While the real horrors of nuclear energy are still not widely known to people, congenital deformities in infants, genetic mutation, infertility, cancer etc., among the people in villages around the uranium mines of Jaduguda in Signhbhum area, Jharkhand, tell a tale of irreversible contamination and loss.
Far away from the uranium mines, is Hyderabad a safe haven in this regard? No, says city-based former scientist at Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) K Babu Rao.
According to him, uranium processing at every stage causes various harmful effects. Hyderabad with its 43-years-old Nuclear Fuel Complex near Moula Ali, catering to the nuclear fuel requirements for power plants, is a cause enough concern according to him.
Speaking at the Uranium Film Festival that began today, Rao further explained that natural uranium, which is brought to the city from Jaduguda, contains only 0.72 per cent of U-235, which is the actual nuclear fuel. “Here in Hyderabad, it is enhanced to three per cent through chemical processing to make it into nuclear fuel to supply to power plants across the country. In each of its stages, enough harmful radioactive matter is generated and the leftover depleted uranium is radiating in our air,” he told City Express.
The three day film fest which is in its second edition, is a travelling fest that showcases various independent animation films, comedy, fiction, documentaries and so on to elaborate on the deadly effect of nuclear energy. Being hosted at the St Francis College for Women, the Uranium Film Festival is an initiative from Rio, Brazil, and has been showcasing international award-winning films on harmful effects of nuclear energy from across the globe. Apart for Hyderabad, the fest is scheduled to visit cities like Ahmedabad, Manipal, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Tatanagar.
Explaining about the film fest, documentary maker and India coordinator for festival, Shri Prakash said that the aim was to spread awareness through cinema on issues like uranium mining, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste, atomic bombs, radioactive hazards, etc. “Complex issues are shown in a simple and easily understandable way,” he added.
Agreeing, Suheil Imtiaz, assistant professor and Hyderabad coordinator, said, “The festival sought to address the flipside of nuclear energy production and consumption. The probability of a nuclear accident cannot be neglected.”
Starting with a German film Abita. Children from Fukushima, which won the Yellow Oscar in 2013 dealt with children who could not play outside as nature was contaminated; many films like The Last Flower (Iran), Buddha Weeps In Jaduguda (India), Get Up Stand Up (India), Hiroshima Nagasaki Download (Mexico/Japan) were also screened.
Other speakers at the event included actor and environmentalist Amala Akkineni, who called for more awareness to deal with the menace of radioactivity from uranium.
Students as well were pleased with the effort. “This is a good attempt to reach out to the people as Audio visual medium has wider reach and impact today,” said Tarz Rabbani, a final year student, while batchmate Malliha Fathima, added, “Instead of aping the west, I think we should learn from their mistakes.”