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DRL now helping out civilians for socio-economic development of NE
Shambhu Boro
 TEZPUR, Oct 10 - Besides serving India’s armed forces in innovative ways, the Defence Research Laboratory (DRL), Tezpur, has been extending the best possible service to civilians living in both the hilly terrain areas along the Indo-China border and in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

The DRL works under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence, Government of India.

Dr SK Divedi, director of the Tezpur chapter of the armed forces’ laboratory, along with his team of scientists, recently had an interaction with a few Tezpur-based media persons to highlight the achievements of DRL.

Dr Divedi said that the DRL was established with the mission and vision of developing technologies unique to the local environment in the field of health and hygiene and judicious utilisation of local resources for the benefit of the armed forces. It also has a vision to develop technologies for human health, environment and high-altitude agriculture for the North East, and is now dedicated to working in civilian areas also.

Going into the history of how DRL came into existence, Dr Divedi said it was established in 1962 to pursue research for development of technologies for sustaining operational capability of troops serving in the North East under adverse conditions.

“Scientific teams from DRL periodically visit forward and inhospitable areas to have an on-the-spot assessment of difficulties faced by troops so as to evolve suitable mitigation technologies. The teams also conduct periodical interactions with the forces on operational issues for evolving suitable remedial measures,” he said.

The spin-off benefits of the research outcomes are also being extended to the civilian population for socio-economic development of the region, he said.

Regarding water contamination that has been a major issue in many areas in the region, including Karbi Anglong, and Bihaguri area in Sonitpur district, he said that DRL is focusing its research on vector-borne diseases, improving the quality of drinking water, waste biodegradation and management, high-altitude horticulture and protected cultivation in hilly and border areas.

“Apart from regular research activities, DRL imparts training on latest know-how and skill development in technologies like food processing. The laboratory also distributes quality mushroom spawn, seed and seedling for vegetable cultivation in high altitudes and protected areas, vermi-composting, etc., to army and civilian establishments,” he said.

DRL has two detachments – one at Salari in West Kameng district and at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Salari unit is located in the mid-hills at an altitude of 1,250 metres. The unit has a total area of 20 acres, which has been developed into a skill development centre for training local farmers in value addition like mushroom and spawn production, modern nursery techniques, etc.

The Tawang detachment is at an altitude of around 3,000 metres. This detachment has facilities for field trials of vegetable crops in open and protected environments, facilities for mushroom cultivation and vermi-composting.

Tawang also serves as a field trial station for testing of various products developed by other DRDO laboratories like Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research (DIBER), Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS), Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), Defence Institute Psychological Research (DIPR), and Defence Bioengineering and Electro-medical Laboratory (DEBEL).

With an updated technology focus, DRL, Tezpur has also developed a number of items including a decontamination or water purification system that removes excess iron and arsenic, a bio-toilet, test kits for armed forces and civil sectors, products for personal protection, products for health enhancement, and improvisation of chilli grenade, etc.

On how the chilli grenade has been able to draw huge attention, Dr Divedi said DRL has successfully upgraded the chilli grenade, adding a special colour which helps police or armed forces to identify the convict with the stain of the colour on their bodies.

“The chilli grenade is a non-toxic weapon and when used would force a terrorist to come out of his hideout as the smell is so pungent that it would literally choke them. Our scientists have already carried out trials for the hand grenades mixed with the world’s hottest chilli and so far the tests have been satisfactory,” he said.

Other scientists – including Dr P Chattupaidhyai, Dr Joysree Das, Dr Rama Dubey, Dr RR Devi, Dr Doyaram Lama, Dr Vanlalhmuaka, Ashok Naglot, Dr BJ Gogoi, Dr Amitabh Bora, Dr S Doley, Dr S Chatterjee and Dr Dhiraj Dutta – also gave presentations on their respective fields. Dr Gogoi also gave a power-point presentation on the achievements of DRL, Tezpur, while Dr Bora and Dr Dutta gave a presentation on various activities.

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