Centre with Potential for Excellence in Environmental Science programme supported by UGC in the 10th plan period brought together eight different departments/institutes/Centres in the University to work on a common theme, environment. The funding to the extent of nearly Rs. 6 crores and similar amount generated from other sources based on CPEES input, primarily helped to develop high-end research infrastructure tuned towards environmental research. We could achieve a dramatic increase in the generation of commendable intellectual properties, which in turn is paying us rich dividend in terms of contributing to the recognition for funding under PURSE initiative of DST. For example, the total number of publications from CPEES partners in peer reviewed and reputed journals has increased dramatically to over 200 in the last 5 years. This interdisciplinary application-oriented approach has helped to identify or express our strength in solving some of the environmental problems.
Some of our achievements include: the pioneering initiative in instrumentation for infectious diseases using detectors for environmental pathogens, novel chemistries for industrial processes and for getting rid of toxic substances from water, understanding of coastal environment for ecologically weak regions, detailed study of tsunami effects including characterization of its sediments, assessment of damage due to textile industries in Noyyal basin and effective use of GIS and RS tools to warn about desertification. Apart from several training programmes, conferences and workshops, the highlight of extension activity of great societal importance is the publication of 2 volumes of encyclopedic dictionary in Tamil, based on the suggestion of the UGC advisory committee. The M.E. Environmental Engineering and M.E. Geoinformatics are popular courses. These achievements, we hope, would convince UGC and the review committee members to upgrade this Centre as "Centre of Excellence". The desire to combine our complementary strengths to provide technology solution (based on our previous study) for some of the major and nagging environmental problems cannot be greater at this stage. In the next five year-study, we are consolidating our efforts by forming competent groups to tackle some of the select problems. Three themes have been selected based on our proven capabilities. These are: technology solutions, assessment and management, and wealth from waste. Under technology solutions, the instrumentation developed for infectious diseases, will be extended as surveillance and screening tools to essentially help prevent spread of infectious pathogens in the environment.
Novel chemical processes developed in the first phase will be applied to develop reactors to remove water from toxic substances like endocrine disruptors, fluoride and arsenic. Under assessment and management, emerging threats from rocks and the water extracted from it for drinking and cooking will be studied to look for links between mineral contents to biological stones. Integrated coastal management principles will be applied based on the previous findings on the Indian coastal ecosystem. Under the theme of wealth from waste, the methods developed earlier will be developed into processes that generate useful products like fuel and construction materials.

Two new projects, one to address reduction of transport pollution through fusing sensor development and traffic management and another to address eco-friendly agriculture drying processes are being introduced to rope in solutions from disciplines like mechanical engineering and transport engineering. These truly multidisciplinary programmes will be carried out by teams from 15 different research groups and 43 investigators and many scholars and students.

A coordinator and a co-coordinator with proven track record of such achievements will manage each theme. Team members have been derived from active scientists best suited for providing the required solution. The existing PG courses will be strengthened by providing better practical facilities, introduce more projects on interdisciplinary problems, and upgrading the syllabus. Practical training to students and other professionals from outside will be the major thrust. In any successful organization its structure should match the function. Therefore, we propose to build the administration with facilities that would aid in realizing the vision of the Centre.

The following are the summaries of such programmes and projects

Prof. K. Sankaran
Centre for Biotechnology and Director,
Centre with Potential for Excellence in Environmental Science
Prof. V. Murugesan Department of Chemistry and Director, Centre for Research