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Death Valley

Jadugoda once a lush green forest, turned into the largest uranium mine in India in 1965. Just after a few years of independence, the Indian govt. established a Uranium mining zone to produce nuclear energy and arsenal, by clearing vast areas of forest land and displacing hundreds of tribal inhabitants.

A series of scientific reports highlighted the fatal consequences of improper radiation management in the radioactive mines of Jadugoda, but still the increasing presence of “tailing ponds” (deposits of toxic slurry left from processing Uranium ore) and the burgeoning rate of miscarriages, cancer, tuberculosis, and genetic disorders among the people living in its vicinity betrays the blatant ignorance of the authorities. Toxic wastes from the mining zones also contaminate and terminate the aquatic life of Subarnarekha River, the only source of running water that flows through the nearby villages.

The entire ecological balance of Jadugoda, has been suffering due to this mining. Conflagration is the main way to destroy the forest in mining regions.  Villagers are enormously losing their land, houses, and facing health crisis for this. From the beginning of the modern era, nature has begun to be destroyed in the name of development. We are constantly forgetting the importance of our coexistence with nature on this planet. Scientists reported that if the mining of Jadugoda comes to an end now, then the radiation will still remain for the next 200 years. The way we harm the environment, this is the ultimate time to stop this. Otherwise, any unmediated intervention or radical change in the environment does not only result in devastating effects but also pose a threat to the human race itself.

My work engages with the narratives of people living around the mining zones of Jadugoda and the historically rooted exploitation of land, water, creature, and other natural resources by powers that chose to ignore the condition of people who were originally its inhabitants.  

The hills of Jadugoda have been mined for uranium over five decades – creating half a century of a toxic legacy in the surrounding villages.
Mini a 9-year-old girl walking through the grave of her ancestors. She lives near the talling ponds. Her uncle and cousin brother has died a few years ago due to sudden liver pain. These kinds of symptoms are very common among the people of this region.
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Anamika Oraom (15) is living in a village named Dungridi, 1 km away from Narwa Pahar Uranium Mine with her mother Nagi Oroam (45). Anamika is suffering from a malignant tumor on her face since birth. When she was 5 years old, doctors suggested an operation, but her family couldn’t afford the surgery. Her mother is also suffering from various tumors on her body.
Opencast uranium mine at Turamdih village near Jadugoda milling factory.
Conflagration is the main way to destroy the forest in mining regions. Villagers end up losing their land, houses and faces health problems for this. Also day by day tribal cultures are fading away because of the heavy amount of deforestation.
Children are playing, just in front of a uranium mine at Jadugoda village. People live barely 500 meters away. In a 1998 report, the environment committee of the Bihar Legislative Assembly had stated that no village should be within five kilometers of the mines and tailing ponds.
Subarnarekha River near Jaduguda. The toxic waste from the uranium processing factory and tailing ponds pours directly into the river. The river serves as a water source for nearby villages.
This tailing pond contains radioactive waste from the uranium processing plant. It passes by a hamlet near the Turamdih uranium mine.
Rakesh sitting on the charpoy while his pet tries to cross. He is disabled since birth. In this area, most of the children have to stay alone throughout the day, as their parents work on paddy fields or in the nearby mines.
Renowned indigenous poet, singer, and activist Durga Prasad Murmu practicing a musical instrument [Banam] at his house. He is 55, battling with deformed legs. For the last 18 years, he is running a school that educates tribal children. He says “Our battle is not only against the radiation but also against illiteracy, if we have basic education and knowledge we can fight against radiation”.
At a local tribal festival, people have gathered to worship a model of an elephant. Due to the heavy amount of deforestation for mining, wild animals frequently enter human settlements and destroy villagers’ belongings.
Paltu Ram Sardar with his beloved pets, he didn’t walk ever after since birth. Now Piu (parrot) is the only companion of him throughout the day at Bango Village near Jaduguda uranium mines.
In a village named Bhatin, 2 km away from Narwa Uranium mine, Mithun Patra 15-year-old suffering from cerebral palsy due to the heavy radiation.
A picture of Ajit Murmu, daily labor at a uranium mine. He died a few years ago aged 45 due to unidentified diseases. These kinds of symptoms are very common among the people of this region.
Dulal [27] went to the nearby forest with his father, who is a firewood supplier, since his birth Dulal cannot speak. He is suffering from a mental disorder. The jungle is the source of income for a huge number of villagers.
Renowned indigenous poet, singer, and activist Durga Prasad Murmu on his way back to his house from school. For the last 18 years, he is running a school educating tribal peoples. He says “Our battle is not only against the radiation it is also against illiteracy if we had basic education and knowledge, but we can also fight against radiation”.