Amidst hue and cry over plundering of natural resources, a team of researchers from Indian Institute of Technology Madras have been growing an island off the Tamil Nadu coast since 2015, Indian Express reported today. Little known Vaan Island is located 2 km off the Tuticorin coast in the southern state. It is one of 21 uninhabited islands in the Gulf of Mannar. In 1986, the island had 16 hectares of land. It was reduced to meager 1.5 hectares of land in 2015 when five researchers from the prestigious institute had landed in the island. At present artificial reefs created by the researchers have helped the island gain mass by 7.6 per cent \u2014 from 1.5284 hectares in December 2015 to 1.6454 hectares, as per the report. The Gulf of Mannar is located between India and Sri Lanka. Notably, it is the first marine biosphere reserve in Asia and was created by the Indian government in 1989, with the chain of 21 islands and adjoining coral reefs off the coast of Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin forming the core, according to IE story. In 2014, Tamil Nadu's Environment Department approached IIT Madras with to find a solution to protect the island without using engineering structures. \u201cThe objective was to control the erosion of the island and to facilitate coral rehabilitation in surrounding areas. Coral mining was once rampant in this area, and that combined with rising sea levels have over the years harmed the island,\u201d H Malleshappa, director, Environment Department, Tamil Nadu, told The Indian Express. Last month, during a meeting with top scientific officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that applying science to solve the country's problems is a priority for the government. He said and asked officials to come up with specific targets which could be achieved in the field of science by 2022. He exhorted officials to break silos and strongly emphasized that a mechanism be formed to document and replicate successful innovations at the grassroots level, PTI reported on July 19.