It is from here that the whole uranium contamination, poisoning cycle takes a massive leap into the food chain spreading far and wide via crops, fruits, and animals. The grass growing here is highly radioactive and when animals graze it enters their bodies and contaminates the milk and meat.
In short, uranium enters every part of the ecosystem and continues to spread further and further via the rivers, fish, the vegetables and fruits grown there and thus what starts as a local mine affects a vast region within no time at all.
It was the legal, moral and ethical duty of UCIL to warn the locals about what was about to hit them. But that would obviously have not suited the government.
Ideally, the whole land which was acquired for mining, blasting, processing should have been out of bounds for people and the tailing ponds made in such a manner that there is no seepage into the ground. Warning boards put up to indicate high radiation and danger zones, limit the access to site only message workers and decontaminate all material worn and handled by the workers at the site itself. The processed ore be safely transported in well covered vehicles to the nearest railway yard for its thousand kilometer journey to NFC Hyderabad.
All this is not a utopian dream. It is common sense.
But then, I forgot that we are talking about the DAE and UCIL. Agencies for which only the ends matter - not the means to achieve these nefarious ends.
Here are the stark realities at Jaduguda and Narwapahar -
The river which runs past Jaduguda, is met by the murky outflow from the mine workings. Here, people wash vegetables, sow and bathe in this extremely poisonous water.
Nowhere in the region can one see warning boards. It is an open invitation to use the resources here and get poisoned.
Trucks which carry the processed material from the mines are open dumpers with just a piece of plastic thrown over the top - most often, even this is missing. The dumpers spill the material on the roads all the way from the mines to the rail yards. Radiation level meters (Geiger counters) frequently go berserk as the radiation count exceeds the maximum limit which can be displayed on these meters.
Scientists designing these counters probably never imagined that any civilian region would possibly have this amount of radiation.
School buildings have been made of stone which was extracted during blasting of the mines. Placing the radiation meters on their walls makes the counters beep furiously.
Probably military grade instrumentation with higher limits needs to be used in these "civilian" areas.
The transport from the mines to Hyderabad is another horror story. Look at the picture of this open topped dumper truck below. Often, not even a plastic sheet is thrown over it. The trucks spill the ore along the way on the road sides. The hazardous material is loaded casually on goods trains which carry this material along with rakes filled with edible items.