Indian atomic regulator’s first chief De dies of Covid complications

Madras Atomic Power Station.

Chennai, Nov 1 (IANS) The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB) first Chairman, Dr A.K. De has passed away due to Covid-19 complications, his daughter said. He was 95.

The Chairman of the AERB between January 2, 1984 to March 19, 1990, De was also a former Director of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IITB).

“My father died on Friday after Covid-19 complications. The final rites were done yesterday (Saturday). I was fortunate to have come and see him,” De’s daughter Souravi Ghosh told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

“Twice he was the Director of IITB (between July 1, 1974 to July 31, 1980 and December 9, 1981 to August 31, 1984),” she added.

Ghosh, who works in a multinational pharmaceutical company in Australia, said she had to get special permission to come to India.

De is survived by his daughter and son Tapas De.

Former AERB Chairman S.A. Bhardwaj told IANS: “As the first Chairman of AERB, he had done a wonderful job, building the institution from the scratch. On becoming AERB Chairman, I had gone and met him to get his blessings.”

According to AERB’s former Vice Chairman G.R. Srinivasan, setting up a regulatory body ground up was a difficult task and De did that wonderfully well.

“He drew up the vision and mission for AERB and also the various norms and documents that nuclear power plants had to follow. His focus was on drawing up Indian documents and not taking from foreign regulatory norms,” Srinivasan told IANS.

“De could be called as the father of AERB,” he added.

According to former AERB Secretary K.S.Parthasarathy, De was born in Chittagong, now in Bangaladesh. He was a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University (1947) and a Ph.D from Moscow (1965).

After he had his industrial training and experience both in India and abroad, he switched over to teaching at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay in 1958 as faculty member.

De then joined the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur as Director in 1969, returned to IITB as Director in 1974, went on deputation to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Ministry of Defence, and then became the AERB Chairman.

De was a Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) and Fellow, Institution of Engineers, IE (Ind). He was an outstanding engineer, a renowned researcher, an eminent educationist and an able administrator.

He wrote a brief autobiography “Meandering Streams” in 2008.

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