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Tiruvalluvar varsity to set up model food processing plant

By P.V.V. Murthi

VELLORE, APRIL 14. Tiruvalluvar University is planning to set up a model pilot plant for food processing with a grant of Rs. 33 lakhs it had received from the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries. Apart from teaching and research, the plant would enable the university to undertake extension activities for the public, industrialists and farmers.

The Vice-Chancellor, A. Susheela Thirumaran, who is also the project's principal investigator told The Hindu the model plant would have a mineral water plant, equipment for fruit and vegetable processing, a masala packing unit, a quality control and analytical laboratory, an extrusion technology unit, and a packaging unit. The packaging unit will have facilities for modified atmosphere packing, vacuum packing and vacuum shrink packing under cold conditions.

Besides, the plant would have units for canning line, bottling line, dehydration, fermentation, pasteurisation and food preparation and cold room facilities. The model plant would also have a library.

Dr. Susheela Thirumaran said importance would be given for post-harvest techniques, packaging, storage, new product development and value-added products. The university was planning to obtain the approval of All-India Council for Technical Education for M.Sc. course in Food Science and Technology to be started from the 2004-05 academic year. The model plant would be used for higher education (M.Sc. and Ph.D), periodical training for trainers, self-help groups, industrialists and farmers. The students working at the plant would have on-hand experience at industrial level for commercial production of processed food. They would be taken to leading food technology industries (for each crop) an experience that would provide job and self-employment opportunities to them, she said.

The university also obtained a Rs. 18-lakh grant from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for a research project on `food and nutrition security' through biotechnological approaches. For both the projects Dr. Susheela Thirumaran would be the principal investigator and Cissie Theeblyn David, co-principal investigator.

The Chemistry department obtained a grant of Rs. 18 lakhs from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, for a project to analyse chromium levels in tannery effluents.

K. Pandian, head, Chemistry department, would be the principal investigator of the project.

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