Wednesday, August 29, 2007

History of Diamond mining in Jharkhand and Chattisgarh


Diamond, a gem amongst gems the crystallized carbon and the hardest mineral known is a rare gift from mother earth to humanity. With admantine luster and twinkling habit it fascinated men and women from time immemorial. To win diamonds temples have been profaned, palaces looted, thrones torn to fragments, princes tortured, women strangled, guests poisoned and slaves disemboweled. No strain of fancy in an Arabian Tale has outstripped the marvels of fact in the diamond’s history. So wrote Garner Williams, the General Manager of the renowned Diamond Company De Beers,.
Indians were the first to discover and produce diamonds since India happens to be the homeland of all historical diamonds. It was the only country known for diamonds to the entire world till another source was found in Borneo in 1728 and subsequently in Brazil and South Africa. Ancient Indian scriptures and other books like Artha Sastra, Brihat Samhita and travel accounts of Marco Polo and Tavernier have projected a glorious picture of the ancient Indian diamond Industry. India was a dreamland for merchants, sailors and kings. In popular belief India remained as the "Country of Diamonds" and was subjected to invasion, wars and plunder.
Dr. Valentine Ball in his "Manual of Geology of India" divided all Indian diamond occurrences into three groups. Of these the "Southern Group" in South India drained by the Pennar, Krishna and lower part of Godavari rivers. The "Eastern Group" lies in the valley of the Mahanadi river and its tributaries, the Mand and the Ebe with outliers in Chotanagpur (Jharkhand) and in the Chanda district of Central Provinces, the principal localities being Sambalpur, Hirakud, Sonpur, Sumelpur (Jharkhand), and Wairagarh. Lastly, the "Central Group" lies in the Bundhelkhand of the Central Provinces stretching from Panna Eastwards to Rewa and NorthEastwards towards Allahabad.
Diamonds in Jharkhand:
Diamonds were found in Kokkomaj, a region which probably included Chotanagpur (Jharkhand), and the reference in Mohammedan writings and the possession of diamonds by the local chiefs go to substantiate the tradition that the Sankh river( Sankh River originates from Rajadera village of Gumla District. It is one of the three main rivers flowing through the district. After traversing through Gumla, it enters Simdega District and flows towards Orissa. The river joins with the Brahmani River at Vedvyas near Rourkela did yield a number of more or less valuable gems. The Muhammadans were attracted to this region by its reputation for diamond and occasionally raided the area, and carried off plunder and a small tribute in the shape of a few diamonds, which were found at that time in the river Sankh.
In fact due to the greater contact which the Mughals had developed with Kokrah (old name of today's Chotanagpur) since 1585 A.D., Jahangir had become more informed about the availability of diamonds in that area. According to him, diamonds were found in the bed of a river which flowed through Kokrah. The reference is to the river Sankh which flows through the western parts of the present Ranchi district.
Later Kokrah or Chotanagpur was placed under the Mughal officers and the diamonds which were extracted from the 'stream' (sankh) were sent to the Imperial Court. Immediately after the annexation of Kokrah, a diamond was found there the value of which was estimated at 50,000 rupees. Jahangir expected that if the search was continued more excellent diamonds could be added "in the repository of the crown jewls". His optimism was not unfounded and in the twelfth year of his reign, nine diamonds which Ibrahim Khan Fath-Jang, the Governor of Bihar, had sent through Muhammad Beg from the mines and from the collections of the Zamindars of the Chotanagpur, were laid before him.
Jahangir evinced keen personal interest in the extraction of diamonds from the bed of the river Sankh, and acquired a fairly good knowledge of the methods employed by the natives for that purpose. Describing the process through which the natives mined diamonds from the bed of the river Sankh, Jhangir writes in his Memoirs thus: "At the season when there is little water, there are pools and water-holes and it has become known by experiences to those are employed in this work that above every water-hole in which there are diamonds, there are crowd of flying animals (insects) which in the language of India they call Jhingur."
Captain Hawkins in-charge of the Ramgarh Battalion at Chatra district of Jharkhand had been commissioned to give a report on Chutia Nagpur. His report submitted in 1777 refers to the rivers carrying gold dust and the Raja of Chotanagpur dredging the river for diamonds.
In Jharkhand, diamonds were reported in Chotanagpur area (ancient name Kokrah) in the Brahmani, Sankh and Koel river basins as mentioned in old records. Records show that near Simah in Palamau district in the Sankh River, near Rajadera (Rajadera is a saucer shaped village, is situated 19 km from Chainpur and about 26 km south of Netarhat) and in Sadni falls originating point of Sankh River, active diamond mines existed. These mines are stated to have yielded in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries many large and fine stones especially from Sankh River. Diamonds were washed from the sands and gravels of river Gouel. The river is probably North koel, a tributary of Son. On the banks of this river an ancient township Semah/Semelpur existed. According to the old reports about 8000 people are stated to have worked in these mines.
Ball in 1925 illustrated the occurrence with a location map of the area. Rivers Damuda (now Damodar), Subanrikha (Suvarnarekha) and Brahmani with its tributaries, the Sankh and the Southern Koel have been mentioned. Now efforts have to be made to locate old workings of diamond in this region.
According to reports some villagers around Sadni fall in Gumla district still practice precious stone hunting in the area.
The source rock for diamonds has not been traced. Some of the Lamprophyres or Lamproite bodies found within the Gondwana Super Group may probably be the host rocks for these diamonds. A rethinking in our out look and reexamination of the local geology and Lamprophyres and Lamproites is called for.

Diamond in Chattisgarh:

Historical records speak of ancient mining activity for diamonds in Chattisgarh. Panna was the centre of the mining and new diamond-bearing fields have recently come to light near Payalikhand in Raipur district of Chattisgarh as a result of exploration by the Geological survey of India. Raigarh in the upper reaches of Mahanadi river, west of Hirakud, Orissa, is also known to have been active in diamond mining since ancient times. Local tribals carry out small scale panning and recover diamonds from alluvial and colluvial placers. At present Panna is the only active diamond producing centre in the entire country. Around Panna a number of areas have been identified for diamond prospecting they are Angore, Bariarpur, Dongraha, Biharpur, Harsa and Bandha.
Recent discovery of five more kimberlite pipes (Diamond bearing rocks) in Raipur district has opened up another possible centre for diamond in Central India. Systematic detailed investigation in the area by Geological Survey of India led to identification of primary source rock. Mahanadi and Ib river basins are considered as potential for the occurrence of diamonds. Recently diamond bearing kimberlites have been discovered near Payalikhand in Raipur district of Chattisgarh. The diamondiferous area is located about 150 km SE of Raipur town.
From Payalikhand area the largest diamond said to have been recovered is 202 carats. Based on the diamonds recovered by locals it is estimated that the gem variety constitutes 1/3rd to half of the total diamonds present. The gem diamonds of this area vary from perfect transparent clear crystals to light yellow to grey or intensly brown roughs. Transparent clear macro diamonds dominate over the frosted surface crystals. Some of the diamonds contain graphite as inclusions.
Along with the specks and grains of gold in Mahanadi and Ib river basins, occurrence of diamonds is known since historical times. Alluvial placer mining and recovery of diamonds are active even today in Raigarh district of Chattisgarh in different parts of Maini, Ib and Mand, west of Hirakud.

Recently, three kimberlite bodies were discovered in Bastar area located in between Godavari and Mahanadi basin. These findings have opened up another potential area for diamond exploration in India.
Recently there have been reports of recovery of diamonds from Indravati river gravels. The Indravati basin appears to be similar to the Khariar basin (SE of Raipur) in which kimberlites are found.

India has now lost all its former fame as a country rich in diamonds; the most productive mines have long ago been exhausted, and only the poorer deposits still remain. During the devastating wars and native struggles for supremacy, many only partially exhausted mines were abandoned and their very sites forgotten, while from the same cause the demand for diamonds fell off. Moreover, the oppressive and unreasonable tribute demanded by native rulers in former times, so crippled the industry that many diamond seekers forsook the mines for more lucrative employments, to return perhaps under more favorable conditions.
The chief blow, however, to the diamond mining industry of India was the discovery of the precious stone in Brazil, a country from which diamonds have been sent to the market since 1728. There could be no competition between these new rich deposits and the Indian mines, whose age can be counted in centuries or even tens of centuries. More recently; the rich yields of the South African diamond-fields have made a profitable mining of the Indian deposits still more impossible. Since in India no new and rich deposits have been discovered to take the place of the old, worked out mines, as has been the case in Brazil, the time cannot be far distant when India must be excluded from the list of diamond-producing countries.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pollution in coal fields of Jharkhand State in India


DR. Nitish Priyadarshi

The health hazards, degeneration of the health conditions of the people especially tribal women and children and water contamination is one of the most serious impacts of coal mining in Jharkhand.

Jharkhand is an area of abundant coalmines. Most of the coalmines are situated in Hazaribag, Chatra, Palamau, Rajmahal, Dhanbad and Ranchi district. Mighty Damodar River and its tributaries flow through these coalmines.

Jharkhand is the homeland of over a dozen indigenous communities, the major ones being the Santhals, the Mundas, the Oraons and the Hos. Most of their population are concentrated around the coal mines area.

Today, the picture of Damodar River or Damuda, considered a sacred river by the local tribals, is quite like a sewage canal shrunken and filled with filth and rubbish, emanating obnoxious odours. This river once known as “River of Sorrow” for its seasonal ravages, has now turned into a “River of Agony” from the environmental point of view.

Due to extensive coal mining and vigorous growth of industries in this area water resources have been badly contaminated. The habitants have, however, been compromising by taking contaminated and sometimes polluted water, as there is no alternative source of safe drinking water. Thus, a sizeable populace suffers from water borne diseases.
The Damodar river basin is a repository of approximately 46 per cent of the Indian coal reserves. A high demographic and industrial expansion has taken place in last three decades in the region. Exploitation of coal by underground and open cast mining has lead to a great environmental threat in this area.
Besides mining, coal based industries like coal washeries, coke oven plants, coal fired thermal power plants, steel plants and other related industries in the region also greatly impart towards degradation of the environmental equality vis-a-vis human health.
The most affected part of the natural- resources is water in this region and thereby human health.
It is a small rainfed river (541 km long) originating from the Khamerpet hill (1068 m), near the trijunction of Palamau, Ranchi, and Hazaribag districts of Jharkhand. It flows through the cities Ramgarh, Dhanbad, Asansol, Durgapur, Bardwan and Howrah before ultimately joining the lower Ganga (Hooghly estuary) at Shayampur, 55 km downstream of Howrah. The river is fed by a number of tributaries at different reaches, the principal ones being Jamunia, Bokaro, Konar, Safi, Bhera, Nalkari and Barakar.
The total catchment area of the basin is about 23,170 km of this, three- fourth of the basin lies in Jharkhand and one-fourth in West Bengal. The major part of the rainfall (82%) occurs during the monsoon season with a few sporadic rains in winter. Damodar basin is an important coal bearing area and at least seven coal fields are located in this region.
High increase in the population i.e. from 5.0 million (1951) to 14.6 mil- lion (1991) has been observed during the last four decades which is the out- come of the heavy industrialisation in this basin mainly in coal sector.
Due to easy availability of coal and prime cooking coal, several thermal power plants, steel plants have grown up. Discharge of uncontrolled and untreated industrial wastewater, often containing highly toxic metals is the major source of pollution of Damodar River.
Mine water and runoff through overburden material of open cast mines also contribute towards pollution of nearby water resources of the area. Huge amount of overburden materials have been dumped on the bank of the river and its tributaries, which finally get spread in the rivers especially in the rainy season. These activities have resulted in the visible deterioration of the quality of the river water.
The large scale mining operations going on this region have also adversely affected ground water table in many areas with the result that yield of water from the wells of adjoining villages has drastically reduced. Further, effluents discharged from the mine sites have also seriously, polluted the underground water of the area.
Mine water does not have acid mine drainage problem. It may be due to the fact that coal deposits of this basin are associated with minor amounts of pyrites and contain low Sulphur. Iron content in this water is found in the range of 1 to 6 mg/1. Though it is not alarming but it may be toxic to some aquatic species. Mine water is generally bacterially contaminated which is clear from the value lying in the range of 100 to 2500.
Heavy metals like manganese, chromium, lead, arsenic, mercury, floride, cadmium, and copper are also found in the sediments and water of Damodar river and its tributary like Safi River. Permian coal of this area contains all these toxic elements in considerable amount. Presence of lead is high above the alarming level i.e. 300 ppm (parts Per million) in the coals of North Karanpura coal field.
The study warned that long term exposure to the lead present in that area might result in general weakness, anorexia, dyspepsia, metallic taste in the mouth, headache, drowsiness, high blood pressure and anaemia etc.

The Damodar sediments are deficient in calcium and magnesium and rich in potassium concentration. Titanium and iron are the dominant heavy metals followed by manganese, zine, copper, chromium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Other heavy metal like strontium shows more or less uniform concentration throughout the basin. Average concentration of strontium in the sediments of the river is 130 ppm. Silica is also high in the sediments of Damodar River and its tributary. The value is 28ppm.
Arsenic in the water ranges from 0.001 to 0.06 mg/1, mercury ranges from 0.0002 to 0.004 mg/1, floride ranges from 1 to 3 mg/1.
It is obvious that due to extensive coal mining and vigorous growth of industries in this area water resources have been badly contaminated. The habitants have, however, been compromising by taking contaminated and sometimes polluted water, as there is no alternate source of drinking water. Thus, a sizeable populace suffers from water borne diseases.
As per the heath survey of about three lakh people, the most common diseases are dysentery, diarrhoea, skin infection, worm infection, jaundice, and typhoid. Dysentery and skin infections occur in high percentage in the area. If proper steps are not taken up the total population mostly tribals will be on the verge of extinction.
The Agaria tribe and other tribes that inhabit the coalfields of North Karanpura and East Parej, India are faced with severe water contamination. In East Parej, more than 80% of the community lives in poverty. Water for the community comes from hand pumps, dug wells, local streams and rivers. In some areas, mine water and river water is supplied through pipes. But most people are dependent on other sources - which are contaminated - for their water needs. Women and children in these areas have to travel more than 1 kilometer to fetch safe drinking water. Most villagers are left with no choice but to drink contaminated water. Dug wells are generally dried up during the summer and winter. Natural drainage is obstructed and diverted due to the expansion of mining. Villagers in these areas have no concept of how to preserve and purify rainwater.

Our longevity has reduced drastically, said Phulmani Kujur a 38 year old women of East Parej coal field. We avoid taking bath everyday, there are a gap of 5 to 10 days, and do not drink water adequately due to water pollution, said Mahesh a Santhal Tribe of the same village.

Study reveals that average longevity of women in East Parej coal field was found to be 45 and in most of the villages only one or two women had crossed the age of 60. In North Karanpura coal field average longevity of male is 50 years and that of female is 45 years.
The number of deaths in a period of five years, in East Parej, also reveals shocking figures in Dudhmatia village: 6 out of average 80 people, in Agariatola village: 12 out of average 100 people, in Lapangtandi: 13 out of average 115 people, and in Ulhara: 9 (seven were children) out of average 80 people.

Villagers of Agariatola complain that their only source of drinking water has been damaged due to dumping of overburden and expansion of open cast mine. Villagers have no substitute but to drink the water of well provided by the miners which according to the villagers is not good in taste with foul smell and yellow colour. Villagers of Dudhmatia of the same coal field complained about foul smell present in the water of the only hand pump.

Average kilometers travel by the villagers to retrieve safe drinking water is 1 to 2 kilometers. In summer season we have to travel even more to have safe drinking water, alleged women of the affected areas. Sometimes organizations supply us the water through tankers but they are not sufficient, said villagers of the East Parej, North Karanpura and South Karanpura coal field.

In the absence of even primary hospital and doctors in East Parej (there is only one hospital run by Central Coalfields Limited, and is for the employees only) villagers are more dependent on the quacks as they are the regular visitor in the remote area.

Our children are the most affected due to living in such unhygienic conditions and filth, said villagers of the North Karanpura coal field, one of the biggest coal mines of the area.
These are one of the most common situations in all the coal mines area of Jharkhand. Most of the population in North Karanpura coal field is dependent on Safi River for drinking and other domestic purposes. This river is polluted because of the coalmines waste dumped along the banks of the river at different locations. Water of the area is contaminated with toxic metals like arsenic and mercury. Manganese has crossed the toxic level ( 3.6 milligram per liter against the permissible level of 0.5 mg/l.). According to WHO (World Health Organization) high manganese may affect with the symptoms like lethargy, increased muscle tone and mental disturbances.

Health survey done among the boys and girls in a local school it was found that majority of the children (both tribal and non-tribal) are lethargic may be due to inhalation of coal dust and consumption of contaminated water containing high manganese.

In the coal fields of Jharkhand most of the tribal women are employed in secondary activities such as loading and unloading of the coals. According to Chotanagpur Adivasi Sewa Samiti, a NGO working in Hazaribag district, constant contact with dust pollution and indirectly through contamination of water, air, etc. cause severe health hazard to women workers. As majority of the women workers are contract labourers, and paid on daily wage basis there is no economic security or compensation paid due to loss of workdays on account of health problems. Even during pregnancy women has to work in hazardous conditions amidst noise, air pollution that have adverse affects on their offspring.

Malaria is very common. It is found that there are numerous ditches, stagnant mine water, and open tanks breeding all the species mosquitoes. Majorities of the death were attributed to malaria. Next come the skin diseases such as eczema, rashes on the skin etc. it may be due to lack of care and cleanliness or due to the presence of nickel in drinking water. In some area like East Parej high nickel (0.024 mg/l) have been reported in the water. According to WHO nickel is a common skin allergen.

Many especially children of the coal fields suffer from dysentery and diarrhoea. According to the residents of the coal field, it is because of consuming contaminated water. About 60% of the local people are affected with seasonal allergies. Other diseases found were tuberculosis, headache, joints pain (pain begins at the age of 5 to 10 years, especially in North Karanpura), gastric, cough and cold and asthma.

When asked from the villagers in East Parej and North Karanpura about what do they think about future, they replied situation is going to worsen. They are not very confident about their life span. There is always a threat of displacement due to expansion of coal mining, which finally affects their longevity.

Fluoride, arsenic, nickel, sulfate, and manganese pose the biggest threats to water sources in the region. They have been shown to cause adverse effects when consumed over a long period of time. Health care facilities can improve the situation immensely, but it is more desirable to maintain the philosophy that prevention is better than the cure. Medical checkups can be adopted to improve the situation. Installation of pollution control equipment is needed for monitoring and analyzing pollution data. Seeing that nearly all the water sources under study are contaminated, the only short term solution for safe drinking water is rain water harvesting. Indigenous methods, such as disinfecting and purifying water with the help of medicinal plants, can be adopted for purifying water in ways that are cost efficient.
The international community can also help by providing funds to carry out research and analysis of the problem in more detail. Publishing these results can help other communities around the world figure out the best methods for improving water quality. Awareness programs should be given major importance.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
And Fellow Member of Geological Society of India.

76, circular road,
Ranchi 834001.
Jharkhand. 0651-2562895/ 2562909
Mobile 9835162642

These research project was sponsored to the author by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and Green Grant Fund, U.S.A. and supported by Earth Day Network, U.S.A.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ancient Astronomy in different civilizations

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been fascinated by the patterns of stars in the sky above Earth. Early on, they noticed that the Moon changed shape from night to night as well as its position among the stars.

Early people noticed constellations of stars in the sky that looked like animals and people, and made up stories about what they thought they saw. In fact, the oldest records we have of astronomical observations are 30,000-year-old paintings found on the walls of caves.
People from around the world study of the heavens to define themselves and to unify their cultures. The study of ancient astronomy allows us to glimpse into a time when the forces of the universe were mysterious and dangerous. Often cultures relied on shamans or priests to mediate between the people and the heavens, and so the relation between religion and astronomy in ancient times is very close.

Long before recorded history, which began about 5000 years ago, people were aware of the close relationship between events on the Earth and the positions of heavenly bodies, the Sun in particular. People noted that changes in the seasons and floods of great rivers like the Nile in the Egypt occurred when the celestial bodies, including the Sun, Moon, planets and stars, reached a particular place in the heavens. Early agrarian cultures, which were dependent on the weather, believed that if the heavenly objects could control the seasons, they must also strongly influence all Earthly events. This belief undoubtedly was the reason that early civilizations began keeping records of the positions of the celestial objects. The Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, and Babylonians in particular are noted for this.
Ancient natives of North American lined up circles of stones with the Sun and stars to chart the rising Sun and the beginning of summers.

In southern Mexico, the Mayans built special buildings to watch the Moon and the planet Venus. They had a calendar by 800 A.D. that was more accurate than the calendar used in Europe.
The Maya were quite accomplished astronomers. Their primary interest, in contrast to "western" astronomers, were Zenial Passages when the Sun crossed over the Maya latitudes. On an annual basis the sun travels to its summer solstice point, or the latitude of 23-1/3 degrees north.
Most of the Maya cities were located south of this latitude, meaning that they could observe the sun directly overhead during the time that the sun was passing over their latitude. This happened twice a year, evenly spaced around the day of solstice.
The Maya could easily determine these dates, because at local noon, they cast no shadow. Zenial passage observations are possible only in the Tropics and were quite unknown to the Spanish conquistadors who descended upon the Yucatan peninsula in the 16th century. The Maya had a god to represented this position of the Sun called the Diving God.
Ancient Egyptians were very interested in the night sky. In particular, they were drawn to two bright stars that always could be seen circling the North Pole. The Egyptians referred to those stars as "the indestructibles."

Today we know them as Kochab, in the bowl of the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), and Mizar, in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).

Egyptians associated those two stars with eternity and the afterlife of a king -- a pharaoh. After death, a pharaoh would hope to join those circumpolar stars. Pharaohs were buried in pyramids.
The highest development of astronomy in the ancient world came with the Greeks in the period from 600 B.C. to A.D. 400. The methods employed by the Greek astronomers were quite distinct from those of earlier civilizations, such as the Babylonian. The Babylonian approach was numerological and best suited for studying the complex lunar motions that were of overwhelming interest to the Mesopotamian peoples. The Greek approach, on the contrary, was geometric and schematic, best suited for complete cosmological models. Thales, an Ionian philosopher of the 6th cent. B.C., is credited with introducing geometrical ideas into astronomy. Pythagoras, about a hundred years later, imagined the universe as a series of concentric spheres in which each of the seven "wanderers" (the sun, the moon, and the five known planets) were embedded. Euxodus developed the idea of rotating spheres by introducing extra spheres for each of the planets to account for the observed complexities of their motions. This was the beginning of the Greek aim of providing a theory that would account for all observed phenomena. Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) summarized much of the Greek work before him and remained an absolute authority until late in the Middle Ages. Although his belief that the earth does not move retarded astronomical progress, he gave the correct explanation of lunar eclipses and a sound argument for the spherical shape of the earth.
The ancient Babylonians viewed the Universe as a flat disk of land surrounded by water. They were the first people to keep detailed records of the paths of planets. Like most ancient people, Babylonians believed that studying planetary movements could help them predict the future. In fact, according to a biblical story, the people of a Babylonian city tried to build a stairway to the stars. That was the Tower of Babel.

The Australian Aborigines felt a strong connection to nature which shaped their view of the universe and their place in it. The sun for all Aborigines was female and associated with light and goodness. This reveals that the Aborigines believed women to be intrinsically good, for they are they ones who brought human life into this world. In one myth the sun came out of the earth at a certain place, which is marked by a large stone. It came out of the earth with two other women, who were left behind while the sun rose into the sky. Every day thereafter the sun rose into the sky and at night it returns to the spot where it first arose. Another myth tells how a woman left her son in a cave while she searched for food. Since it was dark she lost her way and wandered in to the sky region. Every day she travels through the sky with her torch, lighting up the sky, looking for her son.
The Polynesians relied upon astronomy to steer their canoes while sailing around the ocean. The sun guided them during the day, but at night the boatmen watched the stars and the planets to be certain of the direction they were sailing. It was therefore necessary for this group of islanders to keep strict records of which stars rose where, and when they were visible in the night sky. The Polynesians also used astronomy for calendrical purposes. The lunar calendar was used to determine feasting or fasting days, and the solar calendar to mark the passing of days, months, and years.
Ancient Indians' interest in astronomy was an extension of their religious preoccupations and inasmuch, astronomy and mathematics ran parallel. Both were faithful to the needs of objectivity and subjectivity. Astronomy began as mere wonder at what was observed in the heavens above, grew into a systematic observation and speculation, hence forward into scientific inquiry and interpretation, finally emerging as a sophisticated discipline. Mystical interpretations of the movement of stars and planets developed into astrological science, and astronomy grew into a major factor in the intellectual pursuits of different cultural periods.
The chief sources of astronomy-related information are the Vedic texts, Jain literature, and the siddhantas (texts), as also the endeavours in Kerala (southern state of India). Some seals of the Indus Valley period are believed to yield information of the knowledge available to those early settlers, as also the orientation of certain constructions clearly governed by such considerations. An interesting aspect is the Jantar Mantar observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. There are 5 such structures for measuring time and for astronomy-related calculations, at New Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Mathura and Ujjain. These eighteenth century astrolabes are important for both scientific and architectural reasons.
Rig Veda and Atharva Veda hymns point to the observance of a lunar year. The Moon itself was regarded as the 'maker of months' - masakrt. Many indications are present as to the awareness of the autumn equinox - references to Aditi (this corresponds to Pollux, longitude 113degree). Daksha (Vega longitude 284degree), Rudra (Betelgeuse, longitude 88degree) and Rohini (Aedebaran, longitude 69degree). The changing longitudes mentioned are a consequence of the precession of the equinoxes. These details are useful for another reason: they reveal the date of composition. Thus, allowing for 72 years per degree (plus, allowance for error) the years should be 6200 BC, 5400 BC, 4350 BC and 3070 BC respectively. Hymn 1.164 of the Rig Veda composed by the sage Dirghatamas refers to a wheel of time with a year of 360 lunar days and twelve lunar months. The year mentioned in the hymn begins with the Autumn star Agni , corresponding to the year circa 2350 BC. (The numbering of the hymns demonstrates use of the decimal system).
Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda reveal a definite calendrical awareness - many sacrifices, including the Gavam Ayana, are of different lengths of time based on the daily cycle of the Sun. For reasons of ritual, the day was divided into 3,4,5 or 15 equal divisions, each with a different name. Apart from naming twenty seven stars beginning with Krttika, these Vedas mention five planets and name two of them - Juipter (Brihaspati) and Venus (Vena).

Regardless of the exact details of an ancient site, the exploration into the lost world of our ancestors offers many fascinating rewards. In the process of discovering the past we can see within all the peoples of the world a common bond in the creative examination of the vastness of the night sky.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
76,circular road,
Tel.No.091- 0651-2562909® 2562895®
Mobile: 9835162642.

Sunday, August 12, 2007



Reforestation is not going to help much
Different diseases may rise

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Are we already seeing the effects of global warming in Jharkhand State. From last several years Jharkhand is facing extremes of the climate. In year 2005and 2006 Jharkhand had spells of excessive rainfall. In the month of February and March 2007 Jharkhand faced heavy rainfall followed with hail storms which is unusual in Jharkhand at this time. We have faced extremes of climate in very quick interval this year till now. Few years earlier people of Jharkhand used to keep away the blankets and warm clothes in the month of March especially during Holi festival. But this year every thing was unusual. Big sizes of the hails indicated big turbulence in the upper atmosphere. Hail storms affected many parts of the state. This happened because temperature increased earlier above the normal in the month of February which is not a normal phenomenon.
On June 13th more than 15 people were killed due to lightning including 5 children. Recent researches has shown that global warming is the major cause of such phenomenon. One of the major cause of global warming is carbon dioxide. Models have been developed that predict atmospheric increases in carbon dioxide. One such model predicts that a doubling carbon dioxide could increase the amount of lightning occurrences by 30-77%. With the growing effects of global warming, potential increases in severe weather will certainly result in more lightning activity leading to more damage to human life.

In 1960's and 1970's peoples of Ranchi (the then summer capital of Bihar Jharkhand united) rarely used fans even in summer seasons. This facts can be justified by the following statements published in Ranchi Gazetteers in the year 1970- " The climate of the Ranchi plateau is cool and pleasant. It is only during the month's of April or May that the temperature rises occasionally. The general elevation of 2,180 feet above sea level gives it a uniformly lower range temperature than the plains."

According to the report maximum temperature rises above 40 degree centigrade in the last month of April or May but only for few days. But at present in Ranchi the trend in rise in temperature starts from March itself. And now use of A.C. and cooler is very common.
Jharkhand is already facing storms, flash floods, droughts, heat waves, drastic increase in disease transmissions, etc. This doesn't mean that Jharkhand has not faced this phenomenon earlier but now the fact is that this is happening frequently. All this indicates that global warming or in other way it will be more justified to call as Regional Warming, is slowly sowing its impact on Jharkhand.

In Jharkhand Warming may caused primarily by the very foundation on which modern civilisation is built- the burning of coal and oil.

There is no doubt that climate is changing in Jharkhand and we are responsible for it by emitting green houses gases like carbon dioxide and methane in larger amount.

Since 1970 mean temperature is rising with little variation. This doesn't mean that this warming phenomenon is recent. Earlier too Jharkhand has passed through different phases of warming. It happened million years ago. Jharkhand has already passed through different climatic changes in the geological past. From cold to hot and dry. This has been researched by different geologists in different coal basins of Jharkhand where the evidences of the climate changes are found in the rocks. Global Warming is natural phenomenon but now it is being triggered by the civilisation.

In Jharkhand main source of increasing carbon dioxide is burning of fossil fuels, especially coal through Thermal Power Plant. Coal fired electricity generation gives rise to nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas.

A 1,000 (one thousand) megawatt electrical coal-fired power station burning coal has typical fuel requirement of almost 3.2 million tonnes of black coal a year. Burning of brown coal would require 9.3 million tonnes of fuel. Each year the 1000 MW coal-fired power station produces about 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide , perhaps 200,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide.

In Jharkhand thermal power generation capacity is 1260 MW which includes Patratu Thermal, Tenughat Thermal and Bokaro Thermal. If they are working in full capacity you can imagine how much carbon dioxide is coming in our atmosphere from the last 40 years i.e. from the year of working.

The figure is dangerously high i.e. more than 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. If we calculate the total 40 years ± 5 years it crosses to more than 280 million tonnes. Only relief is that Jharkhand coal contain less sulfur. So the contribution of sulfur to the atmosphere is less.

Even the coal burning in the open coal mines like that of Jharia, Dhanbad, North Karanpura coalfield is contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. So we can easily imagine the serious conditions regarding drastic climatic changes in the Jharkhand due to this carbon emission.

When the electricity comes from coal, every kilowatt hour of it results in about a kilogram of carbon dioxide being emitted.

With higher temperatures there is more energy driving the Jharkhand climatic systems which in turn causing more violent weather events.

One dreadful fact regarding carbon dioxide is that a large proportion of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere remains there, warming the planet, for around 200 (two hundred) years.

The other green house gas giving threat to Jharkhand is Methane. It is some 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It is being contributed through the leaks from the coal mines containing Methane gas. Ranchi and other cities in Jharkhand many open and abandoned areas are being used as landfills which are also the main contributors of Methane gas to the atmosphere. Even the termite mounds which are common in Jharkhand contributes Methane gas, but they are known to be natural sources not Anthropogenic. Methane's residence time in the atmosphere is approximately 12 years.

Earlier in Jharkhand forest played major role in absorbing excess carbon dioxide and balancing the temperature difference. But unfortunately due to deforestation in large scale in Jharkhand may have increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere many fold. Today the remaining forest areas are unevenly distributed. Bokaro has only 4.4% of area under forest. Similarly Sahebganj has only 2.31%, Dhanbad 12.72%, Deoghar 9.5% and Ranchi only 23.37% of area under vegetation.

At the Survey and Settlement (1902-1910) the area under forests in the Ranchi districts approximated to about 2,281 square miles, i.e. about 32 percent of the total land area of the district. At the Revisional Survey and Settlement (1927-1935) this area shrank to about 1,956 square mils, i.e. 27 percent of the total land area. Thus during a period of 25 years, 325 square miles of forests had disappeared. When the forests were notified under the Bihar Private Forests Act,1946 and demarcation was done only about 1,065 square miles were found under forests in this district. Adding 213 square miles of reserve forests to this, the total area under forest in this district came to 1,278 square miles. Thus in course of a decade over 600 square miles of forests disappeared. Now it has reached upto 23 percent and gradually decreasing further.

This doesn't mean that deforestation is causing warming phenomenon. Fact is that with deforestation green house gases especially carbon dioxide is also increasing. Earlier these forests use to trap excess carbon dioxide to some extent which balanced the temperature.

The lower percentage of forest cover in the districts has been influenced by the nature of land as well as by the human interference in the form of mining activities and industrial-cum-urban development. In Sahebganj, Pakur and Godda districts, the forest has not been spared even on hills. The Damodar Basin has also recorded remarkable depletion of forest cover because of wanton cutting of forests, exploitation of mining areas and development of urban localities. The forest in this area is confined to the north and west.

Now comes the motor vehicles which is also contributing green house gases in the form of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide etc. After the formation of Jharkhand motor vehicles have increased many fold. The districts with the largest number of registered vehicles in Jharkhand are East Singhbhum with 2,75,121 followed by Ranchi (2,15,794) and Dhanbad (1,72,033).

Ranchi topped the list of increase in vehicle registrations in 2001-2002, the largest in buses, cars, taxis, jeeps, two-wheelers and three wheelers were recorded in Ranchi.

East Singhbhum was number two districts in buses, cars, jeeps, two wheelers and three wheelers. But the maximum number of trucks increased in Dhanbad (344), followed by Giridih (244) and Hazaribagh (191) during 2001-2002.

Most part of the place in Jharkhand is a plateau area having heights of 400 meter to 800 meter above the mean sea level. Such height receives more solar radiation than plains. Generally it is in the form of sunlight and whose warmth we can feel. The place will have stable temperature so long as there is an approximate balance between the energy received from the sun and that returned to space. In Jharkhand State excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevents some of the extra energy going back to space. This phenomenon increases the temperature of the place either for short period or sometimes for long period.

Effects due to this warming:

Major health problems may spread in Jharkhand due to gradual warming in the State. They are likely to be severe and many many people are going to be affected.

The health effects can be divided into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct effects will result from direct exposure to the weather extremes that climate change will cause, for example: heat stroke, death or injuries due to storms and also some times flash floods in different drainage basins, rivulets and rivers. In year 2006 we saw the fury of Damodar river near Rajrappa temple were most part of the temple was submerged and many shops were gutted.

Indirect effects will result from subsequent changes in environment and ecosystems- for example: the spread of vector borne diseases into new areas, nutrition problems resulting from crop faliure and even the mental health problems which may result from social and political dislocation.

Regarding direct effects, death from stroke, various cardiovascular illness and influenza in particular may become more common during extremes of weather.

Malaria (mosquito borne disease) is already on rampant in very big area in Jharkhand affecting millions. Due to the warming it is no doubt that this disease will multiply and spread in new areas. In year 2006 many cases of Dengu fever was also reported in the State which was never reported earlier.

Other diseases which may threat the people of Jharkhand are Lymphatic Filariasis, Guinea worm, etc. Old and children are to be worst affected.

Different water borne disease is already on the rampage and is increasing gradually. The new threat may be Cholera, often assumed to be a largely a disease of the past. Water related diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, diarrhoeal diseases are likely to multiply and spread too. One obvious, but often overlooked, consequence of the health problems which climate change is preparing to visit on us, is the financial cost of dealing with the problem.

Continuous depletion of ground water and increase of contamination in the water of different rivers like Damodar, Swarnrekha etc. are also the outcome of this warming. As the temperature rises the water evaporates speedily decreasing the water level and quantity and thereby increasing the toxicity.

Many sensitive ecosystems, however, may disappear in the face of hotter, dryer conditions. Changes are not expected to be evenly distributed through out Jharkhand. Night will be more warmer. Some animal and insect species may migrate or vanish as the climate warms. Many wild plant and medicinal plant may go extinct. Many scientists have reported that nitrogen oxide in carbon dioxide enriched air reduced the growth of several horticultural species. Scientists found that, with tomato, 1 ppm (parts per million) nitric oxide reduced the photosynthesis rate by 38%.
How can we reduce the threat of Climate Change.

Once greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, most are therefore 50-12- years. So a delay of even a decade or so in reducing these emissions can make it much more difficult and costly to slow the rate and momentum of global warming and avert or lessen the more extreme consequences.

One way is to plant trees to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Unfortunately studies indicate that a reforestation program in which each person in the world planted and tended an average of 1,000 trees every year would offset only about 3 years of current carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Also, this is only a temporary approach because the rate of removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis decreases as trees mature and grow at a slower pace. In addition, trees release their stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere when they die and decompose or if they catch fire.

So reforestation in Jharkhand is not going to solve this problem in great amount. Now it is essential to find out the other possibilities to reduce the increased carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Alternative methods for generating electricity other than thermal power plants are nuclear plants as there is no emission of carbon dioxide from such plants, or to establish hydro electric plants or geothermal plants.

This research report has been prepared by
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Fellow Member Geological Society of India
Lecturer in Department of Environment and Water Management
J.N. College, Ranchi University.

Monday, August 6, 2007

about me

After Ph.D. I was awarded Fellowship from Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India to work on Arsenic in coals and its impact on environment and health. I have also worked with Green Grant Fund, Washington, Earth Day Network, Washington, Australian National University, Canberra on different Geo Environmental and Health issues. From 1994 I am working on different environmental issues like water pollution, soil pollution, river (Damodar) pollution, Global warming and different Geochemical issues. More than 70 articles, research papers and abstracts has been published in both national and international books, journals and news papers. Presently I am working as Lecturer in the Department of Environment and Water Management of J.N.College in Ranchi University.
I have also participated in the roving short course on GEOLOGICAL PARAMETERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION organised by Department of Earth Sciences, & UNESCO between 25th February and 2nd March, 2002 at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Also participated in International Symposium of South East Asia Centre, Ranchi on STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE on December 16-18, 2004, Ranchi, India.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
76,circular road, Ranchi.