BIOTECHNOLOGICAL INTERVENTION COULD HELP PROVIDE PERMANENT SOLUTION FOR LANDSLIDES, OBSERVES CM AT 2nd NE BIOTECH MEET
GANGTOK, 19 April: The 2nd North East Biotech Hub Coordinators Meet [19-20 April] organised by State Biotech Hub Centre, Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology, Department of Science & Technology & Climate Change, Government of Sikkim and supported by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India began at Chintan Bhawan today and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The meet has more than 100 scientists and research scholars from Government of India and Institutional Hub Coordinators participating where they will discuss protection, conservation, monitoring and evaluation work on biodiversity and also present the progress report of individual centres and other R&D activities of each centre for exchange of ideas to promote Biotechnology in the NE region.
Addressing the gathering of intellectuals from the North Eastern States, the chief guest Chief Minister Pawan Chamling stated that he not only hoped but had a strong resolve that this meeting would undoubtedly help Sikkim and other NE States to step forward towards the advancement of technologies in the field of Biotechnology. “I hope scientists of Sikkim too shall take advantage of this meeting and interactions that follow”, he added.
The world of biotechnology is getting globalised and the acceleration in the growth of biotechnology during the last few decades is due to the various R&D projects being carried out all over the globe, which has led to significant achievements in the broad areas of agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment and industry, he said and added that research should come out of the lab and reach the rural masses as lab-to-land transfer of research has become the demand of the day.
Sikkim accounts for only 0.2 per cent area of the country, but has the richest biodiversity and hosts over 26% of the country’s flowering plants. We have 552 species of birds representing 30% of the bird species of the entire country with 690 species of butterflies making around 50% of the butterfly species of India, he stated.
He further said that as an ecologically fragile state located in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim has proceeded very cautiously while undertaking any developmental acitvity. For Sikkim, conservation, protection of eco-system and environmental sanctity has remained a firm priority as Sikkim has a unique biodiversity and the biospheres have to be protected, he added.
Speaking on the issue of Green Sikkim, he informed the gathering of the various initiatives taken by the State government for the protection of forests, such as the State Green Mission, and the recently launched 10 Minutes to Earth where mass planting of trees took place all over the state. Many environmental initiatives over the years have resulted in substantial increase of the forest and tree cover in the state, he added.
The banning of grazing in the Reserve Forest area has resulted in rejuvenation of forest and increase in the population of wildlife, while this has also resulted in increase of water supply to the perennial springs located in wildlife sanctuaries and high altitude areas. An eco-friendly step has been to ban the use of plastic completely in the state, the CM mentioned.
Nature is also a source of livelihood and the state’s economy is being enhanced through judicious harnessing of natural resources, therefore promotion of eco-tourism is the main focus in the state, the CM stated, while adding that there is want of development but not at the cost of the ecology.
The CM further stated that traditional knowledge and biotechnology can also come together towards the conservation of biodiversity in the state.
Speaking on the 18 September earthquake, he asked the Department of Science & Technology to seek institutional support and expertise from central government and related institutions for biotechnological intervention to rejuvenate the natural wealth and also find permanent solution to active landslide zones of Sikkim.
He also requested the Department of Biotechnology [Government of India] to set up a Biotech Park in Sikkim that would cater to the whole of the NE region for entrepreneurship development in biotechnology, which will help in the creation of a gene pool of endemic medicinal and aromatic plants found in Sikkim and also the whole of NE.
He also spoke on Sikkim being the first state in the NE to constitute a Glacier and Climate Change Commission on 17 January, 2008 and the drafting of an action plan on Climate Change, which has become part and parcel of North East Climate Change Programme launched by the German Development Cooperation.
The meeting was also addressed by Bhim Dhungel [Minister for Science & Technology & Climate Change], AK Shrivastava [Principal Secretary, Department of Science & Technology], Dr T Madan Mohan [Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India], Dr B Ravindran [Institute of Life Sciences, Bhuwaneswar] and Dr Purnima Sharma [MD, Biotech Consortium India Ltd].
The inaugural session also witnessed the release of two books, Sikkim Biodiversity, Significance and Sustainability and another on the proceedings of 2nd North East Biotech Hub Copordinators Meeting by the Chief Minister.
The technical session included the presentations by North East Coordinators, Institutional Hub Coordinators followed by a discussion with the Coordinators of Biotech Hubs. The second day will also have presentations by Institutional Hub Coordinators followed by the valedictory function.