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CSIR NEWS

 

ISSN 0409-7467    
Vol. 53

No. 17

15 SEPTEMBER 2003

 

 

High-yield eco-friendly production of Venlafaxine — A new generation antidepressant

THE National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, has developed a high‑yield route for production of the new generation antidepressant, Venlafaxine. The novel route developed by an NCL team led by Dr S. P. Chavan uses mild reaction conditions; substitutes hazardous reagents with cheap, relatively non‑hazardous chemicals, and the key step is performed in water (rather than in an eco‑unfriendly organic solvent).

The NCL process is a four‑step reaction that employs two novel patented schemes. This process introduces significant improvements in the first two steps over what is currently practised. In the first step, the reaction is carried out in water and uses cheap, readily available bases (such as sodium or potassium hydroxide) instead of the hazardous reagents that were previously used (such as the highly reactive butyl lithium). Further, this reaction can be carried out to nearly hundred‑per cent yield, as against the 30% obtained via the conventional route. The product obtained at the end of the reaction can be easily separated from the mix by filtration and purified by washing with water and crystallization.

 In the second step, a cheap catalyst (Raney nickel) is used instead of the typically used expensive catalysts (rhodium over alumina) and the two steps can be performed in one reactor. Here too, separation of the products involves a simple method (involving acid‑base treatment) and the recovered starting material can be recycled again.

The NCL process is simple to operate, which makes it very attractive from a commercial point of view. It eliminates expensive catalysts and hazardous reagents, replaces organic solvents with water and obviates cumbersome purification techniques. The process gives high yields and it is anticipated that ongoing research will further boost this.

The process is protected by the following US Patents:

US6350912B1 One pot process for the preparation of 1‑[2‑dimethyl‑amino‑(4‑methoxyphenyl)‑ethyl] cyclohexanol, S.P. Chavan, S.K. Kamat, L. Sivadasan, K. Balakrishnan, D.A. Khobragade, T. Ravindranathan, M.K. Gurjar, U.R. Kalkote

US6504044B2 Process for the preparation of 1‑[cyano(aryl)methyl] cyclohexanol, S.P. Chavan, S.K. Kamat, L. Sivadasan, K. Balakrishnan, D.A. Khobragade, T. Ravindranathan, M.K. Gurjar, U.R. Kalkote.

 

Removing Noise from Data Signals

A group led by Dr V. Ravi Kumar at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, has received a US Patent (US 6208951; Inventors: V. Ravi Kumar, B.D. Kulkarni, N.M. Dixit and N. Vaish) for devising new algorithms to filter and de‑noise data. The algorithm takes data and extracts underlying patterns that might be obscured by noise. For example temperature, pressure and velocity data obtained while monitoring a chemical reactor are typically very noisy and, therefore, it is difficult to meaningfully interpret the signals in the form these are obtained. However, application of NCL's noise removal algorithms reveals hidden features even in such data and provides insights into process and reactor behaviour. This algorithm is broadly applicable and the NCL team has demonstrated its use for a wide variety of data from classical chemical engineering reactors such as the stirred‑tank, fluidized bed and bubble column reactors to data from flow experiments on polymer solutions and conductivity measurements on surfactant solutions. The power of this analytical tool has excited the interest of researchers worldwide, and scientists in diverse disciplines have cited the papers that describe the NCL algorithms.

The NCL algorithms use the recently developed mathematics of Wavelet transforms. Wavelet transforms are a generalization of Fourier transforms, viz. they resolve a signal by breaking it up into its components. The advantage of Wavelet transforms over Fourier transforms is that in addition to resolving the frequency components of a signal, they also retain information about the point in time or space where signals undergo drastic changes. Thus, if the temperature data from a reactor changes suddenly at a certain time, the Wavelet transform captures the occurrence of this event. On the other hand, a Fourier transform smears out this information and the event cannot be detected. Noise is present in all the components but can be resolved by the transform to dominate in the higher frequency components. The NCL algorithm performs a mathematical operation called numerical differentiation on the signal data before applying the Wavelet transform. The effect of this operation is to effect a clean separation between the underlying signal and the noise. The noise is then removed and the signal is reconstructed to uncover the hidden patterns in the data.

Thus, the NCL technique offers significant advantages over conventional methods to remove noise from data.  Conventional methods of filtering data are unable to capture sudden changes in data, such as pressure fluctuations or sudden changes in the temperature. Wavelet transforms used along with the ingenious strategy employed by the NCL team, (e.g., application of the Wavelet transform after numerically differentiating the signal) is seen to remove noise more efficiently than other filtering strategies. Further, the NCL de‑noising algorithm can be automated and does not require a‑priori knowledge of process information, making it a very powerful and widely applicable tool.

Integrated Batch Digester Control System for Paper Industry

THE Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani, has developed an integrated PLC‑based electronic batch digester control system to help paper industry produce uniform pulp. The implementation of this system enhances pulp yield and reduces steam usage per tonne of pulp with degas/relief valve controls by controlling the cooking cycle operations, namely chip charging, liquor charging, cooking and bowling operations, in each batch. The system has been successfully tested under simulated conditions and will be installed in a paper mill for long‑term trials. This project has been partly funded by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).

Digester control system for paper industry

Specifications

 Hardware

The system with present hardware can control up to five‑batch digesters, expandable to more digesters with hardware addition. It is supported with operator friendly MMI software for controlling process and viewing process information.

Effective Alkali Analyzer

IR‑based Digester Temperature Monitoring System (Rotary Digester)

 

Conducting Polymer‑based Rechargeable Dry Cell

FROM giant utility load‑levelling batteries to cells that power heart pacemakers and micropower systems, the power requirements in diverse fields and the rapid pace of technological developments have made battery industry as one of the most exciting sector for investors. Obviously the R&D efforts are for making cost‑effective long‑lasting battery power packs.

Continuing their R&D in this area, the scientists of Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, have developed a rechargeable conducting polymer dry cell battery for use in portable microelectronic devices and household appliances like radio, tape‑recorder, etc. as a cheap, safe and compact alternative to the conventional dry cells. The technology has been patented and is ready for commercial exploitation. Currently, conducting polymer dry cell batteries are not available in the consumer market.

Conducting polymers are new materials whose properties can be designed to meet the need of the applications and tailored from insulating to semiconducting and metallic. These materials, called `synthetic metals', are slowly replacing many metals and inorganic semiconductors in a big way in many devices like energy sources, display devices, control of electromagnetic radiations, sensors, etc.

Rechargeable batteries based on conducting polymer give more energy density and more charge‑discharge cycles, because of reversible redox reactions that occur within the battery electrodes. The new process has improved features such as (i) longer shelf life, (ii) 25% lesser weight than the conventional dry cells, (iii) environmental stability, (iv) high degree of processability, and (v) a unique separator which has been developed at CECRI. Hence the process is technologically superior and will result in the development of new and improved rechargeable polymer dry‑cell batteries.

Technical Specifications:

Weight of the battery                55g

Open circuit voltage                  1.340V

Capacity                                   0.6Ah

Energy density                          10Wh/kg

Working voltage                       1.340V to 0.500V

Cut off voltage                          0.500V

For further details, kindly contact the Director, CECRI, Karaikudi 630006.

 

CEERI: R&D Briefs
On‑line Fruit Sorter and Grader

THE Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani's Chennai Centre has developed an on‑line fruit sorter and grader, which is based on the `Machine Vision Technology'. It does sorting on the basis of size, shape, colour and diameter. It consists of a conveyer unit, fruit horizontal alignment system integrated in the conveyer and advanced imaging and image processing systems. Multiple images of the fruits are captured, synchronous to the fruit movement on the conveyer, and the collected images are processed for deriving the information of each fruit. The device can be used for fruits like mango and lemon.

On‑line Freeness Tester for Paper and Pulp Industry

Development of an on‑line freeness system for the pulp and paper industry is of great use to the industry, especially during the refining stages of the paper‑making process.

The technique is based on intermittent timed level measurement. It consists mainly of an optical detector, transparent measuring column and a fine mesh screen, and is assembled and mounted directly on a bye‑pass line. The tester developed is built around an RISC‑based micro‑controller, which controls the cycle of operations as well as computes freeness value after due linearization added with suitable correction for consistency and temperature.

MEMS Capacitive Pressure Sensor

A Rs 45.385 million project undertaken by CEERI in the recent past, for NPSM, ADA‑Bangalore, pertains to the development of basic process technologies of bulk and surface micromachining of silicon for realization of MEMS pressure sensors, using capacitive transduction technique.

Silicon MEMS‑based pressure sensors can be realized in microminiaturised form with possible integration of signal conditioning circuits on the same chip. A wide range of pressures can be measured by designing appropriate structures and interface circuitry on the same chip, using silicon bulk and surface micromachining. Piezoresistive properties of bulk and polycrystalline silicon give reasonable sensitivity with the only drawback of temperature dependence, which can be minimized in case of capacitive transduction based on strain. A number of limitations of the bulk micro‑machined configurations are eliminated to a large extent in surface micro‑machined ones.

It is envisaged to develop the representative structures of bulk and surface micro‑machined capacitive pressure sensors in this programme to validate the process technologies and designs.

MEMS‑based Acoustic Sensors

Coming from VSSRC, with a sanctioned amount of Rs 3.5 million, the project aims at design and development of MEMS‑based acoustic sensors. The device will make use of ZnO as the piezoelectric material.

Other projects undertaken by CEERI include:

Project Reports submitted by NEERI

THE National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, has been undertaking environmental impact assessment and environmental management studies for a large number of organizations/industrial outfits. Project reports submitted by the institute covering such and other studies during the past one year include:

The projects contracted include:

Combi‑Chem Resource Centre and Seminar on Combinatorial Techniques in Drug Discovery at NCL

THE National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, has set up a state‑of‑the‑art Resource Centre to facilitate the rapid generation of organic molecules with a wide range of structural diversity. This, when coupled with the natural product libraries and high throughput screening, will accelerate new drug discovery and utilization of the vast natural biodiversity of India for value added products.

CSIR and NCL have invested over Rs 80 million to create this Resource Centre. The facility called `Combi‑Chem‑Bio Resource Centre' is unique as the major essential components of modern drug discovery platform are located under one roof with additional analytical support systems such as NMR, mass spectroscopy, DNA sequencing, micro array facilities, etc.

A facility at 'Combi-Chem-Bio Resource Centre'

The equipment at the Centre include: High Throughput Screening (Biomek  2000), Accelerated Solvent Extractor (Dionex ASE 300), HT Evaporation System (Genevac HT 12), SEP BOX (Sepiatec SEPBOX), Simulated Moving Bed Chromatography System (Knaur), Organic Parallel Synthesizer (ASW 2000P) and Isothermal Titration Calorimeter (Microcal VP‑ITC).

The high throughput screening system is capable of screening over 5000 compounds per day and is a totally automatic robotic system. Accelerated solvent extractor simultaneously extracts 12 plants in 15‑20 minutes and can be used both with organic or aqueous solvents. HT evaporation system simultaneously evaporates approx. 3 litres of extracts below 40°C. It is versatile in terms of tube/flask size and temperature programming. SEP BOX uses alternative reverse phase column and solid phase extraction techniques. It can separate 5g of the extract into approx. 300 fractions in organic solvent in 24h. Simulated moving bed chromatography system uses counter current solid‑liquid extraction method. It can produce pure enantiomers in kilo quantities from racemic compounds. Organic parallel synthesizer can carry out up to eighty reactions at a time (temp. range – 70°to 150° C and 150 psi). Isothermal titration calorimeter can be used to study the various ligand binding interactions with the macromolecules in drug‑binding studies. It directly measures the heat evolved or absorbed in liquid samples as a result of mixing precise amounts of reactants.

To derive maximum benefit from such a facility, it is quite imperative to initiate symbiotic relationship with pharmaceutical industrial outfits and R&D institutions. With this objective in view, a seminar on `Combinatorial Techniques in Drug Discovery' was organized on 18‑19 July 2003 at NCL, to apprise the users from pharmaceutical industry and R&D institutions of the facilities available at NCL.

Dr Sivaram, Director, NCL, welcomed the participants and informed them about the purpose and need for creating such a facility. Dr K. N. Ganesh, Head, Organic Chemistry (Synthesis) Division of NCL, introduced the facility. He briefly mentioned the functions and features of the various instruments in the Resource Centre as well as the complementary facilities available in NCL. The main speakers were Dr Joseph Schrorer from Chemspeed, Switzerland (Speeding‑up Lab Routine by Automated HT Experimentation), Dr A. A. Natu, NCL (Applications of Large and Small Separations), Dr (Mrs) S. P. Joshi, NCL (Combi Libraries in Natural Products), Dr K. Narayanswamy, (Optimisation of Assays in High Throughput Format), Dr N. P. Argade, NCL (Generation of Small Molecules Library), Dr H. Srinivasa Hotha, Rockfeller University, New York, USA (Small Molecules Libraries, Cell Division and Drug Discovery) and Dr D. Sarkar, NCL (Target Validation in HTS).

The seminar focused on the utility of the facility in pharmaceutical research. The demonstrations of the equipment were also organized for the benefit of the participants. The seminar was attended by 25 participants, including Presidents, Managing Directors, Principal Scientists and Technical Directors of the various pharmaceutical industries. Five scientists from other CSIR laboratories, viz RRL (Jammu), CDRI and CIMAP (Lucknow) and IICT (Hyderabad) also participated.

A discussion meeting with industry representatives was also held for developing business models. It was attended by Dr D. Yogeswara Rao, Head, TNBD Division, CSIR Hq, and Dr S. Sivaram, Director; Dr M. K. Gurjar, Head, Organic Chemistry (Technology) Division; and Dr K. N. Ganesh, from NCL. Dr Sivaram welcomed the participants and reiterated the NCL's commitment to create unique resources for R&D. He also stated that NCL would shortly create a repository for new molecules. Dr Rao briefed the participants on the genesis of the Resource Centre. Dr Gurjar proposed three alternative relationship models, i.e., consortium model, subscription model and bilateral model for NCL‑industry interaction.

The business models were discussed in detail with active participation from representatives of industry. The industry participants lauded CSIR/NCL's efforts towards creating such a valuable Resource Centre and expressed a keen desire to utilize the facility both in the form of bilateral programmes as well as the consortium approach.

Conference on Control and Regulation of Ground Water Extraction

THE National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow and UP Ground Water Officers' Association, jointly organized a one‑day conference on `Control and Regulation of Ground Water Extraction' on 10 June 2003 — the Ground Water Day. Around 200 experts, scientists, engineers, planners, and personnel from NGOs and user agencies participated in this conference. The main objective of this conference was to draw the attention of planners, scientists, engineers, public and the Government towards ever‑depleting conditions and alarming situations of ground water resources in Uttar Pradesh, so that corrective measures could be taken towards the control of unregulated ground water extraction and evolving effective legislation.

Magasaysay awardee Shri Rajendra Singh inaugurating the Conference on Control and Regulation
 of Ground Water Extraction by lighting the ceremonial lamp

 A full day session was devoted to technical deliberations covering various aspects of ground water. The conference provided an appropriate platform to have thought provoking and meaningful deliberations and arriving at useful conclusions regarding management and conservation of ground water resources.

Noted water activist and Magasaysay awardee Shri Rajendra Singh was the Chief Guest at this conference. He also delivered the keynote address.

Dr P. Pushpangadan, Director, NBRI, delivering his welcome address during the
Conference on Control and Regulation of Ground Water Extraction

Dr P. Pushpangadan, Director, NBRI, in his welcome address said that water is the most vital gift of the nature and though replenishable, it is not inexhaustible. He said that only 2.8% of the water available from the various resources is potable, of which just 0.6% is ground water. Dr Pushpangadan expressed concern over the shrinking rain forests — the key to the conservation and recharging of water resources. As a result the precarious water cycle has been disturbed and corrective steps are urgently required. Recent studies by different agencies have revealed that the ground water table is depleting at an alarming rate. This is mainly owing to the uncontrolled and indiscriminate exploitation of ground water during the last one decade or so, on account of various industrial and other urban developmental schemes, he said. Citing Lucknow city's example, Dr Pushpangadan said that it is the worst affected city in this respect. It is a matter of great concern that between 1989 and 2001, the ground water level of Lucknow has gone down by about 8 m.

Shri Rajendra Singh in his keynote address suggested measures, such as rejuvenation of traditional and natural ponds and lakes. “While the underground water bill has been opposed by the leaders, civil society should ensure that any law that is enacted, does not remain a paper tiger. Law should be enacted where equitable distribution of water means that no one can keep boring beyond a certain depth, so as to protect aquifers.” He also stressed on the need for the change in the present life style, so that water wastage can be minimized.

Shri Ramkumar, Principal Secretary, Minor Irrigation and Ground Water, reiterated the fact that out of 817 blocks in U.P, there is a steady decline in the water table in 555 blocks, while 22 blocks are in critical state with the ground water level dropping by 8‑10 m in the last one decade, especially due to pumping of deeper aquifers.

Shri O. P. Pal, Regional Director, Central Ground Water Board, said that water salinity has increased drastically over the years. Natural reservoirs like ponds and water bodies in Lucknow have either shrunk or disappeared. Disabilities caused due to excessive presence of fluoride, arsenic and other effluents in water, are other causes of deep concern.

Explaining the objectives of the conference, Shri R. S. Sinha, President, UP Ground Water Officers' Association, said that the ground water situation in various parts of Uttar Pradesh has reached a critical stage. “Industries in Lucknow are extracting 60 lakh litres of water each day and a majority of this water, which is reusable, is simply dumped into the river Gomti.” Shri Sinha stressed the need for prioritizing the water harvesting in Uttar Pradesh. He cautioned that the rate at which the ground water reserves have plundered, it is not possible to recharge them in a couple of years — it will take 10‑15 years to bring the water level back to normal if concerted efforts are made.

The conference had two scientific sessions. Three publications, namely (i) First issue of `Bhujal Sandesh Patrika', (ii) Paryavaran evam Arthik Vikas and (iii) Bhujal Samachar were also released during the conference.

The concluding session was chaired by Dr S. C. Rai, Mayor of Lucknow. In his address Dr Rai said that ground water conservation is today's necessity. He called upon the ground water experts to come forward with viable and low‑cost technologies for water conservation and its sustainable utilization.

Dr H. V. Samvedi proposed the vote of thanks.

A Ground Water Exhibition was also arranged on this occasion. It was well received by the visitors.

Some of the observations made by the experts regarding the ground water situation in  UP  are  as  follows:

National Workshop on Remaining Life Assessment of Aged Components in Thermal Power Plants and Petrochemical Industries (RLA 2003)

INAUGURATING the National Workshop on Remaining Life Assessment of Aged Components in Thermal Power Plants and Petrochemical Industries (RLA‑2003), the Chief Guest, Shri B. M. Ritolia, Executive Director, National Fertilizer Limited (NFL), Vijapore, stated that NFL has saved crores of rupees by extending the life of the reformer tube, an important item, by using the expertise of National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Jamshedpur. He expressed that it would become a world record that the critical reformer tube could be used for 18‑19 years without replacement, after the remaining life assessment done by NML.

Seen on dais during the national workshop on Remaining Life Assessment of Aged Components in
Thermal Power Plants and Petrochemical Industries (RLA 2003) (from left) are: Shri B. M. Ritalia, Executive Director,
National Fertilizer Limited, Vijapore; Prof. S.P. Mehrotra, Director, NML; Dr Rajendra Kumar, former
Director, RRL-Bhopal and Dr Raghubir Singh, Senior Scientist, NML

The workshop was organized by NML, as a part of Diamond Jubilee Celebration of CSIR recently. It started off with a film, depicting the achievements of CSIR and the Invocation by Dr Ashok Ray, a Scientist and Convener of the workshop, and lighting the traditional lamp by the Chief Guest and other dignitaries. Dr K. Kimura from Japan stated that the venue of this important workshop was quite appropriate as NML has been active as an R&D organization, covering all aspects of metals and materials, especially the remaining life assessment, as it has got one of the biggest creep testing facility in Asia, set up with the assistance of UNDP and UNIDO. Also, because it had undertaken the Component Integrity Evaluation Program (CIEP) with assistance of World Bank and added lot of new and advanced equipment like Servo‑hydraulic machine, TEM, SEM, X‑ray Diffraction and was in the process of installing an advanced NDT facility.

Prof. S. P. Mehrotra, Director, NML, welcomed the delegates and apprised the audience about the various R&D activities at NML. As NML is already equipped with the state of the art equipment in the area of remaining life assessment of aged components, he hoped that the workshop would result in fruitful proposals and collaboration with the visiting delegates.

Dr Raghubir Singh, Scientist, NML, while introducing the guest of honour, an eminent Scientist and former Director of RRL‑Bhopal Dr Rajendra Kumar, spoke about the objective of the seminar and said that NML has the biggest creep testing facility in Asia and was carrying out the Remaining Life Assessment for power plants in almost all states of the country. Dr Singh pointed out that out of about 60,000 MW power production, nearly 12,000 MW power production plants are more than 25 years old and RLA is very much needed. NML has got good expertise in this area as it has been working in it for the last 25 years. RLA provides safety, reliability at a much lower cost and in much less time, e.g. every one MW power in a new plant costs Rs 4 crore while it will cost only Rs 1 crore if it is produced in an existing plant after renovation. He stated that IBR 391A regulation of the Boiler Board needs modification and discussions on the same would make it more objective and standardized.

Feeling a little nostalgic about his experience at NML, as he had been closely associated with the inception of the creep‑testing laboratory in the 1970's, Dr Rajendra Kumar stated that he was indeed happy to see the progress made by the laboratory. He opined that the scientists should expand their vision not just by finding out the failure of the components but also by thinking in terms of “Renovation for Life Extension.” Being an experienced consultant, he expressed that neither metal, coal nor plant load factor is responsible for plant failure but it is malfunction and negligence that results in the early failure of the components. He also pointed out that at the planning stage of any project it is very important to decide the various materials that have to be used, which may prevent the early failure of components.

The inaugural function was followed by technical sessions. Over sixty delegates from different hydroelectric power plants, fertilizer and oil plants attended the workshop. Around 25 papers were presented.

The group leader from the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Japan, Dr K. Kimura was a special invitee. Author of five books and holder of doctorate degree from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Dr Kimura was greatly impressed by the facilities at NML, for carrying out RLA studies of thermal, hydroelectric plants and oil refineries. He also observed that the number of RLAs done in India far surpassed that in Japan.

Dr K. Kimura, National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Japan,
delivering his invited lecture during RLA 2003

Dr Kimura made his presentation on `Creep Testing Facility and Research Projects in NIMS, Japan' on the first day of the workshop. He informed the audience that a Revolutionary Metallurgical Atlas and Creep Strain Data Sheet was still in the planning stages and the fact is that constructing a new power plant in Japan is difficult. The thermal power plants in Japan are over thirty year old and a few accidents, which occurred in the recent past, have highlighted the importance of carrying out RLA. He further mentioned that NIMS and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, were collaborating with each other and three Indian Scientists are presently working at NIMS. He expressed that the ultimate aim should be to go for international co‑operation on RLA for a safe society and sustainable development.

Dr Ashok Ray delivered the vote of thanks.

Lecture on 'Environmental Challenges: Learning by doing differently'

Ms Sunita Narayan, Director, Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, delivered a lecture on `Environmental Challenges: Learning by doing differently' as a part of CSIR Diamond Jubilee Year of CSIR and NBRI Golden Jubilee celebrations at the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, on 27 June 2003.

Explaining the environmental challenge that the country is facing, Ms Narayan said, on one hand, there is growing toxification of the environment (“Pollution is overtaking our lungs and bodies, leading to huge health costs. It is estimated that one person died every hour in Delhi in the mid‑1990s because of particulate pollution”). On the other hand, there is growing poverty, drought and degradation of natural resources — land, water and forests. This failure is in spite of India's large legislative and bureaucratic framework for environmental management. “It is clear that we need new approaches to the management of environment. We need new forms of governance. And we need to invest in science for ecological security.”

 “We must realize that the Western economic and technological model is a highly toxic model. Because of their inordinately heavy use of materials and energy, 19th and 20th century Western technologies have generated and released an enormous amount of toxins into the natural environment and continue to do so. Soon after the Second World War came to an end, the West witnessed an unprecedented economic boom, which led to severe environmental problems from Tokyo to Los Angeles in less than 15 years. The 1960s saw the emergence of an environmental movement and Western governments, through heavy investments in pollution control technologies in the 1970s and 1980s, have been able to make life a little more liveable in Western cities.”

“Today, Asia, which is witnessing a similar economic boom, is the most polluted region on earth. A World Bank study showed that in the period Thailand doubled its GDP, the industrial pollution load – the total quantity of toxins produced — went up ten times. A study by the Centre for Science and Environment revealed that in the period 1975 to 1995, India increased its GDP by about 2.5 times but its vehicular pollution load went up almost eight times. Not surprisingly, every Indian city is today gasping for air and air pollution has become a subject of public interest litigation in several states of India. By 1995, Delhi, which sees nearly 200,000 vehicles added to its existing vehicular fleet every year, has become the most polluted metropolis in the world, especially when suspended particulate levels are taken into account. In order to deal with this environmental crisis, in July 1998, the Supreme Court ordered a massive shift to natural gas vehicles in the city.”

 “In the rural environment, we have followed a policy of exclusion of local communities from their environment. This when a large number of poor rural people live in areas of extreme environmental fragility where ecological changes have led to natural resources degradation. A large portion of the world's rural poor today live in highly degraded lands in China, South Asia, Africa and Latin America. For such people, improvements in the Gross Nature Product are far more important than the Gross National Product”.

“Over the 1980s, the ecological crisis in India has generated several outstanding community‑based natural resource management experiences which show that the community‑based water management, which aims to harvest the local rainwater endowment, constitutes the key organizing activity to initiate the restoration of the ecological and economic base of villages dependent on a biomass economy. Once water is available, croplands begun to produce more and become less susceptible to low rainfall periods and slowly, over the time, animal‑based production also begins to increase. Once people begin to manage their local water resources, they automatically begin to realize the importance of watershed protection. There has been absolutely nothing more heartening in the last two decades of the environmental movement than the transformation that these communities have been able to achieve.”

“On the other hand, bureaucratic resource management systems have either failed or have proved to be cost‑ineffective, which makes them irrelevant in a world where financial resources are limited. However, this demands a fundamental change in current management strategies. Two major discontinuities have emerged worldwide in water management over the last 150‑200 years. One, the state has emerged as the major provider of water replacing communities and households as the primary units for provision and management of water. Two, there has been growing reliance on the use of surface and groundwater, while the earlier reliance on rainwater and floodwater has declined, even though rainwater and floodwater are available in much greater abundance than river water or groundwater. The growing water crisis of the 21st century is bound to force humanity to look at other ways of managing water resources which includes going back to community‑based water management using the technology of rainwater harvesting,” concluded Ms Narayan.

Prof. M. S. Swaminathan delivers Prof. B. D. Tilak Memorial Lecture at NCL

PROF. M. S. Swaminathan, FRS, UNESCO Cousteau Chair in Ecotechnology & Chairman, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, delivered the first Prof. B. D. Tilak memorial lecture at National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, on 4 August 2003. In this lecture entitled `Science and Sustained Agriculture Progress', Prof. Swaminathan urged to foster an ever‑green revolution based on principles of ecology, gender and social equity, economics, employment generation, and energy conservation. Prof. B. D. Tilak, the fourth Director of NCL, was deeply concerned with issues relating to water and food security in our country. After his retirement from NCL in 1979, he devoted his retired life to application of science and technology for rural development.

Dr S. Sivaram, Director, NCL, (above)  welcoming Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, FRS, (right)
who delivered the first Prof. B. D. Tilak memorial lecture 

Prof. Swaminathan stressed that the breathing spell provided by the Green Revolution for achieving a balance between population growth  and food production will soon get exhausted, unless we take steps to foster ever‑green revolution. He opined that the present global trends in the areas of preventing adverse changes in climate and sea level and in the protection of the ecological foundations for sustainable agriculture are not encouraging. However, there is still chance for achieving the goal. “Food and Drinking Water for All”, because of the uncommon opportunities opened up by science and technology.

Referring to the prevailing water scarcity, he emphasized the need to go for a two‑fold approach: Eco‑restoration of hydrologic hot‑spots and Developing ground water sanctuaries in chronically drought‑prone areas. Lauding the efforts of Social Activist Anna Hazare in water harvesting at Ralegaon Siddhi (near Pune), he emphasized that instead of giving lectures on how to preserve water, people, specially the farmers, should be shown the actual sites of the water harvesting, so as to enable them understand its importance.

Prof. Swaminathan reiterated the need to eliminate the widely prevalent yield gap, i.e. the gap between potential and actual yields in the farmers' field, through appropriate packages of technologies, services, and public policies. The three major revolutions in science and technology that will influence agriculture technology in a fundamental manner, according to him, are the green revolution, knowledge revolution (information and communication) and the ecotechnology revolution.

The agricultural scientist calling upon the scientific community to translate their efforts into public good, said, “Every scientist working in a laboratory should question himself/herself as to what is he/she working for? Definitely not for a few publications alone.”

Dr S. Sivaram, Director, NCL, in his welcome remarks highlighted Prof. Tilak's contributions to NCL and to the society at large.

The lecture was organized under the auspices of NCL Research Foundation, a non‑profit trust created to foster all round excellence in Science and Technology.

Dr Ashok Juwarkar Memorial Lecture

DR Ashok Juwarkar Memorial Lecture was delivered at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, on 15 July 2003 by Shri B.K. Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests for Maharashtra. In his lecture, Shri Singh highlighted the various problems related to protection and conservation of forests, the ecological problems and finally the soaring population in the country and its effect on natural resources.

Shri Singh said that around 40% of  India's population lives below  poverty line and every year population in the country grows by 17 million, affecting the natural resources. Deprived of any technological inputs, the poor population in rural areas is held responsible for depletion of natural resources, causing further increase in poverty. The rural people in forest areas are forced to indulge in activities such as excessive grazing and illicit felling of trees, leading to depletion of forest resources.

Shri Singh further said that allocation of funds is less than 1% of the state budget for the development of forests and remarked that it is not feasible to take up requisite developmental projects with such a meagre fund. He further expressed that despite 20% forest cover, the state lagged behind in implementing the joint Forest Management (JFM) concepts in a big way as compared to other states like West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Shri Singh expressed that community participation has made sizable differences in restoring the depleted forest resources. He emphasized that people's participation on `Care and Share' basis can change the scenario. He cited an example of Satara Tukum of Chandrapur District in Maharashtra, where villagers from 96 villages earned as much as Rs 160,000 in a year from various forest produce by taking up projects on plantation, vermicompost, honey and rice farming. Teak plantation under the Forest Department Corporation of Maharashtra and the thinning project of teak have brought amazingly good results, he informed.

Earlier, in his welcome address Dr R.N. Singh, the then Director of NEERI appreciated the valuable contributions of late Dr A. S. Juwarkar in rejuvenating mine spoil dumps on large scale.

The programme was conducted by Dr Atya Kapley. Dr S. P. Pande proposed a vote of thanks.

 

CSIR Diamond Jubilee Special Issue of IJEB

Bacterium-plant Symbiosis

The October 2003 issue of the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology (IJEB) has been brought out as a special issue devoted to the important contemporary theme: `Bacterium-plant Symbiosis'. The topics covered in this issue are: the expression of symbiotic genes in Rhizobium sp. NGR234, soybean cultivar-specific nodulation by Sinorhizobium fredii, cysteine proteases in nodulation and nitrogen fixation, proteomics approach to explore signal exchanges in Rhizobium-legume symbiosis, effect of drought stress on nitrogen fixation, biotic and abiotic constraints on symbiosis, nitrogen fixation and carbon metabolism in legume nodulation, rhizobia as a biocontrol agent and root nodulation of non-legumes. The research findings on the isolation and symbiotic characterization of Tn5-induced arginine auxotrophs of Sinorhizobium meliloti have also been reported.

Eminent scientists such as Drs X. Perret (Switzerland), H. Kobayashi (Mexico), H.B. Krishnan (USA.), N.J. Brewin (U.K.), R. Serraj (Morocco), K. Lindström (Finland), S.C. Kang (Korea), D.K. Maheshwari (India) and K. Pawlowski (Germany) have made contributions to this special issue which has been jointly Guest Edited by Dr G.S. Randhawa, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Dr G.B. Kiss (Institute of Genetics, Biological Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Szeged, Hungary.

Request for the issue [single copy: Rs. 150; $45.00 by draft payable to NISCAIR at New Delhi] may be sent to: Sales & Distribution Officer, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, Dr K S Krishnan Marg, New Delhi 110 012

E-mail: sales@niscair.res.in; Fax: 011-25847062

Dr A. K. Gupta awarded Rashtriya Udyog Ratan Award

DR A. K. Gupta, Scientist, Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, has been awarded the Rashtriya Udyog Ratan Award in recognition of his services in the areas of fire engineering, pollution control, business development, transfer of technologies and IPR Management. The award was presented to him during the Third National Seminar on `Individual Achievements and Intellectual Excellence & National Development', by Dr K. R. Punia, IAS, former Minister for Industries, Government of Haryana.

 

Dr K. R. Punia, IAS, former Minister for Industries, Government of Haryana
presenting the Rashtriya Udyog Ratan Award

 Dr A. K. Gupta, joined CBRI in 1974 after obtaining BE and ME degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Roorkee, (now IIT‑Roorkee). He has devoted more than 25 years in the area of fire research and fire protection technologies. He was awarded Ph.D. for his work on Fire Modelling in 1991. He has served as a guest researcher at the Fire Research Station, UK and published over 50 research papers in recognized journals, in areas such as plume dynamics, fire spread modelling, compartment fires and egress modelling. CALFIRE software, evolved by him, has received great appreciation from the fire protection community all over the world. Frontline organizations, like IGCAR, BARC, NPCIL and DIFR, are using CALFIRE in assessing the risk owing to fire in their premises.

Dr Gupta is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Khosla Gold Medal, IBC Award, Director's Best Paper Award, Foundation Day Award and Technology Day Award for meritorious invention. He has three patents to his credit. His diverse experience includes  environmental impact assessment modelling and pollution control in brick kilns and other low stack kilns. The emission standards for brick kilns have been fixed on the basis of his recommendations and similar standards for hot‑mix plants are under consideration by the concerned authorities. His design of gravitational settling chamber for arresting suspended particulate matter from the effluent gases has been adopted by over 10,000 brick kiln owners in the country. Dr Gupta is a member of the Editorial Board of an International Journal, JAFS, published from USA. He is continuously pursuing research work in the area of fire modelling and also supervising a Ph.D. thesis on Compartment Fires and Modelling.

He is responsible for establishing the Computer Safety and Hydraulics (CASH) laboratory in the institute. He has completed several consultancy/sponsored projects of national importance. His technology on pollution control in brick kilns brought about Rs 8 million to the institute and is the most sought after technology by the brick kiln owners in the country.

Dr A. Rajendran takes charge as Acting Director of CECRI

CONSEQUENT upon superannuation of Dr M. Raghavan, Director, Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, Dr A. Rajendran, Deputy Director and Head, Offshore Platform and Marine Electrochemistry Centre (OPMEC), Tuticorin, has assumed charge as Acting Director of the institute with effect from 1 August 2003.

 

A native of Madurai in south Tamil Nadu, Dr Rajendran (born 1945) obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Madras (1966); M.Sc. in Marine Biology and Oceanography (1969) and Ph.D. in Marine Science from the Annamalai University (1975) and D.Sc. in Marine Science from Berhampur University (2002).

With extensive research experience in Chemical Oceanography and Marine Microbial Corrosion, Dr Rajendran has made significant contribution to R&D development in the area of Marine Electrochemistry. Other research areas of his interest include bio-corrosion in marine environment, pollution monitoring and abatement, carbon and nitrogen flux in the sea and biogeochemistry of trace elements in sea water and sediments.

Before joining CECRI as a Senior Scientist in 1996, he worked as a research scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa (1978-1996). During this period he also did his post Doctoral research at the Institute of Sea Research at Netherlands (1984-85). Prior to this, he also worked as Rockfeller Foundation Fellow at Duke University Marine Laboratory, North Carolina, USA, for a period of three months during the year 1977.

Dr Rajendran participated in the NATO Advanced Study Institute on `Physical and Chemical Weathering in Geochemical Cycles' held at Assois, France, in September 1985. He also participated in four cruises to train scientists in the Caribbean Sea, and worked as a Guest Scientist in the University of Hamburg during March-August 1990. He visited Japan during 1994-95 to work as JSPS Scholar at the University of Tokyo.

Dr Rajendran is a recipient of National Merit Scholarship Award for Post Graduate Studies; Rockfeller Foundation Fellowship (1976); UNESCO Postdoctoral Fellowship (1985) and INSA-JSPS Fellowship (1994). He has generated an External Cash Flow (ECF) of Rs 17 million in the last seven years for CECRI through various sponsored projects at OPMEC, Tuticorin.

He is a member of the Board of Studies for Oceanography and Coastal Area, Alagappa University, Karaikudi; recognized research supervisor of the Manonmaniam Sundarananr University, (Tirunelveli), Goa and Andhra Universities. He is a life fellow of the Society for Advancement of Electrochemical Science and Technology (SAEST); member of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography; member of Oceanography Society of Japan; Review Committee member for Projects on Thermal Ecology at BARC-BRNS; member of the Planning and Advisory Committee to M. S. University, Tirunelveli; and life member of FASHOD, CECRI. He has been elected as Chairman of the Governing Body of SAEST for 2003. He has published 52 research papers.

 
Dr M. O. Garg takes over as Director of IIP

DR Madhukar Onkarnath Garg, Head, Refining Technology Division, Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, has taken over as Director of IIP w.e.f. 15 August 2003.

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A gold medallist in B. Tech. (Chem. Engg.) from Nagpur University, Dr Garg did his M. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Kanpur, and Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne, Australia, with specialization in solvent extraction. A bright chemical engineer with specialization in refinery technologies he has in-depth knowledge of the hydrocarbon industry. He possesses special skills for marketing and commercializing indigenous technologies.

He has bagged several awards and honours. Noteworthy among these are the CSIR Technology Award for the years 2001 and 1999, for Development of Technology for Production of Food Grade Hexane, and for Development of Propane Deasphalting Technology. Apart from this, he has also received the CSIR Technology Shield for development of NMP-based Refining Technology for simultaneous production of quality Lube Oil Base Stocks (LOBS) and high BMCI extract.

After post graduating from IIT-Kanpur in 1976, he joined the Research & Development Division of Engineers India Ltd, New Delhi. In 1978, he got the prestigious post graduate research scholarship of the University of Melbourne, where he did his Ph.D. and also served on the faculty. He returned back to Engineers India Ltd in 1982 and worked in several areas closely linked with the refining industry. In 1994, he joined Kinetics Technology India Ltd as General Manager, (Process Systems Service Division). There he was responsible for providing advanced process engineering services to the refining industry. In July of 1998, he joined IIP, as Head of Refining Technology Division.

He is a life member of various professional bodies such as Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, Instruments Society of India and Indian Society of Analytical Scientists. He is a member of Research/Management Council of various important research organizations in the country, notably Engineers India Ltd, RRL-Bhubaneswar, CMRI-Dhanbad, etc. He has around 90 publications in various national and international journals.

Dr P. Pushpangadan elected fellow of NAAS

DR P. Pushpangadan, Director, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow and President, International Society of Environmental Botanists, has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.