Commonwealth Games security goes hi-tech

Measures to ensure safety of spectators from chemical and biological weapons at the venue

Commonwealth Games security goes hi-tech


To protect spectators from any terror strike involving chemical and biological weapons, the security arrangement for the Games will include high-tech detection and countering systems to identify chemical and biological weapons at the sports venues and the Games village.

At least one dedicated medical facility will also be set up to treat the victims in case of an emergency. The entire system — estimated to cost about Rs 100 crore — may be completed by June 2010, claimed defence scientists who are providing technical assistance. A 40-bed hospital to deal with the victims of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attacks will be set up in the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital in Delhi as part of the CBRN preparedness plan. “This will be India’s first CBRN facility. We have to complete it before the Commonwealth Games,” said S Bhattacharaya, director of health services in Delhi. Typical security arrangements for sports events do not involve counter-measures against chemical weapons (CW) and biological weapons (BW).

But risks are very real considering the stockpile some of the countries maintain and their linkage with terror groups. And since these are weapons of mass destruction, even a botched attempt with a small quantity of an impure BW and CW agent can trigger a panic reaction incapacitating the government.
The National Disaster Management Authority has decided to install the BW and CW detection system in the venues and setting up the medical facility in LNJP hospital.
Officials from the Delhi health and public works department are discussing the technical aspects of how to set up the facility with scientists at the Defence Research and Development Establishment that specialises in NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) warfare.

The preparations focus on the threats from BW and CW agents. There will be gamma sensors to pick up nuclear signature. Some of the common CW agents which will be monitored at the venues are Sarin, Soman, Tabun and Vx nerve gases; blister-causing chemicals like sulphur mustards and lewisites.
Detectors will be imported for installing at 17 sports venues. The games village may also have a laser-based remote-sensing system to keep an eye on the village from a distance of 5 km. Eight battalions of specially trained national disaster response force will be deputed in these spots to operate the equipment.

Arrangements have been made to deal with BW agents like anthrax, plague, brucellosis, cholera and typhoid. “One advantage with BW agents is that one gets time to take the victims to a medical facility while with CW agents, the impact is instantaneous,” a defence scientist told Deccan Herald.

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