Nano Institute awaits Centre's nod

Nano Institute awaits Centre's nod

Dogged by land acquisition woes and bureaucractic procedures at Centre, the State government’s ambitious plans to set up the Institute for Nano Science and Technology, off Tumkur Road, has been a non-starter. 

So much so, the government, at every edition of Bangalore Nano, has been religiously announcing the project would get off, since 2007. Barring a compound wall on the land gifted by the State government to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the project has failed to take off. 

According to senior officials, the project is awaiting a final letter of approval from the Centre and they expect some traction in this regard in the next two months paving the way for construction of the institute. While the State government announced in 2007 that land would be given, it was actually registered only in March this year owing to acquisition issues.

The government has earmarked 14 acres off Tumkur Road for the proposed institute. While the land is available, construction hasn’t yet begun because the Centre’s final letter of approval is awaited. The ministry returned papers presented to it, to the Department of Science and Technology (DST) stating that funds were short and special budget for the institute could not be accommodated. This came as a surprise because the Nano Mission launched in 2007 had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for nano projects, research and institutes. While the financial proposal was ready, actual budgetary allocations did not happen.

Another reason for the delay has been the uncertainty over affiliating the institute to an institution. Now, a decision has been taken to affiliate the Nano Institute to two centres – Centre for Soft Matter Research (CSMR) and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). CSMR is an autonomous institution under the administrative control of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology. DST has been providing core support to the Centre in the form of grant-in-aid for conducting basic and applied research in liquid crystals and related areas. It was earlier known as Centre for Liquid Crystal Research, established in 1991 by Prof S Chandrasekhar, after his retirement from the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, in 1990.

While the Bangalore project got delayed, Nano Institute projects at Mohali and Kolkata took off. A silver lining is that the Centre plans to appoint a director to the Centre for Soft Matter Research in two months’ time. “The director will take charge of the construction. We are waiting for a final letter of approval from the Centre. Once it arrives, the director will initiate work on the institute.”
Work will begin soon: Minister

The State government has allotted land for setting up Nano Institute, which is fully funded by the Government of India, S R Patil, Minister for IT, BT and S&T, has said.

Grants for the institute would be released by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, which has also decided on the structure of the organisation, he said.

The Centre for Soft Matter Research of DST, with the guidance of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, will take up development of the Institute. The Government of India is also finalising appointment of a director for the Institute. The land was registered in the name of JNCASR in March this year by the Revenue authorities.

“JNCASR has already completed construction of the compound wall. The State government is given to understand that the work on civil construction and infrastructure development will begin soon,” he said.

Karnataka is the first state to have a Vision Group on Nanotechnology and is determined to seize the first-mover advantage and become a leader in this space as well. Nano Institute is an important step in that direction, he added.

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