NEW DELHI: With a constant rise in import of expensive research equipment and majority of them lying idle or underutilised in Indian laboratories, the Centre has decided to come up with a policy that allows sharing of equipment among various government agencies to ensure better utilisations.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has come up with a policy document, Scientific Research Infrastructure Management and Networks (SRIMAN), to address various issues for effective utilisation of its research infrastructure.However, since the requirements of the research in the strategic sector are relatively different, it is being kept out of the ambit of SRIMAN for now.
According to a study by an institution under DST, 94 per cent of the research equipment used in India are imported and only 6 per cent are being manufactured indigenously. The study showed that a large number of equipment are marred with issues related to maintenance and want of spares. This adds to the burden of research infrastructure costs.
“In recent years, India has seen a growth in acquisition of research equipment. However, access to equipment needs attention. It is common to find in Indian laboratories, expensive equipment lying idle or underutilised. A suitable ecosystem for sharing of scientific equipment is a solution to this problem,” said the policy document.
It further says that a culture of collaboration/sharing between institutions helps in optimum utilisation of equipment, resulting in better maintenance of these. Simultaneously, it eliminates duplicate purchase of expensive research infrastructure.
The research infrastructure under the ambit of policy includes major scientific equipment, resources such as archives of scientific data, e-infrastructures such as data and computing systems and communication networks and other such entities. High denomination equipment has total cost of ownership greater than or equal to Rs 10 lakh.
“Just focusing on procuring high-quality expensive equipment for limited use may not be sufficient. We need to adopt a new approach and make such equipments available both across the grantee agency and to all scientists and other stakeholders in a region,” the poicy document states. It has been put in public domain and comments are invited till August 3.