On the contrary, these threads at BRF have been excellent. While the Indian Media and Experts have been making asses of themselves (or removing all doubt on that point), and the world media have been characterized by such wonders as the Arms Control Donk who has to get someone else to interpret for him what he wrote in a paper which actually got published in one of the West's Prestigious Peer-Reviewed Journals, BRF was debating cold, hard facts.
I would think that all aspects of this issue have been thrashed out. No doubt remains.
The yield of the POK-2 tests was GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO the design yield.
The simple, indisputable proof is those brick separation cracks in the walls of those poor villagers' homes in Khetolai, photographed by the media on May 13, 1998.
And the simple statements from the school headmaster and the villagers clarifying that they were not even evacuated from the village, but were in fact out in the open when the tests occurred.
Let me remind those who claim that "there is no scientific basis" or that "there is no evidence" or that "it is one person's opinion" in vain and increasingly lame attempts to ignore the undeniable: this comes from ppl who were no friends of the then-GOI or the Nuclear Establishment. Straight from the horses' behinds:
Loyalty, I learn, both from him and from people I talk to in Pokhran proper, has come at a price. Narsing Rao points to a corner of his hut, with an irregular crack running down the length of the granite wall. Later, as I walk around the village, I notice similar cracks on almost all the walls. Mementoes, I'm told, of the May blasts.
Cracking granite takes some doing. But then, a series of nuclear blasts is some force, when you are just 4 km from the epicentre. And the real damage, I am told, is the cracks in their water tanks.
In Khetolai, there are granite tanks in each home to hold precious drinking water, bought at Rs 300 per 3,000 litres, from tankers that come to the village thrice a week. That, by quick calculation, makes for less than a litre of potable water per head -- and now, even that is jeopardised.
Didn't the government repair the damage, I wonder. That opens the floodgates -- the locals all talk at once, till Narsing Rao looks angrily at them, the mien of village elder very much in evidence. He then tells the tale:
May 11, the first blasts, the first cracks. May 13, more blasts, and a couple of homes collapse, though no one is hurt. Five days later, they were told of the impending visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to their village, on May 20.
How about compensation, I ask, since I remember reading that the central government planned to make good the losses.
"Haanh, kuch government-wale aaye the, they offered amounts between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000 for each house. All of us refused."
Why? "It is too little, we can't even buy enough bricks with those amounts, let alone afford the labour. So in our panchayat, we decided to refuse; we said we will spend our own savings to repair the damage."
Manohar Joshi, local correspondent for Dainik Bhaskar, and Rajesh Bhatia, owner of Pokhran's only petrol-filling station, and hence a person of seemingly immense consequence, fill me in on the rest of the story.
Apparently the government, flustered by the refusal of the villagers of Khetolai and Dholia to accept the handouts -- I mean, whoever heard of people on the poverty line refusing money? -- sent in engineers of the Rajasthan Awas Vikas Sansthan to assess the actual damage. They came, they saw -- and in an official report estimated that it would cost Rs 1.5 million to repair the damaged walls and water tanks of Khetolai alone.
The report hasn't been heard of since, says Joshi. The government gave it a quiet burial.
"Haanh, engineerwale aaye the, they agreed it will take a lot of money to repair our walls, but we didn't hear anything about it afterwards," says Narsing Rao Bishnoi. "Is gaon mein to hum Congress ke hain, BJP sarkar hamein itna paisa kyon dega?"
From the sneering, callous attitude displayed by many here towards the Indian citizens of Khetolai, I have to agree: "Nahin". THAT is shameful, I agree.
More from 1998: Brick-separation cracks
When this happened at my "cave", the diagnosis was foundation settling, and they had to put hydraulic jacks under the foundation and poured in my money through a high-pressure hose.UQ:
Nowhere is the impending disaster more rich in ironies than in the small town of Pokhran in Rajasthan's Thar desert. India's nuclear test site lies near by. Damage caused two years ago by the nuclear tests that thrust India (quickly followed by Pakistan) into the ranks of the nuclear powers brought compensation. In Khetolai village, only 4km from the test site, a primary school has been built and the Dalits (formerly "Untouchables") have even been provided with a library.Joint Statement, May 1998
The 3 tests conducted on 11 May, 1998 were with a fission device with a yield of about 12 kT, a thermonuclear device with a yield of about 43 kT and a sub-kilo tonne device. All the 3 devices were detonated simultaneously. It may be noted that the yield of the thermonuclear device tested on 11 May was designed to meet stringent criteria like containment of the explosion and least possible damage to building and structures in neighbouring villages. On 13 May, 1998 two more sub kilo-tonne nuclear tests were carried out. These devices were also detonated simultaneously. The yields of the sub-kilo tonne devices were in the range of 0.2 to 0.6 kT.Press Conference, May 1998
The tests conducted on 11 May as well as on 13 May were fully contained with no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
The measured yields of the devices agree with expected design values. A complex software package developed by DAE has been used in device design and yield estimation.
The tests conducted during 11-13 May, 1998 have provided critical data for the validation of our capability in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields for different applications and different delivery systems. These tests have significantly enhanced our capability in computer simulation of new designs and taken us to the stage of sub-critical experiments in the future, if considered necessary.
Press Conference with Weapons Scientists, 17 May
Press Conference, Shastri Bhavan, India, 17 May 1998; available on the Government of India web-site. http://www.indiagov.org
"Question: 'How near is the thermonuclear device to a hydrogen bomb? What was the material used for the fission trigger?'
Dr. R. Chidambaram, Chair, Atomic Energy Commission (AEA): 'The hydrogen bomb is the popular term. In a hydrogen bomb there is a fission trigger and separately there is also thermonuclear material which requires appropriate configuring. It is therefore a two-stage device. The secondary stage provides the major yield. The range can go quite high but we were limited in the total yield by the damage it may cause to habitations nearby. We are not revealing the materials used.'
Question: 'When were you told to go ahead with the tests?'
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development: 'T[est] minus 30 days.'
Question: 'Are we now moving towards subcritical, hydronuclear, hydrodynamic and computer simulation [testing], including laser fusion techniques such as those in the National Ignition Facility in the US?'
Dr. Chidambaram: '... We are aware of the US programmes for Inertial Confinement Fusion, where you hit a pellet with laser beams and simulate some kinds of phenomenon. We have done what we have done.'
Question: 'Does India have a deliverable weapons system right now?'
Dr. Kalam: '... This is a National Mission. PM [Prime Minister] has said that India is a NWS [nuclear-weapon State].'
Question: 'Will sanctions affect [your work]?'
Dr. Kalam: 'Technologically, we have faced sanctions for a long time. When we were refused the supercomputer, we went ahead and made our own. In the space programme, when we were refused cryogenic engines, we have gone ahead and made our own which should be ready next year. No one can trouble us technologically. There is a challenge to be met and we rise to the occasion."Question: 'How far is the nearest village?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'A little over 5 km away - Khetolai. Our total yield was set by this."
Question: 'Where is India in nuclear weapons technology today?'
Dr. Kalam: 'The 3 tests on 11 May - the hydrogen bomb, the fission device and sub-kiloton device - as well as the two subsequent sub-kiloton device[s] have proved clearly that our nuclear weapons technology has achieved a stage of self-reliance. If there is a demand for it, we shall do it.'
Question: 'What was the logic behind simultaneous detonation?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'The two devices - the thermonuclear and fission device - were 1 km apart. We needed to make sure that the detonation of one did not cause damage to the other, since the shock-wave has a time-travel in milliseconds. So we went in for simultaneous detonation. It was also simpler - use one button to blow three. We had close-in seismic measurements and accelerometer data also.'
Question: 'What fraction of the hydrogen bomb energy is due to the thermonuclear part? What was the cost of the tests and weaponization?'
Dr. Kalam: 'As regards cost, this dies not amount to huge amounts. These costs were met from the budgets of our respective departments, over and above what we apportion for regular activities.'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'As regards what fraction - the total was 45 kilotons. The fission trigger was equivalent to that of the fission device.'
Question: 'Can these nuclear warheads be fitted on Privthi and Agni?'
Dr. Kalam: 'The missiles we have can carry any type of warhead, conventional or nuclear, depending on the weight, size and environmental specifications. The missiles are only carriers, they can even carry flowers.'
Question: 'Do we have the technology to gauge the size and power of Pakistan's bomb?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'Before or after they detonate? Of course we have methods of detecting their tests using teleseisometers. I have no idea of their programme. I have never been to Pakistan. In our tests the waveforms recorded have been confused because the detonations were simultaneous. ...'
Question: 'Is the Agni project now to be further developed?'
Dr. Kalam: 'If needed, we can make it in the numbers required. The ranges can be adjusted, if needed for higher ranges.'
Question: 'From your 5 tests you have collected data. Can development now be done within the ambit of the CTBT?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'Good question. But no comment.'
Question: 'How long have scientists been ready?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'Since 1974 we have had the knowledge. The technology and knowledge has been undergoing improvements and refinements.'
Question: 'Did you specifically prepare the tests so that they cannot be detected?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'No.'
Question: 'But not even by the CIA?'
Dr. Chidambaram: 'You must ask the CIA.'"
And this: And this:
Didn't we read someone breezily dismissing the need for concern about groundwater contamination?
Villages near India's nuclear tests site have no reason to celebrate
[ Peace ] by sapw @ 11.05.2008 04:18 CEST
[Today 10 year after India's Nuclear tests in Pokharan in Rajasthan, there is no reason for the ordinary people to celebrate. The villagers near the test site who have lived with radioactivity in the desert air and environment hardly matter to the powers that be. After the first nuclear test explosion at Pokhran in 1974, some of the wells in the area were sealed by the DAE. Water samples are reported to have been collected at regular intervals, by the offcials, but villagers have been prevented from using these wells, but without being given any reason. After the second series of experiments in 1998, water from a tube well in a village 7 km south of Pokhran, became jet black.
Reduction in yield and fat content of milk was reported from the neighbouring villages. Radioactivity would have certainly penetrated the underground water and ground beneath. The gases and particles vented out during blasts would have been carried away by the desert wind. Not much written that is easily available. In 1999, Kalpana Sharma a well known journalist had written an interesting article - "Khetolai: The forgotten village", The Hindu Survey of Environment 1999. (pp.17-19) . See also Gadekar, S. 2000. The Smile that makes Generations Sick, in Lokayan Bulletin (Exploding Peace: Peaceful Nuclear Tests. 15.1/6 – July-June 1999-2000), New Delhi. (Pg. 91-93); Makhijani, A. 1999. Making the Bomb – Without Consent, With Injury. The Hindu Survey of the Environment 1999. (Pg 21-27)
Posted below are two news reports from today's papers in India -SAPW]
Nuclear history lost on local village
by Siddhartha S. Bose, Hindustan Times
Khetolai (Pokhran), May 11, 2008
Pokhran’s historic moment is lost on the people of Khetolai, the last human habitation near the nuclear blast site of 11 May, 1998. The young in this village vaguely recall the day when the blasts catapulted India into the orbit of countries with nuclear capabilities. The elderly take it with a pinch of salt.
“It took place on our land and made history. But what did it give us?” asks Ramlal, a schoolteacher in the local senior secondary school. Pokhran is 26 km from Khetolai; the 1998 blasts took place just 3 km
from the village. A vast stretch of forbidden desert expanse separates the village from the heavily guarded blast site on the other end.
The villagers have lived on promises made to them by the Centre and the state government after the blasts.
Ten years have gone by and the promises still remain unfulfilled! And yet, the 250 odd families that live with a high literacy rate of 80 per cent and have a third of their adult population serving as government teachers, rarely discuss the atomic blasts with their children.
“Our livestock suffered from the radiation during initial days, fissures opened up in every single house in the village after the tremors that followed the blasts
. The government made almost a tourist place out of Pokhran but locals suffered,” Ramesh Chand who grew up in Khetolai said. He has moved out of the village to work in nearby Phalodi.
Lt Colonel NN Joshi, army spokesperson based in Jodhpur, said the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were going to celebrate the occasion as National Technology Day. “We have received a recent communication which holds up the day as a symbol of technological empowerment,” he said.
Ramlal says people take pride in the event but are disconnected from it. How would the younger generation relate to the incident, he ponders, adding: “If only the government would have given us a desperately needed hospital in Pokhran and named it Shakti Sthal (name given to the blast site), the children would have known.” Khetolai has a primary health centre but doctors come there rarely, allege villagers. Army doctors don’t cater to the local population.
Far from being obsessed with Pokhran, people here have learnt to live with the army watching over them on three sides. The sandy stretch separates the village from the watchtowers guarding the ’98 blast sites. People are forbidden from wandering into the area. Visitors are allowed till only a km ahead of Shakti Sthal.
10 yrs on, Pokhran to have a war museum
by Vimal Bhatia & Prakash Bhandari (Times of India, 11 May 2008)
POKHRAN: Ten years ago, on May 11, 1998, the Buddha smiled once again in the deserts of Rajasthan as the country undertook a series of nuclear tests in the Pokhran field range. The first-ever nuclear test by the country, code named ‘Smiling Buddha’, was also conducted in the same place on May 19, 1974.
The area of the tests is still kept under tight security. There are four gates spread over a 3.5 sq km area. The first is known as Kohinoor Gate and the last, Bhoochal Gate. But soon, footfalls in the sands which saw India’s strategic coming of age could increase as the government goes ahead with plans to set up a war museum in the Pokhran range.
"We are trying to set up a model of the Khetolai village in Pokhran where the blasts took place. A war museum would be set up here and the help of the Army and BSF has been sought to set up the museum," said Ambarish Kumar, district collector, Jaisalmer.
[FROM THE REUTERS NEWS SERVICE, MAY 17, 1998
New Delhi, India: Several residents of a village near India's nuclear-testing site have complained of nose-bleeds, skin and eye irritation, vomiting and loose bowels since last week's underground blasts, a report said on Sunday.
The government has said that no radioactivity was released into the atmosphere over the Thar desert, in the western state of Rajasthan, as a result of its five tests.
But The Sunday Statesman said that more than a dozen people from the village of Khetolai experienced symptoms of contamination by radiation immediately after the last two of the five devices were exploded on Wednesday.
`The residents approached us, gave a list of affected persons,' the paper quoted a district official as saying. `Most of them have complained of nose-bleeding, loss of appetite, irritation in skin and eyes.'
`We will soon send a team of doctors to examine the affected villagers. Only then can we come to a conclusion. It could also be due to the rise in temperature,' he said.
The paper said the people of Khetolai were convinced that the complaints were due to radiation exposure and quoted one man as saying he was suffering nose-bleeds for the first time in his life.
Another man was worried about his 12-year-old daughter. `She has been vomiting, bleeding through the nose and feeling restless for two days after the second explosion,' the paper quoted the girl's father as saying. `First we ignored it but when the number of victims rose we brought it to the notice of district and army officers.'
Khetolai is one of seven villages dotted around the Alpha Firing range of the area called Pokhran.
Anyway, if there were radioactivity either from POK-1 or 2, high incidence of cancer would have shown up by now. Shows that the safety precautions were well thought-out - not haphazard.
The really shameful part is that some people tried to ignore these realities, and kept claiming that there was "no evidence" that any damage had occurred at the village (or at the Army logistics base), despite the clear evidence presented. Having seen how logic-impervious such postors can be, and how very deliberate this logic-imperviousness is, is very educational. It throws new light on several other such threads, and shows that the lines of argument taken there is also not objective.
How to deal with such postors is a very interesting question. Because you encounter such attitudes in many arguments in other contexts. It must be like this to argue with Chinese negotiators, for instance.