Scientists and environmentalists raise concerns about water overflow from the UCIL tail pond

“The uranium-contaminated water penetrates into adjacent agricultural fields near Tummalapalli in the Kadapa district”

Scientists and environmentalists expressed concern Monday about the water flowing from the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) rear pond in Tummalapalli, Kadapa district.

In a webinar, former Energy Minister EAS Sarma said that due to rainfall in Kadapa, water from the UCIL pond overflows into the adjacent agricultural fields in Tummalapalli, and that water contains dangerous radioactive materials and will cause irreparable damage to the land. Groundwater, bodies of water and the existing banana and other plantations.

Akula Lokesh, an affected farmer, said his banana field was in 6 feet of uranium-contaminated water from the hedge pond. The total flooded area is currently about 30 acres and can expand depending on the rainfall, he said.

Environmentalist Bolisetty Satyanarayana said the situation was dire in 2018 when his team visited Tailpond and the surrounding area and villages affected by groundwater pollution.

K. Jayashree of the Human Rights Forum claimed that “MLAs and MPs have done nothing to protect the environment and the farmers.”

Babu Rao, a retired scientist from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT, Hyderabad), claimed the hedge pond was not lined, which is against the norms.

“Normally, all tail ponds in uranium mining have to be lined with bentonite clay and polyethylene to avoid pollution of the groundwater. But a study has shown that the tail pond is not lined and UCIL has avoided asking questions on this aspect. A panel of experts pointed out nine serious violations in 2017, “he said.

Mr Sarma also pointed out that the UCIL should immediately pay compensation to farmers whose land has been contaminated and, together with the government, take steps to relocate the affected farmers, as agricultural activities can no longer take place in the surrounding villages.

The experts also pointed out that lawsuits should be filed against the UCIL, which is responsible for environmental protection, and against the APPCB for ineffectiveness on this issue.

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