Govt plans merger of four scientific bodies

By Hindustan Times on 31 Aug 2017 | read

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand government may soon merge its top four scientific bodies to facilitate a focused research for protecting agriculture from climate change and for boosting agri-pastoral economy, an official said.

State Council for Science & Technology, State Education and Research Centre, State Space Application Centre and Biotechnology Society are the scientific bodies likely to be part of the merger proposal.

“A move is afoot to effect a merger of our top four scientific bodies so that we have a robust system of research facilities in place. Such a system will be better equipped to protect agriculture from climate change and boost the state’s farm economy, helping us to check forced migration from the hills,” secretary (in-charge), Science & Technology, Ravinath Raman told HT.

A committee headed by chief secretary S Ramaswamy is examining all aspects of the proposed merger of the four scientific bodies. “There are states where various arms of science and technology have been merged and are functioning under one umbrella organisation,” Raman said, referring to Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam and Madhya Pradesh.

“We have already carried out an extensive study of the unified model of scientific and research bodies, which is in place and is functioning in those four states.”

Raman said the umbrella body would be headed by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. “The chief secretary would also be on board apart from senior bureaucrats and scientists and heads of various line departments,” he said, adding those departments would facilitate transfer of research from lab to field.

The proposed merger would be carried out without “too much distress” to the personnel associated with them, he said. “That means all employees of those bodies would be given adequate roles in a restructured system, if it takes place, without any retrenchments or loss of jobs. Budgetary constraints forced the government to think of merger.”

“Our biggest handicap is the shoe string (annual) budget of about Rs 10 crore in which those top four scientific and research bodies are forced to work,” the official said, adding most of the miniscule budget “goes” in paying salaries and office expenditures. “As a result, they (scientific bodies) find it difficult do full justice to their mandates.”

The budgetary constraints would be taken care of if the merger plan worked. “In that case, the scientific bodies will work in a concerted manner, enabling us to ask the Centre to provide them more budget for scientific research. In that case, they will be able to carry out quality research work in their respective areas, which we will be able to disseminate among user groups like farmers.”

Raman explained that the proposed system would help facilitate and encourage research in line with the need of the state. “Besides, the availability of the desired budget will make it easier for us to hire the country’s best researchers. Consequently, the innovative research conducted by them will help boost all sectors---from health and tourism to agriculture and horticulture.”

Citing an example of biotechnology, Raman said researchers would be better equipped to study the impact of climate change on horticulture and agriculture--the two key pillars of the state’s agri-pastoral economy.