movement."
Her father, a little annoyed, tells Vengurlekar, “Everyone comes and shoots her pictures and videos, but no one ever does anything about her condition. She needs to be treated and we need money for medicines. I cannot afford her medicines forever.”
Rakesh Gope
Next was the house of Rakesh Gope, "a school-going 13-year-old boy suffering from muscular dystrophy. Says Vengurlekar, "Only, in this case, he is extremely active and walks, albeit with severely arched feet and soles that are arched upwards." Only, "he also cannot talk normally."
“How long can we provide for his medicine? We don’t even know how long he will live,” Vengurlekar quotes his father as saying.
Kartik Gope
Then, Vengurlekar met Kartik Gope, 3, in the next home. "This sweet child has been having seizures since birth and is developing muscular dystrophy too", says Vengurlekar, adding, "The mother and grandmother are quite hapless. The mother keeps dabbing her child’s face as I take pictures."
"Incidentally", says the writer, "All the families with these symptoms have visited just one particular clinic in Jadugoda, which is in the UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Ltd) complex of Jadugoda town. Further tests are done mostly at the Chaibasa hospital, while those who can afford it, go to Jamshedpur."
Haradhan Gope
Then there was the house of Haradhan Gope, a boy whose face he had seen in an article in the Hindustan Times. "I had a brief conversation with Haradhan Gope, who was going to the farms to get his cattle back", says Vengurlekar, adding, while he had "begun to preempt the answer" to the reason for the condition of this and other children, few villagers "attributed it to radiation exposure", with most claiming it was their "ill fate."
Anamika Oraon
The last visit was to the house of Anamika Uraon in Dungridih village. A ‘girl with the scary face’, as she was called, Vengurlekar says, "The right side of Anamika’s face was like any other girl of her school-going age... However, the left side of her face had bulged into a cancerous outgrowth of cells and tissue."
"The flesh on this side was so enlarged and weighty that it was drooping down. I remember feeling stunned as I stood there, talking to this girl, for whom, it was inexplicable what was happening to her", Vengurlekar says.

Comments

TRENDING

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

India 'neglecting' air, water, vegetation as its world air quality index ranking decelerates

By Dr Gurinder Kaur* The World Air Quality Report 2023 , prepared by a Swiss technology company IQAir, was released on 19 March 2024. According to this report, India is the third most polluted country in the world after Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the capital of India, New Delhi, is the most polluted capital in the world.