Friday, December 28, 2007

Jharkhand rock paintings of India under threat

Jharkhand Rock paintings under threat.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

10,000 year-old-rock paintings found recently in Tangar Basli block some 40 kms from the state capital Ranchi is now under threat.
Threat is from the stone quarrying due to which these paintings have been exposed to the flying stone dust and open atmosphere. Most of the paintings now have been faded.

Drawings are made on granite and granite gneiss rocks. In these paintings red ochre has been used. Dancing is the major subject of all these paintings.
For more detail contact the author.
Nitish Priyadarshi

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The origin of coal
Coal is a result of the accumulation and slow decay of plant remains in sedimentary strata. It undergoes in situ compaction under water with time, accompanied by biochemical processes such as decomposition due to bacterial action, dehydration, loss of volatile compounds (e.g. methane, higher hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and nitrogen) and densification to form various ranks of coal depending on environmental conditions. In absence of atmospheric oxygen, the plant matter is further degraded by the action of anaerobic bacteria, which extract and utilize oxygen from organic molecules containing oxygen like lignin.

Where does the arsenic come from ?

Arsenic, one of the potentially hazardous trace elements, is usually concentrated in the sulphidic minerals of coal.
Many authors interpret the arsenic accumulation in terms of arsenic concentration during decay of plant matter in the humic layers. Arsenic is absorbed by the plants from the soil or crust.
Arsenic contributed by the surface as well as underground circulating waters during the primary stages of coal formation.
Arsenic deposited through the hydrothermal solutions during the igneous activity in and around coal basins.
The enrichment of arsenic and other trace elements in coal is governed by the following factors (Swaine, 1962).
· Duration of supply of arsenic during the initial stages of coal formation.
· pH and Eh conditions in the depositional basin.
· Variety and concentration of the supplied constituents.
· Microstructural frame work of the coal seams.
· Porosity of the overlying and underlying rocks.
· Rate of sedimentation and tectonics of the coal basin.

The arsenic content of coal samples worldwide is highly variable, with an average value around 5 mg kg-1 and extreme high values of up to 35,000 mg kg-1 in coals from endemic arsenosis areas in China.

Arsenic in coals:
It is not surprising to find that there has been increased interest in Arsenic in coals, together with work on rocks, soils, plants and waste materials, probably because of possible adverse health effects of high concentrations. The arsenic content in coal has been reported to be as high as hundreds or even more than one thousand ppm, suggesting that under certain geological and geochemical conditions arsenic can be considerably enriched. In comparison, the average arsenic concentration in earth’s crust is low ( a Clarke value of 2.2 ppm). The enrichment coefficient for arsenic is close to the maximum enrichment coefficients of the trace elements in coaly materials such as Be, Ge, and Ga (Zhou and Ren,1992).
Arsenic is present in coal as arsenopyrite and that little exists in any other form. Minkin (1984) found that arsenic was most likely to present in solid solution in pyrite, and Finkelman (1979) noted that arsenic was predominantly in fractures in the coal and in microfactures in the pyrite. For most coals, arsenic seems to be mainly associated with the mineral matter, with varying smaller amounts being associated with organic matter.
Arsenic has similar chemical properties to phosphorus (P), the element immediately below arsenic on the periodic chart. It is well known that coal fly ash contains arsenic that can leach into receiving- water reservoirs. During coal combustion, arsenic oxidizes and forms gaseous As2 O3 and enters the atmosphere. This causes concerns for governments of many countries because of environmental pollution due to extensive use of coal.

Organic-inorganic affinity of Arsenic:
The relationship between the concentration of an elements and ash content has been used as a first order approximation of the elements organic/inorganic affinity. Factors governing elements partitioning between organic and inorganic phases have been discussed by a member of investigators. If the concentration of arsenic and other elements increases with increasing ash content, i.e. a positive correlation, the arsenic may be characterized as having an inorganic affinity.
Alternatively, if the arsenic concentration decreases with increasing ash content, a negative correlation, the arsenic may be characterized as having an organic affinity.

Distribution of arsenic in world coals:

The concentration of arsenic in coal is commonly below 10 ppm (Zhou and Ren, 1992). Arsenic in most world coals is 0.5-80 ppm (Swaine, 1990). Difference in arsenic levels between Gondwana coals and coals from the Northern Hemisphere are reflected in the mean values (as ppm As), namely, 1.5 (Australia), 4 (South Africa), 15 (United Kingdom) from Swaine (1990), and 24.6 in 7351 samples (United States) from Bragg (1998). Concentrations of arsenic in Chinese coals are between 0.21 and 32000 ppm (Ren et al. 1999). In general, the arsenic content of most Canadian coals is low as compared with the range for most world coals. The mean values for arsenic in the Bulgarian coal deposits range from 2 to 58 ppm (Eskenazy,1995). The Miocene Cayirhan coals from the Beypazari basin of Turkey have 32-148 ppm arsenic (querol et al., 1997). The concentration of arsenic in the Gokler coal samples in Gokler coalfield of Turkey range from 170 to 3854 ppm (av. 833 ppm), with a geometric mean of 670 ppm. The means indicate that these coals contain more arsenic than most world coals (Karayigit et al., 2000). Arsenic concentration in coals of Hat Creek Deposit of British Columbia, Canada varies from 4.03 ppm to 52.7 ppm. (Goodarzi, 1987). The concentration of arsenic varies from 2.6 ppm to 138.1 ppm in coals of Teruel Mining district in northeast Spain (Querol et al. 1992).

Arsenic in the Permian coals of North Karanpura Coalfield of Jharkhand State of India:
The North Karanpura coalfield, a western most member in the east-west chain of the Damodar Valley Basin, forms a large expanse of coal bearing sediments spread over Hazaribag, Ranchi and Palamau districts of Jharkhand State. It covers a total area of around 1230sq. Km. For the arsenic study, samples from coal from Badam, Kerendari, KDH, Rohini, Dakra and Karkatta were analysed by the author. Molybdenum-blue Colorimetry was used as the chemical technique for arsenic determination as recommended by the International Standard Organisation. Concentration of arsenic in coal samples range from from less than 0.01 to 0.49ppm with an arithmetic mean of 0.15ppm. (Priyadarshi, 2004). Concentration of arsenic is low compared to most world coals. Average ash% is very high (up to 32.51%). The low arsenic concentrations of the coal studied could be related to the geological characteristics of the source area in the basin and to a resulting low degree of arsenic mineralization (realgar or orpiment) of the synsedimentary solutions, which resulted in a paucity of arsenic in the system.

Impact of arsenic on health:

Arsenic is an environmental hazard and the reduction of drinking water arsenic levels is under consideration. People are exposed to arsenic not only through drinking water but also through arsenic contaminated air and food. Arsenic is emitted to the air by coal combustion as some coals are unusually high in arsenic because of geologic factors. Some of the common examples of arsenic poisoning are Skin lesions including keratosis of the hands and feet, pigmentation on the trunk, skin ulceration and skin cancers. Toxicities to internal organs, including lung dysfunction, neuropathy and nephrotoxicity have also been identified in some parts of China where the coal containing high arsenic burned inside the home in open pits for daily cooking and crop drying, producing a high concentration of arsenic in indoor air. Arsenic in the air coats and permeates food being dried producing high concentrations in food.


  • Bragg, L.J., Oman, J.K., Tewalt, S.J., Oman, C.L., Rega, N.H., Washington, P.M.,

  • Finkelman, R.B.,1998. US Geological Survey Coal Quality (COALQUAL) Database. US Geol. Survey Open file report 97-134, CD-Rom (Version 2.0).

  • Eskenazy, G.M. 1995. Geochemistry of arsenic and antimony in Bulgarian coals. Chemical Geology 119, 239-254.

  • Goodarzi, F. 1987. Concentration of elements in Lacustrine Coals from Zone A Hat Creek Deposit No.1, British Columbia, Canada.

  • Karayigit, A.I., Spears, D.A., Booth, C.A. 2000. Antimony and arsenic anomalies inn the coal seams from the Gokler coalfield, Gediz, Turkey. Int. J. Coal Geol. 44, 1-17.

  • Priyadarshi, N. 2004. Distribution of arsenic in Permian Coals of North Karanpura coalfield, Jharkhand. Jour. Geol. Soc. India, 63, 533-536.

  • Querol, X., Fernandez Turtle, J.L., Lopez-Soler, A., Duran, M.E.,1992. Trace elements in high-sulfur sub-bituminous coals of the Teruel Mining district (NE Spain). Appl. Geochem.,7, 547-561.

  • Querol, X., Whateley, M.K.G., Fernández-Turiel, J.L., Tuncali, E. 1997. Geological controls on the mineralogy and geochemistry of the Beypazari lignite, central Antolia, Turkey. Int. J. Coal Geol.33, 255-271.

  • Swaine, D.J. 1962: Trace elements in coal, II. Origin mode of occurrence and economic importance. C.S.I.R. Div. Coal Res. Tech. Commun.45.

  • Swaine, D.J. 1990. Trace elements in coal. Butterworths, London.

  • Ren, D., Zhao, F., Wang, Y., Yang, S. 1999. Distribution of minor and trace elements in Chinese coals. Chou et al. (Eds.). Geochemistry of coal and its impact on the Environmental and Human Health. Int. J. Coal Geol. 40, 109-118.

  • Zhou, Y., and Ren, Y. 1992. Distribution of arsenic in coals of Yunan Province, China, and its controlling factors. Int. J. Coal Geol., 20: 85-98.

  • Minkin, J.A., Finkelman, R.B., Thompson, C.L., Chao, E.C.T., Ruppert, L.F., Blank, H., Cecil, C.B., 1984. Microcharacterisation of arsenic and selenium bearing pyrite in upper Freeport coal, Indiana county, Pennsylvania. Scanning Electron Microse.,4: 1515-1524.

  • Finkelman, R.B., Stanton, R.W., Cecil, C.B., Minkin, J.A., 1979. Modes of occurrence of selected trace elements in several Appalachian Coals. Am. Chem. Soc. Div., Fuel Chem. Prepr. 24(1), 236-241.

    Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Monday, December 24, 2007

Haze over North India

Thick blanket of Haze spreads over North India.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Haze lingered in Northern India south of the Himalayas, for several days in December 2007. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua Satellite captured this image on December 16, 2007. In this image, the haze appears as a dull gray blur. The haze extends southward, thickening somewhat in the south west. North of the Himalaya, clouds clutter the otherwise clear skies.
The NASA image was created by Jesse Allen, using the data obtained from the Goddard Land Processes data archives (LAADS).

Haze often occurs when dust and smoke particles accumulate in relatively dry air. Regional haze pollution, mainly in the form of sulfate, organic and nitrate fine particles, results in poor visibility. Haze is composed of very small fine particles, smaller than 2.5 micrometers (µm) (over 20 times smaller in diameter than human hair) that are suspended in the air. These particles originate from a variety of sources, some natural, but much of it originates from power plant and automobile emissions. Haze is generally composed from five major components: sulfate aerosol, nitrate aerosol, organic carbon aerosol, elemental carbon, and dust from the earth’s crust and also from forest fire as it was in Indonesia in 1997. In 1997, the dry season lasted longer than usual. There was no rain to stop the slash-and-burn fires that farmers set and they burned out of control. The haze spread to the neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia. The thick blanket of smoke drastically reduced visibility in the Malacca Strait between Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. The haze triggered asthma attacks, severe coughing, breathing difficulties and eye and skin irritations.
Haze pollution is that portion of haze that comes from man-made sources. The largest source of regional haze pollution in India is from coal-fired power plants emitting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that then reacts in the atmosphere to form fine particles and automobiles. The other sources responsible for Haze Pollution are the chemical industries, metallurgical plants and smelters, petroleum refineries, mining etc.
Recent scientific studies have illuminated the associated human health impacts of exposure to fine particles, such as respiratory and cardiac disease and premature death.
Few years ago high levels of carbon monoxide (red and yellow pixels) was observed over the Indian sub-continent during March by the NASA. These values are associated with industrial activity in the region just south of the Himalayan Mountains. Notice that to the north, the Himalayas are characterized by low values (blue pixels).

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Active glacier found on Mars

'Active glacier found' on Mars
By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News

A probable active glacier has been identified for the first time on Mars.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Climate has changed from “Hot to Cold” and Cold to Hot”- a brief history.


In recent years, the scenario of future global environment is haunting the man as the present environmental changes (e.g. global warming) pose considerable danger to his own existence and environment. He is presently struggling to understand as to what will be the nature and extent of these changes in the next hundred years. In order to understand the processes of changes and the effects they are likely to have on the future environment of the biosphere, we should develop a historical perspective- a perspective based on global environmental changes preserved in the rocks of the planet earth.

The history of earth’s climate is characterized by change. Times of glaciation on the earth have been followed by warm intervals and the duration in years of both cold and warm intervals has varied by several orders of magnitude.

The solid earth accumulated about 4700 m.y. ago from a cloud of cosmic particles and gaseous materials and as they collected gravitationally a hot planetary nucleus formed.
The first atmosphere of the earth, then, contained hydrogen, helium, neon, argon and various other lighter and inert gases, none of which is abundant in the present atmosphere. Most of these on liberation to the air now either escape earth’s gravitational pull because of their low densities or are bound up in minerals by chemically reacting with them.
Climates before 3800 million years ago:
Geologic evidence for paleoclimates of this interval is scant; fossil remains and unaltered sedimentary rocks are not known from the record. According to different research reports climate before 3800 m.y. ago were probably warm, perhaps warmer than present. Greenhouse effects contributed to this. Cooling effects of unknown magnitude were also operative. A steady cooling may have taken place over the interval in response to progressively decreasing carbon dioxide concentrations.
Climates between 3800 and 2400 million years ago:
From different research for this interval, a scenario can be constructed in which warm and wet climates characterize the early part, and in which a gradual cooling takes place as a consequence of changes in atmosphere and hydrospheric composition, to culminate in the glacial episode of the middle Precambrian. Evidence for earth’s earliest glaciation is best documented for an interval in the middle Precambrian. Still earlier episodes of glacial activity may have occurred, but glaciation may have been of such extremely local extent or short duration that glacial strata have not been detected.

Climates between 2300 and 950 million years ago:
The general distribution of the sedimentary rocks provides several clues to climates which followed the earliest glaciations. For the 2300 to 950 m.y. interval, abundant evidence exists that many carbonates are of warm water origin.
Oxygen and hydrogen isotopic compositions of middle Precambrian Cherts suggest high ground-surface temperatures, as in early Precambrian.

Climate between 950 to 615 million years ago:
A great deal of information exists that much op the earth was glaciated during the late Precambrian, particularly in the time span from 950 to 615 m.y. ago. The 950 m.y. figure represents the approximate age of the oldest among a series of tillites which signal the end of the long period of carbonate sedimentation which began about 2000 m.y. ago.

Climate in Paleozoic:
The Paleozoic encompasses about 350 m.y. and geographically restricted glaciations occur in each of the six periods of the era.
The broad trend of Paleozoic climate was from relative warmth which followed the late Precambrian glaciations, to a long and widespread glacial interval near the end of the era.
The sudden and repeated extinction events of trilobites provides clues about the climate changes in the Cambrian.
All of the continents were close to the equator and the trilobites were adapted to warm waters presumably. It has been suggested that the extinction of the trilobites was associated with a cooling of the ocean waters.
This hypothesis is supported by the fact that it was only the deeper dwelling trilobites that survived the extinctions. This is probably because they were already adapted to cold conditions since they lived in deep (cold) waters. Nonetheless, the case of temperature change as the cause remains unproven.
What is particularly problematic about any cooling idea to explain the extinction is evidence that suggest that atmospheric CO2 was much higher in the early Paleozoic Era. This evidence is in the form of various mineral types whose presence is a sensitive indicator of atmospheric CO2 levels.
During the Ordovician Life expanded in diversity tremendously. There were extensive reef complexes in the tropics. The early Ordovician was thought to be quite warm, at least in the tropics and cooled considerably at the end of the period.
Despite the tremendous expansion of life during the Ordovician Period there was a devastating mass extinction of organisms at the end of the Ordovician. This extinction was one of the greatest mass extinction ever recorded in Earth History.
The more likely cause is that the Earth cooled, particularly the oceans where most of the organisms lived during the Ordovician (Remember there were no land plants and no evidence of land organisms yet). All the extinctions occurred in the oceans.
Early Silurian warming was quickly followed by gentle cooling until the middle Devonian, and warm and dry conditions characterized the interval between the late Silurian and Early late Devonian.
During the Silurian Period the first land plants appeared. Marine organisms once again expanded in diversity following the extinction of so many families in the late Ordovician.
By the Devonian fish were a common part of the marine biological communities. Particularly important were the jawed fish. These were predators and they must have had quite an impact on the marine communities during the Devonian.
The first fossil evidence of insects and terrestrial trees comes from Devonian age rocks.
The Devonian is thought to have been quite warm. Evidence of this comes from the extensive amount of tropical-like reefs. The climate is also thought to have been quite dry. Evidence of this comes from extensive evaporite (salt deposits) that have been found dispersed much more broadly than any time in the earlier Paleozoic.

The early Carboniferous continued warm although humidity increased, and marked cooling in the late Carboniferous led to glaciation.
The Permian is one of the most interesting climate intervals because of the variety of climatically significant rocks which it contains. Asia appears to have been subjected to relatively wet climates through most of the Permian, as were large regions of Gondwanaland following the glaciations. Coals are known from short distances above glacial deposits in most Gondwana continents, suggesting that expansion of the seas, owing to post-glacial transgressions, led to high humidity in relatively high latitudes.
As the Permian opened, the Earth was still in the grip of an ice age, so the polar regions were covered with deep layers of ice. Glaciers continued to cover much of Gondwanaland, as they had during the late Carboniferous . At the same time the tropics were covered in swampy forests.
Towards the middle of the period the climate became warmer and milder, the glaciers receded, and the continental interiors became drier. Much of the interior of Pangea was probably arid, with great seasonal fluctuations (wet and dry seasons), because of the lack of the moderating effect of nearby bodies of water. This drying tendency continued through to the late Permian, along with alternating warming and cooling period.
Examination of the history of climate for single continents and super continents leads to the conclusion that during the Paleozoic, Europe and North America were subjected to only mild changes in climate while Gondwanaland went through several episodes of glaciation and variable states of humidity.

Climate in Mesozoic:
The Mesozoic Era (200 m.y.) presents excellent evidence for warm and dry climates. The initial Triassic climates were closely similar to those of the latest Permian, i.e. cool and humid, and were followed by a warm, drying-out period which may have lasted until the late Jurassic. The middle Triassic apparently was a time of great latitudinal expansion of evaporite deposition and of reef building. For this reason, mid- Triassic climate are considered to have been relatively warm and, possibly, the most arid in earth history.
During late Triassic global climate was warm. There was no ice at either North or South Poles. Warm Temperate conditions extended towards the poles.
Rapid global warming at the very end of the Permian may have created a super- “Hot House” world that caused the great Permo-Triassic extinction. 99% of all life on earth perished during the Permo-Triassic extinction.
Jurassic Period climate:
There are no proven glacial deposits of Jurassic age. During early and middle Jurassic climate the Pangean Mega-monsoon was in full swing. The interior of Pangea was very arid and hot. Deserts covered what is now the Amazon and Congo rain forests. China, surrounded by moisture bearing winds was lush and verdant. During the late Jurassic the global climate began to change due to breakup of Pangea. The interior of Pangea became less dry, and seasonal snow and ice frosted the polar regions.
Evidence from oxygen isotopes in late Jurassic belemnites indicates maximum temperatures of surface sea water of about 14° C at 75° S latitude. If correct, this would be at least 7° C warmer than present day temperatures, and a warm earth accordingly is implied.
Climate in Cretaceous:
The Cretaceous must be recognized as time of great warmth over the globe. This conclusion derives from oxygen isotopes, paleobiogeography and rock distributions, all of which indicate that temperatures were higher than now over the full range of latitude from equator to poles. No ice existed at the poles. Dinosaurs migrated between the Warm Temperate and Cool Temperate zones as the season changed.
How did the earth was such warmer at Mesozoic? Was there an increase in the radiation received from the Sun? Or, can the warm globe be explained by some strictly terrestrial cause?
Climate in Tertiary (65 m.y.):
The period of time which elapsed between the end of the Cretaceous and the present time.
Paleocene, Eocene and Oligocene apparently experienced cool changes which were both more frequent and more intense than those of the Mesozoic. Over this interval between about 65 and 22.5 m.y. ago, long episodes of relatively slight warming were punctuated be severe and abrupt drops in temperature leading to successively cooler regimes.
According to other opinion, the climate during the Paleocene was much warmer than today. Palm trees grew in Greenland. Global climate during the late Eocene was warmer than today. Ice had just begun to form at the South Pole. India was covered by tropical rain forest.
During the Oligocene, ice covered the South Pole but not the North Pole. Warm Temperate forests covered Northern Eurasia and North America.
The climate during the Miocene was similar to today’s climate but warmer. The gradual reduction in average temperature was continued throughout this time. We can assume that relatively warm climates were succeeded by cool climates which continued into the early Pliocene. As a result of this cooling, ice volume in Antarctica would have been about 50% greater than at present.
During the Pliocene times the continuing drop in average temperature caused the extinction of many groups of mammals and migration of other forms to warmer regions.
Pleistocene climate was characterized by repeated glacial cycles. It is estimated that, at maximum glacial extent, 30% of the Earth’s surface was covered by ice. Deserts on the other hand were drier and more extensive. Rainfall was lower because of the decrease in oceanic and other evaporation.
To observe a Holocene environment, simply look around you. The Holocene is the name given to the last 10,000 years of the Earth’s history- the time since the end of the major glacial epoch, or “ice age”. Since then, there have been small-scale climate shifts- notably the “Little Ice Age” between about 1200 and 1700 A.D.- but in general, the Holocene has been a relatively warm period in between ice ages.
Humanity has greatly influenced the Holocene environment. The vast majority of scientists agree that human activity is responsible for “Global Warming”, an observed increase in mean global temperatures that is still is going on. Habitat destruction, pollution and other factors are causing an ongoing mass extinction of plant and animal species. According to some projections, 20% of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct within the next 25 years.
The inhabitants of Mumbai or Riyadh might dispute on the fact that the earth is currently in the grip of a glacial episode. True, the present is an interval of relative warmth, an interglacial period, but for the past several million years the planet has been colder, on average, than it has over much of its history.
The examples of changes of global environment and the associated mass extinctions in the geological past clearly indicate that ecosystem is quite sensitive to environment changes and also has a capacity to regrow. Environmental factors, whether natural or man made, become ecologically disruptive when they cross threshold limits. Ecological viability, on the other hand, allows evolution to resume when extreme destructive natural factors relent during times of normalcy.
What ever may be the truth but it is true that the climate of the earth is changing from the time of its birth from hot to cold and cold to hot. Earlier too the earth has passed through global warming due to natural causes but this time we the humans are culprits for the changes. When man-made factors are added to the natural ones, the ecosystem may be damaged beyond repair.

· L.A. Frakes, 1979. Climates throughout geologic time. Elsevier publication, New York.
· J.D. Macdougall, 1996. A short history of planet earth. John Wiley and Sons, New york.
· D.G.A. Whitten and J.R.V. Brooks, 1983. The Penguin dictionary of geology. Penguin Books Ltd. England.
· The proceedings of the 94th Indian Science congress, Part II ,2007.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Geologist and Environmentalist

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Water bodies polluted by Sponge Iron Plants




Most of the rivers and ponds and other water bodies of the Jharkhand state are getting polluted by different toxic elements. Culprits are coals, iron, sponge iron plants, uranium mining, thermal power plants etc. Jharkhand is the treasure trove of all the minerals. It has lots of benefit but also has lots of adverse effects if not managed properly. Jharkhand at present is facing such types of effect. Mining and industries are destroying ecology of Jharkhand. Rivers like Damodar, Swarnerekha are completely polluted.

Gross violation of pollution norms by the different industries and mines has turned the affected region dangerous for human habitat.

Recently a news published in local English newspaper says that a major pond between Adityapur and Chandil in Singhbhum district is badly contaminated by the sponge iron plants. Even the ecology of the place has been affected by the emission of noxious gases from several sponge iron plants, says the news paper.

According to the report the water bodies near the sponge iron plants have turned red. Even the leaves of the trees have turned black.I have seen the same case near Ramgarh town where also the sponge iron plants are polluting the surroundings and affecting the floras and faunas. Local habitants are suffering from different diseases related to dust inhalation and water contamination.

In Singhbhum all the water bodies between Chandil Industries Ltd. And Shiv Rama Sponge Iron Private Ltd.- a stretch of 5 Km- have turned red. Residents ofnear by villages said the water in these ponds were used for drinking. But the villagers have now stopped using these water bodies.

According to the report and different sources there are about 14 sponge iron plants, 3 thermal power stations, more than 100 coal mines in the state. Most of them have been flouting pollution control norms. This leads to immense air and water pollution, as the preventive steps are not taken.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi


Dr.Nitish Priyadarshi
76,circular road,
India 091-0651-2562895/2562909
Mobile: 9835162642

Wednesday, October 24, 2007



The Universe or the cosmos, as conceived today, consists of millions of galaxies. The Universe is infinite, both in time and space. The human conception of the Universe has, however, been different at different times over the long span of history of civilization. It was around 6th century BC that man started enquiring into the mysteries of the Universe in an endeavour to rationally analyze the earthly and the heavenly phenomena. They posed to them several questions. What is the Universe? Why things change? Why do things move? What is life? And so on. These questions were of far-reaching significance to the development of modern science.
All ancient civilizations made observations, often with astonishing accuracy, on the objects in the sky and their behavior. The position of the planets were recorded with respect to the backdrop of the fixed stars, which, fortunately, never seemed to change position and therefore provided a perfect grid for plotting planetary positions. That keen interest in the motions of the celestial bodies was prompted by the common belief that these bodies ruled human events. Ancient astronomy was in fact astrology. It remained astrology through the Renaissance. Kepler himself believed in astrology and drew up horoscopes for his sponsor, the emperor Rudolf and for the potentates at Rudolf’s court.
The Universe is now expanding. It will slow down, stop, and then collapse over itself in giant cosmocrunch, some 100 billion years in the future. All particles will collapse into a “singularity”, a point of extremely high (perhaps infinite) density and extremely high (perhaps infinite) temperature.
How and when did the Universe come into existence? We do have an idea of when (between 10 and 20 billion years ago), but how is the another story. In the ancient, unmechanised world of hunters and gatherers there was virtually no contact between region and tribes. Explanations of the earth and the heavens-fanciful primitive cosmologies-were devised by the people in every part of the world and transmitted orally from generation to generation. Such conceptions were at first almost wholly religious, and it was only with the invention some 3500 or 4000 years BC that it became possible to record observations and thus to begin the long journey toward scientific understanding of the Universe.
The Assyrians and the Sumerians, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia made the earliest recorded astronomical observations. At early development was the recognition of certain star patterns, the constellations, which serve as readily recognizable signposts in the sky. Another contribution of these early astronomers was the recognition of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Since the sun spends about thirty days in each of these visions, the transition to the concept of a twelve-month year was easy and most inevitable.
Sumerian astronomers were the first to divide the circle into 360 equal parts; the so-called degrees of the arc still in the universal use. Aside from their observations the Sumerians believed that the earth was the center of the Universe and was floating on the ocean.
Neither the Egyptians nor the ancient Hebrews advanced much beyond astrology in their cosmologies. The Egyptians believed the Universe to be kind of rectangular box oriented from north to south, like the valley of Nile, with Egypt situated at the center of the upper surface. The ancient Jews believed that the earth was flat and supported on the stones.
Meanwhile, in the Far East the Chinese were developing cosmologies essentially unrelated to those of the Mediterranean world. Chinese astronomers started recording observations of comets as early as the seventh century BC, building archives that have been invaluable to western astronomers. The most famous observations is perhaps the description of the sudden appearance of a “guest star” on 4 July 1054, which was so bright that for three weeks it was even visible in the daytime. The phenomenon was actually the supernova explosion that produce the Crab Nebula.
In “Bhagavad-Gita”(Hindu holy book), according to Jefferson Hane Weaver in his book “The world of Physics”, God is portrayed as eternal and all powerful. God is the great creator who began and will one day end the Universe. According to the Hindu calendar, as recorded in the ancient books of Vedic philosophy, the year AD 1977 corresponds to 1,972,949,078 years since the present world came into existence. According to a famous geologist, Arthur Holmes, this astonishing concept of the earth’s duration has at least the merit of being of the right order.
Cladius Ptolemaus, generally known by the Anglicized form of his name Ptolemy, lived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the second century AD. From 127 to 141 he was active as an astronomer, gathering the mathematical data that served as the basis for the most detailed geocentric cosmology ever formulated. Ptolemy’s cosmology was prompted by his conviction that the Universe must be spherical because only the sphere is perfect. He decided that stars must move in circles for the same reason. According to Hebrew document, God’s first creation was not heaven and earth but light that is, photons-a view that must delight all supporters of the “Big Bang” theory or hypothesis.
In 1543, Polish astronomer Copernicus argued that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the centre of the Universe.
In 1650 Bishop James Ussher, an Irish clergyman, published Annals of the Old and New Testaments, a volume in which he demonstrated to his own satisfaction that creation occurred at precisely 9.30 on the morning of 28 October 4004 BC That day must have been Monday because the Sabbath, when God rested, was seven days later. Stephen Hawking, the noted British cosmologist, disagrees with Bishop Ussher. Like most cosmologists today, Hawking is convinced that the Universe came into existence between time 0 and the following trillionth of a second about fifteen billion years ago.
The conception of the Universe was further widened in the 19th century when the British astronomer, Herschel, came out with his observation that the Universe was not limited to the solar system, but it was must vaster than that. The solar system, according to Herschel, was only a small part of a much bigger star system, called the galaxy.
Efforts are continuing to unfold the mysteries of the Universe, several new galaxies have been discovered, but many million others remain undetected so far.

Nitish Priyadarshi
And Fellow Member of Geological Society of India
76,circular road,
Tel.No.- 091-0651-2562909, 2562895

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Concept of Ancient Warming in stories of Indian Tribes




In recent years, the scenario of future global environment is haunting the man as the present environmental changes (e.g. global warming) pose considerable danger to his own existence and environment. He is presently struggling to understand as to what will be the nature and extent of these changes in the next hundred years.

Is global warming a recent phenomenon? No it is not. Our planet has passed through several warming phases as proved by different geological evidence. The history of earth's climate, is characterized by change. Times of glaciation on the earth have followed by warm intervals and the duration of years of both cold and warm intervals has varied by several orders of magnitude.

Other than scientific evidences some of the Indian Tribes of Jharkhand State indicate in their Folk stories warming as a measure factor of disaster in ancient times, which killed many people. It is not million years old but it may happened eight thousand to ten thousand years from today. They have no scientific way of presentation. They expressed global warming in the form of Fire Rain, which God showered from Heaven to destroy the evil people.

The Mundas (the ancient tribe of India) are said to have been created by Sing Bonga- the Sun God or supreme deity of the Mundas. Mundas stories of ancient warming relate in a story form: -

"It was long- long before the dawn of the human history. The earth was yet in its infancy. Sing Bonga " the dreaded lord of time" was seated on his throne of gold, engaged in happy converse with his heavenly consort. But the heavenly pair had not long been thus agreeably occupied, when they were disturbed in their dalliance by an intolerable heat, which suddenly surcharged the thin atmosphere of heaven. And just at that moment, there went up from the beasts that roamed the earth below piteous complaints to Sing Bonga's throne on high. "The heat emanating from the iron-smelting furnaces of the Asur tribe (one of the primitive tribe of Jharkhand State)," so ran the complaints," this heat is drying up the streams, the tanks and the pools, and scorching up all the vegetation. We are dying of hunger and thrust. Nor do the birds of the air nor the worms that crawl on the earth find any food to eat or water to drink.

According to historical and anthropological studies, in ancient days Asurs the mighty tribe use to make arms by melting rocks rich in iron.

In other popular story: -

"Mankind threw off their allegiance to Sing Bonga. Sing Bonga there upon sent a warning to men on Earth through His servant bird 'Kaua Bhandari' (crow, the steward) and 'Lipi Susari' (Lipi the cook). But men refused to obey Sing Bonga. Enraged at the impious contumacy of man, Sing Bonga showered down on the earth below a terrible rain of fire to destroy mankind".

Here rain of fire can be interpreted as scorching heat at that time which affected human civilization.

In another story when social distinctions were assigned to the various tribes, the Marndis were overlooked. Ambir Singh and Bir Singh, two members of that tribe from Mount Here, were incensed at this slight, and they prayed for fire from heaven to destroy the other tribes. Fire fell and devastated the country, destroying half the population. The home of Ambir Singh and Bir Singh was stone, so they escaped unhurt.

According to Santal tribe of Bengal and Jharkhand: -

" When Pilchu Haram and Pilchu Budhi, the first man and Woman, reached adolescence, fire rain fell for seven days".

In Ho tribe of Jharkhand the myth of destruction of human kind is said to based on the story which tells that the first people became incestuous and un needful of God. Sirma Thakoor, or Sing Bonga, the creator destroyed them by fire.

Throughout the history of different ancient tribes of India there are numerous similar examples of the effect of warming or climate change on the mankind.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi



Monday, September 10, 2007

Radioactivity at Jadugoda in India



It is told that the population of Jharkhand is about 100 million and 26 million people live around its capital Ranchi including a circum-ference part. There is West Bengal State on the east side and Orissa State on the south side.
Jharkhand state has the long slender area called "East Singhbhum". It lies between West Bengal and Orissa. Tatanagar is a part of the area and three uranium mines, Narwapahar, Bhatin and Jadugoda, are near there. These uranium mines are managed by UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Limited), the government enterprise of India.

The position of the central part of Jadugoda is east longitude 86-degree 20 minutes, and northlatitude 22-degree 40 minutes. It is 24km from the Tatanagar station to Jadugoda in a straight line. The area around mines is mountainous land where the India aborigines have lived.

Exposure to nuclear radiation is affecting the health of miners and villagers at Jadugoda in Singhbhum district in Jharkhand State located in Eastern India, which is India’s first uranium mining. Jadugoda, literally meaning "magic land", intrigues an outsider. The promise of magic enthralls; the mystery of the unknown attracts. But closeness reveals not innocence but an intention, dangerous and deliberate. According to different N.G.Os working among the tribal peoples of Singhbhum said the radiation may not bring sudden dramatic illness but slowly undermines the health of the people living in the surrounding villages. A health survey carried out by the State Health Department, to investigate the radiation effects, found 31 out of 712 people to be suffering from health disorders, which may be due to exposure to radiation.

The diseases include blood in cough, ulcer, swelling of bone joints, asthma, eye problems, etc.

The earliest reference to uranium mineral in India appeared in a German publication in 1860, in which Emil Stoehr recorded the occurrence of "Copper Uranite" at Lopso hill in Singhbhum. A huge tonnage of low-grade uranium ore rock is available which can yield 3000 to 4000 tonnes of uranium. At Jaduguda, the lodes are mainly confined to the conglomerates and granulated chlorite-quartz-tourmaline-magnetite rock. Workable deposits of uranium ore in this region have been proved up to 600 meters depth and the ore is being produced from this area.

Mining is done by cut and fill methods. Broken ore is fed to an underground crusher and the sized material skip hoisted to the surface by a 1033 foot vertical shaft. The geology of the mine area exhibits a zone of metamorphosed, sheared and metasomatized sediments in which uranium mineralisation has taken place within a measured area about 1000 meters in length by atleast 420 meters in depth. Indicated ore reserves at Jadugoda are estimated at 2.8 million tonnes with an average grade of about 0.08 % Uranium oxide. The production of Uranium ore at Jadugoda is reported to be 1000 tonnes per day.
In the early 1960s, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) pitched its tents in Jaragoda, a land surrounded by forests and hills. The indigenous Santhali and Ho inhabitants called their land thus after a plant called Jarabindi, which grows here in abundance and is considered very beneficial since oil extracted from its seeds is used for healing purposes. The healing touch of Jarabindi had given way to the secrets of nuclear matters. Jaragoda had now become Jadugoda.
Uranium for the country’s nuclear programme is mined here from three underground mines. A fourth mine was inaugurated in Turamdih in Jamshedpur block in Jharkhand State. UCIL is planning to open an other uranium mine at Bagjata panchayat in Mosabani.
The sources said, besides Bagjata, UCIL has also decided to open new mining sites at Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh where surveillance work is on.
Other than mines there are three tailing ponds; a fourth is in the offing. The contents of these dams are highly radioactive, said local sources.
According to a journalist Bela Bhatia, one widespread response of the birds and animals to the contaminated environment has been migration. Now all the Lippis (name of the bird) have gone, only Lippiguttu (name of the place) remains. So abundant were they in this region that villages were named after them.
The people in the Jadugoda area are affected not only by radiation from tailing dams but also by lack of safety at the mines. Fatigue, lack of appetite, respiratory ailments are wide spread. Increases in miscarriages, impotency, infant mortality, Down’s syndrome, skeletal deformities and different skin diseases, children with big heads, thalassemia have been reported. The incidence of tuberculosis among the miners is very high.
One women of nearby Tilaitand village says that her husband deserted her because she could not get pregnant. Her villain: uranium mining. Other tribal women says her two children were born deformed at birth and were killed soon after. "The earth here is poisoned,'' she said.
Actually, the number of deformed children could have been much more. So many others either die or are killed soon after birth,'' said one social worker.
He admits that the deformities and diseases had been there even before the UCIL began mining here in 1967 but alleges that most of the victims are families of miners and workers at the tailing ponds where nuclear waste is deposited after enriched uranium is extracted from the ore.
Even though the retirement age is 60 years, rarely does one meet a uranium miner who has retired after serving his full term, alleged local N.G.O.s.
After the uranium ore is mined and processed here, the "yellow cake'" is sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad for enrichment. The waste is then brought back to the UCIL complex for further extraction, after which the dust is dumped, into the ponds.

In the view of the uranium mining around the densely populated area, the environmental base line data should be generated and analysed periodically, to study the impact on environment in the region. Periodical analysis of water contamination due to radioactivity should be done. Perhaps the major radio pollution in water is caused by uranium ore which contains 2 to 5 ponds of uraninite per tonne.
It is incorrect to say that persons living around Jadugoda are suffering from certain diseases because of radiation, said some geologists. According to them causes may be some other toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, floride, lead or chromium. Malnutrition may also be one of the factors responsible for tuberculosis, miscarriages etc. They suggested detail chemical analysis of the groundwater and soils in and around Jadugoda.

For more information contact:
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Fellow Member Geological Society of India,
76 circular road Ranchi-834001

Sunday, September 2, 2007

India had the Atomic Power in Ancient days


Was India Atomic in Ancient days



Our own culture, if we assume a starting point of 4000 B.C. has progressed from primitive agriculture and herding to nuclear fission is only 6,000 years. Considering the age of mankind, there has been ample time for other cultures to have arrived at a level roughly corresponding to ours. A re-examination of some of the ancient records that have come down to us might give some indication of man kind having previously attained our present aptitude for destruction. While there are hints of great blastings of the earth’s surface in the Bible (Sodom and Gomorrah), the Greek myths, and many of the legends of the Indians of North and South America, it is in the ancient records of India, copied and recopied from prehistoric antiquity, that we find, described in considerable detail, the use and effect of what closely resembles atomic explosions in warfare.
Unexpected references to such recent developments of our technological civilization are present in many of the ancient books of India, which, unlike so many records of the Western world, escaped burning and destruction.
These references deal, almost as if they were written today instead of thousands of years ago, with such matters as the relatively of time and space, cosmic rays, the law of gravity, radiation, the kinetic nature of energy, and the atomic theory.
The Vaisesika school of science philosophers of ancient India developed or preserved the theory that atoms were in incessant motion. Kanad who was the founder of Vaisesika system of Indian thoughts admits that substances are made of atom. Atoms are the smallest, indivisible part of substances. Atom cannot be broken up further. Substances are the result of combination of atoms. They subdivided the measure of time into a series of incredible fractions of seconds, the most infinitesimal being considered as the ‘period taken by an atom to traverse its own unit of space’.
Surprisingly modern-sounding references abound in the Mahabharata, a gigantic compendium of over 200,000 verses dealing with the creation of the cosmos, religion, prayers, customs, history, and legends about the gods and heroes of ancient India. It is supposed to have been originally written 3,500 years ago, but it refers to events that reputedly took place thousands of years before that. Among the verses of the Mahabharata, there are a number that contain vivid descriptions of what seem to be a firsthand view of atomic warfare.
When Western students of philosophy and religion, in the 1880s, were able to read and study the Mahabharata (a translation had been completed in 1884), they naturally considered as poetic fancy the frequent and curiously detailed references to ancient airships (Vimanas), with instructions of how they were powered and how to recognize enemy aircraft. There were even more puzzling references to a weapon to paralyze enemy armies ( mohanastra- ‘the arrow of unconsciousness’) as well as description of two story sky chariots with many windows ejecting red flame that race up into the sky until they look like comets… to the regions of both the sun and stars.

Other mysterious weapons mentioned in the Mahabharata were, different kinds of artillery and rockets, ‘bullets of iron’, lead shot, rocket bombs capable of reducing city gates, and the agneyastras, cylindrical cannons which made a noise like thunder.
It is in ancient Indian epic poems such as The Mahabharata and The Ramayana that we can read what appear to be references to an otherwise relatively primitive people having the capacity to wield highly destructive nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly it is as a direct consequence of such compelling passages that many UFOlogists like Erich Vor Daniken and W.R. Drake, have argued that the highly advanced capacity to use (and misuse) nuclear weaponry must have being handed down to these ancient people by the gods or, in other words, highly- advanced extra-terrestrial spaceman.
Reading through the various passages of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata with an eye to references of destructive nuclear type weapons certainly does lend itself to believing such claims, too. The evidence does appear to be highly compelling. For instance on p.383 of the Drona Parva we come across the following lines which certainly could be constructed as evidence of the loathsome effects of detonating a nuclear weapon of some sorts:
“Encompassed by them (bowmen)… Bhisma smiting the while and uttering a leonine roar took up and hurried at them with great force a fierce mace of destruction of hostile ranks. The mace of adamantine strength, hurled like Indra’s thunder by Indra himself, crushed, O King, thy soldiers in battle. And it seemed to fill… the whole earth with a loud noise. And blazing forth in splendour, that fierce mace inspired thy sons with fear. Beholding that mace of impetuous course and endowed with lightening flashes coursing towards them, thy warriors fled away uttering frightful cries. And at the unbelievable sound… of that fiery mace, many men fell down where they stood and many car (vimana or flying vehicle) warriors also fell down from their cars.”
On p. 677 of the Drona Parva we can read more about the devastating effects of Asvatthaman wielding his awesome ‘Agneya’ weapon:
“ The sun seemed to turn around. The universe scorched with heats seemed to be in a ever. The elephants and other of the land scorched by the energy of weapon, ran in fright, breathing heavily and desirous of protection against that terrible force…”.
Also in the very same passage: “A thick gloom suddenly shrouded the … host. All points of the compass also were enveloped by that darkness. Rakshashas and Vicocha crowding together uttered fierce cries. Inauspicious winds began to blow.”
All in all such descriptive passages amount to compelling and frightening stuff. As Drake says on p.49 of Gods And Spacemen In The Ancient East (Sphere, 1976): “Arjuna and his companions (our warrior heroes in The Mahabarata) appear(ed) to possess an arsenal of diverse, sophisticated nuclear weapons, equal to, perhaps surpassing, the missiles of the Americans and Russians today”. Vor Daniken also seems to agree.
An account is also recorded in Mahabarata of the meeting of the two missiles in the air.” “The two weapons met each other in mid air. Then earth with all her mountains and seas and trees began to tremble, and all living creatures were heated with energy of the weapons and greatly affected. The skies blazed and the ten points of the horizon became filled with smoke”.
In a similar vein to the above mention of awesome and devastating mention of weapons in The Mahabarata, The Ramayana also seems to make mention of such weapons, too. For instance in the tale of ‘Rama and Sita’ the king promises Rama that if he succeeds in bending a certain immensely powerful bow, he will have his daughter, Sita, the princess born from the earth. “Straight away the King gave the orders: five thousand well-built men strained to drag the eight-wheeled iron cart which contained the divine weapon. Try, commanded the devout king, and effortlessly Rama seized the bow and drew it. He bent it to such an extent that he broke it and the sound that the string made in breaking struck fear in everyone who witnessed it, explained Dr. Sushila Mishra, expert of ancient history and retired head of the department of history Ranchi University, Ranchi.
According to Dr. Mahendra Singh, Professor of history, Ranchi University, Sanskrit texts are filled with references to Gods who fought battles in the sky using Vimanas equipped with weapons as deadly as any we can deploy in these more enlightened times. For example, there is a passage in the Ramayana which reads: The Puspaka car that resembles the Sun and belongs to my brother was brought by the powerful Ravan; that aerial and excellent car going everywhere at will.... that car resembling a bright cloud in the sky.
".. and the King [Rama] got in, and the excellent car at the command of the Raghira, rose up into the higher atmosphere."
In the Mahabharatra, an ancient Indian poem of enormous length, we learn that an individual named Asura Maya had a Vimana measuring twelve cubits in circumference, with four strong wheels. The poem is a veritable gold mine of information relating to conflicts between gods who settled their differences apparently using weapons as lethal as the ones we are capable of deploying, said Dr. V.S. Upadhyay an Anthropoligist.
Apart from 'blazing missiles', the poem records the use of other deadly weapons. 'Indra's Dart' operated via a circular 'reflector'. When switched on, it produced a 'shaft of light' which, when focused on any target, immediately 'consumed it with its power'.
In one particular exchange, the hero, Krishna, is pursuing his enemy, Salva, in the sky, when Salva's Vimana, the Saubha is made invisible in some way. Undeterred, Krishna immediately fires off a special weapon: 'I quickly laid on an arrow, which killed by seeking out sound', explained Dr. Upadhyay.
Many other terrible weapons are described, in the Mahabharata, but the most fearsome of all is the one used against the Vrishis.
The narrative records:
Gurkha flying in his swift and powerful Vimana hurled against the three cities of the Vrishis and Andhakas a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and fire, as brilliant as ten thousands suns, rose in all its splendor. It was the unknown weapon, the Iron Thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and Andhakas.
The great war described in the Mahabharata is thought by many to refer to the ‘Aryan’ invasion of the Indian sub-continent from the north.
According to World Island Review, January 1992, a heavy layer of radioactive ash in Rajasthan, India was found which covers a three-square mile area, ten miles west of Jodhpur. Scientists were investigating the site, where a housing development was being built.
For some time it has been established that there is a very high rate of birth defects and cancer in the area under construction. Scientists have unearthed an ancient city where evidence shows an atomic blast dating back thousands of years, from 8,000 to 12,000 years, destroyed most of the buildings and probably a half-million people. One researchers estimates that the nuclear bomb used was about the size of the ones dropped on Japan in 1945.
The Mahabharata clearly describes a catastrophic blast that rocked the continent. "A single projectile charged with all the power in the Universe...An incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as 10,000 suns, rose in all its was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death which reduced to ashes an entire race.
"The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. Their hair and nails fell out, pottery broke without any apparent cause, and the birds turned white.
"After a few hours, all foodstuffs were infected. To escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves into the river."
Archeologist Francis Taylor says that etchings in some nearby temples he has managed to translate suggest that they prayed to be spared from the great light that was coming to lay ruin to the city. "It's so mid-boggling to imagine that some civilization had nuclear technology before we did. The radioactive ash adds credibility to the ancient Indian records that describe atomic warfare."
Construction has halted while the five member team conducts the investigation. The foreman of the project is Lee Hundley, who pioneered the investigation after the high level of radiation was discovered.
It is pertinent to point out, however, that skeletons discovered in the extremely ancient sites of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, Pakistan, have been found to be exteremely radioactive. Practically nothing is known of the histories of these very ancient cities except that they were suddenly destroyed.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Independent Geologist and Environmentalist
76, circular road,
India. 091-0651-2562895® 2562909®

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

History of Diamond mining in Jharkhand and Chattisgarh


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

Diamond in Chattisgarh:

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

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

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

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pollution in coal fields of Jharkhand State in India


DR. Nitish Priyadarshi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ancient Astronomy in different civilizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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