KOCHI: The future of the prestigious Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research (ACARR) aka Stratosphere-Troposphere Radar Centre for weather forecasting and research on meteorology, cloud physics, extreme weather events and atmospheric turbulence at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), inaugurated the other day by Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harshvardhan remains unclear with Dr Harshvardhan himself refusing to make any commitment for its future funding.
As of now the funds sanctioned by the Central Department of Science and Technology (DST) will sustain the ST Radar Centre only for the next eleven months and it is not yet clear who will fund the centre to take it forward further. It was using Rs 23 crore sanctioned by the DST and Rs 2 crore from the university that the ACARR was set up. Currently six staff are employed there including two research scientists, apart from the director. To take the centre forward it will require Rs 2.5 crore per year which includes cost of maintenance of the radar, operational expenses and salary for the staff.
There is also an advanced research training centre attached to ACARR where students who have completed MSc course in atmospheric sciences across the country undergo advanced training. The centre also is set to run integrated MSc-PhD course in atmospheric radar technology and remote sensing. This is the only one of its kind centre in the country also. After the inaugural function, Dr Harshvardhan told media that the State Government also has a responsibility to retain the centre by extending funding. He also said that the radar centre can explore options for the self-sustenance without exactly going for commercial activities. “I would call it self-sustaining activities” he said pointing to exploring options for finding funds own its own adding the Central Government has to fund a lot of institutions across the country and hence the radar centre should not expect all the help to come from the Union Government alone. The State Government on its part has given concurrence for approval for six staff at ACARR to become the staff of Cusat.