Saturday, November 22, 2008


Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Till a couple of decades back geothermal energy was not playing any significant role in the scenario of world energy production. Even now, it hardly constitutes 1% of the total electricity output. Lately, however, geothermal energy scene is changing very fast with a rapid spurt in its direct and indirect use, primarily due to Eco-friendly, renewable and pollution free character. Also, geothermal resources are abundantly available throughout the globe.

Geothermal water has a temperature appreciably higher than that of the local average annual air temperature. However, in general, a spring is considered hot when its temperature is about 12.2 0c higher than mean annual ambient temperature . The relative terms geothermal water, warm springs and hot springs are common.

Geothermal water discharges from numerous springs located mostly in mountanious or plateau areas. The springs are connected by faults to deeply buried reservoirs that contain geothermal water, which moves upward along the fault zones to discharge at the land surface. Much geothermal water discharges as hot springs that flow steadily instead of erupting at intervals.
One theory use to explain how geothermal water becomes heated in areas that are underlain by complex geologic structures is that when precipitation falls in highland areas recharges the aquifer system. Some of the water moves downward along faults and fracture zones to great depths. As the water descends, it becomes heated because of the geothermal gradient. At some depth, the heated water becomes lighter than the overlying water and then moves upward along faults to discharge as spring flow.

Jharkhand has the good reservoir of geothermal energy in its earth’s interior, whose surface manifestations are the steaming grounds and hot springs. The hot springs in Peninsular Shield of Jharkhand are located along a zone running more or less parallel to Damodar Valley Coalfield, i.e. along faulted boundaries.

In Jharkhand the thermal springs are found in Tatta- Jarom of Palamau district and Surajkund, Duari, Bagodar of Hazaribag district. The Tatta spring occurs within the Gondwana rocks and Jarom occurs within Proterozoic rocks. The temperature of the thermal discharge at Jarom is 50 degree c. (centigrade) to 57 degree c. while at Tatta it varies from 61 degree c. to65 degree c. in different spouts. All the thermal springs in Hazaribag district are grouped in Damodar valley graben geothermal province.

Needless to emphasis that geothermal energy is presently recognized as the only one of the so-called alternative renewable energy resources which is technically, commercially and economically viable for generation of electricity. There is another important aspect. Unlike, other power projects-a ‘geothermal plant’ has a minimum negative impact on the environment. It is thus necessary to promote such alternative sources in Jharkhand to combat with power crisis.
Surajkund main spring in Hazaribag district records the second highest temperature 88 degree c. after Tattapani hot spring of Madhya Pradesh. The other hot springs are Lakshmikund (53 degree c.), Brahmakund (45 degree c.), Ramkund (62 degree c.), Satrughnakund (68 degree c.) and Sitakund (53 degree c.) and they discharge thermal fluids up to 4 liter per second. Tatta discharge 2.1 liter per second and Jarom discharge 1.8 liter per second.
Most of the hot springs of Jharkhand are not potable due to high concentration of floride. Concentration of Helium is highest in the thermal gases of Surajkund. Where as Methane is highest in Barkagaon. In Jarom Mercury concentration in soil around the hot springs varies from 20 ppb (parts per billion) to 125 ppb. Cawa Gandhwani and Duari hot springs are more radioactive.
Excessive concentration of certain dissolved minerals in geothermal water pose water-quality problems. The most common of these minerals are dissolved fluoride, arsenic, and iron. Concentration of dissolved fluoride in excess of 4 milligrams per liter can cause mottling of teeth, especially children’s and can cause bones to become brittle.
The geothermal energy can be used for space heating, development of cold storage for preservation of bio and agro products, setting up of plants for drying, processing, preserving and canning of fruits and fruit products.

The hot springs in Jharkhand are situated mainly in hilly tribal belt or in isolated and remote region of the state. Obviously these rural areas are backward and poor. The energy needs of the people of rural and backward area are primarily for irrigation, farm inputs, processing and preservation of agro products, cooking, lighting and space heating. Hot spring water of low temperature has been directly used for irrigation of field/farm and to increase the soil temperature for obtaining early maturity and bumper crops as done in China and Russia. Waters of low temperatures of hot springs can be directly used for irrigation of field/ farm to increase the soil temperature for obtaining early maturity and to increase production of vegetables and mushroom growth under controlled conditions. The hot springs area can also be used for development of tourism and health resorts.

Regarding Helium concentration assessment of Helium reservoir may be undertaken in the area studied to see if Helium can be mined and Methane content may be evaluated to determine whether it is a usable resource in the region.

As a matter of fact, our resources are quite similar to that of China, who are exploiting them on large scale. They rank number one in installed thermal power capacity. It is, therefore necessary to give serious thought to exploit our resources too, at least those situated in power starved hilly areas, where due to lack of infrastructure and adequate demand, conventional power plants would not be economically viable.

Dunn, J.A., 1942, The economic geology and mineral resources of Bihar Province: Mem. Geol. Surv. India, v. LXXVIII, p. 197-204.

Ghosh, P.K., 1954, Mineral springs of India: Rec. Geol. Surv. Ind., v. 80, p. 545-558.

Prasad, J.M., 1996, Geothermal energy resources of Bihar, in U.L. Pitale, and R.N. Padhi, eds., Geothermal energy in India: GSI special publication 45, p. 99-117.

Priyadarshi, N., 2002, Potential of geothermal energy in Jharkhand State, India, in Proceedings of the 1st conference and exhibition on strategic challenges and paradigm shift in hydrocarbon exploration with special reference to Frontier Basins, held in Mussoorie, India. Published by Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 2 p. 261-265.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baobab (Kalptaru) tree is under threat in Jharkhand state of India.

Baobab (Kalptaru) tree is under threat in Jharkhand state of India.

Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Fig: Baobab tree beside the road in Ranchi city.

Fig: Remaining Kalptaru tree under threat due to vehicles movement.

Fig: Uprooted Baobab tree.

A rare tree, which is over 250 years old, was uprooted due to heavy rainfall in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi. Baobab, also known as Kalpataru, is a rare medicinal tree. According to unofficial report, there are only nine such trees in India. Of the nine, four are found in Ranchi city.
In British rule, a writer of Jharkhand had described its importance and uniqueness.
Muslim traders are credited with their introduction in Jharkhand State from tropical Africa, where the tree is indigenous. All the three trees are found in the Muslim dominated area in Ranchi city.
In Hindu - the tree is considered tree of life, eternity and environment harmony. It is also known as the mythical tree that fulfill desires. The tree is the symbol of our identity and its potential.
Now only three are left. All these remaining trees are also under threat. As they are beside the busy road they are always under the threat due to the movement of heavy vehicles. Movement of such vehicles creates tremors which gradually affects the roots as the roots of baobab( Adansonia digitata) are not deeply rooted in the ground and due to great size of the trunk. Also recently Jharkhand Govt. had decided to cut down these trees to widen the roads.
It has the importance not only in Hindu religion but also in the country like Indonesia. Just like Garuda, Kalpataru tree is also used for various purposes in Indonesia. In Indonesia, Kalpataru is used as the logo of Indonesian Environment Institution.
The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. It has been suggested that the vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care.
This is a strange looking tree; formerly it was cultivated near houses, temples etc. The great size attained by the trunk makes it unsuitable for planting along modern streets. In the past it was cultivated perhaps on account of its strange looks and of its medicinal value of most of its part.
The various parts of the baobab are used to treat a large number of ailments. Nearly every part of the tree has some medicinal value. A few include: powered bark mixed with porridge for malaria; the pulp of the fruit is mixed with honey and is used for coughing; the leaves are used for diarrhoea, fever, inflammation, kidney and bladder diseases, blood clearing, and asthma; the leaves also serve as emollients and are used to help extract guinea worm; the fruits and seeds are used for dysentery, fever, haemoptysis and diarrhoea; dry powered roots are prepared as a mash for malaria; and gum from the bark is used for cleaning sores.
It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year.
It is sad how ignorant we are that these trees stand so neglected. Even if they are not the mythological ‘kalpatarus’, they are definitely very old, historical trees, which must have seen generations of Ranchi. Indeed, they need attention.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Karanj tree can be the best option of bio fuel in Jharkhand State of India.

Karanj tree can be the best option of bio fuel in Jharkhand State of India.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

In the scenario of imminent energy crises fuelled by huge import bills and rising prices of petro-based products, biofuels seem to be options of the future. Some promising biofuel species like Jatropha and Pongamia are being used traditionally for domestic purposes in many parts of India. Karanj, (Pogamia pinnata) a plant native to India, appears to have good potential for biodiesel. Considered less exotic than Jatropha, there is a good chance that its oil is cheaper as well.
Continuous increase in demand of petroleum products has encouraged the experts to search new alternatives of petroleum products. It is the result of their search that today we are having many alternatives of petroleum products. There are many alternatives in the name of Bio-diesel. India has also taken initiative in this field and today the whole world is looking to the Indian’s bio-diesel plans. The Indian experts have identified many plants that can be used as source to Bio-diesel. For different agro-climatic situations they have suggested different types of plants. But ignoring these recommendations every where the promotion of single species Jatropha is in progress. No one is thinking about other alternatives. Although in media the name of Jatropha is in top but in fact its nearer relative Karanj (Pogamia pinnata) is having immense potential as bio-diesel plant. And for real development the promotion of Karanj is must. From scientific point of view Karanj is far better than Jatropha.

Very few people know that Jatropha is exotic plant .It is native to Tropical America. Karanj is native plant and it is present in our homeland since generations. The modern research have proved it that the introduction of new component in any ecosystem affects the life of each and every component from top to bottom i.e. from other plants to microorganisms. Jatropha is known as plant having dominating nature. This plant is rich in allelochemicals. This is the reason the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh have named it as Raja Van (King Plant) .It suppresses the growth of other plants. Due to its aggressive nature and harmful impact on flora it is declared as problematic weed in many countries. There is no such problem from Karanj. Karanj is an integral part of our ecosystem and it supports the growth of many plants as well as microorganisms in nature.

Recently the seed oil has been found to be useful in diesel generators. Last year in Gardih village of Bokaro district in Jharkhand State,the experiment to generate electricity with oilseeds of karanj was hugely successful. Barely 2 litres of the oil light up 100 homes as well as 20 bulbs put on lamp-posts outside for three hours every evening, between 6 and 9 pm.
Karanj is a wild and largely neglected tree that grows unplanned but in abundance in several forested areas, in Jharkhand. The ease with which the oil has substituted diesel or petrol at Gardih, has opened up possibilities of electrifying villages at the fraction of the cost required to extend transmission lines across remote and far-flung areas.
In Jharkhand it is found occasionally along streams and largely along road sides. From ancient days Karanj oil is being used in Jharkhand to light diya (small pot made of soil) during diwali festival.
It is a deciduous tree that grows to about 15-25 meters in height with a large canopy that spreads equally wide. The leaves are a soft, shiny burgundy in early summer and mature to a glossy, deep green as the season progresses. Small clusters of white, purple, and pink flowers blossom on their branches throughout the year, maturing into brown seed pods. The tree is well suited to intense heat and sunlight and its dense network of lateral roots and its thick, long taproot make it drought tolerant. The dense shade it provides slows the evaporation of surface water and its root structures promote nitrogen fixation, which moves nutrients from the air into the soil. Withstanding temperatures slightly below 0°C to 50°C and annual rainfall of 5–25 dm, the tree grows wild on sandy and rocky soils.
Although all parts of the plant are toxic and will induce nausea and vomiting if eaten, the fruits and sprouts, along with the seeds, are used in many traditional remedies. Juices from the plant, as well as the oil, are antiseptic and resistant to pests. In addition the Pongam tree has the rare property of producing seeds of 25-35% lipid content. The seed oil is an important asset of this tree having been used as lamp oil, in soap making, and as a lubricant for thousands of years.
In Jharkhand the local people use the Karanj oil in different medicinal purposes. The oil has been known for its curative effect for skin problems such as herpes, leucoderma, psoriasis, scabies and skin itches. The root is ground with water and is used for cure of wounds.
Karanj honey is obtained by migrating bee colonies by beekeepers of the region to districts of Ranchi, Palamu, Hazaribagh of the Jharkhand state.
Though Jharkhand has vast deposits of minerals like iron ore, coal and bauxite, time has come to think and act for alternatives of minerals before they exhaust. 'We should think not only about the present but also about the future and the coming generations. Bio-diesel production will benefit Jharkhand, as the pollution level is high in many parts of the state due to mining and industrial waste.