Environmental Research

The Environmental Research Programme aims at developing strategies, technologies and methodologies by way of better facilities and infrastructure to facilitate research and training of manpower for undertaking environmental research. The programme particularly aims at attempting solutions to the practical problems of resource management and provides necessary inputs for development and formulation of Action Plans for conservation of natural resources and restoration of degraded ecosystems and environmental protection.

Research projects are funded in multidisciplinary aspects of environment and ecological protection, conservation and management at various universities, research and development institutions and reputed non-governmental organisations of the country. These are supported under the following main schemes:

The MAB Programme is an inter-disciplinary programme of research which emphasizes inter-relationship between man and the environment, and seeks to generate needed scientific knowledge to manage the natural resources in a sustainable manner. A coordinated Research Project on Ethnobiology, undertaken in this programme, is generating and documenting the multi-dimensional perspectives on tribal life, culture, traditions and their impact on environment. The ERP covers chemical, bio-chemical methods, engineering, technology development for waste minimisation, waste recycling, resource recovery, effluent treatment and environment management studies. More than 300 projects have been supported at various universities, R&D institutions and non governmental organisations throughout the country under this programme. The Action-oriented Research Programme addresses itself to location- specific problems of resource management such as in the Eastern and Western Ghat regions of the country.

During the year, 24 new projects have been sanctioned, 30 projects were completed and 183 projects including the new projects were serviced. Initiation of new coordinated projects in the following areas is being explored :

Annual workshops were organised to monitor the progress of the research projects. The lists of projects sanctioned and completed during the current year are given in Annexures-III and IV respectively.


Highlights of some completed projects


World Bank Project

Under the Environment Management Capacity Building Technical Assistance Project funded by the World Bank and being implemented by the Ministry, a sub-component on Environmental Research is also included. The main objectives of the Environmental Research sub-component are as follows :-


Major activities proposed to achieve these objectives are as follows:-

An Advisory Committee has been constituted to guide and monitor the activities of the sub- component. While the equipments to be procured have been identified, work relating to identification of appropriate consultants to review and prepare the Environment Research Management Plan has been initiated.


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

India is a party to the UNFCCC. The objective of this multilateral treaty is stabilisation of the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at levels that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The convention enjoins upon the parties to implement commitments contained in the various provisions of the Convention. As per the existing commitments, India is not required to adopt any reduction and limitation of the greenhouse gas emissions.

During the year (1997-98) negotiations continued on strengthening of commitments of the Parties in pursuance of the decision taken at the First Conference of Parties held in April, 1995 at Berlin, Germany. Officials from the Ministries of Environment and Forests and External Affairs participated in the meetings of the Adhoc Group on Berlin Mandate, Subsidiary Body for implementation, and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.


Third Conference of Parties

The Third Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Climate Change was held during 1st-10th December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. A delegation led by the Minister for Environment and Forests and Secretary, (E&F) and comprising officials from the Ministries of Environment and Forests and External Affairs participated in the Conference.

The COP considered a protocol or another legal instrument for strengthening of commitments of the parties to achieve the objectives of the Convention. The draft Protocol placed before the Conference for consideration was a result of two years of deliberation in pursuance of the Berlin Mandate, the objective of which was to strengthen the existing commitments of developed countries. The Mandate also recognised that no new commitments would be introduced for the developing countries. However, the Kyoto Conference witnessed deliberate efforts of the developed countries, on one hand, to introduce new commitments for developing countries (beyond Berlin Mandate), and on the other hand, to secure flexibility to implement their commitments through new mechanisms such as emission trading, bank borrowing and joint implementation. A proposal mooted by the developed countries to initiate a post Kyoto process to strengthen the binding commitments for developing countries, was opposed by the developing countries and successfully averted.

After protracted negotiation, a protocol has been agreed upon which calls for an average cut in the greenhouse gases emission of 5.2% below 1990 levels to be achieved between 2008 and 2012. As per the Kyoto agreement, the European Union will have a reduction commitment of 8%, Japan 6% and the United States of America 7%. The provisions of joint implementation and emission trading, however, would be confined to developed countries only. A clean development mechanism has also been defined for use by both developing and developed countries for sustainable development and implementation of commitments respectively. The details are yet to be worked out. The modalities for operation of emission trading will be discussed at the next Conference of Parties.


Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The IPCC is an inter governmental scientific body set up by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation to prepare periodic Scientific and Technical Assessment on various aspects of Climate Change such as its science, impacts, mitigation, adaptation and socio-economic issues. The Bureau of the IPCC was reconstituted in September 1997 at the 13th Session of the IPCC held in Maldives. India has been elected as the Vice-Chairman of the IPCC. The Bureau comprises of the Chairman (IPCC), four, Vice Chair (IPCC) and three working Groups. Each working Group has two Co-Chairmen and representatives of the six world Meteorogeological regions and Secretary of the IPCC. The IPCC Bureau is responsible for overseeing the preparation of the Third Assessment Report which is to be published in the year 2002.


Asia Least Cost, Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategy (ALGAS) Project

India has participated in the ALGAS project, which was funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UNDP. Besides India, 11 Asian Countries viz. Bangladesh, Indonesia, DPR of Korea, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam also participated in the study. The aims of the project are to prepare:

In India, the work was undertaken by the Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi and the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi. Under the project national greenhouse gas inventories (1990 levels) by sources and removals by sinks have been prepared. The investigations include assessment in sectors such as power generation, transport, agriculture, forestry and land use change, industry, residential and commercial. The study has also identified potential mitigation options and chalked out a possible least cost abatement strategy. The final report of the project is under preparation.


G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development


Micro-propagation of Dendrocalamus hamiltonii

This institute was established in 1988 as an autonomous organisation of the Ministry, and is now functioning from its campus at Kattarmal, Almora. The scientific activities and efforts of the Institute continue to revolve around six Core Programmes, the highlights of which are summarised below;


Research on Biosphere Reserves, Wetlands and Mangroves

Biosphere Reserves

Research activities under the Biosphere Reserves Programme are overseen by a Specific Advisory Committee. During the year several new research projects have been sanctioned. The list of sanctioned projects is given in Annexure III.


Details of Research Activities under NRCP

The thrust of the research activities under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) is on scheme specific and site specific research which could be directly utilised in the implementation and assessment of the efficacy of the schemes taken up under the action plan or result in improvement in water quality of river.

A cost effective sewage treatment technology through aquaculture has been developed at the Central Institute for Fresh Water Aquaculture (CIFA), Bhubaneshwar. The technology requires no/low energy components and yields rich resource recovery besides requiring lesser land as compared to various versions of pond system of sewage treatment. This technology has been developed in field scale by utilising the sewage of Cuttack (Bhubaneshwar). In order to standardise the technology for different agro-climatic conditions, it is proposed to set up a treatment facility using this technology at Phillaur (Punjab). The technology is proposed to be adopted in at least one town each of NRCP states.

The stretch-wise research projects undertaken for bio-conservation and bio-monitoring of the river Ganga using indicator species approach were completed during the year. The findings of these projects are being compiled and synthesized for necessary follow-up action by the concerned State Governments and institutions. A manuscript for publication of results is under preparation.

Based on the recommendations on the studies on optimisation of bio-gas production, conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, the State Government of Uttar Pradesh is negotiating co-funding of biogas packages in the sewage treatment plants which are currently under construction at Kanpur and Allahabad.

To identify economically viable and technically feasible solutions for controlling the microbial pollution, experimental work has been completed in the research projects using UV Radiation, Gamma Radiation and Chlorination. The experimental work on biological control using rotifer for reducing the bacterial load in the treated sewage, is still continuing. On completion of these research projects, the results would be evaluated to find cost effective and feasible solutions for controlling the microbial pollution.

The Central Pollution Control Board in collaboration with the pollution control boards of the costal States has initiated surveys and studies to assess the actual pollution load in the 26 medium and minor rivers in the States of Goa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa and Karnataka. While the studies for the States of Kerala and Goa have been completed, the others are still to submit their reports. Similar proposals from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are likely to be taken up shortly.

It is proposed to initiate research studies on topics such as estimation of non-point pollution, heavy metals uptake in vegetables and river fauna etc. during the current year.


Forestry Research

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

The ICFRE was established in 1986 at Dehradun and was granted autonomy on 1st June, 1991. The mandate of the council is 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 following research Institutes and Centres function under the ICFRE and are responsible for undertaking research related to their respective eco-climatic zones.


Research Initiatives

The thrust of forestry research is on increasing productivity through genetic and silvicultural improvement, treatment of waste land, conservation of forest ecosystems, wood substitutes, tribal development and social forestry. A National Forestry Research Plan (NFRP) is being developed. For deciding research priorities and resource allotments Research Advisory Committees have been constituted in which all the States Forest Departments have due representation and say.

Under a World Bank project, research grants are being provided to Forest Departments, universities and research organisations in various States. During the past two and a half years, a sum of Rs.15.95 crore has been sanctioned for 214 projects.

With a view to increasing availability of high quality planting stock for afforestation/reforestation purpose, funds are being provided to State Governments for establishment of seed production areas (SPAs), clonal seed orchards (CSOs), seedling seed orchards (SSOs), and vegetative multiplication gardens (VMGs).

A modern nursery programme is under implementation of which root trainer is an important component. This is expected to revolutionise the production of nursery stock and their establishment and growth in the field.


Highlights of the research activities undertaken and research findings made by the Council and its Institutes during the year are as follows:



Mature infructescence of Arisaema barnesii

Externally Aided Projects of ICFRE

UNDP-ICFRE Project on Strengthening and Development of ICFRE

This five years long project was launched on 4.9.1992 with UNDP assistance of US $ 2.56 million and Indian contribution of Rs.21.94 million. The main aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of ICFRE Institutes and their personnel to undertake and extend forestry research.


ICFRE-NABARD Project for Development of Agroforestry Models in Various Agro-Ecological Regions of India

ICFRE has finalised a five year project for Development of Agroforestry models in four agro-ecological regions of India with NABARD at an approved cost of Rs. 1.26 crores.


ICFRE Ford Foundation Project on Productivity Enhancement Management for People's Participation

The project on Productivity Enhancement-Management for People's Participation with the assistance of Ford Foundation was started in 1995. The project period is 4 years and the total assistance is US$ 2,00,000.


World Bank Assisted Forestry Research, Education and Extension Project

The Forestry Research, Education and Extension (FREE) Project was launched on 30th September 1994 with the assistance of the World Bank. Executing agencies are the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), and the States of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 2151.48 million equivalent to US$ 56.4 million. IDA credit is for US $ 47.0 million equivalent. The project period is five years.


ICFRE-IDRC Research Project on Himalaya Eco-rehabilitation

Initiated in April, 1993, this project aims at locating and quantifying, the damages caused by common land use practice in the Himalaya such as mining and shifting cultivation by using GIS techniques and developing socio-economically viable and ecologically stable methodologies for rehabilitation of degraded areas by application of well tested agro forestry techniques developed at ICFRE.


IDRC/INBAR Project on Bamboo Agroforestry Technology for Degraded Lands


The major activities of the project during this year were to maintain the planted bamboo, casualty replacement and cultivation of Kharif and Rabi intercrops. Soil and root samples were collected and analysed for N, P, K, pH, organic carbon, VAM infection and moisture etc. The ecological analysis was also carried out. The socio-economic studies conducted earlier were analysed in a systematic manner and yield and income generation were calculated. Data on weather, growth, and survival rate were also collected periodically and statistically analysed.


IDRC Project on Survey, Cultivation and Extension of Some Rare Medicinal Plants of North-Western Himalaya

Survey of natural distribution of Taxus baccata, Picrorhiza kurroa, and Nardostachus jatamansi were undertaken in Chamoli and Uttarkashi District (U.P.) and Chambal District (H.P.). Germplasm including seeds of the above three species were also collected.


Neem Project

An International Neem network has been established under the coordination of the Forest Resource Division, FAO, with the objective of improving the genetic quality and adaptability of the neem plant and to encourage its utilization throughout the world. Evaluation of five International provenance trials of Neem in sites managed by AFRI Jodhpur, TFRI Jabalpur, & IFGTB Coimbatore was done to assess survival, growth rate etc.


World Bank Project on Poplar Improvement

A tree improvement programme for poplar (Populus deltoides) was formulated and initiated in collaboration with silviculture division, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. Under this programme, 40 promising clones of poplar were identified on the basis of field trials conducted in the terai region of Uttar Pradesh.


FAO Project on Conservation of Indigenous Poplars in India

The FAO funded project on conservation of indigenous poplars was launched at ICFRE to cover areas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Eastern Himalayas. The main objective of the project is conservation of India s indigenous poplars (viz. Populus ciliata, P. alba, P. euphratica and P. gamblei) throughout their range as a basis for future conservation, breeding and improvement programmes. (Details of training and extension activities of ICFRE are given in Chapter 8).


Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal

Established in 1982, the IIFM is an autonomous organisation of the Ministry. The activities of the IIFM are of four fold : education, training, research and consultancy related to forest management. During the year, thirteen research projects were taken up by the IIFM. The activities carried out under the FAO sponsored Forest, Trees, and People Programme (FTPP) are case studies related to self intitative for bio diversity conservation and utilisation, community initiative for village development, collaborative forest fire management as well as collaborative research. (More details on IIFM are given in Chapter 8).


Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute (IPIRTI), Bangalore

The IPIRTI, an autonomous organisation of the Ministry, is a centre of expertise in mechanical wood industries technology sector and is equipped with modern facilities for research and training in saw milling and plywood. While the headquarters of IPIRTI is in Bangalore, it also has offices in Calcutta and Tinsukia. The main objectives of IPIRTI is to enlarge service life of wood and wood products, economise wood volume in end use and reduce wastage in conversion as well as application, with a view to reducing pressure on natural forests. The IPIRTI plays a catalyst role in the effective utilisation of research results to maximise productivity and to keep the industry posted concerning latest trends in research. Get-together meetings of IPIRTI- industry, workshops, demonstrations in mills on process improvements are arranged regularly to disseminate research findings to industries.

(Details of training and extension activities of IPIRTI are given in Chapter 8.)


Wildlife Research

Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun

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 conditions, and also create a group of trained field biologists, socio-economists and wildlife managers. The scientific information generated is utilised for management of projected areas. A Training Research and Academic Council (TRAC) consisting of 23 members was set up in 1996 and this Council examines and approves project proposals to ensure that these conform to the national conservation priorities.

The following research projects were completed during the year:

Besides these, the following research projects, which are in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service, are also on-going:-


Other sponsored projects

WII has been identified as the nodal agency for conducting research under the World Bank supported Forest Research Education and Extension Project (FREEP). The two ongoing projects under this are :-

Under the Maharashtra Forestry Project an Integrated Protected Area System (IPAS)monitoring Wildlife tourism and training project is also being carried out.


EIA Consultancies

The Environmental Impact Assessment Cell of WII continued to undertake impact assessment studies for various agencies. The major consultancies undertaken during the year are listed below:


Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore

Established in 1990, the major objectives of this Centre are to conduct research and extension activities relating to various aspects of Ornithology and natural history. During the year, besides completing several of the on going research projects, the Centre has also initiated new projects on different issues relating to ornithology and natural history.


National Natural Resource Management System (NNRMS)

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

During the year, out of 22 on-going projects, the Standing Committee on Bio-resource and Environment (SC-B) in its meeting held on 17th December, 1997 reviewed the progress of 4 projects and recommended 8 new projects to various organisations of the country. The Committee also reviewed 3 recently completed projects. Lists of sanctioned/completed/ongoing projects are given in Annexure IV and V.

Two sub-committees viz. Technical and Financial Sub-committee of NNRMS SC-B and Forestry Sub- committee of NNRMS SC-B have set up during the year. The Technical and Financial Sub-committee would hereafter scrutinise carefully, on behalf of the SC-B, all the proposals submitted for consideration under the NNRMS scheme especially from the angle of their budgetary requirements (as against the scientific/technical objectives proposed to be accomplished), after the same are approved technically and in principle by the SC-B. Based on the recommendations of this Sub-Committee, SC-B would accord final approval for the proposals for funding.

The Forestry Sub-committee, would work towards identification, formulation and taking up of concrete remote sensing application programmes pertaining to the forestry area. Further, generation of specific project proposals for forestry related applications for consideration under the NNRMS SC-B Scheme and other feasible schemes/programmes would also be worked out/ensured by this Sub-Committee.