Swachh Bharat: Need to take science along

Hyderabad, Mar 8 (PTI) The 'Swachh Bharat' campaign of the Centre needs to take science along as an important component for the ambitious nationwide cleanliness drive to achieve better results, a senior scientist has said.

"I don't know whether it is (science being an important aspect of 'Swachh Bharat') right now. I am not in the programme. But, I think, if we want to fulfil the dream of 'Swachh Bharat', we need to take science along with us. You cannot do without it...," CSIR's Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Amitabha Chattopadhyay told PTI.

Noting that physical cleaning cannot be carried out all over the country by employing as many cleaners, he said appropriate technologies should be developed for the purpose.

Citing an example, he said oil-eating bacteria is available in the event of oil spills in the sea.

He recalled that CCMB scientists had worked on growing bugs in degrading waste at low temperature conditions in the Siachen glacier.

"There is a bacteria that eats oil. You know these oil spills happen in sea. Scientists of Indian origin produced bacteria, which eat up these oil spills.

"CCMB worked for Siachen glacier, unfortunately some soldiers recently passed away. There is a lot of waste that is not degraded because of (low) temperatures. All these bugs work at these temperatures. Some of our scientists have worked very hard to make sure that there are bugs that work at cold temperatures," he said.

"So, we need to innovate. You cannot clean your country just by (physical) cleaning. So, that's where science comes in, (to provide) out-of-box solutions," Chattopadhyay said.

Asked if such solutions can be found for cleaning public places like roads, he said, "May be, metabolic engineering, a new bacteria that can eat up dirt. May be (on a public road), it is not done yet. It is not very high tech science. It can be done. Indian scientists have that kind of potential."

The director said bugs can be employed for cleaning up in the event of oil spill or a chemical spill.

"Let's say there is a spillage of oil, there is spillage of chemicals. We can engineer bugs that can take care of it.

Bugs themselves are biodegradable. It is a living organism.

It's not like plastic. These are the things Indian scientists are capable of doing," he said.

He stressed on promoting science for achieving various objectives like 'Swachh Bharat' in the country.

"That's the message. Science is with you, for the country, indigenous science, we are working hard. Please support us," he said.

Chattopadhyay said it is a myth that jobs in pure sciences do not pay well, as compared to those in the Information Technology sector.

"Common person, after four years of BTech, joins an IT company, they get Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per month. Our junior research fellows get more than that. It's a myth that science does not pay. This government is doing enough to create money for science," he said.

"Secondly, it's attractive. Science is the only profession where you get paid for fun...you are doing what you consider fun and you are being paid reasonably handsomely...," he said.

Admitting that some of the students in urban areas are more attracted towards the IT sector, he, however, said the Union government has taken up good programmes to promote science among rural students.

Such programmes are yielding positive results with rural students often being informed about science in their regional language, Chattopadhyay added.


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