Dr. Sujit Sarkar
I.A.R.I. Regional Station, Kalimpong, located at an altitude of 1200 m above MSL, is one of the oldest regional stations of Indian Agricultural Research Institute. It was set up as the Co-ordinated Plant Virus Research Scheme, I.A.R.I., Eastern Zone, Kalimpong in February 1956 in a rented house named “Churchill Ville” at L. B. Road, Kalimpong. In 1967, it was renamed as Plant Virus Research Sub-station and subsequently as Plant Virus Research Station (PVRS) in the year 1969. On 11.10.1972, the property under the name “Alpine Estate” measuring an area of 3.145 acres at 81/2 Miles, Lower Reshi Road, Kalimpong was acquired for the purpose of PVRS. The possession of the acquired property was initiated on 12.2.1973 and completed by 23.11.1974. Consequently, PVRS was shifted from “Churchill Ville” to the acquired site in February, 1973 wherein it was rechristened as the I.A.R.I. Regional Station, Kalimpong in 1976. Amongst local populace, this establishment is known as the Plant Virus Office or the Virus Office.
Prof. S. P. Raychaudhuri, who is regarded as the father of plant virology in India, was the founder Officer In-charge of this regional station. He left his indelible mark through his works on plant viruses from 1956 to 1961 at this station. Subsequently the rein of this regional station came into the able hands of eminent scientists in the field of plant virology and entomology namely, Prof. S. N. Chatterjee (1961-62), Prof. B. Ganguly (1962-1967), Prof. A. N. Basu (1967-69), Prof. D. C. Sharma (1969-72), Prof. Y.S. Ahlawat (1972-80) and Prof. N. K. Chakraborty (1980-88).
I.A.R.I. Regional Station, Kalimpong has taken a lead role in conducting research on virus and virus-like diseases affecting economically important plant species of Darjeeling and Sikkim hills. Since its inception in 1956, at least 25 virus and virus-like diseases of plants prevalent in this region were reported from this station. Of course, there was a period of comparative lull from mid-eighties to mid-nineties because the major establishment (office-cum-laboratory building, library and museum) of this regional station was burnt down to ashes on December 15, 1987 and the research work of this station became practically paralyzed almost for a decade due to Gorkhaland agitation. After construction of the new office-cum-laboratory building, research work has gained momentum.
Over the time, the station has diversified its activities especially in the area of Horticulture research and Extension research.