Ministry Environment and Forests


1.1 Objectives and Scope

Environmental research and development programmes aim at developing strategies, technologies, methodologies, information and data dissemination for better environment management permitting sustainable development. These also seek to develop infrastructure and trained manpower for undertaking environment research. The R & D projects particularly aim 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 and improvement of environmental quality, while permitting sustainable development.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests supports research in various universities, and colleges recognized by UGC, institutions of CSIR, ICAR, ICMR, ICSSR and recognized non-governmental scientific organizations. The environmental research in the Ministry is being supported under various sub-schemes which are given below: 1.1.1 Environmental Research Programme (ERP)

The ERP specifically deals with brown agenda i.e. problems related to pollution, hazardous waste management, agro-chemicals, waste minimisation and reuse, carrying capacity studies and development of eco-friendly and cleaner technologies and providing scientific inputs and remedies for urgent and critical problems relating to Environmental Pollution Controls and management.


1.2 Thrust Areas of Research

Ministry of Environment & Forests has been funding research in multi-disciplinary aspects of environmental & ecosystems protection, conservation and management at various universities, institutions of higher learning, national research institutes and non-governmental organizations. The primary objectives are to develop strategies, technologies and methodologies for better environment management and also create infrastructure and a pool of trained manpower to shoulder the responsibility of environmental management in the country. Environmental Research particularly aims at attempting solutions to the practical problems of resource management and provides necessary inputs for the twin objectives of conservation of natural resources and restoration of environmental quality.

The Research Division after Consultation with other divisions in the Ministry, experts on subject & gauging other emerging areas; has decided thrust areas for the next 2 years i.e. up to 2001 A.D. The following 21 * areas have been proposed for priority action by this Ministry.


1.1.2 Ecosystems Research Scheme (ERS)

The Ecosystem Research Scheme (ERS) is an inter-disciplinary programme of research which emphasizes ecological approach to the study of inter-relationship between man and the environment and seeks to generate scientific knowledge needed to manage the natural resources wisely.


1.1.3. Eastern and Western Ghats Research Program (E&WRP)

The Research programme on Eastern & Western Ghats is intended to promote research and to evolve scientific inputs and technology packages for solving location specific problems in the fragile areas of Eastern and Western Ghats. The information generated out of these projects will be used for developing strategies for conservation and management of natural resources of these areas.


1.1.4 Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere reserve (BR) is an international designation made by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal / marine ecosystems or a combination thereof. BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values.

Research on various aspects of conservation and management of Biosphere Reserves area is being promoted through academic research institutions.


1.1.5 Mangroves and Coral Reefs

The scheme on conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs was initiated in 1986 for - Conservation and protection of the mangrove ecosystems from further degradation, afforestation of degraded mangrove areas, maintenance of genetic diversity, especially of the threatened and endemic species, and creation of awareness among the people on importance of mangrove ecosystem and the need for conservation.


1.1.6 Wetlands

Fresh water wetland resources which exhibit a great ecological diversity are of great economic, aesthetic and ecological importance. Research on various aspects of conservation and management of wetlands including enhancements of their productivity are promoted through appropriate agencies.

1.1.7 National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS)

The need for national development makes it imperative to adopt a comprehensive approach to the management of natural resources. NNRMS is a hybrid system and emphasizes optimum integration of conventional and remote sensing techniques for the survey, monitoring and mapping of natural resources.


1.1.8Ganga Action Plan / National River Conservation Programme

Research on various aspects of pollution monitoring, water quality monitoring, impact analysis etc. is being promoted through academic and research institutions.



Area 1: Development of biological & other interventions for pollution prevention and control, including waste recycling.

         Development of microbial and other biological methods for treatment of solid and liquid waste, and hazardous           industrial effluents.

         Improvement of processes for low or no wastes.

         Heavy metals uptake by aquatic and terrestrial plants & other remedial measures for separation of heavy metals.

         Waste recycling, product recovery and use with emphasis on such wastes as red mud, fly ash, phospho-gypsum, useful metals etc.

Thrust Areas are merely serial numbered and are not in the order of their priority. All areas carry equal weightage.


Area 2: Development of strategies/technologies for prevention and/or control of pollution


i. Assessment of air and water pollution in select sectors/areas.
ii. Pollution modeling & validating mathematical models in predicting pollutant concentrations. The validation to be confined to two or three models most commonly used in EIA.
iii. Monitoring of Surface Ozone spatially & temporally over urban, suburban & rural areas.
iv. Assessment of the effectiveness of green belts for air pollution control. Assessment of plants sensitive to Pollution, as also identification of resistant plants suitable for raising green belts in critically Polluted areas.
v. Bio-monitoring of pollution.
vi. Study of groundwater pollution selected industrial, areas & around ash dykes, acid mine drainage, red mud ponds etc. to determine the need for liners based on the attendant hydro-geological conditions to prevent fluorosis etc.
. Pollution impact on health via transport sector & mitigation measures thereto.
viii. Development of eco-friendly industrial and municipal waste treatment, disposal & reduction technologies.


Area 3: Clean Technologies for Sustainable Production Patterns

i. Review of sectional policies For ensuring long term sustainability.
ii. Use / application of renewable resources for processing industries covering technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis etc.
iii. Development of Fuel-efficient engines in transport sector.
iv. Energy, Material, Environmental Resources Consumption and Performance audits in small, medium & large scale enterprises for improving productivity.
v. Development of sectoral guidelines for Environmental Management Systems (e. g. ISO- 14001) for major polluting industries such as fertilizer plants, chemical industries, refineries, integrated steel plants etc.
vi. Innovations in common effluent treatment plants.
vii. Life cycle assessment studies on various consumer products/core Sector Polluting processes.
viii. Time series studies based on remote sensing and field validation for environmental monitoring of ecologically sensitive areas.
ix. Eco-cultivation in agriculture sector including use of bio-pesticides organic manure, including treatment of Municipal solid wastes to produce Farmyard manure, vermiculture etc. Carbon flow, Interecosystems, transfers & energy flows in agro-ecosystems.
x. Eco-friendly building materials and construction technologies with emphasis on low cost housing, and cement industry.
xi. Carrying Capacity Studies to evolve Sustainable development portfolios for different regions and Natural Resource Accounting in selected ecosystems to reduce consumption (wastage of finite natural resources).


Area 4: Restoration of degraded ecosystems

i. Development of techniques for restoration of mine affected areas, arid & semi-arid lands(including cold and hot deserts).
ii. Studies on Ecological Succession in normal, degraded & restored ecosystems.


Area 5: Conservation and enhancement of biological diversity (Excluding the mandate given to BSI, ZSI, WLI, ICFRE & GBPHIED).

i. Inventorising and regular monitoring of Bio-diversity as required under Convention on Biological Diversity and Data Base Development.
ii. Structure and functioning of various ecosystems for understanding the vital ecological links and principles.
iii. Conservation and management of living resources and their augmentation with emphasis on cultivation packages for medicinal and other economic plants.
iv. Food habits and migration routes of Wild Life (especially mammals) in the Eastern, Western and North Eastern region.
v. Bio-diversity utilization and promotion of bio-diversity based enterprises.
vi. Study of behaviour, ecology, life history & population, dynamics of important economic, threatened & endemic species.
vii. Propagation, multiplication and replenishment of rare, threatened, endangered and endemic living resources.
viii. Development of methods for rehabilitating threatened plant and animal species and their status validation by population studies.
ix. Identification of indicator species for understanding ecosystem health so as to evaluate the efficiency of management interventions.
x. Characterization and taxonomic studies in terrestrial marine & other ecosystems.
xi. Research in hotspot areas for conserving the endemic species, and also on micro-organisms to understand their role in litter decomposition, nutrient recycling and ecosystem functioning.
xii. Impact of alien invasive species on ecosystem structure & species composition.
xiii. Size of biosphere reserves (single large or several small) and the role of species in maintenance of ecosystem health and their response to natural and anthropogenic disturbance (s) regime.
xiv. Environmentally Safe Biotechnologies and interaction of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) or LMOs (Living Modified Organisms) in natural ecosystems & otherwise with emphasis on applied research for increasing the efficiency of food crops, animal husbandry and other domestic sectors that bring down the pressure on natural forests.
xv. Socio-econonic variables and their interaction with biological component of various ecosystems with special attention to ethnobiology, tribal livelihood and dependence on forests.
xvi. Targeted research on genetic resources of lower plants and animals with promising economic value. Present-day status of Flora & Fauna, level and magnitude of threat they face, alongwith possible remedial measures.
xvii. Screening, testing and development of biologically active compounds / principles.
xviii. Coordinated research on mangroves with special attention to their taxonomy, distribution, status, effect of aqua-culture in mangrove areas and impact of mangrove afforestation in flood damage control and prevention of coastal erosion & scientific inputs for Integrated Coastal Management Plans for mangrove belts.
xix. Co-ordinated research on coral reefs with special emphasis on their taxonomy, health status, bleaching and other diseases including coral regeneration, rehabilitation and impact of socio-economic activities on coral reefs ecosystems.
xx. Research on Wetlands with emphasis on their structure, functioning & management including education & awareness about wetlands.
. Research in protected areas like Sanctuaries, National Parks and Biosphere Reserves to monitor & assess changes and for remedial measures / packages.


Area 6: Development of National Natural Resource Management System for accurate inventory of land, water, forests, mineral water, forests, mineral resources etc. and for monitoring changes in ecological systems.

i. Use of remote sensing and GIS techniques for mapping of landscape units and habitat classification.
ii. Environmental impact of mining.
iii. Impact assessment of various developmental projects.
iv. Monitoring and assessment of bio-geographic zones of the country.
v. Education, Training and Endogenous Capacity Building in Remote Sensing and Satellite Imagery Techniques in the environment sector.


Area 7: Instrumentation Development

i. Development of reliable Water and Air Pollution Control and Monitoring Equipments / instruments.
ii. Cleaner Production Technologies.


Area 8: Climate Change

i. Response of living organisms.
ii. Study on shift of cropping pattern, irrigation systems etc.
iii. Impact of projected climate change on Agriculture & Forestry in the Indian context.
iv. Development & use of IAMs (Integrated Assessment Models).
v. Economic analysis of Kyoto Flexible Mechanisms.
vi. Preparation of national inventories & their periodic updation.
vii. Professional and Analytical Support on Global Warming, Climate change, Convention (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol & matters relating to Technology Transfer.


Area 9: Development of biodegradable plastics / eco-friendly alternatives

i. Impact of ban oil certain categories of plastics.
ii. Plastic recycling and development of biodegradable plastics.
iii. Alternative packaging and carry-bags etc., degradable material promotion.


Area 10: Health and toxicology

i. Air-borne microbes, bio-allergens heavy metals in air / water, noise pollution.
ii. Effect of Air and Water pollution on human health, bio-magnification in food chains etc.
Epidemiological studies covering radiation, heavy metals, pollutants through various media i.e. water, air and food.


Area 11: Research on Land-use and Land-use Changes

i. Soil erosion and development of packages for its reversal.
ii. Process of siltation of reservoirs and technologies for their desiltation / prevention.
. Study of chemical pollution of soil from point and non-point sources and development of mitigation packages.


Area 12: Mining

i. Impact on Environment and Mitigation measures thereto.
ii. Rehabilitation of mined areas / over burden-dumps.
iii. Air, Water and Soil pollution due to mining.


Area 13: Impact of Tourism, religious pilgrimage and development of eco-tourism

i. Different facets to Tourism and their bearing on environment.
Development of guidelines for Eco-tourism.


Area 14: Impact of developmental activities on drinking water resources.

i. Methods for sustained ground water recharge.
. Ground water pollution monitoring & modelling.
iii. Empirical and novel techniques for rain water harvesting in arid and semi-arid regions.
iv. Impact of water storage reservoirs and dams on local climate, water table and other environmental aspects.


Area 15: Habitat fragmentation, human nature interaction and management of wildlife with special attention to large mammals as well as rural and urban issue related to wildlife.

i. Man-wildlife conflicts and remedial solutions thereto.
ii. Habitat destruction and species loss.
iii. Management of wildlife reserves.


Area 16: Monitoring and management of hazardous substances.

i. Biodegradation of recalcitrant molecules and pollutants (pesticides, heavy metals, polymers, detergents and oils).
ii. Micro-pollutants hazardous to human beings in biota, fauna and in air, water and soil.


Area 17: River conservation and aiming to maintain their pristine state.

i. Bio-monitoring and bio-conservation of major riverine ecosystems for knowing and maintaining their hydro, biological status.
ii. Assessment of pollution in rivers from solid waste discharge.
iii. Socio-economic and environmental impacts of Action Plans for all rivers under NRCP.
. Uitilization of results of studies on control of Bacterial Pollution for testing and up scaling to field level.
Utilization of treated sewage from UASB plants for irrigation.
vi. Interception, diversion & treatment of river waters.


Area 18: Conservation, Enhancement and Utilization of Forests and their resources (excluding the mandate given to ICFRE and GBHIED)

i. Inter-sectoral linkages in forests development particularly with reference to the level of community development and sustainability of forest management and forest protection attempts.
Impact of JFM on the protection and development of forests.
iii. Socio-cultural and economic studies relating to forest protection issues.
iv. Impact assessment of Forest Fires on the Biodiversity of forest, regeneration of species and productivity of the forest resources.
Monitoring of Forest Fires, their causes, and extent of damage in terms of net monetary loss.
vi. Studies on biological and other forms of control of forest pests and diseases.
Benchmarks and Parameters for socio / ecological / economic assessment of people's participation and effect on forest / tree resources.
viii. Species mix and models for agroforestry in various agro-ecological zones.
ix. Study of demand, withdrawal and end-use of non-timber forest products from forest areas.
. Institutional development for successful implementation of JFM.
xi. Utility of JFM in community mobilization and study of their effectiveness.
. Use of GIS as a management tool for JFM areas.
xiii. Genetic diversity of indigenous trees & shrubs with special emphasis on their reproductive biology, seed-set, seedling recruitment, growth etc.
xiv. Developing alternatives of forest products to reduce pressure on forests.
xv. Research on indigenous sources of timber and non-timber forest produce (NTFP).
xvi. Studies on forest species and their products essentially needed by traditional artisans.
Studies on improving propagation management harvesting, utilization, value addition and marketing of bamboo, canes and some other multi-purpose palms with promising economic value.
Seed collection, treatment, storage, certification and supply of forest species.


Area 19: Research on mountain ecosystems (excluding the mandate given to GBPHIED).

i. Unique terrain, geomorphic features.
ii. Biotic, abiotic resources and methods for their optimal utilization and conservation.
iii. Paradigm shift to renewables.


Area 20: Research on Islands and Coastal Zones.

i. Mapping and Zonation.
ii. Human settlements and demography.
iii. Salinity ingress and protection of sweet water aquifers.
iv. Conservation and enhancement of unique coastal and Island flora and fauna.
v. Impact assessment studies.
vi. Integrated coastal and marine area management (lCMAM) with participation of local communities.
vii. Sustainable Development and Utilization of Coastal and Marine Resources including Technology Development and Transfer for optimal aquaculture.


Area 21: Research on Environmental Legislation / Socio-economic issues

i. Unification of laws (State & Central Government Perceptions).
ii. Promulgation of Bills / Acts out of needs arising from international treaties / conventions.
iii. Legal, endogenous capacity-building for implementation of enforcement mechanisms.
iv. Socio-economic issues arising out extant as well as newly contemplated legislation (s).
v. Tribal, Rural, Urban issues vis--vis legislation(s).
vi. Role of Gram Panchayats and Civil Society in the implementation of environment legislation.

1.2.1 Environmental Research Programme

The scheme for Environment Research Programme (ERP) has been going on in the Ministry since its inception. In fact, the scheme started in the Department of Science & Technology in 1976 and later on transferred to the newly created Department of Environment on November 1, 1980. The programme is directed and technically guided by an Expert Committee called Environment Research Committee (ERC). At present, the Committee is being chaired by Dr. B.B. Sundaresan, former Director, NEERI and former Vice-Chancellor of Madras University.

The ERP specifically deals with problems related to pollution, hazardous waste management, agro-chemicals, waste minimization and reuse, carrying capacity studies, rehabilitation of mined areas, instrument development, and development of eco-friendly and cleaner technology.

Priority Areas

The list of current priority areas is given below:

1. Development of biological and other interventions for pollution prevention and control including waste recycling.
2. Development of strategies/technologies for prevention and/or control of pollution including air and water pollution, municipal waste treatment, disposal & reduction technologies.
3. Development of clean technologies for sustainable production patterns.
4. Development of instruments for air and water pollution control.
5. Development of biodegradable plastics/eco-friendly alternatives.
6. Health and toxicology including epidemiological studies due to, food radiation, heavy metals and other pollutants through various media i.e. air, water,etc.
7. Mining including air, water and soil pollution due to mining.
8. Research on landuse and landuse changes including study of chemical pollution of soil.
9. Monitoring and management of hazardous substances including biodegradation of micro-pollutants (pesticides, heavy metals, detergents, oils).
10. Impact of developmental activities on drinking water resources including ground water pollution monitoring and modeling and novel techniques for rain water harvesting in arid and semi-arid regions.
11. River conservation and aiming to maintain their pristine state.

1.2.3 Research Programme on Eastern and Western Ghats Regions

The Eastern & Western Ghat regions were given special focus in view of their fragility and over-exploitation of natural resources. This Ministry initiated an action oriented programme in 1984 to undertake research and attempt solutions to these problems. The origin of the programme is, linked with the need for scientific input in development schemes and programmes of the ecologically sensitive areas of Eastern & Western Ghats. While taking initiative in this regard, the Planning Commission initially identified three ecologically sensitive areas viz. the Himalaya, Ganga and Western Ghats. After transfer of the scheme from Planning Commission to the Ministry of Environment during 1982, separate Expert Working Groups were constituted by the Ministry to help the Ministry for implementation of the Scheme. Thrust areas were discussed and identified and various organisations located in the regions were invited to submit proposals in priority areas. During last more than a decade, over 100 projects were sponsored by the Ministry in Western Ghats and 50 projects in Eastern Ghats. There is a need to reorient the scheme in such a way that the scientific inputs needed in development activities of these ecologically fragile areas are made available in usable form. Or in other words, the research supported should be such that it should be of applied nature and has linkages with the user agencies.

The findings of the research projects, are brought out as a departmental publication. Besides the results, both of the academic and practical importance, are disseminated by means of research publications brought out by the investigators of the projects in the leading National and International Journals which are widely consulted by scientists and other user agencies. The outcome of these projects has lead to development of scientific, data and the basis of environmental, planning and related management. While some projects have direct applicability, some of them are exploratory in terms of assessment of the studies of the environment and impact of the developmental activities, thereby promoting remedial action.