Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave in-principle approval for another two years to six National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) that were cleared by the Centre in 2007. This decision will help in overcoming the acute shortage of skilled manpower in the pharmaceutical sector.

The NIPERs in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), Hajipur (Bihar), Kolkata (West Bengal), Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh) and Guwahati (Assam) are functioning under ‘mentor’ institutes in the States.

The NIPERs will award master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmaceutical sciences. They will be equipped with R&D infrastructure of international standards and will have various specialisations suited to the needs of the industry. The students will be exposed to cutting-edge technology.

The intake will be 200-250 students each. After all the seven NIPERs (including the first one set up in Mohali, Punjab, in 1991) become functional, about 1,500 highly skilled hands will be available for the industry annually.

In the NIPERs in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Hajipur classes have been held from the academic session 2007-08. The institutes in Guwahati and Rae Bareli were started in 2008-09. Students are being selected through a common admission test conducted by the Mohaili NIPER. An apex committee under the Pharma Secretary has been formed to oversee the smooth functioning of these institutes until a Board of Governors is formed for each new NIPER.

Likewise, a State coordination committee under an officer of the level of Principal Secretary to the government has been formed for each NIPER. The estimated cost of each NIPER, as worked by a consultant, will be approximately Rs. 330 crore, including the public-private partnership component. About 100 acres required for the project is to be provided free by the States concerned. Each NIPER will take 4-5 years to establish itself fully.