The centre is housed in the School of Environmental Sciences of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, India. There are Science and Social Science groups to coordinate the academic, research and extension programmes envisaged. The Centre has the state-of-the-art facilities for advanced level research. It works with an open-minded approach and established linkages with various National and International Institutes and Universities for collaborative works and exchange programmes. Researchers and professionals under the International, National and Regional Desks of the Centre give the strength and motivation for the activities. The Centre has a good library with sufficient journals and advanced volumes. Network facilities are available to all the personnel and due efforts are given for proper documentation. Proper communication facilities at par with other higher centres are also provided.
To evolve sustainable development strategies to support life and earth's life supporting systems integrating environmental, social and economic aspects. Development should be socially acceptable, economically feasible and ecologically viable.
To facilitate and promote human resource development for the sustainable management of natural resources through education and research.
To establish advanced facilities and promote research and extension activities in specific areas.
To establish linkages with National and International Institutions for collaborative academic and research programmes.
To impart training to personnel of NGOs, institutions, students, teachers, farmers and other groups.
To promote the values of sustainable development through updation and dissemination of traditional environmental wisdom and practices
To provide consultancy services in environmental and sustainable development projects
To address environmental and human problems based on holistic approach and interdisciplinary studies for evolving sustainable solution.
1.1. Courses offered
2.1. Ongoing programme
2.2. Proposed projects
2.3. Linkages and collaborations
2.4. Advanced equipments of the Centre
Various interdisciplinary courses with specific credits have been designed by the collective efforts of the faculty from different disciplines. The courses are framed as elective or open courses for students within the university and also other universities. Selected number of students from other universities will be provided with scholarships. The university has taken up steps to facilitate credit transfer. The faculty members from other departments will function as adjunct faculty for the running of the courses.
1.1. The courses offered are:-
Sustainable Water Resource Management (3 Credits)
Sustainable Energy Use (3 Credits)
Public Health and Sanitation (3 Credits)
IPR, CBD and Sustainable Biodiversity Conservation (2 Credits)
First Aid and Emergency Care (2 Credits)
Rivers in Indian Literature (2 Credits)
Solid Waste Management (4 Credits)
Environment and Ethics (2 Credits)
Eco-friendly Shelters (2 Credits)
2.1. Ongoing research programmes are :-
Terrestrial carbon dynamics of multiple landuse in Kerala under global warming perspective
Terrestrial carbon inventory and sequestration potential of different land uses: (Above ground, Below Ground, litter, Dead wood, Soil) - (1) Wetland (2) Grass land (3) Agricultural land (4) Forest land (5) Plantation land
Role of agriculture in soil carbon dynamics: (1) Use of fertilizers (2) Cropping pattern (3) Irrigation activities (4) Reclamation activities (5) Soil erosion and land degradation.
The project aims to elucidate the carbon balance of different systems so as to formulate a state specific mitigation plan for land use activities and management giving emphasis on agriculture. Quantifying carbon accruals of these systems enables better estimates of their potential for carbon sequestration and subsequent trading in the coming future. The whole endeavor can contribute finally to the national green house gas accounting.
Establishment of a R&D cum demonstration unit for solid waste management
Municipal Solid Waste Management
Thrust areas :
Intense research and development (R&D) on standardizing methodologies pertaining to
i.Anaerobic digestion of organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) to obtain clean energy in the form of biogas rich in methane
ii.Composting and vermicomposting of the slurry ensuing from the anaerobic digesters into nutrient rich soil conditioners.
Installation of pilot scale demonstration units based on the findings of the R&D.
Extending the know-how developed through the R&D of the project to the urban and rural communities as an extension activity of the department.
The proposal has research and development (R&D), training and extension components which ultimately result in to the development of trained human resource in solid waste management. This being an integrated approach focusing on decentralised waste management units shall be a viable option suitable at the rural and urban scenarios. Thus, the project is having a biotechnology based integrated waste management approach involving benefits of pollution control, bio-energy production and recovery of manure.
Soil and water pollution in the Cardamom and Tea estates of highranges and the health impacts
Environmental Status of Highranges
Pollution and Health
Analysis of soil and water quality parameters in the study area
Environmental impacts of insecticidal application on tea and cardamom estates
Pesticide implication on humans (workers and inhabitants) in terms of health and well being
]Develop management strategies for sustainable cultivation practices for the study area.
Evolving out a model to trace and study the route and implication of selected chemicals on different environmental attributes.
Considering the increased use of pesticides in cardamom and tea plantation, the work is aimed to assess the soil and water quality, and the present study will be conducted to properly evaluate the health risk and environmental problems associated with its application in selected cardamom and tea plantations in Idukki district of Kerala. The study expects to evolve strategies for a healthy and sustainable environment in the highrange area.
Polylectrolyte multilayer membranes for environmental applications
a. Carbon sequestration
The reduction of green gas emission is by the capture of carbon dioxide from the flue gases followed by underground sequestration. Gas membranes are very useful in this area and one of the prime requisite for such a thin film is stability (thermal, mechanical and chemical) as well as flexibility(large number of channels so as to allow selective permeation of carbon dioxide). These requirements can be combined in self assembled multilayers based on porous polymer support and polyelectrolyte nanolayers. The carbon capture is further enhanced by suitable functionalization of surface layer. Extra dense films can (so as to assure maximum carbon load) be manufactured cost effectively by the encapsulation of biomolecules. The interesting point is that the entire fabrication can be carried out in the most environmentally friendly solvent, namely water.
b. Effluent Treatment
A few nano layers of natural polyelectrolytes (3-5) deposited on microfiltration membrane can effectively treat effluent streams and can reduce COD and colour to a greater extent. They not only purify effluent being discharged to water bodies but recovers value added products as well. The concentrated organics can be completely released from the membrane and can be further treated by sunlight.
c. Development of nanomembrane based biosensors for air pollutants (DST-WOS project ongoing)
Nanomembranes fabricated from biopolymers that have intrinsic fluorescence can sense air pollutants’ such as hydrogen peroxide upto 10-12 M. Ovalbumin immobilised nanomembranes is too promising in sensing mercury and nitro compounds as well. Sensing is very efficient in layer by layer assembled films (LBL) than continuous thin films as LBL provides high surface area to volume ratio and hence maximum accessibility to the analyte molecule.
d. Improvement of the fuel efficiency of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC)
Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC)” using methanol as fuel is a promising candidate to compete with conventional batteries. The technology behind DMFC is still in the early stages of development, but it has been successfully demonstrated powering mobile phones and laptop computers—potential target end uses in future years. Improvements in catalysts and other recent developments have increased power density 20-fold and the efficiency may eventually reach 40%. Recently, layer-by-layer (LBL) assembly of polyelectrolytes on ionomer membranes have shown to be an efficient method to improve the performance of DMFC. With the development of self assembled (multilayered) membranes, we can very well incorporate naturally occurring bio degradable materials to modify the existing membranes and render them the properties suitable for variety of purposes in an economical fashion. The power density of DMFC is expected to increase by deposition of suitable polyelectrolyte as very thin layers. By suitable architecture of surface layers methanol permeability can be tuned. Later on nafilms will be replaced by other good proton conducting membranes and the suitability of this as DMFC will be studied.
e. Removal of water contaminants such as toxic metals and herbicides.
Investigation of Polyelectrolytes membrane based on humic acid and chitosan for the removal of herbicides(chlorophenoxy, amides, ..) and toxic metals ( chromium, ..).
2.1. 5 Major Area : Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP)
Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOP) refers to chemical oxidation treatment procedures based on the in-situ generation of highly reactive species that lead to the destruction of organic and inorganic materials in waste water by oxidation. As the degradation of organic chemicals (such as aromatics, pesticides, petroleum constituents, volatile organic compounds etc.) is generally not possible with other conventional techniques, AOP gained lot of interest in the field of waste management in the recent decades. AOP procedures reduce toxicity of chemical contaminants and ultimately convert them to carbon dioxide, water and salts. The generally used AOP are TiO2 photocatalysis, UV/H2O2, Fenton, photo-Fenton, electro-Fenton, sonolysis, radiolysis and ozonolysis in solution state. Although the basic idea of AOP is based on the production of highly oxidizing radical entity, the fundamental understanding of its formation under various conditions and of the various reaction pathways that ultimately lead to the degradation of organic compounds in solid, liquid and gaseous states is an area of tremendous interest. In addition, emergence of nanoscience and nanotechnology has again contributed to the efficiency of TiO2 based photocatalysis and hence the degradation of pollutants.
Areas of research in AOP
(i) Photochemical degradation of organic pollutants: This technique utilises both UV and Vis lights in the degradation of organic pesticides, dyes and several other pollutants, in the presence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ferric hydroxyl complexes etc. The photolysis produces highly oxidising hydroxyl radical which attack the aromatic ring of the organic compounds.
(ii). Ultrasound initiated degradation of organic pollutants: This technique utilises the production of hydroxyl radicals in water due to acoustic cavitation process initiated by ultrasound (20 kHz-1MHz). The degradation can also be initiated by pyrolysis as a result of the high temperature generated due to bubble collapse.
(iii). Nano-particle mediated photodecomposition of organic pollutants: Detoxification of water can be qualitatively achieved using photocatalytic methods. Among the photocatalysts, TiO2 is the most commonly used material which can produce high concentrations of oxidising radicals. TiO2 is easy to produce in nanocrystalline form, i.e. with large active surface area, both on an industrial or a laboratory scale. It can be even photolysed by UVA part of the solar spectrum. A large number of organic pollutants can be degraded using this technique in solution state
2.2. Proposed Projects
(i) Earthworm survey in Kerala
Kerala is gifted with the soil and climatic condition that give abode to a rich earthworm fauna. Studies on earthworm diversity, their roles as environmental indicators, agents of waste management and soil fertility are in in infancy in Kerala. A workshop on earthworm diversity is scheduled to be held in the first week of December 2010 and the project is planned to be worked out with the collaborative efforts of various groups and satellite centres.
(ii) Communities, resource use patterns and conservation issues in the cardamom hills of Southern Western Ghats
This project aimed to document the social transformation and changing resource use patterns among the traditional communities in the cardamom hills of the Western Ghats.
(iii) Indigenous communities, traditional knowledge, and conservation issues in the Periyar-Agastiamalai Landscape of Southern Western Ghats
Strategies used by the various forest-dwelling communities living in the Periyar Agasthiamalai landscape to understand their current lifestyle patterns in the forest, the history and drivers of change, socio-economic conditions, livelihood status, their dependencies on forest, and resource requirements. It seeks to understand communities that live within or in close proximity to tropical rainforests of the Southern Western Ghats
(iv) Status, distribution and conservation of threatened and endangered fauna of Periyar-Agasthiamalai Landscape
Many species are endemic to southern Western Ghats. In the changing scenario of lifestyle patterns and conservation strategies the study aims to understand the present status, distribution and conservation related issues in the Periyar Agasthiamalai landscape .
2.3.Linkages and collaborations
The Centre has taken up research activities in various thrust areas and has established linkages in the National and International levels, under (1) International Desk, (2) National Desk and (3) Regional Desk.
Name and Affiliation
Prof. Dr. Pieter Glasbergen
Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation Utrecht, The Netherlands
Governance, planning and policy issues, particularly with reference to environmental policy, physical planning, water management, energy policy, and policy for landscape and nature conservation.
Prof. Michael Evan Goodsite
Climate and Global Processes National Environmental Research Institute , AarhusUniversity, Roskilde, Denmark
Improving sustainable development worldwide by combining sensible business strategies and environmental risk management with natural scientific research related to the chemistry of the atmosphere and its relation to climate and global processes.
Dr. Jefferey Sellers
Political Science, Geography and Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA
Comparative politics with an emphasis on European politics, on urban and regional political economy, on multi-level governance and on environmental law and policy
Prof. Thomas B. Johansson
International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, Co-Chair, Global Energy Assessment, IIASA, Lund, Sweden
Energy for Sustainable Development, climate change.
Prof. Lilito D. Gavina
The DonMarianoMarcosMemorialStateUniversity (DMMMSU), Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines
Prof. Marcel Bursztyn
University of Brasilia Center for Sustainable Development Brazil
Evaluation of public policies, environmental management, science and technology policy, the state and planning, agriculture and development, economics and regional development, urban and regional planning.
Prof. Buddhi Marambe
Professor & Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture
Director/Agriculture Education Unit (AEU), Department of Crop Science
University of Peradeniya,
Distribution, Biology and Control of Invasive Alien Plants, Herbicide-resistant weeds
Prof. Jason S. Ogola
School of Environmental Sciences University of Venda Thohoyandou 0950 South Africa
Geology, mineral exploration, Small-scale mining, Environmental Impact Assessment and Climate Change/Global Warming.
Prof. Wonyong Choi
School of Environmental Science and Engineering PohangUniversity of Science and Technology (POSTECH) Pohang, Korea
Semiconductor photocatalysis for environmental remediation & solar energy conversion
- Photoenergy conversion (H2 production, solar cells)
- Photocatalytic water and air purification
- Environmental photochemistry
- Advanced oxidation processes for pollutant degradation
- Experimental and theoretical studies of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs)
Dr. Samuel Gameda
Agriculture and Agri-FoodCanada Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Assessment of the influence of agricultural land use and land use change on climate Development of climate change scenarios for agriculture, Determination of agroclimatic indices and crop response under differing climate regimes, Development of a land use allocation model
Dr. Lorenzo Ciccarese
Nature Conservation Dpt.
Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) Rome, Italy
Innovative forest nursery techniques, technology transfer from research to business, sustainable forest nursery techniques with focus on biodiversity, landscape and climate change reducing resources imputed during planting stock production
Prof. Risto Seppälä
Finnish Forest Research Institute Vantaa Finland
Climate policy tools that could be applied in forest sector related to carbon sequestration, and energy and material substitution, Climatic effects and effects on forest owner behaviour, timber markets, forest structure and profitability of private forests.
Prof. Michael Hoffmann
Environment Engineering Division
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
1) Heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry, and 2) advanced oxidation and reduction chemistry and technology, 3) basic aquatic chemistry, 4) semiconductor photocatalysis, and 5) hydrogen production from sunlight via electrochemical water splitting.
Prof. Stefan Anderberg
Lund University centre for sustainable studies LUND, Sweden
Environmental problems and natural resource management (Scandinavia, EU, Eastern Europe), Land use development, Landscape planning, Regional and urban metabolism (material flow analysis), Industrial ecology, International environmental cooperation.
Dr. Björn Sellberg,
Senior research officer and Associate Professor
The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, Stockholm, Sweden
International collaboration on research on soil pollution and remediation, Climate change – adaptation and impacts.
Dr. Juergen Kropp
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Potsdam, Germany
Earth System Science, i.e. modelling and environmental systems analysis, in particular, climate impact analysis, man-nature interactions, hazard and vulnerability assessments.
Dr. E. J. James
Professor & Director,
Water Institute, KarunyaUniversity, Coimbatore
Dr. Samuel Paul Raj
Senior Professor & Head
School of Energy Environment and Natural Resources
Madurai Kamaraj University
Madurai- 625021, Tamil Nadu
Dr. Sarnam Singh
Indian Institute of remote sensing
Dr. J. M. Julka
Zoological Survey of India,
Solan, Himachal Pradesh
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Dr. Babu Alappat
Dept. of Civil Engg IITDelhi
Dr. Anju Singh
National Institute of Industrial Engineering
Energy and WetlandsResearchGroup Center for Sustainable Technologies
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Dr. Anurag Garg
Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE)
Dr. A. R. R. Menon
Dr. K. Mohanakumar
Professor in Atmospheric Sciences
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Prof. M. K. Prasad
Information Kerala Mission
Prof. V.N. Sivasankara Pillai
Former Director of School of Environmental Studies
Dr. R. V. G. Menon
Scientist & Environmentalist
Dr. G. Madhu
School of Engineering
Dr. Vinetha Menon
Dept. of Anthropology PalayadCampus KannurUniversity
Dr. P. K. K. Nair
Advanced equipments of the Centre
Name of the Equipments
Ion Exchange Chromatograph
Total organic carbon analyser
Trace metal analyser- Metrohm- 797 VA Computrace
CVAFS Total mercury analyser
3. Extension programmes
Extension programmes include activities for the benefit of the society. Here the knowledge generated through the academic and research activities are extended to the public. Effective participation and interaction with various self-help groups, volunteers, NGOs, students, teachers and others are integral components of the programme
3.1 Rainwater harvesting
The Centre and School of Environmental Sciences have selected Achinakom, a village in Kuttanad (Vechoor Panchayat) to provide them with drinking water through rainwater harvesting. A combined programme ‘Rainwater for Humanity’ was started in collaboration with Brown University, USA. As the first phase of the extension programme, the construction of a rainwater harvesting tank with a capacity of 1.25 lakh litres has been completed. Three different models of tanks have been designed and the construction works are progressing. Four tanks of different capacities have already been completed. It is planned to extend the facility to all the households in the village.
As the second phase, proper sanitary facilities will be provided wherever it is needed. Overall quality of life of people will be monitored to bring about healthy life style. The project works with the assistance of the Woman Self Help Group of Achinakom.
3.2. Environmental awareness and training
Environmental awareness and training programmes are for all groups of people, from the school students to the higherups and the public. The programmes are meant for the dissemination of information on environmental awareness and healthy practices, all aim to conserve nature thereby maintaining the life support systems. The Centre also prepares source modules for various environment friendly practices like energy conservation, waste management, public health and sanitation, water conservation and management, biodiversity conservation, healthy life style, ecofriendly shelters etc benefiting the students, teachers and the common man. A novel programme 'Spend a Day in the Campus' has been launched by the Centre for selected school students who are given special training. ‘Under Nature Study Series’ a series of programmes are designed for school students.