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ISSN 0409-7467


NUMBER 11 & 12

15 & 30 JUNE 2004



Maiden Flight of Saras — India's First Multi‑role Civilian Aircraft



Saras, India's first home-grown, multi-role civilian aircraft took to skies at 8.20 am on 29 May 2004 from the HAL airport in Bangalore. Flanked by two trainer aircraft and a helicopter of the Indian Air Force, this maiden flight of Saras lasted for 20 minutes. The aircraft, with a yellow top and aluminium colour belly, flew at an altitude of about 7000 ft with a speed in the range of 110-140 knots, and covered about 35 km over Bangalore before making a perfect landing to a thunderous ovation by the huge crowd witnessing the event. Sq Ldr K.K. Venugopal and Wg Cdr R.S. Makker, IAF test pilots, commanded this flight. Also on board were two engineers from the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) of CSIR, the institute which has designed and developed the aircraft and is spearheading the Saras project.

“This flight of Saras is a fine example of excellence” ...


— Shri Kapil Sibal,

Minister of State for S&T and

Vice President, CSIR

Text Box:  
“This flight of Saras is a fine example of excellence” ...
— Shri Kapil Sibal, 
Minister of State for S&T and 
Vice President, CSIR











Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Vice President of CSIR, heralded the event as “historic” and “a fine example of excellence”. Indeed, with this first test flight, India, a member of the exclusive club of a few countries, which have the know-how for research and communication satellites and capability to launch these into space with their own launch vehicles, has made a long stride in the field of Civil Aviation as well. India plans to start the manufacturing of this aircraft from 2008 but several flights are needed and another prototype developed before the aircraft can be made commercially available. In fact for getting the certification of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), two prototypes of the aircraft will have to be flown successfully for 500 hours and this will require some more amount of dedicated work by the Saras Team.



Text Box:   








The Saras project was sanctioned by Government of India in September 1999 at a total cost of Rs 1313.8 million with financial contributions from TDB, CSIR, HAL and Ministry of Civil Aviation. HAL is also a major technical partner in the programme and is likely to take up the production of the aircraft. The project is being supported by several CSIR laboratories and also by Defence agencies like ADA, GTRE and ASTE. Private agencies like Aerospace Design Engineering Pvt. Ltd (ASDE), Taneja Aerospace & Aviation Ltd (TAAL), Kumaran Industries and many other medium and small-scale industries are making important contributions to the programme. The roll out of Saras took place on 4 February 2004, and it was followed by several tests, before the maiden flight-Named after the Indian crane, Saras, has a capacity of 14 seats, extendable up to 18 seats. It is a twin engined turboprop aircraft powered by two Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-66 engines with five bladed pusher propellers mounted at the rear of the aircraft, in order to keep the wing flow clean and to reduce cabin noise. When fully operational, it will have maximum take off weight of 6100 kg and cruise at an altitude of 7.5 km and speed of 550 km/h. It is fully pressurized for passenger comfort. It will have a range of 850 km to 1800 km, depending upon the number of passengers, and an endurance of six hours. It has state-of-the-art avionics, electrical, environmental control and other systems making it a contemporary aircraft of the 21st century.

Saras is going to serve as a multi-role aircraft with feeder airline and air taxi operations as its primary roles. It would also be used as executive transport and light package carrier, in remote sensing, as aerial research vehicle, coast guard, border patrol, and other services. It does not require international standard runways and can take off and land from short semi-prepared runways and is therefore ideally suited for operations in difficult terrains and would help in providing connectivity, especially in the North East India where surface transportation is poor. It can also play an important role in many societal roles like air ambulance and quick transportation of perishable goods, development of floriculture, etc. With potential for such multiple roles, it is expected that Saras will user in a vibrant civil aircraft industry in the country in the coming years.



CIM‑Arogya — New genotype of Artemisia annua for high artemisinin yield


ARTEMISIA annua is well known as a source of artemisinin, a sesquiterpenoid lactone endoperoxide, which is a promising antimalarial effective against Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax at nanomolecular concentrations.

The Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, has developed a novel genotype, `CIM-Arogya', of A. annua through a novel method of DNA marker assisted breeding.

CIMAP-G2 (CIM-Arogya) has higher dry leaves yield compared
 to other genotypes in the trial


Fresh herb (q/ha)

Dry leaves (q/ha)

























Jeevan Raksha

























cd (1%0





cd (5%0






Characters of CIM-Arogya :

Plant height

280-305 cm

Plant canopy


Growth habit


Artemisinin content

0.8 to 1.05%

Artemesinic acid

0.002 – 0.004%

Oil content

0.35 – 0.45%



Primary branches


Secondary branches
(per primary branch)


Tertiary branches
(per secondary branch)


CIM-Arogya' possesses traits of increased herb yield leading to higher production of artemisinin. Its genetic make up is distinct in terms of DNA profile. The genotype in the population has expressed a genetic enhancement of artemisinin content to a very high level through strategic marker aided selection indicating the distinctiveness from the parent genotype. The plant has a unique globular canopy.


CDRI developing TB Vaccine

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is the leading infectious killer of youth and adults.  One third of the world's population is currently infected with the causative organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a Gram-positive bacterium.  TB results in the death of about 3 million people each year.  Efficient chemotherapy exists but requires lengthy and expensive treatment.  It is predicted that 30 million people will die in this decade because of TB.  This has resulted from its dynamic interaction with HIV pandemic and growing emergence of multi drug resistant TB.  The great burden of TB is associated either with reactivation of old infections or relatively recent re-infections.  An anti-TB vaccine will be required to intervene during primary infection, and boost appropriate protective immune mechanisms.

M. bovis BCG is presently the only available anti-TB vaccine.  Although it has provided protection against TB, the variation (0 to 80%) in its efficacy and its modest protective effect against the adult form of the disease warrants the development of improved BCG or new  vaccine.  Alternative strategies to develop new vaccines include mutant attenuated strains of M.tuberculosis and M.bovis  BCG subunit vaccines, DNA vaccines and harmless atypical mycobacterial vaccines.

Scientists at the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow are working on an alternative TB vaccine (Raj et al., Indian J. Med. Res. 117, 139-145, 2003).  They have evaluated a candidate vaccine in the form of live Mycobacterium habana in animals.  M. habana is an atypical mycobacteria reported non pathogenic in mice, guinea pig and monkey.  There is no report of its association with any human disease.  The antigens of M.habana cross-react strongly to the antigens of M. tuberculosis, which means that the two mycobacterial strains share antigenic homology.  Inspired by these observations, M. habana was extensively evaluated in mice as anti-TB vaccine.

Is live M. habana a safe vaccine?  Vaccinated mice remained healthy, gained weight and none died during the course of study.  The appearance of visceral organs (lung, liver and spleen) was normal as in unvaccinated mice and the vaccine was cleared from the body in about three months.  Biopsy of lung, liver and spleen tissues after 2 and 3 months of vaccination showed no lesions or damage suggesting that live M. habana vaccine was safe.

The ability of live M. habana to protect against infection of M .tuberculosis was evaluated on several parameters such as survival of infected mice, multiplication of M. tuberculosis in host, immune responses and biopsy of visceral organs especially lung.  When vaccinated mice were infected with M. tuberculosis, nearly 70% of vaccinated mice survived whereas unvaccinated mice died within 25 days of infection.  It is  important for a vaccine to restrict growth of infection.  The load of M.tuberculosis was markedly less in the lungs of vaccinated mice (atleast 100 fold) compared to unvaccinated infected mice.  Biopsy of lung tissues  after 2 to 3 months post-infection did not reveal necrosis.  The damage was limited and lesions were small.   Acute bronchopneumonia, granuloma lesions and acid fast bacilli were evident in unvaccinated infected mice. Hence vaccination prevented death of mice from TB, protected lung damage and restricted the multiplication of tubercle bacilli.  The immunological profile of immunized mice matched with these observations.  Vaccination induced desired cell mediated immune responses (TH1) with higher levels of INF-g, IL-2, IL-12, proliferation of CD4+ and CD8+ cells and cytotoxic T cell responses.

The recent observation on deaths caused due to association of TB and AIDS is dangerous.  Therefore a live TB vaccine should be safe and protective in immunocompromised  hosts.  Live M. habana was evaluated in a strain of immunocompromised mice (SJL/J).  It was found that M.habana vaccine by itself did not cause lesions in lungs or death of mice.  When infected with M.tuberculosis, growth of infection was restricted in M.habana vaccinated mice.  The candidate vaccine should be evaluated in clinical trials.  At the same time, massive effort should be made to sequence the genome of M.habana  and compare with M.tuberculosis and M.bovis BCG.

Contributed by: Dr. Brahm S. Srivastava, Scientist `G' , Dr. Ranjana Srivastava, Scientist `F' and students



Regional Research Laboratory, Bhubaneswar
R&D Highlights: 2003‑04

THE Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Bhubaneswar, during 2003-04 made substantial efforts to focus on externally funded mega-projects, besides augmenting state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities. It pursued as many as 71 externally funded projects, of which 39 were new projects. In addition, the laboratory was actively participating in 15 CSIR Task Force projects, including the one on `Bis-mineral processing of ores for extraction of metal values', for which it is the Nodal Agency.

Notable among the technologies and grant-in-aid and sponsored projects successfully completed by the laboratory are: Characterization and washability studies on non-coking coal for steel making; Beneficiation of low-grade phosphate ore by column flotation; Laboratory and bench scale studies for washing of iron ore fines; Recovery of gallium from Bayer liquor using ion exchange/chelating resin; Mitigation of arsenic from drinking water; Mn-ore geology of Bonai – Keonjhar belt; Dispersion pattern of valuable trace and rare earth elements in bauxite profile at Panchpatmali deposit; Mineralogical and geochemical characterization of bore-hole samples from Bhadrasai mines; Development and testing of organometallic extractants; Setting up of a Demonstration Centre for post-harvest processing of non-traditional pulses at a government–assisted tribal colony, etc.

The laboratory filed six patents, including the two which were filed abroad, and sent three patent applications for filing. Two patents were granted. Eighty-four papers were published in national/international journals.

The state-of-art facilities acquired by the laboratory during the year include High-temperature Viscometer and Electro Microprobe Analyzer, which are unique facilities in the eastern part of the country.



Highlights of the R&D activities of various departments during the year are as follows:

Mineralogy and Metallography Department completed projects on characterization and utilization of low-grade siliceous manganese ore from Roida area, Keonjhar district and submitted the process flow-sheet to the sponsor M/s OMDC Ltd, Thakurani. Mineralogy studies were carried out and the presence of trace and rare earth elements in the manganese  ore of Bonai-Keonjhar belt and in the Panchpatmali bauxite established. Survey and mineralogical characterization of beach placer sediments, north of Rushikulya mouth, Ganjam district have been carried out. The size, mineralogy and chemistry of different economic minerals were established. The area has potential for economic exploitation. The bulk samples containing around 26% heavies are being processed to obtain individual concentrates of ilmenite, rutile, garnet, sillimanite, zircon, etc. Qualitative and quantitative petrographic investigations in terms of maceral, mineral and their rank (measured on vitrinite reflectance) were carried out on non-coking coals of Talcher and Ramagundam deposits. Sediments, water and biological samples from Orissa and West Bengal coasts, including estuaries, were monitored to establish the level of pollution. Monitoring of water quality from 30 stations covering the entire Chilka lake was carried out twice. The ground truth data were matched with the satellite imageries to determine SS, chlorophyll, etc.

Mineral Processing Technology Department completed four sponsored/consultancy projects in the area of utilization of low-grade ores and thermal coal. The major achievements pertain to development of process flow-sheet for beneficiation of low-grade iron ore from Barbil area to produce calibrated iron ore for sponge iron making. Another important project pertains to the establishment of feasibility of using flotation column to beneficiate low-grade phosphate for fertilizer industry. A process flow sheet was developed to beneficiate low-grade non-coking coal for steel making. Another important activity related to imparting technical advice and in-plant training to the operating personnel of TAMIN graphite beneficiation plant at Sivaganga. Four new projects on different aspects of mineral processing were initiated: Development of a process to classify the coal washery water; Development of process to select flotation collector; Development of low-toxicity environment-friendly gel costing system; and Beneficiation of iron ore ultrafines for recovery of value added products. An international collaborative project on electrical beneficiation of Indian thermal coals is continuing in association with Lulea University of Technology, Sweden.

Clockwise from top left : Pneumatic flotation cell for graphite cleaning at Mahanadi Minerals, Orissa;

Air dense medium fluidized bed separator for beneficiation of thermal coal; Dr R.A. Mashelkar,

Director General, CSIR, inaugurating the power operated pulse thresher-cum-winnower;

Demonstration and training being given by RRL scientists on hand-operated pulse dehusking machine to

tribal and marginal farmers at village Dabikibelapankha, Orissa

Pyrometallurgy Department focused its R&D activities on:

(a) Smelting reduction of chromite fines for the production of ferro-chrome/charge chrome from the raw materials collected from Ferro Chrome plant, Jaipur Road, with a view to bringing down the chromium oxide content in slag to 3-4%. Work is in progress to produce higher grade of Fe-Cr and reduction of energy by oxy coal injection.

(b) Preparation of hard manganese ore sinters in pot grate furnace. Work under this project would involve estimation of coke rate, dolomite addition, productivity, etc. for the preparation of quality manganese ore sinters in pot grate furnace. The experiments have been carried out in a 400´400 mm pot grate furnace at 650 mm live bed height and 30 mm false bed, using 1400 mm WG suction below the grate bars on 140 kg product scale.

(c) Production of iron powder from waste synthetic magnetite generated in dye industry. The objective of this project is to develop a process for production of iron metal powder from waste synthetic magnetite by reduction roasting followed by grinding to produce high grade iron metal powder. It has been possible to achieve metallization of more than 90% iron.

(d) Development of new building construction material and technologies. Under this network programme, it is aimed to develop a technology for manufacturing of sintered aggregate from industrial wastes. R&D studies have been undertaken to utilize the wastes such as fly ash, bottom ash, mill rejected coal of thermal power plant in preparation of sintered lightweight aggregate. A new facility LECO CS 2000 has been created for rapid estimation of carbon and sulphur in steel and alloys.

Hydrometallurgy Department participated in the joint campaign for testing the flow sheet, developed by the laboratory in the polymetallic nodule pilot plant set up at HZL, Udaipur. During this campaign, 32 batches were processed. The unit operations included leaching, demanganization, ammonia removal and recovery, Cu SX-EW, bulk sulphide precipitation. After commissioning IX (Ion-Exchange) pilot plant columns for adsorption of gallium and its elution, 10,000 litres of Bayer liquor from NALCO, Damanjodi was successfully processed in four campaigns.

A project on `Development and Testing of Organometallic Extractants of interest to DAE' was successfully completed and the final report submitted to the funding agency. Also completed was an Indo-Korean collaborative project on `Studies on preparation and dissolution of Cu-Ni-Co matte/metal sulphides; and the final report submitted.

In another study, using a hybrid process consisting of RO (Reverse Osmosis) and solvent extraction, Cu concentration in a dilute solution could be raised from about 100 g/m3 to about 40 kg/m3 for further processing. Investigations on mitigation of arsenic from drinking water revealed that arsenic can be successfully removed down to 50 ppb from  a level of 1 ppm.

Electrometallurgy Department pursued R&D activities on: development of a technology for preparation of special grade nickel hydroxide from nickel sulphate solutions by electrochemical technique; and development of electrolytic processes for industrial applications.

The project `preparation of nickel hydroxide suitable for nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries' received external funding. Two more activities viz. `production of titanium from its oxides by direct electrolytic reduction in fused salt bath' and `generation of hydrogen from water irradiation using catalyzed semiconductors' got approval under the CSIR network task force project `Globally competitive chemicals, processes and products'.

Engineering Services Department carried out basic research on pneumatic conveying test rig. Chromite overburden were loaded in the hopper and data were collected by running the pneumatic conveying test rig. Conveying characteristics of chromite overburden have been drawn by referring to the data tested in the pneumatic conveying test rig.

Advance Materials Technology Department took up four new projects and completed two projects. Two externally funded projects namely `Evaluation of Physical Properties of Blast Furnace Slag' and `Quality Evaluation of Coach Wheel Discs for East Coast Railways' were taken up during this year. The Department has taken up a CSIR network project on `Custom Tailor Special Materials' entitled `Development of intermediate refractory products', and another project on `Environmentally secured rare earth based colourants' under New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (CSIR). R&D investigations on preparation of titania rich slag, porous bio-implants, plasma spray grade powder, titanium carbonitride, magnesium-aluminate spinel, etc. were in progress. A jet-wheel impact atomization unit was designed, got fabricated by an external party and has been commissioned successfully. A high temperature viscometer facility has been created. Basic studies on direct coagulation casting of alumina, preparation of TiC fibres and graphitization of petroleum coke are continuing.

Design & Project Engineering Department has completed the externally funded project on `Demonstration Centre for Post-harvest Processing of Non-Traditional Pulses at a Government-assisted Tribal Colony in Orissa'. Under a consultancy project on the Design, installation and commissioning of 0.3 MLD sewage treatment plant at NALCO Nagar, Bhubaneswar, the construction of the plant was in progress. For the project on solar distillation of aromatic grasses & other plant materials, a number of laboratory scale studies have been conducted, detail design of the prototype unit of 100 kg per batch capacity worked out and the construction of the unit was in its final stages. Under a new sponsored project on `Installation of an oil expeller unit for processing of Simarouba glauca seeds', steps have been initiated for procurement of a suitable expeller. Under the in-house programme, the design of an entrained flow type biomass gasification system has been carried out and the engineering drawings for the system prepared. Biomethanation studies on cellulogic biomass such as vegetable wastes and water hyacinth have been conducted for design of a bioreactor system. Basic studies on application of ultrasound on Biomethanation of organic wastes were in progress with encouraging results.

Rural Technology Development Department has been carrying out R&D work on development of low-cost online water filter with UV light treatment. The pre-filter Terafil with nylon mount was being designed for mass production. The department has developed a compact model of pulse thresher-cum-winnower. This is an automatic machine, which threshes the crop of pulses and also winnows it simultaneously. Developmental work for cardamom drying in Arunachal Pradesh is being carried out. The wood combustor required for curing of large cardamom would be fabricated and installed at two sites in Arunachal Pradesh for demonstration purpose. The department also organized International Seminar on Downsized Technology for Rural Development (ISDTRD-2003) which had the participation of about 450 delegates. A rural technology exhibition was also organized showing downsized technology for rural industrial development.

Environment Management & Inorganic Chemicals Department has three international collaborations in the area of corrosion, precipitation acidity and aerosol measurements following both the active and passive methods. The Department was also collaborating in a project on development of catalyst for oxidation of carbon monoxide and decomposition of poly-aromatic hydrocarbons. It has contributed substantially in the area of green house gas monitoring and abatement, particularly emission monitoring from actual farmer's field under traditional cultural practices. Two other projects funded by external agencies, namely `Tetravalent metal phosphate' and `Removal of selenium from drinking water' were successfully completed. A number of new projects in the area of preparation of catalysts from manganese nodule rich residue and emission of nitrous oxide from upland rice fields were funded by external agencies.

Energy Technology Department took up an in-house project with the objective to study the characterization of coal from different mines and evaluate their suitability for DRI making. The in-house project on `Briquetting of coke fines and Rejects for Utilization of Energy' has been successfully completed, to reuse these in the blast furnace. A number of externally funded projects on characterization and evaluation of coal were completed by the Centre for Characterization of Energy Resources. Sophisticated facilities like Sulphur Analyzer for coal and Bomb Calorimeter equipment were procured during the year. A new externally funded project on briquetting of coke fines for use in the low shaft furnace at KIW, Barbil, was taken up.

Bio-minerals & Biotechnology Department was actively working on an in-house project on `Use of microorganisms to treat waste and effluents'. Studies were made on phosphorus removal from LD slag and high phosphorus containing manganese ore; silica removal from high silica bauxite and sulphur removal from coal. An externally funded new project on `Extraction of nickel and cobalt from lateritic nickel ore/chromite overburden through microbial technique' was taken up. A new strain was isolated from Assam coal, which can effectively remove organic sulphur. Work was initiated on alumina extraction from fly ash. Neural network model was attempted for estimation of sulphur from Assam coal. Extensive studies have been carried out to abate iron from solution. Planning commission accorded `in-principle' approval to the CSIR Network proposal on `Biomineral processing for extraction of metal values from ores, concentrates and wastes' at a total cost of Rs 160 million for which RRL, Bhubaneswar is the Nodal implementing laboratory.

Forest & Marine Products Department carried out work on Drug Development Programmes from marine organisms and terrestrial plants under different-grant-in-aid and CSIR projects. A number of sedentary organisms like marine sponges, gorgonians were collected off Gopalpur and Barua coast (Bay of Bengal) and screened for a number of bioactivity protocols. Follow-up action was in progress with respect to the active species for confirmation and fractionation of active extracts. Work on preparation of pharmacopoeia standard of 30 ISM drugs was completed and reports submitted. Under another new project, development of standard operating procedure (SOP) of manufacturing of SAU drugs was taken up. The natural dyeing test of colouring materials extracted from Tectona grandis and Terminalia catappa were being studied. Work on characterization of different coal samples by XRD and other methods was completed. Further work on development of plant based additives for high concentration coal slurry was being taken up. The department actively participated in different network CSIR Task Force Projects in the areas of development of Chemotype medicinal plants, natural, nature identical and nature similar bimolecules, herbal preparations for global positioning, and utilization of marine microbial potentials etc.

Aromatic & Medicinal Plants Department has contributed towards development of complete agro-package for Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), starting from seed germination to sheet making. Identification of elite strains from kewda growing areas of Ganjam and their multiplication using different techniques, in order to produce high yielding saplings at cheaper rate was another area where work was carried out. To protect the coast from wind and soil erosion, a project was taken up which involves identification of the species that take part efficiently in stabilization of the coast. Pest control measures for coconut crop using biocides was found to be not only effective but also environment-friendly. To bring vast stretches of saline coastal plains under productive zone, an effort was made to induce salinity tolerance in aromatic grasses. Survey of potential forest pockets of different districts was undertaken and plant samples and specimens were collected along with information on their ethno-medical uses for various ongoing drug development programmes. Vegetative propagation techniques for highly cross-pollinated tree species is another area where appreciable amount of success has been achieved with respect to Madhuca, Enerolobium, Hymanaea and Sapindus species. Work on cultivation practices and multiplication methods was pursued for the species of Mesua, Aloe, Hydrocotyle, boswellia, Cinnamomum Premna, etc.

Central Physico-Chemical & Analytical Facilities Department has been rendering infrastructure support through the in-house programme on comprehensive characterization of some metal and mineral based materials and environment related samples using classical as well as other instrumental techniques. It has developed several newer methods of analysis for better accuracy and reproducibility, prepared in-house standards for standardization of instrumental methods for the analysis of different matrices and materials such as ores and minerals and their ore-dressing products, industrial wastes, water and other effluents etc. for a large number of samples from various R&D projects currently being pursued at RRL. Various matrices have been analyzed using above analytical techniques. The department also provided extensive analytical support to external agencies like academic institutions, industries, state and central government agencies and private entrepreneurs.








Text Box: Bio-business Incubator Facility at IMTECH
THE Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, has formally joined hands with the Department of Science and Technology, Chandigarh Administration to promote its Bio-business Incubator set-up. An agreement to this effect was signed on 6 April 2004 between Shri M.P. Singh, Secretary, Science and Technology, Chandigarh Administration and Dr Amit Ghosh, Director, IMTECH.
This MoU provides inter-alia facilities to the companies or institutions to set up incubators in certain designated lab space of IMTECH for a limited period of time. IMTECH would also provide technical consultancy to biotechnology companies for process and product development, identification of projects in the area of bioinformatics and general use of its infrastructure and lab space.
The MoU has a validity of three years under which IMTECH facilities are being promoted by the Chandigarh Administration as a part of its recently enunciated Biotech Policy. This policy aims to promote Chandigarh as a biotechnology hub and IMTECH is a place which has been chosen for setting up biotechnology based incubators. 
IMTECH co‑hosts the 91st Session of Indian Science Congress

THE 91st session of the Indian Science Congress was held at Chandigarh this year. Its theme was “Science and Society in the 21st Century: Quest for Excellence”. The Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, and Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, acted as joint co-hosts of the congress which was attended by over 4000 delegates from all over the country. Eleven scientists were honoured for their contributions to Indian science. These included: Drs K. Kasturirangan, V.C. Dumir, M. Vijayan, H.Y. Mohan Ram, A.K. Sood, K.D. Singh, A.K. Barua, S. Bhattacharya, V.P. Sharma, R. Mukhopadhyay and A.K. Gupta. Two brochures, titled ‘Plant Genome Research Road Map –2010' and ‘2004 — The Year of scientific Awareness’ were released. Prof. Asis Datta, President, Indian Science Congress Association, delivered an inspiring talk on the need to support excellence in scientific research, and outlined various steps that could be taken in this direction. Two new categories for awards associated with the Science Congress were also announced.

The highlights of the Congress were the seven well-attended plenary sessions at the main venue in the Panjab University sports grounds, numerous subject-specific sessions held simultaneously in the science departments of the university, and a science expo that remained open throughout the Congress. The plenary sessions this year were on `Science and the  Evergreen Revolution', `Challenging Frontiers in Bio-Medical Research', `Information Science in the Future of India', `Role of Traditional Knowledge in the Advancement of Modern Science', `New Frontiers in Bio-Technology', `Strengthening of Knowledge Base in Educational Institutions' and `Ethics and Responsibility in Science'. The expo titled `Pride of India' showcased the products and inventions of more than 80 industrial houses of the country. The expo also included a pavilion on the best states of India showcasing the progress, achievements and vision of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Many prominent speakers from India and abroad participated in the Plenary Sessions. These included Drs R.A. Mashelkar, Hartmut Michel (Nobel Laureate), Bruce Alberts, A.P. Mitra, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, F.C. Kohli, M.G.K. Menon, P.N. Tandon, C.N.R. Rao, H.K. Jain, Kirit Parikh, Indira Nath, P.V. Indiresan, M.A. Chitale, A.K. Gupta, Vijay Bhatkar, Inder M. Verma, Rita Colwell, M.R.S. Rao, V. Mohan, Jacob John, H.P.S. Sachdev, M.K. Bhan, I.C. Verma, G. Balakrish Nair, Yoshifumi Takeda, M.S. Swaminathan, Michael Gale, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, C.M. Gupta, Anand Chakravarty, G.S. Khush, Eugene Nester, S. Bhattacharya, Herst Hohn, S. Narayan, and others.

President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addressed the scientists attending the congress and called upon them to work towards realizing the dream of India, i.e. `Being a Developed Nation by 2020'.

Addressing a huge gathering of scientists and citizens, the President said that scientists would have to play an important role in making this dream come true. The President outlined several areas requiring special attention including agricultural research, inter-linking of rivers, desalination of water, energy resources, development of HIV vaccine, research for stem cell utilization, space, defence, IT and education. The president also emphasized the need to harness young and talented minds.

A highlight of this year's congress was the use of information technology to disseminate the deliberations of the congress amongst the populace. All events held at the main venue (including all plenary sessions) were broadcast live on the world wide web in full colour, in video format. For IMTECH, one of CSIR's youngest laboratories with a total permanent staff strength of about 150, acting as a co-host of such a big event was a major challenge. Yet, IMTECH participated shoulder to shoulder with Panjab University in every activity, taking special responsibility for hospitality, event planning and coordination, and various information technology aspects.

Science for School Children Festival' at IMTECH



President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam during his visit to IMTECH on the occasion of the

 'Science Congress for School Children. Also seen with him (from left) are: Prof. Asis Datta, President,

 91st Indian Science Congress: Dr Amit Ghosh, Director, IMTECH and Dr Tapan Chakrabarti (IMTECH), Convenor, Science Congress for School Children



Concurrent with the 91st Session of the Indian Science Congress held at Chandigarh this year which was co-hosted by the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, together with Panjab University, Chandigarh, IMTECH also hosted a mega-event: `Science for School Children' at the institute. This was for the third consecutive year that such an event was held as a part of the Indian Science Congress, and the first time that the event was held at a different venue from that of the main Science Congress.



President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam interacting with school children during
`Science for School Children Festival' at IMTECH

The programme for school children had talks on popular subjects by a host of national and international speakers, several film shows on science, a science exhibition set up by the visiting children, one exhibition each on the life and science of Louis Pasteur and Kalpana Chawla, a science quiz for school children of Chandigarh, a special interactive session with scientists, and a visit by the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Over 350 students of classes X-XII selected from all over the country by the Department of Science and Technology, attended the programme. Two students and one accompanying teacher were invited from each district of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. A special group of 25 students attended from Jammu and Kashmir. Every other state of India had a representation of two students and one teacher per state. The schools of Chandigarh participated by sending 10 students every day from selected schools. The students stayed at the rooms and dormitories of the Shivalik Public School during the entire five-day programme.

Dr Manju Sharma the then Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, inaugurated the programme and advised the students to participate with vigour in science-related activities in their schools, and neighbourhood. She outlined the efforts being made by DBT to promote brilliant students.

Dr Amit Ghosh, Director, IMTECH, Dr H.Y. Mohan Ram, Chairperson of the Committee on Science for School Children and Prof. Harsh K. Gupta, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development, also addressed the students during the inaugural session.

Prof. Harsh K. Gupta started off the series of talks with his lecture on `The Wealth of Indian Oceans'. During the five-day programme, others who spoke to the children were Prof. Bruce Alberts, on his early attempts to understand DNA replication in bacteria; Prof. Erko Stackebrandt, on `life in unusual environments'; Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, on the agricultural revolution; Prof. Ashok sahni, on `the dinosaurs of prehistoric India'; Dr Vani Bramhachari, on `new DNA technologies', Dr Bharati Sarkar, on `Darwin's evolutionary theory', Dr L.S. Shashidhara, on `the developmental regulation of fruit fly embryos; and Prof. Narendra Nayak, on hoaxes and miracles.

The exhibition displayed nearly 50 science models made by students from different parts of the country. The first prize was won by a team from Maharashtra for a model of gas preparation from waste polythene bags. The second prize went to a team from Belgaum that has made model of experiment with laser light. The team from Commercial Senior Secondary School, New Delhi, won the third prize for a model of the multi purpose chulha. IMTECH exhibited posters on the life of Louis Pasteur, and some photographs and videos on the life and achievements of astronaut Kalpana Chawla. A model satellite `Kalpana I' was also on display. The exhibition was open to the public. During the programme, two concurrent sessions were held for teachers and parents on 4 and 5 January. Beginning with Dr Anuj Sinha of the DST, various speakers spoke at these sessions on method of enthusing children for the study of science.

On 5 January, the final rounds of a quiz contest were held for the school children of Chandigarh. The same evening Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, visited IMTECH and addressed the children. The President regaled the children with anecdotes including some from his own life, and told them that he would go back to teaching after the completion of his term in 2007. The President asked the children to dream big. “Thinking is progress and non-thinking leads to overall stagnation, be it an individual, country or organization; but thinking is useless without action”, he cautioned. Dr Kalam concluded the interaction by administering an oath to the children and shook hands with many of the assembled children before leaving.

The children also visited the `Pride of India' exhibition organized at Panjab University, the venue of the 91st session of ISCA. The children also interacted with a panel of scientists including Prof. S.K. Bramhchari, Prof. H.Y. Mohan Ram, Prof. Ashok Sahni, Prof. Erko Stackebrandt, and Dr Girish Sahni, asking questions about numerous fields of science, and about the joys and travails of research in science. In the end students and teachers shared their experiences with the organizers before the programme was concluded.

XI Programme on Advances in Petroleum Refining Technology and Related Aspects

THE Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, organized the title course for senior executives of the oil industry. The valedictory address at this course, which concluded on 30 April 2004, was delivered by Dr T.S. Tolia, Chief Secretary, Uttranchal Government. He said that in Uttranchal you can grow anything as it has all sort of climate and there is no dearth of land in the state. He said that the state has taken up to make Biodiesel a feasible alternative fuel by cutting costs and increasing productivity and by value addition. He stressed that it is necessary to make it economically sustainable. The state can take a lead in this area since institutes like IIP, FRI, ICFRE, etc. are here to do R&D. The land is here and the technique is here. He further said that Bio-Fuel mission has already been announced by the Planning Commission, and it requires collective effort to make it a success by playing their part in a constructive way, Dr Tolia pointed out.

Dr T.S. Tolia, Chief Secretary, Uttranchal Government, delivering the veledictory address during the
XI Programme on Advances in Petroleum Refining Technology and Related Aspects. Ms Veena Sekhri,
Chief Conservation of Forests, Garhwal Region, and Dr M.O. Garg, Director, IIP, are also seen

Ms Veena Sekhri, Chief Conservation of Forests, Garhwal Region, was also present on the occasion. She told the participants that with fuel concerns in mind they have taken up Production of Biodiesel from Biomass by selecting plantation of Jatropha carcus in the state. It is a good thing that J. carcus can be grown on degraded land and we don't have to use fertile land for this purpose. She said that they have achieved raising of nurseries in Uttranchal and already 20 lakh plants are available. She further said that 2000 hectares will be needed for plantation, which will be done rapidly next year and invited the entrepreneurs to collaborate with the state.

Dr M.O. Garg, Director, IIP, welcomed Dr Tolia and explained the outcome of the course Dr Garg said that the course served as an excellent platform for exchange of views and setting goals for future direction on the most relevant theme of `Alternative Fuels: Challenges and Opportunities'. He said that 70% crude oil is imported  in our country, which has consumption of 105 million tonnes/annum.

In his opening remarks Dr A.K. Gupta, Senior Scientist and Programme Director of the three-day course with special theme `Alternative Fuels: Challenges and Opportunities' said that highly educating talks were given by eminent faculty comprising Dr B.D. Ghosh, CHT, New Delhi on `Auto Fuel Policy'; Dr M.O. Garg, IIP on `Fuels for the Future', Dr R.P. Sharma on `CNG/LPG as Automotive Fuel Alternative'; Dr Vijay Mohan, NCL Pune on `Fuel Cells'; Shri P. Nair, UOP, Gurgaon on `Relevance of oxygenate in future fuels'; Dr H.B. Goyal, IIP on `Liquid fuels derived Biomass'; Dr A.K. Gupta, IIP on `Biodiesels Production'; Dr S.K. Singhal, IIP on `Biodiesels: Engine Application and Emissions'; Dr R.P. Verma, IOCL Faridabad on `Hydrogen Production and Utilization' and Dr R.P. Badoni, IIP on `Natural Gas to Liquid Fuels'. Dr S.N. Sharma, Scientist IIP gave an `Insight to IIP'. There were laboratory visits, open session and panel discussion.

Dr R.S. Tolia awarded the certificates to the participants who had come from all over the country from IOCL, BPCL, HPCL, RIL, NRL, CHT, Lubrizol and MRPL.

Training Programme on Organization Development

A two-day training programme on Organization Development conducted by Mr Ian Dean, CEO of Groman Consultant International Ltd, South Africa, was inaugurated by Shri V.K. Mathur, Director, Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, at the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun on 5 May 2004.

Inaugurating the course Shri Mathur said that leadership development was very essential and will be very useful to promote individual excellence. He said that there were lot of opportunities and challenges facing CSIR and “such courses will equip us better to handle them”.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr M.O. Garg, Director, IIP, said that the course is very relevant to CSIR today and would help revitalize and build each participant's ability to lead, irrespective of the area of application, to develop a core of competent change agents in IIP and CBRI, to use the programme as an opportunity to reinforce the institute's agenda for growth and change, to increase IIP's and CBRI's impact and relevance.


The course was attended by 36 participants from IIP and CBRI.



National Technology Day Celebrations


At Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, National Technology Day was celebrated on 11 May 2004.

The institute's Director, Dr O.P. Garg called upon scientists and engineers to gear themselves up in order to make institutes like the IIP `relevant' in today's competitive environment. “We have to focus on development of globally relevant, efficient and environment-friendly technologies to ensure that we stand at a good position in the competition”, said Dr Garg, while addressing a large gathering of scientists from various institutes of the city.

Dr S. Vardarajan, former CSIR Director General, and the doyen of the hydrocarbon industry in the country, delivered the National Technology Day lecture in which he outlined the progress of India in the field of technology over the past several decades. “Technology is science and engineering is action and we must keep ourselves abreast of all the developments underway in the sphere of technology the world over”, he stressed.


THE National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, celebrated National Technology Day on 11 May 2004. Dr H.R. Bhojwani, Emeritus Scientist, was the Chief Guest, who in his lecture on `India emerging as a preferred R&D destination' said that there has been technology explosion in India during the last 15 years. He traced the trends in the globalization of R&D by different multinational companies in India. He gave statistical figures to show how India is galloping in globalization. Already 150 MNCs including prominent ones like GE, Google, Timken, Cummins, Unisys & Nokia have set up their R&D units in India. He opined that lot of opportunities exist in our country in different sectors like IT, clinical research, pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics, new crop varieties, automobiles and automotives, gene sequencing etc. He further said that globalization of R&D has now become a common phenomenon, but cautioned that countries like China, Russia, Israel and Singapore are still a threat to India and hence India needs to improve its technological competence.

Earlier, in his welcome address Dr Sukumar Devotta, Director, NEERI, stressed on developing technologies for welfare of mankind, adding that there is a need to develop appropriate technologies.

Dr (Smt.) Atya Kapley compered the programme and Dr S.P. Pande, Scientist & Head, RPBD Division, proposed a vote of thanks


Dr K.S. Balaraman, Executive Director, Centre for High Technology, New Delhi, was the Chief Guest at the National Technology Day celebrations at Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Jorhat. Welcoming the Chief Guest and the audience, Dr P.G. Rao, Director, RRL-Jorhat, explained the genesis of NTD and briefly explained the contributions of the RRL towards economic development of the country in general and North East India in particular. He also highlighted the contributions made by RRL in various other fields. More than 1000 students along with teachers visited the laboratory and gathered knowledge about the ongoing research activities of the laboratory.

Dr Balaraman delivered a lecture on `Environmental management in petroleum refineries'. He spoke about the growing demand of oil in India and its import from other oil producing countries. He added that efficient and cleaner technology has become a must for safety of environment, human and animal health. Pointing out that huge investment is required for upgrading the refineries to produce low sulphur oil and oil without other  pollutants. In view of the global scenario and clean environment, the Government of India has emphasized to produce high quality refine oil such that it conforms to the Euro-I, II and III standard or Bharat-I, II or III standard. He mentioned about the appointment of Dr Mashelkar Committee to look after all the aspects of petrochemical and refinery industries of India including environmental problems and management. Dr Balaraman described the progress made by Indian Oil Refineries in lowering the sulphur content of imported crude oil and with adoption of high technology the level of sulphur has been brought down to as low as five ppm . Generally, sulphur is a great polluting agent and forms sulphur dioxide which is a highly corrosive agent and causes great damage to human health, forest vegetation, agricultural crops and buildings. However, adoption of desulphurization technology requires investment of huge amount of money. He mentioned that refinery effluents cause great pollution to soil and natural water of surrounding areas. NOx, H2S and SO2 and other emissions deteriorate ambient air qualities and therefore, refineries are now taking high tech cleaner technology for protection and maintenance of environment.

Twelfth  S. S. Bhatnagar Memorial Lecture

DR (Smt.) Manju Sharma, Adviser to the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Government of India, delivered the Twelfth S. S. Bhatnagar Memorial Lecture at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, on 1 April 2004. The topic of her lecture was `Towards a Sustainable Biofuture – A Synergy between Inter-disciplinary Research, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization in Biotechnology'.

Dr Manju Sharma, a reputed biologist and former Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said that using the tools and techniques made available through basic research in modern biology, it was possible to make or modify products and improve plants or animals or develop micro-organisms for specific use. Emphasising the role of biotechnology, she said that this discipline was knowledge intensive and science based. It needed highly trained human resource, capital and a drive to generate novel products and technologies, which will be low cost, affordable, environmentally sustainable and would generate employment for the people of this country.

Dr Sharma further said that pharma sector was emerging as a lead player with large number of pharma companies headed by technically qualified managers mushrooming world over and biotechnology was playing a major part in it. The number of compounds developed by biotechnology industry is almost 250 in the last phase of clinical trials in the US alone and biotech products account for almost half of all newly approved medicines in the US.

Some of the emerging topics in basic research are viral factors in the gene therapy, expression genetics, development of site-specific drug delivery system for proteins and peptide bio-pharmaceuticals. She further explained that interaction and synergy between cell biology studies and information technology has helped scientists generate a lot more data than what was possible in the last century. To reap rich harvest by combining the two, the DBT was developing a programme using the Param computer for developing new modules of proteomics and genomics studies including computational biology and entering into partnership with IT companies. It will be a miracle if biological molecules may be made to work as computer switches because their atoms are mobile and change position in a predictable manner.

Earlier Dr J S Yadav, Director, IICT, introduced the illustrious speaker to the audience consisting of dignitaries from industry, academic institutions and scientists from the sister laboratories of IICT. He said that, Dr Manju Sharma had held important positions in the Department of Science & Technology, Planning Commission, Office of the Scientific Adviser to the PM and Department of Biotechnology and she was the only lady scientist to have occupied the position of the President of the National Academy of Sciences. Smt. C B Lakshmi, Head, Research Management, IICT, proposed a vote of thanks.

Text Box: Dr M.O. Garg on the Editorial Board of JMMM
DR M.O. Garg, Director, Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, has become the member of the editorial board of the Journal of Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, published by Elsevier. This journal came into being with the merger of the journals on Zeolites and Microporous Materials in 1998 and the impact of the merged version has been steadily increasing.





Conference on Microbiology of the Tropical Seas (COMITS)

THE National Institute of Oceanography(NIO),Goa, is organizing a Conference on Microbiology of the Tropical Seas during 13-15 December 2004. It covers all the major aspects of marine microbiology:


Please visit to fill and submit the Registration Form.


Further details can be had from:


Organizing Secretary, COMITS

Biological Oceanography Division,
National Institute of Oceanography
Dona Paula, Goa 403 004, India

Tel : +91-832-2450239

Fax: +91-832-2450603 / 604



Third Indian National Conference on Harbour and Ocean Engineering (INCHOE2004)

THE National Institute of Oceanography(NIO), Goa, will be holding INCHOE2004 during 7-9 December 2004. INCHOE2004 is aimed to bring into focus the latest achievements of the researchers, academicians and users as well as the latest developments and trends in Harbour and Ocean Engineering.


INCHOE2004 will also provide a platform for discussion on the problems and solutions and recommend guidelines on critical aspects to planners and decision makers and further direct the futuristic approaches and trends in the field of Harbour and Ocean Engineering. Though INCHOE is a national event, considering the importance of the subject and need for integration of international expertise, a large number of international delegates have been participating making INCHOE an international forum.

The following themes will be covered:


For further information please contact :

The Organizing Secretary,
INCHOE2004Ocean Engineering,
National Institute of Oceanography
Dona Paula, Goa — 403 004, India

Phone : +91-832-2450265/2450316
Fax : +91-832-2450604/603