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Pakistan exploiting scope of uranium enrichment in Gilgit Baltistan:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

 

Context:

In violation of international laws, Pakistan has been exploiting the scope of uranium enrichment in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, confirmed locals and political activists from the occupied region.

 

India’s concerns:

Earlier, there were reports that Pakistan has given a free hand to Chinese mining companies to plunder natural resources in Gilgit Baltistan. There are reports that over 2,000 leases for mining of gold, uranium and molybdenum have been illegally awarded to Chinese firms by the Pakistan government in occupied Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 

What exactly is uranium and what are its uses?

Occurrence: occurs naturally in low concentrations in soil, rock and water and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals.

 

Applications:

  1. Uranium that has a silvery grey metallic appearance is mainly used in nuclear power plants due to its unique nuclear properties.
  2. Depleted uranium is also used as a shield against radiation in medical processes using radiation therapy and also while transporting radioactive materials.
  3. Though itself radioactive, uranium’s high density makes it effective in halting radiation.
  4. Its high density also makes it useful as counterweights in aircraft and industrial machinery.

 

Uranium Mining In India:

  • In India, Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks.
  • It occurs along the Singbhum Copper belt (Jharkhand); Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Significant quantities of reserves were recently discovered in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between Seshachalam forest and Sresailam (Southern edge of Andhra to Southern edge of Telangana).

 

What is the goal of uranium enrichment?

  • Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels.
  • The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.

centrifuge

 

Insta Curious:

Recently, the Pakistan government declared Panj Tirath Hindu religious site as national heritage? Why is it significant? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Radioactive vs non radioactive elements.
  2. What is the half life of an element? How is it measured?
  3. Abundance of various elements in earth’s crust.
  4. How does uranium contaminate groundwater?
  5. Uranium limits- BIS vs WHO.

Mains Link:

A recent report has highlighted uranium contamination in India’s groundwater. Discuss the causes, its effects and ways to address the issue?

Sources: the Hindu.