“We have not faced nuclear or chemical attacks, but we will have to be prepared at every moment to deal with the issue,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursd-ay. Alluding to reports of chemical attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Wednesday, he said: “While these reports are yet to be confirmed, I have seen photographs of the local population suffering from blisters and burns and they are quite distressing.”
Significantly on Thursd-ay itself, the state-owned Defence Research and De-velopment Organisation (DRDO) handed over to the Army the NBC (nuc-lear, biological and chemical) Recce Vehicle which is all set to be deployed.
Resembling a battle tank and equipped with GPS navigation, meteorological sensors and radiation sensors, the NBC Recce Vehicle is capable of conducting effective reconnaissance of radiological and chemically contaminated areas, demarcation of contaminated zones, real-time communication of digital data after analysing the solid and liquid samples to the supported formation.
“The utility of the NBC Recce Vehicle goes beyond warfare and will prove to be indispensable in any NBC disaster situation too,” said a source who has worked on the development of the vehicle.
Going beyond, the DRDO has also introduced a bouquet of radio-protectors and radio-mitigator drugs that are required to reduce the effects of gamma irradiation substantially in the aftermath of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack.
In a nuclear disaster, a person is exposed to gam-ma radiations. In high dos-es, radiation syndromes can kill in hours to days to a few months, while in low doses, genetic and cancer disorders may result.
Radio-protectors and radio-mitigator drugs are required to reduce the effects of gamma irradiation substantially. The drugs have been put to Drug Controller General for special approvals, while provisioning to Indian armed forces has already started as these are life-saving drugs.
“The DRDO has also provided a NBC kit to the Indian defence forces although it has been segregated into elements for field use and in the hospital on the advice of the Army authorities,” said a top DRDO official on condition of anonymity.