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Maharashtra govt to allocate Rs 75 crore for biosafety laboratories in Pune

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced this project while presenting the Budget 2021-22 on Monday.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: March 10, 2021 5:42:36 am
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced this project while presenting the Budget 2021-22 on Monday. (File)

Fighting bird flu (avian influenza) outbreaks and emerging zoonotic diseases has prompted the state government to set up its own high containment biosafety level laboratory BSL (grade 2 and 3) in Pune.

The state will upgrade the Western Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pune and also set up its own high containment biosafety level 2 and 3 labs at the same campus, to reduce dependency on the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal, which is the nodal body for testing bird flu (avian influenza) cases.

State Animal Husbandry Commissioner Sachindra Pratap Singh told The Indian Express that Rs 75 crore have been sanctioned for the BSL 2 and 3 labs and work will be completed in a year’s time.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced this project while presenting the Budget 2021-22 on Monday.

BSL 2 laboratories work with agents associated with human diseases that pose a moderate health hazard while BSL 3 labs include work on microbes that are either indigenous or exotic and can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation.

Zoonotic diseases are those that originate from animals and can pose a health risk to humans as well. “For instance, it took three days to send samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal from the interiors of Maharashtra to identify and diagnose strains of avian influenza,” Singh said, adding that these specialised research laboratories will come up at the 70-acre campus in Aundh.

“Not only will it save time and avoid delays in diagnosing samples of suspected bird flu/avian influenza but the labs will also cater to Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, including Maharashtra,” Singh said.

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Another Rs 2.5 crore will be used to upgrade the Western Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the Aundh campus. “Our doctors and experts will also undergo training with the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases”, Singh said.

Several measures are being taken to contain incidences of bird flu without delay, like using the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009 for the prevention, control and eradication of avian influenza. So far in Maharashtra, 10,65,847 poultry birds (including 8,98,273 birds from Navapur, District Nandurbar), 60,75,791 eggs and 83,694 kg poultry feed have been destroyed in infected zonez, according to an official statement issued Tuesday.

BJMC set to get autonomous status

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in his Budget speech on Monday said the government was keen to grant autonomous status to B J Medical College in Pune and Grant Medical College in Mumbai.

Autonomous status is akin to deemed university status. It gives the institution the power to plan and conduct its own examinations, offer undergraduate and postgraduate diploma courses, introduce new ones and take financial decisions and fill up their own vacancies.

A few years ago, a committee was set up by the then dean of B J Medical College, Dr Ajay Chandanwale, to study the framework of autonomous colleges like Fergusson College and College of Engineering Pune.

When contacted, Dr Murlidhar Tambe, dean , B J Medical College, told The Indian Express that the proposal has been sent for final approval.

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