T. Nandakumar

Fillip to State’s science and technology sector

S&T institutions coming up after 25 years

State to be promoted as centre for research

Thiruvananthapuram: The Science and Technology sector in Kerala is set to receive a fresh impetus with four new research institutions scheduled to become functional over the next month.

While the inauguration of the Kerala School of Mathematics in Kozhikode is set for June 3, the Centre for DNA Barcoding of Life Forms in the Western Ghats and Kerala will become operational at Puthenthope, Thiruvananthapuram, on June 11.

The government has also cleared proposals for the establishment of a Centre for Traditional Knowledge in Food and Medicine and a Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Science and Engineering. Another major project is a new campus for the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) at Aakulam in Thiruvananthapuram.

Beginning of new era

Executive vice-president of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) E.P. Yesodharan told The Hindu that the new facilities would signal the start of a new era for the Science and Technology sector in Kerala. “It is after 25 years that new institutions are being set up in the sector. We have ambitious plans to promote Kerala as a major centre for scientific research.”

The Kerala School of Mathematics will offer facilities for advanced research in mathematics. Set up with assistance from the Department of Atomic Energy, the school is located on a 4.5-acre campus in Kozhikode. The construction of buildings has been completed.

The facility will offer Ph.D. and post-doctoral research programmes and training courses for researchers and maths teachers in universities. A master’s programme is being considered. Also on the anvil is a scheme to offer mathematics- oriented courses for children from Class X with an aptitude for the subject. “The idea is to make mathematics an attractive career,” he said.

The Kerala School of Mathematics will be equipped with facilities to host international conferences. The centre will have 20 permanent staff, with the rest of the faculty members comprising visiting professors.

The Centre for DNA Barcoding is part of a major initiative by the KSCSTE to promote research activities in biotechnology. The facility is being set up on a sprawling campus at Puthenthope that will be developed as a biotechnology hub. The proposed relocation of the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) from the KSCSTE headquarters to new premises at Aakulam will provide the institution with facilities for research and scope for future development.

Apart from a new building, the waterfront site facing Aakulam Lake will also house an open air museum and an eco-biopark where each institution under the council would have an area to showcase their achievements.

The Chief Minister is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the new campus on June 4.

Collaboration

Mr. Yesodharan said the Centre for Traditional Knowledge is expected to be launched soon. The Government of Sweden has expressed willingness to collaborate in the establishment of the Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Science and Engineering.

“We have drawn up plans to set up a Centre for Minerals and Nano Technology in Kollam and a Centre for Bamboo under the Kerala Forest Research Institute. All the new institutions will become fully operational within the next four years,” he added.

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