New Delhi: After radioactive material was
sold as scrap by Delhi University leading to the death of a
labourer, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today directed UGC to frame
guidelines immediately on procurement, use and disposal of
hazardous substances by varsities.
In a letter to the University Grants Commission, the
HRD Ministry said the guidelines should stipulate the methods
for procurement, handling, storage and disposal of such
material which could be fatal.
UGC Chairman Prof Sukhadeo Thorat also met Sibal and
discussed the issue. At present, universities get the
radioactive materials for their labs with the permission of
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has framed
certain guidelines which are supposed to be followed by the
universities for procurement and handling of such materials.
However, UGC does not have any policy to this effect.
"The UGC will prepare the immediately guidelines and
issue a direction to all universities to follow the
guidelines," a ministry official said.
Sibal will also consult other ministers for a
comprehensive policy of handling of hazardous materials by the
research agencies under the respective ministries.
Exposure to the radioactive material has led to the
death of a scrap shop worker in west Delhi. A few others,
including the shop owner, are undergoing treatment after they
were exposed to the same material earlier this month.
The source of material was traced to chemistry
department of Delhi University.
The Cobalt-60 was imported by the varsity in 1968
from Canada. The material was lying in a room for 25 years
and the chemistry department wanted to sell it off.
Eleven sources of radiation were detected in the
Mayapuri scrap market where Cobalt-60 was recovered this
month. It is a radioactive isotope of cobalt, which is a hard,
lustrous, grey metal and is used in cancer therapy machines
and other medical equipment.
Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental has expressed apology
for the lapses.