It has been over three years since the foundation stone for a shore-based laboratory for National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) was laid near Rushikonda, but it is yet to receive a Rs 30 crore grant, which had received Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ clearance) under the ministry of environment.
At present, the only ocean research institute in the eastern coast of India is functioning from two rented premises in Pedda Waltair and Lawson’s Bay Colony. While its counterparts in Kochi and Goa have permanent buildings, NIO Visakhapatnam has not had a proper laboratory since 1976. It is still awaiting administrative approval and funds for the project.
Scientist-in-charge for NIO Visakhapatnam, GPS Murty said, “The project file is gathering dust in the finance division of CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and quite a few changes of the guard have taken place in NIO and CSIR and many scientists have also retired since then.
The current director general of CSIR is due to retire in August. He can only clear the file, once it is sent to him from the finance department. As soon as a new person takes charge, the process has to start all over again. Besides, the estimates for civil works may also change.
In the last three years, three directors of NIO headquarters has retired and the current director has already completed a year in office. Most scientists associated with the project has retired. But still, we are awaiting administrative and financial sanction for the project.
“At least, if we get the administrative sanction, we can start the work even with our own funds. The Rs 30 crore can be released by the government in phases.”
The CSR-NIO lab in Yendada along the Vizag-Bheemili Beach Road is to come upon a 3.23-acre land. It would be two-storeyed and divided into three blocks.
The laboratory is to have seawater intake facility through pipelines, fitted with sensors, to study various parameters, research and monitor marine biological activity for marine coastal pollution and climate change. It would also study atmosphere-ocean interaction, have tests, facilitate marine calibration and had also proposed setting up a marine aquarium to conserve the ecologically sensitive and rare species from the inter-tidal and sub-tidal zones. The lab is to have ground plus one floor and three blocks on a 3.23-acre land.
The NIO Visakhapatnam has 23 regular staff and 40 students, including researchers and postdoctoral researchers.