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Pokhran nuclear blast had contaminated ground water: Wikileaks

Pokhran nuclear blast had contaminated ground water: Wikileaks

New Delhi: A secret US diplomatic cable dated May 22, 1974 said that India's Pokhran nuclear test had contaminated the ground water of the desert area.

The cable sent to Washington DC by US ambassador to India Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: "Depending on the cratering and earth splitting effects of the blast, the ground water in the immediate vicinity of the blast site as well as the sweet water reservoirs could very well be contaminated."

Geological information available to the embassy indicated that the Pokhran range area was approximately 576sq miles which was situated above a water level of 25-101 feet below ground level. In addition, there was a large sweet water reservoir to the north approximately 8 miles from the Pokhran range, which had water levels at 100 to 300 feet below ground level.

This was in contradiction to what a spokesperson of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission said the day before that the fallout from the explosion was virtually "insignificant compared to radio activity released by explosions conducted by advanced countries."

The IAEC spokesperson had also added: "Though no precise data on fallout was as yet available, preliminary analysis showed that it was 'almost nil,'" adding that "that some scientists went up to 100 meters from the hole where the device was detonated."

Newspaper reports indicated that Indian scientists were both elated and puzzled by the reported absence of any radioactive fallout from the nuclear explosion.

An eyewitness to the blast, Raja Ramanna, director, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, stated that the explosion produced an artificial hill. He expressed it as "a most beautiful sight which came on the skyline from nowhere."

"When the explosion went off there was tremendous upheaval of earth, sand, and stones, but we watched it from a distance of four km. At that time we got reports from the air monitoring section that there was very little radioactivity, but we thought it would be possible for us to go nearer and we succeeded in coming nearly 100 meters away from the crater, and there we could see this artificially-produced hill, a most beautiful sight," Ramanna is reported to have said.

(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)

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