Monday, September 3, 2012

#ThoriumScam The Great Thorium Robbery

The Great Thorium Robbery
By sam rajappa

Since the UPA government assumed office in 2004 with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, 2.1 million tones of monazite, equivalent to 195,300 tonnes of thorium at 9.3 per cent recovery, has disappeared from the shores of India. Thorium is a clean nuclear fuel of strategic importance for both nuclear energy generation and nuclear-tipped missiles. The beaches of Orissa Sand Complex, Manavalakurichi in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and the Aluva-Chavara belt on the Kerala coast have been identified under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, as the main monazite bearing areas in the country. In most other countries, thorium reserves are embedded in rocks which require elaborate processing to extract. Public sector Indian Rare Earths Limited having divisions at Chatrapur in Orissa, Manavalakurichi in Tamil Nadu, Chavara and Aluva, and its own research centre in Kollam in Kerala, is the only institution authorised to extract thorium from monazite sands. If the Comptroller and Auditor-General were to audit the accounts of the IREL and the Department of Atomic Energy, custodians of fissile minerals, the coalgate scam would look like small change. The missing thorium, conservatively estimated at $100 a tonne, works out to about Rs 48 lakh crore, putting all other UPA scams in the shade.

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