Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A suggeston for those involved with planning Indis's first Nano City

Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia is planning to build “Nano City,” a $10 billion, environmentally sustainable development unveiled in April 2006 by him and the Haryana state government in northern India.
Modeled after Silicon Valley, Nano City will feature R&D and educational centers and corporate offices for technology, biosciences and other “knowledge industries.” Mr Bhatia hopes that Nano City will be completed in 10 years.

“My goal is to build a model city of the future for the whole world,” he says.

The Haryana Government at that time decided to constitute immediately a joint working group to finalize the location and the basic parameters of the project. The group reportedly consists of Mr P. K. Chaudhary, Secretary for Industries to the Government of Haryana; the Managing Director of the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation, Mr Rajiv Arora; the Chief Administrator, Haryana Urban Development Authority, Mr S. S. Dhillon; and the Chief Town Planner, HSIDC, Mr Surjit Singh; along with four representatives of Mr Bhatia - though of course all decisions are subject to the Haryana Investment Promotion Board (HIPB)headed by the Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The Joint Working Group was scheduled to submit its report within a period of three months, so presumably it is now coming to the close of its deliberations.

As it does so, I would like to draw its attention to the "call for research into the dangers of nanotech" by the Chief Science Advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Andrew Maynard.

His just-published study, "Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk" says, among other things, that while the US government invests more than one billion dollars annually in nanotech R&D, only something like $11 million goes into assessing what is safe and what is not. Incredibly, the US still lacks an overarching strategy and comprehensive set of research priorities in this field.

Do you know any other field where $1 billion is being spent without our being aware of the results will be safe enough to use?

Maynard's view is that the strategy and research priorities should aim at identifying and measuring nanomaterials exposure and environmental release, evaluating nanomaterials toxicity, controlling the release of and exposure to engineered nanomaterials, and developing "best practices" for working safely with nanomaterials, and eventually at building capacity in predictive toxicology. Maynard reckons that this needs a minimum of $50 million per year over the next two years. If critical knowledge gaps in nanotech risk are to be addressed, this amount is in addition to a complementary investment by federal agencies and departments participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) on basic and applications-focused research that has the potential to help further understanding of nanotechnology risk and to aid in the development of improved research tools. "With over $32 billion worth of products incorporating nanotechnology sold in 2005, the question of whether nanotechnology products and applications are safe is one that is not going away," according to David Rejeski, Director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, a joint initiative of the Woodrow Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

I can't vouch for the figures, but the approach seems like common sense to me.

So what has all this to do with Sabeer Bhatia, the Government of Haryana State in north India, and the proposed new Nano City there?

Simply that the Bhatia/Haryana Government Joint Working Group might want to seriously consider putting aside $50 million for research into the field. Since the US government is not being sensible and is spending only a fraction of that amount on risk-research, if Bhatia and the Haryana Government do so, it would make India not just the leader in nanotech but also in nanotech safety - a critical matter for the use of nanotech anywhere in the world, from which the Nano City could also draw in revenues for further research into not just nanotech safety but indeed into nanotech as a whole.

Related stories at: http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2006/01/public_warned_o.html
http://www.foresight.org/nanodot/?p=2281 Sphere: Related Content

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