Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has given clearance for bringing the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. This is preparatory to giving it the status of an autonomous institute at the national level.

The centre is now under the control of the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. The Chief Minister is the president of the council.

As part of the transformation process, the centre will first be registered under the Societies Act. The centre's assets and liabilities will then be transferred to the society, which will function under the Union Biotechnology Department. The leasing of land for 99 years to the centre will continue. The Chief Minister also gave the go-ahead for the signing of a MoU in this regard between the council and the Union Biotechnology Department. Steps will be taken to provide three more acres of land to the centre after ascertaining the opinion of the Home and Revenue departments.

The decision to make the centre a national autonomous institute was announced in this year's Union Budget. Following the decision to raise it to a centre of excellence in the area of biotechnology, the Union Biotechnology Department made the formal plea for handing over the centre to the department.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam dedicated the centre to the nation in 2004. With the granting of autonomy, it will be able to use biotechnology for the development of medicines and achieve excellence in the areas of genomics, molecular medicine and nanobiotechnolgy. It will also be able to reach world standards in the areas of research and development.