Depletion of environment resources

Prof. (Dr) R D Gupta

Although environment covers every conceivable thing on the planet earth yet environment can be defined “as that bundle of natural resources, which support, develop and enrich the human life.”

Such resources are classified as basic, developmental and cultural, which are related respectively, to the survival, well being and quality of life.

Any depletion in these environmental resources, for example depletion in (a) the life gets threatened, depletion in (b) would retard an economic development and depletion in (c) deprives us of our aesthetics and spiritual joys. For instance, forests would come under ‘basic’ resources if they contribute oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and provide rains, under “developmental” if they yield valuable products economically and “cultural” if they are considered as a source of recreation.

Now a days, however, all the basic natural resources are highly polluted which stand detailed here under :

Air Resources : Our air is full of obnoxious sulpher dioxide and oxides of nitrogen which cause a cid rains. Carbon monoxide (Co) in higher concentration causes a number of diseases in human beings. The CO, when inhaled in large quantity can kill human beings. Infact, CO when enters the blood stream, replaces the oxygen of oxyhaemoglobin, causes thereby, serious disorder in body’s metabolism. The content of carbondioxide (CO2) has increased from 0.027 to 0.035% which is playing a pivotal role in warming up of the atmosphere. Increased amount of CO2has resulted in starting of a number of diseases. in a large number of population.

The main factor lying behind increased amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is telling of trees i.e deforestation. During the last 8000 years about 45% of the earths forest cover has disappeared. According to FAO, about 13 million hectares of world’s forest are lost each year due to deforestation. During 2000, forest area of India was 19.3% of its total land area.

Not so long, Jammu and Kashmir possessed the credit of being one of the thickly forested state not only of India but among the areas of the world. Its forests were an abode of some rare species of plants, animals and birds. Chinhangul, Himalayan golden eagle, the beared vulture and commonteal, are the versatile examples with respect to animals and birds. Bhanjand Kharsu oaks, neoza, chinar, tejpatar, kuth etc, are some of the examples of rare plant species. But unfotunately, the picture is now slowly changing due to deforestation and overexploitation of flora and fauna. Causes of deforestation and overexploitation are looming population of humans and cattle as well as increased industrialization, urbanization and various developmental works. As a result, the forest area of Jammu and Kashmir has left only 19.3% of its total geographical area, which according to satellite is only 11%.

Water Resources : Water resources are also much polluted. Rivers including those of Jammu and Kashmir like the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and the Tawi have become drains more than rivers less. The river Ganga has a lot of religious significance, but the way it is facing the increasing threat of pollution day by day, it will spell doom if immediate control measures are not taken to check the same. The river Yamuna is also largely polluted in which about 150 tonnes of suspended solids, 300 tonnes of dissolved solids and 150 tonnes of organic wastes are entered daily in Delhi alone.

Streams and lakes are also highly polluted. A great mass of pollutants sewage and waste water of Udhampur town is polluting the water of the Devak stream. The water of Mandi and Loren nallahs in Poonch district, is being polluted due to sewerage of the inhabitants residing near to their banks. Once claimed as the purest water of the Wular lake, is now deteriorating owing to nutrient flow and pollutants from its catchments.

Similarly water of Dal lake in Kashmir and that of Mansar and Surinsar in Jammu is much polluted. Water of rivers of Jammu and Kashmir carries elements like arsenic, mercury, cadmium and sulphur. Excess of fluoride, causes flurosis. The deficiency of iodine produces goiter. Contaminated water has yielded Wilson’s diesease in villages of north Kashmir, which has been attributed to more content of copper and lead.

Most of the rural folk especially of Kandi belt of Jammu and Karewas of Kashmir, are deprived of safe drinking water. The ponds/lakes of Kandi belt of Jammu, are the only source of water which is used for drinking, washing of clothes and cleaning the cattle. The water table is very low and is not economical to dig the wells. Lack of water results in a number of problems like irrigating the fields and shortage of food, fruit, fodder, fuel, fertilizers etc.

Soil Resources : Soil resources are highly degraded due to indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides. Soils contaminated with pesticides have resulted in contamination of various food stuffs. About 70-80% of the food stuffs like cereals, fruits, vegetables, milk and its products, and feed/fodder, have been found to be contaminated with pesticide residues. High levels of pesticide residues in human blood samples of Punjab has been found. The levels of lindane were high about 605 times higher than in US population.

Unbalanced use of fertilizers has created deficiency of micronutrients like zinc, copper, boron. High concentration of nitrate in the drinking water is the result of unbalanced use of nitrogenous fertilizers.

Deforestation has accelerated soil erosion. About 6,000 million tonnes of top soil gets lost annually from arable Indian land. This figure almost becomes double when total culturable and unculturable land is taken into consideration.

The wildlife of Jammu and Kashmir represented by 70 specied each of mammals and snakes and 300 species of birds, is now mostly vanishing due to deforestation, overgrazing of pastures as well as hunting and poaching etc.

Control Measures

i) Illegal felling or cutting of trees and indiscriminate grazing of the grasslands should be stopped

ii) Intensive plantation should be resorted as it helps in reducing dust, smoke and other pollutants. People should be made aware of about the role of trees and forests in air, water and noise pollution. Indoor air pollution can be controlled by proper ventilation.

iii) The catchment areas of rivers lakes and other water bodies must be fenced to restrain cutting of trees and overgrazing of the ground cover.

iv) Industries must be away from cities and safe disposal olf toxic substances must be ensured.

v) All soil conservation measures agronomic mechanical and biological be adopted to check soil erosion.

vi) Balanced use of fertilizers be made.



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