Thursday, February 24, 2011

Subarnarekha river in Jharkhand State of India is drying up.

Origin source is under
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Fig.1 In year 2009 the origin source was emitting full of water. Fig.2. In year 2011 source is completely dried.
Fig.3. In year 2009 area near the source well was filled with water and vegetation.
Fig.4. In year 2011, only small rivulet is left. Green vegetation has vanished.
Few days ago I with my three friends decided to visit the origin place of the famous Subarnarekha (Swarnrekha) River of Jharkhand State in India. This was my third visit. My friends were more curious to see how Subarnarekha originates from the place. This place is 30 kms form the Ranchi city, the capital of Jharkhand State. My friends were imagining that area must be full of greeneries and water. As we were approaching the area our excitement was mounting up. Our car stopped few hundred meters before the spot. We came out of the car and looked around in the clean atmosphere. But what we saw was only dry soils and rocks with very less surface water which was also contaminated with iron. Iron contamination was seen the form of thin oil film on the surface water. Source of iron to the water is from the laterite rocks of that area. Laterite rocks contain high amount of iron which is visible in the form of red colors of the rocks.

My friends were more depressed to see the area as it was just opposite to their imagination. No green luster, no water only desert. Two years ago when I visited the area, different origin spots were emitting clean water and vast area was under flowing water. Today except one or two spots all were dried up.

From last two years Jharkhand is not receiving sufficient rainfall which has adversely affected the river flow and its source. The rain water percolates downwards to recharge the groundwater in the catchment areas of Subarnarekha river. Due to lack of rain water the area has gone dry affecting the flow.

The basin of the Subarnarekha is smaller amongst the mutli-state river basins in India. The rain-fed river covers a drainage area of 1.93 million hectares.

After originating near Piska/ Nagri, near Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, the Subarnarekha traverses a long distance through Ranchi, Seraikela, Kharsawan and East Singhbhum districts in the state. Thereafter it flows for shorter distances through Paschim Medinipur district in West Bengal for 83 kilometres (52 mi) and Balasore district of Orissa. There it flows for 79 kilometres and joins the Bay of Bengal near Talsari. The total length of the river is 470 kilometres.

The name Subarnarekha means “the thread of gold” and the sands of the river and some of its tributaries are auriferous, but without any prospect.

The largest river in Jharkhand, the Subarnarekha flows eastward upto Muri, galloping down the Hirni, Dasam, Johna and Hundru falls. It then takes a sharp turn to the south and flows into the gap between the Ajodya (Bhagmundi) hills on the east and the Ranchi uplands in the west.

The prominent tributaries of the Subarnarekha are Kharkai, Raru, Kanchi, Damra, Karru, Chinguru, Karakari, Gurma, Garra, Singaduba, Kodia, Dulunga and Khaijori.The Kharkai meets the Subarnarekha at Sonari(Domuhani), a neighbourhood of Jamshedpur.

If this river really goes dry it is not only going to affect the different falls but also two big dams Hatia and Rukka. These two dams are used to quench the thirst of half of the population of Ranchi district. These two dams are already under threat of depleting water level.

The declining water levels in major rivers of Jharkhand State much ahead of the dry season is lowering the underground water levels and also affecting cultivation in State. Environmentalists fear negative changes in overall climate will make the region more prone to calamities.

The adverse impacts of global climate changes (CC) have forced the Subarnarekha River to dry up abnormally much ahead of the dry season now like every year in recent times.
Reduced run-off is increasing the pressure on freshwater resources in much of the state, especially with more demand for water as population increases. Freshwater being a vital resource, the downward trends are a great concern.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dust storm above Ranchi city, in India.

Today evening suddenly temperature droped down in Ranchi city due to dust storm. Sky was filled with dust. Moon looked yellow instead of blue.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Behavior of Sodium in geological environment- with special reference to Jharkhand State of India.

The relationship between elevated sodium intake and hypertension has been subject of scientific controversy.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Sodium salts are found in virtually all food (the main source of daily exposures) and drinking water. Sodium levels in the latter are typically less than 20mg/l (milligram per litre) but can markedly exceed this in some countries. In some parts of Jharkhand state of India the concentration of sodium is more than 100 parts per million.

Sodium ion is soluble in water, and is thus present in great quantities in the Earth's oceans and other stagnant bodies of water. In these bodies it is mostly counterbalanced by the chloride ion, causing evaporated ocean water solids to consist mostly of sodium chloride, or common table salt. Sodium ion is also a component of many minerals.

Although it is generally agreed that sodium is essential to human life, there is no agreement on the minimum daily requirement. However, it has been estimated that a total daily intake of 120 to 400 mg will meet the daily needs of growing infants and young children, and 500 mg those of adults.

In general, sodium salts are not acutely toxic because of the efficiency with which mature kidneys excrete sodium. However, acute effects and death have been reported following accidental over doses of sodium chloride. Acute effects may include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, muscular twitching and rigidity and cerebral and pulmonary oedema. Excessive salt intake seriously aggravates chronic congestive heart failure, and ill effects due to high levels of sodium in drinking –water have been documented.

The relationship between elevated sodium intake and hypertension has been subject of considerable scientific controversy. Although short term studies have suggested that such a relationship does exist, most people in Western Europe and North America ingest a high-salt diet from infancy yet do not exhibit persistent hypertension until the fourth decade. Whereas reducing the sodium intake can reduce the blood pressure of some individuals with hypertension, this is not effective in all cases.

The feldspars contain the bulk of the sodium in the earth’s crust, while clinopyroxenes are the important carriers of sodium in the upper mantle. Sodium is major element in most igneous rocks. Clarke (1924) demonstrated that about 60 per cent of the minerals in igneous rocks are feldspars, either alkali feldspars or Na-Ca feldspars (Plagioclase), and the bulk of the Na and K in igneous rocks is therefore contained in feldspars. Average 2.40 per cent sodium has been reported in Precambrian Granites world wide.

The concentration of sodium in rain and snow is highest near the sea and near large cities since these are areas of sodium input to the atmosphere.

The concentration of elements in river water varies with time at any single sampling sites as a function of discharge, tributary supply and groundwater discharge. In areas where rivers are draining evaporite deposits, the sodium content can be very high.

The sodium content of groundwater is a function of weathering Sodium Plagioclase from bedrock followed by exchange of Ca2+ for Na+ on the surfaces of newly formed clay minerals. Sodium contents of the groundwater would rise due to weathering of plagioclase feldspars. In addition, groundwater can contain large amounts of sodium from the solution of evaporites from the salt water intrusion, and smaller amounts from cyclic sea salts in original precipitation.

What are the known sources of sodium in Groundwater?
All groundwater contains some sodium because most rocks and soils
contain sodium compounds from which sodium is easily dissolved. The most
common sources of elevated sodium levels in groundwater are:
• Erosion of salt deposits and sodium bearing rock minerals
• Naturally occurring brackish water of some aquifers
• Salt water intrusion into wells in coastal areas
• Infiltration of surface water contaminated by road salt
• Irrigation and precipitation leaching through soils high in sodium
• Groundwater pollution by sewage effluent
• Infiltration of leachate from landfills or industrial sites.

The sodium content of lake water is a function of river and groundwater supply followed by increase due to evaporation where this process exceeds input. The evaporation may reach a stage of sodium mineral precipitation.

In Jharkhand State of India where more and more people are now dependent on groundwater for the daily purpose, amount of sodium concentration in groundwater must be taken into priority basis. District wise sodium concentration in groundwater is given below (source Central Ground Water Board, India). Major source may be from the weathering of the feldspar from the bed rocks.

Dhanbad- 20 to 202 ppm (parts per million)
Giridih- 16 to 117 ppm.
Ranchi- 44 to 83 ppm.
Simdega- 14 to 17 ppm
Palamau- 1.1 to 64 ppm.
Lohardagga- 24 to 46 ppm.


National Research Council, 1989. Recommended dietary allowances, 10th ed. Washington, DC, National Academy Press.

Luft, FC et al. 1979. Cardiovascular and humoral responses to extremes of sodium intake in normal black and white men. Circulation, 60: 697-706.

Clarke, F.W. 1924. The data of geochemistry, 5th ed. U.S. Geol. Surv. Bull, 770.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Climate change will force millions of people to migrate.

People may be forced from their homes in numbers never seen before.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Change is the only constant in the history of the earth. Since its creation around four billion years ago, our home planet has constantly been subjected to changes brought about by the interplay of internal of forces and external influences. The enormous lithospheric plates are continually shifting, reshaping the continents. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are the visible results of this process. Seen from the perspective of the history of the earth, our planet, as we know it today, is merely a snapshot in time. Everything is in a state of flux. Everything- including the climate- is locked in a continuous process of change, giving rise to favourable and unfavourable conditions to which all life on earth-human, plant and animal- must constantly adopt.

After more than 170 million years of being dominated by the dinosaurs, the continental ecosystems saw the triumphant advance of mammals. It is highly probable that the widespread deaths of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period were triggered off by the impact of huge meteorite which resulted in considerable climatic changes. The last 2.6 million years in the history of the earth – the Quaternary Period- were marked by great natural climatic fluctuations.

The last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. The great ice caps above North America and Europe receded, the land masses started to rise, the sea level rose too. Since that time the average temperature on the earth has increased by about four to five degrees Celsius.

Climate is changing. We are entering an era marked by rapid changes in climate brought on by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Shifts in rainfall patterns and shore line will contribute to mass migrations on a scale never seen before. Since the beginning of record time, climate forced migration have reshaped civilization.

A billion people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new report from Christian Aid predicts.

The report, which is based on latest UN population and climate change figures, says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, south Asia and the Middle East.

Anticipated changes include higher rainfall variability, greater frequency of extreme events (such as droughts and floods), sea level rise, ocean acidification, and long term shifts in temperature and precipitation any of which can profoundly disrupt the ecosystems that supply our basic needs. In our more densely settled world, people may be forced from their homes in numbers never seen before.

Most attention has centered on the plight of low-lying islands states threatened by rising sea levels. Under certain scenarios, many of the world’s 38 small island states could disappear by the end of this century. Yet the problem faced by the inhabitants of these states is just the tip of atoll. In India alone, 40 million people would be displaced by a one-meter sea level rise. Shifts in the seasonality of river flows (as winter snowpack declines and glaciers shrink) would affect the agricultural livelihoods of several hundred million rural Asians, as well as the food supplies of an equal number of Asian urbanities.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace India, a not-for-profit organization, on climate change discloses that rising sea levels could force about 75 million people from low-lying Bangladesh and another 50 million from India’s densely populated coastal regions to migrate to interior towns and cities. This may generate severe tensions and instability in the context of already dwindling urban resources.

A one-meter sea level rise will inundate 6000 square kilometers in India, of which Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai will be the major cities being affected. This would mean losses of billions of dollars in infrastructural, social, physical assets and capital.

125 million people are likely to migrate in the coming century of which 75 million will be from Bangladesh. The people from Bangladesh will most likely migrate to India in addition to our own 50 to 60 million people who will be displaced due to sea-level rise, shrinking water sources in the densely populated coastal regions of India.

The meteorological impact of climate change can be divided into two distinct drivers of migration; climate processes such as sea-level rise, salinisation of agricultural land, desertification and growing water scarcity, and climate events such as flooding, storms and glacial lake outburst floods. But non-climate drivers, such as government policy, population growth and community-level resilience to natural disaster, are also important. All contribute to more vulnerable people living in more marginal areas.

A rise in global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions could leave India facing a rush of 125 million people migrating into or within the country.

The frequency of natural disasters has increased by 42 percent since the 1980s, and the percentage of those that are climate related has risen from 50 to 82 percent. The United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates that in 2008, climate- related calamities drove 20 million people from their homes- more than four times the number displaced by violent conflict.

Forced migration and displacement prompted by climate change is therefore poised to become the international community’s defining – and potentially overwhelming – humanitarian challenge in coming decades.

Climate change, at a conservative estimate will increase the number of environmental refugees six fold over the next fifty years: from 25 million to 150 million. How will climate change create refugees?

As the planet warms, food and water grow scarcer. In 1998, the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research forecast major decreases in the crop yields 2050. These would above all affect the tropical countries of South America, Russia and Western Africa. As for water scarcity, the Hadley Centre forecasts that by 2050, about 170 million people will suffer severe stress: their country will be using over 40 per cent of their water resources. Badly affected areas will include the US, North Africa, Europe, Turkey, India, the Gulf States and China. Global Warming may also endanger the monsoon, with effects much greater than those of drought alone particularly in India given that 70 per cent of India’s rainfall comes from the monsoon. Indeed, the Asian Pacific region as a whole, which has half the world’s population, likewise depends on the monsoon.

In China, at present, the government estimates that 30 million people are already being displaced by climate change. Some authorities set the figures higher, at up to 72 million. A one –metre rise of sea level would flood all of Shanghai, plus 96 per cent of the province around it. The population of Shanghai is over twelve million; by 2030, it is expected to be 27 million. Egypt would lose 12-15 per cent of its arable land, creating 14 million refugees.

Rising sea levels also threaten delta areas-such as the Mekong in Vietnam, the Yangtze in China, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, the Tigris-Euphrates in Iraq, the Indus in Pakistan, the Sunderbans delta in India and Bangladesh, the Orinoco in Venezuela and the Amazon in Brazil- that hold more than one billion people (two billion by 2050)

Most of the refugees to Europe are expected to come from the sub-Saharan nations- the source of half of the world’s current total of refugees and states that are projected to suffer severe impacts from climate change.

Every year thousands of poor people from the Jharkhand and its adjoining states in India migrate to mega cities of India like Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi and even to Punjab and North East States. Cause behind this migration, other than poverty, is lack of sufficient rainfall and drought like condition in the states from the last several years.

Although the civil war is behind the migration, a new crisis is now afflicting African country Mozambique. In 2000, 2001 and 2007 disastrous floods in the Zambezi and Limpopo river basins displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The floods of 2007 alone displaced more than 100,000 people, half of whom were evacuated to temporary “accommodation centers.”

Sometimes both droughts and storms can hit in the same year. In July 2001, for example, Honduras suffered a drought that affected a quarter of a million people. A few months later a tropical storm flooded the country side. Many farmers have already found their livelihoods too precarious and moved north; the great majority of migrants to the U.S. come from poor and rural areas in Mexico and Central America. Soil depletion, deforestation and unemployment are among the factors that drive migration.

Regions badly affected by environmental change:

1. The city of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, has seen its population doubling every six years on an average since 1972 but the major water supply of the city is falling by 6 metres every year. Sana’a is only one of several cities across the world that face such impending crisis.

2. Desertification owing to deforestation and lesser rains is threatening human settlements and agricultural lands in various parts of the world. China, India, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya are potential victims.

3. Agricultural lands are turning saline and are being eroded in places like Egypt and Turkey, respectively.

4. In the US, while Louisiana is losing land area to erosion caused by sea, Alaska is threatened by sea tides that are increasingly intruding further inland each year.

5. Cyclones render millions in places like Bangladesh every year.

6. Low-lying Pacific island state like Tuvalu is under great threat by the rising sea level. The country has entered an agreement with New Zealand to give shelter to accept its 11,600 citizens in the event of it being swallowed by the sea.

Across Africa desertification and a consequent decline in agricultural output is displacing increasingly large amounts of people. An estimated 10 million people within Africa have been forced to migrate over the last two decades due to desertification or environmental degradation.

In 1995, half of Bhola Island in Bangladesh became permanently flooded, leaving 500,000 people homeless. The Bhola Islanders have been described as some of the world's first climate refugees. In 2007, a Bangladeshi scientist stated: "We're already seeing hundreds of thousands of climate refugees moving into slums in Dhaka." These refugees were fleeing flooded coastal areas.

The inhabitants of the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea are also among the first climate refugees due to sea level rise attributed to global warming and climate change. Other inhabitants of low lying islands and Island States are also at risk. Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Maldives are especially susceptible to changes in sea level and storm surges.

In Alaska, the village of Shishmaref, located on the 100 km long barrier island of Sarichef, also faces evacuation as rising temperatures cause the melting of sea ice and the thawing of the permafrost.

Despite hundreds of articles and many books about climate change, few discuss the issue of environmental refugees and its impact.


Mayers, N. 1993. Environmental Refugees in a Globally warmed world. Bioscience, v.43. no.11, p. 758.

Wang, B., Shenling, Z., and Jiang, S. Impacts of sea- level rise on the Shanghai area. J. Coastal Res. Special Issue No.14. cit. Myers CTB, p.143.

Sherbinin, A.D., Warner, K. and Ehrhart, C. 2011. Casualties of Climate change. Scientific American, India. v.6 no.1. p. 54-57.