Monday, December 5, 2011

India's uranium mines cast a health shadow

Gudiya Das whines as flies settle on her face, waiting for her mother to swat them while she lies on a cot in Ichra, one in a cluster of villages around India's only functioning uranium mines.

The 12-year-old, whose skeletal frame makes her look about half her age, was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy when she was a year old.

"Back then there were 33 disabled kids here, now there are more than a hundred," her father, Chhatua Das told AFP in his home in Jaduguda valley in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

For Das and his wife Lakshmi, who have lost six children before the age of one, there is only one possible culprit -- the nearby mines run by the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL).

"I know there is some connection between the mining and what's happened to my daughter," Lakshmi told AFP. "It's because of the uranium in the water here." more