Uranium mining started in Tribal Jadugoda in 1967, and it took 30 years for the people to understand the hazardous impacts of nuclear radiation poisoning in his village.
Ashish Birulee, an activist and independent journalist, belongs to the Ho community in Jadugoda, Jharkhand. As a photojournalist, he has worked to disclose damages caused by the uranium mines located just 500 m from his home in Jadugoda.
The birth of a child is rarely a cause for celebration in Jadugoda; rather, the people are scared the child might be born with some kind of deformity, if not dead. The reason is the Uranium mining happening around here, which is destroying people’s lives, and the govt which pays no heed.
"There's no account of how many people have been killed in my hometown of Jadugoda." – @ashish_birulee, photojournalist and activist on being born in Jadugoda, the village that hosts India's first uranium mine at the #YKASummit pic.twitter.com/yaPeDZUg2n
— Youth Ki Awaaz (@YouthKiAwaaz) December 20, 2019
At the 2019 Youth Ki Awaaz summit, Ashish shared his experience of taking the ‘Jadugoda’ story to the world. Several pictures captured by Ashish have been accolades at various film festivals around the world.
There’s a heavy lack of awareness around these critical issues in regions like Jadugoda, and the government is trying to fool the tribal population. Talking about the impact of radiation he told the audience how he lost his grandfather:
“There hasn’t been a single awareness campaign here in the last 50 years. I have suffered the negative impact of this myself. My grandfather used to work in a Uranium mine and not knowing the harmful effects of this radiation cost him his life due to lung cancer.”
And later, his grandmother:
“My grandmother got lung cancer too, along with my grandfather. He would wear his mine uniform at home, and the hazardous impacts of the radiation would enter our home. This led to my grandmother’s getting cancer as well.”
But this is not just his story, it’s the story of every tribal household in Jadugoda.
While the International law prohibits Uranium mining anywhere in a 100m radius in residential areas, this village still suffers the consequences of the government greed. Another critical issue is the disposal of radioactive waste, which is disposed of at sites merely a 100m away from the residents. There are only three sites in Jadugoda where this waste accumulates.
Capturing the dismal state of the region on his camera, Ashish has used the power of storytelling to take this story to the world. He has used his pictures to further create awareness about this issue. And later, he was finally able to create an impact when his pictures were displayed at the International Uranium film festival in Brazil.
The power-hungry government is using our tax money to amp up their nuclear arsenal. But does it solve our ground issues? Better question, do they even care?
“Jadugoda is turning into another Hiroshima, and we need to talk about it,” signs off Ashish.