In order to exploit the abundant mineral wealth in the state and to produce value-added products from the resources, the state government is all set to start the Critical Minerals Research Institute (CMRI) in Kerala. A special officer has been appointed for the institute and his office will be set up either in Kollam or Thiruvananthapuram, where the minerals are available on a large scale. The state government has allotted a sum of `40 lakh for a Detailed Project Report of the institute which has plans to form a panel of 30 scientists in five years. Sources said that since the work of the institute is mainly research-based, it will start functioning immediately and the building will come up later. CMRI will be set up under the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and the focus will be on value-addition to precious mineral sands of the state. “The state is very rich in critical minerals and transition metals. Majority of these components have several applications in sectors like biomedicine, pharmaceuticals and electronics. But we use only a fraction of these critical minerals. For example, cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug, is abundant in the mineral sands on the Kerala coast. CMRI aims to unearth these minerals and to encourage the manufacturing of value-added products from these,” said Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai, executive vice-president, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE). The institute was proposed by the State Planning Board for the establishment of an integrated centre of excellence and development of know-how in the area of minerals specific to Kerala to support the research-driven industry. However, there is section of people who are seeing red on the plans for the institute, due to fears that it will further boost mineral sand mining in the state, which has been a topic of immense debate in the state.