I’m an Environmental Science student from a small village, Jamaalpur Maan Pota. Due to rainwater harvesting canals, all the rainwater in the village goes into a large pond. The pond is dry before the monsoon, but overflows and floods surrounding areas after it. How can we avoid this? Water level is high, crops have enough water and there are no rivers. Also, the village's domestic waste ends up in the pond.
Pawan Kumar Bharti
Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh
What I have understood from your mail is that the pond is not capable of holding the amount of water it used to do in the past. This has led to the over flooding in the area around the pond. It indicates that the total storage capacity of the pond is not enough to hold the water coming from the catchment area or it is being reduced due to accumulation of thick layer of silt in the pond over a period of time.
This has also resulted in minimising the natural percolation under the ground from the pond. The pond must be desilted and widened before the monsoon. It will ensure better percolation of water to the underground and substantial storage.
Another thing, which scared me, is that the sewage water from the households is reaching the pond meant for recharge. This will lead to contamination of groundwater resources, as the water levels in the area are very high. So this water must be taken away from the pond.
We re-use all our old one and two-litre plastic mineral water bottles in a bid to recycle plastic. We use them in our fridge, keep them in our car and so on. But recently someone told me that this is not a good idea. Please advise.
While it is good that you want to recycle old bottles, please be cautious. These bottles are meant for one time use only for packaging drinking water and old ones can cause poisoning. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles have diethylhydroxylamine, which can cause cancer. After opening them, don’t use them more than a few days, a week at most. Also, keep them away from heat. Repeated washing and rinsing can cause the plastic to break down and the carcinogens can leach into the water that you are drinking.
I have heard about ozone pollution. I would like to know what harmful effects does it have and where does it come from. Do motor vehicles emit ozone in some form?
Ozone is not emitted directly into the atmosphere. But high atmospheric concentrations of ozone are produced as a result of a complex set of reactions in the atmosphere which involves emissions of both nitrous oxides and certain reactive hydrocarbons. Most of the primary pollutants come from motor vehicles and industries in cities and towns. Systematic monitoring of ozone and other oxidants has not begun in India yet.
But field experiments have shown that ozone has a large local impact on crops. Ground-level ozone can harm plants, trees, and crops by preventing the plant from being able to use the sun's energy. Ozone does this by reacting with the molecular links between the carbon atoms (called the carbon-carbon bonds) in the plant's photosynthetic machinery. Ozone is harmful to human health because ozone reacts readily with the membranes of the eye and those lining the lung's air passages. Once ozone forms in the atmosphere, it can react with volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides to form smog.
My daughter has got into the reading habit thanks to Gobar Times, especially on issues related to science. She eagerly awaits for every issue of the magazine. The GT centrespread "Know your Watts" (October 15 issue) was really educative for children. Such articles revive what they have studied in school and tell them how to use the knowledge in a practical sense.
K.J. Anandha kumar
I am a student of Class V and one day we were taught waste management in the classroom. So now we practice this at home. We have five bags. One for plastics, another for cardboard and paper, one for foodscraps, one for glass and the last for old clothes.
In Rajasthan a lot of marble and limestone mining takes place. It involves huge amounts of cutting, washing and drilling. This badly affected the environment and the land became bare and barren. All this while, the mine owners became very wealthy. But a few years ago, the government asked the mining companies to clean up their act and find a solution to the problems they had created or action would be taken against them.
So the mine owners came up with the idea of planting more trees in the area and recycling the gallons and gallons of water they used to clean and treat the marble. Bus drivers were given an incentive for planting tress and they had to plant at least 30 trees at various places. Today the area has become richer in water and greenery. We have witnessed this process. India has many mines that exploit the land to a very large extent. We feel that many companies can learn lessons from the above example.
Nicola Lungalang and Kanika Mathur
10th Grade, Woodstock School
Save Them Today
Imagine how it feels, If people eat you for their meals, If they kill you, pull out your hair, As if they just don’t care, We put them in cages to see, Thinking “they” suffer, “not me”, We tame them and hit them, If they don’t do well, And kill them for their skin that we have to sell, It is not fair for them to die out, We are so selfish that, we don’t even see them pout.
Kanupriya Rungta and Gitana Singh
In February this year in “Put your message in a bottle”, we had asked you whether you were angry about the plastic invasion of our nation. We had asked you to put your messages in a plastic bottle, crush it and send it to us.
In response, Gobar Times reader Philippa Russell collected two bottles full of messages from villages in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. According to her, Himachal is facing a major environmental threat from plastic and the ban on plastic bags has had no impact in the state.
All the villagers lambasted the use of plastic and called for its ban. “Dangerous disease”, “environmental curse” and "Main cause of pollution” were some of the comments that they wrote down. One said the government was doing its bit to bring the plastic menace under control and no village was guilty of it, so this was clearly a problem created by “city folk”.
Another asked for the banning of plastic pouches filled with alcohol, a common sight in rural India. (She had no problem with the alcohol, they could be sold in glass bottles for all she cared!). Some pointed out that plastic was degrading the fields and clogging drains of the villages.
One villager called for the burning of all plastic bags! Now that's definitely not a good idea because the burning of plastic leads to toxic smoke, which has dioxins, which are a major health hazard. There was also a philosophical comment that said “Plastic is an experiment with life”.
In all 87 villagers signed the following pledge: