An expedition to find the plutonium lost on India's mountain ranges

An expedition to find the plutonium lost on India's mountain ranges

India is all set to officially explore its second highest mountain peak, Nanda Devi. And with this, we shall dig out a lot from the past.

The year 1965 saw a lot of action. India and China went to war.

You can listen to the story here:


Our story also dates back to 1965 when the US and Indian authorities joined hands for a clandestine mission. 

We have the CIA, the IB and the mighty Nanda Devi. 

This is intriguing. 

Nanda Devi is one of the most photogenic peaks. Any landscape photographer would love to capture it. In fact, on a clear morning at Binsar, you can see a golden peak drenched in the rays of the rising sun.

But what is important to this plot is that it holds a high strategic importance for India with respect to China. 

In 1965, the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) joined hands to install a nuclear-powered sensing device on a summit of India's second highest peak.  

This secret mission had to plant a device at about 25,643 feet above sea level. The idea was the keep a tab on China's nuclear activities. The team had to carry around 56 kgs and a 10 feet high antenna along with transceiver sets and the auxiliary power generator. 

Nuclear fuel consisting of seven plutonium capsules were also to be transported. At around 24,000 feet, the team faced a blizzard along with severe cold weather conditions.

It was decided that human life was more important over the mission. 

When they came back fighting the weather, they realised that the plutonium was lost. A very high possibility is that it got burried under the snow. 

Plutonium can survive for over 100 years and certainly, it can be dangerous for the region. 

Fears of the material mixing with river water and contaminating soil across the length and breadth of the Holy river Ganges have been looming large. The team did install a second equipment in 1967 that later developed a snag.

The Indian authorities have now given a nod to unearth the lost equipment. 

No wonder, Hollywood seeks to make a movie on this. And, I find some literary romance in reading a book first before watching it on the big screen. So, here I am going to grab this title, 'Spies in the Himalayas: Secret Missions and Perilous Climbs' by Capt. M.S. Kohli and Kenneth Conboy. 


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