Mr Srikumar Banerjee, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, died in the early hours of Sunday due to a heart attack at his residence in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, officials said. Banerjee, who was in his 70s, had recovered from COVID-19 last month, they said.
He retired as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy in 2012. Banerjee also served as the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for six years till 2010.
DAE officials and scientist paid an emotional tribute to Dr Banerjee. DAE in a press release said, with the passing of Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, in the wee hours of 23'd May, 2021, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has lost a leader, a scientist and an affable gentleman. Dr. Banerjee was Secretary to Government of India, DAE, and Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) from 2009-2012. During his illustrious career spanning over 40 years, Dr. Banerjee served in a number of important positions related to Indian nuclear programme. He was the Director of Materials Group, BARC before taking over as Director, BARC in the 2004.
Dr. Srikumar Banerjee was a well-known Indian metallurgist, researcher and academician. He was born on 25'h April, 1946 in Kolkata to Smt. Shanti and Shri Narayana Banerjee. He received
his B.Tech. (Metallurgical Engineering) from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 1967. After graduating from the 11th batch of BARC Training School in 1968, he joined the Metallurgy
Division, BARC. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1974 from IIT, Kharagpur. He was a senior visiting fellow at University of Sussex Brighton England during 1978-79 and a Humboldt fellow in Max Planck Institute for Metal research (Metalforschung), Stuttgart, Germany during 1979-80. He also server a a visiting faculty in University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, USA over several spells.
As Director, BARC, Dr. Banerjee organized research in nuclear fuel cycle, design of innovative reactors, applications of radiation and isotope technology in agriculture, health care, food preservation and industry. He initiated several capacity building activities both in front and back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. He retired as the Chairman, AEC and the Secretary, DAE on April 30, 2012. He also served as a DAE Homi Bhabha Chair Professor at BARC. He has been the Chancellor of Homi Bhabha National Institute, DAE, Mumbai and had served as Chancellor of Central University of Kashmir, Srinagar from 2012 till 2017. Dr. Banerjee was Chairman of Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences, DAE.
Dr. Banerjee carried out pioneering work in the field of martensitic transformations, rapid solidification, omega transformation, quasi-crystalline solids, shape-memory alloys, effect of radiation on order-disorder transitions and tailoring microstructure and texture of nuclear structural materials through thermo-mechanical processing. He has over 400 research papers to his credit, a book entitled ‘Phase Transformation: Examples from titanium and zirconium alloys’ and has co-edited eight books.
In recognition of his seminal contribution to the field of materials science, Dr. Banerjee was conferred with many prestigious national and international awards including the INSA Young Scientist Award, Acta Metallurgica Outstanding Paper Award; Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Engineering Sciences (1989); GD Birla Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Metals; INSA Prize for Materials Science; Alexander von Humboldt Research Award; Prof. Brahm Prakash Memorial Medal (2004) from INSA; Indian Science Congress Association’s Excellence in Science and Technology Award (2009); Ram Mohun Puraskar of Rammohun Mission (2010); CNR Rao Prize in Advanced Materials; Presidential Citation of American Nuclear Society; National Metailurgist Award from Ministry of Steel in 2010, W. J. Kroll Zirconium Medal Award from American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) ; and Robert Cahn Memorial Award.
He has been conferred Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) degrees from 11 universities and institutions. He was an elected fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences India, Indian National Science Academy, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Third World Academy of Sciences, and International Nuclear Energy Academy.
In recognition of his excellent scientific contributions to the Indian atomic energy programme, the Government of India conferred Padma Shri upon Dr. Banerjee in 2005.
Mr R.K. Vatsa, Head, Public Awareness Division, DAE said in a press release, the DAE fraternity offers its heartfelt condolences to Smt. Ranjana Banerjee, wife of Dr. Banerjee and Shri Rajarshi Banerjee, son of Dr. Banerjee, and pray that Almighty gives strength to the family. May the departed soul rest in eternal peace. A great scholar, dedicated scientist, and a humble human being, Dr. Srikumar Banerjee will forever remain in hearts of those who came in touch with him.