The Telegraph
Friday , July 28 , 2017

Fruit, fish show for MPs

New Delhi, July 27: An exhibition portraying an array of India's homegrown technologies to enhance the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, pinpoint promising fishing zones in the seas, treat municipal sludge, or harness solar energy opens tomorrow for MPs.

Government laboratories funded by multiple science-related departments will use stalls, posters, brochures and lab-scale models to display their technologies at the two-week exhibition on science and technology organised by the parliamentary standing committee on science, technology, environment and forests.

"Our laboratories have solutions to many problems - there's a need for more integration of their technologies with applications," Renuka Chowdhury, the committee's chairperson, said today, announcing the exhibition. "We want MPs to learn about these technologies and think about ways to promote them in their constituencies and states."

The exhibition follows a series of visits by members of the parliamentary panel to nearly 25 academic institutions and laboratories over the past year. They visited the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, and the Space Applications Centre, among other institutions.

"We found a large number of technologies ready for commercialisation, but which have not yet been adequately exploited," Chowdhury said. One example is the irradiation technology package developed by BARC to increase the post-harvest shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

The National Standards Practice Manual document for 2017 lists only three registered irradiation facilities - at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra's Nashik district, Vashi in Navi Mumbai and Malur in Karnataka's Kolar district.

But experts estimate that nearly 40 per cent of India's fruit and vegetable produce gets wasted through spoilage. "This irradiation technology is not yet widely available - it needs to be expanded to districts across the country. This would help farmers and also reduce wastage," Chowdhury said.

She said a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory in Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) had developed another technology to help increase the shelf life of fruits such as apples, mangoes and bananas. The promotion of such technologies could also provide jobs to local communities, she said.

Besides the CSIR's 38 laboratories, the departments of atomic energy, biotechnology, earth sciences, science and technology and space will participate in the exhibition on the ground floor of the Parliament Annexe building from July 28 to August 11.

Arrays of solar panels designed to resemble trees, milk adulteration testing kits, rapid medical diagnostic kits for various health disorders and radiation-based treatment of municipal sewage sludge are among the technologies likely to be promoted at the exhibition.

India's space agency is also expected to display how its satellites help in weather forecasting, cyclone tracking, telecommunications and even to guide fisherfolk to areas of the sea with an abundance of fish.

While India's science departments have routinely hosted exhibitions for the public for decades, officials say this is the first of its kind, exclusively aimed at MPs.

"We're hoping that MPs can in turn spread information about such spin-off technologies and socially useful products ready for commercialisation," an official said.

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