Delay in detection of radiation leak in the capital could have been avoided if the government had acted on a proposal sent by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to install equipment in police vans which can detect radioactive elements.

The NDMA had sent a proposal to the Union Home Ministry long back asking it to equip PCR vans with sophisticated devices to monitor radiation in all four metros and other cities which has a population of over 20 lakh.

The device costs around Rs. 75,000.

At least six sources of radioactive isotope Cobalt-60 had landed in the scrap market in west Delhi’s Mayapuri at least a fortnight ago but it came to light only on April 7 after a scrap dealer was detected with radiation burns.

“Police vans should be fitted with equipment that can detect radioactive substances. We have suggested this to the government and hope they are taking action in this direction,” a senior NDMA official said.

According to the official, the equipment can monitor radiation level and if there is a leak, it can zero in on the locality.

The official said the cost of installing the equipment would be borne by NDMA and would not depend on state governments for funds.

“The papers are with the Ministry. The process is on and we hope it will soon materialise,” the official said.

Science and Technology minister Prithviraj Chavan had earlier said the government was planning some mechanism to ensure that scrap dealers report to authorities about detection of radioactive material found in the scrap.

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