Who’s responsible for Cobalt 60 | india | Hindustan Times
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Who’s responsible for Cobalt 60

The tragic saga of Cobalt 60 poisoning has no real villain. You might try to blame the scrap dealer, but the accusation falls flat — how was he supposed to know he had ended up with a deadly substance?

india Updated: Apr 12, 2010 00:30 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

The tragic saga of Cobalt 60 poisoning has no real villain. You might try to blame the scrap dealer, but the accusation falls flat — how was he supposed to know he had ended up with a deadly substance?

You could blame the generator, but we don’t know who that is. Should we keep playing detective till we actually track down how the waste got here? I believe we’re seeing a strange kind of gap here.

There is no one institution to come out and take responsibility on the issue to protect citizens from this environmental mess. Although the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Department of Environment is not legally responsible for such materials, (they aren’t even part of India’s Bio-Medical Waste Rules) they are the agencies who ought to step in, publicaly remind Delhi’s radio-active waste generators about the relevant procedures, test for other possible victims in the area, and another Mayapuri. It isn’t good enough for an environmental agency to merely discharge its technical duty-it has to go beyond its call and preemptively protect citizens as well. That’s responsible green governance.

Looking Harder

City dwellers lament the loss of greens and nature. Obviously, there are few cities and town where an average resident can admire the occasional peacock perched on their ledge or hear frogs croak in the dark. But even as we protect the remaining greens, the trick is to re-train ourselves to see what remains.

These days, for example, if you live in north west India, including Delhi, you can probably catch the reverse migration of the rosy starlings.

These beautiful pink and black birds, slightly smaller than a common myna, travel back from western and south-western India and Sri Lanka, their winter home, to Europe. Enroute, they stop in the North.

At dusk, several thousand of them dive into thick trees to roost. Their chirping has a hissing quality you can’t confuse. So cities aren’t as barren as they are believed to be. What is worrying is how waterbodies, trees and grasslands are being destroyed as part of urban planning.