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BARC keen on tie-up with AAU and unit

Sekhar Basu addresses the news conference in Jorhat on Wednesday.
Picture by UB Photos

Jorhat, May 28: The director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Sekhar Basu, today expressed a desire to collaborate with Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and said he was here to ascertain if a BARC centre could be set up at the university.

Basu and a team of 22 people from BARC arrived here today to thrash out the modalities of a three-day workshop on Application of Radiation Technology and Radio Isotopes in the Filed of Agriculture, Food and Health — which began at the university.

On the sidelines of the meet, Basu said very high-quality, mineable uranium had been found in the Northeast and he hoped that local governments would help set up atomic plants to produce energy not only for the region but for the whole country.

AAU vice-chancellor K.M. Bujarbaruah said the university had prepared seven mega projects and around 50 small projects where the two institutes could work together.

Basu said the second green revolution would be related to nuclear agriculture.

Narrating a success story of BARC in this regard, he said the centre had produced a variety of groundnuts that yielded 7,000kg per hectare whereas the average yield is 1,500kg.

“We have produced this variety by using irradiation method and these are very high-yielding varieties compared to others. We will find out what crops can be grown here using our technology after interacting with scientists of AAU,” he said.

Basu also spoke about how irradiation could help get rid of bacteria and insects from crops. This would result in good export quality as well as longer shelf life, he said.

Regarding the high costs of setting up an irradiation facility, he said this was true to a certain extent but there were already 10 such facilities in India and most of them were in the private sector. He, however, admitted that there were none in the Northeast.

Basu said BARC was planning to upgrade the radiation facilities at B. Barooah Cancer Hospital in Guwahati.

G. Hazarika, the director of research at AAU, said one of the projects that would be discussed involved mapping of groundwater to find where artesian wells were present with a water-tracer technology brought out by BARC.