Congenital deformities in newborns, genetic mutation, infertility, high rate of early mortality, cancer and other diseases are tell-tale signs of nuclear contamination.

A three-day film festival dedicated to independent films on nuclear power and the whole fuel chain questioned the value of human life and brings to fore the “callousness of authorities who ignore its dangerous impact”.

The aim was to spread awareness through cinema on issues such as uranium mining, nuclear power plants, nuclear medicine, nuclear waste, atomic bombs and radioactive hazards.

There are 19 nuclear reactors in India which generate 4,560 MW, with four more such plants being constructed. As India is becoming technologically advanced, the use of nuclear power for generating electricity is fast gaining momentum.

The festival sought to address the flipside of nuclear energy production and consumption. The probability of a nuclear accident may be very low but is not zero.

The Travelling Uranium Film Festival was organised by the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle and Poovulagin Nanbargal between February 5 and 7 at the Asian College of Journalism.

After travelling to New Delhi, Shillong, Ranchi, Manipal, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore, the festival stopped at Chennai to screen 20 films from around the world. Some of the films shown at the festival were Into Eternity (UK), Return of the Navajo Boy (USA), Climate of Hope (Australia), and Leonid’s Story (Russia, animation).

The films succeed in driving home the point about what has been lost in the name of technological advancement. The festival which began in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro travelled to India for the first time this year.

The only Indian film shown at the festival was National Award winning filmmaker Shri Prakash’s Buddha Weeps in Jadugoda . It documents the untold story of unsafe uranium mining in Singhbhum district of Bihar. According to the film, the mining by Uranium Corporation of India Limited in this area for almost 30 years has resulted in excessive radiation, contamination of air, land and water, degradation of the ecology, and has had a deadly impact on the adivasis.

Recognising the need of the hour, each film documents the deadly effect of nuclear energy and the painful existence of the people living in the vicinity.

The horrors of nuclear energy are still not known to people.

There is an urgent need to end this ‘secrecy’, according to festival director Nobert G. Suchanek.

India, like other nations of the world, is jumping on to the nuclear bandwagon and dreams of making nuclear power a significant source of energy, but are we ready?

(Ankit did history at Miranda House, Delhi University, and is now studying at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.)