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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The concept of sustainability and the sustainable environment

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WECD) reported in 1987 –‘the present decade (1980s) has been marked by a retreat from social concerns. Scientists bring to our attention urgent but complex problems bearing on our survival: a warming globe, threats to the earth’s ozone layer, deserts consuming agricultural land. We respond by demanding more details, and by assigning the problems to institutions ill equipped to cope with them.’

The decade of 1980s observed a number of new discoveries like-

(i) Measurement of the size of ozone hole by British Researchers in 1985,

(ii)The U.S. Government’s Report entitled Global-2000, recognized that species extinction was threatening biodiversity,

(iii) Adoption of World Charter for Nature by the General Assembly of United Nations (1982) ,made clear that environment and development were interdependent, and

(iv) The realization of intrinsic values of Species and Ecosystems through the World Charter for Nature (1982).

In spite of these developments the decade of 1980s experienced severe industrial accidents that left permanent marks on environment and human health.

Some examples are mentioned below-
A. The leakage of the Methyl Iso Cynate (MIC) in 1984 from one of the Union Carbide’s plants located in Bhopal, India killed 3000 people and 2000 injured .

B. Up to one million people died of hunger in Ethiopia during the same year.

C.The world’s worst nuclear accident occurred when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, exploded in the Ukrainian Republic of Soviet Union.

D. The spill of 50 million Litres of oil from Exxon Valdez super tanker into Alaska’s Prince William in 1989 reflected that even the remotest areas on the globe are unsafe due to human activities.

A World Industry Conference was organized in 1984 by United Nations in Canada. It was the first attempt to provide a code of conduct for sound management in the business sector. As a result of this the concept of Sustainable Development and Eco- friendly Technology was introduced in the development area.

To make the environment sustainable, a number of measures are necessary to be taken up by the people and government across the globe. Some of these measures are- use of efficient and eco-friendly technologies, sustainable use of resources and adoption of indigenous practices like keeping of sacred groves.

It is being felt that the process of modern development id defective one. It is creating various types of stresses on the environment due to which a number of local, regional and global problems have emerged out that challenge the existence of human beings and other organisms on this planet.

Some of the created due to stress caused on environment by modern developments are being listed below-

(1) Destruction of forests.

(2) Falling underground water table.

(3) Rise in global temperature and climate change.

(4) Extinction of animal and plant species.

(5) Large scale migration of people.

(6) Great financial inequality.

(7) Reduction in the means of livelihood for the poor.

(8) Scarcity of food.

(9) Increasing number of disaster.

Besides above mentioned problems the process of modern development is creating economic inequalities. In view of these problems it is thought that the current process of development cannot go for long. That means it is unsustainable.

Keeping in mind the unsustainable nature of modern development, scientists and environmentalists the world over has thought out a new model of development called as sustainable development.

Such a new model of development which benefits every individual, safeguards environmental rights of every citizen and which may keep the natural environment in a perfectly balanced state is called as sustainable development.

Key Words:WECD,  sustainability, sustainable development, co-friendly technology

Monday, January 30, 2012

Congestion in urban environment

Housing is a great problem in urban areas. As crops fail, the rural economy is damaged. More and more people from village areas migrate to cities in search of jobs. Being poor, they cannot afford high rent for houses in cities. As a result they settle on unclaimed government or public land, abandoned railway huts and even on areas near monuments. They bring their families and construct houses there. Thus slums are developed in urban areas.

People in slums live under unhygienic conditions and remain prone to a number of diseases and epidemics. Most of those who live in rented houses live as singles. They make groups, take a small area or a room on rent and spend nights in crowded conditions. All these conditions explain the congestion in urban areas.

Agricultural green lands in sub-urban areas are being utilized for construction of houses and industrial buildings. Many green areas; pastures; wet lands; water bodies like ponds and lakes; community parks etc. that provided open space to cities have been reclaimed for building apartments to accommodate the exploding urban populations.

The explosion of population has given birth to the Apartment Culture and severe congestion. In big cities, large number of men, women and children live in very unsanitary conditions in a very short area. In good locations even animals get comparatively more areas for their living and movements. Such types of human habitations further create new problems of spread of diseases, corruption and crime of various types. The United Nations Organisation observed the World Habitat Day on October 6, 2004 and asked the governments on the global level to improve the conditions of slum dwellers. Since then, the World Habitat Day is celebrated the world over on October, 6.

Key Words: slums, agriculture, apartment, UNO

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An example of Joint Forest Management from Nagaland, India

Situated in the North –East region of the Indian Union, Nagaland is a unique state in terms of its topography, soils, forests, wildlife and other resources of environment. The management of the natural resources of the state is mostly vested with the public as these have been considered to be the common property. 

Accordingly, the people had framed their own social norms, rules and regulations for the utilization of natural resources. As per the ‘Nagaland: State of Environment’- report-2001, approximately 8, 62,930 ha of area is occupied by forests in this state. Of this, about 11.7 percent of the forests are accounted for the Government. 

It has been reported that both the reserved and the community owned forests have been exploited unscientifically and haphazardly since a long time and even the sanctuaries and parks have never been free from encroachment. But now the farmers, who were ones blamed for disturbing the ecology of their areas through Jhoom cultivation, have started a revolution by planting trees in their fields along with their crops.

People’s participation and involvement in the development and protection of natural forests have been envisaged in the National Forest Policy of India. In the Policy Document it is stated that the Forest Communities should be motivated to identify themselves with the development and protection of forests from which they derive fuel wood, fodder, and small timber such as house building materials etc.    On March 5th 1997, a Joint Forest Management Programme was launched by the Government of Nagaland and the people vide Notification No. FR-153/80(Vol.-III).

Following are the aims of Joint Forest Management in Nagaland

The objectives of the Joint Forest Management in Nagaland are mentioned below.
1. Creation, management and protection of plantations along mountain slopes and in areas where trees are in lesser density or in Jhoom Fields.
2. Acheiving the Ecological needs coherent to sustainable productivity of wood and other non- timber forest resources.
3. Weaning away the land owning communities from Shifting Cultivation or the Jhoom cultivation by adopting an alternative.
4. Productive utilization of the degraded Jhoom- land thereby checking soil erosion.
5. Conservation of biodiversity through People’s Actions.
6. Creation and generation of Forest Based Economy for villages.

Community JFM Committees

As per the Resolution on Joint Forest Management (JFM) in Nagaland, Joint Forest Management Committees have been formed in all the districts of the state. The Record of some of the   Community- Forest Management Committees are Kohima-08,Mokokchung -33, Tuensang-30, Wokha-34, Doyang- 09, Zunheboto- 37, Mon- 19, Peren -12

In different divisions also, more committees have been formed for the protection and regeneration of forests. Trainings are being given to officials and community members on various aspects of JFM by the Departments of Forests/ Agriculture/ Horticulture/ Village Development Boards etc.

Some of the important aspects of Joint Forest Management on which trainings are being imparted to officials and community members are -

1. Theoretical background of JFM;
2. The method for micro-planning through Participatory Rural Appraisal;
3. Various issues such as gender equality, equity in distribution of resources;
4. Resolution of conflicts arising out during community based management of forests and   distribution of   forest resources.

Key Words : joint forest management, committees, community, Nagaland

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wildlife Parks and Sanctuaries of the North- east India

There are a total of twelve megadiversity regions in the world and India is one of them. Hundreds of biodiversity zones (about more than 1000) are located here and there in the world. Out of this number about 200 zones are considered to be very rich, very rare or most distinctive. These zones are called as Biodiversity Hot Spots or Global 200. 
The Biodiversity Hotspots in India are mostly located in the North Eastern India and in the Western Ghats. These areas are considered as the world’s richest biodiversity areas. This is the reason why the government of India is opening an Institute of Biodiversity in Arunachal Pradesh. Phytogeographically the North –east including he seven sister states, form a distinct biodiversity zone.
It is estimated that out of 9000 plant species 3500 are endemic to this zone. At least 55 flowering plants that are endemic to this zone are recognized as rare for example the Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes khasiana). About 554 species of Orchids , 5 species of canes , 22 species of bamboo, 50 species of different medicinal plants and  47 species of Conifers. The fauna of Nagaland include 106 species of mammals including 9species of  insectivorous, 34 species of  bats, 12 species of rodents, 7 species of  primates, o1 species of Pangolin, 34 species of carnivores, 01 sp. of elephants, 7 species of angulates etc. This state is the host of more than 400 species of birds. About seven new species of birds have been identified in the wild since 2001.
Nagaland has a Zoological Park in Kohima where some of the rarest species of different animals including birds are being cared and developed. Next comes the Intaki National park which was notified in the year 1975. It is spread in the area of 202sq. km which is 1.22% of the area of the state. Some of the important animals found here are Hoolock Baboon which is the only gibbon found in India; elephant; tiger; mithun, sambhar, wild dog and sloth bear. 
The important Wildlife Sanctuaries of Nagaland include Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary, Pulie badge Wildlife Sanctuary; Rangapahar Wildlife Sanctuary; and Ghosu Bird Sanctuary. The Ghosu bird sanctuary is unique of its type due to the fact that it is fully maintained by local communities.It is located at a distance of 8 km from Zunheboto district. It is a habitat of more than 20 species of endangered birds.Hunting and poaching is completely stopped here by villagers.Satoic Range is a natural habitat of Blythii Tragopan, a rare but the State Bird of Nagaland is at the verge of extinction.
Image : Pitcher plant

Key Words : North-east, parks, sanctuaries, satoic range,extinct,

An innovation in agriculture by Angami Tribals of Nagaland

So far, we are well acquainted that the leguminous plants are able to fix nitrogen of the atmosphere as they host Nitrogen Fixing bacteria called as Rhizobium in their root nodules. Have you ever heard of a non- leguminous tree that possesses nitrogen fixing bacteria in it its root nodules? The first strange thing that comes to our way is that even a non- leguminous plant can have nodules on its roots; and the second strange thing is the act of Nitrogen Fixation by such a plant or tree.

Image : The Alder Tree

Well, it is true. There is a tree called as Alder i.e. Alnus nepalensis, which extensively grows in Himalayas and that it is a non- leguminous tree, and that it contains root nodules that host nitrogen fixing bacteria. The Angami, Chakhasang, Chang, Yimchounger, and Konyak tribes of Nagaland identified the property of alder tree many- many years ago and started planting it in their Jhoom- Cultivation plots.

Since it had been very difficult for slope dwelling tribal farmers of Nagaland to leave their traditional system of cultivation, they remained trying to stabilize it at lower cycles and to make it environment friendly. The tribal people living in Knononome or the Khonoma village finally succeeded in finding out a viable solution. They learnt the nitrogen fixing property of the alder tree. They started growing crops of maize, millets, potatoes, chilies, pumpkins and barley etc. by enhancing soil fertility by planting alder trees in their Jhoom plots. Alder grows well in the altitude ranging from 800 to 3000m.Besides improving soil fertility for growing crops, alder tree also supplies timber, furniture and fuel wood.

The alder tree is chopped or pollarded within a period of 6 to 8 years after which the trunk sprouts into new and delicate shoots that are called as coppices. After proper pollarding, one alder tree is capable of giving birth to 100 to 200 coppices but only five to six coppices are left for regeneration. Rest of the coppices are cut and mixed into the soil along with their leaves that forms very good manure for the soil and future crop. The cultivation of crops is done after chopping the alder tree till the new branches come out and develop good coppices within a period of two to three years. After that, a new plot with alder trees is selected for cultivation. Thus the trend set by the people of tribal villages, especially the Angamis who are masters of cutting excellent terraces, shows that traditional systems are extremely important even in the current age of science and technology. The Ecological rationality of traditional practices still remains valid in the present context. Here one point needs special reference -

One of the prime goals of the alder plantation project in Nagaland, is to bring women into the process of Agricultural decision making while augmenting their traditional roles as farm labourers.Now, Angami women in Khonoma are preparing their own nurseries of alder saplings. Afterwards, the Nagaland Environmental Protection and Economic Development (NEPED) project was started for the development of this type of farming using alder trees by the assistance of the Canadian International Development Agency through the Indian Canada Environment Facility.

Key Words : Angami Tribals,Nagaland, alder, NEPED

Land degradation in Nagaland, India

Major parts of the land of Nagaland are made of shale dominant rocks. These rocks always remain prone to soil erosion. High intensity monsoon showers form the rainfall pattern in this area. But, this type of rainfall pattern encourages soil erosion and land slides. The unstable geography of the land causes morphological changes in land and affects the socio-economic conditions of the naga people.

The factors responsible for land degradation in Nagaland have been categorizes as natural and human factors. The natural factors include: the Nature of soil and the Pattern of rainfall. The Human Causes of land degradation include following factors –

1.Rapid Growth of Human Population
2.Improper Utilization of land and Land Resources
3.Absence of Land Use Policy
4.Growing Urbanization and Deforestation

Some important causes of Deforestation in Nagaland are –
1.Unsustainable use of firewood
2.Shifting Cultivation
3.Non-adoption of Soil Conservation Measures in proper ways in certain areas of  Nagaland
4.Encroachment into Forest Land for agriculture and settlements
5.Frequent Forest Fires in different localities, and
6.Overgrazing along hill slopes by cattle.
Key Words: Nagaland, shale, monsoon, urbanization, forest fires

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Walnuts lower cholesterol- level in blood

Scientists have discovered that walnuts contain good percentage of anti-oxidants. Eating 7 to 10 walnuts per day can help ward off diseases, slowing ageing process and lower cholesterol levels in blood.
The researchers from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania have found that walnuts contain very high levels of Polyphenol which is an anti-oxidant. It can protect the body from tissue- damaging molecules. After conducting tests on nine commonly eaten types of nuts they found that walnuts contained the most Polyphenol than others. According to the scientists, walnuts rank above Brazil nuts. Here are some more facts about walnuts being presented by earlier researches.
Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fat, alpha- linolenic acid. It improves artery function after a meal containing high fat level. A study by Spanish researchers Cortes B, Nunez I and J Am Coll Cardiol, walnuts may be more important than olive oil in Mediterranean- type food as it can promote the health of hearth.
Walnuts are important for our brain too. It is because of omega-3 fats found in them. Structurally, our brain is more than 60 per cent fat and omega-3 fats are essential for the working of brain cells.
According to a study- “Epidemiological studies in various countries including the U.S. suggest a connection between increased rates of depression and decreased omega-3 consumption, and in children, the relationship between low dietary intake of omega-3 fats and ADHD has begun to be studied. A recent Purdue University study showed that kids low in omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems. In the Purdue study, a greater number of behavioral problems temper tantrums, and sleep problems were reported in subjects with lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. More learning and health problems were also found in the children in the study who had lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations.”

1. Walnut  : green fruits

Over 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the wide range of problems associated with omega-3 deficiencies. The American diet is almost devoid of omega-3s, except for nuts, such as walnuts, seeds and cold-water fish. In fact, researchers believe that about 60% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and about 20% have so little that test methods cannot even detect any in their blood. 

2. walnuts: dried fruits
It has also been found by researchers that omega-3 fats prevent gall bladder diseases and gall- bladder stones. Thus intake of walnuts in desired quantity may help protect gall bladder from stones and diseases.
Walnuts have also been reported to contain bio-available melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in our body by the Pineal gland which induces or regulates sleep. Thus eating walnuts on regular basis can help prevent sleep-disorders also.
According to a research - “Melatonin can help improve sleep for night shift workers and people suffering from jet lag, but maintaining healthy levels of this hormone is important for everyone over the age of 40 since the amount of melatonin produced by the human body decreases significantly as we age, and this decrease in antioxidant protection may be related to the development of free radical-related diseases later in life.” 
It has also been reported that - … by helping the body resist oxidative stress (free radical damage), walnuts may help reduce the risk of cancer and delay or reduce the severity of cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Walnuts, best known as a heart-healthy nut, are also a rich source of another highly cardio-protective nutrient: omega-3-fatty acids, so Reiter and his team will next investigate possible synergy between walnuts' omega-3 fats and melatonin. To us at the World's Healthiest Foods, this sounds familiar theme in Nature's symphony in which whole, wholesome foods each provide a wealth of nutrients whose harmony promotes our optimal health.
Key Words: omega-3 fats, Polyphenol, cholesterol, anti-oxidant

Image Credit: 1.graduallygreener.worldpress.com, 2.anut.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

World’s smallest frog found in the forest of Papua New Guinea

Researchers Chris Austin and his colleagues of Louisiana Sate University have discovered a new frog species in the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea which is said to be the smallest vertebrate ever found.
The newly discovered frog measures just 7.7mm in length from nose to butt. It has red and black spots on its body.

The new frog species was discovered while Chris Austin and his colleagues were on a three-month long field trip to the Pacific island. According to the scientist, as per the reports the new frogs inhabit leaf-litter found on the floor of the tropical rain forest.
The miniature frogs newly discovered by the U.S. scientists are named as Paedophryne amanuensis. This title has been taken over from the title of the smallest vertebrate an acidic swamp dwelling fish from Indonesia which was called as Paedocypris progenetica.
A report in Live Science revealed that the ecology of these miniature frogs is yet to be studied by the scientists. However, it has been reported that they probably eat small invertebrates (animals without back bone) living in the leaf litter.

Frogs remain camouflaged among leaves of the forest floor. They have evolved calls that resemble those of insects. So it is hard to spot frogs in the forest litter. It is reported that the frogs of New Guinea are incredibly loud at night. Chris Louisiana has been reported to say that his team tried to record the sound of those tiny frogs for which they triangulated to where those calls were coming from and for this they looked through the leaf litter also.

The scientists grabbed a handful of leaf litter and kept it in a plastic bag. And it was from the plastic bag that tiny frogs came out. BBC reports that that the Paedophryne genus was identified recently and it consists of a number of tiny species found in different segments of eastern region of the forest of Papua New Guinea.

Earlier, the title of “the world’s smallest frog” was bestowed on the Brazilian golden frog(Brachycephalus didactylus). Until now, the smallest vertebrate has been a fish. The male angler fish of Photocorymus spiniceps is just over 6mm long. Species like this smallest vertebrate can also be found in Madagascar.
Key Words: smallest frog, Papua New Guinea, Louisiana,
Image Credit : womansindia.com

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why do we need to conserve water?

According to the National Water Policy – 1987, water is a scarce and precious resource to be developed and conserved on an integrated and environmentally sound basis. The Planning Commission of India has estimated that the annual water flow in our rivers is 1869 cubic kilometres of water out of which we can use 550cubic kilometres of water which accounts for 30 percent only. The remaining 70 percent either goes to the sea wasted or causes floods enroute. We are facing irrigation problems from thousands of years due to water logging, salting or silting. 

There is an urgent need of water conservation because of the facts mentioned below-

-Water is the most essential substance for life processes. It is essential for drinking, bathing, cooking, irrigation, industry, and for the survival of plants and animals.

-The global supply of water is uneven. Due to this, many parts of the world frequently suffer from water crisis, drought, and crop-failure.

-Most of our fresh water sources like ground water, reservoirs, rivers etc. are under increasing environmental stress. This stress on water is caused due to overuse, water pollution and degradation of ecosystems.

-According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), some 80 countries of the world suffered from serious water- crisis up to mid-1990s.The World Water Council in its report of the year2000,   stated that the demand for water use is expected to increase by 40 per cent by the year 2020. The agriculture will require 17 per cent more water for producing food for our growing population by that time.

-About1.1 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. The surface and ground water has been contaminated by toxic chemicals, wastes, and pathogens. Poor water supply and problems of water sanitation are causing the spread of many water borne diseases in many parts of Asia and Africa. Some of these diseases are- cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, eye infections, scabies, trachoma, ascariasis etc. According to a report of the UNEP, about 3 million people in Africa die due to water borne diseases.

-Dumping of toxic wastes has polluted ground water through seepage. Landfill sites too, contribute a lot in the pollution of the underground water. Secondly, the overuse and misuse of ground water is causing the depletion of water table in many parts of the country.
Key Words: Environmental Policy,UNEP, floods

What are Green House Gases?

Gases that help in causing green house effect are called as green house gases (GHGs). These gases either occur naturally or are produced on earth due to human activities of burning fossil fuel and bio-mass.

One of the most abundant naturally occurring green house gases is the water vapour. Other green house gases are carbon dioxide, methane, Nitrous oxide, Trifluoromethyl sulphur pentafluoride and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. It is since 1700s, that a substantial increase in the concentration of green house gases has occurred in the atmosphere.

Water Vapour: It accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of the natural green house effect. Its level in the atmosphere rises with the increasing global warming adding up further to the green house effect.

Carbon dioxide: It is released into atmosphere through decay or burning of organic substances and through volcanic eruptions. It circulates in the atmosphere through carbon cycle. A good part of carbon dioxide is utilised through photosynthesis and major part of it is absorbed by oceans, rivers and lakes. But, in the modern age of industrialization and increasing automobile exhausts the concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing faster than the earth’s natural capacity of assimilation. It has been assessed that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by more than 30 percent since 1750.Currently, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is about 370 parts per million (ppm). It accounts for more than 60 percent of the additional green house effect.

Methane: This gas is produced through various sources like decomposing organic substances, coal mining, production and transport of other fossil fuels etc. Its concentration in the atmosphere has become more than double since 1750. Scientists are of the opinion that it is an extremely effective heat trapping gas. One molecule of methane is 20 times more efficient in terms of trapping infrared radiation than a molecule of carbon dioxide.

Nitrous Oxide: This gas is released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels, automobile exhaust, decomposition of nitrogenous fertilizers in the soil etc. Its level in the atmosphere has risen by 17 percent since 1750.This gas has a capacity of trapping heat 300 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. It can stay in the atmosphere for about 100 years.

Fluorinated Compounds: Compounds comprising CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) are man- made compounds called as fluorinated compounds. These compounds are used in a variety of manufacturing processes. Each molecule of these synthetic compounds is many thousand times more effective in trapping infrared radiations than a single molecule of carbon dioxide.CFCs were first synthesized in 1928. Since then these were widely used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams, packing materials, as solvents and as refrigerants. By 1992 an amendment in the Montreal Protocol was made to ban these compounds worldwide. However, the HFCs compounds do not contain chlorine and stay in the atmosphere only for a short time. Hence, these are regarded as safe for various applications.

Trifluoromethyl sulphur pentafluoride: This compound was not reported before 2000. Each molecule of this industrially produced compound can trap heat more effectively than all the other gases known to cause green house effect.
Key Words : fossil fuel , bio-mass, concentration, Montreal Protocol

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Japanese Quail breeding centre to be set up in Bikaner (Rajasthan),India

The Central Avian Research Centre Bareilly (U.P.) has designated a network programme on diversified poultry species. Under this programme, a new breeding centre has been planned to be set up in Rajasthan University of Veterinary Science, Bikaner (India).

The promotion of Japanese quail (Coturnix quail ) production, as per the research centre is to be started in Bikaner in view of generating income of the rural people together with supplementing the animal protein. It is considered that quail is an important bird for research and education. It is important to note that promotion of poultry, fisheries etc. has been in the agenda of the government in view of supplementing food production through agriculture. Poultry eaters may supplement their food with the animal protein and the pressure for meet on poultry may thus be bifurcated.
Image 1  Japanese quail

It is reported that the quail farming is picking up in a big way at the International level now a day. Still, the awareness about quail farming is very low in India, though Japanese quail would prove an alternative to poultry in the country.

It is again important to note that hunting and killing of wild Indian quail (Coturnix coturnix) has been banned in India in view of their limiting numbers. As such, introduction of Japanese quail has been considered to be a better option on a conservation point of view also.

Image 2  Indian quail

The centre has reported that poultry eggs and meet available in the markets are not adequate in amount and number to meet the increasing demand of food. Rajasthan imports eggs from Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Thus quail farming in the state is thought to compensate the demand of poultry.

Image 3   Eggs of quail

The Avian Research Institute proposes the purchase of 5000 quails in the first phase of the programme. The institute is planning to offer training programmes to farmers in quail farming. The manure from quails has been reported to have highest fertilizer efficiency.

Japanese quail is more resistant to different poultry diseases. In view of this fact, many quail farms have already been established in the country.

Key Words: Japanese quail, Avian Research Centre, Bareilly, eggs, meet, fertilizers, poultry
Image Credit : Image 1- orientalbirdimages.org, Image 2 - indianbirdsphotography.blogspot.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reduction of pollution: Principles and guidelines

Following principles and guidelines have been accepted for the control of different types of pollutions-

 1. Prevention of entry into the environment: According to this principle pollutants are checked at the point of their origin and are not allowed to enter into the environment by the application of specific devices.

2. Isolation: By isolation, we mean putting out or segregating pollutants at the point of their release or production. Such isolated pollutants should then be dumped at specific locations as per scientific guidelines adopted by pollution control agencies. Some of these pollutants can be recycled and reused for example reuse of fly-ash for making bricks.

3. Conversion from highly toxic to lesser harmful product: We can not stop industrial processes simply because they cause pollutions. However we can reduce the toxicity or harmfulness of pollutants by applying bio- chemical technologies. A number of catalysts are introduced to reduce the toxicity of chemical pollutants produced during industrial processes.

4. Alternatives: These are safer substances used on the place of substances that cause hazards. For example bio- pesticides like oil of Neem and extract of garlic, are better alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides.
5. Destruction: The chemical pollutants that are proved to be toxic, and are difficult to be substituted by safer ones- need to be blocked from further release and then destroyed in a safe and prescribed scientific manner. Advanced and Environment Friendly Incineration Technology is a good option for reduction of pollution through destruction. 

6. Awareness: Matters pertaining to good citizenship, environmental consciousness and preventive methods must be explained to the common man, so that he may try to perform his duties with a high degree of civic sense. These awareness programmes can be conducted through different media like radios, TVs. seminars, demonstrations, documentary films, pamphlets, display of hoardings, banners and plays like street theatres or nukkar nataks etc.

7. Public Participation:The word ‘public participation’ means ‘sharing in common’ or ‘doing together’. In environmental context, it means, the involvement of the local public in solving their local environmental problems. It does not mean, people working under the planning and decisions of government agencies- it is rather bottom up approach. With joint efforts, people identify their problems, make plans to resolve them and then to implement them.

8. Environmental Education:  Environmental Education has been made a compulsory subject for studies at schools, colleges and other institutions. This is the most effective tool for the control of pollution and conservation of environment on grass- root level.

9. Self Restraint – A Habit: The greed of luxury and comfort initiates the production of newer and newer products. More and more products carry more and more wastes in different forms like wrapping materials, plastic carry bags, chemical preservatives (in cases of food materials) etc. When these products are used up, their wrappings and other associated and useless materials coming to the homes of consumers are thrown out carelessly. These thrown out materials create the problem of pollution. Overuse of materials that are not important for our health and development impose burden on the family budget. These are the reasons why our thinkers and philosophers preached on self restraint. Thus it is important now that conservation should be made a habit.

10. Support to Professional Conservation Groups: The state and central governments should provide subsidies for conservation of environment and pollution control works being carried out by professional groups.

11. Legislative and Tax Measures: The existing laws for pollution control should be enforced properly so as to abate pollution. Industries doing eco-friendly works like recycling of wastes, regeneration of forest and production of pollution free technologies should receive tax –concession from the government.

Any big problem cannot be solved without planning and strong efforts. The pollution of environment is certainly a big problem. So planning for its control is very necessary.

Key Words : principles, guidelines, pollution control, self restraint, planning

Reducing pollution and improving environment

It is the unthinkable huge magnitude of all the ill effects of pollution and its ever increasing nature, which has forced the whole of humanity to do a great deal of serous thinking about its attitude towards the relationships with the natural environment.

Now, every individual needs to re-orient its life style, re-shape its earlier thinking and realize that the crisis emerged out of pollutions in different spheres of the natural environment may threaten the whole life on this planet.

With more and more people, there are - more and more sewage, more solid waste, more fuel being burnt, more use of fertilizers and pesticides to produce more food etc. Currently, on an average, a city of one million people requires 1800 mt of food, 2700 mt of coal, 2500 mt of oil, 2400 mt of natural gas and 900 mt of motor fuel every day for its people. In turn, the inhabitants of the city produce 1800 mt of garbage, 4, 50,000 mt of sewage, 50 billion Litres of waste water, 400 mt of Carbon monoxide, 135 mt each of Sulphur dioxide and particulate matter and 90 mt each of Nitrogen dioxide and Hydrocarbons per day. The number of cities with population of one million and above runs into thousands and thousands. Even in India, the number of such cities has gone above the number of 120.How much the pollution will all these cities be creating in near future and what may be the consequences of so much of pollution on local, regional, national and global levels?

Under the environmental conditions detailed above, the human society at present is being faced with two important challenges: -
1.   Protection of the quality of the existing environment from further deterioration and,
2.   Gradual restoration of the quality of its living resources.

Both of these will involve managing situations causing undesirable risks, abatement of all the risks and improvements in the existing quality of environment by- characterising the risks scientifically, and implementing the appropriate options that are hopefully acceptable solutions to all the parties concerned. Thus formulation of sound strategies is needed for a sound management of the natural environment which incorporates the reduction of pollution and the improvement of the natural environment. This is what we are going to study in this chapter.

Key Words:  Pollution, fertilizers, pesticides, hydrocarbons, restoration

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Effects of Global Warming on Agriculture

Our demands for more and more food are rising on day by day due to increasing human population. The supply of food mainly comes from agriculture. But the increasing temperature followed by changes in climatic conditions due to global warming is sure to damage it.

 Image 1 cropped area

Global warming may cause drought and outbreak of insects. Both of these conditions are damaging to agriculture. Higher temperature accelerates the maturation of earlier disease causing agents and their vectors. All these conditions cause damage to and failure of crops.

 Climatic factors like temperature, wind, relative humidity, rain fall etc. have direct effects on agriculture. Since global warming is changing the global climates, adverse changes in agriculture and its production is bound to occur. On the other hand changing frequencies of natural disasters such as floods,tornado, cyclones, hurricanes, landslides, mud-flows etc. tend to vanish out our crops besides causing great losses to life and property. Hail storms, wind storms and also, fog and mist cause serious damages to our crops each year. In many parts of India, farmers go on demonstration and road jams demanding compensations from the government whenever their crops are damaged due to any of these reasons.

 Image 2  Tornado

Image 3

In a democratic country the government is formed by the people themselves. On the other hand, climate change is a global tragedy the responsibilities of which go in everyone’s share. However, since the climate is changing, agriculture is sure to be damaged and such incidents are bound to follow because every one wants to live.In some states people go on strike or road jams when their crops are damaged due to natural calamities and demand relief from governments.

Key Word : global warming,climate change, human population,fog, tornado
Image Credit : Image 3 dailymail.co.uk

Environmental Impact Assessment and its roles

The assessment of all possible effects on environment of an area due to the establishment of a plant, an industry, a developmental project or due to modernization of an old factory is called as Environmental Impact Assessment or EAS.

In today’s modern societies, the progress of a country is judged by the status of development or the economic progress. For this, different new plants and factories have to be set up and the old ones have to be modernized and expanded to increase production. All this is almost a must for every country, underdeveloped or developed.

The problem arises only when these developmental activities damage the natural equilibrium of our environment. So, some sort of statutory regulations have to be prescribed and strictly enforced to ensure nil or minimum damage to the environment of that particular area.

There are following steps of Environment Impact Assessment -
-    Monitoring and sampling of pollutants,
-    Quantitative and qualitative analysis of pollutants
-    Complete study to assess every possible damage due to exposure to pollutants emitted or discharged from the plant, factory or industry

The scientific process of taking care of quality of air, water, soil etc through testing, measuring, observing and evaluating various pollution levels is called as monitoring. Sampling is the process of collection of samples of air, water and soil for various types of tests of pollution around some fixed parameters. After testing the pollution quantitative and qualitative analysis of data obtained through various tests are done and compared with the standards or acceptable levels fixed earlier. On this basis as assessment regarding the risk or damage to environment caused by a plant, factory or industrial unit is made.

Principal aims of Environmental Monitoring are -
-    to establish a baseline of exposure, to provide an estimate of the levels of pollutants in specific environmental compartments to which the general population is exposed
-    To know whether the level of particular pollutant in the specific environment, correlate to a suspected source of contamination, if so, to identify the contribution of the source
-    To estimate the changes in the levels of various pollutants in the specific environments

Role of environmental Impact Assessment
The EIA is carried out as per the guidelines fixed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest itself. It covers -
-    Any possible chance of land degradation, due to the project or the industry
-    Extent of forest clearance and measures of regeneration
-    Types of pollution, due to project or industry and measures for its abatement
-    Extent of problem of displacement of local inhabitants of that area and measures for their rehabilitation
-    Probable or acute loss of biodiversity, in the affected areas
-    Probability of health hazard that may occur due to emission and/ or discharge of toxic pollutants
-    The analysis of risk that may be caused due to the above
-    Provisions for the management of hazardous situations
-    Method of waste management already in use or to be taken up after installation is completed

The emission and discharge of pollutants from industrial units can create heavy pollution of air, water and soil. The study of Environmental Impacts of these pollutants is carried out on a regular basis for a better appreciation and management of the environment.

A comprehensive plan made for the overall assessment of impact of emission and discharge of pollutants into environment and its control measures is called as Environmental Management Plan or EMP.

Key Words : EAS, sampling, testing, monitoring, pollutants, EMP

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What is Value Education?

Our beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life are called as value.

As regards value education, education in values and education towards the inculcation of values is called as value education. The value education is a universal process which is intrinsic to all the learning and educational activities, whether at home or in a school.

The Times of India, Hyderabad Edition in its issue of Nov. 18, 2001 had written - … values are those principles or standards, which help to better the quality of life. Values codify the dos and don'ts of behaviour. They form the basics of character formation and personality development. the values that spring from within or the core of the heart, like love, compassion, sympathy, empathy, tolerance, etc. lay the foundation for the external practiced values like honesty, discipline, punctuality and loyalty. the most important to remember is that "values are priceless, while valuables are priced." in today's fast paced competitive world, man seems to have compromised on his values, integrity and character, in a bid to earn, use and possess more and more of material wealth. as a result, we see rampant corruption, unlawful activities, inhuman behaviour and immoral consumption, which is slowly breaking the very structure of our society, nation and the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need to re-introduce value based spiritual education dealing specifically with human values", to redesign the fabric of our educational system.

There are different categories of values such as - Universal Values, Cultural Values or Ethnic Values, and Individual or Personal Values.

Universal values are values that can be experienced as life, joy, brotherhood, love, compassion, service, truth, bliss etc. Cultural values are values that are concerned with right and wrong, good and bad, customs and behaviour etc.These values generally mean to maintain social order. These are usually reflected in language, social hierarchy, aesthetics, education, ethics, philosophy, law, economics and social institutions like family etc. Our private principles which are concerned with our personality and individual experiences are called as individual or personal values. These values are shaped by our parents and teachers, and … yes books.

These are the universal values that remain for ever. Teaching of Islam, Christianity and other religions contain universal values as they remain for ever. These values are true in all the ages. Values shape our lives, lead us towards peace, development and success. Values shape our personality and behaviour as well. These lead us on right path and towards right goals. A valueless life cares for nothing.

Human activities of overuse and misuse of natural resources, throwing away of waste on roads, producing high pitched sound through sound systems, blowing loud horns on busy roads, creating all types of pollutions, causing damage to forest and wildlife, terrorizing others for the sake of spoilt interest are examples of activities caused by such persons who live valueless lives. Hence, value education is most important in the present age. This is the reason why more emphasis is being laid down on value education across the world.

According to the National Council of Educational Research and Training - Value education is a process of education. This means that it is a process of inducing learning. Learning is not a passive process of absorption. It involves thinking, reflecting, questioning, feeling, doing, caring, experiencing. Value education, accordingly, is not a process of authoritarian indoctrination of dogmas, exhortation or propaganda. Nor is it the direct inculcation of a body of pre-determined 'right' values in the learners through didactic approaches. The goal is not to promote passive conformity and blind obedience to whatever values are passed on, but to encourage critical and reflective thinking, rational choice and responsible behaviour, respecting the autonomy of the learner. When we are 'value educating', we are putting the learners in situations that enable them to think, to reason, to question, to reflect, to care, to feel concern, to act. The purpose is to trigger discussions and reflections, and to generate creative responses to value situations. Value education is also education in the sense that it is education for 'becoming '. It is concerned with the development of the total personality of the individual— intellectual, social, emotional, aesthetic, moral and spiritual. It involves developing sensitivity to the good, the right and the beautiful, ability to choose the right values in accordance with the highest ideals of life and internalizing and realizing them in thought and action. As such the process calls into play all human faculties—knowing, feeling and doing. Not only should the learner be enabled to know the right and the good, but also to care, to feel the appropriate emotions, concern and commitment and exercise the will to do the right thing. In other words, to 'value educate’ is to develop rational critical thinking, to educate the emotions, to cultivate the imagination, to strengthen will and to train character of the learner.

Key Words: value, religion, cultural, ethnic, wildlife
Justify Full

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Efficiency in production, utilization and transportation of energy

Efficiency in Production Increasing efficiency in energy production relates to the production of energy with minimum wastage of the resource used for the production of energy. Energy is usually produced by Thermal Power and Hydel Power plants, upto greater extent. These plants consume large amounts of coal for generating heat so as to boil water, produce steam and run turbines to produce electricity. Here the defects may be found with the boilers and blades of turbines. For this, the design of boilers should be such that minimum heat is absorbed by them for the production of maximum steam. The designs of the blades of steam turbines should be modernized so as to produce the maximum out put. In metallurgical plants, the furnaces should be modernized so as to consume less coal by allowing complete combustion, and to produce more heat while consuming less coal. In a nut shell, such improvements are to be made that allow maximum out put of energy by using minimum amounts of resources.

The potential of power generation from co-generation in India is more than 29000 MW. Mainly the bagasse based co-generation is principally promoted in this country. Since India is the largest producer of sugar in the world. Today, such technologies have been developed that help in the production of two useful forms of energy from the same source. It is called as co-generation.

Most of the energy input is lost as waste heat from production and distribution systems. The waste heat from coal fired boilers or other boilers of industries can be used in running turbines and generating electricity. In modern times, agriculture waste like bagasse is utilized in the co-generation of electricity. The application of modern technologies reduces pollution and lowers the cost of production. Such technologies reduce pollution and lower the cost of production. Such technologies are adopted by industrialists so as to increase profit.

Efficiency in Utilization
The efficiency in transmission and distribution of energy is most important for the conservation of energy, especially the electricity. The conditions of transformers and transmission lines remain very poor in some countries of the world. The leakage of electricity, burning of supply wires and transformers due to carelessness and mismanagement are common incidents observed mostly in developing countries. Illegal use of energy and non-payments of bills are great hurdles in the ways of conservation and even proper utilization of energy. These are to be eradicated by the government and the law enforcement agencies. In many of the Indian cities equipments like transformers, supply wires, fittings and even the electric poles remain in very dangerous and vulnerable conditions. Most of these remain out dated or expired. This is the reason why we experience frequent interruption in electric supplies during rainy days and windy weathers.

In India, the Electricity Act came into force on the 10 June 2003. With the enactment of this act, all the other pre-existing Acts such as the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, the Electricity (supply) Act, 1948, and the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998 stand repealed. The Central Government of India notified Electricity Rules, 2005 on 8 June 2005. These rules contain provisions that relate to captive generating Plants, Consumer redressal Forums and Ombudsman, Tariff of Generating Companies, etc. ‘Nine removal of Difficulties Orders regarding inclusion of measures to control theft in Electricity Supply Code, etc. have been issued by the government under Section 183 of the Electricity Act,2003.(Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India- 2007).

In most of the houses, it is seen that less care is offered towards judicious use of energy. In many of the kitchens stoves are left burning the gas even when nothing is placed on them for cooking. Many people leave their TV sets, fans and lights on even when nobody remains there in the rooms. These wastages cumulatively account for amounts of energy wasted regularly. Hence, under the present conditions of shortages of energy resources, it is most essential to correct habits and ensure judicious distribution, transmission and utilization of energy both at the micro- and mega- levels.

Efficiency in transportation
The Transportation Sector of energy consumption incorporates all the vehicles used for personal or freight transportation. Approximately 70 per cent of the energy used in this sector is consumed by petrol powered vehicles. About 20 per cent of transport including trains, merchant ships, trucks etc. is powered by diesel. The remaining 10 percent of the fuel is consumed by air traffic. The compressed natural gas is also used as transportation fuel. Coal is also used in transport directly in steam vehicles and boats.

Alternative to fossil fuel – run vehicles are electric vehicles and electric boats that use batteries or non-hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cell operated mini-cars are also running on roads today. 

Most of the old model engines and machines use only a small fraction of energy available in fuel. For example, a car engine uses only 20 per cent of the energy contained in petrol. As per records, even the most efficient power plants use 40 per cent of their fuel into electricity.

Now, scientists and engineers across the world are developing more efficient methods of using energy in transportation. They are designing more efficient transport systems to reduce the loss of energy.

In transportation sector, the efficiency can also be enhanced by mass transportation through automobile. The technologists across the world have been improving the efficiencies of the conventional internal combustion engines and further improvements are also expected by reducing the weight of vehicles using new materials.

The Hybrid vehicles allow the engines run more efficiently by re-gaining energy from braking and by possessing arrangements for turning their engines off when idle in traffic. Ceramic and diesel engines improved technologically can improve mileage. Electric vehicles like Maglev and trolleybuses have been proved to be more efficient during use.
The efficiency of transportation fuel has also been increased through the adoption of newer technologies. Some chemical processes can convert carbon and hydrogen in coal, natural gas, plant and animal biomass, and organic wastes into short hydrocarbons suitable as transportation fuels. Some of these fuels are- Fischer-tropsch diesel, methanol, and dimethyl ether or syngas. Today, South Africa is solving most of its fuel problem by producing diesel from coal.

Carbon dioxide of the atmosphere can be utilized for converting it into hydrocarbons by the application of solar energy through the process of photosynthesis. Different types of biofuel are being produced today such as biodiesel, alcohol fuel etc. Growing Jatropha, Pongamia and Jojoba etc. plants, extracting oil from their seeds and using the oil as biofuel either on the place of diesel or mixing it with diesel, is being encouraged by the Government of India. Other countries too, are encouraging cultivation of biodiesel plants. An important example in this direction is the cultivation of Jatropha, being done in Zambia, for a biodiesel firm based in U.K.     

The utilization of energy has almost doubled every 20 years since 1900. Causes of this growth in the utilization of energy comprise following factors-
(i)          growth of population
(ii)         growth of labour force
(iii)        increase in the wealth
(iv)       Energy using inventions
(v)     Products consuming large amounts of energy in their manufacturing processes,
(vi)       Non-fuel uses of fossil fuels.

The human population has been rising at a very fast rate. However, the rate of consumption of energy remained much faster. The life style and the standard of living improved and now people became capable of keeping conveniences demanding more and more energy for their operation. The aluminium, plastics, other metals and alloys that demand more energy in their processing came into wide spread use. Together with the increasing rate of development and industrialization, the labour force also increased and the increasing production encouraged the wealth to accumulate with majority of people. In the mean time scientists remained inventing energy consuming devices that reached to human homes for greater comfort and development. A number of products started to be made in industries that demand greater amounts of energy. On the other hand the non-fuel uses of fossil fuel also increased considerably. Now, it was very important that the efficiency of utilization of already available energy could be raised through appropriate practices.

Ways of increasing efficiency of energy utilization
Some of the important ways of increasing the efficiency of utilization of energy are being mentioned below.
1. Application of fluorescent lamps, efficient engines and insulators.
2. Construction of Zero-energy buildings (ZEB).
The Zero Energy Building is a term applied to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year. The level of Zero Energy Consumption is acquired by constructing such buildings and living in these buildings where the energy provided by on site renewable energy sources is equal to the energy utilized in the building. Though the concept and status of zero energy building are not common in developing countries like India, it is gaining popularity in these countries also.
3.  Recovery of energy from waste hot water and warm wind by the use of heat exchangers.
4. Recovery of energy from hydrocarbon waste through hydrocarbon production through Pyrolysis.
5. Making modifications in existing power plants.
6. Applications of co-generation techniques in power plants.
7. The applications of passive solar, light emitting diodes should be made in zero energy buildings to replace the use of common bulbs.
8. Going for public transport instead of moving in private cars.
9. Use of bicycles for short distances.
10. Developing new and renewable energy and avoiding the use of fossil fuels.
11. Adopting the practice of Energy Efficient Landscaping: This incorporates planting trees for shades, planting wind breaks to slow down the speed of wind near buildings (it prevents heat loss), wall sheltering by the use of shrubbery or vines, earth sheltering, and drought resistant plantation in arid areas.
12. The applications of Solar Energy Chimneys and Solar Energy Towers.
Key Words :Efficiency, transportation,utilization, hydrocarbons, Jatropha

Air Pollution from diesel vehicles

Automobiles such as cars and other motorised vehicles consume fossil fuels like diesel and petrol. These fuels produce several types of pollutants on combustion inside engines of these vehicles.

Diesel is the most required fossil fuel in the transport industry today. It is widely used in heavy duty engines of trucks, trains, marine transport, DG Sets etc. The popularity of diesel engines has increased up to greater extent both due to its efficiency and long service life as compared to petrol (gasoline) engines.

Emissions due to burning of diesel contain less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide but more oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter. The exhaust due to burning of diesel is a complex mixture of both the particulate and gaseous components. The size of particulate matter contained in the diesel exhaust ranges from 0.05 to 1.00 micrometer. Particulates of such small size easily enter into the respiratory system and get deposited in the air ways and alveoli. These particulates are able to absorb different hydrocarbons including carcinogenic (cancer causing) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and nitro- PAHs that are of serious concern for human health. The components of diesel exhaust undergo atmospheric transformation and become more potent mutagens and carcinogens.

It is evident from latest researches that the cancer potency of diesel vehicles is more than double the same of gasoline vehicles in India. The carcinogenic effects of diesel particulates is 24 times greater than that of Gasoline and 84 times greater than that of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has restricted the use of commercial diesel driven vehicles in Delhi due to its harmful effects. Starting from 1 April 2001 it has been made mandatory to use only compressed natural GAS in all transport buses in Delhi.
Key Words : diesel, gasoline,PAH,  CNG, Delhi