Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rice , Millets and Water Scarcity

Today participated in World water day celebrations along with college students from JNTU and officials of the A P pollution control Board. The March 22nd is being celebrated as World Water Day ( started in 1992). One of the guest speakers while emphasizing the importance of water and its conservation put forth a new dimension of water conservation by changing food habits. Indian staple diets from times immemorial have been centering around rice ( south) and wheat (north) .If we see the water requirement of these crops it takes around 750 liters of water to produce one Kg of Wheat while for rice the water requirement is more than double ( 1550 Liters). (http://www.reec.nsw.edu.au/k6/page/wa49.htm ).

Ever increasing demand for rice and wheat puts enormous pressure on existing water sources . This aggravates the existing problem of drinking water availability since the status of India is not very comfortable as far as drinking water availability is concerned . It is placed at 76 rank with 84% availability of drinking water.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_dri_wat_ava-health-drinking-water-availability .

The availability of drinking water is getting grim every day. As per one estimate 50% of the world's population will face acute water shortage by 2030. A report from the World bank predicts that all the major Indian cities will run dry in the coming 20 years.

Coming to the food habits and its role in water scarcity or water conservation the millets are the promising crops which require almost no irrigation for their cultivation contrary to very high water requirement of rice and wheat as stated above. India is the largest producers of Millets in the world( 106 lakhs tones per year (2007). Eight millets species (Sorghum, Finger millet, Pearl millet, Foxtail millet, Barnyard millet, Proso millet, Kodo millet and Little millet) are commonly cultivated under rain fed conditions in India. Millets are considered eco friendly crops which can be grown in dry conditions, poor soils, require minimum inputs and no fertilizer , provide nutritional value along with livelihood and food security. In fact Millets are being fielded as one of the promising crops to counter the major challenges of climate change arising due to increased global temperature, water scarcity and malnutrition.


A little change in food habits ( Rice and wheat based) by switching over to millets to the extent possible and promoting its cultivation can contribute a lot .

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Other day when I was interacting with students of a local engineering college on the occasion of a seminar on environmental issues , a student asked me whether all the trees planted during previous Vanmahotsava programmes are established and if so why we have not sufficient area under tree cover ?

The simple question raised by this student confounded me making little uncomfortable for a while. Though I somehow succeeded in convincing him but while returning from college this question started bothering me .

Vanmahotsava or The National Tree Planting Programme or GREAT FOREST FESTIVAL was started in July 1947 after a successful tree-planting drive attended by national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Abdul Kalam Azad in Delhi.

In the early 50's this movement was renamed by late Shri K. M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Food & Agriculture. Real impetus to this programme was given in 1970 which was started by Gujarat state followed by other states.

We have been taking up tree planting programme for the last so many years in a big way .There is no concrete data available as how many trees were planted in a particular year specially in the last few decades and out of that how many really survived. In the recent times there has been an overwhelming increase or spurt of activities centering around tree planting programme during Van Mahotsava . Big announcement of planting million trees to combat global warming and environmental protection are being announced by Corporations/ Municipalities / NGOs .Lot many publicity in all media follows this and on one fine day of van mahotsava the ceremony takes off . Dignitaries and Celebrities with smiling faces (holding the poor seedling) remind us to plant trees for our future which become the headlines next day.

It is true but same time a sad state of affairs for the country that in most of the cases the tree planting programmes proves to be formality and publicity stunt. There will be hardly a few locations where the trees planted during Vanmahotsava survived with good number at least for a year .

This state of affair hardly gets attention of media and general public .In my opinion there is need for a little introspection in this issue. This is more relevant this year as India has been selected host of World Environment Day 2011 and further year 2011 has also been declared as International Year of Forests by UN.

International Year of Forests 2011

I could summarize few points which appear to be main factors for not making tree plantation programme a real success. Lot of success in the ongoing and ensuing planting programmes can be achieved if these small but important points are given due importance.

1. Lack of proper planning leading to adoption of temporary, unscientific, faulty methods like inadequate pit size, poor quality soil for plants, lack of watering facility etc. These all factors result into poor survival of the plant.

2. A quality seedling of desired species is another most important factor. It is however observed that most of the time this issue is not given due importance and whatsoever type of seedling (either crooked or undersized or weak) is available is used for planting which should be avoided. A general thumb rule for this is to use seedling having at least 3 feet height and reasonably thick stem (around 1 ” dia).

3. Other features of quality seedling include sturdy stem free from deformities, symmetrical crown, dense fibrous root system and free from diseases.

4. Real commitment and concern of all for this programme are two factors . All sections of society need to have the genuine realization about the need of tree cover and its importance.

5. Inadequate after care or maintenance specially watering and protection from animals.

Few tips for tree planting were also posted in following link.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Recent decision of Mr Sitaram Jindal to do something for the society to spend more than 4.5 crores rupees every year to encourage people or institutions working for the welfare of the society at different levels is a welcome sign in the field of CSR.


Mr Jindal also suggested companies to earmark at least 25 % of their profit for CSR activities. It is to be seen as how many follow the steps and advice of Mr. Jindal in real CSR works. CSR practices have become more of a cosmetic and publicity stunt for majority of the companies with few exceptions. Even there are people like Mr. Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar who advocates de-linking of CSR with philanthropy.

( http://swaminomics.org/?p=1867 )

It is quite surprising to observe that real initiatives in the field of CSR or Charity in simple term by businessmen are decreasing over a period while the number of Billionaires and Millionaires is increasing at a remarkable rate. The facts and figures say that at present there are 1.26 Lakhs people in India having more than Rs. 4.5 Crores as net worth while the number of Richest or Billionaires ( Equal or more than Rs. 4500 Crores ) is 69.If at least a quarter of above numbers follow the advice and action of Mr. Jindal ,lot of improvement at various fields requiring attention and action can be witnessed.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pollution from VEHICLES..

Its quite long time I could not even write a single post in my Blog. Almost one year…

Having joined new organization Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPPCB) I thought to start posting my views on issues related to Environment.

Environment! Is really this an important subject for us ? The main reason for this (i)relevant question is that every one of us ( including me ) love to talk on this hot topic, wish to list thousand suggestions for its improvement , put series of action plans but very less or almost no action at his own level. I don’t know when Charity will really begins to start from home……

Take a simple example of Air Pollution and issues related to this problem. Statistics show that we in Hyderabad are having around 27 lakhs vehicles (against 11 lakhs in 2001). Every year additional 20000 vehicles are being added. ( App 550 to 600 vehicles per day). The vehicular pollution is responsible for causing 50 % contribution to Respirable Suspended particulate Matter (RSPM ) or PM 10. The ill effects of air pollution do not need any introduction.

So being the state of affairs of our city what as a responsible citizen we can do at individual level. Not much…isn’t it? People having money continue to purchase new vehicles mainly for their need which includes luxury. Vendors keep on adulterating fuel which further aggravates the pollution. Roads get widen if possible otherwise we need to add series of flyovers and flyovers.( Hope the construction works continue without any scams if possible ).

I think all these need based actions will certainly be followed by reactions in the form of pollutions of varied quality and quantity. Howsoever considerable reduction in the pollution can be achieved through following few practical and workable tips if taken with little seriousness and concern for the society.

1. Prudent use of vehicle even if is provided by the company/Govt.

2. Car pooling wherever possible including children for the school.

3. Using Public transport wherever possible.

4. Tuning of engine regularly.

5. Think using cycles or walking for smaller distance.