IIT-Kharagpur to undertake Sunderbans research

The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, is set to launch an extensive multi-disciplinary research initiative to study the Sunderbans and the problems ailing the ecologically fragile mangrove forests.

Termed ‘Digital Earth’, the Rs 100-crore project would be the most extensive research programme in India bridging various disciplines studying the planet, sources in IIT Kharagpur said. The initiative, which will bring together disciplines like mining engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, geology and geophysics, involves the study of problems of earth sciences and develop their solutions.

Undertaken by the premier technology institute and aided by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the pilot study of the Digital Earth programme would take place in the Sunderbans. “Under our new initiative, we’ll study all the problems plaguing the existence of the largest delta in the world,” Professor PP Chakrabarti, Director, IIT Kharagpur, said.

Explaining how his institute’s initiative is difference from similar research undertaken by other institutes on climate change and pollution in the Sunderbans, prof Chakrabarti said several departments of IIT Kharagpur like geology, mining, agricultural and food engineering, architecture and planning and others would carry out the research.

He said a comprehensive digital picture on the Sunderbans’ problems and their probable solutions would emerge once all the disciplines merge.

The ministry will initially grant Rs 25-30 crore to the institute besides some land in the Sunderbans to set up a provisional data-gathering centre.

Chakrabarti said because of the multi-disciplinary approach, the platform would throw up several unique findings regarding mangroves, rainfall, erosion and siltation, tidal movement and several other factors that contribute to the Sunderbans’ existence and well being.

The institute is also setting up an immersion laboratory on its campus, where real-life geo-climatic experiences of the Sunderbans will be recreated, he added.

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