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Counter Nuclear Smuggling Teams, Schemes To Check Radioactive Material Contraband: Govt

Shiv Sena MP Krupal Tumane had asked in the Lok sabha whether the government has formulated any scheme to check the smuggling of radioactive material and the radiation emanating from it and whether the government had set up any special team for the purpose.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:December 20, 2017, 9:58 PM IST
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Counter Nuclear Smuggling Teams, Schemes To Check Radioactive Material Contraband: Govt
Representative image/ Reuters
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New Delhi: The government told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that it has formulated a scheme to check contraband of radioactive materials and that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has set up teams to check nuclear smuggling.

This comes after a few noteworthy incidents of radioactive material smuggling rackets being busted in the country.

In March 2016, an anonymous tip-off had helped the DAE, Intelligence Bureau and Rajasthan Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) bust a smuggling racket of radioactive materials.

The racket involved the exports of beryl — an atomic mineral ore of beryllium — to China. Almost 31 tonnes of beryl was recovered after the smuggling plan was subverted by the DAE, which received information through the anonymous letter early in January. The intelligence bureau was alerted after this tip-off.

Shiv Sena MP Krupal Tumane had asked in the House whether the government has formulated any scheme to check the smuggling of radioactive material and the radiation emanating from it and whether the government had set up any special team for the purpose.

To this, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Prime Minister Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said that the government has “formed a scheme to check the smuggling of radioactive material.”

The scheme has been implemented to detect, intercept, and help in interdiction, prevention, preparedness and further response to mitigate consequences for unauthorized entry of radioactive material, he said.

The government also stated that it has formed “Counter Nuclear Smuggling Teams (CNST)” under the DAE. The team has representation from all concerned ministries / departments/ agencies and meets periodically.

The government, in order to speed up relief during emergencies, has also developed Emergency Response Centers (DAE-ERCs) for technical expertise and advice on using radiation detection, which also helps in figuring out response to nuclear/radiological emergencies.

In December 2016, nine kg of radioactive uranium, a banned material, was seized from two persons in Thane. Laboratory tests confirmed that the seized material was depleted uranium, which is a radioactive poisonous heavy metal. According to preliminary investigations, it was brought from abroad and was intended for sale to some unknown parties in Thane.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, while addressing leaders at the Opening Plenary of the Nuclear Security Summit 2016 had said that, “India will counter nuclear smuggling and strengthen the national detection architecture for nuclear and radioactive material.”

The government today also informed that Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority have selected 56 major cities/vulnerable locations and 900 police stations for installation of ERC’s.
| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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