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  • TERI sees ‘Biotechnology’ as the prime mover for creating eco-friendly and sustainable technologies

    19 August 2008

    At the 7th Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture, Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon Ltd, emphasized leveraging biotechnology to earn eco-credit points.

    From understanding and harnessing the diversity of living organisms to meet pressing human and environmental needs, to new drugs to treat important agricultural diseases, to innovative new ways of producing biofuels and using microbes to obtain petroleum from exhausted wells, cleaning oil contamination, and biological control of agricultural pests, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) over the years, has initiated significant research in the field of biotechnology as a solution to various environment, energy and agriculture problems making a huge contribution to developing a healthy and sustainable future. This was the ethos that permeated at the 7th Darbari Seth Lecture organized by TERI.

    Celebrating its Foundation Day and remembering its founder Late Sh Darbari Seth, TERI, Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon Limited, delivered the annual lecture. She was selected because of her innovation and significant contribution to the field of biotechnology as she brought the biopharmaceutical research conducted by Biocon Limited into the everyday lives of people and created a viable and profitable business out it.


    Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General, TERI opened the lecture by highlighting the vision of Mr Seth and the path breaking achievements of TERI with special reference to the field of biotechnology. He said, “Mr Seth was not only an iconic figure in the business and industry but thought ahead of his times by bringing new technologies into existence that was considered as an impossible task by others. His foresight has guided us throughout to establish ourselves as a leading research organization in the nation and his blessings are always with us to explore new areas and achieve the impossible.”

    Dr Mazumdar-Shaw in her address focused on the importance of biotechnology for the conservation of environment and energy for a clean and green living. She emphasised that innovative use of biotechnology hold the key to solving the nation’s problems in dealing with carbon emissions and spiralling energy costs. In particular, she added, algae held great promise. “Algae can be the cheapest source of biofuel that is easily produced, which can help in reducing pollution in various industries like chemical, textile, detergents etc.”

    She concluded by proposing a five-point plan for India to break free of dependence on fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions and achieve a clean environment:

    - Make the energy mix more balanced so that by 2050, the country uses equal amounts of fossil fuel, hydel sources, biofuels, nuclear energy and solar and wind power instead of the current 65% dependency on fossil fuels.
    - Create centres of excellence in research in seven critical areas ranging from bio-fuels to energy creation from solid urban waste and using enzymes by investing Rs 1,000 crores over the next five years
    - Require companies to include their carbon footprint in financial reports from the next financial year and provide tax credits to cut carbon emissions while penalizing increased emissions
    - Provide companies that process and reduce effluents eco-credits that can be traded for lower electricity tariffs
    - Boost entrepreneurship in the area of renewable energy

    The Hon’ble Minister of Power, Sh Sushil Kumar Shinde, presiding over the ceremony, acknowledged the immense contribution of TERI and Biocon in biotechnology. He announced the approval of a Rs 51,000-crore project to provide electricity to the entire nation in the next three years. He also acknowledged TERI’s contribution to getting the funding for the Additional Power Development Research Project (APDRP) as one of its evaluators. He further said that “visionaries like Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and organizations like TERI with their continued efforts are sure to further take the cause ahead and quite possibly, the next chapter in the information age may be the ‘Age of Biotechnology’.”

    TERI has been at the cutting edge of biotechnology research in developing ecological solutions to environment, energy and agriculture problems. Foremost among them are the harnessing of microbes to obtain petroleum from exhausted wells that can longer be exploited by conventional means and to clean up oil contamination, and biological control of agricultural pests. Various multinational, government and multilateral agencies have successfully applied these researches. Currently, TERI is researching hydrogen-producing microbes that will revolutionise electricity production as it can be dencentralised and become an important alternative source for electricity generation.

    In the past, great entrepreneurs and scientific dignitaries like Dr Abdul Kalam, Mr Mukesh Ambani, N R Narayanamurthy and K Kasturirangan have shared their vision at the annual Darbari Seth Memorial Lectures.

    The enthralled audience at the Stein Auditorium in India Habitat Centre consisted of dignitaries, Senior Bureaucrats, Embassy/High Commission Officials, Entrepreneurs, NGO’s, Academicians, Scientists and Researchers.

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