CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) organised a webinar on April 8 on the occasion of its 62nd foundation day. The webinar topic was ‘Environment and Health with Special Reference to COVID-19’.
Thousand of viewers joined this live broadcast through CSIR-NEERI Facebook. Prof. Rup Lal, NASI Senior Scientist Platinum Jubilee Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi; Dr. Rajan Welukar, Ex. Vice-Chancellor, GH Raisoni University, Mumbai; Dr. Shekhar Mande, Director General, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR, New Delhi; and Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Director, CSIR-NEERI took part in the webinar from their respective places. Speaking on ‘genomics of rapidly evolving coronavirus’, Prof. Rup Lal said that the novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) displays high transmission rates, the underlying severity hidden in the SARS-CoV-2 genomes is required to be fully understood. Unveiling the research work undertaken by him and his team, Prof. Rup Lal mentioned that the complete genomes of 95 strains of SARS-CoV-2 reported from different geographical regions worldwide were studied to uncover the pattern of spread of the novel SARS-CoV-2 across the globe.
As a result, he reckoned that there was no direct transmission pattern of the virus among neighboring countries suggesting that the outbreak was a result of travel of infected humans to different countries. That’s why social distancing is a key in containing the coronavirus, he added. He briefed about novelty, transmission and mechanism of infection from coronavirus. He also cautioned that asymptomatic cases may transmit the virus. Addressing the viewers, Dr. Welukar narrated the importance of ‘7E’ (Environment, Engineering, Economy, Ethics, Education, Emotional intelligence, Empathy).
Everyone should give importance to the principle of 7E for betterment of the country, he added. He said that COVID-19 is a wake-up call for all of us. We now need to rigorously work to combat climate change as COVID-19 and climate change have common roots, he added. He pointed out that climate change and COVID-19 pandemic have already given physical shocks. He urged the CSIR-NEERI scientists to develop a model on economics of climate change which will be useful for the country.
Earlier in his address, Dr. Shekhar C. Mande, Director General, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR praised the contributions of CSIR-NEERI towards the nation and society. He urged the viewers to display their collective resolve to fight the coronavirus disease. While delivering the welcome address, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Director, CSIR-NEERI recalled the significant contributions of CSIR-NEERI given in past and briefed about the current significant achievements and projects. Stepping up in the times of need, Dr. Rakesh Kumar announced the contribution of CSIR-NEERI to be given to the relief funds (PM-CARES Fund and Maharashtra’s CM Relief Fund) to fight the coronavirus. Dr. J S Pandey, Chief Scientist & Head, Climate Change and Skilling Division, CSIR-NEERI proposed vote of thanks.
Dr. Rajesh Biniwale, Sr. Principal Scientist and Head, Cleaner Technology and Modelling Division, CSIR-NEERI conducted the proceedings. Dr. Sadhana Rayalu, Chief Scientist & Head, Environmental Materials Division, CSIR-NEERI distributed the Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPE) including gloves, hand sanitizers, masks, etc. to the corporators, NGOs, other Institutions and CSIR- NEERI staff on this occasion, who are involved in helping the needy people.
It is noteworthy that the PPE have been prepared by CSIR-NEERI. Dr. Nagababu prepared more than 500 litres of sanitizer according to the WHO-recommended formulations. Jaya Sabjiwale, Dr. S. S. Waghmare and Dr. S. Rayalu from CSIR- NEERI prepared the reusable masks from cloth according to the WHO guidelines, with the help of several self help groups and entrepreneurs. Dr. Sadhana Rayalu developed the formulation for making polymeric cotton composites with antimicrobial property for making masks and functional cloth.