New Delhi: Over 52,000 X-Ray units in the country, accounting for almost 91 per cent of the total, are operating without having first registered with the nuclear regulator, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has pointed out.
The PAC, which scrutinised a CAG report on the functioning of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), observed that out of a total of 57,443 medical X-Ray units in the country, only 5,270 had been registered under the regulatory control of AERB.
The number of unregistered units is a whopping 52,173.
Explaining the situation, AERB has said that it was tough for it to regulate the 57,000-odd X-Ray machines as it was hamstrung by a severe shortage of manpower. The atomic energy regulator said it had a centralised workforce of only 300 engineers and scientists.
The report noted that despite the Supreme Court directive ordering the setting up of a Directorate of Radiation Safety (DRS) in all states and Union Territories for regulating the use of medical X-Rays, only Kerala and Mizoram had set up such centres.
It observed that out of 135 gamma chamber units, 70 were functioning without valid authorisation and also expressed "anguish" that there was no system in place for monitoring the expiry of authorisations and their renewals with instances of protracted delays for periods as long as 24 years.
The panel also slammed AERB for having failed to formulate a nuclear radiation safety policy "despite the specific mandate in its constitutional order of 1983".
Considering that there were two committees which had stressed on the need for having a radiation safety policy, AERB`s failure to bring out one was "intriguing", the report said.
It recommended that AERB be made an independent and autonomous body to enable it to ensure better regulation of nuclear reactors and other radioactive material in the country.