|CIA-IB installing nuclear device, Mt. Nanda Devi, Indiamensxp.com|
Now, the villagers' apprehension about the safety of their future is quite reasonable. The consensus among them and the some of the news media has been that the root cause of this calamity could have been more due to a radioactive device that had been buried somewhere in the Nanda Devi mountain (at 25,645 feet) since the middle of 1960s. than other reasons. After a long passage of time - roughly 55 years, its exact location of burial is still a myth. With a view to keeping a tab on the activities of the communist China and its military expansion, the plutonium radioactive device weighing around 56kg, including an 8-10ft-high antenna, two transceiver sets system, the remote sensing device which was supposed to keep track of any further nuclear tests by China after 1965, is said to be have been clandestinely planted during a secret Government classified joint expedition in 1965 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States in association with the Intelligence Bureau of India.
|Location of Mt. Nanda Devi. johnevansclimbing.com|
|Location Mt. Nanda Devi, India. livehistoryindia.com|
|China site of nuclear test, 1964.mensxp.com|
|Mt. Nanda Devi, India scoopwhoop.com|
|1965 CIA and IB team,spy mission to Nanda Devi. mensxp.com|
|CIA-India secret mission. Nanda Devi, rockandice.com|
As ill-luck would have it, despite long preparations and adequate precaution, the CIA's one of the most difficult and secrets operations atop the mountain ended in a fiasco; it was an abortive mission to set up the nuclear device on the higher slope of the mountain. Reason: In the middle of their installation operation near the summit, they were hit by a severe blizzard and their lives were in danger. With no options open, CIA and Indian sleuths abandoned the covert mission midway to escape from near death-like situation. When the team returned to the spot in the year 1966, they could not find the device. The device is said to have a life of around 100 years out of which 45 are still left. However, many question the veracity of the story put out by the CIA. It is learnt that the radioactive material used in the device is 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
The nuclear device and the equipment were lost under the piles of ice and it was an Herculean task to retrieve it. Now, the villagers and others are being haunted by a long-held suspicion that the nuclear device that lies buried in the Nanda Devi mountain one day may cause serious damages to their lives, the placid environment and the water resources in the Indo-Gangetic plains. The moot question is: Did the buried nuclear device due to over heating and possible radiation trigger the recent glacier burst and Chamoli flash floods? Some experts say that Chamoli flash floods and many other disasters on the Himalayan mountain are primarily caused by global warming and climate change. The floods, severely damaged two Dhauliganga hydro power projects that were in progress and loss of countless lives, etc., at Raini village. A total of 32 bodies were found to date while 174 were missing and the casualty figure was going up as days went by. This unexpected havoc brought back fears of old tales and rumors related to a lost radioactive material in the Nanda Devi glaciers.
Indian nuclear scientists are unable to give proper explanation on the status of the nuclear device buried in the mountain in the absence of details. However, way back in 1965 American senator Richard Autier and famous Russian scientist Arthur Compeleene warned India about the radio active device, saying that lakhs of people might be affected if there was leak of radiation.
|Water sources to River ganga, India. mensxp.com|
According to one Mohan Singh, a resident of Raini village who took part part in many expeditions in Nanda Devi glaciers, the flash floods were not the result of any device. With the passage of time the buried nuclear instrument has become a myth eventually. However, a few people associated with the 1965 expedition feel "The device is dangerous and may be the cause of these floods from the meting the snow." It is likely, the melting of glaciers might have taken at close points within in the perimeter of the device and the gushing melt water down the slope triggered the Chamoli flash floods.
What's so surprising is the half-hearted interest shown by the USA and India in the matter of mishap due to damaged device for various reasons and the possible consequences on the environment, water resources and millions of people living in the Gangetic plains along the river Ganga and its tributaries. Such a possibility of mysterious emerging scenario is not given serious attention and is just ignored. The former India Mountaineering Federation vice-president Harish Kapadia said long ago in the interview with Livemint, "The sherpas who carried the gadget had a lot of exposure, and the threat of radioactivity is certainly there." The real danger was the radio-active poisoning of the Rishi Ganga, the river that drains the Nanda Devi melting glaciers into the Ganga river. Between 2004 and 2007 tests done d by climber Pete Takeda of samples from the peak area, showed evidence of the Plutonium. The then union government ignored his findings. In 2018, the state cabinet minister of Uttarakhand Satpal Maharaj said that he had urged the Indian Prime Minister to take action in this regard. Several years ago the USA's attempt to clean up the the areas on Nanda Devi slopes where the plutonium container was lost was met with failure. The plan was to use Rubber hoses to wash away the rubble and dig out the nuclear device. Though theory wise, it was possible, practically speaking, it did not go well because the mound created by the successive avalanches was almost as big as the Giza pyramid.
The fear of plutonium contamination of a vast land, stretching from the terrain of Rishiganga along the river Ganga up to Kolkata city on the east and the threats to millions of people along the river is very much there. In the recent Chamoli flash floods caused by the glacier burst, people along the banks could not bear the foul smell emanating from the gushing melt water. What is the reason for this foul smell? No proper explanation is forthcoming. With far better advanced technology in the area of satellite imaging, both the US and India can work together to fish out the deeply buried nuclear device buried in the glaciers of Mt. Nanda Devi. Until it is dug out, we have to keep our fingers crossed with apprehension.