India’s own Deepwell Moment | india | Hindustan Times
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India’s own Deepwell Moment

The US oil drilling policy is now in the open for everyone to see. The New York Times reported how warnings from scientists about environmental damage from such drilling, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, were either watered down or ignored.

india Updated: May 16, 2010 22:52 IST

The US oil drilling policy is now in the open for everyone to see. The New York Times reported how warnings from scientists about environmental damage from such drilling, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, were either watered down or ignored.

But, this isn’t about the US alone. It’s a mirror for us in India about environmental threats from the extraction industry. Mining is almost always damaging to the environment. We know ministry of environment and forests is refusing permissions for key mining projects.

If anything, here’s an opportunity for the US to learn from the stance of our own otherwise sluggish babus in the green ministry who managed to push back vested interests, for the moment. It’s important not to lose this battle against big money extraction interests. Ignoring environmental concerns can result in our own Indian Deepwell kind of disaster.

Not a glowing moment
On this weekend, Greenpeace India declared Mayapuri scrap market, the site of the infamous Cobolt 60 incident, still unsafe. I spent my weekend there talking workers and owners about environmental safety. Not a single person considered radioactivity dangerous. Some laughed at the idea and others offered their own existence as proof of its harmlessness. Not one of the people I met had received any data on preventive measures.

Greenpeace’s yellow safety warnings were ironically being eyed for recycling. How appalling is that? If anything, Delhi University — the cause of this crisis — must put as their first priority working with the community of traders to help them understand the dangers of radioactivity and its prevention. Even better, a health monitoring system should be set in at once. Nothing less is acceptable. Nothing less is responsible.