Interview by Md. Munir Hussain
Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) is meant for scientific and industrial research to promote industrial development and to solve problem connected with the establishment and development of industries in Bangladesh, said Md. Nazrul Islam, Chairman of BCSIR, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.
The Chairman, who is also an Additional Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, in this context further said that BCSIR has sufficient capacity with renowned scientists and modern labs with sophisticated equipments for which BCSIR plays a very important role in the field of scientific and industrial development of the country.
As a matter of fact, he informed that most of Bangladesh’s industrial innovations have originated from this organization. Citing an example, he said that the “Biogas” technology, which is a clean combustible fuel, is an outstanding innovation of this institution, and is now being used all over the country, and Biogas can play an important role in the international movement to fight global warming.
The Chairman further informed that BCSIR has developed other environment friendly products, such as efficient stoves which require only half of the energy needed for the commonly used stoves and also developed some food supplements, such as tomato ketchup which are available in the common markets.
In this context, he mentioned that BCSIR has been developing technologies necessary for small enterprises and has already established a skin research center in Nayarhat, Savar, where they have already invented environment friendly skin processing plants there. He then added that the organization has also invented instruments to measure the level of formalin in fishes, and the quality of water, each of which has been accepted to be of international standards and BCSIR has now advanced remarkably, both scientifically and industrially.
A highly experienced civil servant, Mr. Islam believes that modern civilization has been grown up on the basis of science and technology, and science and technology has reached at this stage through research. He also believes that in the field of research Bangladesh’s position is far behind to the developed countries. So, he realized that Bangladesh should take research and development project on need basis and expand field of research to fulfil the requirement of time and age and keeping this in view BCSIR is progressing fast.
He also pointed out various limitations of BCSIR and also informed that the government is keen for resolving the limitations of BCSIR. He, however, is optimistic about the potentialities and activities of BCSIR. In this context, he invited all concerned/stockholder, govt., semi-govt. and autonomous bodies, industrialists, entrepreneurs, scientific/ research organizations as well as researchers from home and abroad to take service or work jointly on collaborations or otherwise to perform R&D for industrial development.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Islam replied to several questions, covering the entire activities, problems, prospects, contributions, achievements and future plans of BCSIR. His deliberations are quite outstanding, informative and educative as well. The excerpts of his valuable interview are presented here for The Guardian readers at home and abroad:
The Guardian: Please give us a short introduction to the founding history of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).
Chairman: Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) was established in 1955 bearing the name of East Regional Laboratories under the erstwhile Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) as a multidisciplinary research organization involved in scientific and industrial research for achieving self-reliance in industrial development. Since then the organization has been working to attain the goal of scientific and industrial research in Bangladesh.
The Guardian: In this context, would you discuss the aims and objectives of BCSIR?
Chairman: The aims and objectives of BCSIR were first formulated during the establishment of the Council in 1973, which was rewritten in 1978 during the promulgation of the Ordinance No. V of 1978 and these are stated as follows:
1. To initiate, promote and guide scientific, industrial and technological research having a bearing on problems connected with the establishment and development of industries and such other allied matters as the government may refer to it;
2. To establish, maintain and develop laboratories, workshops, institutes, centres and organizations for furtherance of scientific and industrial research with the object of utilizing and exploiting the natural resources of the country in the best possible manner;
3. To give grants-in-aid for scientific, industrial and technological research schemes and projects of the universities established by law and other research institutions;
4. To adopt measures for the commercial utilization of discoveries and invention resulting from the research carried on by the Council, universities or by any other research organization;
5. To establish and award fellows in areas of research covered by the Council;
6. To collect and disseminate information of scientific, industrial and technological matters and publish scientific papers, reports and periodicals on such matters;
7. To encourage establishment of industrial research organizations;
8. To maintain contact with scientific, industrial and technological research organizations of other countries;
9. To take out patents and make arrangements for the industrial utilization of research processes developed in the institutes and laboratories established by the Council:
10. To establish such libraries, museums, experimental plantations and herbaria as the Board may consider appropriate;
11. To do such other acts and things as may be necessary for carrying out the purposes of the Ordinance.
The Guardian: Would you mention the number of divisions of BCSIR and also give us a brief idea about each division?
Chairman: Each Laboratory/ Institute consists of a number of divisions. Each division has special research area. As for example, Fibre and Polymer Division of Dhaka Lab does their research on fabrics, yarn, polymer etc; Ceramic Division of IGCRT does their research on ceramic materials; Biomass/Bio-energy Division of IFRD does their research to produce bio-energy (gas, electricity) from biomass. More than 47 divisions are here in BCSIR.
The Guardian: Would you inform us about the number of laboratories and institutes are functioning under BCSIR?
Chairman: Currently, BCSIR has 10 Research Laboratories/Institutes. These are BCSIR Laboratories, Dhaka; BCSIR Laboratories, Chittagong ; BCSIR Laboratories, Rajshahi; Institute of Food Science and Technology (IEST), Dhaka; Institute of Fuel Research and Development (IFRD), Dhaka; Pilot Plant and Process Development Centre (PP&PDC), Dhaka; Leather Research Institute (LRI), Nayarhat, Savar, Dhaka; Institute of Glass & Ceramic Research & Testing (IGCRT), Dhaka, Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements (DRICM), Dhaka and Institute of Mining Mineralogy and Metallurgy (IMMM), Joypurhat.
The Guardian: Would you give us a brief idea about the activities of these centres and institutes?
Chairman: These centres are well-equipped and playing vital roles in scientific and industrial research in our country. Institutes are also performing important activities. Let us reflect them one by one.
BCSIR Laboratories, Dhaka has eight research divisions viz. Chemical, Biological, Pharmaceutical, Fibre & Polymer, Pulp & Paper, Analytical, Industrial Physics and Physical Instrumentation Divisions. This is the oldest research laboratories in BCSIR pursuing R&D programmes in a large number of areas ranging from fine chemicals to macromolecules and development of medicinal products. In addition to R & D activities, the scientists are also engaged in offering analytical and testing services to public and private enterprises. Tests, worth mention are testing of neoprene bearing pad used in bridge construction, testing of jute bags to determine its suitability as a food grain package, test of water for arsenic. Recently, this laboratory has been entrusted with the responsibility of verification of Arsenic Mitigation Technologies.
BCSIR Laboratories, Chittagong has eight research divisions viz. i) Chemical, ii) Drugs & Toxins, iii) Industrial Microbiology, iv) Marine Biology & Aquatics, v) Industrial Botany, vi) Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, vii) Fruits & Vegetables and viii) Soil Management & Agronomical Divisions. This laboratory has a specialty in R & D activities in the areas of ethno-botanical studies of medicinal and aromatic plants of Chittagong Hill Tracts, conservation and propagation along with agro-technology development of some rare and endangered important plants, inventory and research on traditional or folk medicines and other useful plant resources of Chittagong Hill Tracts, natural product chemistry, applied photochemistry with the purpose of herbal drug development through pharmacological and biomedical studies and pilot plant extraction of medicinal and aromatic products.
BCSIR Laboratories, Rajshahi plays an important role in northern part of the country, which is enriched with agriculture based raw materials. Depending on the availability of agro-based raw materials in the northern part of the country, R & D activities of BCSIR Laboratories, Rajshahi are being conducted in seven research divisions viz. i) Oils, Fats & Waxes ii) Natural Products iii) Fibre & Polymer iv) Fruits & Food Processing and Preservation v) Drugs & Toxins vi) Applied Botany and vii) Applied Zoology\Research Divisions.
The Pilot Plant and Process Development Centre (PP & PDC) has been functioning with two divisions namely, The Design & Development Division and the Production & Fabrication Division. PP & PDC bears the earnest responsibility of testing and standardizing the methods and formulation developed by individual laboratories of BCSIR and desiminate to concerned industrialists.
The Institute of Food Science & Technology (IEST) is engaged in carrying out research and development activities in different fields of food science and technology. The Institute has eight research divisions such as: i) Technology of Plant Food Products ii) Technology of Food Grains, Legumes & Oil seeds iii) Technology of Animal Food Products iv) Microbiology v) Applied Nutrition vi) Food Science & Quality Control vii) Industrial Development & Rural Technology Divisions and viii) Food Safety Division.
The Institute of Fuel Research and Development (IFRD) has five divisions namely, i. Solar, wind and hydro, ii. Environmental Pollution, iii. Hydrocarbon, iv. Biomass/ Bioenergy and v. Application Division. R & D activities of this institute are to i) utilize the existing traditional and commercial fuels more economical by improving the efficiencies of different burning devices ii) rapid production of biomass & fast growing trees for the utilization as fuel iii) better utilization of biomass and other organic waste matters for production of biogas iv) utilization of solar, wind and hydro energy v) conservation of crude oil into high octane gasoline and production of different petrochemicals from natural gas vi) to study the environmental pollution caused by the emission of smoke & other poisonous gases from automobiles & industries.
Leather Research Institute (LRI) is the only research institute conducting R & D activities relating to leather footwear, leather products and leather chemicals. The institute has four research divisions such as: Chemical, Tanning Material, Leather Processing, Animal By Product, Leather Products and Pilot Plant divisions.
The Institute of Glass and Ceramics Research and Testing (IGCRT) has six research divisions such as: Glass, Ceramic, Refractory & Structural Ceramic, Enamel, Inorganic Pigments & Chemical and Ceramic Raw Materials & Ceramic Materials Testing divisions. The vital objective of this institute is to initiate, promote and guide scientific research to serve ceramic industries through relevant technology development and to carry out R & D on glass and ceramic materials.
The Guardian: Please mention the names of BCSIR research areas.
Chairman: BCSIR conducts huge area of scientific and industrial research. Prominent areas are:
1. Arsenic Mitigation
2. Analytical Research
3. Animal Food Technology
4. Aromatic Plants
5. Biogas Technology
6. Biological Science
10. Chemical Metrology
11. Conservation of Energy & Exploration of the New Energy Sources
12. Effect of processing on the nutrient content of foods
14. Environmental Pollution
15. Fats and Waxes
16. Fiber and polymer
17. Food Microbiology
18. Food Science & Nutrition
19. Food Science & Quality Control
21. Human Nutrition
22. Industrial Physics
24. Laeather Research & Development
25. Medicinal Plants
28. Oil, Oilseeds & Legumes Technology
30. Pilot Plant and Techno-economic Study
31. Plant Food Technology
32. Plant Science
33. Processing of Fruits
34. Production of durable & low cost housing materials
35. Production of Instrument usable in Laboratories
36. Production of various chemicals from organic sources
37. Pulp and Paper
38. Renewable Energy
39. Solar Energy
40. Tissue culture
The Guardian: We came to know that BCSIR has a huge library. Please tell us something about BCSIR library system.
Chairman: BCSIR has a three-storied central library building, which has a floor space of 8880 sq. ft. stands close to the laboratories. It is a compact library with built-in-facilities to provide various services to scientists, technologists, researchers, teachers and students and to perform administrative and technical jobs. This library is primarily a reference and research library for the use of scientists and technologists of BCSIR and visiting scientists, teachers and students of other likeminded conducted by scientific organizations. The administration of the library system is under the Principal Librarian. The Central Library is open from 9-00 AM to 5-00 PM on Sundays through Thursdays. It is closed on Fridays, Saturdays and on holidays as announced by the government.
All acquisitions and cataloguing activities are carried out in the library, which maintain an accession register, a catalogue of holdings. The library, unique in character in the country on science and industry provides information services to the scientists and researchers of the country. Besides the Central Library, the BCSIR has been maintaining library in the BCSIR Laboratories in Chittagong and Rajshahi.
The library collection consists of 15,000 volumes books and 25,000 back volumes journals. The collection generally consists of books, institutional reports, conference Proceedings etc. which are arranged according to a classification number. So that items on the same or related subjects can be found together.
The reference collection consists mainly of important documents, dictionaries, manuals, hand books, directories, encyclopedias etc and can only be used in the library. The journal collection consists of current journals arranged alphabetically by title on the display shelves and bound journals arranged alphabetically by title on the shelves in the journal section.Abstracts and Indexes are shelved separately and arranged year wise. The reprints and documents collection consists of reprints, documents, chapter of books, seminar Paper, article etc which are arranged by reprints accession numbers and stored in folding file in file cabinets. In the Calendar year 2001 the library subscribed 100 titles of current journal on various discipline on science and technology.
The BCSIR Library has established informal relationship with some scientific and technological libraries in Dhaka to facilitate inter-library loans of books and other library materials. Under this relationship the BCSIR Library can borrow books and other library materials on the demand of the scientists.
The Guardian: In this context, would you discuss Library IT Centre of BCSIR?
Chairman: The library IT center has been established in the year 2001 under a project of the Government of Bangladesh. Under this project entitled “Modernization of BCSIR Library” online information network has been established among the libraries of Dhaka, Chittagong and Rajshahi. At present there are around fifty computers under central library Local Area Network (LAN). Different buildings of the BCSIR campus are included in this LAN. The center is providing Internet and other library services. The scientists have been using the computers for literature search and conducting scientific research. Library software has developed and taken steps to provide different types of information services through this software and computer. The services are acquisition management, technical processing of information resources, creation of central database, literature search service, machine based SDI, online reservation, bar-coded book lending, journal and article indexing services and serial management etc.
The Guardian: Would you also discuss the activities of Information and Display Centre of BCSIR?
Chairman: Arch. Yeafesh Osman, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology and Prof. Dr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury (Advisor to the former Caretaker Govt. of Bangladesh) inaugurated the redecorated “Information and Display Centre” of BCSIR on 12 January 2012.
The Display Centre exhibits the products developed and leased out by BCSIR. Additionally the facilities to examine the presence of iodine in salt and formalin in fish, milk are also available here.
BCSIR cordially welcomes you all to visit this redecorated “Information and Display Centre”.
Activities of BCSIR are uploaded regularly in it’s website. Farther more BCSIR arrange science fare, seminar, workshop frequently and also publish periodicals, journals etc.
The Guardian: It is learnt that BCSIR has a good medical centre. Please discuss the activities of the centre?
Chairman: With a divine endeavour and aspiration and to serve the employees of the BCSIR family with contemporary facilities ‘Medical Center, BCSIR’ was launched. The center is composed of three wings, Dhaka (For BCSIR Office, Dhaka and Nayarhat), Chittagong (for BCSIR Office, Chittagong) and Rajshahi (for BCSIR Office, Rajshahi).
The prime aim and objective is to provide clinical support to the ailed staff and their families by outpatient department (OPD) services throughout the year by the skilled hands where Primary Health Care deals with referral system to enhance and fabricate awareness, perceptions and practices of the members of the BCSIR family on different issues.
The prime role of the center is to provide all the possible essential services to the staff and their families during their ailments.The center is providing child health care with efficiency from minor to moderate level.The center provides maternal health care with advice, clinically (ANC, PNC, EOC – First Aid) with referral system & the reproductive health care for the staff and their families are also provided since launching.
Beyond the office time the inhabitants of the quarter is also provided with by the doctor of the center. Seminar on different public health issues also arranged by the center to create mass awareness time to time and practice there by, moreover leaflet, booklets also distributed to the inhabitants in awareness building program on different issues. Vaccination programs also are thrown by the center at convenient time for the staff as well as with good access for outsiders.
All the major health problems or in acute crisis which are beyond the capacity of the center, the patients are referred to the specialized hospitals by the Center’s own Ambulance. Counseling sessions are also provided to motivate the staff and their families on different issues like Dietary habit, Smoking, Obesity and Drug abuse, Physical exercise, Family Planning, Personal Hygiene etc. The medical center has been shifted inside the KPI with a new look. Diagnostic facilities like ultrasonogram, ECG, sugar estimation etc. have been introduced.
The Guardian: Would you state the achievements of BCSIR?
Chairman: BCSIR plays a very important role in the filed of scientific and industrial development of the country. Most of our country’s innovations have originated from this organization. An example would be the “Biogas” technology, which is a clean combustible fuel. This is an outstanding innovation of this institution, and is now being used all over the country. Biogas can play an important role in the international movement to fight global warming.
We have also developed other environment friendly products, such as efficient stoves which require only half of the energy needed for the commonly used stoves. BCSIR have also developed some food supplements, such as tomato ketchup which are available in the common markets. We have also been developing technologies necessary for small enterprises. Our institution has established a skin research center in Nayarhat, Savar. We have already invented environment friendly skin processing plants there. The organization has also invented instruments to measure the level of formalin in fishes, and the quality of water, each of which has been accepted to be of international standards.
Therefore, we can say that BCSIR has advanced remarkably, both scientifically and industrially. And now let us reflect the picture of BCSIR achievements categorically.
Achievement of BCSIR Laborato-ries Dhaka
w Verification of Arsenic Removal Technologies
w Development of Spirulina products for Diabetic Control
w Biotechnology and Tissue culture (Neem plantation, Virus free potato, Banana tree, All season Jack Fruit tree, Different Orchids, Apples, etc.)
w Development of essential oils (Garlic oil, Eucalyptus oil, Neem Oil, Neem paste etc.)
w Development of Fire extinguisher chemicals
Achievement of BCSIR Laborato-ries Chittagong
w Aromatic product: Mint oil
w Japanese mint oil and the plant
w Anti-diabetic product: Mushroom Tablet
w Development of Anti-diabetic tea
w Herbal Basak Tea
w Herbal insecticide
w Stevia Tea
w Kalomegh Tablet
Achievement of BCSIR Laborato-ries Rajshahi
w Lac is being supplying to Ordinance Factory, Gazipur.
w Cassava Products – Carbohydrate (Flour, Wheat, biscuit, cake) substitute
w Processed fruits & foods
w Experimental Grape Garden
w Experimental Grape Garden
Achievement of IFST
w Formalin detection Kit – For fish & milk.
w Iodine test Kit – About one million iodine testing solution vials have so far been supplied
w Tetracycline test of shrimp using LC/MS-MS as per requirement of EU
Achievement of IFRD
w Brake oil for vehicles
w Production of Biogas plants (About 22000)
w Energy saving lamp
Achievement of PP & PDC
w Conversion of a Diesel Engine into Dual Fuel (CNG/Diesel) Engine for irrigation Purpose
w Auto controlled Sodium citrate plant
w Pilot plant for the production of sunflower oil using UTM
w Production of Zinc chloride
w A MOU has been signed with Samia Enterprise, Chittagong to design, fabricate and install a commercial plant in Narayanganj for bottling 10,000 coconut water per day
Achievement of IGCRT
w A house plastered with the cement developed from rice husk ash
w Insulating brick
w Artificial Marble
w Soil stabilized building brick
w Demonstrated in Appropriate
w Roof tiles (talee)
w Ceramic Textile parts
w Treated Bamboo
w Ceramic stain colours
w Ca-hydroxyapatite bio-ceramic as bone substitute material
Achievement of LRI
w Leather processing chemicals and auxiliaries developed in LRI
Achievement of R&D
w Process developed : 745
w Process leased out : 342
w Patent accepted : 316
w Papers published : 3000
w Processes in commercial Production : 45
The Guardian: Would you disclose the future plans of BCSIR?
Chairman: Modern civilization has been grown up on the basis of science and technology. Science and technology has reached at this stage through research. In the field of research our position is far behind to the developed countries. However, we should take research and development project on need basis. And we also should expand field of research to fulfill requirement of time and age.
The Guardian: Keeping this in mind, would you inform us about the manpower strength of BCSIR, including scientists, engineers, technologists, officers and staff to implement the future plans of BCSIR expectedly?
Chairman: For science and technological research at first Dhaka Lab was established in 1955. In 1963 and 1965 Chittagong and Rajshahi Labs were established. Afterwards other labs and institutes have come into existence.
Currently manpower strength of BCSIR is 1501. But this number is not sufficient to perform research activities smoothly. As because, the volume of industrial research and associated work has been increasing day by day; and to cope up with this situation and to fulfil the requirement we have decided to create more or less 400 posts comprising of scientists and technologists, officers and other staff.
The Guardian: And say what overall facilities, including fund, modern equipment and others available at BCSIR for them to work smoothly?
Chairman: Existing facilities of our different labs are in better condition, though in some cases there are some problems of infrastructure, shortest of scientist etc. We have already installed some most modern equipment in some laboratories along with infrastructural development. Six projects are in progress with sophisticated modern equipment. We are also going to take a number of projects which will increase our capacity of research and development in many fields. Every year the government is placing fund to BCSIR with increasing amount. We have also our own fund for research and development.
The Guardian: Keeping this in view, would you focus on the shortage or limitations of BCSIR? In this context, would you disclose the attitude of the government in the development and expansion of BCSIR as well as of scientific and industrial research in the country?
Chairman: There are some limitations, like facilities to the scientists are always not enough. I think many scientists after joining at BCSIR quit their service when they get better chance/job abroad or at public universities of Bangladesh, even to Bangladesh civil service. Sometimes some scientists do not return back after completion of their PhD degrees abroad. However, the government is very cordial and has a good positive attitude to spend money in scientific and industrial research. Many projects are in progress among which Atomic Energy Power Plant is one of the fast track projects of the government.
The Guardian: In this profile executive, would you assess the problems and potentials of scientific and industrial research in Bangladesh and suggest the doings about this?
Chairman: Coordination is one of the most important problems, I think. A number of scientific and research organizations are there in Bangladesh but there is lack of coordination. In advanced courtiers science and industrial research commission/council enjoy leadership and take part for meaningful coordination as an apex body.
Exchange and sharing of views/ information and finding of scientific research is of immense importance. Collaboration between research institutes for R&D Projects is very much important. Hopefully, our scientists of different scientific & research organizations are doing well in some specific fields. Research is a continuous process and our relatively younger scientists with sharing experience of elder ones will make successful in innovation of need based research and take part in industrial development. Mechanism should be adopted by the government to restrain the scholars (in the concerned field) to go abroad instead of serving the nation.
The Guardian: In the end, please give your valuable message for all concerned with this sector, and especially for the people of Bangladesh.
Chairman: BCSIR is meant for scientific and industrial research to promote industrial development and to solve problem connected with the establishment and development of industries. We have sufficient capacity with renowned scientists and modern labs with sophisticated equipments. I would request/invite all concerned/ stockholder, govt., semi-govt. and autonomous bodies, industrialists, entrepreneurs, scientific/research organizations as well as researchers from home and abroad to take service or work jointly on collaborations or otherwise to perform R&D for industrial development.