Monday, July 13, 2015

Is Bihar State of India prepared for the disaster?



The state of Bihar has been facing floods since for a long time.

By
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Bihar is India's most flood-prone State, with 76% of the population in the north Bihar living under the recurring threat of flood devastation. According to some historical data, 16.5% of the total flood affected area in India is located in Bihar while 22.1% of the flood affected population in India lives in Bihar. About 68,800 square kilometres (26,600 sq mi) out of total geographical area of 94,160 square kilometres (36,360 sq mi) comprising 73.06% is flood affected.

Geographically Nepal is a mountainous region. When heavy rains occur in the mountains of central and eastern Nepal the water flows into the major drainages of Narayani, Bagmati, and Koshi rivers. As these rivers cross into India they flow into the plains and lowlands of Bihar and break their banks.

Bihar is surrounded by Nepal in the north, West Bengal in the east, Uttar Pradesh in the west and  Jharkhand towards the south. There are several rivers that run through the state: Ganga, Sone, Punpun, Falgu, Karmanasa, Durgavati, Kosi, Gandak and the Ghaghara, to name a few. Nearly 85% of the state’s land is under cultivation. Bihar also receives heavy rainfall all through June to October.

The state of Bihar has been facing floods since for a long time. It accounts for almost half of India’s average annual flood losses. In the year 1914, Bengal and Bihar faced floods. In the year 1934, Bihar was shaken by an earthquake which was again followed by floods.

The state has been facing floods ever since, but the frequency of floods has become high in recent years. There have been floods almost every year from 1979 which have caused extensive damage. Lakhs of people have lost their lives and their homes. The state has faced infrastructural losses worth crores of rupees.

The state government has built about 3000 kms of embankments, but the flow of the river has grown 2.5 times resulting in the failure of embankments in every flood.

So the big question is: is the state of Bihar prepared? The Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar has come out with a number of schemes.
  • Procurement of motor boats and other necessary accessories like life jackets, mahajals, tents, etc. for 28 flood-prone districts.
  • To improve the response mechanism and tackle the impact of natural disasters effectively, a State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) is to be established on the similar pattern of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • A number of warehouses will be constructed to store the relief and rescue materials and to keep them safe and secure.
  • Establishment of Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) in all the districts to carry out rescue and relief work effectively.
  • Since the communication system often becomes dysfunctional, procurement and proper maintenance of communication systems has been taken into account. Satellite phones, GPS instruments, hand packs, walkie – talkies will be procured.
  • An Early Disaster Warning System is to be established.
  • A plan has been prepared to generate awareness among the masses about the ways and means of mitigating the risk of disaster.
The budget for the above scheme crosses 5000 crores.

What more can be done?

A number of structural measures can be taken up in the state:
  • Detention Basins: The state area has a number of depressions locally called chaurs which act as detention basins. These chaurs absorb a considerable amount of water of the first flood of the season. No man made detention basins or improvements in natural chaurs has been done.
  • Embankments: All the rivers have been embanked in the state. River Kosi is embanked on both the sides. But there are few gaps in these embankments which reduce its effectiveness. The maintenance and repair of these embankments must be taken into account.
  • Afforestation in the catchment area for absorption of rain water.
  • Channel improvement works increasing the discharge capacity of the river.

Waste Management in Bihar.

 

Waste management is the process of treating solid wastes and offers variety of solutions for recycling items that don’t belong to trash. It is about how garbage can be used as a valuable resource. Waste management is something that each and every household and business owner in the world needs.

Methods of Waste Disposal which can be adopted in Bihar.

Landfill

The Landfill is the most popularly used method of waste disposal used today. This process of waste disposal focuses attention on burying the waste in the land. Landfills are found in all areas. There is a process used that eliminates the odors and dangers of waste before it is placed into the ground.

Incineration/Combustion

Incineration or combustion is a type disposal method in which municipal solid wastes are burned at high temperatures so as as to convert them into residue and gaseous products. The biggest advantage of this type of method is that it can reduce the volume of solid waste to 20 to 30 percent of the original volume, decreases the space they take up and reduce the stress on landfills.

Recovery and Recycling

Resource recovery is the process of taking useful discarded items for a specific next use. These discarded items are then processed to extract or recover materials and resources or convert them to energy in the form of useable heat, electricity or fuel.

Composting

Composting is a easy and natural bio-degradation process that takes organic wastes i.e. remains of plants and garden and kitchen waste and turns into nutrient rich food for your plants. Composting, normally used for organic farming, occurs by allowing organic materials to sit in one place for months until microbes decompose it. Composting is one of the best method of waste disposal as it can turn unsafe organic products into safe compost. On the other side, it is slow process and takes lot of space.
Hospital Wastes Management.
Hospital wastes have always been considered as potentially hazardous in view of the inherent potential for dissemination of infection. The major identified hazard was that of infection, because over millennia communicable diseases had been the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in the community and majority of persons receiving treatment in the hospitals were suffering from communicable diseases. Disinfecting right at source and disposal by incineration, which completely destroys micro-organism of all types, has been the time tested and most widely advocated method for safe management of hospital waste.


Solid Waste Mismanagement in Patna

1. Prohibit littering on the streets by ensuring storage of waste at source in two bins; one for biodegradable waste and another for recyclable material.
2. Primary collection of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste from the doorstep, (including slums and squatter areas) at pre-informed timings on a day-to-day basis using containerized tricycle/handcarts/pick up vans.
3. Street sweeping covering all the residential and commercial areas on all the days of the year irrespective of Sundays and public holidays. Abolition of open waste storage depots, and provision of covered containers or closed body waste storage depots.
5. Transportation of waste in covered vehicles on a day to day basis.
6. Treatment of biodegradable waste using composting or waste to energy technologies meeting the standards laid down.
7. Minimize the waste going to the land fill and dispose of only rejects from the treatment plants and inert material at the landfills as per the standards laid down in the rules.

Friday, May 1, 2015

10 quakes in 18 years in J'khand, claims geologist

10 quakes in 18 years in J'khand, claims geologist

Jharkhand has experienced more than 10 tremors in 18 years though their intensity was mild to medium, geologist Nitish Priyadarshi claimed and suggested that newly constructed buildings in the state should be earthquake-resistant.

'Back-to-back tremors occurred for the first time in Jharkhand. The state has never experienced aftershocks,"Priyadarshi, a member of the Geological Society of India, said here.
   
He said the Chhotanagpur Plateau in Jharkhand represents a part of the Indian Peninsular field that is "stable cratonic block of the earth crust".
   
Craton is the stable interior portion of a continent characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement
rock and there is a belief that land above a cratonic block is generally shielded from earthquakes.
   
"The cause for concern is that there had been more than 10 mild to medium tremors occurred in the area since 1997," said Priyadarshi.
   
"So, all the new buildings coming up in Chhotanagpur Plateau should be earthquake resistant," he said and suggested that with the consent of owners dilapidated buildings should be demolished to pave way for earth-quake resistant buildings.
 "Two types of effects occur in the Chhotanagpur plateau. The first is sympathiser (the effect following
tremors happening outside the region) and the second is localised following stress and strain in the rocks.
   
"Tremors in this plateau are shallow, usually shaking between a magnitude between one and 5 on the Richter scale and happening in less than 15 miles deep. These tremors happen randomly and are unpredictable," he added.
   
Quoting a 2002 report from the Bureau of Indian Standards, he said Jamshedpur and Chaibasa come in Seismic zone-2, Ranchi and Hazaribagh Zone 3 and the Santhal Pargana in Zone-4.

"Major tremor expected anytime, not possible to predict exact time," says geologist , AniNews.in

"Major tremor expected anytime, not possible to predict exact time," says geologist , AniNews.in



Ranchi, Apr. 27 (ANI): Geologist Nitish Priyadarshi has stated that another major tremor can be expected anytime and the countries near the Himalayan region should be on high alert.
"Major tremor can occur anytime, maybe in a week or two.It is not possible to predict the exact time. Countries near the Himalayan region like Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan should be on high alert," Nitish Priyadarshi told ANI here.


Priyadarshi asserted that the earthquake was triggered by natural phenomenon and anthropogenic activities as well.
"The main reason for this earthquake is tectonic movements, the plates are colliding with each other, below the Himalayas. Also, the huge blasting which is going on in Himalayas to make roads is impacting the rocks in the Himalayas. This earthquake is trigged by natural phenomenon and anthropogenic activities as well," he added.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Soils on the hills of granite gneiss near Ranchi also support medicinal plants and flowers.


They are Orchid, Zingiber purpureum and Asparagus racemosus.
By

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Geologist.

Email: nitish.priyadarshi@gmail.com




Hill near Bundu on Ranchi-Jamshedpur road.



Introduction:

Medicinal plants have been identified and used throughout human history. Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, and to defend against attack from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total.

The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and is often more affordable than purchasing expensive modern pharmaceuticals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.

A large amount of archaeological evidence exists which indicates that humans were using medicinal plants during the Paleolithic, approximately 60,000 years ago. (Furthermore, other non-human primates are also known to ingest medicinal plants to treat illness) Plant samples gathered from prehistoric burial sites are an example of the evidence supporting the claim that Paleolithic peoples had knowledge of herbal medicine.

Medicinal plant materials derived from the same species can show significant differences in quality when cultivated at different sites, owing to the influence of soil, climate and other factors. These differences may relate to physical appearance or to variations in their constituents, the biosynthesis of which may be affected by extrinsic environmental conditions, including ecological and geographical variables, and should be taken into consideration. They grow in wild also depending upon the soil and rock types. Soils cover over the granite gneiss or schist rocks supports some rare and common medicinal plants and flowers depending upon the presence of nutrients in soil derived from parent rocks.

Chotanagpur plateau is one of the oldest landmasses on earth. It is composed of Precambrian rocks which are more than 540 million years old. It is a collective name for the Ranchi, Hazaribagh, and Koderma plateaus. Of these, Ranchi is the largest.

Discussion:

During my recent field work near Ranchi city of Jharkhand State on the hills composed of granite gneiss rocks I came to know that such hills supports medicinal plants also. Hills are covered with soils supporting thick forest. Regionally the area is a part of Chotanagpur Gneissic Complex of Eastern Indian Peninsular Shied.

Ranchi District comes under the sub tropical region and characterized by the monsoon climate. It is a favorable condition for moderate physical weathering and moderate to strong chemical weathering. So the rock fragmentation by physical weathering and mineralogical alteration by chemical weathering simultaneously act to generate soil.

Intensive weathering under tropical humid climate of the granite gneiss rocks has helped in rather quick formation of soils which support forests. Plants extract minerals from the soil formed by mineral rich rocks.

The plants and the flowers in this picture were found in the forest on the slope near top of the hill some 20 kilometers south of  Ranchi city near Bundu. They are Orchid. Zingiber purpureum and Asparagus racemosus. These beautiful plants were found in deep forest on the slope of a hill.

Zingiber purpureum contains the true gingers, plants grown the world over for their medicinal and culinary value. Zingiber purpureum grow in tropical Asia, from India to Indonesia. Zingiber is commonly found in moist, partially shaded evergreen and monsoon forests on soils rich in organic matter, but also in secondary forests, open habitats at forest edges, disturbed sites and bamboo thickets on rocky soils at altitudes up to 3000 m. The rhizomes of zingiber are valued for their aroma and taste. The odour has been described as strong and reminiscent of a mixture of ginger, camphor and turmeric, the taste as hot and camphorous. Zingiber is used throughout tropical Asia for medicinal purposes, primarily as a carminative and stimulant for the stomach, and against diarrhoea and colic. Its effective in fever, headache, cough, stomach aches, colds, constipation, jaundice, Parasitic Worms, rheumatic, medicinal herbs, obesity, minimize stomach after birth. Additionally,it has been shown to exhibit pesticidal and fungicidal activity. The rhizomes of zingiber contain essential oils including terpinen-4-ol, which has been found to be effective against a range of pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella paratyphi, S. typhi and Shigella flexneri.

                                                               Zingiber purpureum



The other medicinal plant on the slopes was Asparagus racemosus.  Asparagus racemosus  (Satavar, Shatavari, or Shatamull) is a species of asparagus common throughout Sri Lanka, India and the Himalayas. It grows one to two metres tall and prefers to take root in gravelly, rocky soils high up in piedmont plains, at 1,300–1,400 metres elevation). It was botanically described in 1799. Due to its multiple uses, the demand for Asparagus racemosus is constantly on the rise. Due to destructive harvesting, combined with habitat destruction, and deforestation, the plant is now considered 'endangered' in its natural habitat.

Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) is recommended in Ayurvedic texts for the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers, dyspepsia and as a galactogogue. A. racemosus has also been used by some Ayurvedic practitioners for nervous disorders.


                                                           Asparagus racemosus



The orchids are a large family of flowering plants, the Orchidaceae. They are herbaceous monocots. With an estimated 25,000 different types existing naturally, orchids are of the largest flowering plant families, but they have always carried an impression of rarity.

There are between 22,000 and 26,000 species in 880 genera. They make up between 6–11% of all seed plants. Orchids can be found in almost every country in the world except for Antarctica.
People have grown orchids for a great number of years. They grow orchids for show, for science, or for food (for example, vanilla).

Different cultures throughout history have believed in the healing, disease-fighting and protective properties of the orchid. In traditional Chinese medicine the orchid is used to help cure coughs and lung illnesses. The ancient Greeks associated it with virility, and the Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and chocolate to give them power and strength.

                                                                          Orchids


Source of minerals in soil :

Most of the material that makes up soil comes from rocks and minerals. These rocks and minerals are weathered in place or weathered and transported, and become unconsolidated material on the surface of the earth. This material is called regolith. The upper part of the regolith is soil.

Important Primary Minerals
SiO2
Orthoclase / feldspar
KAlSi3O8
Plagioclase /feldspar
(Ca,Na) AlSi3O8
Muscovite / mica
KAlSi3O10(OH)2
Biotite / mica
KAl(Mg,Fe)3Si3O10(OH)2
Ca2Al2Mg2Fe3Si6O22(OH)2
Ca2(Al,e)4(Mg, Fe)4Si6O24



Granite gneiss rocks around Ranchi consist of silica, aluminium, iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium and trace amount of phosphorus and barium. Among the above calcium, phosphorus, and potassium are known as macronutrients and others like manganese and iron are known as micronutrients used by plants. Sufficient amount of water is also found in such rocks which is the most essential for the plants growth.

The macronutrients are consumed in larger quantities and are present in plant tissue. Micro nutrients are present in plant tissue in quantities measured in parts per million, ranging from 5 to 200 ppm.

In plants, silicon strengthens cell walls, improving plant strength, health, and productivity. Other benefits of silicon to plants include improved drought and frost resistance, decreased lodging potential and boosting the plant's natural pest and disease fighting systems. Silicon has also been shown to improve plant vigor and physiology by improving root mass and density, and increasing above ground plant biomass and crop yields. Iron is necessary for photosynthesis and is present as an enzyme cofactor in plants. Iron deficiency can result in interveinal chlorosis and necrosis. Iron is not a structural part of chlorophyll but very much essential for its synthesis. Manganese is necessary for photosynthesis, including the building of chloroplasts. Manganese deficiency may result in coloration abnormalities, such as discolored spots on the foliage. There have been reports that aluminium  may serve as fungicide against certain types of root rot.

Soil conditions on this hill can provide plants with adequate nutrition and do not require fertilizer for a complete life cycle.

The biodiversity of Jharkhand is under severe threat due to human induced activities, industries, mining, settlement, development projects and removal of forest products, overgrazing and forest fires. Majority of forest is lost due to industrialization and extraction of minerals from the earth crust. There is an urgent need to conserve the rich biodiversity of the state before the treasure is lost. There is an immediate need for the
in situ conservation of this special habitat,i.e., Chotanagpur Plateau on whole as well as its biodiversity. Being one of the oldest landmasses on earth, the Chotanagpur Plateau might be hiding some unforeseen information concerning the evolution of earth as well as its biodiversity.


Reference:

A manual of the geology of India and Burma, vol.1, 1973. Geological Survey of India publication, Calcutta, India.

http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4928e/3.html