Kerala’s biotech institute transferred to central governmentPublished On: Thu, Aug 2nd, 2007 | Science Policy | By BioNews
Aug 2 : The Thiruvananthapuram-based Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), the only institution of its kind in the country, will now be run by the central government, the union cabinet decided Thursday.
The cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided “to place RGCB as an autonomous institute under the administrative control of the Department of Biotechnology”, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters in New Delhi.
Following the implementation of the decision “the RGCB will be the only central institute in the area of biotechnology in Kerala”, said Dasmunsi.
“The takeover will have a major role in implementing relevant biotechnology projects in the state as well in the entire southern region.”
The RGCB aims at researching about cancer, human genetics, protein engineering, molecular reproduction, molecular microbiology, and neurobiology and plant molecular biology.
The minister said the transfer would also help RCGB develop into “a national research centre for bio-drug discovery programmes based on the knowledge of traditional systems of medicines prevalent in Kerala”.
It will also help the country “to utilise the institute’s expertise in cell and molecular biology for developing diagnostic and prognostic markers for disease”.
The move may also help “to provide adequate research and teaching facilities for human resource development in biotechnology,” said Dasmunsi.
The announcement comes after some controversy as Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had put some conditions on the transfer.
He had insisted that the institute would be handed over only for 30 years and not 99 years – a condition accepted by New Delhi.
Kerala has been seeking to transfer the institute to the centre for a long time.
On March 15, 2006, then chief minister Oommen Chandy had given the final approval to the transfer, but the move was delayed as assembly polls were announced.
As Achuthanandan came to power in May 2006, there were media reports that the new chief minister was delaying the transfer.
Former Congress minister G. Karthikeyan, who was largely instrumental in the setting up of this institute that began as a voluntary organisation in 1989, said that he was extremely pleased with the takeover.
“I was the founder chairman. It was first known as Centre for Education and Research and it had a small library. Slowly, it got bigger and it was re-christened after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death,” Karthikeyan told IANS.
“In 1993 then chief minister K. Karunakaran ousted me from the post of chairmanship. Then the big move came when A.K. Antony replaced Karunakaran in 1995 and the foundation stone for RGCB was laid on Nov 18, 1995 by then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.”
Exactly seven years later, then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inaugurated the new complex of the institute and dedicated it to the nation.
RGCB has a 1,10,000 square feet laboratory complex.
It has six research departments focussing on medical biotechnology and plant genetic engineering: in particular on molecular medicine, molecular endocrinology and reproduction, molecular microbiology, cancer biology, neurobiology and plant molecular biology.
The institute has major interdisciplinary consortium research programmes on vaccine development, bioinformatics and bioprospecting for clinically bioactive compounds.(IANS)