Introduction On disaster control, India's nuclear policy states "India shall develop an appropriate disaster control system capable of handling the unique requirements of the potential incidents involving nuclear weapons and materials". However, public awareness and civil defense measures in case of a nuclear war are non-existing. Hence there is a need to educate our countrymen on how to react and survive in a nuclear radiation environment. Civil defense organizations in particular, should be equipped to handle the situation arising out of a nuclear war.
The destructive radius and its impact In case of a nuclear blast, its impact on the population and property depends upon the pressure per square inch (PSI) of the resulting explosion. The effective blast radius of a 2 psi nuclear explosion is 2 km. With a blast radius of 1-2 PSI, 25% of the population will be injured. Blast radius of 2-5 PSI will result in 5% population being dead and 45% injured. Blast radius of 5-12 psi results in 50% dead and 40% critically injured. Only 10% of the population will be able to save themselves with no or minor injuries. Buildings will collapse with an over pressure of 5 PSI. With over 12 PSI blast radius, 98% of the population will die and the remaining 2% will be critically injured.
Infrastructure and facilities to deal the situation Fire fighting facilities and medical facilities for treating the radiation cases should be improved on a war footing. At present there are hardly any awareness among the population about the protections to be taken against radiation. There is a need for construction of nuclear shelter houses that will be free from the hazards of nuclear radiation. Underground tunnels that are relatively safe from the radiation hazard are to be constructed for housing the masses. Pakistan is likely to possess 30 nuclear weapons of 20 kiloton. On the other hand India has 85 such weapons. The limited number of weapons available with Pakistan would be most likely used against large industrial installations, big cities like Delhi, Bombay, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, etc. and on the bulk of military installations. Civil defense personnel should be raised for the protection of the civilian installations of national importance and their prime occupation should be to protect them first.
The civil defense act of 1962 gives the power to states and union territories for the implementation of the measures outlined in General Irwin manuals. Indian civil defense organisation includes volunteers, National Cadet Corps, home guards, fire department and Para-medication practitioners. In addition to these organizations, Central Industrial Security Force and crisis management group of the atomic energy regulatory board can provide vital equipment, training and skilled personnel when operating in a radiation and chemically intense environment.
The recently held conference of the Civil Directorates urged all states to work out plans to cope with nuclear attacks. How far these plans have progressed is not known. Providing manpower from National Cadet Corps and Home guard and their mobilization to the places of rescue is time consuming. There is a shortfall of 3 lakh people in the strength of civil defense volunteers . Public apathy regarding the issue of nuclear war is to be overcome. There is a lack of coordination among the various organizations. These makes the relief operations difficult even in peace time, what to say about an actual nuclear war.
Suggestions in this respect Making available aluminimized fabric garments and breathing apparatus which protects against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) agents to a considerable extent. The fire department should be equipped to a reasonably high standard. At present, the available equipment with the country are not sufficient, moreover it will take a lot of time to reach the neediest. If the Government allows some agencies to manufacture and distribute them to the masses through distributors (shop keepers) on payment, at least those who can afford they can purchase in advance or at the time of crisis. These clothes and masks will be beneficial and they can be used as first aid before the concerned team reaches the location. Those who cannot afford them can be provided by the government at reduced costs or free. There is also a need for the availability of nuclear medicines. A lot of research is to yet be done in the field of nuclear medicine. Our doctors should be trained to treat radiation affected patients and our hospitals should be equipped with the stocks of these medicines and safety apparatus.
Conclusion In the 21st century civil defense will play a vital role in the safety of people and the various installations in the country. So the awareness of this subject should reach to the common people of India. With the efforts of the government, military and people participation we can survive the nuclear war with minimum casualties. As such it is important that people are made aware of nuclear wars, the effect of its radiations and how we can protect ourselves from its terrible effects. At the same time lot of research needs to be done to devise equipment that can protect us from the radiation effects and new medicines to be formulated that can treat radiation affected patients.