Kolkata, Jul 1 (PTI) Three eminent scientists were conferred with the E K Janaki Ammal National Award for Taxonomy for their work in the fields of plants, animals and microbiology at the 107th foundation day programme of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) here on Friday.

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The three were Dr Ch Sasikala, an eminent bacteriologist, Prof Mamiyil Sabu, who has done outstanding work on the flowering plant families, and Dr Kailash Chandra, a renowned entomologist, a ZSI spokesperson said.

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While Sasikala, the Director of the Institute of Science and Technology, is known globally for her contribution to bacterial systematics, Prof Sabu is presently working as CSIR-Emeritus Scientist. Dr Chandra is a former ZSI Director and discovered more than 100 species in the past.

Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav handed over the award to the three distinguished scientists.

"The honour bestowed on three leading scientists will give impetus to taxonomists in future," Yadav said.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and climate change instituted the award in 2000 after Ammal, who was instrumental in reorganising the over 200-year-old Botanical Survey of India in 1955, to promote work in taxonomy in the fields of plants, animals and microbiology.

Taxonomy is the branch of science concerned with classification, especially of organisms.

On the sidelines of the programme, Yadav told reporters that bio-degradable alternatives to conventional plastics are required as the use of single-use plastic items is banned in the country from July 1.

"In the past 11 months, we had given stress on harnessing alternative materials to plastics that can be locally procured and processed,” he said.

For instance, ‘shola' (Aeschynomene aspera) is available in West Bengal and it can be a viable alternative to plastics, the minister said adding that initiatives should be taken to see how it can be used to manufacture different products of daily use.

He also said that the union government wants to set up a museum on energy resources.

Earlier, at the official ZSI programme, Yadav said that there should not be “mindless consumption" of plastic.

On the ZSI, he said that the over 100-year-old institution is among the country's 17 world standard organisations that should work towards combating the challenges of climate change and harnessing renewable energy, protecting biodiversity and preventing land degradation and erosion.

"All these 17 institutions, including the ZSI and the Botanical Survey of India, are stakeholders to meet the objectives and work in their respective domain," Yadav said.

Yadav and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the minister of state in the same ministry, released several ZSI publications.

ZSI Director Dr Dhriti Banerjee said that faunal explorations have been greatly hampered during the Covid pandemic.

"Nevertheless, a collection of almost six-and-a-half million specimens have been made. Exploration has been renewed in full vigour from 2021 onwards," she said.

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