University of Mumbai to set up institute on marine sciences

With 720 kilometers of coastline and a vast marine life, it is not a surprise that University of Mumbai is all set to start an institute for marine research. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee reports.

After lengthy deliberations, University of Mumbai will soon launch post graduate courses at the Sindhu Swadyay Sanstha — a marine science institute. Given the geographic and academic reasons it is high time that such an institute is started. “We must take advantage of our coastline and explore the different avenues in physical, chemical and biological oceanography,” says Vinayak Dalvi, chairperson, Zoology, University of Mumbai.

In addition to several post graduate courses in zoology, botany, microbiology and fisheries management, the institute will also acquire a ship for marine exploration and research. Complete with an on board laboratory and three types of nets (for courses related to fisheries), the ship will be used by 5-10 students or scientists at a time.

The course design and infrastructure of the institute is planned keeping in mind the wide scope of opportunities in the field. “Now-a-days people want to explore the ocean for various purposes like pharmaceuticals, flora. Even climate change is closely related to water levels,” explains Usha Mukundan, chairperson, Bontany, University of Mumbai.

Experts are upbeat about this move by the University. Giving suggestions, they feel the institute must focus on the shortfall of manpower in marine research and applications across the country. “We have 75 vacancies for scientists but not enough applicants who are talented,” says Wajih Naqvi, director, National Institute of Oceanography who was also part of an advisory board which recommended the creation of the Sindhu Swadyay Sanstha. Satish Shetye, vice chancellor, Goa University, which has a full fleged marine sciences department agrees, “Posts in marine laboratories go vacant since we are not producing good enough scientists. So the creation of an institute must be supplemented with quality teaching.” To bridge the gap between demand and supply, the institution must begin with preliminary courses and make sure that teaching is linked to research right from the outset advises Naqvi.