Emergency reponse centre to come up in Panipat

Rs 100 crore be invested for hub that will coordinate all activities dealing with nuclear, biological warfare

With terror threats from unconventional warfare agents on the rise, the Central government is setting up an emergency response centre at Panipat within the next two years to serve as the hub for all activities dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

The Rs 100 crore centre will also be used to train the military, para-military and police forces on how to tackle NBC attacks and handle the emergency situation.

“The defence research and development organisation has acquired 15 acres of land in Panipat where the centre would come up. The government has approved the budget. It would be ready by 2014 end,” William Selvamurthy, DRDO chief controller-in-charge of life sciences told Deccan Herald.

The centre will also house the national stockpile of medicines and antidotes to deal with such emergencies.

Since 9/11, threats from unconventional warfare agents are on the radar of security agencies all over the world. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister Office in Pakistan received a mail containing Anthrax spores – a common bio-terrorism agent.

“As the outrageous car bomb attack this week on the streets of New Delhi shows the threat from terrorism is a brutal reality of our age and it can visit us in any part of the world at any time,” said Jeremy Browne, UK Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who is leading a delegation of NBC experts aiming to forge a partnership with India.

In the worst case scenario, terror attacks will almost certainly involve chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Preventing the non -state actors from gaining the material, expertise and sensitive information and technology to acquire these weapons was absolutely imperative, Browne said.

India would join hands with the UK for joint development and collaborative research on NBC technology as the UK has an impressive suite of such technologies, DRDO sources said, adding that the partnership has been approved at the highest level of both governments. Rapid detection of disease outbreaks and development of effective medicines and vaccines is one of the potential areas of collaboration, said a DRDO scientist. A UK technical team visited various laboratories to identify the gap areas where both sides can work together.

Indian NBC activities are currently coordinated by two DRDO units—Defence Research and Development Establishment in Gwalior that handles chemical agents and the Institute of Nuclear Medical Allied Sciences in Delhi, which deals with biological and radiological aspects. Once the Panipat centre is ready, all activities would be shifted there, Selvamurhty said.

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