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Bangalore Helix to be a reality soon

Staff Reporter

Centre sanctions Rs. 14.45 crores for project; Bangalore Bio 2005 inaugurated

BANGALORE: Bangalore Helix, a long-awaited biotechnology park at Electronics City here, will become a reality in June, with the Union Government sanctioning Rs. 14.45 crores for the project, the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, announced here on Friday.

Speaking at the inauguration of Bangalore Bio 2005, Mr. Dharam Singh said world-class infrastructure on the 100-acre park has attracted biotech majors from across the world reinforcing Bangalore's reputation as the biotech capital of India.

Today, the State is reaping rich dividends. India has 265 biotech companies, of which 131 are in the State and Bangalore has 127 biotech companies. In 2004-05, 21 companies set up shop in the State, while 25 companies opened elsewhere.

He paid Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who heads the State's Vision Group on Biotechnology, which drafted the Millennium Biotech Policy in 2001, rich compliments. "Today is her day," he said.

Armed with the Biotech policy, the Government has given importance to attracting investment, and successfully demonstrated the benefits of public-private partnerships "I chair the high-level committee which approves major industrial projects, and in the last 10 months, projects worth Rs. 40,000 crores have been cleared," Mr. Dharam Singh said.

With Bangalore attracting a large number of companies in BT and information technology (IT), he is aware of the city's inadequate infrastructure. The Government is going all out to launch initiatives such as the Metro Rail, the Biotech Park, the Hi-Tech City and the IT Corridor, he said.

The Union Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, and the Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, led the speakers on the dais in virtually acknowledging Bangalore's pre-eminence in biotechnology.

Dr. Ramadoss, who visited the Government's Bio Centre in Hulimaavu on the outskirts of the city, said, "Although the biotechnology research there is devoted to horticulture, I was delighted to see the tissue-cultured banana and other projects actually being transferred to farmers for augmenting their output."

Dr. Ramadoss said the long-talked about biotech future is here now and the post-Genome Project era promises management and cure of diseases. With the launch of the National Rural Health Scheme, India has been acknowledged as the leading producer of cheaper vaccines, and it is engaging the attention of the world with many of its projects.

The programme to develop AIDS vaccine is going slow and greater effort needs to go into this, Dr. Ramadoss said.

With 25 million births being registered every year, there are plans to set up a bank of stem cells.

Ms. Vasundhara Raje was all praise for Bangalore's "magnificent strides" in BT and IT, but she urged Mr. Dharam Singh, "Why do you want to keep it all to yourselves? Share it with other States, and show us the way, because IT and BT are the future sectors. BT is what the world is looking to for wiping out disease, making the world food-secure."

She invited investment and research partnerships with Rajasthan which has a long tradition in animal biotechnology and is rich in medicinal plants, and known for innovative indigenous technology that can be harnessed to biotechnology.

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