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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 41  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 223-224  

Birth centenary of Dr. Anil Kumar Ganguly

Former Head, RSSD, BARC and Ex Safeguards Instrument Specialist, IAEA, Vienna, Austria

Date of Web Publication6-Feb-2019

Correspondence Address:
M R Iyer
Former Head, RSSD, BARC and Ex Safeguards Instrument Specialist, IAEA, Vienna
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/rpe.RPE_2_19

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How to cite this article:
Iyer M R. Birth centenary of Dr. Anil Kumar Ganguly. Radiat Prot Environ 2018;41:223-4

How to cite this URL:
Iyer M R. Birth centenary of Dr. Anil Kumar Ganguly. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 May 30];41:223-4. Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2018/41/4/223/251675

Full text of the publication "ANIL KUMAR GANGULY (1918 - 1988) AND THE EVOLUTION OF HEALTH PHYSICS SCIENCE IN INDIA: COMPENDIUM OF MEMOIRS" is available at IARP website home page: www.iarp.org.in.

In the evolution of the atomic energy program in India under Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, he had the advantage of the professional expertise of several experts. Among them, hardly a few took indelible, firm strides, as Dr. Anil Kumar Ganguly did. The more I did research on the life and works of Dr. Ganguly, the doyen of health physics discipline in India, whose birth centenary is being commemorated in this article, this became more and more apparent to me. He was born on November 1, 1918.

Anil Kumar Ganguly was the person whom Homi Bhabha selected from his successful academic perch in radiation chemistry at the University of Notre Dame in the USA, where he was a research associate and colleague of Prof. Magee. His pioneering work there had led to the famous Ganguly–Magee theory.

Dr. Bhabha gave Dr. Ganguly many important assignments, and Dr. Ganguly lived up to his expectations and went about developing a broad-based health physics interdisciplinary program for the budding research center at Trombay. One of the activities he started right away after joining the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET) in 1956 was the environmental studies of the Trombay harbor bay to enable the assessment of the impact of the possible radioactive releases from the various plants that were coming up at Trombay. Thereby, he made his mark in the atomic energy program following Dr. Bhabha's directive that whatever is undertaken in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) must become a path-breaking initiative in the nation.

When we talk of the evolution of health physics discipline in India, it is invariably tied up with the professional career of Dr. Ganguly. From being a profession generally confined to merely monitoring of radiation levels, he gave it a firm and committed direction, showing how the profession transcends into many other branches of science, and turned it into a meaningful and effective radiation protection program that requires expertise in many fields. In the process, Dr. Ganguly generated a whole gamut of expertise and experts. Historical account of the evolution of these activities is contained in the “Compendium of Memoirs of Anil Kumar Ganguly “ published by the Indian Association for Radiation Protection in January 2018 (visit www.iarp.org.in for full text of this book).

Acknowledging his pioneering work on environmental protection in atomic energy, Dr. Sarabhai directed him to organize the country's first-ever national symposium on “Pollution and Human Environment,” on the directive of the Committee on S and T of the Union Cabinet in 1970. This was in preparation for the country's participation in the United Nations Conference at Stockholm on the theme of “Man and Environment” and the government found that only worthwhile research on controlling environmental pollution was being done in the AEET. The deliberations at the symposium and the recommendations made by Dr. Ganguly led to the formation of a separate ministry of environment in 1972 by the Government of India. Dr. Ganguly's concern for environment made him a much larger figure as an environmentalist, transcending beyond the boundaries of Health and Safety program in AEET/Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

Dr. Ganguly introduced the concept of Environmental Survey Laboratories, operationally independent of the management of nuclear power plants (NPPs) and allied facilities. The concept has stood the test of time and continues to be of high utility value to the nuclear power operators in projecting the minimal environmental impact due to the operation of nuclear power stations. His initiative attracted the attention of the WHO and International Atomic Energy Agency in the very early days, and the Agency advised other member states the need for a minimum environmental program in nuclear reactor sites. Environmental radioactivity monitoring carried out by various groups under Dr. Ganguly led to basic research on how heavy elements interact with the organic matter in sea bed and helped understand their mobility.

The waste management activities at Trombay were initiated by him, as this was one of the mandates of the Health Physics Division in the initial days. He investigated the temperature distribution in radioactive spheres foreseeing the possibility of immobilization of waste way back in 1959.

With his concept of a fixed exclusion zone, supplemented by a zone free of unrestricted growth of population around a reactor, he laid the firm foundation norms for the selection criteria of NPP sites in India.

He laid the foundation for the regulatory activities in India starting from the preparation of report on Safety Analysis and Waste Management for Canada–India Reactor in 1960. Naturally, Dr. Ganguly was called upon in 1975 to chair the DAE-Safety Review Committee, the forerunner of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to oversee the regulatory aspects of all nuclear operations in DAE.

Thermo-luminescence (TL) research work was initiated by him way back in 1964. BARC thus became one of the global pioneers in the field and contributed to the understanding of theoretical and experimental aspects of this phenomenon. This led to one of the world's largest TL dosimetry programs today, all home grown.

A number of activities that he initiated in diverse areas such as oceanography, radiation ecology, thermal pollution, radiation transport, dosimetry, criticality computations, and fission and fission product physics attracted wide attention in those days. These activities have been instrumental in establishing a comprehensive and self-reliant radiation safety program for the multifaceted activities in DAE. There are many instances when the work initiated by him in the past served the Centre very well. He initiated basic work on the principles of laser isotopic enrichment by starting a group known as Multi-Disciplinary Research Section in 1972.

Experts on radiation transport in his group did pioneering work on developing radiation transport codes for shielding, and these were included by the American Nuclear Society in their computer code library. A number of radiation transport codes were first commissioned in BARC by his group.

His contribution to the setting up of the Indian Society for Radiation Physics is noteworthy and led to the formation of the international version of it, International Radiation Physics Society. The coining of the term “Radiation Physics” is itself ascribed to him.

As an example of his premonition, he foresaw the need for addressing the possible impact of Tsunami at Kalpakkam coast, as early as 1975 when the Fast Breeder Test Reactor was being set up. These stood well when Tsunami struck the east coast of India years later in December 2004.

In international circles, he was considered as a pioneer in radiation safety and environment and many renowned specialists like Dr. Beninson and Dr. Gonzales looked upon him as their “guru.”

He was always noncompromising and frank in expressing his firm convictions if he found any lapse in safety matters and was known to have passed strictures against even governmental agencies, when it came to a question of environmental protection. Thus, he commanded respect even from antagonists of nuclear power. He also had the unique knack of making his views expressed without hurting anybody and in a pleasant manner.

There was something rare in the personality of Dr. Ganguly, which enthused people around him to start thinking; every conversation, be it official, personal, or social, was interspersed with this spirit. It is hoped that this narration of tribute to Dr. Ganguly will enlighten all the current stakeholders in nuclear field reminding of the challenging past in the evolution of our atomic energy program and sow the seed for productive pursuits and contributions in the future.


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