Scientists from 10 laboratories, including the Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, are working on an ambitious, Rs. 300-crore project, to develop technologies for detection and protection against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) agents.
This was stated by DRDE director M.P. Kaushik at the inaugural session of a two-day national conference on ‘Biological Disaster Management: A step towards building national capacity and resilience — The role of industry under PPP,' organised by the FICCI here on Monday.
According to Mr. Kaushik, bio-terrorism was the number one threat among chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. He stated that more attention was needed to be paid to counter bio-terrorism. State-of-the-art technologies were required for detection, protection and mitigation along with greater awareness among all sections to counter the threats through better preparedness.
Vice-chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), M. Shashidhar Reddy stressed the need for the country to be prepared to face the threat of bio-terrorism. He said it was a matter of grave concern that agents like toxins, bacteria and viruses could be used.
Quoting a WHO study, he said that dispersal of a 50 kilo bacterial agent on a five lakh population could result in 95,000 deaths.
Referring to stoppage of vaccine production against small pox following its elimination, he said that this could lead to a serious situation if the disease re-emerged due to lax bio-security measures or if used by terrorists.
He urged Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to direct the officials to view the guidelines formulated by the NDMA on CBRN disasters seriously. He also suggested that the appointment of a full-time Vice-Chairman to the State Disaster Management Authority be considered.
Mr. Reddy, who inaugurated the conference, called for adequate preparedness to meet the threats of bio-terrorism.