7

RESEARCH

[Environmental Research, G.B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Research on Biosphere Reserve, Wetlands and Mangroves, Forestry Research, Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Wildlife Research, National Natural Resource Management System]


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Environmental Research

Introduction

Research is basic to any developmental activity. The Ministry supports research in multidisciplinary aspects of environment protection, conservation and development in identified thrust areas. The primary objectives of research promotion are to develop strategies, technologies and methodologies for better environment management and also to create infrastructure for environmental research and a pool of trained manpower to shoulder the responsibility of environment management in the country . Environmental Research particularly aims at attempting solutions to the practical problems of resource management and provides necessary inputs for the twin objective of conservation of natural resources and restoration of environmental quality.

The environmental research in the Ministry is being supported under various programmes/schemes like

During the year, under Research and Development Scheme, 41 new projects were initiated, 26 studies were completed and 119 ongoing projects were reviewed and monitored for their progress. The details of the sanctioned and completed projects are given in Annexures II and III respectively.

Environment Research Programme specifically deals with brown agenda i.e. problems related to pollution, chemical, biochemical and engineering investigations, technology development for waste minimization, waste recycling, resource recovery, effluent treatment and other environmental studies related to pollution control, development of instruments for pollution measuring and control, development of eco-friendly and cleaner technologies etc.

Ecosystem Research Scheme is an inter-disciplinary programme of research which emphasizes ecological approach for studying the relationship between man and environment. The objective of the programme is to develop a basis within the field of natural and social sciences for rational use and conservation of resources for general improvement of the relationship between man and his environment. The programme seeks to provide a scientific basis to solve the practical problems of resource management. The programme also seeks to provide scientific knowledge and trained personnel needed to manage the natural resources in a rational and sustainable manner. Ecosystem studies becomes even more important as the Earth’s environmental systems are increasingly being affected at all levels. Ecological understanding and research in this area offer tangible hope for addressing extremely complex and potentially devastating assaults on local, regional and global ecosystems. Under the scheme, emphasis is laid on multi-disciplinary aspects of environmental conservation with emphasis on eco-system approach consistent with the identified thrust areas and orientation.

The Eastern and Western Ghats Research Programme addresses itself to location-specific problems of resource management in the Eastern and Western Ghats regions of the country. Under this programme, studies relating to bio-diversity, land use, impact of developmental activities etc. are taken up.

Details of specific research activities under Pitambar Pant Fellowship and B.P. Pal Fellowship are given in Chapter 8.

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Highlights of some of the completed projects :

Development of mixed culture based BOD biosensor for instant and reproducible monitoring of BOD load in wastewater

The aim of the project was to develop a mixed culture based BOD biosensor to be used for rapid and reproducible determination of BOD of wastewaters. BOD biosensor has been developed which gives response within 5-10 minutes, a reduction of 400% as compared to the conventional method. The BOD load of the sensor samples can be sensed very rapidly with in 5-10 minutes with the help of developed BOD sensor. The biosensor will also be ustilised for online monitoring of the potential load (BOD) of industrial wastewater.

Eco-friendly utilisation of non-biodegradable polymeric waste in modification of Bitumen for waterproofing system

The project was undertaken for the development of a process know-how for the effective utilisation of polymeric wastes in the bitumen for waterproofing application. Two kinds of polymeric wastes were chosen, first was isocyanate production waste and second was plastics wastes. The polymeric wastes were given stearate/ozonised treatment to allow to reduce the phases size and ensure their anchoring to the bitumen. Sealing compound/water proofing coating utilizing the isocyanate production waste and water proof roof mastics from plastics waste have been developed. The waste utilization in sealing compound was about 60% while bituminous mastics contains 80% plastics waste. The results of the project will help in sorting out the environmental problems by adopting a material recycling approach towards polymeric wastes disposal. The process has been patented.

Development of high efficiency gas-liquid-solid fluidised bed bioreactor (FBBR) for water pollution control

The present work reports the biodegradation of phenol using Pseudomonas pictorum immobilized in activated carbon in a continuous mode using fluidized bed bioreactor (FBBR). The optimum pH and temperature for the growth of the microorganism were 7.0-8.0 and 30-34 degree centrigade respectively with an optimum concentration of phenol at 500 mg/l. It was also observed that the rate of phenol degradation increases with the bio-film thickness.

Application of photocatalysts in the treatment of water and wastewater

Keeping in view the advantages of photocatalysis attempt has been made to degrade the commonly used textile and leather dyes from the aqueous solution using TiO/ZnO catalyst in the presence of UV/solar light in a batch reactor. The study demonstrates the activity of the photocatalyst in the degradation of dyes. In addition to the removal of colour, simultaneous reduction of COD, TOC and formation of NO3, NH4 and SO4 suggest the mineralisation of dissolved dyes. The study also revealed that photocatalysis is a viable technique to treat the industrial effluent. The thin film coating studies of TiO2 and ZnO revealed that this technique could be upgraded to treat large volume of wastewater.

Electrochemical treatment of dyes in textile, cosmetics, food and pharmaceutical industrial effluents

In this project, electrochemical method have been successfully applied for the treatment of effluents that are having colouring compounds. The study reveals that using electrochemical technique, the colour could be removed completely from the intense dark coloured (0.002 M solution) solution of Napthol Yellow S, Rhodamine B, Orange II, Sudan III, Eosin Yellow, Alizarin Red S, Erythrosine, Indigocarmine, PatenBlue VF and Tartrazine. Optimum conditions of reduction and oxidation of model dyes have been establised on various electrodes and thereafter controlled potential electrolysis have been carried out.

Recovery of lead from spent led acid batteries

The disposal of scrap batteries is a serious problem which causes environmental concern. An eco-friendly electrolytic route has been investigated for the extraction of lead from scrap batteries. The route comprises breaking of batteries, separation of portions of metallic and lead compounds, desulphurisation, leaching followed by electrowinning. The lead compound portion is desulphurised using sodium hydroxide to lead monoxide which is leached with fluoboric acid. Electrolytically pure lead cathode deposit is obtained by electrowinning. Anodic deposition of lead dioxide is major problem identified in the electrowinning of lead. Addition of soluble compound of phosphorus or arsenic is found to inhibit lead dioxide effectively. The purity level of electrolytic lead obtained from the scrap batteries is analysed by AAS and mass spectrometry. Cost analysis has been made for the production of 1000 tonnes of lead/year.

Role of cadmium as a causative agent in hypertension and renal damage and the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology

Experimental studies revealed that intraperitonial administration of Cd causes hypertension and renal Na+K+ ATPase activity, a marker of renal toxicity in rats. In a separate series of experiments Cd administration (ip) for 14 days resulted in significant hypertension and high renal accumulation of Cd (56 µg/g) there by indicating a causative role of Cd in the pathogenesis of hypertension and renal damage in rats.

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Fig 64. A rare endangered medicinal plant (Coscinium fenestratum)

Monitoring the status of moth component in the Biodiversity of North-Western Himalayan Ecosystem

This was undertaken to make collections of the moth diversity from various localities within the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Uttaranchal. Forty nine localities have been repeatedly surveyed and out of these three localities viz., Renuka, Nauni and Dehradun have been found to be rich spots for moth diversity. Sarkaghat (Mandi, H.P.) in the Western Himalaya was found to be a good spot for systematic studies on sphingid diversity.

Plant diversity and community patterns in managed and natural growth forests of north eastern Uttar Pradesh

This was taken up to study the various major and minor forest stands at different maturity status and facing different degree of disturbance within the forested landscape. The study covered the community structure and diversity pattern, the population status and age structure of surviving species, their growth pattern and architecture and the regeneration strategy of species, occupying recurrently disturbed environment. The soil conservation efficiency and biomass extraction potential of common woody perennials have also been assessed.

Evaluation of fire retardant species to form vegetational fire breaks in Grass Hills, Western Ghats

Twenty six evergreen/succulent native species were identified as fire retardant species. Among them three species viz. Berberis tinctoria, Elaeagnus kologa and Rhodomyrtus tomentosa were selected on the basis of their ecological characters for experimentation. In fire trials, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa was shown to be a promising fire break in controlling the spread of grassland fire in Nilgiris.

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G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development

G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, established in August 1988, at Kosi-Katarmal, Almora has been identified as a focal agency, to advance scientific knowledge, evolve integrated management strategies, demonstrate their efficacy for conservation of natural resources and to ensure environmentally sound development in the entire Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). The Institute has at present four units located at Srinagar (Garhwal Unit), Mohal-Kullu (Himachal Unit), Tadong-Gangtok (Sikkim Unit) and Itanagar (NE-Unit) to promote S&T initiatives for overall development in the IHR. The broad areas of concern include various core programmes, namely Land and Water Resource Management, Sustainable Development of Rural Ecosystems, Conservation of Biological Diversity, Ecological Economics, Environment Impact Assessment, Institutional Networking, Human Resource Development, Environmental Physiology, Biotechnology, and Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

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Fig 65. Students are being exposed to GB Pant institute’s activity on Environment day

Institute’s initiative in regards to validation of the spring sanctuary concept has established that there are great possibilities to increase the water yield of drying springs to cope up with the shortage of drinking water in rural areas in the region. The perception studies conducted in the selected watersheds indicate peoples’ willingness to participate in spring sanctuary development . Also the performance study of community managed and govt. managed canal irrigation systems revealed that community systems perform better (conveyance efficiency up to 80%) due to flexibility in their operation and management. Irrigation scheduling was very effective in community managed canal systems, which were developed using the catchment approach. Identification of factors responsible for the efficient canal system can be used for developing guidelines for improving the management of canals in the region .

To address the issues of slope stabilization, experiments conducted by the Institute on steep slopes created by dumping of excavated soils have established that low-cost bio-engineering techniques are effective in reducing soil erosion. Over a period of three years, such slopes got stabilized and sediment yield reduced by about 95 per cent mainly due to protection of slope from erosion activities.

Institute recognized the need for documentation of traditional practices of soil and water conservation (SWC) and initiated studies in this direction. Reduced tillage and mulching experiment revealed that despite more availability of nutrients under traditional farming practices the crop yield is low and they loose more soil and water.

Considering the importance of understanding resource use management strategies of various indigenous societies, the Institute focused on the traditional systems existing in Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh while continuing the studies on Tangsa, Adi, Nyishis and Apatanies, and Tolchhas of Joshimath area in Garhwal Himalaya. The importance of bamboo as a resource in some of these traditional societies was quantified during the year. The studies on the agrobiodiversity management strategies of Tolchha community got international recognition as the work was linked with environmental changes.

Furthermore, the initiatives of understanding the value of indigenous knowledge systems were strengthened through completion of case studies. The studies on indigenous use of temur (Zanthoxylum armatum) and its socio-economic dimensions in Uttaranchal Himalaya, has highlighted significant economic value of this resource. The other investigations in this direction include: indigenous practice of preparing fermented food and beverages; analysis of indigenous agricultural practices in the light of its efficiency and sustainability.

The Institute completed an assignment to put together an analytical compilation of the data sets, and synthesize various issues to integrate the individual working plans in a uniform manner so as to provide the broad guideline for the project implementation of Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP) in the Siwaliks.

Institute further strengthened activities of scaling–up multiplication and content analysis of important plant species. It was found that endogenous plant growth regulators play an important role during root initiation. An increase in endogenous putrescine and spermine content was recorded prior to in vitro root initiation in Rosa damascena. A marked variation (0.05-5-0% of dry wt.) in podophyllotoxin (used for preparation of anticancer drugs) content was found among 16 different population of Podophyllum hexandrum collected from Garhwal and Kumaun Himalaya.

To determine the physiological basis of adaptations in plants in terms of photosynthetic characteristics and growth, considerable variations in photosynthesis and chlorophyll content were observed in different plant species, a seasonal variation in these parameters was also recorded.

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Fig 66. Rural women involved in plantation at Kadiriya Village near Kausani

Large scale isolations from the soil samples collected from the rhizospheres of Himalayan plant species have been carried out. The microbial isolates obtained have been screened for N-fixing and P-solubilizing abilities and for production of antimicrobial substances. Species of Bacillus, Pseudomonas and Trichoderma have been selected as inoculants for growth promotion and biocontrol. Further, microbial inoculation trials are in progress using agricultural, forest and tissues culture raised species.

Under the initiatives to establish gene banks following activities were undertaken:

Monitoring field performance of in-vitro raised plantlets of selected multipurpose tree speices (i.e. Sapium sebiferum, Bauhinia vahlii, Diploknema butyracea);

The techniques/methodologies developed during these studies were disseminated among the common people through peoples participation workshop.

Realizing the importance of Protected Areas (PAs) in maintaining the regional representative pool of biodiversity, the institute undertook a detailed analysis of available information on Himalayan PAs. Based on the results of this analysis, priority issues were identified for PAs of IHR. Through a detailed review of geophysical and bio-diversity values in a low profile PA (i.e. Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, West Himalaya) it was established that several neglected (low profile) PAs in the region have potential to address the issues associated with the PA network of the Himalaya. The review recommends the urgent needs for redefining the priorities for improving the effectiveness of PA network in the IHR.

Organization of a Training Programme on Environmental Economics for Practicing Scientists and Ecologists (Oct, 2001) provided a platform for intense interactions, discussions and capacity building mechanism. The programme was successful in identifying the regional and national research priorities, validating methodologies wherein approaches of ecologists and economists intersect; and breadth of methodologies outreach to other disciplines. An attempt was made to prepare a commentary on the subject matter on make participant understand the concepts and also be abreast with the contemporary investigations on various aspects of ecological economics.

Considering the nature of economy, the level of literacy and the status of women in the Himalayan region, which varies considerably from community to community, and in different altitudinal zones, the Institute initiated a study on impact of economic condition and education on the fertility behaviour of women in Central Himalayan region. The preliminary results show positive relationship between fertility behaviour indicators, altitude and per capita income.

The study on Environmental Impact Assessment of Desiltation Operation at Bhimtal Lake, Kumaun, Central Himalaya was undertaken to highlight the need for incorporation of additional activities in the list of projects for which EIA is mandatory. The study indicates that despite having elaborate EIA norms in the country regarding various types of developmental projects, activities involving alteration/modification to existing topography in the Himalayan region should be brought under EIA notification.

To address the issues of growing menance of solid waste in the Himalayan region especially in view of increased tourism activity, the institute undertook studies on air quality monitoring and solid waste characterization in Kullu valley. The study focussed attention on hospital and household waste characterization. The institute continued with reaching different remote areas of the IHR through Integrated Eco-development Research Programme (IERP). Out of the funded projects, 16 projects were completed successfully and 47 R & D projects are ongoing in 10 Indian Himalayan States.

As a central facility, Institute strengthened central nursery at Kosi-Katarmal. The seedling and sapling raised in the nursery are being provided to various users. The Institute disseminated the results of various research programmes among rural people by organizing various onsite training workshops and meetings as well as through publications. Several scientists of the institute serve as member of various thematic working groups (TWG), regional and state working groups on National Bio-diversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP) process. The institute is also coordinating one of the TWG (Wild Plant Biodiversity) and State Biodiversity Action Plan (U.P).

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Fig 67. Root system of mangroves at Sunderbans

Research on Biosphere Reserves, Wetlands and Mangroves

Research activities under Biosphere Reserves, Wetlands and Mangroves programmes are overseen by specific advisory committees. During the year, several projects have been sanctioned under these schemes. The list of such sanctioned and completed research projects are given in Annexure III and IV respectively.

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Forestry Research

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun

The Council is the premier forestry research organization of the country with the mandate to formulate, organize, direct, and manage forestry research, transfer the technologies developed to States and other user agencies and impart forestry education.

The objectives of the Council are :

The Council has eight research institutes and three advanced centers in various parts of the country to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions of the nation. These are located at Dehradun, Shimla, Allahabad, Ranchi, Jorhat, Jabalpur, Chhindwara, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore.

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Fig 68. Sap displacement method for treating green bamboo

The comprehensive document of National Forestry Research Plan (NFRP) printed in two volumes was released and ICFRE Technology Mission was prepared for the expansion of country’s Forest cover and increasing its productivity.

Planting Stock Improvement Programme (PSIP)

ICFRE has established 3373 ha Seed Production Areas (SPAs), 13 ha clonal seed orchards (CSOs), 5.96 ha seedling seed orchards (SSOs), 3.5 ha vegetative multiplication gardens (VMGs) for important species and six modern nurseries were established in different states of the country during the year.

Research Grant Fund (RGF)

Research Grant Fund (RGF) is an important component of the World Bank Forestry Research Extension and Education Project (FREEP). The programme has helped ICFRE to fulfill one of the important national mandate of aiding and coordinating forestry research in India to State forest departments, universities, NGO’s and private sectors.

Projects sanctioned under RGF covers a very wide range of discipline viz., agro-forestry and silviculture, biodiversity conservation, tree improvement, biotechnologies, forest produce, seed technology, biofertilizer, socio-economic and JFM. Many of these projects are coordinated projects. Out of 200 projects sanctioned, 40 projects have been completed. The significant findings of the RGF projects are:

Chief Technical Advisors (CTAs)

Twenty one CTAs appointed under the World Bank Project are coordinating research activities of all ICFRE Institutes as well as RGF Projects funded under FREEP. Twenty one CTAs workshops/peer-review meetings were organised on rotation basis in the ICFRE Institutes, where progress of research projects of ICFRE/RGF were reviewed and recommendations made.

Major achievements of the Council and its institutes are as follows:

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Forest Research Institute, Dehradun

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Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore

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Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore

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Fig 71. In vitro proliferation of Dalbergia sissoo

Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur

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Rain Forest Research Institute, Jorhat

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Arid Forest Research Institute, Jodhpur

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Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla

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Institute of Forest Productivity, Ranchi

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Centre for Forestry Research and Human Resource Development, Chhindwara

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Centre for Social Forestry and Eco-Rehabilitation, Allahabad

Established effective afforestation model on water logged sodic wasteland.

Socio-economic studies and vegetation types at selected sites for degraded, Silica Mined Area, Salt affected and moisture stress studies for the selected village completed.

Under PSIP, 69 ha SPA of Dalbergia sissoo (30 ha), SSPA of Dalbergia sissoo (20 ha) and Acacia nilotica (10 ha) and three ha CSO of D. sissoo have been established.

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Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute, Bangalore

The Institute, an autonomous body of the Ministry has its root in the Co-operative Research Laboratory born in 1962 under the CSIR umbrella with participation of the Indian Plywood Industry. The Institute is mandated to carry out applied research and training on all aspects of technology for manufacturing plywood, panels and other engineered/reconstituted products from lignocellulosic materials.

Research Activities

Research activities of the Institute are commensurate with the action programmes identified in the National Forestry Action Programme 2000, the twenty year comprehensive strategy for development of the forestry in the country. With the changed scenario of availability of woody raw material in the country, the institute has re-oriented its research priorities towards development of reconstituted wood and wood alternates from plantation timbers, bamboo and other renewable fibers. The institute has already established itself as the pioneer R & D organization for development of people friendly and environmentally sound technologies for manufacturing bamboo based industrial products such as Bamboo Mat Board (BMB), Bamboo Mat Veneer Composites (BMVC), Bamboo Mat Moulded Tray (BMMT) and Bamboo Mat Corrugated Sheets (BMCS). In recognition of the institutes bamboo related activities a Centre for Bamboo Development was established at the Institute.

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Fig 72. Finger jointed rubber wood cot in combination with Bamboo Mat Board

Three main areas of research during the year were:

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Fig 73. Finger jointed rubber wood side-table

Some important research projects undertaken during the year are :

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Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal

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Fig 74. Porcupine

Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), an autonomous organization of the Ministry has been established to carry out the following mandate.

Ten research projects in the concerned fields are currently under progress. Details of education and training activities undertaken by the IIFM are given in Chapter 8.

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Wildlife Research

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) conducts research on the ecological, biological, socio-economic and managerial aspects of wildlife conservation in various parts of the country. The research projects generate valuable scientific data help evolve study techniques relevant to the Indian ground condition, and also create a group of trained field biologists, socio-economists and wildlife managers. The scientific information generated is utilized for management of protected areas. Details of completed and ongoing research projects carried out by WII are as under:

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Completed Projects

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Fig 75. Horse shoe crab at Sunderban Biosphere Reserve

On-going Research Projects

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National Natural Resource Management System

The main objective of National Natural Resource Management System (NNRMS) is utilization of remote sensing technology with conventional methods of monitoring of natural resources such as land, water, forests, minerals, oceans etc. for attaining sustainable development by addressing the following aspects :

The Standing Committee on Bio-resources and Environment (SC-B) constituted by the Planning Commission advises on the methods of using the remote sensing technology for optimal use and management of natural resource in the country.

The SC-B had identified 49 priority areas for taking up remote sensing based studies in tune with key environmental and ecological issues of the country. They encompassed forest, grassland, plant and faunal resources, wetlands, land degradation, water and air pollution etc. information requirements for the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme and some typical areas like mining, coastal areas, wildlife habitats etc. Out of the above 49 priority areas, more than 20 have been covered so far.

So far SC-B has met 17 times and sponsored more than 60 remote sensing application projects addressing key environmental and ecological issues such as management of forests, grassland, faunal resources, wetland, coastal areas, mangroves and coral resources, land degradation, impact of mining and industrialization, river pollution etc. Thirty two projects have so far been completed, the details of this project are given in Annexure - IV and remaining projects are in progress. List of projects sanctioned during 2001-2002 is at Annexure- III. The 4th meeting of the Technical and Financial Sub-Committee of the NNRMS (SC-B) held in Dec, 2001considered 16 new proposals for their suitability from technical and financial angle.

The potential user agencies for utilizing the outcome/information generated in the projects sanctioned by the Ministry under NNRMS programme are the Central Govt. Departments/agencies, Public Sector Undertakings, State Govt. Departments/agencies, and the Ministry of Environment and Forests itself including the various organizations under its administrative control like FSI, ZSI, BSI etc.

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