Directorate of radiation safety in Maharashtra soon

To strengthen regulatory control on diagnostic X-ray facilities, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government to set up a directorate of radiation safety (DRS). A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed recently and DRS is expected to be functional by April-end. "AERB has registered 421 diagnostic X-ray institutions in Maharashtra. The formation of DRS will help increase the number of registered X-ray units," said R Bhattacharya, AERB secretary.

There are approximately 50,000 diagnostic radiology facilities that use X-ray units across the country, according to AERB. "Over 1,000 diagnostic X-ray equipments are annually added to this figure. If these units are not designed properly, they can become a health hazard for both patients as well as operators of these equipments," said Bhattacharya.

In view of the massive increase in diagnostic installations using such units, AERB has decided to strengthen regulatory control by decentralising through DRS.

In 2001, Supreme Court also directed states to set up DRS. However, till date, DRS is functioning only in Kerala and Mizoram. AERB has recently signed agreements with eight other states Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Orrisa, Gujarat and Maharashtra for the same. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are in the process of signing MoUs.

"We have intensified efforts to persuade remaining state governments to set up DRS and letters have been sent to them," Bhattacharya said.

Currently, a lot of regulatory approvals related to design certification, layout, registration, inspection, commissioning and decommissioning of X-ray equipment are required to set up X-ray facilities. Certifying radiological safety officers and service engineers is also mandatory.

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