New Delhi: The Delhi University Teachers
Association Friday demanded a Visitorial inquiry into the
auction of radioactive material by the Chemistry department
which led to the death of a scrap worker and said the Vice
Chancellor should step down for enabling a fair probe.
Highly critical of the role of VC Deepak Pental in the
entire episode, the teachers rejected his proposal to set up
an inquiry into the matter, arguing that any probe under the
university administration will be an "eye-wash".
The origin of radioactive Cobalt-60 found in west
Delhi's Mayapuri, which led to the death of one person, was
traced to Delhi University's Chemistry Department where it was
lying unused since the last 25 years.
"We are writing to the President of India seeking a
Visitorial inquiry. The President as the Visitor of the
institution should constitute a committee of experts to
examine the case and fix the blame," DUTA President Aditya
Narayan Misra said at a press conference here.
He said the case requires an impartial inquiry which
does not seem to be possible under the supervision of the VC,
whose role itself is questionable.
"Any purchase or selling off of equipment takes place
only after his due permission. His accepting the moral
responsibility is not enough. He should resign immediately, or
else his bosses in the HRD ministry should sack him," Misra
The Association said the fact that the trail of such
material led to the Delhi University is "shameful and
unfortunate" and depicts the casual and callous way in which
the radioactive equipment was sold out to the scrap dealer.
"The VC is trying to protect himself. He will also be
protecting others. Let him say he was not aware of the
disposal, let him say he is not purchasing equipment for
labs," Misra said.
DUTA members also lashed out at the administration for
"keeping silent" for a month even as crores of rupees of
government money was being spent to find out the source of the
radioactive Cobalt-60 found in the scrap shop in Mayapuri.
"The VC is an educated man, he is from the Science
background as well. It is absurd that he did not know the
facts. The gravity of the matter does not appear to have
registered on his conscience," said Jafri Abbas, Joint
However, they said for the fault of the
administration, the studies and research in nuclear science
should not suffer.
"We appeal to the agencies not to impose a ban on
research, which would affect a number of students, but we also
ask them to ensure strict standards of safety are followed,"
said Rajesh Upadhyay, DUTA Treasurer.
Terming it as a case of criminal negligence, he said
the VC's statement that he was not willing to penalise anyone
Members also demanded a moratorium on nuclear or
radioactive research until a reassessment of safety standards
in undertaken, while calling for an immediate suspension of
the Chemistry department officials who oversaw the February 26
"Verification of standards in necessary to ensure the
safety of the students and the staff," said Sachin N, Member,
DUTA Executive Committee.
First Published: Friday, April 30, 2010, 17:44