"The Shipping Ministry has issued letters to all major ports to immediately assess the requirement for the number of radioactive material detectors at each major port and get it installed. Six major ports are likely to be equipped with it in six months, while the remaining will have it by March, 2012,"a senior Shipping Ministry official said in a news agency report.
"Unfortunately, barring two scanners at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), all ports lack scanners, which makes it extremely difficult to check the container traffic. The Home Ministry had also reviewed the situation, while we are in touch with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre too," the official said.
The official said that Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) has been asked to make a demonstration of the equipment at the earliest and the ports have been asked to come up with budgetary provisions for procuring the radiation detectors.
Nava Sheva port in Mumbai has already installed prototype of the gadget, which after installation can scan cargo stacked within steel containers.
On the cost of the product, the official said a primary detector comes within a range of Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, adding that there are alsohandheld secondary and tertiary gadgets for radiation detection.
He said that the total cost of installing the detectors could be estimated after assessment by ports, which he added would be over soon.
He added that ECIL would soon make its presentation the ministry.
Sources said that a lot of container traffic goes unexamined at major ports like Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Kolkata (with Haldia), Chennai, Visakhapatanam, Cochin, Paradip, New Mangalore, Marmagao, Ennore, Tuticorin and Kandla.