Dr. Arup Kumar Misra
Assam Science Technology & Environment Council
The Assam Science Technology & Environment Council (ASTEC) was set up in the year 1987 under the Science & Technology Department (then Science Technology and Environment Department) of Government of Assam. It was set up as an autonomous Council as the main implementing wing of the State S&T Department. The Council is also responsible for developing S&T programmes and policies for the state of Assam. The basic objectives of setting up of ASTEC was promotion of local specific Research & development programmes, transfer of technology, incentivising innovations, taking up environmental conservation, management and education programmes, popularisation of Science and application of remote sensing technology for helping in development planning. All these objectives are being addressed through its three divisions, viz. Science & Technology, Environment and Remote Sensing (Assam Remote Sensing Application Centre). The divisions are equipped with well trained and qualified scientific staff to take up need based scientific programmes for the state.
All these years the Council has been taking up various S&T programmes and trying to contribute towards overall development of the state.
In recent years some of the major initiatives of ASTEC in science and environment education are engagement of Science and mathematics Facilitators in every Legislative Assembly Constituency, regular science teachers’ training programmes and orientation of secondary school teachers in Environment Education apart from various other education and awareness programmes. One of the major highlight of science popularisation programme is setting up of 219 Aryabhata Science Centres in each of the development blocks of Assam involving academic institutions and non-governmental organisations. Each of the centres are equipped with science kits, science films with video facilities, water and soil testing kits, microorganism education kit along with trained manpower. Many of these Centres are also equipped with GPS with proper training to use the equipment.
It has been a regular endeavour of ASTEC to promote innovations, identify suitable technologies and take initiatives to transfer appropriate technologies. The Patent Information Centre (PIC) set up with support from TIFAC, Govt. of India is extending all possible help and motivations to local innovators. PIC is also responsible for attaining first ever Geographical Indication (GI) for the State of Assam in form of GI for Muga, the golden yarn of Assam.
ASTEC through its ENVIS Centre has been able to collect, collate and disseminate information on all sectors of State of Environment of the state through its website and quarterly newsletter. The Council is also now compiling State Biodiversity Database, when published; it will hopefully be an important asset for the researchers and environmental activists of the state.
The remote sensing division of the Council is taking up various schemes and programmes through application of remote sensing technology for natural resource management, study of river bank migration, cadastral map digitisation, geo-referencing, forecasting agro-meteorology, space and land based observation, wetland information system, ground water quality mapping, etc. One of the major projects it has taken up recently is “Space based information support for decentralised planning (SIS-DP) under Department of Space, Government of India.
A major initiative of the Council now is to prepare a comprehensive science and technology vision document for the state of Assam. A draft has already been prepared using guidance from experts from various fields. The vision document supported by S&T policy and action plan will be able to provide focus on well directed S&T programmes for the state.
All these years ASTEC has been able to garner all necessary support from the scientific community and every science loving citizen of the state in implementing its programmes. We are now ready to go for taking up new initiatives and programmes and we hope the support to ASTEC from al section of the society will continue.