The Centre will seriously consider Kerala's request for setting up a bio-safety lab for virus testing at an estimated cost of Rs.100 crore, union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.Harsh Vardhan was responding to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's request on the occasion of dedicating the first phase of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) Bio-Innovation Centre (BIC) at the KINFRA Film and Video Park in Kazhakootam area."It is the responsibility of the government to ensure public health and safeguard public interest. As soon as I return to Delhi, the feasibility of setting up the bio-safety lab will be examined," he said.
Harsh Vardhan said the bio-technology (BT) sector has grown 70 percent in India, and in 10 years, it is expected to reach $100 crore, with production pushing it to the third biggest industry, ahead of the pharmaceutical industry.By 2025, India is set to be the third biggest global player in the field of BT, which works in disease prevention and producing vaccines.Chandy said virus testing for Kerala was now being done in labs in Pune and Bhopal."A bio-safety lab will be beneficial not just for Kerala, but for all of south India," said Chandy.
The sprawling facility at phase one, spread over 50,000 sq ft, has advanced platforms for next generation genetic sequencing, high-end bio-imaging as well as a state-of-the-art molecular diagnostics facility that serves Kerala and its neighbouring states."Diagnostics and testing for disease is mandatory for Kerala, which plays host to migratory birds and visitors from different places. When Kerala was hit by epidemic, the RGCB played a valuable role in diagnostics," said RGCB director M. Radhakrishna Pillai.