A report by a prominent investigative news organisation published on December 16, has made some eye-popping revelations about a highly guarded nuclear facility in Challakere, Karnataka.
1. According to the report, many tribal lands in the resource-rich area of Challakere have been usurped by the government for a top-secret nuclear project that began in 2012, without any forewarning or clarification.
2. The project in question is a nuclear facility that could potentially be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of atomic research laboratories, nuclear centrifuges along with weapons and aircraft testing facilities. The project aims to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, expand nuclear research and power the country’s fleet of nuclear submarines, says the report.
3. The report adds that according to retired Indian government officials and experts in Washington and London, an ulterior motive behind the project is to develop enriched uranium fuel. This could potentially be upgraded to weapons-grade fuel, thereby bolstering India’s nuclear arsenal and could trigger an arms race in the region, with nuclear-armed rivals, Pakistan and China in the neighbourhood.
4. The report also says that since Challakere is a military facility, it is not open to international inspection. The government has been tight-lipped about the facility, with no reports in the public domain. Both Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the two organisations involved in the construction, have also maintained a high degree of secrecy and have declined to answer any questions. Also, everything connected to the nuclear program is under wraps because of the Atomic Energy Act and the Official Secrets Act.
5. Construction in Challakere continues despite a ruling by the National Green Tribunal on August 27, 2014, that called for a stay on all “excavation, construction and operation of projects” until environmental clearances had been secured, the report adds.
The original report can be read here.