In 1993, an environmental team conducted a study at Nanda Devi Sanctuary and brought some samples found at the site. Kohli realized one of them included “a round steel case which looked familiar“. It was the case in which the seven radioactive Plutonium capsules were carried. It was assumed the ferocity of the elements prised away the steel protection. Years later in August 2018, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi gave his nod for a probe into unearthing the decades’ old lost device in Himalayas. Available technology now will facilitate the search mission. The video below shows and explains about the Nanda Devi mystery.
Aftermath of Loss
Apart from CIA and IB, no one knew about the secret mission at Nanda Devi in Himalayas and the lost nuclear device. International media did not know about the possible danger of radioactive Plutonium until late 1977. American adventure magazine Outside published an article on the secret spy mission and the missing device, creating lot of controversy. Indian Mountaineer, Capt Mohan Singh Kohli, who led the expeditions to Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot wrote about the secret mission between 1965 and 1968 in an explosive 2002 book “Spies in the Himalayas“. To clarify, he said nobody told them how dangerous the nuclear-powered device was. Kohli also said if he knew about the danger, he would have made all attempts to bring the device down, despite the bad weather.
An Indo-Tibetan Border Police Battalion under Kohli was moved to Tapovan, near the Rishi Ganga banks. They in fact monitor the waters continuously for radioactivity. Consequently, Nanda Devi Mountain and the surrounding Sanctuary were closed to expeditions, shut to civilians.
On the other hand, Radioactive Plutonium (Pu-238) has a half-life of 87 years and the Plutonium capsules have a lifespan of over 100 years. Jim McCarthy is an elite American climber who claims to have handled the Plutonium and loaded the device. He in fact blames the exposure to radiation for his subsequent Testicular Cancer, from which he recovered. McCarthy also said some Sherpas who spent time carrying around the SNAP generator had no idea of what it was. In the light of the radiation, he guarantees none of them are alive now.
Theories and fears aside, no one seems to know what exactly happened to the nuclear device. The chilling story of international espionage involving China, the CIA and the Indian government, also went into thoughts of making a Hollywood film. However, some local Indians believe the mountain goddess Nanda Devi spoiled the human efforts to mess up with nature.