International Conference on Plants and
Environmental Pollution (ICPEP
K. J. Ahmad Secretary ISEB
The much awaited, and log in planning, International Conference on Plants and Environmental Pollution (ICPEP 1996), the first Conference to be ever organized, was formally inaugurated on the bright sunny morning of Tuesday, November 26, 1996 at the historic lush green dew bathed central lawns of the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow (India). Nearly 300 guests, including some 30 delegates from abroad, cheered as Dr. P.V. Sane, the President of International
Society of Environmental Botanists (ISEB) and Director of NBRI took the podium to welcome the assembled guests on behalf of the two organizations. While extending a hearty welcome to the distinguished guests and delegates, Dr. Sane drew their attention towards the imminent disaster facing the earth due to the injudicious use and overexploitation of natural resources by us. This was followed by the address of Dr. K. J. Ahmad, the Organizing Secretary of ICPEP 1996, who briefly outlined the history of
ISEB, and explained the aims and objectives of the Conference.
The Conference was formally inaugurated by Prof. Richard F.E. Crang, Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois, USA (a life member of ISEB), by lighting a lamp in the traditional Indian style. Prof. J.N.B. Bell
of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, UK, was the Chief Guest of the
Prof. Crang, in his scholarly address, lamented that due to the degradation of the ecosystem, the world was losing about 25,000 species each year. Discussing the direct and indirect effects of pollution he observed that the impact of pollutants on reproductive processes, hormonal activity, and secondary compounds was yet to be understood fully. Expressing his deep concern about India, he said that despite its ecosystem and rich biodiversity, the country finds itself in a precarious position due to various environmental problems.
Prof. Bell, in his thought provoking address, expressed his deep appreciation on the organization of this unique conference in a leading developing country like India, where the problems of environmental pollution are more acute than in the developed countries in view of the galloping industrialization, increasing traffic congestion, and rapid urbanization.
The inaugural function came to a close, in a befitting manner with a ballet in the classical Indian dance style of 'Kathak', depicting the earth's beauteous and bounteous environment polluted by a variety of enchanting birds, animals, and flowers and its importance to the preservation and sustenance of human life. This conference, thus created a history of sorts by making a classical dance recital depicting the theme of the conference, an integral part of the inauguration of a
n international scientific conference. This, along with the open air settings and natural surroundings, was a unique and distinctive feature of the inaugural function, which was greatly appreciated by the assembled delegates and guests.
The function ended with a customary vote of thanks by the Treasurer of ISEB, Dr. Prakash Chandra. Among the distinguished scientists, who graced the decorated stage of the function were the three Vice Presidents of ISEB: Prof
. C.K. Varshney (Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi), Dr. B.P. Singh (Senior Deputy Director, NBRI) and Prof. N.K. Mehrotra (Head, Department of Botany, Lucknow University).
Soon after the formal inauguration of the Conference, the delegates reassembled in NBRI Auditorium for various scientific sessions which lasted until the forenoon of November 30, 1996. In view of the
overwhelming response, both from India and abroad, the Scientific Program Committee faced a
Herculean task of squeezing a large number of papers for oral/poster presentations within a limited time frame of four days. Consequently, it was decided to hold three concurrent sessions
: two at the Garden block of NBRI and one at the Botany department of Lucknow University. Besides oral/poster presentations and lead/invited lectures, four special lectures were organized which were well attended and were very popular with the delegates
and guests and widely covered in media. These lectures were:
Climate change convention: issues for the developing countries. (S.K. Sinha, India)
Floristic summary of North American plant species in the air pollution literature. (J.P. Bennett, USA)
Effect of air pollution on insects. (J.N.B. Bell, UK)
The mystic land of the Lamas of Ladakh. (Shashi Kant, India)
The conference ended on the forenoon of November 30 with a Valedictory session presided over by Dr. P.V. Sane where the main recommendations of the conference were read, discussed, and adopted after certain modifications. Earlier, a Committee comprising Dr. P.V. Sane, Prof. Richard F.E. Crang, Prof. J.N.B. Bell, Prof. C.K. Varshney, Dr. B.P. Singh, and Dr. K.J. Ahmad met and formulated a set of recommendations for presentation before the general body. Valedictory session was
followed by the general body meeting of the ISEB, where proposals for smooth and efficient working of ISEB and future programs were discussed. Besides the senior officials of the society, a large number of distinguished guests and delegates expressed the
ir views and impressions about ISEB and ICPEP 1996.
Many of them underscored the need for organizing such conferences at regular periodicity. Some delegates offered their help and whole-hearted cooperation in organizing such conferences at their respective places........
The conference was attended by over 200 delegates from India, UK, USA, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Japan, France, Canada, the Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Russia. A total of 61 oral and 49 poster presentations were made at 19
sessions during the five day meet Two awards each for best poster presentation in each of the two poster sessions were given on the basis of the recommendations of an International Selection Committee. The awardees were:
First Prize: Evaluation of plants growing around a cement factory (J. Misra, N. Singh, and M. Yunus)
Second Prize: D1 and D2 proteins degradation and psbA and psbD/C transcript levels during UV-B inactivation of photosynthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (R. Chaturvedi and R. Shyam)
First Prize: Micronucleus test as indicator of clastogenic effects of arsenicals on plants in vivo (B. Bandyopadhayay)
Second Prize: Lead mediated synthesis of metal-binding peptides (phytochelatins) in the submerged plant Vallisneria spiralis L. (M. Gupta, R.D. Tripathi, U.N. Rai and P. Chandra)
Among other highlights of the 5 day conference was a cultural program organized for ICPEP 1996 delegates at NBRI auditorium on November 27, 1996. This cultural program and the inaugural ballet were ably organized and admirably
conducted by Mr. B.R. Juneja, a retired scientist of NBRI. Mr. Juneja along with Mr. B.D. Bhatt, a scientist of NBRI also edited a daily newsletter entitled "ICPEP'96 Morninger" which was circulated at the Conference venue and greatly appreciated by the
delegates. An elegant Conference souvenir contaning very useful and relevant information illustrated with high quality photographs edited by Dr. Mohd. Yunus was also released, and became immediately popular.