Thursday, December 22, 2011

Water qualities of Indian rivers are deteriorating. Many Rivers are under threat.

Rivers have been rendered to the level of sewage flowing drains.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi.

Water is one of the most important commodities which Man has exploited than any other resource for sustenance of his life. Most of the water on this planet is stored in oceans and ice caps which is difficult to be recovered for our diverse needs. Most of our demand for water is fulfilled by rain water which gets deposited in surface and ground water resources. The quantity of this utilizable water is very much limited on the earth. Though, water is continuously purified by evaporation and precipitation, yet pollution of water has emerged as one of the most significant environmental problems of the recent times. Not only there is an increasing concern for rapidly deteriorating supply of water but the quantity of utilizable water is also fast diminishing. The causes of such a situation may be many, but gross pollution of water has its origin mainly in urbanization, industrialization, agriculture and increase in human population observed in past one and a half century.

There has been a steady deterioration in the quality of water of Indian rivers over several decades. India’s fourteen major, 55 minor and several hundred small rivers receive millions of liters of sewage, mining, industrial and agricultural wastes. Most of these rivers have been rendered to the level of sewage flowing drains. There are serious water quality problems in the cities, towns and villages using these waters. Water borne diseases are rampant, fisheries are on decline, and even cattle are not spared from the onslaught of pollution.

Present article is a collection of research report on significant rivers in this field which present a very grim picture of India’s precious water resources.

Ganga River:

River Ganga (Ganges) of India has been held in high esteem since time immemorial and Hindus from all over the world cherish the idea of a holy dip in the river under the faith that by doing so they will get rid of their sins of life. More than 400 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river. Historically also, Ganga is the most important river of the country and beyond doubt is closely connected with the history of civilization as can be noticed from the location of the ancient cities of Hardwar, Prayag, Kashi and Patliputra at its bank. To millions of people it is sustainer of life through multitude of canal system and irrigation of the wasting load. Hundreds of the villages and even the big cities depend for their drinking water on this river. It is believed, a fact which has also been observed, that the water of Ganga never decays even for months and years when water of other rivers and agencies begins to develop bacteria and fungi within a couple of days. This self purification characteristic of Ganga is the key to the holiness and sanctity of its water. The combination of bacteriophages and large populations of people bathing in the river have apparently produced a self-purification effect, in which water-borne bacteria such as dysentery and cholera are killed off, preventing large-scale epidemics. The river also has an unusual ability to retain dissolved oxygen.
A number of investigations have been carried out on the physiochemical and biological characters of the Ganga. Lakshminarayana (1965) published a series of papers reporting the results of studies carried out at Varanasi during the period between March, 1957 and March, 1958. it was observed by him that the values of the most of the parameters decreased during rainy season while no marked variation was observed during winters and summers.
In the same year Chakraborty (1965) from Kanpur reported the water quality of Ganga at J.K. Rayon’s water intake point and at Golaghat and Bhairoghat pumping stations situated at the upstream of the river. It was concluded that the water quality gradually deteriorated as it passes from Bhairoghat pumping station to the J.K. Rayon water intake point in summers because in this stretch the river received waste waters from number of sewage drains.
A year later Saxena (1966) made a systematic survey of the chemical quantity of Ganga at Kanpur. According to the study, the biological oxygen demand, i.e. B.O.D. varied from 5.3ppm (minimum) in winter to 16.0ppm (maximum) in summer. The chloride ranged between 9.2 and 12.7 ppm and the river was found to be alkaline in nature except in rainy season. He concluded that the tanneries significantly increased the pollution load of river as they discharge huge amounts of effluents containing organic wastes and heavy metals. It was further reported that forty five tanneries, ten textile mills and several other industrial units discharged 37.15 million gallon per day of waste water generating BOD load of approximately 61630 Kg/day.
Subsequently Agarwal (1976) studied the bacteriological population of the river water and concluded that addition of untreated waste and sewage was responsible for the presence of pathogenic organisms posing threat to the residents of the Varanasi city.
Hydrobiological features of the river Ganga was studied by Pahwa and Mehrotra (1966). The authors studied a stretch of 1090 kms. of river Ganga extending from Kanpur in west to Rajmahal, in Jharkhand state, in the east. They reported that the turbidity was maximum (1100-2170 ppm) in monsoon and minimum ( less than100 ppm) during January to June. The pH of the river water ranged between 7.45 (minimum) during June to August and 8.30 (maximum) during January to May. The dissolved oxygen, i.e. D.O. count ranged from 5.0 to 10.5 ppm with maximum values during January and February. While the minimum values were recorded in monsoon.
Bhargava (1982) in a survey of total length of the river Ganga found that quality index was far above the prescribed limit at Kanpur. He further found that the Ganga water was having unusually fast regenerating capacity by bringing down B.O.D. owing to the presence of large amount of well adopted micro-organisms. According to the research Ganga is rich in polymers excreted by various species of bacteria. These polymers being excellent coagulants remove turbidity by coagulation, setting the suspended particles at the sewage discharge point.
Study carried out in 1986-87 on physico-chemical properties of river Ganga water at Buxar (Unnao) clearly revealed that extent of pollution varied in different seasons. Usually all the 23 parameters studied showed high values in summer and lower during monsoons except turbidity which was high in rainy season. Values of BOD, COD, DO and H2S were recorded high than the tolerance limits.
Study on water quality of river Ganga at Kalakankar (Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh) revealed that even at such a remote and undisturbed place like Kalakankar the river water was not safe for drinking and bathing. It was also noted that the river showed an alkaline trend throughout the course of study.
Upstream from Varanasi, one of the major pilgrimage sites along the river, the water is comparatively pure, having a low Biochemical oxygen demand and fecal coliform count. Studies conducted in 1983 on water samples taken from the right bank of the Ganga at Patna confirm that escheria coli (E.Coli.), fecal streptococci and vibrio cholerae organisms die two to three times faster in the Ganga than in water taken from the rivers Son and Gandak and from dug wells and tube wells in the same area.
The chemical pollution of the river Ganga in Patna city in Bihar state has been found somewhat alarming beside the storm drain, especially in the regions like Rajapur, Mandiri and Krishnaghat.
For some time now, this romantic view of the Ganges has collided with India's grim realities. During the past three decades, the country's explosive growth (at nearly 1.2 billion people, India's population is second only to China's), industrialization and rapid urbanization have put unyielding pressure on the sacred stream.

Ganga, the most sacred of rivers for Hindus, has become polluted for some years now.

Damodar River:

Today the picture of Damodar or Damuda, considered a sacred river by the local tribals,in Jharkhand State of India is quite like a sewage canal shrunken and filled with filth and rubbish, emanating obnoxious odours. It is also contaminated with toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, flouride, and lead.

The Damodar river basin is a repository of approximately 46% 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 quality vis-a-vis 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 downstram 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 km2; of this, three-fourths 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 million (1991) has been observed during the last four decades which is the outcome of the heavy industrialization in this basin mainly in coal sector.

Due to easy availability of coal and prime coking 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 has 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 waters of the area.

Mine waters 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 sulfur. Iron content in these waters are found in the range of 1 to 6 mg/l. Though it is not alarming but it may be toxic to some aquatic species. Mine waters are 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 tributaries like Safi, Nalkari, Bhera Rivers etc. 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, zinc, 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 0.006 mg/l, mercury ranges from 0.0002 to 0.0004 mg/l, floride ranges from 1 to 3 mg/l.

The seven thermal power plants in the Damodar valley (three of which, with a combined installed capacity of about 1,800 mw, belong to the DVC) consume between 3,000 and 8,000 tonnes of coal a day and as much as 50 per cent of the total solids generated is in the form of flyash. Yet, there is little effort to manage the waste. This is obvious from the fact that very few DVC units, which are better managed than those run by the state electricity boards, have electrostatic precipitators (ESPS). Of the six units of the DVC's Chandrapura Thermal Power Plant in Giridih district, only one has an ESP, while the others make do with old mechanical dust collectors. As these plants are located on the banks of the river, the flyash eventually finds its way into the water.Disposal of solid waste, or bottom ash, from boilers degrades the river even more. The bottom ash is supposed to be mixed with water to form slurry which is then drained into ash ponds. Most of the ponds are full and in several cases drainage pipes are choked. The slurry is discharged into the river.

The people who live in the vicinity of the Damodar are the worst affected. The river and its tributaries are the largest sources of drinking water for the huge population that lives in the valley. On April 2, 1990 about 200,000 litres of furnace oil spilled into the Damodar river from the Bokaro Steel Plant. The oil travelled about 150 km downstream to Durgapur and for at least a week after the incident, the five million people in the area drank contaminated water. The water from the river that the people drank was unfit for human consumption, with oil levels 40-80 times higher than the maximum permissible value of 0.03 mg/l.

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 health survey of about 3 lakh population, 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.

Subarnrekha River:

Translated literally, Subarnarekha means 'streak of gold'. With a drainage area of 1.93 million ha this smallest of India's major inter-state river basins is a mute host to effluents from various uranium mining and processing units. While most rivers in the country are classified -- depending on the pollution load -- on a 'best designated use’ basis, the Subarnarekha defies any classification, as the existing parameters do not include radioactivity.The rain-fed Subarnarekha originates 15 kms south of Ranchi on the Chhotanagpur plateau draining the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal before entering the Bay of Bengal. The total length of the river is 450 kms and its important tributaries include the Raru, Kanchi, Karkari, Kharkai, Garra and Sankh rivers.The only streaks visible in the river are those of domestic, industrial or - incredibly - radioactive pollution. Subarnarekha's rich resource base has spelled doom for the basin. Between Mayurbhanj and Singhbhum districts, on the right banks of the Subarnarekha, are the country’s richest copper deposits. The proliferation of unplanned and unregulated mining and mineral processing industries has led to a devastating environmental degradation of the region. Improper mining practices have led to uncontrolled dumping of overburden (rock and soil extracted while mining) and mine tailings. During monsoons, this exposed earth flows into the river, increasing suspended solid and heavy metal load in the water, silting the dams and reservoirs. Quarrying of construction material, such as granite, basalt, quartzite, dolerite, sandstone, limestone, dolomite, gravel, and even sand, has created vast stretches of wasteland in the river basin. Used and abandoned mines and quarries are a source of mineral wastewater and suspended solids.Subarnarekha also has to bear radioactive waste that enters the river through seepage from tailing ponds of the Uranium Corporation of India at Jadugoda. It has three productive uranium mines, all within a 5 km radius: Jadugoda, Batin and Narwapahar. The uranium ore is mined from underground and brought to the surface. Uranium is then extracted and processed to make 'yellow cake', an ingredient used to fuel nuclear plants. What is left behind are 'tailings' or effluents comprising radioactive products, which are mixed into slurry and pumped into tailing ponds. These ponds, each covering about 160 ha of land and about 30 metres deep are situated between adjoining villages.No standards have been met in their construction and no measures taken to control the emissions. Overflow and seepage from the tailing ponds ultimately ends into the streams that feed Subarnarekha. These radiations pose the greatest threat to human health, as they harm living cells, often leading to genetic mutation, cancer and slow death.Subarnarekha is the lifeline of tribal communities inhabiting the Chhotanagpur belt. Once these communities made a living out of the river's gold and fish. But today the polluted Subarnarekha has little to offer. Between 5,000-6,000 families of local tribals, including the fishing community of Dharas, residing on the riverbanks from Mango in Jamshedpur to Bharagora, have been affected by the river’s pollution.Oil and slug deposits on the riverbed deter the growth of moss and fungi, vital food for fish, hindering the movement of Hilsa fish from the Bay of Bengal to Ghatsila. Even sweet water fish like sol die in large numbers during their breeding season. Reports reveal that villages in the region around Ghatsila such as Kalikapara, Royam, Jadugoda, Aminagar, Benasol and Baraghat are suffering from skin diseases. The male fertility rate has also declined. Unfortunately, people have not been active in protecting the river as yet, when they could do well and take an example from other social movements in other river basins.

Yamuna River:

Originating at Yamunotri and merging with river Ganga at Allahabd, river Yamuna, though a major river of Uttar Pradesh also passes through Delhi, the capital of country. According to different research report, the river is badly polluted at Delhi, Mathura, Agra and Allahabad as the BOD values ranged from 1.6 mg/lit to 31.3 mg/l in different seasons while the total coliform count ranged between 1820 to 63,500. High percentage of cadmium, copper and zinc were reported between Dakpathar and Agra, which clearly indicates that pollution load increases as the river receives industrial effluents along its course.

The major tributaries of the river are Tons, Betwa, Chambal, Ken and Sindh and these together contribute 70.9% of the catchment area and balance 29.1% is the direct drainage of main River and smaller tributaries. On the basis of area, the catchment basin of Yamuna amounts to 40.2% of the Ganga Basin and 10.7% of the country.

Yamuna is the sub-basin of the Ganga river system. Out of the total catchment’s area of 861404 sq km of the Ganga basin, the Yamuna River and its catchment together contribute to a total of 345848 sq. km area which 40.14% of total Ganga River Basin (CPCB, 1980-81; CPCB, 1982-83). It is a large basin covering seven Indian states. The river water is used for both abstractive and in stream uses like irrigation, domestic water supply, industrial etc. It has been subjected to over exploitation, both in quantity and quality. Given that a large population is dependent on the river, it is of significance to
preserve its water quality. The river is polluted by both point and non-point sources, where National Capital Territory (NCT) – Delhi is the major contributor, followed by Agra and Mathura. Approximately, 85% of the total pollution is from domestic source. The condition deteriorates further due to significant water abstraction which reduces the dilution capacity of the river. The stretch between Wazirabad barrage and Chambal river confluence is critically polluted and 22km of Delhi stretch is the maximum polluted amongst all.

Although the river is polluted almost throughout its journey in plains but maximum of pollution occurs during its journey through NCT. The main sources of pollution in NCT are:
•Rising density of human population on the river banks and poor sanitation practices by residents;
•untreated domestic wastewater;
•untreated industrial effluents;
•diffuse pollution (agricultural runoffs; dead body dumping and cattle washing)
•undetected and untreated pesticide residues leave a toxic mark all across the river
•religious activity and immersion of idols.

Monitoring data shows that pollution measured in terms of BOD load has increased 2.5 times from 1980-2005. BOD load, which was 117 tonnes per day (tpd) in 1980 increased to 276 tpd in 2005. The river has no fresh water flow for virtually nine months. Delhi impounds water at the barrage constructed at Wazirabad. Water that flows subsequently is only sewage and waste .The anaerobic condition in the river is frequently observed and as evident from the presence of masses of rising sludge from the bottom, gas bubbles and floating solids on the surface (CPCB, 2000).

Najafgarh drain of NCT – Delhi is the biggest polluter of River Yamuna, which
contributes about 26% (year 2001) to 33% 22 (year 2000) of total BOD load and
48% (year 2003) to 52% (year 2001) of total discharge that joins Yamuna river
and canal at Delhi by various drains. There are 70 sub drains that join main Najafgarh Drain. The study indicated that the total BOD load received by Najafgarh Drain through sub-drains was 136 TPD, whereas the BOD load at the terminal end of the Najafgarh Drain was 83 TPD only. This reduction may be contributed by biodegradation, deposition of setllable material at the bottom and diversion of drain water for irrigation etc.

The significant measure to be undertaken for abatement of pollution in river
Yamuna areas below:
▪ Industries should treat their effluents so as to confirm the specified
▪ To reduce over exploitation of river water for various human activities,
adoption of water harvesting system on large scale becoming necessary.
▪ Construction of small barrages in the entire Yamuna river stretch will also
solve the water scarcity problem.
▪ Disposal of garbage, solid, semi-solid, waste into river, its tributaries and
drains should be restricted.
▪ Community participation in various Yamuna water quality restoration
programme should be encouraged.

Gomati River:

River Gomati an important tributary of river Ganga and a perennial river of Awadh plains runs across the major part of Uttar Pradesh covering nine districts and a distance of approximately 940 kms. Originating from Madhoganj Tanda village in Pilibhit districts, it passes through the districts of Shahjahanpur, Kheri, Hardoi, Sitapur, Lucknow, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Jaunpur and ultimately merges in river Ganga near Saidpur town of district Ghazipur. During its course, it receives huge quantities untreated sewage and industrial wastes which alter the physico-chemical characteristics of river water significantly. It was found that the Gomati at Lucknow was polluted with copper, zinc and chromium. The concentration of metals was found much higher than the permissible limits and it was suggested that the river water was not safe for human usage without proper treatment. Physico-chemical parameters and microbial counts (MPN) clearly revealed that river was grossly polluted at Lucknow and Jaunpur due to discharge of large quantities of raw sewage and industrial wastes. Studies conducted on the tributaries of river Gomati viz. Sarayan at Sitapur and Gone at Kamalapur indicated that both of them were significantly polluted due to discharge of sugar mill effluent and distillery waste water in their catchment areas.

Historically, Gomati has served as a waterway, source of fish and water and provided livelihood to dwellers along the Avadh plains. Because of this important role, a number of big and small towns developed on its banks. The growing inflow of pollutants in the river now has destabilised its self-purification mechanism. Result: Water becoming unsafe for use. Two kinds of wastes are discharged into the river - organic and inorganic. The bacterial pollution in the river is increasing due to the discharge of organic wastes - human excreta, sewage waste, polythenes, municipal garbage and toxic discharge from the factories which flow into the storm drains, mixing with common water and subsequently posing a serious threat to the human population.

Heavy metals like, copper, zinc, magnesium iron and chromium have been found in large quantities in the river water. However their percentages differ in summers and winters.

Kuttiadi River (Kerala):

Kuttiadi River originates from the Narikota ranges on the western slope of the Wynad hills, a part of Western Ghats, at an elevation of 1220 meters above the mean sea level. The river flows through Badagara, Quilandy and Kozhikode Taluks in Kerala state before it falls into the Arabian Sea at Kottakal 7 km south of Badagara.

In general the water quality of Kuttiadi River depends significantly on the following factors: seasons, saline water intrusion, demographic pressure around the river, and topography. The river showed exceptionally low levels of Dissolved Oxygen at 8 km upstream (near Payyoli canal) where a stream carrying domestic and industrial wastes joins the river. Exceptionally high level of total hardness were recorded in waters collected near Payyoli canal. Exceptionally high levels of zinc were recorded in samples collected near Payyoli canal. The concentration of copper increased gradually as the river approached the sea.

Sabarmati River:

The river rises in the South-Western spurs of Aravali hills. It traverse through Sabarkantha, Ahmedabad, and Kheda districts and finally discharges into the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay). Sabarmati River rises in the Aravali hills, which roughly mark the western boundary of Udaipur District, i.e. Mount Abu area, and flows in a south-westerly direction. The main tributaries of the Sabarmati river are Wakal river and the Sei Nadi, which also rise in the Aravali hill range west of Udaipur city and flow south-westwards in courses generally parallel to the Sabarmati river, up to their confluence with the river (in Gujarat).

Ahmedabad, seventh largest populous city of India and Commercial Capital of Gujarat State has unique identity recognize by River Sabarmati. It’s potential to provide city level social infrastructure and recreation facilities lie untapped. Though it is a major source of water for the city and despite the building of a major barrage to retain water, except for a few months during the monsoon the river is dry. Sewage contaminated storm water out-falls and the dumping of industrial waste pose a major health and environmental hazard. Though the riverbanks and bed provide a place to stay and source of livelihood for many poor citizens, the riverbank slums are disastrously flood prone and lack basic infrastructure services. The slums located along the riverbed also pose a major impediment to efficient management of monsoon flood sin the river.

It is mainly a dumping ground of domestic, textile, chemical, dye and industrial wastes of units located on or near the river bank. River has been studied to its entire health by various workers. pH was always in alkaline range. The alkalinity was remarkably high and D.O. content was very low at most of the sites. The water was rich in chloride, phosphate, nitrate and COD indicating its polluted nature. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also reported highest volumes of faecal coliform (FC) — a bacteria present in human and animal excreta — in the country in Sabarmati. FC in these stretches is measured to be 2.8 million Most Probable Number (MPN) in every 100 ml of the river.

The major polluting units along the rivers include distilleries, sugar, textile, electroplating, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper mills, tanneries, dyes and dye intermediates, petrochemicals and steel plants, among others. According to CPCB, the major reason for polluted river stretches in Gujarat is the effluent directly discharged by the factories into these water bodies.

An observation supported by the fact that the Amlakhadi, which meets Narmada near Bharuch district, has been reduced to an effluent channel of over 1,500 chemical units in Ankleshwar, Panoli, Vilayat, Dahej and Jhagadia.

Purna River:

This river flows through Valsad in Gujrat state. The water of this river, irrespective of season was always muddy due to the flushing character of the river. pH was always alkaline through out the flow. Dissolved oxygen was very long except in spring. The high value of phosphate and silicate revealed the amount of industrial effluents released into the rivers. The alarmingly high levels of lead (0.2 to 1.08 ppm) was due to the burning of gasoline, or by the petrol operated vehicles or industries.

Khan River:

Khan river is the main water body of the study area. The drainage of the city is provided by two small rivers, Khan and Sarswati. Khan river, a tributary of Shipra river emerges near Umaria village 11 km South of Indore and flows through heart of city. traveling of distance of around 50 km, it confluences in to Shipra river at Ujjain.

Years before, Khan was a flowing river in Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Due to urbanization of the city the river has become a waste water disposal site. The growth of the city was fairly rapid during the past few years, as a consequence of which the waste entering into the river has increased at an enormous rate. At present it has been fully converted into a ‘Nallah’.

The maximum value of dissolved solids was recorded in July due to less flow of water and high impurities because rains did not pours much at that time. The pH value of the water is above 8 at all the sites. High value of chlorides was found because of the contamination of water due to sewage of the city. The relative higher hardness was recorded at all the places. It is due to the sewage effluent and industrial waste.

Satluj River:

The river Satluj, one of the main rivers of the Punjab, originates from ‘Mansarovar’ Lake, in Tibet, enters Punjab near Bhakra, flows through this state to finally join the river Beas at Harike. During its course, it get heavily polluted by domestic sewage, agricultural runoff and untreated or inadequately treated industrial effluents. Samples analyzed near industrial Ludhiana town showed high concentration of zinc, lead, and mercury, while chromium and cadmium were found to be absent. Zinc, lead, and mercury were also found to be present in both in water and sediment near Jalandhar city. In general terms, concentration of heavy metals were found to be considerably high in sediments than in water. The effluents being discharged by Budha Nalah into Satluj River over the years has attained alarming proportions causing a drastic decline in the number of fish species besides showing high concentration of heavy metal.

Ludhiana has 250 large and medium-scale units and 41,116 small-scale units. Electroplating, heat treatment, cycle manufacturing, hosiery, machine parts, vegetable oils, dyeing processes and chemical industries are the major industries. They use huge quantities of chemicals, various types of dyes, chrome, nickel and cyanide. With poor effluent treatment facilities, traces of these heavy metals end up in Budha Nalah and thus in the river. In the process, even groundwater is contaminated, posing a public issue as well.

It's no secret that rivers in Punjab are heavily polluted. Now, the comptroller and auditor general's (CAG) office, in its latest report, has expressed concern over the degradation of state rivers and blamed government for not doing enough to save them.

The CAG report on " Water Pollution in India" said the rivers and groundwater in the state were highly polluted with the government not being able to effectively implement National River Conservation Project (NCRP) in six cities, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Phillaur, Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi, which were situated on banks of the Satluj river.

Krishna and Koyana River:

Krishna river rises in the western ghats of India at an altitude of 1337 m. near Mahabaleshwar, about 64 km from the Arabian sea. It is one of the longest rivers in India. The Krishna river is around 1,290 km in length. It flows through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh before merging in the Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladeevi in Andhra Pradesh. The principle tributaries of the Krishna River includes Koyna, Bhima, Mallaprabha, Ghataprabha, Yerla, Warna, Dindi, Musi, Tungabhadra and Dudhganga rivers. The river basin is approximately 200 meter deep. A tributary of Krishna river Koyana also originates in the western ghats and finally meets the river Krishna at Karad in frontal confluence. River Krishna is dying at an increasing rate. The river receives the waste from the large number of cities including Hyderabad, Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Kurnool and many more. The sewages from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad flows into it. Large number of industrial units operates from the river basin which are the main reason for the water pollution in the Krishna river.

The study found that, the Satara-Sangli stretch of the Krishna river is polluted grossly by the human-induced activities in the subwatersheds. The factors for acute pollution of water are:
The intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides in the agricultural land, growth of medium to big size sugar and distillery factories and very high growth of population leading to high domestic load from urban setup.
Turbidity values increased and the same results were witnessed after 1990 for chemical parameters such as BOD, COD, Na, Mg, Ca, Cl, and sulphate.
Of all sources, the share of agriculture to water consumption and water pollution was the highest. Agricultural sources contributed to 91% of total waste discharge while the same for domestic and industrial sources were 4.5% each.

Iron and zinc was present in considerable quantity in both the rivers. Copper concentration varied from 10 to 150 µg/lt. in the rivers. Lead concentration was found to be higher than the concentration of copper in the Krishna river. Nickel showed higher variation at all the sites from nil to 200µg/lt. in the river Krishna. Low concentration ranging from 10µg/lt. to 50 µg/lt. was noted in the river Koyana. The Koyna river is polluted in Karad due to the sewage released from Karad.


Agarwal, D.K., Gaur, S.D., Tiwari T.C., Narayanswami, N. and Marwah, S.M. 1976.. Physico-chemical characteristics of Ganges water at Varanasi. India J. Environ. Hlth. 18 (3). 210-206.

Bhargava, D.S.1982. Purification power of the Ganges unmatched. L.S.T. Bull. 34. 52.

Chakraborty, R.N., Saxena, K.L. and Khan, A.Q. 1965. Stream pollution and its effect on water supply. A report of survey, Proc. Symp. Problems in Water treatment. Oct. 29-30, Nagpur. 211-219.

CPCB, 1980–81. The Ganga River—Part I—The Yamuna basin, ADSORBS/2, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi, India.

CPCB, 1982–83. Assimilation capacity of point pollution load, CUPS/12, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi, India.

CPCB, 2000. Status of water quality of river Yamuna and drains adjoining river Yamuna in Delhi. Information submitted to the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Garg, S.L, 2000. Pollution studies on the Khan river at Indore. , in Pollution and Biomonitoring of Indian Rivers. Ed. Dr. R.K. Trivedy, pp. 154-158.

Kaur, H. et al. 2000. Occurrence of heavy metals in the water and sediment of the river Satluj in Punjab, , in Pollution and Biomonitoring of Indian Rivers. Ed. Dr. R.K. Trivedy, pp. 176-180.

Lakshminarayana, J.S.S. 1965. studies of the phytoplankton of the river Ganges, Varanasi, India, Part-I, Physico chemical characteristics of River Ganga. Hydrobiologia. 25. 119-175.

Manoj, E. and Ragothaman, G. 2000. Assessment of the water quality of Purna river, Valsad (Gujarat) with special reference to the heavy metal pollution, in Pollution and Biomonitoring of Indian Rivers. Ed. Dr. R.K. Trivedy, pp. 126-129.

Pahwa, D.V. and Mehrotra, S.N., 1966. Observations on fluctuation in the abundance of plankton in relation to certain hydrobiological vonditions of river Ganges. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., India, Sec. 36B (2). 157-89.

Priyadarshi, N.: Arsenic in Damodar poisoning West Bengal. Indian Express, July 12, 1998.
Priyadarshi, N. 2004. Distribution of arsenic in Permian Coals of North Karanpura coalfield, Jharkhand. Jour. Geol. Soc. India, 63, 533-536.

Saxena, K.L., Chakraborty, A.K., Khan, A.Q., Chattopadhayay, R.N. and Chandra, H. 1966. Pollution study of river near Kanpur. Indian, J. environ. Hlth. 8. 270.

Trivedy, R.K., Khatavkar, S.D. and Arjugade, B.L. 2000. Heavy metal pollution in the River Krishna and Koyana in Maharashtra, India, in Pollution and Biomonitoring of Indian Rivers. Ed. Dr. R.K. Trivedy. pp. 327-341.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Possibilities of helium deposit in Jharkhand State of India.

Assessment of helium reservoir may be under
taken in the Jharkhand state.
Dr. Nitish Priy

Fig: The above pictures are of Surajkund area in Hazaribag district in Jharkhand.

Rocks of Jharkhand State in India which are mineral rich can also be used for trapping Helium deposit. In Jharkhand helium has been reported in the gases of different thermal springs of Hazaribag district.

In Jharkhand, concentration of helium is highest in thermal gases of Surajkund (3.63 mole %) followed by Charhi (3.38 mole %), Duari (2.95 mole%), Barkagaon (0.29 mole %)and Badam (0.09 mole %). Surajkund hot spring (also called Surya Kund) is a natural hot spring in Belkapi gram panchayat of Barkatha community development block in Barhi subdivision of Hazaribag district in the Indian state of Jharkhand.

Mineral radioactivity plays an important role in the natural occurrence of helium. Helium is an end product of radioactive decay. Helium is also known from the damp of many coal mines. The release of helium from rocks/minerals is greatly promoted by leaching with H2 , CH4 and its homologues. In this area high helium seems to have originated from the combination of the above processes.

According to other report, two well-known groups of thermal springs at Bakreswar (West Bengal) and Tantloi (Jharkhand) give-off substantial quantities of helium-bearing natural gases as bubbling emanations. These two thermal spring sites are located 25 km from
each other and about 250 km from Kolkata. In Tantloi the presence of helium in gases of thermal spring is 1.26 vol. %.

Helium is used for many purposes that require some of its unique properties, such as its low boiling point, low density, low solubility, high thermal conductivity, or inertness. Of the 2008 world helium total production of about 32 million kg (193 million standard cubic meters) helium per year, the largest use (about 22% of the total in 2008) is in cryogenic applications, most of which involves cooling the superconducting magnets in medical MRI scanners.

Helium is extracted in Poland, Russia, China, Algeria, Canada and the Netherlands. The average concentration of helium in fields of these countries ranges between 0.18 and 0.9 vol%. Since such favourable natural gas deposits are not found in India, it seems logical to look for them in unconventional terrestrial sources such as thermal spring emanations and monazite sands.

A thermal spring is the manifestation of extremity of an ascending hot fluid column, which pierces successive layers of the lithosphere and comes forth through the vents. It issues along fractures and fissures, which are invariably linked with deep-seated faults in well-defined zones of mechanical weakness. There are nearly three hundred thermal springs scattered all over India. Preliminary estimation performed by Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) at Bakreswar, District Birbhum, West Bengal reveals that quite a number of thermal springs emit natural gases containing helium in significant measure.

Three distinct belts of thermal springs so far identified in India by the Geological Survey of India are: (1) Eastern India – Jharkhand, Assam and Orissa; (2) West coast of India – Ratnagiri, Thane, Colaba and Surat, and (3) Himalayan Belt – Jamunotri (Uttaranchal), Gangotri and Monikaran (Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh).

Earlier, radon, helium and uranium measurements have been carried out in hot water springs in the Parbati and Beas valleys of Himachal Pradesh in India. Most of these hot springs are known as famous pilgrimage centers. The activity of dissolved radon in the liquid phase is found to vary widely, by an order of magnitude, between 10 and 750 Bq L−1, whereas, the dissolved helium content in these thermal springs varies between 10 and 100 ppm. The uranium contents are low and vary from <0.01 to 5 μg L−1. The measured values of radon, helium and uranium are possibly controlled by structural geology, namely the presence of pervious fault systems, and by the lithology of the leached host rocks.

Helium is found in large amounts in minerals of uranium and thorium, including cleveite, pitchblende, carnotite and monazite, because they emit alpha particles (helium nuclei, He2+) to which electrons immediately combine as soon as the particle is stopped by the rock. In this way an estimated 3000 metric tons of helium are generated per year throughout the lithosphere. In the Earth's crust, the concentration of helium is 8 parts per billion. In seawater, the concentration is only 4 parts per trillion. There are also small amounts in mineral springs, volcanic gas, and meteoric iron. Because helium is trapped in the subsurface under conditions that also trap natural gas, the greatest natural concentrations of helium on the planet are found in natural gas, from which most commercial helium is extracted.

We believe that exploitation of the existing natural gas reserves in India could meet the requirement for domestic consumption of Grade-A helium. This, in turn, would ensure a reliable supply of helium for sustainable development and application of cryogenic technology. Taking into account the growing demand of cryogenic technology in our country, helium concentration assessment of helium reservoir may be undertaken in the Jharkhand state to see if helium can be mined. A detail exploration is needed to improve the database for assessing and evaluating the helium potential in Jharkhand State. Geological Survey of India along with state government and other national agencies will have to play a key role.


Priyadarshi N. 2002. Potential of geothermal energy in Jharkhand State, India: Proceedings of the 1st conference and exhibition on strategic challenges and paradigm shift in hydrocarbon exploration with special reference to Frontier Basins. Mussoorie, India, v2, p. 261-265.

Singh, R., and Bandyopadhyaya, A.K., 1995. Geochemical studies of some thermal springs in Hazaribag district, Bihar, India: Indian Minerals, v49, no.1 & 2, p. 55-60.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Climate change do affect our mind and body.

Are the people of Ranchi suffering from SAD Syndrome?
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Recent increase in suicidal incident in Ranchi city reminds me of an old research which says that it is not only the social issue which instigates people to commit suicide but also the climate change affects our mind and body. According to the research the changes in weather sharply affects our mind it may be peak winter season, summer season or rainy season. This theory is commonly known as SAD. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Ranchi city is famous for its sudden change in weather.

SAD is a syndrome characterized by depression during winter months when there is less daylight. Seasonal Affective Disorder is directly related or even caused by too little sunlight, which causes the body's time clock to go out of sync, thus upsetting the body's routine, and may even affect certain hormonal levels in the body. The symptoms of SAD are depression, sadness, lethargy, fatigue, excessive sleeping, difficulty getting up in the morning, loss of appetite or increased eating of carbohydrates, thus increase in weight, decreased activity and socialization, apathy, irritability. The disorder may begin during the teen years or in early adulthood. Like other forms of depression, it occurs more often in women than in men.

There are studies that link weather with long periods of high temperatures to increase in crime. It is believed that people get irritable and hostile when it is extremely hot. Several law enforcement agencies have statistics that shows the correlation of the two. Think about how you felt if ever you had experienced a heat wave: hot, irritable, frustrated, may be even angry.

The weather can affect your mood more than you realise. "The human body, its metabolism and hormones react to the changing season resulting in changes in mood and behaviour. Just as you find yourself getting irritable and aggressive during summer, you may find yourself feeling low and lethargic in monsoon and winter.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. People who experience spring and summer depression show symptoms of classic depression including insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, weight loss, social withdrawal, an increased sex drive, and suicide. Additionally, many patients are unable to cope with the increased temperatures during spring and summer.

SAD was first systematically reported and named in the early 1980s by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., and his associates at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Rosenthal was initially motivated by his desire to discover the cause of his own experience of depression during the dark days of the northern US winter. He theorized that the lesser amount of light in winter was the cause.

Some natural disaster like earthquake, floods and drought also affects our mind. People become depressed for several months after the disaster forcing few of them to commit suicide like farmers of India who were forced to commit suicide due to continued drought in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh states etc.

Not only weather change but also the pollution in atmosphere especially heavy metal pollution like Lead etc. affects our body and mind. Lead increases blood pressure which gradually affects our mind and increase irritation.

After becoming the capital Ranchi city is facing acute changes in atmosphere. Earlier it was the summer capital of united Bihar Jharkhand State famous for its pleasant climate but now the atmosphere is gradually becoming worse day by day. People of Ranchi are definitely going to be affected with such syndrome.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Effects on national highway in Jharkhand State of India due to 19th September Earthquake.

The tremor left a 200-foot long/10-foot deep crater on the road.


Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

It is for the first time in earthquake history of Jharkhand that the earthquake, which jolted North and Eastern India on 19th September, left a 200-foot long crack on the NH-75 in Latehar district, disrupting traffic. The tremor left a 200-foot long/10-foot deep crater on the road disrupting traffic near Sikni Colliery. It came as surprise as the area is treated geologically as the most stable cratonic block related to tremors.

According to the local administration it was due to Sikni coal mines near that highway. They said that the mining has created instability of the upper surface of the earth of near by areas and the cracks were the multiple effects of both mining and tremors. If it is true then most of the areas of the Jharkhand State where the coal mining are rampant are under tremendous threat in future.

Geologically Jharkhand state represents a part of the Indian Peninsular shield, which is a stable cratonic block of the earth’s crust. Though it is a part of the stable block it is being rocked by mild to medium tremors. Jharkhand plateau has faced lots of tremors and geological movements in the geological past and now it is assumed that the plateau is free from any type of tremors or cratonic movement. Evidences of the regional tectonic movement in the plateau area are preserved in the form of faulting, folding, joints etc in the rocks.

Earthquakes of Jharkhand may be placed in one broad categories. Earthquakes originate from stress fields built up in the Precambrian shield, supporting the Vindhyan, Gondwana and younger basins.

Several events such as the 1868 Hazaribagh, 1963 Ranchi and 1969 Bankura were generated by release of stress built up in the relatively more stable Jharkhand Plateau region underlain by Precambrian formations. These, by analogy with other Peninsular Shield events such as Latur and Jabalpur earthquakes,may possible belong to the class of Stable Continental Earthquakes.

Possibilities of major earthquake in this stable region cannot be ruled out. Different researches has shown that ancient fault line can be re-activated. Old continental crust contains a billion-year record of past tectonic activity. This area was once a seismically active. "We don't yet understand how faults are reactivated, but it appears that some pre-existing faults are more likely to break than others. Regarding Jharkhand the possibility of reactivation of a pre-existing fault can happen under the influence of the ambient stress field due to the India–Eurasia plate collision forces.

Monday, October 10, 2011

There are some methods for medium and short range earthquake forecasting.

These methods are concerned with forecasting earthquake of a particular intensity over a specified locality within a specified time limit.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Tectonic earthquakes are attributed to rupture in the rock masses which occur following accumulation of strain. Earthquakes present a frightening experience in the lives of men. The disaster strikes suddenly, similar to that of lightning, tornadoes or nuclear explosions. It is estimated that an average, about 15,000 human lives are lost every year, while in a singe year of 1976 about 200, 000 were killed by earthquakes in china, Guatemala, Philippines and in other parts of the world. The damage to property runs into billions of dollars.

Earthquakes generate a variety of effects. Some are temporary, such as the shaking ground, swinging objects, rattling windows and oscillating trees. Permanent effects include damage to buildings, transportation, water supply systems and the landslides.

Till today there is no perfect method to forecast earthquakes. There are some methods for long, medium and short range earthquake forecasting. My article is more concentrated on medium and short range earthquake forecasting.

Medium term prediction means forecast of an earthquake a few months to a year or more ahead, while short term prediction implies forecast ranging from a few hours to some day in advance. The medium and short range stages in earthquake prediction are concerned with forecasting the occurrence of an earthquake of a particular intensity over a specified locality within a specified time limit. Satisfying this criterion, a few earthquakes have been successfully predicted in Japan, USA former USSR, India and China. It is actually these two stages of earthquake prediction which save the largest population from disaster in terms of life or property, and is more often demanded by public as well as Government. Even though the medium and short range prediction techniques are broadly similar using several disciplines of geophysics, some simple observations like earthquakes lights or sounds, unusual behaviour of animals, changes in the level and colours of well water, hydrochemical changes and foreshocks can be of great assistance from the point of view of short range prediction of large earthquakes.

Unusual animal behaviour: Unusual behaviour of animals prior to earthquakes received wide publicity after the Haichang earthquake of February 4, 1975 was successfully predicted in China. The official report was presented by the Chinese delegation at the Inter-governmental meeting convened at UNESCO, Paris in February 1976 which stimulated considerable scientific interest. Prior to this, however, several instances of abnormal animal behaviour were noticed before occurrence of some of the damaging earthquakes in different parts of the world, but they were considered more as historical legend. In Japan, innumerable rats were seen every day in a restaurant in Nagoya city, which suddenly disappeared on the evening prior to the Nobi earthquake of 1891.
Hyodrochemical precursors: Regular observations of the chemical composition of underground water were taken during 1997 in seismically active regions of Tadzhik, and Uzbekistan. The water samples were analyzed in the following two ways:
· The concentration levels of dissolved mineral components like sodium and calcium ions, bicarbonate and chloride ions were measured before, during and after the earthquakes.
· The gaseous components of water like helium and hydrogen sulfide were analyzed at various intervals of time.
The following results were obtained:
· During seismically inactive period, the concentration levels of dissolved minerals and gaseous components remained almost constant.
· About 2 to 8 days before an earthquake, appreciable increase in the concentration for dissolved minerals was noticed. Also, the maximum volume of helium gas in thermal water occurred 3 to 5 days before the increase in seismic activity.

Significant pre-disaster and post disaster hydro geo-logical changes rendering the groundwater turbid were observed during Jabalpur earthquake, 1997 (I.M.D. Report 1998).

The mechanism of the behaviour of these hydro geochemical precursors is attributed to the upsetting of balance in the rock/interstatial solution/ underground water system prior to earthquake. This is due to increase of stress and the consequent appearance of permeable fissures through which an increased inflow underground fluid from the subsurface zones of the earth’s crust takes place.
Temperature changes: A rise of temperature by 10 degree c. and 15 degree c. was reported before earthquakes in Lunglin, China (1976) and Przhevalsk, Russia (1970). Same relationship between magnitude and geothermal anomaly has been found for earthquakes in China.
Water level: Unusually muddy and fall in the level of water was reported in several wells a few days before the great Nankai earthquake (1946) in Japan. However, rise of water level by 3 and 15 cm was also reported before the Lunglin (China) and Przhevalsk (Russia) earthquakes. Similarly, water level rose by 3 cm a few hours before the earthquakes in Meckering, Australia (1968). In general a pre-seismic variations at observation wells follows this sequence:1) A gradual lowering of water levels of a period of months or years2) An accelerated lowering of water levels (rate often exponential) in the final few months or weeks preceding the earthquake. 3) A “rebound” where water levels begin to increase rapidly in the last few days or hours before the main shock.In the monitoring of water levels in deep wells, care must be taken to correct the data for “earth tides”. This is due either to volume changes caused in fractured aquifers by tidal strain, or perhaps by changes in gravitational acceleration alone. In either case, it is important that data is corrected for this phenomenon. In addition water extraction from the aquifer must also be considered. In many part’s of the planet the water table is falling due to water abstraction for drinking and irrigation. It is quite possible that such drops could be mistaken for a long-term seismic precursor.

Radon gas: The first evidence of a correlation between radon and earthquake came from Tashkent Basin prior to destructive earthquake in 1966. Radon observations revealed many precursory changes in its concentration as far as 1800 km from their respective epicenters. The measured radon in soils could be strongly disturbed by meteorological parameters, seasonal factors as well as a deeper phenomenon of seismic activity. Variety of studies which use complex mathematical methods have been done in order to distinguish between the variations of radon caused by environmental factors.

Work carried out in this direction was based upon the assumption that significant changes take place in the emission of gases such as radon and trapped in the earth crust before the arrival of a 'physical jolt' of an earthquake. This change takes place because of the physical stresses which are built up within the earth crust to trigger an earthquake. Work so far done has indicated the existence of a relationship between earthquake producing processes and radon movement. It has been noted that variation in radon levels is related to the intensity of an approaching earthquake.

Radon is a radioactive gas with a half-life of about 2.5 days. It is discharged from rock masses prior to an earthquake and dissolves in the well water which shows increase in its concentration.
Oil wells: some cases of sharp fluctuations in the oil flow prior to earthquakes were reported for wells in Israel, northern Caucasus and China. It is argued that when the tectonic stress accumulates to certain level, the pore pressure within a deep oil bearing strata may reach its breaking strength causing oil to spout along the oil wells.
Changes in the Electrical Resistivity of Rocks - Electrical resistivity is the resistance to the flow of electric current . In general rocks are poor conductors of electricity, but water is more efficient a conducting electricity. If microcracks develop and groundwater is forced into the cracks, this may cause the electrical resistivity to decrease (causing the electrical conductivity to increase). In some cases a 5-10% drop in electrical resistivity has been observed prior to an earthquake.
Ground Uplift and Tilting of the ground - Measurements taken in the vicinity of active faults sometimes show that prior to an earthquake the ground is uplifted or tilts due to the swelling of rocks caused by strain building on the fault. This may lead to the formation of numerous small cracks (called microcracks). This cracking in the rocks may lead to small earthquakes called foreshocks.


Srivastava, H.N. 1983. Earthquakes, Forecasting and Mitigation. National Book Trust, India, New Delhi.

Gupta, D. and Shahani, D.T. 2011. Estimation of Radon as an Earthquake Precursor: A neural network approach. Jr. of Geol. Soc. Of India, Vol.78, pp. 243-248.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why New Delhi Groundwater is highly saline?

Most of the areas of New Delhi and its adjoining places are affected by salinity hazards.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Inland salinity in ground water is prevalent mainly in the arid and semi arid regions of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In some areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat, ground water salinity is so high that the well water is directly used for salt manufacturing by solar evaporation.

Salts in groundwater originate either from minute quantities dissolved in rain water, from the chemical breakdown of rocks or from direct connection to sea water.

Inland salinity is also caused due to practice of surface water irrigation without consideration of ground water status. The gradual rise of ground water levels with time has resulted in water logging and heavy evaporation in semi arid regions lead to salinity problem in command areas.

Most of the areas of New Delhi and its adjoining places are affected by salinity hazards due to excessive presence of sodium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine etc. ions. Interpretation of surface and subsurface geological and hydrological data indicate that integration of lithological, geomorphic and tectonic factors have led to restricting the circulation of surface and sub-surface water in a graben like structure causing rise of water level. During summer, high evaporation causes capillary rise of shallow groundwater and subsequent precipitation of salts in soil.

The ground water availability in Delhi is controlled by the hydrogeological formations characterized by the presence of alluvial formation and quartzitic hard rocks.
The rock formation is widely varied with variation in land formation like ridge areas. It is traversing across the city and is quite significant to control the occurrence and movement of groundwater. In shallow aquifers, the groundwater occurs under phreatic confined condition. Contrarily, it is in semiconfined to confined conditions in deep aquifers. The shallow aquifers contain saline water and the depth varies from 5 to 10 m.

The affected areas are South Delhi, East Delhi, Gurgaon, Mayur Vihar, Munirka, sector 16,37,50 of Noida and many more areas.

Depth to water table in the area of salinity is mainly between 3 and 5 meter and many places is above 5 meter to 10 meter. In post-monsoon period, the water level however, rises marginally in most of the areas. Long term fluctuation studies shows that in many parts of the Delhi the water level has remained more or less static between 1982 and 1992 period.

The groundwater in about 70% of the area is unfit for drinking and agriculture on account of high TDS (total dissolved solid) of 9000 to 12000 ppm (parts per million). Analytical data show the enrichment of sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and sulfate ions in such water.

Study area is highly affected with inland salinity which is geogenic in origin. The seasonal water level fluctuation and rising water level increases nutrients concentration in groundwater. Mixing with old saline sub-surface groundwater and dissolution of surface salts in the salt affected soil areas were identified as the principle processes controlling groundwater salinity.

Origin of salinity in Delhi groundwater:

At the onset, contribution of salts from the local rocks is ruled out as the quartzite-phyllite association hardly has any mineral which can give rise to such extensive salinity. Moreover, limestone of buried basement could supply a few ions but its limited occurrence could not cause such extensive and intensive salinity. The problem therefore appears to be secondary in nature.

Evaluation of multiple surface and subsurface data shows that an interesting association of geomorphic, lithologic, and climatic factors has developed a typical set-up receptive to salinity hazard. The set-up comprises, a subsurface graben like basin, surface depression, predominance of silt-clayey lithology and semi arid condition. Of these, the subsurface graben is most important feature. It results in ponding of groundwater by restricting its circulation. In geology, a graben is a depressed block of land bordered by parallel faults.

Next comes the role of climate which actually causes salinity. The area witnesses a semi-arid climate characterizing a high temperature. Variation from 4 degree to 44 degree and low and erratic rainfall of 233 to 985 mm per year.

During summer, arid conditions cause capillary rise of water from the shallow water table through fine pores of silt clay. Evaporation of water then leads to the precipitation of salts in the near surface soil and groundwater. Continuation of this process make the soil, hard impervious by depositing salts in the sediment pores.

How we can manage salinity?

1. The water table in the depression should be lowered. This could be done by installing a number of shallow bore wells and arranging the withdrawal of groundwater at least equal to the annual recharge. This will control the rise of water table and reduce the scope of evaporation.
2. Excessive surface runoff should be passed out of the area through lined drains. The drain should also be used for transportation of saline groundwater out of the area.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How the groundwater gets contaminated?

Groundwater is an important source of water supply throughout the world.


Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The circulation of water:

There is a continual movement of the earth’s water. The main reservoir is the ocean. From its surface water vapor is formed by the heat from the sun and carried up into the atmosphere by the air movement we called winds and breezes. The water vapor in the air is condensed to drops as the air rises and becomes visible as clouds. The contained moisture may then be precipitated as rain or snow or hail or mixture of these. The rain or snow which falls on the land may be partly re-evaporated, a part may flow into the streams and rivers and be returned to the ocean, and a part may sink into the ground where it supplies the moisture to the soil and also infiltrates downward into the rocks to form groundwater.

Water occupying openings, cavities, and spaces in rocks is commonly known as groundwater. There are two main sources of such water: Juvenile water, which rises from a deep, magmatic source, and meteoric water, which is due to rainfall having soaked into the underlying rocks. Water may be held in space between the grains of a rock (porosity) or in joints, cleavage, bedding planes etc.

Groundwater is an important source of water supply throughout the world. Its use in irrigation, industries, municipalities, and rural homes continue to increase. Cooling and air-conditioning have made heavy demands on groundwater because of characteristic uniformity in temperatures.

Groundwater pollution may be defined as the artificially or geologically induced degradation of natural groundwater quality. A large number of sources and causes can modify groundwater quality, ranging from septic tanks to irrigated agriculture. In contrast with surface water pollution, subsurface pollution is difficult to detect, is even more difficult to control, and may persist for decades. With the growing recognition of the importance of under groundwater, efforts are increasing to prevent, reduce, and eliminate groundwater pollution.

General mechanisms of groundwater contamination-

Contaminant releases to groundwater can occur by design, by accident, or by neglect. Most groundwater contamination incidents involve substances released at or only slightly below the land surface. Consequently, it is shallow groundwater which is affected initially by contaminant releases. In general shallow groundwater resources are considered more susceptible to surface sources of contamination than deeper groundwater sources. There are at least four ways by which groundwater contamination occurs: infiltration, direct migration, interaquifer exchange, and recharge from surface water.

Infiltration: contamination by infiltration is probably the most common groundwater contamination mechanism. A portion of the water which has fallen to the earth slowly infiltrates the soil through pore spaces in the soil matrix. As the water moves downward under the influence of gravity, it dissolves materials with which it comes into contact. Water percolating downward through a contaminated zone can dissolve contaminants, forming the leachate. Depending on the composition of the contaminated zone, the leachate formed can contain a number of inorganic and organic constituents. The leachate will continue to migrate downward under gravity’s influence until the saturated zone is contacted, horizontal and vertical spreading of the contaminants in the leachate will occur in the direction of groundwater flow.
Direct Migration: contaminants can migrate directly into groundwater from below ground sources (e.g. storage tanks, pipelines) which lie within the saturated zone. Storage sites and landfills excavated to a depth near the water table also may permit direct contact of contaminants with groundwater.
Interaquifer Exchange: contaminated groundwater can mix with uncontaminated groundwater through a process known as interaquifer exchange in which one water –bearing unit “communicates” hydraulically with another. This is most common in bedrock aquifers where a well penetrates more than one water-bearing formation to provide increased yield. Each water-bearing unit will have its own head potential, some greater than others. When the well is not being pumped, water will move from the formation with the greatest potential to formations of lesser potential. If the formation with the greater potential contains contaminated or poorer quality water, the quality of water in another formation can be degraded. Similar to the process of direct migration, old and improperly abandoned wells with deteriorated casings or seals are a potential contributor to interaquifer exchange.

Different sources of groundwater contamination-

Industrial sources:

1. Liquid wastes: Groundwater pollution can occur where industrial wastewaters are discharged into pits, ponds, or lagoons, thereby enabling the wastes to migrate down to the water table.
2. Tank and pipeline leakage: underground storage and transmission of a wide variety of fuels and chemicals are common practices for industrial and commercial installations. These tanks and pipelines are subject to structural failures so that subsequent leakage becomes a source of groundwater pollution. Petroleum and petroleum products are responsible for much of the pollution.
3. Mining activities: Mines can produce a variety of groundwater pollution problems. Pollution depends on the material being extracted and the milling process: coal, phosphate, and uranium mines are major contributors; metallic ores for production of iron, copper, zinc, and lead are also important. Heavy metal pollution is caused when such metals as arsenic, cobalt, copper, cadmium, lead, silver and zinc contained in excavated rock or exposed in an underground mine come in contact with water. Metals are leached out and carried downwards as water washes over the rock surface. Although metals can become mobile in neutral pH conditions, leaching is particularly accelerated in the low pH conditions such as are created by Acid Mine Drainage.

Agricultural Sources:

Irrigation return flows: Approximately one-half to two thirds of the water applied for irrigation of crops is consumed by evapotranspiration; the remainder, termed irrigation return flow, drains to surface channels or joins the underlying groundwater. Irrigation increases the salinity of irrigation return flow from three to ten times that of applied water. The degradation results from the addition of salts by dissolution during the irrigation process, from salts added as fertilizers or soil amendments.

Other sources.
Residential: Residential wastewater systems can be a source of many categories of contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, nitrates from human waste, and organic compounds. Injection wells used for domestic wastewater disposal (septic systems, cesspools, drainage wells for storm water runoff, groundwater recharge wells) are of particular concern to groundwater quality if located close to drinking water wells. Improperly storing or disposing of household chemicals such as paints, synthetic detergents, solvents, oils, medicines, disinfectants, pool chemicals, pesticides, batteries, gasoline and diesel fuel can lead to groundwater contamination. When stored in garages or basements with floor drains, spills and flooding may introduce such contaminants into the groundwater. When thrown in the household trash, the products will eventually be carried into the groundwater because community landfills are not equipped to handle hazardous materials. Similarly, wastes dumped or buried in the ground can contaminate the soil and leach into the groundwater.
2. Natural: groundwater contains some impurities, even if it is unaffected by human activities. The types and concentrations of natural impurities depend on the nature of the geological material through which the groundwater moves and the quality of the recharge water. Groundwater moving through sedimentary rocks and soils may pick up a wide range of compounds such as magnesium, calcium, and chlorides. Some aquifers have high natural concentration of dissolved constituents such as arsenic, boron, and selenium. The effect of these natural sources of contamination on groundwater quality depends on the type of contaminant and its concentrations.

Miscellaneous sources:

Septic Tanks
Saline water intrusion.
Surface water.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

8 Plant Species in Danger of Disappearing.


Plants don't get enough credit in our world. They're seen as lifeless decorations or a way to recycle cow manure. But plants have a magic all their own. A bouquet of flowers can patch up a couple after a fight, while a man-eating plant can play the villain in a movie or musical. Plus, they fill that minorly important role of producing food and oxygen. So while they help keep us alive, here are eight plant species that could probably use our help to survive.

1. Hawaiian gardenia

This small tree with white flowers is found on the islands of Lanai and Oahu in Hawaii and is also known as Nanu, though it probably has nothing to do with Mork. The trees grow to about 16 feet tall with shiny oval leaves, and the flowers have six petals. You've probably seen the flowers, or one of the other two types of gardenias in Hawaii, used in leis. There are thought to only be 15 or 20 trees left today, and those numbers are decreasing. Once common and found on all the main islands, the Hawaiian gardenia was used by Hawaiians for wood, dyes, and landscaping purposes.

2. Poke-me-boy
Though its name sounds like a Facebook come-on, the poke-me-boy is actually a spiny tree in the bean family found only on the British Virgin Islands, specifically on the island of Anegada. It produces fuzzy, yellow flowers between its long thorns. As the poke-me-boy's tiny island habitat becomes more developed for residences and tourism, the plant is suffering quick losses. Fire is often used to clear land, and the trees are continuously under threat of natural disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods threaten the poke-me-boys, which live barely above sea level. There are also many roaming animals on the one-town island that often trample or graze on the plant

3. Cabbage on a stick
Cabbage on a stick is pretty much what it sounds like: a tuft of leaves that looks like a head of cabbage sitting on top of a thick stick. It's also known as alula. In the wild, this plant is only found on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and without the work of botanists, it would be extinct. Because the only insect that could pollinate the cabbage on a stick, a type of hawk moth, doesn't exist anymore, the plant species can only reproduce if humans hand-pollinate it. Botanists repelled down cliffs to reach the existing alula, pollinate it, and bring some back with them to grow in nurseries. Cabbage on a stick is still critically endangered in the wild, but can be found in plant conservatories around the world.
4. Mun ebony
Mun, or moon, ebony is from the same family as the black, shiny stuff that goes so well with ivory in song. But mun ebony is often striped and even more rare than black ebony. It's found in Vietnam and possibly Laos, and is just as dense as its famous cousin. Because of its heaviness and fine texture that allows it to be polished, it has been very popular to make instruments, tools, and sculptures from it. The export of mun ebony is now banned, and some parks are protecting the ebony within them, but it may not be enough to keep ebony from disappearing into the hands of merchants and woodworkers

5. Golden barrel

This plant is also known as mother-in-law's cushion, which would be sweet except that the golden barrel is a cactus. Even though this prickly sphere is one of the most popular kinds of cacti in cultivation, it is nearing extinction in the wild. It's found in Central Mexico, but its habitat was severely reduced in the '90s by the construction of a dam and reservoir. The golden barrel cactus is grown all over the world in nurseries, but people continue to take the cacti illegally from the wild. Experts estimate that this plant could be extinct in the wild within 30 years. And once it's gone, where will the in-laws sit?

6. Virginia round-leaf birch

This birch, the most endangered tree in North America, has already come back from the dead once. After it was first discovered in 1918, experts thought it had become extinct when they couldn't find any more, until more birches were discovered in 1975. The tree is found in Virginia, and while there are more than 900 found in the wild as of 2006, this birch is only known to have naturally reproduced once, in the '80s. This means the round-leaf birch is dependent on human aid to keep the species going. And humans are also a major threat to the tree; vandals and thieves have historically been attracted to the trees and seedlings, presumably because of their rarity. This is why we can't have nice things.

7. Large-leaved pitcher plant
When you first see the large-leaved pitcher plant, you might think it's just a vase of water conveniently growing in the jungle. But get too close and it could eat you — well, if you're a bug. The pitcher plant is one kind of carnivorous plant, and this is one of the largest versions, with the pitcher often growing more than a foot deep. It's only found on one mountain in Borneo, though, so this species faces the threat of extinction. Pitcher plants lure insects into their fluid-filled pitchers, where the insects drown and are ingested. Large-leaved pitcher plants were recently found to have the exact dimensions as tree shrews in the area, but even though the plants probably could trap and kill the rodents, it's more likely that they are engineered to catch the shrew's droppings for food. It'd be a pity to lose one of the only plants that gathers its own fertilizer.
8. Capa rose
The capa rose by any other name would probably not seem like a rose at all. It's actually part of a family of small trees that produce small, star-shaped flowers and bright purple berries. It only grows in Puerto Rico and has trouble reproducing naturally. Deforestation and development of land for agriculture are causing its habitat to shrink even further. The capa rose's habitat is under U.S. jurisdiction, and the Forest Service chose not to list its habitat as critical because they would have to publish details on the plant's location, basically providing a map for people who want to collect the plant illegally.