DEHRADUN: Satpal Maharaj, state irrigation minister of Uttarakhand on Tuesday revived the debate about lost nuclear device strengthening the rumors that it may be the reason behind the flashfloods caused due to melting of the glacier.
"It's a matter of concern about how glaciers are melting in the mountains resulting in such unfortunate events. The plutonium pack which was kept to monitor China’s movement is no longer there. I request the government to investigate this angle too," said the minister.
In year 2018 too, Maharaj had said that he had urged the Prime Minister to take action in this regard.
An RTI query was filed by an activist Gurvinder Singh Chadha which had a total of seven questions related to the radioactive device in question, the Bhabha Atomic Research Center had replied, "This center has no information on the above. Hence, we are unable to provide any information under the RTI Act 2005."
Interestingly, the questions included if American senator Richard Autier warned India about the nuclear device in 1965 and famous Russian scientist Arthur Compeleene also wanted India saying that lakhs of people may be effected due to the radiation.
A mix of myths, stories and rumors have renewed the interest in the nuclear device story after the flash floods.
Weighing around 56kg, including an 8-10ft-high antenna, two transceiver setsa system, the remote sensing device which was supposed to keep track of any further nuclear tests by China after 1964 is believed to be installed by Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America and Intelligence Bureau of India to spy on China.
The device is said to be for nuclear auxiliary power (SNAP) generator to keep it running. The SNAP generator as its nuclear fuel has seven plutonium capsules, came in a special container.
The radioactive material is said to be an alloy of Pu-238 with 18 percent Pu-239 which is considered the most effective combination to prolong the life span of the material and generate maximum energy.
Pu-238 is the fissile radioactive material is used for explosion in nuclear weapons which has a half-life of 87 years. The half-life is the time required for the material subject to exponential decay or half its atoms to lose radioactivity.
Many books have been written on the issue including one by Stephen Alter. The Mussoorie-based author in one of his book titled 'Desecration' has written about a secret operation in which a device was to be installed to monitor China which had conducted a nuclear test in 1962 in Xinjiang province.
The rumors also state that many porters who carried the nuclear fuel died of cancer caused by radiation.
After the team returned in year 1966 they could not find the device. The device is said to have life of around 100 years out of which 45 are still left.