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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Problems of rural environment

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Rural areas experience a number of environmental problems like pollutions of air, water and land, land degradation and urbanization.Air Pollution in villages is caused due to burning of agricultural wastes and straw, burning of fire wood and dung cakes, and decomposition of crop wastes and animal wastes. Considerable amount of methane produced due to bio-degradation of crop residues and animal wastes contribute heavily in the rural air pollution. Rural ladies suffer from many respiratory and eye diseases as they cook food by burning wood. Rural houses are often built unscientifically. Due to this the extent of indoor air pollution is greater in these areas. The practice of Jhoom- cultivation damages forests and other vegetations on one hand and enhances the CO2 load on the atmosphere on the other hand. The increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere contributes to the Global Warming.

Principal water pollutants in the rural areas are animal wastes and agrochemicals like synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hormones etc. These chemicals reach to the water bodies of the rural areas through surface run off where they cause Eutrophication. Eutrophication is the nutrient enrichment of water bodies. In Eutrophication, varieties of aquatic plants grow in the water that absorbs dissolved oxygen. The scarcity of dissolved oxygen in the water kills aquatic animals and plants. The bacteria that go to decompose those bodies further absorb the oxygen causing its acute scarcity and the process goes on.

Pesticides are poisonous chemicals that are applied in agriculture to kill pests. These chemicals join water bodies through the surface run off, enter into the food-chains and get accumulated inside fruits, grains and vegetables and bodies of aquatic animals. This is called as bio-accumulation. Biologically accumulated poisons in the animal bodies go on increasing and this process is called as Bio-magnification. Pesticides accumulate and get magnified into the fatty tissues of human beings through fish and other aquatic foods.

Land pollution in rural areas is caused due to dumping of animal wastes, agricultural residues and mixing of agrochemicals in the soil.Animal wastes dumped on the ground, leach into the soil and contaminate water sources. Secondly, these wastes invite a number of parasitic worms & disease causing micro organisms to develop and spread in the environment through water and air. These worms and micro organisms cause various types of diseases in rural people. Decomposing residues of agricultural materials produce lots of methane and encourage the production of disease causing micro organisms. Agrochemicals like synthetic fertilizers alter the composition of soil and make it infertile. Pesticides applied in fields kill soil micro organisms and enter into the food chain and reach to human beings. Bio- accumulations of poisonous pesticides in human beings cause diseases of nervous system, kidneys and reproductive systems in human beings.

Pesticides laced seeds are often eaten by birds that visit fields frequently. Thus different types of seed eating birds are vanishing out of rural areas. Such incidents have been reported from Rajasthan, an Indian state where many peacocks died after eating pesticide laced seeds. The population of sparrows is vanishing out of many Indian states due to application of pesticides on large scale.

Since the days of green revolution, Mono agriculture has been encouraged to raise production of crops on commercial level. Mono agriculture is the practice of growing single crop on a large farm repeatedly for many years. This practice demands more care, more fertilizers and more pesticides.

When topmost fertile layer of soil is washed away through rain water or it is carried away by wind, the process is called as soil erosion. Thus wind and rainfall are the principal factors that cause soil erosion.

Soil erosion is the major problem of rural environment. It is caused due to-

(i) Overgrazing by cattle.

(ii) Deforestation and denudation of land.

(iii) Cultivation along river banks.

Over grazing is the activity of repeated grazing by cattle including sheep and goats, in a particular field. This results into the complete loss of grass species leaving the land uncovered. Such a land becomes prone to soil erosion through rain –water and by wind. The human activity of cutting forest trees puts severe stress on land and atmosphere. A land denuded of forests and other vegetation, is always prone to serious soil erosion. Loss of forests makes numerous species of birds and animals homeless and causes adverse alterations in climatic conditions. Cultivation along river banks makes the soil loose. Loose soil can easily be washed away into the river during rains. Most of the Indian rivers have been silted severely due to heavy soil erosions in the catchments areas. This condition is the root cause of floods in different Indian states during rainy seasons.

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