Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Archaeological Studies show that India’s Great Rann of Kutch had several reservoirs to collect rain water run off in the extremely dry region of Dholavira, dating back to the 3rd millennium before the Christ. Kautilya’s Arthashashtra that was written in the 3rd century B.C. has a mention of irrigation by rain- harvested water through community participation.The Junagarh Inscriptions dating back to 2nd century A.D. inform us about the restoration of Sudarsana Lake, which is not seen now since 9th century A.D.
The Vijainagar Tradition of Vijainagar Kingdom (1336-1564 A. D.) laid much emphasis on the development of irrigation and water harvesting for the improvement of agriculture. The kings of olden days like Krishnadeo Rai (1509- 1530) etc. emphasized that prosperity of the empire depended on the construction of irrigation channels and water tanks. The Gond Tradition emphasized on the repairs of channels, embankments, distributaries, tanks or Talabs etc. The Rani Talab of Jabal Pur is a glaring example of water harvesting tradition of Gond Tribes. The Bengal Tradition laid emphasis on irrigation with the water collected through rain water harvesting. The Karikala Chola of 2nd century A.D. built a Grand Anicut across the river Cauvery to divert water for irrigation. Raja Bhoj of Bhopal built the largest artificial lake (65,000 acres) in India. That lake was fed by streams and springs. Kalhan in his Raj Tarangini (12 century A.D.) has described a well maintained irrigation system in Kashmir.
In respect of availability and non- availability of water, India can be divided into 15 Ecological regions, ranging from dry, cold desert of Ladakh to the dry hot desert of Rajasthan, from the sub- temperate mountain of the Himalayas to the tropical high mountain of Nilgiri.Melting glaciers and snows are the only sources of water for the people residing in Ladakh region. The people of this region make intelligent use of their limited resources and make agriculture possible in this dry and barren land. The snow and ice melt slowly through the day and water is available in the streams only in the evening, when it is too late for irrigation. The water in the streams is hence led by channels to storage tanks and used the next day. These storage tanks are called as ZING.
The aptani tribes of Arunachal Pradesh practice another system of water conservation. Under this system the stream water is blocked by constructing a wall 2 to 4 m high and 1 m thick near forested hill slopes. This water is taken to the agricultural fields through channels. The valleys are terraced into plots separated by 0.6 m high earthen dams with inlet and outlet channels (to the next plot) that help to flood or drain the plots as and when required. This traditional system is practiced in Nagaland and is traditionaly called as Aptani System of water conservation.
Another tradition of water conservatio is Zabo.The term Zabo means ‘impounding run-off’. Zabo tradition is practiced in Nagaland.When rain falls on terraced hill slopes, the runoff collects in ponds in the middle terrace. The runoff then passes through slopes where there are cattle yards, and finally reaches the paddy fields at the foot of the hills. Thus it is through this system that not only the irrigation of paddy fields is brought about, but the fertility of the crop- field is also improved.
A very popular tradition of water harvesting in the north-eastern India is the Bamboo drip irrigation. Under this system the rapidly flowing water from streams and springs is captured by bamboo pipes and transported over hundreds of meters to drip irrigate black pepper cultivation in Meghalaya. Many bamboo pipes of varying diameters and lengths are laid to manipulate and control the flow of water through this system of water conservation.
Ahar-pyne is a traditional floodwater harvesting system indigenous to South Bihar, and in Palamu of Jharkhand. Here the terrain has a marked slope, the soil is sandy, groundwater levels are low and rivers flood their banks only during the monsoon. The ahar is the catchment basin embanked on three sides, while the fourth side is the natural slope. Pynes or artificial channels start out from the river, and meander through fields to end up in an ahar.
Tankas are traditional water storage structures that are round or rectangular in design and are usually constructed to store water in Bikaner of India. Rainwater from the roof or terrace is directed towards an opening in the floor which leads to the tanka. The rain water thus stored in tankas is used for various purposes.Another popular tradition of water harvesting is the construction of Johads. These are small earthen check dams that capture and conserve rainwater, improving percolation and groundwater recharge. This practice was started in 1984 in Rajasthan. So far some 3000 Johads have been constructed across more than 650 villages in Alwar district of the state. What about other districts? Well other districts are also moving along the same path. This has resulted in a general rise of the groundwater level by almost 6 meters and a 33 percent increase in the forest cover in the area. Five rivers that used to go dry immediately following the monsoon have now become perennial. Such is the River Arvari,that has come alive.
Another popular tradition of water harvesting is the construction of Khadins. A khadin- also called a dhora, is an ingenious construction designed to harvest surface runoff water for agriculture. It's main feature is a very long (100-300 m) earthen embankment built across the lower hill slopes lying below uplands. Sluices and spillways in the area allow excess water to drain off to the catchment. The Khadin system is based on the principle of harvesting rainwater on farmland and subsequent use of this water-saturated land for crop production. First designed by the Paliwal Brahmins of Jaisalmer, Western Rajasthan in the 15th century, this system has great similarity with the irrigation methods of the people of Ur (present Iraq) around 4500 BC and later of the Nabateans in the Middle East. A similar system is also reported to have been practiced 4,000 years ago in the Negev desert, and in southwestern Colorado 500 years ago.
As in many parts of the country, the people of Rajasthan have learnt to live with scarcity of water. In Churu, Bikaner, and Sikar of the state people have learnt to harvest rain water in Kunds or Kundis. What are Kunds or Kundis? Dome shaped structures over an underground tank surrounded with an artificially paved catchment sloping towards the centre is called as Kund or Kundis. Traditionally, these tanks were made up of lime, which acted as disinfectant but currently scarcity and demand hassled people to construct Kunds of cement.
A very popular tradition of judicious utilization of water or water conservation is Pani-kheti.In other words, the system of rice cultivation on terraces developed by the Angami and Chakesangs tribes of Nagaland state of the North- eastern India is called a Panikheti. Rather, Panikheti is the term applied to the beautiful rice terraces in the North-eastern Hill Region of India. In this system of farming on terraces, water is supplied to plants by channels that carry water from streams. About 10 to 15 cm of water level is maintained in the fields and rest of the water is allowed to flow down to the lower terraces. This traditional practice ensures that there is no wastage of water while protecting the rights of farmers over its judicious utilization.
Earlier, the left wing extremists had attacked government establishments in March 2009. Apprehending the attack by the naxalites, the officials of the Forest Department left their duty posts on March 28, 2009. It facilitated wood mafias and poachers to exploit resources since about last four months.
A local NGO -the Mayurbhanj Forum has expressed great concern after it conducted surveys of different areas of SBR especially the Lombugada forests and Dhuduruchampa that fall under Naena range, and Pithabata range. The NGO has demanded "immediate restoration of surveillance mechanism for protecting resources of this unique biodiversity." The state government has started keeping close eyes over the condition and has deployed recently a CRPF battalion to treat mafias and poachers.
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The Hindu. July 27, 2009
The central and the state governments have launched various schemes for the tribal people but the surveys narrate the same tragic stories of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and bad reproductive health even after the implementation of these schemes.The hunger deaths of 35 tribals from different districts of the state is a clear evidence. Who is responsible for these conditions?
A human being comes on the earth with two hands and two feet- hands to work and feet to go whereever the work is to be done.But what about the hands and the feet that have deformities by birth.Since nature has produced independent beings and has created all the resources to help these beings, why do these die of hunger? Is it because of their deformed and powerless hands and legs? Some learned people including sociologists say that resources that have been created by nature for all beings have been caught by some strong hands and weak hands are too weak to snatch their share out from the strong hands. Is it the survival of the fittest, and hence okay in the human society too that keeps the democracy at the highest place?
How long are the poor and inefficient to remain the poor and inefficient, and how far can a government adopt and feed such people? is a basic question.The government sends its officers far below upto block headquarters. Block officers move up to village panchayats that in turn have to contact villagers. Thus run a number of welfare projects of the government.There are a number of projects run by national and international agencies to help the marginalised and to empower the poor women. The poor of some areas have recovered and women of such areas have also been empowered.But neither the poorest tribals living in remote villages of Jharkhand could recover nor could their ladies be empowered so far, as per the reports.
The monitoring committees report that enforcement agencies dare not go to remote villages due to the fact that they fear from the naxal activities. A number of journalists have already walked through those areas and have closely observed the conditions of the people especially the ladies living there.Their reports reveal true stories of the tragic conditions of primitive tribes of those areas.
Some of the non-government bodies too have worked or they are still working for those people and are doing jobs under some or the other national or international agencies.A number of researchers and writers have sharpened their pens by researching and writing on issues related to the tragedies faced by those people who are still the same, though their population is decreasing.
"The Primitive Tribes are in great need of the goverment support" - reported Mr. U.K.Sangama the chairman of the investigation committee and the secretary of the Welfare Department of the Government of Jharkhand. Accordingly, the government tried to support those 'Primitive Tribes' and in the process of support sent its men to do the needful.The report that these men could not help those distressed people due to the fear of naxalites, does not enter into the mind of a common man. It has been reported by the local media that more than a dozen projects pertaining to the construction of roads, bridges and embankments in some remote areas of Jharkhand are pending due to the terror of naxalites(Hindustan, 17 July 2009) is unfortunate. If naxalites are well wishers of the marginalised people including the Primitive Tribes, they should not interrupt or stop a person sent by the government for conducting developmental activities.The matters of naxalites- let naxalites know, but in my opinion if a person goes to the poor with a fair and strong will to help, he should neither be stopped nor harassed by anyone. Moral values are to be protected and conserved at any cost as no society can exist on immoral foundation.It is history, and it will be in the infinite future too.
More than 20 government sponsored schemes are under implementation for the welfare of the primitive tribes who constitute 70 per cent of the whole tribal population under the line of poverty in the state. During the financial year 2008-09 Rs. 19.28 crore was sanctioned under Antyodaya scheme for those below the poverty line. But instead of the report of welfare, reports of hunger and deaths are being read from different sources.It is also being commented by some politicians that hunger is not the reason behind the deaths, and tribals in different districts have died either their natural deaths or due to some dangerous disease. From where do these reports come? From places where deaths occur- may be the natural answer. But who does bring these reports? One who goes there - may be the natural answer again. If naxalites kill everyone who passes through those particular areas, how do reporters come back safe after meeting the people in distress, after talking to them, after taking their photographs and after playing with their children?
Action Plans for other Indian rivers like Yamuna and Damodar were also planned with a budgetary provision of Rs. 1,306 crore. Years passed on through the implementation of action plans for these rivers. Now, after two decades experts see that the conditions of these rivers are the same as two decades ago. Experts are of the opinion that mixing of municipal sewage in the river water is the biggest problem as it contributes to about 75% of the pollution. Industries cover the remaining 25%. As per reports, the treatment of only 50% of the sewage of 35 metro cities could have started so far. Currently bout 32% of the sewage generated in 497 class I cities is treated before releasing into the river water.
Now, a sum of Rs. 250 crore has been allocated for the National Ganga Basin Authority – as per the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ report, and a town based approach for the sewage management is being planned at the country level.
Human hands behind the problem of desertification are visible in many forms like massive deforestation, overgrazing, over cultivation, growth of human population and consequent degradation of land, and unscientific practices of irrigation like flooding of fields etc.
Desertification can be controlled by averting the processes that cause desertification. Desert lands can be reclaimed by adopting appropriate technologies of developing plant covers over the desert lands. Rows of trees can be planted at the margins of deserts as shelter-belts for checking the spread of deserts. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) suggests a number of measures that can be adopted for controlling desertification. Some of these measures are – banning of goat farming, reclaiming decertified land, development of appropriate farming practices suited to the fragile semi-arid regions, refinement of economically viable traditional practices controlling land degradation etc.
According to the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) which has been formed under the Central Ministry of Agriculture, the afforestation scheme would enable villagers to create renewable resources in fringe forests and in adjoining non-forest land. The implementing authority has been decided to be the Ministry of Agriculture and the NRAA. The expert committee is due to prepare a project paper within three months to submit the same to the Japanese agency. Decisions has also been taken to harmonize two acts namely the scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act and the Forest Conservation Act in view of protection of forests from further exploitation.
It is planned to involve the Joint Forest Management Committees working in different Rainfed areas of the country for the implementation of the scheme. The Joint Forest Management Areas in the country include parts of Rajasthan, Gujrat, northern part of Kurukshetra, and some areas of Chhattisgarh. As per reports about 1.7 lakh villages are located within 2 to 3 km radius of 32 million hectares in fringe forests and adjoining non-forest land.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
All the captions and slogans and theories mentioned above have lost their popularity. But what more can be done? This is the way most of our environmental duties are being done through years. What pains most bitterly are the same old dialogues and directives that put all the responsibilities on the delicate shoulders of our children. Why a child in a school is asked to plant a sapling? Why not elders alone do that job? Are they only for snatching and stealing away the share of resources of children and then ask them to regenerate and develop alternatives? Are not the shoulders of children already aching carrying the heavy school bags that are becoming heavier year after year by the addition of new books and notes? Meetings and lectures form major part of environmental programmes these days. A political leader presiding a Van Mahotsav meeting in a school delivers impressive speeches and lays all the responsibilities of environmental preservation on children, addressing them as citizens of tomorrow. So does a teacher in his/her classroom. Certainly children will do their part if they are left with resources to synthesize a little blood and other tissues in their bodies as long as they their metabolic activities are left unaltered inspite of drinking contaminated water, breathing in polluted air and taking in pesticide contaminated food. But don’t they actually have the right to inherit some of the resources, atleast those resources that are given by God? Aren’t parents selling and eating away all the natural property before the development of teeth and jaws in their children? Some of us may come angrily with a negative answer. Wood mafias may claim that they are already trying to box bundles of bank notes for their children taking all those pains generated by vigilance and enforcement agencies. Scammers may claim that they have faced a lot of dangers in collecting money for better development and better education of their children. Poachers earn a lot of money by poaching animals and doing international trade. They too probably think that they commit crime and all the immoral practices for their own greed of wealth and put responsibilities on others and even innocent children are not spared.
The Indian culture tells us that children belong to all. But it is in principle and not in practice. As regards the practice, not only biological difference is applied there. Some children deserve hatred and negligence because they are rag pickers, beggars, laborers or hawkers, since they don’t go to schools they neither know about environment nor about Van Mahotsav. Rich parents can think only about the two or three children who have been brought into this world by them to feed on bank notes and to breathe in laboratory prepared oxygen. What? …Yes, because they have poisoned the food, water and air and have eaten up or have damaged all the other resources given by nature.
Today’s children are being taught all those lessons that elders could not understand in their childhood. Just compare the environment of our childhood to the environment of the childhood of our children and go a little ahead. Who has done all this damage? Haven’t we all ? Hence, if least sense of responsibility is left in us, we should depart only after repairing the damage or only after arranging alternatives for what we have squandered. The human life is not unlimited one. Go away only after disposing off the garbage you have created, after bringing back the natural quality of resources you have altered, after arranging school bags and food to every rag picking, begging or laboring child. Don’t celebrate Van Mahotsav as you have not raised nurseries. Nurseries are to be raised first. Forests cannot be regenerated without raising nurseries or without caring and reviving the dying plants. Environment cannot be protected through speeches and slogans nor can it be protected by putting responsibilities on coming citizens. Environmental Education and celebrations have their own importance but we too need some sort of education about that and a little more of moral education first.
Friday, July 24, 2009
"The changes, at least initially, are likely to favor generalist species, those in the best position to respond to changes," said Frank La Sorte, a post-doctoral fellow at UC San Diego and first author of the paper. "It's going to be difficult using existing spatial ecological patterns to predict the outcome of climate change."
University of California - San Diego. "'Weedy' Bird Species May Win As Temperatures Rise." ScienceDaily 19 June 2009. 24 July 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Encounters with women remained ingrained in his mind like a stubborn scar that refused to be disappear even under the pressure of time. It went on nagging him. He hit upon an idea -- let's begin at the grass roots, the school children. He formed the 'Students ' Science Academy' in his school around 1988 with 50 students to generate public awareness on environement.
The students under his leadreship on holidays toured different areas. tehy studied flora and fauna and tested water bodies to assess pollution with simple devise of their own. " We never asked for money from anybody. We used to spend from our own pockets on our mission," said Dr. Mishra
Meanwhile, he was transferred to Girls High School Lohardaga. He formed the Students' Science Academy' here also. the students of the school scaled new heights and earned state level accolades at the erstwhile capital of United Jharkhand -Patna and national level praises at Hyderabad in 2001 for their project ' Environmental Problems through Religious Practices'. Then recognitions poured in. He became the lohardaga District science co-ordinator of National Council of Science and Technology under Science and technology department of the Union Government. he was transfererd again to Ranchi-based Marwari School .
His fascination for environment made him editor of environmental journal 'ECOSOC' which had to wound up due to financial constraints. But his fancy for writing never dwindled. His three books in English--Our Environment, Our Environment: Pollution Control and Future Strategies, Our Environment and Green Revolution-- published by New Delhi based S.Chand and Company have been lapped up by intellectuals and students. The first of the Lot has even clicked in Germany.
Dr. Mishra , now the State co-ordinator of National Council of Science and Technology, has also written Science books in Hindi for CBSE course for class IX and X students. " I am now translating the books into English," said Dr. Mishra. He is also the president of city based 'People for Animals' . Despite having made long strides in his endeavour for the betterment of environment and wildlife, his work has ironically remained outside the periphery of government attention.
Source: HINDUSTAN TIMES
DATED: November 1, 2002
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Hunting and killing of various types of birds and other animals for sports, meat, skin, fur, feathers, ivory etc. have put the lives of our remaining animals in great danger. Many of our important birds (like DODO) and animals have disappeared due to hunting, killing and trade in their body parts. Such is the tragic story of CHIRU, the endangered Tibetan antelope. This animal is found in some of the harshest regions of Tibet and China. It is a creature of very shy nature, and usually it is very hard to capture this animal. However, nothing is more powerful than the death. People engaged in the illegal trade of soft hair of chiru capture the animal and kill it mercilessly. The fine and soft hair of chiru are used in making shawls that are famous for their warmth and softness. This is the reason behind the illegal international trade of the "Shawls of Shame" made of the hair of chiru by merciless killing of the poor and innocent animal.
One Kg of the hair of chiru (also called as Shahtoosh) can fetch up to Rs. 60, ooo. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth wore one Shahtoosh Shawl to Prince Edward's wedding and Ms. Julia Roberts, the actress, wore a Shahtoosh Shawl during the premier of the film "Runnaway Bride'.
A ban on the trade of Shahtoosh has been imposed since 1991. Still some rich people in India and abroad are said to be in possession of Shahtoosh Shawls. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Indian Wildlife Protection Act has placed CHIRU in the RED-LIST. The trade of killing chiru and selling Shahtoosh went of hidden up to 1980 and no one could trace a link between chiru and Shahtoosh shawl. By that time the number of chiru had fallen from over too million to about 75000.Though Chiru is not an Indian animal, it is criminal to encourage trade in its hair in India, along with other countries. Under Section 38 of the Wildlife Act, Shahtoosh obtained from the Tibetan Antelope known as Chiru is the property of the state. Chiru is now a protected animal under the Central Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. India is a signatory to CITES under which any kind of import or trade in animal articles made or derived from Shahtoosh is prohibited.
The cordyceps sinensis, a fungus nicknamed as Himalyan Viagra is vanishing fast due to international trade practices. The heavy exploitation of the fungus by traders along with Tibetan Nomads much before the time of its reproductive stage is pushing the fungus towards extinction.
The specific fungus which is also known as the "Caterpillar fungus" is traditionally added to soups or tea to improve vigor and vitality since long. They believe that the soup of the fungus improves stamina, endurance, lung capacity, kidney functions, and sexual performance. The medicinal importance of the fungus, especially that it improves sexual performance was already documented in 14th century. However, its importance as a sex- boosting medicine could not find popularity up to some times back. As the fungus was cheap and abundant, it was fed to yaks and horses for enhancing their working capacity.
The fungus Cordyceps sinensis became especially popular after the World Championship in Athletics during 1993, when Chinese lady athletics broke records in nine tracks and field events, and their couch disclosed that it was due to the consumption of an elixir made of Cordyceps sinensis. Most of the trade of this fungus is centered at the Quinghai Province of China. The season of fungus hunting runs for about 40 days from the onset of the early spring.
It has been found that the fungus grows on a caterpillar as a fungal parasite. It infects the caterpillar as it moves along the leaves of grass growing on the hill, kills it by its poisonous secretion and grows its hyphae to form a dense and compact mycelium. As the mycelium gets maturation, it develops fruiting bodies that too require some time for their maturation. It is due to the commercial stress on the fungus that it is exploited much before the time of the development and dispersal of spores inside fruiting bodies. This is the main reason behind the reducing population of the fungus along Himalyan slopes. The maximum development of the fungus has been recorded at an elevation of 4,267 m, especially around Heitushan.
Under today's conditions it is very hard for even nomads to collect few pieces of the Caterpillar Fungus to earn their living who used to earn money sufficient enough to live happily for the whole year merely on the collection of a single season. The demand of the fungus is currently very high in countries like China, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. The value of the fungal herb by the year 2007 has been US $ 3000 per kg for the lowest quality and over US $ 15,000 per kg for the best quality. Besides increasing sexual performance, the consumption of the fungal extract is reported to improve energy levels, to improve Cholesterol and Lipid Metabolism, to correct cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, to improve liver health, to correct lung disorders, and even to help fight cancer.( Pictures- The Fruiting Body of Cordyceps sinensis, and the Fruiting Body).
Passiflora incarnata is a vine which grows up to a length of about ten meters. It belongs to the family Passifloracea. It has long been cultivated by Americans for its edible fruits. Spanish conquerors first learned of passionflower from the Aztecs of Mexico who used it as a sedative to treat insomnia and nervousness for centuries. The plant was taken back to Europe where it became widely cultivated and introduced into European medicine. Growing up to a length of ten meters, passionflower bears three-lobed leaves, purple flowers and an egg shaped fruit.
The Passiflora incarnata which is popularly known as Passion flower, has a special relationship with the heart and imparts to it an inner peaceful and harmonious tone. The heart is a sensory organ that communicates with the body and brain neurologically, hormonally, and electromagnetically. It is auto-rhythmic and under psycho emotional stress may lose rhythmic order and its ability to sense and communicate with the body. Passion flower restores rhythm, balance, harmony and communication to the heart. In general, it is the nature of passion flower to impart inner peace and balance.
Latest researches on P. incarnata reveal that fresh juice of leaves, stems, and flowers of P. incarnata contains a number of chemical constituents. These include alkaloids, alpha-alanine, apigenin, D-fructose, D-glucose, flavonoids, gum, gynocardin, harmaline, harmalol, harmine, harmol, homoorientin, isoorientin, isovitexin, kaempferol, lutenin-2, luteolin, maltol (pyrone methylcarbonic acid), N-nonacosane, orientin, passiflorine, phenylalanine, proline, quercetin, raffinose, rutin, saccharose, saponaretin, saponarine, scopoletin, sitosterol, stigmasterol, tyrosine, umbelliferone, valine, vitexin.It also contains chysin which blocks the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and thereby conerves testosterone.
It has been reported variously that promotes sleep because it allows a deeper state of spiritual confidence within the person. This is especially true with people who understand more about themselves from their dreams. It allows a greater ability to process dreams and eases nightmares. It has been approved by the European Commission that the extract of Passiflora incarnata can be used internally in low doses for nervous restlessness, mild disorders of sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origin. The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for sleep disorders, restlessness, nervous stress, and anxiety. Other uses include neuralgia and nervous tachycardia. The German Standard License for passionflower tea indicates its use for nervous restlessness, mild disorders of sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origin. It is frequently used in combination with valerian and other sedative plants. Currently the plant extract is used for the treatment of Psychoemotional and Physiological conditions. Most of these are mentioned below.
1. It supports the harmony of heart, its inner peace and communication
2. It releases nervous tension, and mental irritability.
3. It repairs nervous exhaustion, and removes anxiety.
4. It treats insomnia related to neurasthenia, and nervous Tachycardia.
5. It removes gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origin, and releases tension and headaches.
The leguminous plants such as clover, beans, alfalfa, lupines, and peanuts need plenty of nitrogen but they don't have a technology to stop and capture the nitrogen of air. Neither can they capture plenty of nitrates from the surrounding. But they are clever enough to take help from the Rhizobia (singular- Rhizobium) and a few other bacteria that are technologically more advanced in this work. For this, the leguminous plants have to make special nodules in their roots as homes for their habilitation. These bacteria convert the nitrogen of air into inorganic compounds of nitrogen (for example: Ammonium) and offer the same to the plant of whom they are guests. Now, plants can utilize this compound to assimilate amino acids which is essential for the formation of proteins. This much portion of the nitrogen cycle is called as Biological Nitrogen Fixation. Not all the leguminous plants have bacterial associations for fixing nitrogen. Styphnolobium is one example.
Many non-leguminous plants also fix nitrogen. Such plants are called as actinorhizal plants. These comprise many shrubs and woody trees. Some plants of birch family like Alder (Alnus); Mountain Mahogany; Cliff- rose; Dryas etc are examples of such plants. The bacteria or other microorganisms that fix nitrogen are called as Diazotrophs.
The Biological Nitrogen Fixation was first discovered by a Dutch Microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck.The stems of some plants like Sesbania Plant too, have nodules on them. Do you think that all the nitrogen fixed by nodules on a particular plant is used by the same plant alone? No, the remaining nitrogen is spent in improving the fertility of soil.
According to meteorologists, the climate of the town is changing fast. It is getting a lot hotter and now the monsoon is arriving later in Cherrapunjee. In 1974, it rained 24,555 mm in Cherapunjee which is the highest recorded rainfall in any one place in any one year. The annual rainfall for 2007 was back to normal. During 2006, 98% of the area's rainfall was between the months of March and October. In 2008 rains did not arrive fairly until June. The reason for that could only be the global change in climate.
Now in Cherapunjee, crops are being destroyed and intensive soil erosion has set in. Water flows faster from Meghalaya into Bangladesh delta due to depletion of forest. Now a part of Meghalaya is at risk of desertification due to the combination of increasing urbanization and industrialization at one hand and deforestation and shortage of groundwater on the other.
Plants of Parthenium have deep tap root system and multibranched erect shoot system. Stems become woody on maturity. Leaves are deeply lobed, pale green in colour, and hairy. Flowers of Parthenium are creamy white in colour. They produce small and black coloured seeds with white scales that are hardly visible.
Parthenium has been declared as noxious in India, America, Australia, and in many other countries. Seeds germinate in spring to summer and the plants die around autumn. Parthenium plants can however grow during any time of the year, and anywhere on the land including places around water points if conditions are suitable for their growth and development. Flowering of plants continues till their death. This plant is a prolific producer of seeds and can produce up to one lac seeds per plant. In India Parthenium Plants can be seen any where and every where.
Problems Associated with Parthenium
Parthenium is a vigorous species which colonizes in bare land, roadsides, crop fields, and in places around water bodies. It reduces production of crops and pastures, and it is very difficult to control the weed. The plant is a major health hazard to animals and human beings and even to other plants as well. Pollens of these plants cause asthma to the exposed person and causes dermatitis on contact. It reduces the yield of milk and weight of grazers; and causes severe diseases in rabbits. Seeds and plant-litter leach out toxins that inhibit the germination of seeds of plants of other species. Some of the serious diseases caused due to Parthenium are contact dermatitis, Eczema, Eczematous dermatitis, allergic reactions, fewer in cows, hypersensitivity in rabbits( like restlessness, natural falling of hair from the dorsal region of the neck and back, small boils etc.), ulcerations in buffaloes, horses, donkeys, sheep, and goats.
Scientific investigations have found that pollens of Parthenium contain Sesquiterpene lactones, Caffeic acids, vanillic acids, Anisic acids, Chlorogenic acids, Para hydroxyl benzoic acids (all Phenolic acids) that are severely lethal to human beings and cattle. Parthenin is the basic toxic substance extracted out and studied by our scientists. The Chemical Formula of Parthenin is C15H18O4.
Parthenium is hard to control due to its highly invasive and competitive nature. How ever hand hoeing, growing a smother crop, applying herbicides like 2-4 D etc. has been found helpful in controlling this weed. People across the world are uniting together to control the spread of Parthenium. However a group of scientists is researching the biochemistry of the weed in order to investigate any possible positive side of the plant.
The Background Scenario
In 1995, the Village Council of Khonoma with Tsilie as its one of the members, was convinced with the idea of the Forest Officer of local origin Mr. T. Angami, about notifying nearly 2000 hectares (sq km) of the land of the Khonoma area as Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS).Since hunting was too much a part of the culture of the tribal people inhabiting the Khonoma area, the idea had to face a number of oppositions from many of local persons. But extensive discussions were continued among Tsilie, Mr. Angami and villagers, for three long years. Due to these discussions most of the Khonoma villagers were convinced and the foundation stones of KNCTS were laid in December 1998.With the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the sanctuary, hunting in the area was completely banned by the community. A Naga Pavilion has been erected at Khonoma to mark the importance of the village.
The Khonoma village set up a KNCTS- Trusts and framed the sets of rules and regulations. Mr. Tsilie, one of the founder members of the Village Council, was selected its First Managing Director. A warden was also appointed for periodic checking of the sanctuary affairs including the activities of volunteers. In fact, KNCTS is a part of the same important Dzuku valley which has been referred by the great Indian author; novelist and poet Mr. Vikram Seth in his famous poem, "The elephant and the Tragopan." This valley shelters healthy populations of pheasants including the endangered state- bird of Nagaland the Blythii Tragopan. The valley has been identified by the Bombay Natural History Society as one of the Most Important Bird Areas of India. The sanctuary is the shelter of vast varieties of animals such as Himalayan Black Bear, many Species of Orchids and other plants including Dzuku lily which is endemic to the area. The important Fauna include serow, leopard; sambhar etc.
It is now proposed that Khonoma Sanctuary should be extended to the neighboring buffer zone of forests covering an area of over 3000 hectares, on ground over 10,000 hectares(100sq.km).The tribal people of Khonoma are discussing the matter with Manipur Tribes. It is now hoped that the entire Dzuku and Jampfer area may be declared as Community Protected Area which may then be extended upto many hundred sq. km.
The Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture is supporting the Khonoma green village project(KGVP).As one part of this project the Ministry is promoting Ecotourism in the Khonoma area. In order to avoid any damage to the local environment that may be expected through Ecotourism, the Centre for the Environmental Education has been given the responsibility of conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Studies of the area. The Guidelines, codes of conduct and Environmental Indicators were already worked out
before the start of the flow of tourists.
The Community Conserved Areas
The Modern System of Shifting Cultivation as practiced in Khonoma Village of Nagaland is a trendsetter example. In fact, the plantation of Alder trees, the pollarding of these trees, use of these trees in making nitrogenous fertilizer etc. is not done by a single person or by a single family. Neither the work of managing such a vast and trendsetter Sanctuary is a work of few people. These works demand too much of care, wisdom, attention, management- skill and man- power. Thus all the work done for greening the Khonoma, managing the wildlife sanctuary, improving the system of agriculture etc. have been and still these are the community works. Thus, Khonoma and neighboring areas are called as Community Conserved Areas (CCAs).
Areas, those are voluntarily conserved by indigenous, mobile and local communities through customary laws or by other effective means are called as Community Conserved Areas (CCAs).
These communities have substantial dependence on the local natural resources that are contained in the ecosystems of such areas for their survival, livelihood and cultural sustenance. The efforts of conservation taken up by communities include continuation of Traditional Conservation and practices of sustainable utilization of resources.According to Mr. Ashish Kothari, the Environmentalist, Researcher and Writer from India
"Khonoma may well be the only village in India that has a Global Citizenry with an active self identity; every year, 1st September is celebrated as the village's 'birth day' with Khonomaians from far and wide coming to the village to celebrate or carrying out celebrations where ever they are."
In Nagaland, one festival follows the other festival, round the year. The rich heritage of the Naga People is reflected from each and every festival they celebrate; including the Hornbill Festival? What is it and why is it so named? Well, hornbill is a globally respected bird which occupies very important place in the folklore of most of the tribes of Nagaland. And hornbill- festival is a set of functions organized by all the tribes of Nagaland on 1st to 5th of December every year. Yes, the state has about 16 major tribes named as Angamis, the Aos, the Chakesangs, the Konyaks, the Kukis, the Kacharies, the Sumis, the Changs, the Lothas and the Pochurys ETC. All these festivals have their own different festivals. But since Hornbill is equally respected by all of these tribes; the hornbill festival is respected by all. This shows that the great bird hornbill is the symbol of the inherent unity among the vast diversity of the tribal people of Nagaland. On the other hand, it has been the efforts of the Government of Nagaland that all the tribes of the area unite together to celebrate at least one common festival: the Hornbill Festival. The festival is celebrated in the first week of December in the capital city Kohima.
A series of performances and demonstrations are organized by the tribal people during the period of the Hornbill Festival. As per reports, "this one week long festival unites all of the Nagaland, in one giant colour splashed hodgepodge of dances, performances, crafts, parades, games, sports, fairs and religious ceremonies. The festival exposes the culture and tradition of tribal people and reinforces Nagaland's identity as a unique state in India's federal union", which in spite of all has the inherent love towards its wildlife. On this occasion Naga tribes sing folk songs, perform traditional dances and play indigenous games and sports.