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Times of India
27 August 2010
By Vishwas Kothari
Pune, India

The Union ministry of home affair’s (MHA) directorate of forensic science (DFS) has set the ball rolling for the establishment of a hi–tech Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) on a 25–acre campus at Wadgaon Maval, about 25 kms from here, along the Pune–Mumbai highway.

Apart from the forensic lab, the campus would house the Government Examiner of Questioned Documents (GEQD) unit, which plays a pivotal role in the unravelling of high–profile white collar crimes like hawala transactions and fake stamp papers besides in identification of handwritings on secret documents etc. The existing GEQDs have played a key role in the scrutiny of the fake stamp papers in the multi–crore rupee Abdul Kareem Telgi scam.

"The CFSL/GEQD near Pune will be a major boost to investigation of criminal cases referred from Maharashtra and neighbouring states as well as cases referred by the central agencies," DFS’s senior scientific officer, R M Tripathi, told TOI in a telephonic conversation from his New Delhi office on Thursday.

Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the MHA has made a provision of Rs 200 crore for the DFS to implement as many as 26 projects aimed at modernisation of forensic science applications across the country.

"Consolidated funds worth Rs 42.60 crore have been set aside for the CFSL/GEQD near Pune and similar facilities in Bhopal and Guwahati," said Tripathi. "All the new CFSLs will have some of the most futuristic forensic science equipment, and they will deal with the emerging fields of forensic science,"he said. As of now, there are four CFSL/GEQD facilities in the country – in Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata and New Delhi, the last named falls directly under the control of the Central Bureau of Investigation, he said.

Referring to the Pune project, Tripathi said, "We have finalised a 25–acre plot at Wadgaon Maval and have initiated the process with the state government for the acquisition of this land. We hope the process will be over soon."

But, the DFS won’t be waiting until the acquisition process is over to start the new facilities, he said. "We have chalked out a plan to start the CFSL before March 2011, from a 25,000 sq ft rented building in Pune. The negotiations for renting such facility are currently on," said Tripathi.

Director of the Mumbai–based State Forensic Science Laboratory, MV Garad, who played a mediating role in helping the DFS identify land for the Pune project, said, "The joint secretary of the MHA and the DFS representatives were in Pune over a month ago for site selection work. They also held a meeting with the Pune district collector then."

According to Garad, the CFSL near Pune would have every other advanced forensic science equipment, which are, so far, available only at the state laboratory in Mumbai. "This includes cyber forensics, speech and tape analysers, psycho evaluations like brain mapping and narco test and DNA test."

What is forensic science?
Forensic science is seen as one of the key areas of applied sciences that go a long way in aiding the investigation of criminal cases as well as delivery of justice. It deals with a range of subjects like toxicology, biochemistry, DNA test, missile science, psychology, brain electronic oscillation (better known as brain mapping), narco analysis, signature profiling, narco analysis and cyber forensic. The rapid advancement in science and technology has also seen the emergence of newer areas of crime involving electronic and digital tools.

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