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Experts fear more affected by radiation in Mayapuri
NEW DELHI: Scientists from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and experts from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), along with Delhi Police, will launch a search operation to track down all the people who visited Deepak Jain's shop in the past two weeks as they fear that more people had been affected by the radioactive waste.

"We are waiting for the patients to stabilise so that our teams can question them and trace people who work there or had visited the shop. Anybody who had visited the shop would have got exposed to gamma radiation. We need to trace everybody who had come in contact with the scrap," Dr B Bhattacharjee, member of NDMA, said.

The investigating agencies are hoping for support from local traders and workers in tracking down the radiation victims. "We first need to screen people working in the market area as they may have visited the site at some point. We still don't know the magnitude of the situation. We will start the process soon," said Dr Bhattacharjee.

Experts said symptoms of radiation exposure vary depending on the duration of exposure and distance from the source (Cobalt 60). "If a person came to Jain's shop and was sitting close to the source for a long duration, then he would have received a high dose of gamma radiation. Blackening of skin is an indicator," said Dr Bhattacharjee.

This is the first time Delhi has been exposed to such a threat. But with extensive use of radiation-active material like Cobalt-60 in various industries, experts said scrap deals should install a radiation monitoring device in their shops. "The best way to avoid such a tragedy is to install radiation monitoring devices. These scrap dealers get material from various sources. They don't know what are they dealing with. Gamma rays are the most harmful form of radiation as they have high penetrating power. With this device, they can keep a check on radiation levels in their working area," said Bhattacharjee.

A few months back, NDMA had sent a proposal to the Union home ministry to install radiation monitoring instrument's in police surveillance vans in all metropolis and towns with 20 lakh population.

"The instrument will be mounted on the Police surveillance vans. These vans can monitor the radiation level and in case there is a gamma radiation leak, the instrument will inform and they can easily zero down on the location. The number of these instruments will be dependent on the population density of the area," said Dr Bhattacharjee. In Delhi, over 20 police vans will have the facility once the home ministry gives its nod. The instrument cost Rs 70,000-Rs 75,000.

Though experts have been investigating this radiation leak for the past week, they are yet to establish from where Jain got the scrap. "All we know is that he got it from Faridabad," they said.

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