SCIENCE TRIBUNE Thursday, June 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

Untapped water resources in Yamuna basin
aryana has been very unfortunate in not developing its water resources in the Yamuna river basin so far. In fact, it is equally strange that there is no planning for the future in this regard. On the other hand, dams across all the three rivers (Satluj, Beas, Ravi) have been built to store the valuable run-off which otherwise was flowing into sea. 


How are glass and water transparent? They too have lot of mass.
Let us be clear. What you are asking is the reason for visible light going through glass and water without significant attenuation. 


  • Has matter’s mother paid a call?

  • Surgery without the knife



Untapped water resources in Yamuna basin

Haryana has been very unfortunate in not developing its water resources in the Yamuna river basin so far. In fact, it is equally strange that there is no planning for the future in this regard. On the other hand, dams across all the three rivers (Satluj, Beas, Ravi) have been built to store the valuable run-off which otherwise was flowing into sea. Now obviously Punjab is more than self-sufficient in irrigation water supplies. Besides irrigation water, these dams are generating 3000 MW of free hydro power and enriching the ground water flow, as well.

Haryana on the other hand has only one perennial river i.e. the Yamuna flowing along its boundary. Under the aegis of the GOI, a settlement was reached over the distribution of the Yamuna river water amongst the riparian states of UP, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan in 1994. But unfortunately, the successive governments of these states made on fresh effort to build dams across different tributaries of the Yamuna and store the run-off and use it for irrigation and power generation. An effort was made in 1980 to build Lakhwar Dam (Ht.600 ft. storage 2.9 billion m3 and power 420 MW) near Dakpathar but the project could not take off for want of funds. It is rather tragic to see that even after 55 years of independence, the valuable water of the Yamuna is wastefully flowing into sea and the vast tracts of land of three states are thirsty for irrigation water.

Haryana has 47 lakh hectares of canal irrigated area. The main source of irrigation is only Western Jamuna Canal (WJC) which takes off from the Yamuna at Tajewala headworks. Its capacity is 13500 cusecs. This canal is the lifeline of the state. But because there is no storage dam, the canal runs to its full capacity only during three monsoon months of the year (July to Sept.). For rest of the nine months, the discharge varies from 2000 to 4000 cusecs. If a big dam like the Bhakra had been constructed across any of its main tributaries, WJC could have flown to its full capacity round the year and entirely irrigate the vast tract of barren land in the state. Therefore, the state is left with no option but to build at least two dams across the tributaries of the Yamuna, to create additional storage of 5.6 MAF to enable the WJC to run to its full capacity round the year.

The Yamuna flows from Yamunotri in Uttaranchal Pradesh and runs its journey up to Allahabad where it merges into the Ganges. It is joined by two tributaries, the Tons and the Giri, before it crosses Paonta Sahib bridge (see fig.1). The Yamuna carries 28%, the Tons 56% and the Giri 16% of the total discharge. The catchment area of Giri river lies entirely in Himachal Pradesh. The catchment area of Tons is divided almost equally between the states of Himachal and Uttaranchal. The catchment area of the Yamuna lies entirely inUttaranchal. There are three hydropower projects in this basin.

1. Giri-Bata Project: It is a run-of-the-river scheme across the Giri. It has a capacity of generating 105 MW of power. But the powerhouse generates power at full capacity only during three months of the monsoon season. In the remaining nine months, it generates only 20 MW.

2. Ichhari Dam Project : It is another 480 MW power project across the Tons at village Ichhari. Ichhari Dam is 200 ft. high and stores only limited quantity of water. It is also a run-of -the-river project. 100% generation is only during three months of the year. A proposal to build a 865 ft. high Keshao Dam upstream of this project is hanging fire for the last 50 years.

3. Hydel-canal project: A hydel canal has been taken off at Dakpathar from the main river and it supplies water to three power plants of 53 MW capacity each located between Dakpathar and Paonta Sahib.

New dams

In order to meet its irrigation requirement of 5.6 MAF, at least three dams across the Giri, the Tons and the Yamuna (revive Lakhwar Dam Project ) are required to create live storage of 5.6 MAF to enable WJC to run to its full capacity round the year. The states of UP and Delhi should also be associated in this project to enable it to get assured supply of irrigation and drinking water. Besides irrigation water, 1000 MW of cheap hydropower will be generated as a by product to justify the cost of Rs 5000 crore. The governments of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal are very keen to support such projects. In fact these governments have been giving ads in newspapers to invite companies to construct dams to generate power giving 12.5% free power as royalty.

Even NHPC (National Hydro Power Corporation) and the NTPC will be interested to execute these projects particularly after the new initiative launched by the Prime Minister to develop 50000 MW of hydropower. Private agencies (both national and international) are keen to take up such projects if they are approached with concrete proposals of power purchase agreements. Since maximum need for irrigation water occurs in Haryana, the government should take up the lead to initiate these projects on a priority basis.

These projects will also supplement the flow to the Giri and Ichhari projects to generate 500 MW of additional power round the year and bring down the per MW cost of the project.

The writer is Engineer-in-Chief, Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd.



YASH PALHow are glass and water transparent? They too have lot of mass.

Let us be clear. What you are asking is the reason for visible light going through glass and water without significant attenuation. But glass and water do not allow X-rays to go through. They are also not transparent to infrared radiation. This latter we know because a closed car sitting in the sun becomes very hot. This is because while light comes in through the glass windows the infrared, or heat radiation cannot go out as easily. This is the so-called greenhouse effect.

Our atmosphere has a thickness of about 1000 grams per centimetre square. This is almost like half a metre thick wall of carbon, yet it does not present too much of an obstacle to visible light - we can see the sun, the moon and the stars. But the same atmosphere is not very transparent to x-rays, gamma rays or infrared. It also protects us from the ultraviolet from the sun and, of course, from energetic cosmic rays. There are particles like the neutrinos that can go through the earth billions of times without making a hit.

It is clear, therefore, that the stopping power against a form of radiation does not depend only on the mass of material. It also depends on the structure of the material: this structure defines the band of radiation that it can absorb or scatter. This structure is atomic and molecular in nature. Glass and water do not have strong absorption bands in the wavelength of light that form the visible region or its spectrum.

In the end I might mention that glass, water and air are not completely transparent to visible light. There is molecular scattering that leads to the production of our blue skies, blue colour of the sea and pitch darkness at the bottom of the ocean, and less than perfect transmission in ordinary optical fibers used for optical communication.

Why petrol and related substance alone have the property of fuel?

Petrol, oil and coal contain elements that combine easily with available oxygen in the atmosphere to produce some other products. These materials are called hydrocarbons. It means they contain hydrogen and carbon. Hydrogen can combine with oxygen and so can carbon. The product might be water or carbondioxide but both reactions are highly exothermic, meaning energy releasing. So the secret lies in the fact that abundant oxygen is available and combination of oxygen with these substances produces heat and energy.

When we heat glass it cracks. But when it is heated to high temperature it converts into a liquid state. Why?

We know that glass is not a good conductor of electricity. We also know that glass also expands when heated. If some part of a glass vessel is heated it tries to expand. The neighbouring parts, being cooler resist that expansion. Since glass is brittle, unlike metal, it shatters. If, on the other hand, the heating is slow and uniform we can heat glass to a high temperature without it shattering.

Turning into liquid would happen irrespective of whether the piece of glass shattered on the way. Usually such heating is done gradually, sometimes in a furnace and sometimes over a flame when the sample is continuously rotated.

How does the computer keep all the data in its memory/hard disk?

The data is preserved in a digital format. The digits, 0 and 1 or yes and no, can code all information, be it text, numbers, pictures, or sound. This digital information is recorded the same or similar way as the recording in a cassette recorder. In a solid-state memory these digits are stored as states of electronic switches, open or closed.



Has matter’s mother paid a call?

MATTER SPLATTER. A near-light-speed impact of a gold nucleus and a deuteron—the nucleus of the hydrogen isotope deuterium—spews subatomic particles whose trajectories appear as streaks on this diagram of a huge detector called STAR.

Physicists have found new signs that fiery particle collisions within a giant accelerator two years ago created a state of matter identical to what might have been the stuff of the newborn universe.

Stunning results announced this week are prompting a growing chorus of physicists to say that it’s time to declare success in a decades-long quest to make quark-gluon plasma—an extremely hot, dense soup of matter that contains loose fundamental particles known as quarks and gluons

"This really is a decisive moment," says theorist Miklos Gyulassy of Columbia University. "I feel, at this stage, we’ve actually seen it." While mainly theorists take this stand, experimental physicists largely remain cautious.

Theorists have predicted that smashing together heavy atomic nuclei accelerated to nearly the speed of light can create a quark-gluon plasma. The resulting fireballs, which can reach temperatures measured in trillions of degrees, are expected to melt the protons and neutrons that compose ordinary nuclear matter. That process would briefly liberate the quarks and gluons that make up protons and neutrons.

Surgery without the knife

For people considering LASIK eye surgery but who are still hesitant about undergoing the knife, a new laser-only surgical method developed at the University of Michigan may help reduce complications and improve overall results of the popular elective surgery—all while making the procedure less squeamish for the faint of heart.

According to a recent study of 208 procedures in 108 patients, femtosecond lasers can make clean, high-precision cuts in the human cornea that offer superior reliability and fewer complications than cuts made with mechanical devices now used in most LASIK procedures. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Refractive Surgery.

The laser technology and surgical procedure were developed by a joint team of physicists and ophthalmologists from the University of Michigan’s Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS), its biomedical engineering department and the Kellogg Eye Center. Intralase Corporation, a university spin-off, commercialised the technology and currently has over 40 lasers operating in clinics around the country. Over 30,000 procedures have been safely completed with the new technology.