IIT-Kharagpur to create new cadre of environmental engineers

IIT-Kharagpur to create new cadre of environmental engineers

As environment clearance has turned out to be a major roadblock for growth of industry, IIT-Kharagpur has decided to build an army of environmental...

Kolkata: As environment clearance has turned out to be a major roadblock for growth of industry, IIT-Kharagpur has decided to build an army of environmental engineers to help tackle the challenge. The new School of Environmental Science and Technology at the IIT would start offering dual degrees of civil and environmental engineering at both BTech and MTech levels from the 2015 academic session.

"Environmental engineers are in high demand now. They are not just a part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive but are also a driver of a company's growth and increase in profit by means of cost reduction," the school's head Prof. Jayanta Bhattacharya said. The courses would focus on providing engineering solutions to environmental issues which large-scale industries in mining, chemical, cement, food processing, metallurgical, etc have to deal with.

"Right now delay in environmental clearances is a major roadblock for industries, so we need solutions for effective utilisation of resources, waste management and pollution control. Our environmental engineers will be trained to handle all these issues," Bhattacharya said. It is estimated that India Inc needs around 10,000 environmental engineers and in the absence of a specialised workforce chemical engineers often do a double role.

After 2-3 years, IIT-Kgp would be ready with a regular four-year BTech course in environmental engineering with around 40-50 seats. "This would be a first of its kind course in the country because it would be specific to suit the requirements of large and very large-scale industries," he said.

The HRD ministry had sanctioned a fund of Rs 50 crore for the department, out of which Rs 20 crore had already been spent in the last 2-3 years, Bhattacharya said. Construction of new building is still on inside the campus where they have already started a PhD programme. The first batch of undergraduate students next year will have a modest strength of 20-30.

The IIT is also mulling introducing specialisation in environmental engineering for students of different streams like civil, computers and mechanical. "They can do a semester or a part of it from our school as their specialisation subject. Environment now goes beyond any particular domain. For example, reduction of e-waste is of concern to a computer engineer," Bhattacharya said.

The courses would include water supply systems, planning and environmental engineering design, air quality management and industrial pollution control. The waste management part includes waste water management, solid and hazardous waste management, including radioactive and biological waste.

The job of environmental engineers is to create more output from less input by means of reducing waste and efficient utilisation of resources, the professor said. As reduction of carbon footprint becomes a mainstream industrial activity, a cadre of such engineers would be able to lead and design the change. Addressing issues on environmental health and safety from big projects would be another area of expertise for environmental engineers.

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