The Berhampur University (BU) is all set to have a Gamma Chamber-5000 to study plant response to ionising radiation. The facility is being developed as a component of the research project on plant responses to ionising radiation, which is currently in progress at the department of botany. This is the first time that the state will have such as facility, said Brahma Bihari Panda, head of botany department. A team of experts from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) had visited the university recently and approved the building site after thorough inspection. “We constructed the building as per the guidelines of Barc. But with the onset of monsoon, the delivery of the equipment from Barc has been delayed and we are hoping it will reach us by October or November. The research has been going on since two years,” said Panda. Barc is looking after research components while the Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (Brit) will provide the equipment. He said Barc has provided the Gamma Chamber-5000, which is worth Rs 40 lakh, free of cost to the university. An MoU to this effect was signed between the director, health safety and environment group of Barc and registrar of Berhampur University on August 19, 2008.
The botany department of BU is one of the four centres located in different agro-climatic zones of the country chosen under the 11th plan period to conduct the mega research project of Barc. The other three zones are Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) at Pusa in New Delhi, Barc in Mumbai and Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu. “The chamber is the source of radiation from cobalt system which can be used for experimental purposes and scientific investigation. We have already constructed a building, Gamma House, at an isolated area in the botanical garden on the campus. The rest of the equipment will also be installed as soon as they reach us,” Panda said. In addition to the chamber, Barc has also provided other research tools and two research scholars and one field assistant for this purpose. The entire cost would come to around Rs 70 lakh, he said. The departments of chemistry, physics, zoology, marine and pharmaceutical sciences can also use this equipment for an inter-disciplinary approach. “The gamma centre has several applications. We can see the effect of radiation and use it for improvement of crops, sterilisation of medical disposals. Radiation helps preserve food materials. Seeds treated with radiation are not infested by insects. So it is useful for storage of material and aseptic conditions. This is also being considered as a source of income for Berhampur University because it can be used outsourced to researchers and research institutions,” Panda said. He said the importance of radiation was increasing daily with the depletion of natural bio fuel or hydrocarbons. “Radiation will be a perennial and safe source of energy. Because here the regulations are very stringent and there is no pollution from radiation,” he added. The radiological safety division is looking after the safety aspect. “It is a research programme and is well protected. The persons who will work here will be given proper training about how to operate it. A radiation monitor will measure if there is any radiation. The radiation level of this region is slightly high because of the Monazite belt and the black sand at Arjipalli. But we are looking into the safety concerns,” Panda said.
Source: The Telegraph