India's rush for nuclear power may destroy Nallamala forest ecosystem -Charan Teja
From affecting wildlife to threatening Chenchu tribes, this is what India’s nuclear power goals can do to Telangana’s Nallamala forest.
There is a clear difference in the surroundings as one approaches the Nallamala forest in Nagarkurnool Telangana; the breeze is cooler, and the lush greenery takes over both sides of the road. Seated in the heart of the gigantic forest is the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, one of the biggest in the country.
Nallamala forest is spread across five districts in Andhra Pradesh and two erstwhile districts in Telangana – Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda. The forest may soon face what is being dubbed as an environmental catastrophe by activists. The Forest Advisory Committee under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change recently recommended an 'in-principle' approval to the Department of Atomic Energy for survey and exploration of uranium over 83 square kilometres in as many as four blocks.
Primary arrangements for exploration are underway, signified by certain markings that have come up in various areas in the forest's core, say local residents. And while there’s uncertainty about exactly what is in store for Nallamala, there is definite fear. Many people say they feel threatened as they read reports of uranium exploration in their neighborhood.
Fear on the ground
TNM visited a few villages in Amrabad and Padara mandals and the local residents say they knew that something big was about to happen. In Udimilla of Amrabad, which has around 600 families from tribal and other communities, people are struggling to comprehend what exactly is happening.
Their understanding of uranium and nuclear power is raw and crude. Remarking that he was aware that the substance could be used to make bombs, a 65-year-old man remarks, "We will lose everything. This forest and trees, everything will go. Instead of all that happening, it is better that they bomb us."
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