Challakere in Karnataka is not only a hub for buses travelling to and fro Bangalaore and Bellary but also a hub for the Defence ministry, purported to be the nuclear city of future to generate the country’s nuclear power for submarines and weapons.
Last year, the US magazine Foreign Policy, quoting a former PMO official, said it may trigger competition from neighbouring nuclear powers China and Pakistan. Not China but Pakistan has recently complained that the hub is a “secret nuclear city.”
India has denied the allegations and stood to its ground it is a safer bet to hold on to its nuclear weapons unlike Pakistan, which was involved in smuggling nuclear secrets to North Korea and other threshold countries, violating all the norms of being a nuclear power.
The not-so-secret nuclear underground factory was set up in 2012 when the Congress government was in power at the Centre and the BJP was in power in the state of Karnataka, 203-km northeast of Bangalore on 4,290 acres of land in Challakere for scientific and nuclear use, said reports.
In its 14-page report. Foreign Policy claimed that the Challakere project will be the “subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, weapons and aircraft-testing facilities” when it is scheduled to be completed this year. It was expected to produce fuel for nuclear reactors and the navy’s fleet of new submarines, said the article.
“But another, more controversial ambition, according to retired Indian government officials and independent experts in London and Washington, is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs,” the report said.
As of 2015, India had 110 nuclear war heads compared to 120 in Pakistan and 260 in China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It quoted former White House official Gary Samore who said, “I believe that India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China.”
Other reports said the test center in the cordoned area may have a 3-mile long runway for a new generation of drones and long distance unmanned vehicles. The report also said Mysore district nearby is known for plutonium resources. The Center for Public Integrity has undertaken a field report on environmental fall out of the so-called secret city recently.