Monday, July 19, 1999
Tale of two waterlogged
Insects mans friends
new medicinal crop
Tale of two waterlogged
TWO areas of Gohana-Kalayat of Haryana and Muktsar of south-western region of Punjab are being treated for waterlogging and salinity by two different modes. In the former area the dependence is on the sub-soil drainage, while the latter is depending solely on the surface drains.
The review of the two areas is being done to highlight the merits of the two modes.
Sohana area scheme
In 1989 it was found that in Haryana some three lakh hectares (ha) of land had got waterlogged and the ground water of the region was highly saline or brackish. To tackle the problem a scheme was formulated to execute two pilot scale projects covering 1000 ha each in Gohana and Kalayat with the Dutch Governments assistance.
For the installation of the underground pipe drain, a trencher was imported at a cost of Rs 1.6 crore but the other supporting machinery (bulldozer and excavator) of indigenous origin was to be used. The PVC pipes to be used as underground drains were to be produced locally.
A composite system comprising of laterals of corrogated perforated PVC pipes of 80 mm to 100 mm diameter and collectors, also of PVC material of 200 mm to 294 mm diameter, were adopted. The drainage effluent discharged by the collectors in a sump well was to be pumped to a natural stream or an improved surface drainage system.
One sump well was to look after a block of 50 ha as this size was considered to be manageable for 30 to 40 farmers coaxed to form a drainage society to look after the completed scheme.
Geofabric filter (nylon 60 mesh socks for the collectors and non-woven fibre of 2.5 mm thickness polypropylene) was to used to be prevent entry of fine soil particles into the pipe system. The above filter system provided an apparent opening of 300 microns mesh appropriate for soil obtained in the project area.
The laterals were to be installed with an average depth of 1.5 m and the maximum depth of the collectors obtained was around 3 m. The system was designed for drainage discharge of 2 mm per day. The length of lateral worked out to be about 250 m to 350 m and these were placed at a spacing of 60 m and at slope of 0.1 per cent.
The gross cost of installation of sub-surface drainage system was found to be Rs 40,000 per ha. To complete one system in a block of 50 ha, the trencher and the associated machinery involved 70 working hours. The trencher was considered capable of working for 800 hours in a year. Thus, in a year work in 11 to 12 blocks can be completed by one trencher. The scheme envisaged that the farmers would not be paid any compensation for damage to crops during installation of pipe drains.
As the sub-surface drainage was to go hand in hand with the surface drainage system so the latter system was programmed to come first so as to receive the effluent form the former on its completion so that disposal of saline effluent was possible.
For monitoring and evaluation of the completed system, 40 locations at 500 m grid were chosen. At these points, regular observations relating to water table depth, soil salinity values and crop yields, will be recorded so as to assess the impact of the sub-surface scheme completed.
The underground pipelines have since been laid over an area of 1073 ha and productivity in the reclaimed area has gone up from 10 quintals per ha to more than 25 quintals per ha. In the Gohana area works costing Rs 7 crore have been completed and 22 farmers drainage societies are operational. The total cost of the project is put at Rs 21.8 crore out which merely 10 per cent cost will have to be borne by the Haryana Government and the rest by the Netherlands Government.
Muktsar area scheme
There is no authentic data available in regards to what measures are being adopted in the above area. From the published media reports it can be made out that the Punjab Government has spent over Rs 250 crore on reclaiming the waterlogged area whose extent is put at eight lakh acres.
In addition to clearing the old Chand Bhan drainage system of weed and silt deposits, two new systems of the Aspal drain and the Abul Khuranna drain and its subsidiary drains measuring 272 km have since been built, along with two cross drainage structures. The completed system outfalls into the existing Sabuana drain, near Fazilka. It is not known how it has been possible to ensure cleansing velocity in the drain in the sand dune area of very flat natural slope and also ensure adequate working head at the outfall into the Sutlej due to the proximity of the Sulemanki headworks and newly built system of the Saddiqua headworks in Pakistan. Will there not be any back flow from the Sutlej during high flood period, creating adverse problem for the residents of Fazilka?
To tackle the problem of escaping seepage from the two twin canal systems of the Rajasthan feeder and Sirhind feeder, and Eastern Canal and Gang or Bikaner Canal, a battery of medium-depth tubewells has been installed.
According to a recent speech by the Chief Minister of Punjab, about 80 per cent of the waterlogged and salinity-affected area has since been cured by the above works built. Khushwant Singh, in his column dated May 31, 1999, published in The Tribune, gives us some information regarding efficacy of the tubewells installed and in operation for many years.
friends and foes
OF all the living species of creatures, insects account for 70 per cent of the known species.
No wonder, insects seem to dominate the life in the world; their own world is no less fascinating and stimulating given their myriad range and variety. Though basically terrestrial, insects are found in the most unlikeliest of places braving unbelievably extreme vagaries of nature.
Insects are as much man friendly as man foe. The kind of functions these little creatures perform are mind-boggling; their behavioural pattern and nutritious requirements are very similar to those of man, Entomologists, tell that insects are as much nuisance as necessary evils for mankind, given the variety of helpful and harmful functions performed by them by getting in the way of man. Is there an intimate relationship between insect and man? Yes, perhaps.
Yet the two are continuously engaged in an unremitting conflict. Who can deny insects have altered the course of history while still rendering an array of service to man? Insects ancestry dates back to over 400 million years.
In fact little known facts and unknown traits of insects make an interesting reading even for a layman who can benefit and learn many a lesson from these tiny insects. One is forced to believe that these insects run the world, while man takes the credit! Yet he has the cheek to call insects obnoxious.
But one reading of the book, The Insects Diversity, Habits and Management, by Mr Ramesh Arora and Mr G.S. Dhaliwal will hook you to the fascinating world of insects. Mr Arora is an entomologist and Mr Dhaliwal an ecologist at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. Their 160-page book makes a good bedtime reading for children whose grandparents and parents will find how inadequate their knowledge is about insects.
Insects vary in size from microscopic beetles, which can easily pass through the eye of a needle, to large moths with a wing span of more than 32 cm. Several characteristics of insects mentioned in the book make interesting reading: insects survive the freezing temperatures in the Himalayas and burning sand dunes in the desert; insects live through hot water (60°C) springs and even remain buried and burrowed underground; insects survive salt water lakes and are quite at home in fresh water as well.
Insects have been entrusted with a whole variety of tasks by nature. Is that why the authors say insects are like man, both in living and behaviour? Insects have a tendency to camouflage to hoodwink predators; some appear like dry sticks, others are like bird droppings and some look like leaves easily getting lost in the foliage. Insects have been found to be architects, paper-makers, spinners of webs, agriculturists, potters and even herders, besides being undertakers. They know and learn to enslave other insects, make wars and manage nurseries.
Insects range from sponge to flatworm, roundworm to earthworms. There are snails, clams, octopods, leeches, scarbs, scorpions, ticks, mites, spiders, sand dollars, sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and colourful butterflies.
The functions insects perform for man range from pollination to protecting or spoiling environment, ecology and pollution. Insects are also the mainstay of soil fertility, act as natures trash burners. If insects provide a variety of products from silk to honey, they also spread deadly diseases and epidemics.
The last word on insects is yet to come. Many species remain unexplored and unexploited. Remember, insects are now poised to play a decisive role in crime detection in future. On the shelf is an entirely new branch of science to benefit man, again. This science is forensic entomology. The presence of bugs, flies and other insects will become useful to solve cases of crime, murder, rape and poaching of animals. Entomologists will now predict time and location of crime. Work has begun on this aspect of insect kingdom.
Some PAU scientists are already working and talking of medico-criminal forensic entomology in events surrounding felonies and crimes like murder, suicide and contraband trafficking.
Insects are notorious for keeping man busy. Take malaria, for instance, Mr Arora and Mr Dhaliwal write about 10 million people in 102 countries fall sick due to malaria every year, of which ultimately one million die. This, therefore, puts a formidable challenge on man to fight this gnat mosquito.
In a way insects have
found a way to be part of mans life and living. The
book, incidentally, tells that insects act as vectors for
human diseases, give important pests of farm animals and
major crops and other basic information on insect-pests
in detail. One gets to know management techniques of
insects, both helpful and harmful. It recommends
integrated pest management as a viable
solution given the vast expanse and obstinacy of insects
and their determination to survive, sustain and
proliferate in the most adverse of conditions in nature.
Given the aesthetic and medicinal value of the insect
species, man has to live and learn from these tiny
creatures. There seems to be no second choice.
new medicinal crop
WITH the worldwide changing trends from allopathy to the ayurveda system of medicine, medicinal plants have got added importance these days. Harar is well known in the Indian system of medicine since time immemorial as its fruit is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, heart burn, flatulence, dyspepsia and liver as well as spleen disorders. It is one of the main constituents of triphla which is a known panacea for stomach disorders. The fruit contains an astringent substance, chebulinic acid, besides tannic acid, gallic acid, resin and some purgative principles of anthraquinone nature. In addition to its medicinal properties, harar is lopped for fodder in some areas during lean period and also provides good quality durable timber for house construction window and door frames.
Harar scientifically known as terminalia chebula belongs to the family combretaceae.
Harar is naturally found in Himalayan tract from eastward ascending up to 1500m elevation and also is deciduous forests of penninsular India. In Himachal Pradesh, the species is confined to subtropical zone (400 to 900 m above sea level) and is mainly found in Kangra, Bilaspur and Sirmaur districts. A few sporadic trees of harar also grow in Hamirpur, Chamba and Mandi. The trees are mainly found naturally in forests, grasslands or on the bundhs of agricultural fields. However, a few plants have also been planted by the farmers in some areas.
Fruits of harar are harvested by farmers from November till March or sold to the traders through middlemen when on the tree itself. A wide variation has been observed among the fruits from different areas with respect to shape, size and weight. A majority of the produce (90 per cent) is of kachra type (small sized low quality fruit) and only 10 per cent is high quality product comprising kunj and murrabi type. The market rate of different quality fruits varies from Rs 7 to Rs 100 per kg depending on the size, shape and weight. Fruits of some full grown trees of harar in the Kothiharar area of Bilaspur district are sold at Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 per tree during good fruit year.
Harar is a very valuable tree but this important medicinal wealth is dwindling day by day. Harar fruit scientifically known as drupe has hard seed coat (endocarp) which hinders its germination in nature. The seed germination per cent is very low (about 5 per cent). Moreover, the harar plants are very tender at the initial stages of growth and biotic interference is a big setback in the establishment of harar plantations. Secondly, most of the trees growing naturally are genetically inferior. Hence, they remain neglected and do not attract farmers proper care.
These problems have been
overcome by the authors. The technology has been
standardised to improve germination of harar
seeds from 5 per cent to as high as 90 per cent. Further,
the research conducted at the station under the Indian
Council of Forestry Research and Education-sponsored
project has led develop true-to-type quality plants of
harar for the first time. A survey in
Himachal Pradesh has been conducted and six promising
strains identified. Vegetative material of these strains
has been collected and true-to-type plants raised in the
budwood bank established at the Regional Horticultural
Research Station, Jachh, through patch and T-budding
techniques. Both the techniques are equally good with a
60 to 70 per cent success rate. However, T-budding has
been found successful in June, whereas patch budding can
be done in March and June.
To check fruit and shoot borer attacks in brinjal, spray 800 ml Thiodan 35 EC/800 g sevin 50 WP/100 ml Sumicidin 20 EC or 40 ml Ambush 50 EC/200 ml Ripcord 10 EC/160 ml Decis 2.8 EC/800 ml Ekalux 25 EC/550 ml Monocil 36 SL in 100-125 litres of water per acre.
Propagation of most of the shrubs hibiscus chandanil, bougainvillea can be done through cuttings. The thickness of cuttings should be pencil size having 4/6 buds. To save the cuttings against rot, the same may be treated with some fungicide solution e.g. Bavistin.