About bihardays.com…Bihardays.com, the largest portal of Bihar is proud to be associated with DrAshok Ghosh as our regular columnist for ‘Ecoscope–Bihar’, a column mostwidely followed by our readers in Bihar, India and worldwide. Bihardays has adaily readership of 40-60,000 individuals from across the globe including thesmall towns of Bihar, Indian metros like Delhi and Bangalore as well as globalhubs like London, New York and Sydney, and interestingly also Middle East andSouth East Asia. Devoted to news analysis and perspective, bihardays postsinclude themes from politics, science, economy, arts and environment. Thesingular purpose of bihardays is to raise the level of public discourse in Bihar togreater intellectual levels through focus on issues of common everyday concerns.About Dr Ashok K. Ghosh, our columnist for Ecoscope-Bihar…Dr Ghosh’s contributions to bihardays have now come to be seen by our readersas significant interventions in the public life of Bihar for several reasons. First, hehas been able to make the point to the common reader that serious andcommitted academic research is essential for the development of Bihar, a concernthat bihardays fully shares with Dr Ghosh. Second, Dr Ghosh has been able toconvince many of our readers that Bihar must avoid the so-called shortcuts todevelopment and give due attention to issues such as afforestation, water qualityand waste management, to quote some of the issues raised by him in ourcolumns. Third, Dr Ghosh has combined scientific rigour with human concerns inall his contributions to bihardays, which is fully in tune with our own philosophy.To make an overall point Dr Ghosh’s writings have been on par with the bestanywhere in the world and his high intellectual standards have inspiredbihardays to sustain a high level of discourse without compromise.It is thus a pleasure for us to produce a compilation of his articles for informalcirculation. We do hope that the readers will see in our effort the potential for afull-fledged volume as Dr Ghosh continues to write his Ec0scope-Bihar columnfor bihardays every Monday.
Posted by TeamBihardays on Dec 24th, 2010 // No CommentA new column on environment by Dr Ashok GhoshBihardays, the number one portal of Bihar is proud to announce a column by thereputed environmentalist Dr Ashok Ghosh startingMonday, January 3rd 2011. He will bewriting every Mondays.Dr. Ashok Kumar Ghosh is Professor-in-Charge in the department ofEnvironment and Water Management,A.N.College [Magadh University], Patna,India. He is engaged in active research inthe area of water quality, especiallyarsenic and fluoride contaminations ingroundwater resources. He was thePrincipal investigator of UNICEF-sponsored project on arsenic-affectedgroundwater in Bihar and reported many Bihar Days is proud to announce a column by Dr Ashok GhoshArsenic hotspots in four districts ofBihar(Patna,Bhojpur,Bhagalpur and Vaishali). Dr. Ghosh is one of thecoordinators of European Commission sponsored project “Erasmus Mundus” – aworldwide cooperation and mobility programme that aims to enhance quality inhigher education and promote intercultural understanding.
Eco-Scope BiharWhen Nature strikes…human beings have no answer…By Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshI was working in my home (Third Floor) on my computer in the evening on18th September, 2011 when suddenly the computer screen started shaking. Myhome has many rodents, and first I thought that it is mischief by some of them. Iknocked the screen a few times and kept working. But the screen of computercontinued its trembling, and then it came to my mind that it is not a mischief byrodents, but it is earthquake. I ran for my life downstairs shouting that it isearthquake. By the time I reached ground floor, it was gone, but almost all of myneighbours were on road. This was my third encounter with earthquake – thefirst was on 21st August, 1988 at Patna, the second was on 22nd December at SanDiego, USA, and third on 18th September, 2011.All the three earthquakes weremild and by the grace of God the damage was very limited, but we do not knowwhat the future has in store for us.Based on the geo-tectonic features, history of past seismic events and potentialhazards from earthquakes, the entire north-eastern and eastern region of Indiahas been included in the severe seismic Zone V/IV of BIS code. At least a dozenmega earthquakes of more than 7 in the Richter scale had devastated the regionduring the past eleven and half decades and at least two of them – the greatShillong earthquake of 1897 and the Assam earthquake of 1950, both recorded8.7 in the Richter scale, are considered among the most severe earthquakesanywhere in the world. The largest instrumented earthquake in Bihar wasrecorded on 15th January 1934 – Location was Bihar- Nepal border and themagnitude was 8.4 on Richter scale. Close to 10,700 people killed in North Biharand Nepal. Heavy damage in the towns of Muzaffarpur, Motihari, Dharbhanga,and Munger was recorded. Tremors were felt all over the Indian subcontinent, asfar as Mumbai and even Kerala.Seismo-tectonic analysis of the eastern Himalayan zone has clearly indicated thatmany of the transverse strike-slip faults are at present active producing most ofthe earthquake events in this zone. The most important of them, from west to
east, are East Patna, Kanchen Dzonga, Yadaon Gulu, Tista, Jamuna, Dudhnoi,Kulsi, Gyau , Kopili and Bomdila faults . Focal mechanism solutions for wellconstrained events occurring along these faults yielded predominantly strike-solutions but the events occurring along the central Himalayan graben structuresgave normal solutions. It may be mentioned here that the Dudhnoi and Kulsifaults cutting across the Meghalaya Plateau and Brahmaputra valley also traverseacross the frontal Himalayan fold and thrusts belt.The state of Bihar lies in the Gangetic Plain. This is a fore-deep, a down warp ofthe Himalayan foreland, of variable depth, converted into flat plains by long-vigoroussedimentation. This is known as a geosyncline and the Gangetic Plain is the Indo-Gangetic Geosyncline. This has shown considerable amounts of flexure anddislocation at the northern end and is bounded on the north by the HimalayanFrontal Thrust.The September 18, 2011 Sikkim, India earthquake occurred near the boundarybetween the India and Eurasia plates, in the mountainous region of northeastIndia near the Nepalese border. Initial analysis suggests the earthquake wascomplex, likely a result of two events occurring close together in time at depths ofapproximately 20 km beneath the Earth’s surface.At the latitude of the September 18 earthquake, the India plate converges withEurasia at a rate of approximately 46 mm/year towards the north-northeast. Thebroad convergence between these two plates has resulted in the uplift of theHimalayas, the world’s tallest mountain range. The preliminary focal mechanismof the earthquake suggests strike slip faulting, and thus an intraplate sourcewithin the upper Eurasian plate or the underlying India plate, rather thanoccurring on the thrust interface plate boundary between the two. This region hasexperienced relatively moderate seismicity in the past, with 18 earthquakes of M5 or greater over the past 35 years within 100 km of the epicenter of theSeptember 18 event.The impact of this earthquake in Bihar was mild, but it should be taken aswarning by nature for future. Earthquake in Bihar came as a nature’s warningand raised question mark over the congested urban planning. The buildings of allthe cities of Bihar are not built to face the fury of major earthquake. If in futurethe earthquake of M6 or greater may be devastating for all the cities of Bihar,including Patna. Construction of multi-storey buildings in congested urbanlocality, which don’t comply with the conditions of earthquake resistantconstruction, should be completely prohibited.
Eco-Scope BiharHarvesting water, the answer to looming water crisisBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshDemand for water is growing worldwide including India, as everybody on earthnow requires almost double the amount of water needed five years back.Withurban India growing by leaps and bounds and rural India trying to increaseagricultural productivity, we are expected to experience a severe water crisis by2020, and the per capita availability of water is projected to be less than 1,000cubic meters.The shortage of water points to a grim situation as it is bound toadversely affect both economic and agricultural growth.Irrigated lands, which accounts for almost twenty percent of world, consumearound three quarters of the annual renewable fresh water resources used byhuman beings and yield around fortypercent of the world’s food. For this reason,agricultural specialists are counting on irrigated land to produce most of theadditional food that will be needed worldwide in coming times. However, inorder to achieve this it is well recognized that irrigation efficiency must be greaterand the low-cost irrigation developments must be available for poor farmers.Meanwhile, it should be remembered that rain fed agriculture still plays ,and willcontinue to do so, a critical role in food production as eighty percent of theagricultural land worldwide is under rain fed agriculture. Among the strategies toincrease agricultural production in rain fed systems, the water harvestingpractices for supplemental irrigation have increasingly been used in an effectivemanner in many countries.Water resource management is of crucial importance for water assessments,water allocation, design and management of environmental systems. The overgrowing population,mainly in developing countries ,and the prospective ofclimate change are calling for new approaches for water planning. Consideringthe persistently growing pressure on finite fresh water and soil resources, it isbecoming increasingly clear that the challenge of feeding tomorrows population
is to a large extent about improving productivity of water within present land use,as new arable land is relatively limited.Water resources are very inefficiently used in both rain fed and irrigatedagricultures.In fact, rain fed agriculture has generally been associated to low yieldlevels and high on-farm water loses. It is fundamental that crop output per unitof water input increase in both irrigated and rain fed systems, as per capita arableland area is declining even without considering the risk of soil degradation. Newconcepts of water resource management in scarcity regions are based on the useof water harvesting techniques. These techniques were already the basis oflivelihood in arid and semi-arid areas many thousands of years ago, thus allowingeven the establishment of cities in the desert.During the recent decade the interest in water harvesting has increased anddeveloping new or adapting old water harvesting techniques, as associated withthe use of modern materials has increasingly been apparently successful inseveral countries so that to increase the water availability, either by directlyincreasing the spoil water content or by storing it for further application assupplemental irrigation in order to mitigate water stress periods occurring duringthe cropping seasons. Those cases tend to receive the most attention in theliterature. However,the overall success is much less than expected in combiningtechnical efficiency with low cost and acceptability to potential beneficiaries.Several national and international have launched programs to investigate thepotential of water harvesting techniques but it is well recognized that much has tobe done in order to clearly identify their real capabilities in several environmentalconditions.Water harvesting means capturing rain where it falls or capturing the run off inany village or town, andalso taking measures to keep that water clean by notallowing polluting activities to take place in the catchment. Therefore, waterharvesting can be undertaken through a variety of ways like • Capturing runoff from rooftops • Capturing runoff from local catchments • Capturing seasonal floodwaters from local streams • Conserving water through watershed managementThe harvested water can be used for drinking, irrigation and also to increasegroundwater recharge. In general, water harvesting is the activity of direct collection ofrainwater. The rainwater collected can be stored for direct use or can be recharged intothe groundwater. Rain is the first form of water that we know in the hydrological cycle,hence is a primary source of water for us. Rivers, lakes and groundwater are allsecondary sources of water. In present times, we depend entirely on such secondarysources of water. In the process, it is forgotten that rain is the ultimate source that feedsall these secondary sources and remain ignorant of its value. Water harvesting means tounderstand the value of rain, and to make optimum use of the rainwater at the placewhere it falls.
Eco-Scope BiharSpices for Healthy Life: a ‘Masala’ for good health!By Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshSpices and aromatics constitute integral part of Indian cooking process. Theyhave been used since ancient times. They were mentioned in the ancient Hinduscriptures called the Vedas, ancient Egyptian Papyruses and the Old Testament.Cinnamon, listed biblically as cinnamon, was part of Moses’ sacred anointing oilfor the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Testimony, the holy objects, and the highpriests.The history of the spice trade dates back many centuries. Through nearlyfour centuries, the major powers raced each other to the Orient and vied forcontrol of the spice producing lands. The Scriptures contain references to spicesin 1440 Before Christ of Ishmaelite merchants bearing spices on their way toEgypt.Ancient Egyptians used herbs and clay around their eyes and lips as a cosmetic aswell as for protection. Cleopatra later refined this practice to an art. Stories weretold of Pharaohs feeding garlic and onion to slaves, who built pyramids, to givethem stamina and energy and to ward off diseases. Many herbs have a turbulenthistory of love and passion, but perhaps the most well-known is basil. In Keatspoem “Isabella and the pot of Basil”, Isabella kept the head of her murderedloverLorenzo’s severed head in a pot of Basil and watered it with her tears!Although it was not until the Roman conquests that western counties discoveredtheir culinary possibilities. Spices have always been believed to have healing andmagical qualities. Indian spices offer significant health benefits and contributetowards an individual’s healthy life. They add flavour and nutrients to disheswithout fat or calories. They come in different colours, red, yellow, green, brown,black, and brighten up our food palette! They add taste, colour and variety to thehuman existence and cause us to cringe in their absence. Just a pinch here or anextra there, can make a world of difference! Spice up your life with these herbs,roots, and plants that benefit your health as much as they do your taste buds:
From keeping our heart healthy and our arteries clear to reducing pain andwarding off cancer, these everyday flavours add a healthy punch and zing to ourlife.A recent study published in online in the Journal of Nutrition, titled “A HighAntioxidant Spice Blend Attenuates Postprandial Insulin and TriglycerideResponses and Increases Some Plasma Measures of Antioxidant Activity inHealthy, Overweight Men” has confirmed that Spicing up dinner may havemetabolic benefits, particularly when it comes to insulin and triglyceride levels.Adding a combination of various spices – including turmeric, cinnamon,rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika – to a plain meal significantlyreduced postprandial insulin and triglyceride levels.It has also been found that Antioxidants like spices may be important in reducingoxidative stress and thus reducing the risk of chronic disease. The study hasconfirmed that the addition of spices significantly reduced insulin andtriglyceride responses to the meal, although there were no effects on glucose.Compared with the plain meal, insulin levels fell 21 percent and triglyceride levelsdropped 31 percent after the spicy meal. It is recommended that incorporatingspices into the daily diet may help normalize postprandial disturbances inglucose and lipid homeostasis while enhancing antioxidant defence. Here are afew spices that can be included in our culinary dishes regularly to keep us healthyand kicking with energy by accelerating our rate of metabolism: 1. Asafoetida (Hing) – also known as devil’s dung. It is a resin taken from a plant from the parsley family. It is a distinctive and pungent spice. It is most commonly found in powdered form. When cooked, it has a truffle-like flavour and a roasted garlic aroma. It is used mainly for its digestive properties, especially in the cooking of beans and lentils, as it is reputed to have anti-flatulence properties. Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. Scientists at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan report that the roots of Asafoetida produce natural antiviral drug compounds that kill the swine flu virus, H1N1. An article published in the “American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products” states that thecompounds from this plant may serve as promising lead components for new drug development against this type of flu. 2. Ginger(Adrak) –It is a warming herb and is wonderful for nausea, indigestion, diarrhoea and upset stomachs. Its warming effects are great for the immune system and respiratory problems; Ginger stimulates circulation of the blood, and removes toxins from the body. Ginger is high in iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamins C and E. Ginger also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis
or rheumatoid arthritis experience reduction in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Gingererols inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines, chemical messengers of the immune system. 3. Cinnamon (Dalchini) – Cinnamon has a long history as a fragrant spice and as a medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cinnamon is known for its warming qualities which increase circulation. This enhances cognitive thinking and increases metabolism. Cinnamon contains antioxidants to boost the immune system and is an anti-blood clotting and anti-inflammatory food which helps arthritis pain and helps prevent heart disease, especially high cholesterol. Cinnamon also contains manganese, fiber, Vitamin C and calcium. Cinnamon’s unique healing abilities come from three basic components in the essential oil found in its bark. This oil contains active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.Some of its reported uses are in cases of arthritis, asthma, cancer, diarrhoea, fever, heart problems, insomnia, menstrual problems, peptic ulcers, psoriasis, and spastic muscles. 4. Garlic (Lahsan) – closely related to the onion. It has a powerful pungent or hot flavour when raw, which mellows when it is cooked. It has very strong odour. Bulbs, whose segments are usually called “cloves”, are the part of the plant most commonly eaten. Garlic is used as a condiment and as flavouring agent. Garlic pickles and freshly ground garlic chutneys are popular side dishes for rice, snacks and chappathis. Garlic powder is made from ground dehydrated cloves and is used widely as a substitute for fresh garlic. There are two main medical ingredients which produce the garlic healthbenefits: Allicin and Diallyl Sulphides. Garlic helps to purify the blood and lowerblood pressure. It is considered as a cure for heart ailments. Modern science hasshown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic. The bacteria in the body do notappear to evolve resistance to the garlic as they do to many modernpharmaceutical antibiotics. This means that its positive health benefits cancontinue over time rather than helping to breed antibiotic resistant “superbugs”.Studies have also shown that garlic – especially aged garlic – can have a powerfulantioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damagingfree radicals. 5. Turmeric (Haldi)- Turmeric is another warming spice. Its orange/yellow gives Indian curries their distinctive colour. Turmeric is also an anti- inflammatory spice which helps persons with the symptoms of arthritis, and can help reduce cholesterol by preventing the build-up of plaque in the
arteries. Curcumin, or cumin, is one of the active ingredients in turmeric and helps break down fats in the body. Turmeric contains iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamins B6 and C.Curcumin, turmeric’s yellow pigment, has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Clinical studies have further substantiated curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects in rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so that they cannot spread into the body and cause more harm. 6. Cayenne pepper (Lal Mirch)-Cayenne pepper is a warming herb which stimulates the system, improving circulation and helping in cholesterol reduction. It also improves the digestive system. Cayenne pepper is a good source of vitamin C and A, the complete B complex, calcium and potassium. For those with arthritis, cayenne pepper is an anti- inflammatory herb which can help ease pain. Cayenne pepper breaks up sinus congestion and is good for respiratory illnesses. The intense heat produced by cayenne pepper is produced by its high concentration of capsaicin. This compound is well recognized in clinical research as an effective pain reliever, as a digestive and antiulcer aid and for its cardiovascular benefits. In addition capsaicin has the ability to lower body temperature by stimulating the cooling centre of the hypothalamus in the brain, helping to deal with the intense tropical heat.A low metabolism is indicated by lack of energy and weight gain. Although thereare no easy ways to lose weight; we can increase our metabolism to insure greatersuccess. Use of warming ingredients (spices) in our recipes spice up metabolismand help us in losing weight more easily. Certainly the number one way toincrease metabolism is to exercise and deep breathing, but there are other easyultra-metabolism ways through spicing up our recipes. A side benefit of usingthese herbs and spices is that they contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants togive our body the added nutrition we need during any weight loss program. Thespicy meals are well tolerated with no gastrointestinal effects, if taken inmoderated quantity. Spices are a wonderful gift of nature to human beings toenjoy their food and also to keep them healthy. So do not be shy aboutexperimenting with spices – with all the health benefits they have in store foryou. Experiment with your own combinations of spices on the basis of your tastebuds and health conditions, and create your own “Masala”for your healthy life.
Eco-Scope BiharExplosive Population Growth – The Time BombBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshIt is estimated that the human population will cross seven billion this year—morethan double what it was just 50 years ago. It is further projected that the worldpopulation will be around 10.1 billion at the end of this century,out of whichapproximately 8.2 billion will be living in less developed countries. It is alsoestimated that in next 39 years there will be some big shifts among the biggestcountries. By 2050, India will surpass China as the world’s largest population,growing from 1.24 billion to 1.69 billion as China shrinks from 1.35 billion to 1.3billion. And Africa’s population will likely have more than doubled by then, withNigeria slated to catch up to the U.S. numbers. The figures described here hasbeen published by David E. Bloom of Harvard University, Boston, USA in theJuly , 2011 issue of Science (AAAS).The study has also predicted that the global life expectancy will rise from age 69worldwide this year to 76 in 2050. By then, nearly a quarter of the world’spopulation is expected to be over 60—which is about double the proportion thatit is today. The speed of migration from rural areas to urban areas will beaccelerated. Currently just over half of the world’s population lives in urbanenvironments, but by 2050, that figure is expected to be some 69 percent of theworld’s 9.3 billion people.The recent increase in the world population has been catalysed due to thefollowing major reasons:1.The increase in birth rates due to medical improvements2.The decrease in death rates due to better medical facilities and advancements inthe field of medicine.3.The increased world’s food production in last ten years in past 10 years by 24percent.Is this projected population explosion a boon or a curse? For the Europeandeveloped countries like Spain and Italy, where the population is decreasing, this
might be considered as a boon. However, for the developing countries like India,population explosion is a curse and is damaging to the development of thecountry and it’s society. The developing countries already facing a lack in theirresources, and with the rapidly increasing population, the resources available perperson are reduced further, leading to increased poverty, malnutrition, and otherlarge population-related problems. This population explosion will pose manydirect and indirect challenges in coming years. Some of the direct challenges willbe:1. Increased Air Pollution Load2. Increased Water Pollution Load3. Unemployment and illiteracy4. Short Supply of Food Resources5. Pressure on Public Transport System5. Boom in the price of real state in urban areaThere will be many indirect consequences of this population explosion too – mostserious being increased rate of Global warming through anthropogenic activitiesof this vast population. As the population will grows exponentially, more andmore forests will be cleared. The two most common reasons for deforestation willbe to make houses for increased number of people to live in, and to use wood as afuel in the industries. As the forests are very good sink of greenhouse gases(GHGs) the declining forest cover will accelerate global warming.As India is mainly an agrarian country, temperature and climate plays animportant role in the economy of the country. Global warming will affects themain crops in India in 3 major ways:1. It is estimated that only a 2O C increase in mean air temperatures will beenough to decrease the rice yield by 0.75 ton/hectare in high-yield areas likePunjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.2. It is also estimated that a drastic increase in greenhouse gases like carbondioxide may cause wheat production to fall as much as 68%.3. Additionally, the changing climatic conditions have the potential tosignificantly increase tropical disturbances like cyclones and storms. The rain fallpattern may change due to global warming disturbing the crop life cycle andyield.We’re already way past the carrying capacity of this planet by a very simplestandard. If we allow the population growth like this, and we do not change ourconsumption pattern of natural resources, we will require seven earths to sustainlife by the end of this century. Unfortunately till now we have only one earth, andin near future our scientific community is not in a position to create even onemore earth. So the only choice is to check the population explosion and alsomodify our consumption pattern. We will have to work for a gradual decline inpopulation, and also at the same time for a rapid change in consumption habits.Action plans and strategies can be developed to increase public understanding of
how rapid population growth limits chances for meeting basic needs. The spirit ofopen communication and empowerment of individual women and men will bekey to a successful solution to many population problems. Teachers, parents,other educators, politicians and other concerned citizens can practice how tomake good decisions in everyday life. Decisions about family size and resourcewill affect the future generations. Through community forums, specific issuesabout the population growth can be discussed and possible action plans can bedeveloped. If we do not diffuse this projected” Population Time Bomb”, very soonit will become a political and social nightmare for planet earth.
Eco-Scope BiharRegulation of Ground Water Resource – Need of the hour!By Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshI participated in ‘Consultation meeting on the draft model bill for the protection,conservation, management and regulation of Groundwater Resources’ last Fridayconvened by Planning Commission of India,New Delhi. The objective of theproposed bill is to safeguard the ground water for our future generations. The billis the need of the hour and without implementation of such bill for watergovernance, we are going to face severe water scarcity in near future.One of themain preambles of this bill is the need for protection of ground water fromdepletion, deterioration, biological and chemical pollution. It is a commendableinitiative by Planning Commission of India.Groundwater in India is a critical resource. However, an increasing number ofaquifers are reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation. If current trendscontinue, in 20 years about 60% of all India’s aquifers will be in a criticalcondition says a World Bank report, Deep Wells and Prudence. This will haveserious implications for the sustainability of agriculture, long-term food security,livelihoods, and economic growth. It is estimated that over a quarter of thecountry’s harvest will be at risk. There is an urgent need to change the status quo.Non-regulated use of ground water in for agricultureEffective regulation of ground water requires not only sound legislation but alsothe administrative capacity to monitor and enforce rules. This becomes extremelydifficult when there are very large numbers of small users. Today, out of a total of5723 groundwater blocks in the country, 1615 are classified as semi-critical,critical or over-exploited, and regulatory directives have been issued by theCentral Ground Water Authority for 108 blocks. However, neither the Authoritynor the state groundwater agencies have the resources or personnel to overseethe enforcement of these regulations.Precious ground water –can we utilize it like this forever?The water sector in different climatic zones of our country has since decadesbeen exposed to increasing stresses, such as diminishing surface waterresources,depleting aquifers,quality deterioration,inadequate water supplies and
infrastructure and salinization process. According to UNESCO more than 1.1billion people throughout the world are affected by water shortage and the vastmajority of these people are living in developing countries. India is the largestuser of groundwater in the world, with an estimated use of 230 cubic kilometersof groundwater every year – more than a quarter of the global total. In fact,groundwater use has been steadily increasing in India over the last 4-5 decades.Today, groundwater supports approximately 60 percent of irrigated agricultureand more than 80 percent of rural and urban water suppliesWe have witnessed for decades:1. Increase in population2. Expansion in industrialization3. Improving living condition4. Development of agriculture and increasing use of chemicals – especiallyagrochemicals and detergents.To satisfy the increasing needs of development non-renewable ground waterresources were developed, not only for municipal use, which can somehow bejustified, but also for irrigation purposes without sound economic analysis, orprovision of substituting these resources or putting investments to enable cominggenerations to generate similar resources. The results are depleting ground waterresources and contaminated aquifers.The degradation in environmental quality is on the increase negatively affectingsurface and ground water resources used for human consumption.The provisionof waste water treatment and reuse, and recycling of solid waste are not adequateand are expansive to implement. Waste, especially liquid waste ending up insurface water bodies is causing the major quality problems. The problems aredirect result of human activities and mismanagement by agencies related to watersupply and sanitation.Overexploitation of fossil ground water for irrigational use is gradually leading toaquifer depletion even inIndia including our state of Bihar. There is also theemerging arsenic crisis in Ganga- Meghna- Brahmaputra basins of India. Of theuse sectors which will be most suffering of that depletion is the irrigation sectorwith negative impact on society and state .The catastrophes will affect the socio-economic situation of agriculture depending on these ground water resources.Industries will be less affected and domestic use has to resort to alternativesources.In addition, increasing use of detergent and discharge of untreated municipaleffluent containing phosphate and nitrate to diminish surface water sources, withhigh sun illumination and other conditions are gradually leading to increasingeutrophication problem of major surface water bodies. This is expected to renderthese water sources, presently used for drinking purposes, unsuitable for thesame purpose, requiring advance and expensive additional treatment and controlprocedures.
The counter actions to reduce the negative impacts of such water quantity andquality deteriorations are1. Setting long term strategies for sustainable use of ground water,2. Introduction of plans and relevant programs in addition to implementation ofremediation measures. These include waste water treatment and reuse scheme,3. Avoidance of surface water storage of treated water during the dry season andreducing the use of chemicals.4. Community management of Ground Water5. Promoting conjunctive water use in agriculture through micro zone planningUnless our country takes the necessary proactive measures to alleviate theproblem of over exploitation of ground water anddeterioration in quality ofsurface and ground water, we will in the near future face immense water problemwith all the attending socio-economic implications. There is a need to move fromopportunistic exploitation of groundwater resources to more systematicevaluation of the status of both urban and rural groundwater use and thecontribution it can make to meeting future demand.
Eco-Scope BiharDeoghar – a green destination in the month of ShravanBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshI am back home after spending three days at Deoghar. Deoghar is one of the maintowns of Santhal Parganas in the state of Jharkhand. Deoghar literally means –the abode of GODS. It is a serene place with a picturesque, natural sceniclocation. Lush green forests of Data Jungle form the northern outskirts of thisbeautiful little town. Nandan Pahar and Trikutaparbata are two low hills withforest cover which lie to the north-east and west of Deoghar respectively. Manysmall hills also lie along the southern line. Yamunajor and Dharua are two creeksnear the town. The town lies in a hilly tract surrounded by greenery. Deoghar hasone of the 12 famous Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva as well as one of the 51Shaktipeethas of Goddess Durga lying side by side. The place is called BaidyanathDham and it is the only place in India where a Jyotirlinga anda Shaktipeetha coexist. The Puranas speak of theBaidyanath Jyotirlingam and itdates back to Treta period.The temple of Baba Baidyanath dham is situated in a spacious courtyard boundedby stone walls. In the temple complex there are 22 other temples.The Baidyanath temple faces east .According to the Shiva Purana, it was inthe TretaYuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka brought Shiva Lingam toDeoghar. The top of the original Shiva Lingam was slightly broken, in keepingwith the legend that it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. The Lingamhas since been rebuilt. Near the temple is the Shivaganga Lake. TheChandrakoopa well, near the main entrance is said to have been built andconsecrated with water from several pilgrimages by Ravana.This time period is very significant for Deogharas pilgrims (Kawarias ) travelfrom Sultanganj to Deoghar on foot carrying Ganga Jal to be offered to LordShiva. The Distance is 105 KMs and the scene on the road is like an ongoing fairfor one month. A large number of Kawarias (Dak Bums) cover this distance non-stop within twenty four hours. The festivities known as Shravani Mela continues
for one month during which this area becomes the centre of Shiva Aradhana . Thedevotees offer the holy water to one of the twelveJyotirlingas of Mahadev Shiva.According to my friends residing at Deoghar approximately one lakh devoteesoffer Ganga Jal to Lord Shiva every day throughout this month. It was a greatexperience for me to be among the Kanwarias and offer prayers in the temple ofShiva.Their spirit and endurance to complete this journey is exemplary. The bestpart of my entire trip to Deoghar was that despite lakks of devotees visiting thistown every day, it was much cleaner as compared to our stinking city of Patna.
Eco-Scope BiharClimate Change knows no national boundaries: the need to changehow we behave towards earthby Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshWith ocean temperature hitting record highs, Arctic sea ice dwindling, andglaciers melting faster than ever, it seems that climate change is knocking on ourdoors.The urgency is suddenly hitting home for people all around the planet.Theproblems associated with the climate crisis seem to be far from being solved – inspite of intense International debate that have spurred by scientific studies of theInternational Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in spite of Al Gore and AngelaMarkel, in spite of efforts such as Kyoto protocol, the UN meeting at Copenhagenin 2009, or efforts on the climate front taken worldwide, and in spite of the factthat the imminent catastrophe is continuing to send its apostles across.The events in the first two thirds of 2010 as evidence for the catastrophe: thewinter storm Xynthia in Europe at the end of February,the intense flooding incentral Europe from May to early June that caused the second largest flooding inGermany, heavy storms and strong wind in the US in mid-May that altogethercaused damages of about 7.1 million Euros, intense monsoon rains in PakistaninJuly and August that endangered more than 15 million people homeless, and atthe same time a large number of wildfires that burnt about 200,000 ha in Russiaafter a heat wave that lasted for several weeks. Finally, the north east of Chinawas troubled by heavy flooding in August. It is estimated that the economic costfor unabated climate change will be about 900,000 Euros by 2050. While theseare alarming issues that must goad individuals and governments out of slumber,there is a need to analyze the issues that lie at the root of the problem.Climate crisis is so complex that the resulting problems can only be solved ifsolutions take all the various global challenges and threats in toaccount.Population growth, excessive use of resources, emissions, andasymmetries in the economic system has resulted in four earth crisis. These crises
can be understood as dynamically developing critical processes which seriouslyendanger our current way of life.They entail:1. The consequences of climate change and the closely related question of energysupply. Climate change has a vast amount of serious effects. Long termdisturbances in life supporting functions of our earth system which include notonly easily noticeable drought and floods, but also substantial changes in thebiosphere, especially in oceans and forests.2. A reduction in the supply of water and food due to the overuse and pollution ofwater and soil. Climate change worsens this crisis, especially through increasedintensity and frequency of drought and floods.3. Social tension due to increased social injustice. The resultant instability andthreats are magnified by the financial crisis or rather by the fracture in the globaleconomic system. At the same time the consequences of climate change,especially the reduced water and food supply, is affecting the poor muchmorethan the wealthy, further increasing the tension between social groups. 4. The loss of biodiversity. It is well known that our earth is a” life supporting and stabilizing system” which – next to many other functions – is able to keep global temperature between 00C and 200 C.This temperature is regulated in parts by the large ecosystems of our planet, such as rain forests,wetlands and marine ecosystems. By now it is generally accepted that biodiversity is an essential precondition for the stability of the current earth system.The earth crisis calls for a better understanding of our earth system and forsustainable solutions to all sectors- especially the water sector and addressingissues in the economy and development by everyone responsible person in thesociety and polity. The earth crisis demand transformation in our behaviortowards earth. People across the globe need to unite in a bid to combat theenvironmental problems. It is not a country specific phenomenon and naturedoes not recognize national boundaries. Today there is a need for development ofand education in environmental ethics.
Eco-Scope BiharBiomass Energy – Ideal alternative energy source for rural BiharBy Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshBiomass materials have been in use since man’s cave-dwelling days for meetingvarious human needs including energy. The main sources of biomass energy aretrees, agricultural products and animal waste. Until the middle of 19th century,biomass dominated the global energy supply with about seventy percent share.Biomass remains the primary energy source in the developing countries in Asiaeven today. Share of biomass in energy varies – from a very high over 75 inNepal, Laos, Bhutan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar; nearly 50 percent inVietnam, Pakistan and Philippines; nearly 33 percent in India and Indonesia, to alow 10 percent in China and 7 percent in Malaysia as reported by FAO.India has a long history of energy planning and programme interventions.Programmes for promoting biogas and improved cookimg stoves began as earlyas 1940’s. Afforestation and rural electrification programmes are being pursuedsince 1950’s. A decade before the oil crisis of 1973, India appointed the EnergySurvey Committee. The national biomass policy originated later, in the decade of1970’s, as a component of rural and renewable energy policies as a response torural energy crisis and oil imports.Among the biomass energy sources, wood fuels are the most prominent. Withrapid increase in fossil fuel use, the share of biomass in total energy declinedsteadily through substitution by coal in the nineteenth century and later byrefined oil and gas during the twentieth century. Despite its declining share inenergy, global consumption of wood energy has continued to grow. In comingtimes biomass can meet some of this increasing energy demand, particularly inrural India as agriculture is the major source of livelihood. Biomass is generatedin very huge quantity through agriculture, but it is not being managed properly.In this context the main questions are:1. What will be production costs for a specific utilization path in a region?2. Is it possible to produce the biomass-based energy competitively?3. How to attract investments in Biomass Energy Sector?4. What plant sizes should be practical and viable?
5. How many production sites are reasonable in any specific area?6. What is better, a central plant or a decentralized concept with transportation ofraw material and product?According to a recent document published by Climate Change Community ofSolution Exchange over 1.5 billion people are dependent on biomass for fulfillingtheir energy needs worldwide. India imports fossil fuels worth US $ 100 billion tomeet 70% of its energy requirements. Exploring the potential of renewable energyis crucial for energy, economic security and also for Climate Change mitigation.Biomass contributes to around 30% of the total primary energy consumed inIndia and has potential of about 78,500 MW.Agricultural residues can be utilized in India in mass scale for generatingBiomass energy. About 225 million Tons of agricultural residue is burnt in fieldsevery year. Technologies are available to utilize them as raw material forgeneration of Biomass energy, but awareness, technical and financial support isessential for dissemination. Involvement of Self Help Groups for managingagricultural residues is very important in adopting this alternative energy source.Equally important is development of transmission line for biomass energy. Thereare many challenges in promotion and popularization of Biomass Energy: • Restrictive perception of biomass as a traditional fuel for meeting rural energy needs and focus on the supply-side push. • Since energy markets are non-existent or weak in rural areas, the traditional approach did not consider any role for market in promoting biomass supply or efficient use. • Limited capacity to assess and adopt technological options. • Lack of funds for research and development. • Few incentives for investment in biomass energy sector. • Limited number of skilled professionals. • High charges by the distribution company preventing third party sale.Husk Power System working in Bihar for supply of Biomass Power is one of greatsuccess stories in this field .This company illuminated the first village from itsfirst 100% biomass based power plant that uses discarded rice husks to generateelectricity in August 2007, and today it is the leading company to promoteBiomass Energy for Rural India. Beginning with Tamkuha in Bihar, the ‘HuskPower System’ designed by NRI entrepreneur Gyanesh Pandey has gone on todispel darkness in a large number of villages since its inception in India. HuskPower’s technology is simple by design: It utilizes waste from rice paddies as rawmaterial and through biomass gasification process a clean fuel is produced to runa generator. Gasification is a technology that was developed since a century ago.Gasification technology developed quite well during the Second World War.However, this technology given up when liquid fuel became easily available at
cheaper rate. Now again this technology is gaining popularity because ofenvironmental and economic factors. Gasification is basically a thermo chemicalprocess that converts biomass into gaseous fuel through a gasification medium inthe form of air, moisture or oxygen. Gas products in Gasification are commonlydescribed as syngas or synthesis gas.The prestigious Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy recognized Husk PowerSystems last month for its work in rural electrification and empowerment inBihar, India. It is estimated that the company has set up 65 rice husk basedpower generation plants, which serve over 25,000 households in one of thepoorest regions of India. The company’s mission is ‘Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya’ or‘From darkness to light’. Husk Power system is leading a revolution inelectrification, helping the low-income people of Bihar out of the oppressive cycleof poverty by lighting their lives. With some more technological innovations andadaptations to local conditions the model of Husk Power System may bereplicated on a large scale in rural Bihar and it may be a very significant tool forpoverty alleviation. I Congratulate Mr.Gyanesh Panday and Husk Power systemfor their innovation and initiative to provide clean and green energy to ruralBihar, and also for Ashden Award.Future of biomass energy in India depends on providing reliable energy servicesat competitive cost. India has a Potential of 5000 MW of bagasse based and16881 MW of agro residue based power production , but only 1338 MW and 861MW respectively has been achieved till March, 2010.This gap can bridged onlyonly if biomass energy services can compete on a fair market. Equally importantis establishment of reliable transmission line for uninterrupted power supply.Policy priorities should be to orient biomass energy services towards marketdemand and forces. Most economical option for generation of biomass energy isutilization of waste materials. However, biomass waste is not sufficient to supportthe growing demands for biomass resources. Sustained supply of biomass shallrequire production of energy crops and wood plantations for meeting growingnon-energy needs. Land supply, enhanced biomass productivity, economicoperations of plantations and logistics infrastructure are critical areas which willdecide the future of biomass energy in India.
Eco-Scope BiharThe Kosi confusion: First, understand how Kosi behaves and thenlook for solution!By Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshRiver Kosi often described as the “Sorrow of Bihar” exhibits many uniquecharacteristics. During the past few hundred years Kosi has shifted its coursefrom east to west to a distanceof 300kms, leaving behind massive devastationand vast tracts of uncultivable land.The Kosi river system is the only Indian Riverwhose hydrology is deeply influenced both by the regional geological complexitiesand inputs of annual precipitation and Himalayan glacier melts. This antecedentdrainage system is notorious for its migratory trends, resultant flooding, and ahuge detrital load of boulders and sand.The magnitude of the shifting of Kosi river is comparable to only Yellow river alsoknown as “Sorrow of China”, which shifted 375 miles north from its1852 position.Kosi is an antecedent river older than the mighty Himalayas and finds place inmany Hindu mythological texts as a very agile river called “Kausiki”. Kausiki wasa mermaid goddess worshiped by the citizens of “Matsya Pradesh” as described inthe “Vishnu Purana”.Kosi and its tributaries originating in the northern Tethyan Himalayan zone cutacross the Great Himalayanand Lesser Himalayan Ranges in a number of deepgorges and ultimately flow into the great alluvial floodplains of the Indo-GangeticPlain. The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a deep crustal trough filled with Quaternarysediments. Its origin and structure are closely related to the rise of theHimalayas. Changes are still taking place at the bottom of this trough giving riseto occasional earthquakes in the north Indian plains..Neotectonic movementsaffect regional slope bysinking or uplifting a particular block of the crust. Achange of gradient, even if very slow, affects thedirection and rapidity of surfacerun-off and river discharge.The folklore of Bihar’s Mithilanchal, which is among the world’s mostimpoverished regions despite its rich culture, has always been interlaced with thechronicling of the Kosi’s changing course. The first credible mapping of themeandering river was, however, attempted in 1779 by a British surveyor who
tracked its course since 1731. Over the past 250 years, the river has shifted about120km from east to west but the .August 18, 2008 breach near Kusaha in Nepalwas among the most devastating because the Kosi moved to the east — takingover a million people by total shock.Till now, the Kosi has already flowed throughan estimated 15 courses during recorded history and, therefore, it is said thatthere is hardly an inch of land in Mithilanchal through which the untamed riverhas not passed at some point in time.Man has lived with floods since the very inception of his existence but the impactof floods was not felt in the past due to small population. With rapid growth ofpopulation, flood plains are now densely occupied. The wanton destruction of theforests for reclaiming areas for cultivation and other uses has resulted in ananomalous situation where floods have shown more destructive trend.The Kosi floods are predictable ecological event and it has devastated North Biharmany times, but still our politicians have paid no attention to the science of thisriver. The repeated inundations by the waters of the Kosi in Bihar and theresultant widespread human suffering have been declared a natural disaster. Yearafter year the kosi belt is devastated by flood and relief contributions pour infrom national and International agencies. Political leaders keep busy blaming oneanother for small political gains. Water recedes ultimately and people startreturning to their original habitat. Life returns to normal schedule, with a feelingthat the natural disaster has been successfully taken care of. Most of money spentsupposed to be spent on flood relief is swindled, and only a small fraction of reliefmaterial reaches the suffering masses.Our political leadership is not aware of the immense risks associated with thiscasual approach to the flooding by this mighty HimalayanRiver. There is a needfor a comprehensive report on the ecological background of the repeated Kositragedy based on interdisciplinary scientific studies.The problem, in its latest form, began after the Kosi was embanked in 1950.Thejacketing of the river has proved to be disastrous. The river’s flow was controlledbut there was no way to check the resulting siltation. This complicated mattersand new threat is looming again this year as a good monsoon is predicted thisyear with heavy rain fall in Kosi catchment area. The position of Kosi afterKusaha breach in 2008 was the natural drainage position of that time due totectonic changes after the formation of embankment. The Government of Biharreverted Kosi to the pre 2008 breach, which was wrong step in my opinion. Ourremote sense studies has clearly suggested that the eastern part of Kosi fan issubsiding and that has been confirmed by recent news coming in through printand electronic media – Kosi river is flowing deeper near the easternembankment. There is high pressure on eastern embankment.I saw many visuals on TV channels last week with devastating Kosi threateningthe eastern embankment of Kosi. There is urgent need to take precautionarymeasures to protect this embankment so that once again we do not face the
situation of 2008 by Kosi floods. There is also a need for in depth study for Geo-morphological study in Kosi Fan area and tectonic changed going on in this area.The ecological complexity of the Himalayan rivers is nothing new, but theknowledge of their hydrology and geomorphology is old, though it has remainedunderdeveloped. Owing to unexplained governmental reservations on disclosingdetailed data on these rivers, related river research has not been taken up in thepublic domain. It will not be an unfair to say that the management of these riversis going on without much contact with the advances in interdisciplinaryknowledge on river systems made in the recent decades.Time is running out for India to take the difficult but inevitable path of usingecological sciences, instead of taking the unscientific escape route of describingextreme but predictable ecological processes as natural disasters. The cost ofdelay will be very high, in terms of frequent recurrence of the widespreaddevastation and human misery as we have seen in the case of the Kosi. In myopinion the best solution to solve the Kosi menace will be going back to thehistorical experience of living with the flood in the plains, allowing Kosi to followits natural position and adjusting livelihoods and infrastructure to the annualinundation.
Eco-Scope Bihar26th JUNE, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit DrugTraffickingBy Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshThe United Nations General Assembly in 1987 decided to observe the 26 June as“The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking” as anexpression of its determination to strengthen action and co–operation to achievean international society free of drug abuse. Drug abuse is the use of a drug orother substance for a non-medical use, with the aim of producing some type of‘mind-altering’ effect in the user. This includes both the use of illegally producedsubstances, and the abuse of legal drugs, in a use for which the substance was notintended. Often this involves use of the substance in excessive quantities toproduce pleasure, to alleviate stress, or to alter or avoid reality.Alcoholism and drug addiction is among the most prevalent, complex, anddestructive illness in human society, they are found in every segment of society,regardless of race, religion, and socioeconomic class. Most significant is theirimpact on physical and mental health, family relationships and childdevelopment, road safety, criminal justice, and the economy.Children’s earliest interactions occur within the family and can be positive ornegative. For this reason, factors that affect early development in the family areprobably the most crucial. Children are more likely to experience risk of drugabuse when there is lack of mutual attachment and nurturing by parents, orineffective parenting, or a chaotic home environment.Most of persons abuse drugs to help them change the way they feel aboutthemselves and/or some aspect of their lives. They experience some problemsassociated with their drug use but use those experiences to set appropriate limitson how much and how often they use. Seldom, if ever, repeat the drug-relatedbehaviours that have caused them problems in the past. Drug abusers getcomplaints about their using and accept those complaints as expressions ofconcern for their well-being.
People who are addicted to drugs experience negative consequences associatedwith using but continue to use despite those consequences. They set limits onhow much or how often they will use but unexpectedly exceed those limits. Theypromise themselves and/or other people that they will use in moderation butbreak those promises. They often feel guilty or remorseful about their using butstill fail to permanently alter the way they use.There are many signs and symptoms of drug addiction. Addiction to any drugmay include these general characteristics:• Feeling that one needs the drug on a regular basis to have fun, relax or deal withtheir problems.• Giving up familiar activities such as sports, homework, or hobbies.• Sudden changes in work or school attendance and quality of work or grades.• Doing things one normally wouldn’t do to obtain drugs, such as frequentlyborrowing money or stealing items from employer, home or school.• Taking uncharacteristic risks.• Anger outbursts, acting irresponsibly and overall attitude change .• Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming.• Wearing sunglasses and/or long sleeve shirts frequently or at inappropriatetimes.• Not spending time with friends who don’t use drugs and/or associating withknown drug users.• Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviours such as frequent trips to storagerooms, restroom, basement, etc.• Talking about drugs all the time and pressuring others to use drugs.• Feeling exhausted, depressed, hopeless, or suicidal.There are seven categories of commonly abused drugs in our society –Cannabinoids (e.g., hashish and marijuana) , Stimulants (e.g., amphetamines andcocaine) , Depressants (e.g., Xanax and Quaaludes) , Narcotics (aka opioids andmorphine derivatives, e.g., heroin, opium, Vicodin) , Hallucinogens (e.g., LSDand mescaline) , Dissociative anaesthetics (e.g., PCP) and other compounds (e.g.,steroids and inhalants)The National Institute on Drug Abuse, USA has published a list of commonlyabused drugs and their street names, along with intoxication effects and adversehealth consequences. All of the drugs pose a high potential for addiction.Drugs and effects click on link for detailsThe web portal “Teen-Drug-Abuse” has many suggestions on how to talk to teensabout drug use, which can be practiced by all of us as a part of campaign againstdrug abuse. Here are some of them which are simple and practical to follow:• Educate yourself – Find out about the issues. Check with local schools, agenciesand information services for the resources you will need. Find books at the locallibrary. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to discuss the issues.• Be accessible and open-minded – The idea is to open a dialogue. Listen to whatyour teens have to say. Ask questions and do not judge.
• Be clear – Your main message should be clearly stated: “don’t use drugs” shouldbe the core theme of your discussions.• Keep it relaxed – Avoid the “We have to talk” approach. Relax and talk about itover supper or when you’re driving to the mall. If you are casual, it will help yourchildren to be more honest and willing to talk.• Grab opportunities – Use teachable moments. If you have just seen a TV showor poster that discusses the issue, use this to allow the discussion to come upnaturally.• Discuss peer pressure – Talk about ways to say no and how to deal with thepressures to conform and fit in.• Practice what you preach – Kids imitate adults. If you abuse drugs yourself, nomatter what you tell your teens, your actions speak louder than words. Avoidbeing a hypocrite and perhaps it is time that you examine your own problem first.Educate, be accessible and open-minded, be clear, keep it relaxed, grabopportunities, discuss peer pressure, and practice what you preach.Today I appeal all my readers to pledge that they will never abuse drug, and bealert all the times so that none of their family members fall into the trap of drugaddiction. I also appeal to break the silence – using the basic facts, talk openly inthe family and community about the reality and danger of drug abuse and HIV &AIDS.
Eco-Scope BiharWorld Environment Day – 5th June, 2011: save forests and save ourfutureBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshEditor’s note: Since today is the World Environment Day, Prof Ashok Ghosh’scolumn is appearing today instead of Monday.Today is The World Environment Day. I started my day with newspapers and acup of tea .Almost all the newspapers were splashed with substantive coverage ofworld environment day (WED)-2011.It is good to seethat thelevel of awarenesstowards our responsibility to mother earth, and proactive role of media isincreasing. The theme for this year’s WED is: Forests: Nature At YourService.The theme is very timely and relevant, as the forests are the biggestprotector for life on earth. They are being devastated by increasing pollution loadat global level through anthropogenic activities.As per UNEP statement “Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass,performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planetalive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for theirlivelihoods. They play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasingoxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide. “The forest is alsoconsidered as green lungs of mother earth which provides oxygen for survival ofall seven million human beings on earth.Forests are also feeder for many of our rivers and are essential to supplying thewater for nearly 50% of our largest cities on earth. They create and maintain soilfertility; they help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms, floods andfires. The forests are also rich reservoirs of biodiversity.The forests contain about50% of nature’s biodiversity.It is estimated that there are about 1700 tree species,over 1200 species of birds, and thousands of microbes in forest ecosystem. 95species of different ants have been found on a single tree of Amazon forest inNorth America.Scientists estimate that only 10 % of species of forests are known,may be less if we include microbial biodiversity.
The forest and tree cover of India as per the State of Forest Report 2009,preparedby Forest Survey of India ( based on satellite data) is 78.37 million hain2007,which is 23.87 % of the total geographical area of country. In contrast theforest cover of Bihar is only 6,804 km 2, which is 7.23% of the state’sgeographical area. Bihar has 231km2 very dense forest, 3,248 km2 moderatelydense forest and 3,325 km2open forest.Comparison of the current forest cover(Satellite data of Oct 2006- Feb, 2006) with previous assessment(Satellite DataOct- Dec, 2004 – Jan,2005) shows a loss of 3 km 2 of forest cover in Bihar.Bihar is left with very little forest cover after creation of separate state ofJharkhand. There is urgent need for rapid forestation in Bihar to protect itsenvironment and climate.All of us will have to join hands and contribute towardsthis mission. I appeal to readers of my column to take the following pledge tocelebrate WED 2011: 1. At least plant one tree every year – there is no upper limit. 2.Say no to plastic bags – use cotton or jute carry bags 3.Conserve water – recycle grey water 4. Avoid use of CFC containing sprays and appliances to protect ozone layer. 5. Use properly maintained fuel efficient vehicles to cut down emission of toxic gases.
Eco-Scope BiharIs Patna preparing or refusing to prepare for Monsoon: the state andstatus of our garbage!By Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshOur state capital is one of those cities where we have become accustomed toseeing mountains of garbage on roads. It is a dreamland for industries related tosolid waste disposal and generation of energy from waste. Patna High Court onApril 26, 2010 in reply to a PIL, issued a directive to Patna MunicipalCorporation to get sewer lines, drains and manholes cleaned. A division benchcomprising Chief Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice Mihir Kumar also directed thecivic agency to put dustbins across the city for collection of garbage. The benchasked PMC to take action against those found throwing garbage and polythenebags on the road.More than a year has elapsed since this judgement, and despite the court ordernothing has changed. A tour to different localities of Patna, even the so called“posh colonies” will give you an idea how seriously we take the court order. A fewdustbins may be seen here and there but they are so over filled or mis-utilizedthat they are no more dustbin but monstrous stink bombs with foul smell,compelling you to run fast.The pre-monsoon cleaning of canals, the de-clogging of drains and the removal ofsilt from Canals in all the Divisions of the Corporation is progressing fast already.Majority of the city drains have been de-clogged. However all the solid wasteextracted from open canals have been left on the road. There was athundershower on 20th May, due to which half of the waste has already fed intothe canals again. The remaining waste will go back to its origin at the onset ofmonsoon, leading to clogged drains.The narrow roads have become narrower due to random disposal of the wasteremoved from the clogged canals. My residence is located in Professors Colonylocated near Mohanpur pump house, PunaiChak. I clicked a few photographstoday to show the readers of my column the outcome of cleaning of the drainagein my locality.
A large number of drains have been constructed in Patna with a view to createefficient drainage system in the city, but the drains and manholes have proved tobe a cause of concern for the residents of many localities of Patna due to theirpoor upkeep. At many places the manholes are located above the road. Accordingto a rough estimate there are about a thousand manholes in the municipal limitsof Patna. While the old city areas falling under the Patna City and Bankiporecircles have less number of manholes, the new areas falling under theKankerbagh and NutanRajdhani circles have majority of them. Many of themanholes are without cover, very risky for old persons walking through roadswith open manholes. In many new colonies of Patna there is no systematicdrainage system. There is the problem of temporary septic tanks through whichground water used for drinking is being contaminated. Kankerbagh, Patna City,Rajendra Nagar, Mithapur and MussalapurHaat, Khashmahal, Chitkohra andmany more small colonies remain as dirty as ever. There are open drains, wastefrom households find their way directly to roads, meat is sold openly in placeslike Boring Road and Raja Bazar and defecation/urination in public is regularcivic eyesores. The stench is sickening and repulsive.There is a huge cow dung dump behind my house created by unauthorizedpersons keeping their cows in temporary hutments. Crows and dogs add to ourwoes by rummaging this waste. My seven year old grandson from Hyderabadcame here to spent a few days, as his school was closed. Everyday in the morningduring his stay, he used to stand on the balcony staring the cows and the heaps ofcow dung at the back of my house. When he went back to Hyderabad, his friendsasked him – what did you see in Patna? His innocent and spontaneous answerwas cowdung and cowdung and more cowdung!That is the summary of the pre-monsoon status of our city – Patna.
Eco-Scope BiharIs Eucalyptus Tree Friend or Foe? Recent research shows no basis forbias!By Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshEucalyptus tree is one of the exotic trees grown in many parts of world, includingIndia. Tailapatra, Sugandhapatra, Tailaprana, and NilgiriTaila are the othercommon names used for the Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is a tall evergreen tree. Itattains the height of more than 300 feet. Leaves of the tree on juvenile shoots areopposite, sessilecordate-ovate and covered with a bluish white bloom. The adult leaves arealternate, lanceolate and are 6-12 inches long and 1-2 inches broad. It flowers arecream in colour. The appearance of its bark varies with the age of the tree. Itsbark consists of long fibers and can be pulled off in long pieces.It was Baron Ferdinand von Müller, the German botanist and explorer (from1857 to 1873 Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne), who made thequalities of this Eucalyptus known all over the world, and so led to itsintroduction into Europe, North and South Africa, California and the non-tropical districts of South America. He was the first to suggest that the perfume ofthe leaves resembling that of Cajaputoil might be of use as a disinfectant in feverdistricts, a suggestion which has been justified by the results of the carefulexamination to which the Eucalyptus has been subjected since its use wasinitiated in medicine.Today, Eucalyptus is used worldwide in pharmaceutical products such as pills,liquids, inhalers, salves, ointments and even in sweets. It helps relieve symptomsof colds, flu, chest congestion, sore throats, bronchitis and much more.Eucalyptus is known for its use either as an essential oil or leaf tea for its abilityto relieve congestion and ease breathing in colds. It oil is also used as the painreliever foe sore and overextended muscles. The essential oil of Eucalyptuscontains cineole, a potent antiseptic that helps in killing the bacteria and fungi. Ithelps in increasing cardiac action. It is taken in all types of fever. It helps in
purifying the blood. It lowers the blood sugar. It brings relief to the patients ofAsthma and bronchitis. It is the excellent topical remedy for aching joints andrheumatism. It helps in improving the blood circulation. Eucalyptus is also usedas the pulpwood in the manufacture of the paper as well as raw material. It isused as the poles for the construction of huts and houses. It is used in makingplywood, doors and windows.There is a myth that Eucalyptus trees absorb huge quantity of water and maydeplete ground water. Despite the enthusiasm with which eucalyptus has beenreceived and promoted by policy makers and forest department officials alike, itslarge-scale establishment in India since the early 1980’s has invoked passionatecriticism from environmentalists, social activists and some NGO’s. There aremany arguments against this plant:1. Eucalyptus is water intensive, and reduces water available for other species,effectively out-competing them. In arid areas, the consequent suppression ofother plant life, coupled with a high water demand, reduces soil moisture,preventing the recharge of groundwater, and can reduce local water tables. This isexacerbated by a high transpiration rate indicative of the inefficient use of water.2. Eucalyptus is nutrient intensive, which creates deficits for other plant life, aprocess that is exacerbated by its low returns in leaf litter to the soil. Thus it doesnot promote the building of humus, and by implication, does not contribute tothe long-term fertility of the soil, as other species might resulting in an overallnutrient impoverishment of the soil.3. Eucalyptus is toxic, due to allelopathic properties, which serve to reduce notonly other plant life, including crops, by restricting germination of other species,but is also detrimental to soil micro and macrofauna.However, recent studies on water consumption of Eucalyptus contradictthismyth. A forestry investment body in Minas Gerais, a region of Brazil, has recentlyconducted a series of studies into the consumption of water in eucalyptusplantations. The data showed that, from an annual precipitation rate of 1299.0mm, 57.1% (741.0 mm) was taken up by eucalyptus trees in the process oftranspiration , 9.8% of the total rainfall (128, 0 mm) was evaporated (evaporationis the direct transfer of water from the surface of plants and soil to theatmosphere). Between 0.5 to 1.3% (16.9 mm) were taken directly from the soilsurface and 31.8% (414.0 mm) infiltrated the soil and replenish the water course.The conclusions drawn were that transpiration of 741.0 mm per year or 2.3 mmper day is similar to other forest species and perennial crop species and therefore,the information generated suggests that groves of eucalyptus trees do notconsume excessive quantities of water. The nutrients in soil around Eucalyptuswere also quantified, and it was observed that the effect of this plant is almostsame as any other normal tree. Considering the benefits we get from Eucalyptus,we should promote growth of this plant without any bias.
Eco-Scope BiharAn Eco-spiritual experience – A day at BakhorapurBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshLast week was hectic for me with a combination of scientific activities andspiritualism. Two scientists Prof. J. Bruining and Dr. M.E. Donselaar, ErasmusMundus academicians from Technical University, Delft, The Netherlands werewith us for a collaborative research related to arsenic contaminated aquifers ofBihar. The study area for this project is Bakhorapur. I often saw many temposand trucks in Patna carrying the slogan - ‘jai ma bakhorapur wali’, my arsenicresearch project gave me an opportunity to see this place and seek blessingsfrom Ma Kali Bakorapurwali on last Tuesday.Bakhorapur is village situated in BhojpurDistrict. This village is located at adistance of 65 kms from Patna, the capital of Bihar. Here is a famous templededicated to Goddess Kali. This temple was constructed in 1862. It was renovatedin 2003 and construction work is still going on. The Temple committee isplanning to put a huge idol of Ma Kali with a height of 105 feet. This temple isnow attracting devotees and tourist from distant places. Majority of them arecoming here to attain the blessings of Goddess Kali. Other than offering Prayersto Maa Kali, the Temple also helps thousands of poor people; achieve theirdreams by providing free Sewing Machines, Tri-Cycles, sticks for blinds, and byarranging free marriage functions of girls from poor families. When we visitedthis temple many marriages were going on. It was good to see the rituals,colourful dresses, and also co-operation between different marriage groups. Thebest part of the marriage here was cost cutting and time management, suited toour rural economy.The temple is renovated on very large scale and now it is a specimen of art andarchitecture. It is a beautiful temple which charms both devotees and scientificcommunity. The temple committee provided help to our researchers working inBakhorapur under very harsh and hot climatic conditions. A room was providedfor night stay for them ,and food was also arranged by a small sweet shop runnear Mandir. Without the help of Temple Committee and blessings of Ma Kali
our research work going on since last two months would not have materialized.Through this column, I convey my most sincere thanks to Ma Kali Mandir Trustof Bakhorapur.Ganga flows very near to Bakhorapur and the water of Ganga is pure and pristinehere despite lots of pollution load from cities located westward to Bakhorapur.We are yet to test the water samples collected from Ganga,but visual observationindicates that water is good for bath and if filtered by ordinary sand filter ,even itcan be used for drinking. We took a boat ride in Ganga with temperature at410 C. It was very hot on the riverbank, but got cool breeze in between the twobanks. The banks of river ganga at Bakhorapur is sedimentologists paradise withvery good natural sedimentation layers ,very much intact and preserved due tolimited anthropogenic activities.Bakhorapur is important for another reason- ground water in this area is heavilycontaminated by arsenic. We have detected arsenic level in ground water ofBhojpur up to 1861 ppb against the permissible WHO and BSI limit 0f 10 ppb forsafe drinking water. More than six thousand drinking water sources of Bhojpurhave been tested for arsenic content by my research group. Approximately 45% oftested drinking water sources had arsenic content of more tha 10 ppb. Manypersons with visible symptom of arsenic poison have been identified by us. Ourresearch group with visiting scientists are working on the sedimentology of theGanga Basin and trying to formulate a predictive model for arsenic distribution inground water of Bihar. For the first time, in scientific collaboration with thearsenic research group in A.N.College, two 50 meter bore wells have been drilledwith complete core recovery. In addition, petro-chemical logs have been obtainedin order to understand the distribution of permeability in the subsurface of thestudy area near Bakhorapur. Significant data has been generated for arsenicmobilization in the Gangetic Plains of Bihar. The initial findings indicate that thesubsurface architecture in Bihar is different from other arsenic affected areas inthe Bengal Delta Plain. The results will have a huge impact in current thinking ofarsenic mobilization in fluvial environments.It was also sad to see the local population of Bakhorapur drinking arsenic lacedwater despite ourreport related to arsenic contamination in Bhojpur Districtsubmitted to GoB and Unicef way back in 2006. There was no mitigationinitiative in the villages I visited in this trip. I have advised the local population torevive the open dug wells in this area for arsenic safe water and alternativelydrink Ganga water after filtering it by sand filter, till Government of Bihar makesalternative arrangement.
Eco-Scope BiharGangetic Dolphins face threat of extinction: a call for immediateinterventionBy Prof. Ashok Kumar GhoshWe do not know exactly that how many species there are in the world .We also donot know how fast they are disappearing. Less than two million have beencatalogued and estimates of the total vary wildly, ranging from seven million to asmany as eighty million. The currently accepted working estimate is fourteenmillion.Looking at on a geological timescale, the planet’s biodiversity has always beenfaced with threats of one form or another. Mass extinctions have a history almostas long as biodiversity. There are five known cataclysmic extinctions in theEarth’s history. The biggest, at the end of the Permian era 250 million years ago,which eliminated between 75 and 95 percent of all species, while the best known,65 million years ago, saw the extinction of dinosaurs. The extinctions appear tohave been caused by massive climatic disruptions, some at least due toanthropogenic activities.Fresh water dolphin (Platanistagangetica) is one of the species facing the threatof extinction which requires immediate intervention by both scientificcommunity and government. It has many common names like Ganges riverdolphin, blind dolphin, Ganges dolphin, Ganges susu, Gangetic dolphin, hihu,side-swimming dolphin, Plataniste du Gange(Fr) and Delfín del Ganges(Sp) .It isthe largest aquatic mammal in river systems with approximate Length of 2.70meter for mature male and 2.12 meter for mature female.Ganges River Dolphins prefer deep waters, in and around the confluence of twoor more rivers. They share their habitat with crocodiles, fresh water turtles andwetland birds. Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in thewater and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produceswhen breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu.’ The GangesRiver dolphin is found in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Karnaphuli and Meghna
River systems, from the foot of the Himalayas downstream to the upper limits ofthe tidal zone.The presence of dolphin in a river system signals a healthy ecosystem. Since theriver dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food chain, its presence in adequatenumbers symbolizes greater biodiversity in the river system and helps keep theecosystem in balance. Earlier this species was quite abundant, but there isevidence that populations have severely declined more or less throughout itsrange. A recent survey conducted by WWF-India and its partners in the entiredistribution range in the Ganga and Brahamaputra river system – around 3,700miles – identified fewer than 2,000 individuals in India.Ganga, our most revered river is unable to sustain the population of freshwaterdolphins found in our country. The dolphins living a pathetic life in the Ganga arefighting a losing battle for their survival due to high level of pollution andpoaching for their precious oil. The water levels and flow patterns in rivers alsogreatly determine the spread and the migration of the dolphins. They are knownto collect in deeper parts of the rivers with a preference for areas with eddies inthe dry periods from October to April, and migrate to other stretches in themonsoons when the water levels rise. The health of the river, then, is crucial tothe long-term well-being of the dolphin.Their life is threatened by local fishingcommunity, ecologically insensitiveirrigation practices, and disposal of municipal waste into Ganga without anytreatment. Polluted water flowing into the river from a number of tributaries isseverely straining the habitat of these shy mammals. Adding more to its miseriesis fast depletion of water in Ganga due to construction of more than 50 dams forshort term gain. Heavy siltation is also leading to decreased depth of riverGanga.The population of the district of Patna is 5.77 million, with a density of1803 per km2, as of the 2011 census of India.The majority of this population hashabitations on or near the banks of Ganges.The sewerage generated by this hugepopulation goes mostly without any treatment into Ganga.As per the information available from CPCB, about 250 million litres/day ofsewerage is generated from Patna town alone, whereas total installed capacity ofthe three treatment plants located at Saidpur, Beur and Pahari is only 105 millionlitres/day.Even if we assume that the three treatment plants are running to itsfull capacity, there is a gap of about 145 litres/day ofsewerage going into Gangauntreated every day. The fact is that most of time these treatment plants do notrun due to power shortage, or mechanical defects, or both. The impact of thishuge pollution load on Gangetic Dolphin can be imagined by anybody withoutany scientific research.I have visited Vikramshila Ganges River Dolphin Sanctuary near Bhagalpur manytimes in last seven years. The dolphins receive very little protection along thecourse of the Ganga. The fishermen flout norms to carry out large-scale fishing inthe protected areas.Despite being an endangered species, little research has gone
into understanding the behaviour, migration and precise population size ofdolphins in Ganga. There is no proper scientific census on their population andmigration. There is a need for year-round surveillance of dolphins to protect thisendangered species. There is a need of intensive awareness program to protectthe Gangetic dolphins. Following initiativesare required for the long-termconservation of the Gangeticdolphins.• Micro dolphin monitoring units should be formed in association with localcommunities in the identified important dolphin habitats. These units must beequipped with modern sophisticated instruments to monitor the dolphinpopulation and their behaviour in Ganga.All the units should be networked to acentral authorityto create a scientific database of dolphins in Ganga,Meghna andBrahamputra rivers.• Fishing community should be educated to identify the dolphins and protectthem.Stringent legal action must be taken against any person responsible forpoaching of dolphins.• During the rainy season, dolphins usually migrate through the tributaries ofriver Ganga. Steps should be taken to protect these seasonally migratingdolphins. All the tributary mouths must be treated as important dolphin habitatsand fishing controlled in these tributary mouths.• A detailed scientific study should be undertaken on the ecology, behaviour,biology and genetics of the Gangetic dolphin, which will help in the long termconservation of dolphins.
Eco-Scope BiharHar Har Gange…By Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshI go for Gangasnan every year twice – once on Satuani and secondon Mahalya for Tarpan to our family members who are no more in this physicalworld. This ritual is going on continuously since my father expired. Earlier I feltvery fresh after Gangasnan, but during past few years, I do not feel as goodbefore because of the clash between the scientist and a follower of Hindu religionwithin me.River Ganga sustains the agro-based economy of the Indian Plains, and also hasreligious and cultural connotations for the teeming millions residing along itsbanks. River Ganga is held in high esteem since time immemorial and Hindusfrom all over the world cherish the idea of a holy dip in the river under the faiththat by doing so they will get rid of their sins of life.More than 400 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river. To millions of people it issustainer of life through multitude of canal system and irrigation of the wastingload. The current environmental changes induced by anthropogenic activities areincreasingly affecting the unique physico-chemical properties of this great riverwater. Simultaneously, glacial recession in the Himalayan source region of theGanga due to current global warming, is affecting the flow of the Ganga riversystem. Construction of a large number of dams on Ganga between Gangotri andour city Patna is further aggravating the situation.Our study has revealed that there has been a rapid decrease in glacial cover in theHimalayan source region of the Ganga. The reduced volume of river water isleading to ecological disaster in Bihar in the form of truncated channel flows, andincreasing sedimentation. A rapid shift in the river meander occurred in westernpart of Bihar state within past few years, which also may be attributed to activeneotectonics, as revealed in the basins of the Bagmati and Kosi rivers- tributariesof the Ganga. This, along with pollution load, has aggravated aquatic life, asrevealed in large-scale herniation in the zooplanktons.
Our study has confirmed that pollution and climate change is altering the ecologyof the Ganga Basin in the state of Bihar. As per the BSI standard, while the levelof coliform present in water should be less than 500, present level of coliform atall the Bathing Ghats of Ganga at Patna has recorded more than 500. It isestimated that about Rs.350 Crores were spent through Ganga Action Plan toclean Ganga; the outcome was 75% pollution load increase. In Patna alone thereare twenty nine Nallas disposing untreated sewage into Ganga. Loss of naturalvegetation of Diaraland is also adding to siltation. The depth of Ganga hasdecreased from thirty five ft to fifteen ft since 1985 due to heavy siltation.Millions of liters of sewage is daily disposed into Ganga from the municipal townslocated at the bank of river Ganga. Apart from sewage, disposal of half-burnthuman bodies in Ganga and hazardous medical waste from the hospitals due tolack of an incinerator are also adding to pollution levels in the Ganga. There is noland for disposal of dead body at Patna. There is no budget in Patna MunicipalCorporation for disposal of dead bodies. The irony is the fact that we, the Hindusaddress Ganga as mother and we are the top polluters of Ganga. Everyday tons ofgarbage in plastic bags are dumped in Ganga as the outcome of religious ritualsby us.I interviewed many persons on Ganga Ghats of Patna, and found that there is lackof awareness among masses about the effect this waste on Ganga. There is a needfor concerted effort by general public, media and NGOs. And Government bodiesto keep Ganga healthy and clean so that we make take bath with Har HarGange coming from our heart.
Electronic Waste (e-waste): Hazard of Modern LifeBy Prof Ashok Kumar GhoshThere was a news published in Telegraph on 7th March 2011 which stated thatKolkata is generating much more electronic waste than a few years back and verylittle of it is being recycled, increasing the risk of an environment disaster. Timehas come to take notice of such news as e waste is going to be another manmadedisaster on earth very soon.The electronic industry is the world’s largest and fastest growing manufacturingindustry of modern age. During the last decade, it has assumed the role ofproviding a forceful leverage to the socio – economic and technological growth ofa developing society. The consequence of its consumer oriented growth combinedwith rapid product obsolescence and technological advances are a newenvironmental challenge – the growing menace of Electronics Waste or e-waste.Electronic waste or e-waste is made of those electronic equipment/ products thatconnect with power plug, batteries which have become obsolete due toadvancement in technology, changes in fashion, style and status and nearing theend of their useful life.Today every house in urban area including slums has one or more electronicequipment. It has become a daily life requirement, business necessity, and alsostatus symbol .More than 40-50 million tons of e-waste is produced worldwideper year, out of which Asia generates about 12 million tons/ year.50-80% e-wastecollected in US and other developed countries exported to third world countriesincluding India.Today E-waste has become the fastest growing component of municipal waste.India alone generates more than 3million tons of e-waste, out of which 12.6% isrecycled. The annual growth of this hazardous waste is growing at the rate ofabout 30% per year. Approximately 20 to 24 million computers and televisionsare added to storage each year. About 400 million units of computers andtelevisions are expected to be scrapped by end of current decade.There are some disturbing statistics related to e-waste:
1.20 million electronic household appliances including TV, washing machines,PCs etc, and 70 million cell phones reach end-of-life every year worldwide. Therecent study predicts e-waste generation will shoot up nearly six times within adecade.2. About 70% of the heavy metals (mercury and cadmium) and 40% lead, inlandfills in India come from e-waste.3.22% of the yearly world consumption of mercury is used in electronicsmanufacture.4. More of acid content of e-waste flow into the land contaminating the soil andland.5. About 70 %, of heavy metals in India landfills comes from e-Waste.6.One of the most threatening substances is lead, of which only 5 % is recycled inIndia.7.Indians upgrade or exchange their cell phones every eighteen months, meaningthere are approximately sixteen million unused mobile phones stashed away athome or in the office.8.Average working life of a mobile phone is seven years but worldwide theaverage consumer changes their mobile every eleven months9.Indians purchased sixty million mobile phones in past five years.10. Approximately seven hundred million obsolete phoneswere discarded in 2005contained an estimated 560,000 kg of lead in the form of solder.It is an emerging problem as well as a business opportunity of increasingsignificance, given the volumes of e-waste being generated and the content ofboth toxic and valuable materials in them. The fraction including iron, copper,aluminium, gold and other metals in e-waste is over 60%, while plastics accountfor about 30% and the hazardous pollutants comprise only about 2.70%.Solidwaste management, which is already a mammoth task in India, is becoming morecomplicated by the invasion of e-waste, particularly computer waste. E-wastefrom developed countries find an easy way into developing countries in the nameof free trade is further complicating the problems associated with wastemanagement. The composition of toxic chemicals in an average 32 Kg of e- wastegenerated through computers is: Plastic -7.24 Kg, Lead -1.98 Kg, Mercury –0.603 g, Arsenic – 0.4095 g, Cadmium – 2.961 g, Chromium – 1.98 g, Barium –9.92 g, and Beryllium – 4.94 g.The reasons for this alarming increase in quantityof e waste are :Rapid globalization, high obsolescence rate, inability of technologyto support up-gradation, cheap components used in the electronic equipment,low cost of electronic products pushed by China in Indian market and increasingpurchasing power of middle class.The most common process of disposal of ewaste is Incineration – a process of destroying waste through burning. Because ofthe variety of substances found in e-waste, incineration is associated with a majorrisk of generating and dispersing contaminants and toxic substances. The gasesreleased during the burning and the residue ash is often toxic and this happens asthere is no prior treatment nor sophisticated flue gas purification. Studies have
shown that copper, which is present in printed circuit boards and cables, acts acatalyst for dioxin formation when flame-retardants are incinerated. Thesebrominated flame retardants when exposed to low temperature (600-800°C) canlead to the generation of extremely toxic polybrominated dioxins (PBDDs) andfurans (PBDFs). PVC, which can be found in e-waste in significant amounts, ishighly corrosive when burnt and also induces the formation of dioxins.Incineration also leads to the loss valuable of trace elements which could havebeen recovered had they been sorted and processed separately.There are many adverse health impact of crude disposal of e waste, such as:1.Reproduction: damage to both male and female reproductive systems, includinginterfering with development of the testes; reduction in semen production andquality; abnormal morphology of sperm; low egg hatchability; and reducedfertility rates.2.DNA: damage in lymphocytes, fetal and developmental toxicity; growthretardation; abnormal brain development, which can result in intellectualimpairment; and possible long-term impacts on memory, learning andbehaviour.3.Nervous System: damage to the central nervous system (CNS) and bloodsystem, including CNS depression and neurotoxicity; immune systemsuppression, including inhibition of a key blood cell enzyme.4.Organs : damage to the brain, including swelling; liver, including liver necrosis;kidney, including renal toxicity; thyroid; pancreas; lymph nodes; spleen; andbone, including bone toxicity.5.Skin : contact dermatitis; skin lesions; carcinogenic, including tumourpromotion and lung cancer; anaemia; CBD (a currently-incurable, debilitatingdisease that can sometimes be fatal); and mortality.6.Hormonal System : disruption to endocrine systems including the oestrogen,androgen, thyroid hormone, retinoid and corticosteroid systems; inhibition ofhuman androgen hormone reception; and ability to mimic natural oestrogenhormones, leading to altered sexual development in some organisms.7.Others: hypertension (high blood pressure); cardiovascular and heart disease;respiratory tract irritation, including irritation of the nose, mouth and eyes.There are a few recommendations which may check the growing menace of e-waste: Promote recycling units to ease process and to encourage generators tohave proper e-waste disposal, impart training to generators on e-waste handling,undertake awareness program on recycling, fix duties and responsibilities torecyclers, provide tax incentives for scrap dealers, reward and reprimandschemes for performance and non-compliance of e-waste management,Government should subsidize recycling and disposal industry, incentive schemesfor garbage collectors, general public and impose disposal fee frommanufacturers and consumers.