Guwahati, September 21: The DBT (Department of Biotechnology), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India has announced three major programmes for the North East Region (NER). The programmes were announced by the Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan at the DBT’s press conference.
- Frugal microscopy through the Foldscope
The Foldscope is frugal paper microscope costing less that Rs 70 and made of paper with a glass lens and can be assembled by young kids as well. Last year, the DBT held trial workshops in Delhi and Guwahati on the same. This year, an agreement was signed with Prakash Lab, Stanford, where the inventor Dr Manu Prakash is based. A total 525 applications from schools and colleges have been received; 112 from schools, 357 from colleges and 56 from citizen scientists. All applicants will receive a micro grant between Rs 4 lakhs to 8 Lakhs as well as a supply of Foldscopes.
- Brahmaputra Biodiversity Biology Boat (B4)
The DBT will establish a laboratory on boat “Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat (B4)” on the Brahmaputra River. B4 will establish a large barge on the river with a well-equipped laboratory for analysis of all components of the entire ecosystem of the river and surroundings. The B4 will link to all the local research institutions along the river, as well as national and international laboratories.
- Phyto-Pharma Plants Mission
This 50 crore Phyto-Pharma mission will promote the cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants in the North East states. It will also improve availability of authentic and quality botanical raw materials on sustainable basis for a boom in the phytopharmaceutical industry. Through this mission, it is expected to enable farmers from the NE and phytopharmaceutical industry to become global leaders in production and export quality botanical drugs for unmet medical needs. For this Mission, the DBT will be the nodal coordinating and implementing department and work closely with the Ministry of DoNER and other identified institutions.
“10% of the DBT’s budget is spent on programmes in the North East. The Department of Biotechnology has committed to dedicate, each year, at least 10% of the budget for the North-East. As our budget grows, this allocation keeps increasing. This year, we aim to spend at least Rs 200 Crores for our N. E. Programmes.” DBT’s press release (19/09/2017) stated.