New Delhi: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Tuesday encouraged businesses to participate in setting up radiation monitors to prevent radiation leak-related disasters.

An NDMA official said radiation monitors have been deployed at 13 ports and will be deployed in 14 airports by the end of the year as part of a project run by the department of atomic energy and the home ministry.

On 29 May, a scare over a suspected radiation leak at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi turned out to be a false alarm. The incident, however, revived memories of a radiation-related death in March 2010 in Delhi’s Mayapuri when equipment from a research institution with radioactive content ended up at a scrap market.

“Worldwide, authorities are moving from a relief-centric approach after a disaster takes place to a prevention-centric approach," said D.N. Sharma, member, NDMA, at a conference of industry and government stakeholders on radiological safety. “Industry can further participate by establishing radiation monitors where they are required and by manufacturing them at competitive prices, hence furthering the government’s Make in India mission," Sharma added.

In an extension to the project, the government will also take steps to scan incoming scrap in places such as garbage dumps and scrap markets.

The government is planning to use Limb monitors, which are poles that can detect radiation in at least a 10-metre radius, doorway monitors and vehicle monitoring systems from Electronics Corp. of India Ltd (ECIL).

Each system costs 30-40 lakh. According to Sharma, ECIL has received a 150-crore order for these radiation detectors.

“These are very important steps to prevent the public from being exposed to contaminated products. Entry and exit points need to be covered with radiation monitors, especially as in the past few years so many airports have come up in all major cities," Sharma said.

Angeli Qwatra, director general of the Centre for Disaster Risk and Safety, said there has been a phenomenal growth in the application of radio isotopes, but use of radioactive substances involve risks that have to be managed.

“There is a need for focused education and awareness training on prevention of radiological incidents targeting specific groups, which may be involved at one or more stage of the equipment lifecycle," Qwatra added.

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