From barren land to lush habitat

A look at TERI's research and development centre in Gwal Pahari, Gurugram


In 1985, a piece of rugged land in Gurugram's Gwal Pahari village was granted to TERI by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to build its research and development centre.

Guided by some of the finest minds such as architect Ashok Lall and forester A.N. Chaturvedi, the largely barren and desolate land was transformed into a sustainable habitat over the next few years. Now known as TERI Gram, it houses state-of-the-art facilities for developing green technologies, along with a residency called RETREAT (Resource-Efficient TERI Retreat for Environmental Awareness and Training).

The RETREAT as it stands today
RETREAT is largely powered by renewable energy sources and the temperature inside is maintained by earth air tunnels, thereby eliminating the use of air-conditioners
TERI Gram also features a rose garden which has won many prizes over the years.

Some of the innovative features at TERI Gram include

  • Retaining the original rugged terrain to plan the campus instead of levelling the land and denting the natural landscape of the Aravallis;
  • Planting species indigenous to the region to avoid disturbing the local ecosystem;
  • Identifying areas within campus for particular species of plants as per requirement like planting Jamun and Arjuna trees in areas with waterlogging issues;
  • Discouraging frequent weeding thus ensuring carbon rich soil;
  • Using dhulaai-daana for the exteriors of the building which makes sure that the buildings are cleaned naturally every monsoon and hence eliminates the need for paint jobs;
  • Constructing earth air tunnels (which draw air from 4 metres below the ground) to heat or cool the residency building (RETREAT) as required;
  • Using water harvesting methods to conserve water through the year;
  • Using solar panels, solar pumps and Smart Mini Grid to power the campus; and
  • Using electric vehicles for transportation inside the campus.

Listed below are some of the R&D labs and facilities found at this Gwal Pahari campus -

Micropropagation Technology Park (MTP)

The first building to have been constructed at TERI Gram, this Tissue Culture Pilot Plant was upgraded into a Micropropagation Technology Park (MTP) in December 1997 which mass produces economically significant plant species by taking tissues from an elite genotype of those plants. TERI has already supplied over 18 million plants domestically to various forest departments, NGOs, agro-based companies as well as private farmers.

For more information -

Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Habitats (Mahindra-TERI CoE)

Hot disk analyser is used to assess the thermal properties of building materials

The Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Habitats (Mahindra-TERI CoE) was set up at TERI Gram in September 2014. It seeks to develop energy efficient innovative solutions for the building sector, suited to local climates in India.

For more information –

TERI-Deakin Nano-Biotechnology Centre (TDNBC)

TERI-Deakin Nano-Biotechnology Centre (TDNBC) is collaborative initiative between TERI and the Deakin University (Geelong, Australia). It aims to create solutions for sustainable agriculture and clean and green energy.

The Centre for Mycorrhizal Reseach, a part of TDNBC, is the world's largest facility for producing mycorrhizae – symbiotic fungi that grows in association with most plant roots – which improves tolerance of plants towards metal toxicity, drought etc along with increasing its ability to absorb and translocate nutrients from the soil.

For more information -

Fermentation Technology Research Centre

Oil Zapper is used to clean oil contaminated soil

Fermentation Technology Research Centre aims to help researchers develop new fermentation technologies and products which include the eco-friendly 'oil zapper' - a bacteria mix that breaks down the oil in contaminated soil into harmless products like water and carbon dioxide and hence helps clean up hazardous oil spillages etc. The facility at TERI Gram has bioreactors of varying capacities, using which nearly 15 tonnes of oil zapper can be produced in one day. The oil zapper has been used to clean more than 6,20,000 metric tonnes of oily sludge and oil contaminated soil in India alone, thereby helping to restore the livelihood of the farmers and fishermen affected by such contamination. It has also been used abroad in countries like Kuwait etc.

For more information -

TERI's Enhanced Acidification and Methanation (TEAM)

TERI's Enhanced Acidification and Methanation (TEAM) converts food waste into biogas. The plant at RETREAT processes nearly 25 kg of food waste in a day to create 4 m3 biogas. This has also been installed at the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), Mumbai; the ONGC Colony (Noida); and Numligarh Refineries Limited (Assam) among other places.

For more information -

Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP)

The Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) at TERI Gram naturally treats sewage water by using the microbes already present in the water. These microbes help remove organic matter from the sewage, thereby making it fit for non-potable use as well as for safe disposal into drainage or river bodies. The plant at TERI Gram processes approximately 25000 litres of sewage water in a day.

Water & Waste Management System - Root Zone

The Root Zone at the TERI Gram makes use of reed plants whose roots act like a filter and help remove many toxic substances from nearly 2000 litres of sewage water per day which is then used for irrigation.

Membrane Bioreactor (MBR)

Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Facility for Sewage Treatment treats sewage water using ceramic membranes made of waste fly-ash.

For more information -

Forestry Research Centre – Nursery & Vermicomposting

Established in 1987, TERI's Forestry Research Centre runs a nursery and research centre for forest tree species, medicinal, herbal and ornamental plants. Spread across an area of 2.5 acres and growing more than 40 species of medicinal plants, the nursery is equipped with facilities like mist chambers, shade houses, hedge gardens, clonal orchards along with an open area for shifting and grading saplings. The plants grown here are supplied to a number of schools, RWAs, NDMC nurseries, State Forest Departments as well as to private companies and individuals.

The centre also runs a vermicomposting pit which serves the dual purpose of decomposing natural waste while creating organic fertilisers for the plants.

Renewable Energy Technologies

The Renewable Energy Technology division at TERI has a number of R&D projects and labs under it including the Solar Lighting Laboratory which aims at finding high quality, reliable and cost effective solutions for solar lighting and the Smart Mini Grid (SMG) i.e. a micro-grid aiming to provide electricity at a community level by use of advanced sensing, communication and control techniques which helps in reducing fossil fuel consumption.

A Smart Mini Grid, 50KW rooftop solar panels along with electric vehicle charging stations can be found in the premises of TERI Gram.

Biomass Gasifier

The biomass gasifier converts woody biomass and agricultural residue to electrical energy. This technology is currently being used to power micro-enterprises in a few villages of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, thereby helping to provide livelihood to poor communities.

For more information -

Many dignitaries like HRH The Prince of Wales, Noble Peace Prize winner Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi have visited TERI Gram