No Rights to Live in the Forest: Van Gujjars in Rajaji National Park
forestland occupies a little over 21% of the country’s total
geographical area with moderately dense to very dense forests covering
approximately 13% of the landmass.(Forest Survey of India: 2011).
95% of this land is owned by the state, a practice dating back to the
British rule, when the colonial regime viewed forests as a reservoir of
colossal wealth, and the state had a monopoly over its resources.
Forests may be a source of wealth for the state, but for more than 10
crore forest dependents, as the Ninth Five-Year Plan noted in its
mid-term appraisal, (Planning Commission: 2002) it is a source of
livelihood and sustenance, fodder, fuel-wood, small timber, honey, wax
and fruits. More than 6 crore of these people are adivasis, and as most
of forests are located in dry and deciduous regions these people live a
very hard life.
The forest dependent communities, irrespective of castes, depend on
forests for their livelihood and have had a symbiotic relationship with
forests for centuries. They have their own model of forest management
with customary rules for harvesting biomass ‒ extracting only as much as
they need ‒ and also rules which prohibit hunting and extraction of
resources during certain times of the year.
The forest dependent communities were considered as enemies of
forests by the colonial regime. To promote “scientific forestry”, the
British established the Forest Department in 1868, which was basically a
tool to bring all the forests of India under government control. It
divided the forests into reserved and protected categories, making them
inaccessible to these communities.
The government of independent India continued with the same colonial
policy, albeit under the garb of sustainable forest management. The
Forest Policy Resolution of 1952 paved the way for the forest
department to keep India’s forests firmly under its control and people
out of them. Between 1951 and 1988, measures were undertaken to
increase the national forest area from 41 million to 67 million
hectares. (Ministry of Environment and Forests: 2011)This exercise paid
no attention either to determine the ecological status of these forests
or to the rights of the existing occupants or its uses as required by
law. Today 60% of the state forests are in 187 tribal districts. Maoist
insurgency has taken deep root in these districts, and often the Maoists
have taken advantage of the dictatorial and despotic attitude of the
forest department to lure the forest dependent adivasis into their fold.
Finally the government of India in order to undo the “historical injustice” done to the forest dwellers, passed the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), in 2006. (Ministry of Tribal Affairs: 2006)
FRA and its Implementation
Today, seven years after the promulgation of the Act, there is a
pressing need to assess its implementation, as this will affect the
lives and livelihoods of more than 100 million people living on land classified as public forest. (Fisher, RJ, Srimongkontip, Somjai and Veer, Cor: 1997)
As was expected, the forest department ‒controlling almost one-fourth
area of the country‒ has not let its authority get undermined so
easily and has used all its arsenal at its disposal to sabotage the
basic features of the Act, rejecting an overwhelming majority of claims
filed all across the country. In 2010, the Council for Social
Development presented a summary report on the implementation of the FRA. The report stated that:
“key features of this
legislation have been undermined by a combination of apathy and sabotage
during the process of implementation. In the current situation the
rights of the majority of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers
(OTFDs) are being denied, and the purpose of the legislation is being
defeated. Unless immediate remedial measures are taken, instead of
undoing the historical injustice to tribal and OTFDs, the Act will have
the opposite outcome of making them even more vulnerable to eviction and
denial of their customary access to forests. The testimonies made it
clear that this is not merely a result of bureaucratic failure; both the
Central and the State governments have actively pursued policies that
are in direct violation of the spirit and letter of the Act”. (Council
for Social Development: 2010)
In many Naxal dominated regions like in Andhra Pradesh, the
implementation of the FRA remains poor. (Reddy, Gopinath M: 2011) The
implementation of the Act has not yet conferred any meaningful benefits
on forest dependent communities, and the situation on the ground largely
remains unchanged. More than half of
the claims put forward by the forest dwellers under the FRA had been
rejected by the forest department. (Srivastava, Kumar Sambhav: 2012) A recent article in Down to Earth
recently reported that over “1.3 million tribals and OTFDs have got
rights over the land they had been using for years under the FRA”, but
“not one state has initiated concrete steps to officially register the
title holders in the state land records. Without this they remain what
they used to be—officially non-existent”. (Srivastava, Kumar Sambhav,
Pallavi, Aparna, Suchitra, M & Mahapatra: 2012)
Van Gujjars in Rajaji National park
In Uttarakhand where more than 64% of the state’s geographical area is under the control of the forest department,
(Forest Department, Uttarakhand: 2012) and an overwhelming majority of
people are forest dependents, the implementation of the Act has been
tardy. According to the deputy director of the Scheduled Tribe Welfare
Department, all claims submitted
by OTFDs under the Act until June 2012 had been rejected, as they
could not provide proof of their stay in the forestland for the last 75
years. (Secretary, Tribal Affairs: 2012) It should be noted here that
the government of Uttarakhand notified the Act in the state in November
2008 and issued an order for the establishment of state district level
committees and block district level committees. Since then, though
institutions like Forest Right Committees have been constituted, no
awareness and training programmes have been conducted by the government
(Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Tribal Affairs:
2012) or by any non-governmental organisation (NGO).
However, the present study is limited to the evaluation of the impact
of the FRA on the Van Gujjars who live in the Rajaji National Park
(RNP), which straddles the states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Covering an area of 820 sq km, the RNP is home to the Van Gujjars
in winters, and the tribe considers the forest to be their veritable
lifeline. It is the only Muslim forest dwelling community in the
country. The author has been studying this area and has been
interacting with this community for more than five years. This nomadic
tribe resides in the RNP, located along the Shiwlaik foothills. At the
beginning of summer, the Van Gujjars migrate to the bugyals
(grasslands) located in the upper Himalayas with their herds of
buffaloes, and at the end of monsoon they return to their makeshift
humble huts called deras in the foothills. This well-planned and finely tuned transhumance helps to regenerate vegetation in the upper Himalayan stretches.
Traditionally the Van Gujjars have practiced buffalo husbandry, and
on an average, a family owns up to 25 heads of buffaloes, who are
considered sacred and are treated with utmost care and affection. The
high quality pesticide free milk and dairy products produced fetch a
good price in the urban centres of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Sustainable use of forest resources is a significant feature of their
trade, as the forest caters to the fodder needs of the animals, and the
agricultural land is left free for producing food crops. This fodder
imparts a special flavour to the milk, thereby enhancing its quality.
While Van Gujjars have been granted the scheduled tribe (ST) status
in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, in Uttarakhand and Uttar
Pradesh they are still classified under Other Backward Classes. This
proves to a big stumbling block in claiming their forest rights. The RNP
officials want to evict them from the park in the name of conservation,
denying them their rights and proper rehabilitation due to them.
A Struggle to Live with Dignity
Faced with eviction notices and harassment from the park
authorities, who refused to recognise their traditional rights, the Van
Gujjars, under the banner of Ban Gujjar Kalyan Samiti (BGKS), approached
the Uttarakhand High Court in Nanital in 2005. A legal battle ensued
over the next few years, and the director of the RNP was served a notice
of contempt by the High Court in September 2008 for trying to resettle
the community against their will outside the park; a move in clear
violation of the previous court orders,
which had ordered the director to acknowledge the rights of the
community under the FRA, 2006. The High Court also ordered the state
government to form committees under the rules of the Act and establish
the process for filing claims within a period of two months.
According to a joint report of the Ministry of Environment and
Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the total number of claims filed by the Van
Gujjars residing in the RNP up to the year 2010 were 485 (MoEF/MoTA
Committee on Forest Rights Act: 2010). The forest department rejected
all claims filed by the Van Gujjars ‒who have not been accorded the
scheduled tribe status and fall under the category of OTFDs‒ because
they were unable to provide two proofs of the occupation of land by
three generations (75 years) in that area. One of these proofs could
also be in the form of a testimony of an elder. (Ministry of Law and
Justice: 2007) In 2013 (the fifth anniversary of the Act’s notification
in the state), after immense pressure from the activists, media and
researchers (including the author), the officials accepted 797 claims,
out of which only 41 were disposed of and rejected because of the lack
of evidence, according to information from sources in the Ministry of
Social Welfare, Government of Uttarakhand.
Over the last few years, approximately 1,390 families have been
relocated, though not rehabilitated, in squalid one-room makeshift huts ‒
far removed from their social, cultural and environmental milieu ‒ in
Pathri and Gaindikhata in Haridwar district. (Joshi, Ritesh and Singh,
Rambir: 2009)However, the families remaining in the forest are
continuously being harassed and beaten by the RNP officials and police
and their deras are being destroyed. Noorjamal, a Van Gujjar
from the park and a member the BGKS, was detained in Biharigarh police
station, in Saharanpur district, on 28 June, 2011 on false charges
filed by the forest department and was released only after strong
protests by the Van Gujjars. On 26 November 2013, an order was passed
by the Uttarakhand government, to move 228 Van Gujjar families
residing in the Chillawali range of the RNP to Shahmansur locality of
Bandarjud area, in the Haridwar district. (Pioneer News Service: 2013)
After this recent relocation, about 215 Van Gujjar households ,
residing in in the Ramgarh and Gauhri ranges, will be left in the park.
A well thought out plan is needed to secure the forest rights and
entitlements of the Van Gujjars and their right to live with dignity in
their traditional forest surroundings. In the last few years some OTFDs
have waged a successful struggle and secured their rights; for example
the forest village of Dafadaar Gaurhi
in Behraich district of Uttar Pradesh “became one of the first
villages in the country to get land and forest rights under the FRA
Act, 2006”. (Agarwal, Rakesh: 2012a). The Kunao
village in the Pauri district of Uttarakhand perhaps becomes the first
village in the state where the process to grant forest rights under FRA
to the OTFDs has been initiated due to the efforts of the villagers.
(Agarwal, Rakesh: 2012b) If no action is taken, then this politically
powerless and socially disadvantaged community, not equipped to earn a
living outside the forest environment, will continue to be harassed and
intimidated by the forest authorities.
Status,” Civil Society, February, available at
Tribal Affairs on 6 May 2012 to review the status of the implementation
of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in the States of Bihar, Goa,
Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Uttarakhand, available at
the Forest Rights Act – Summary Report, available at
1060 & 1061/XVII-1 (26)/2007-TC,-1, Dehradun, 18 November.
Forests in Asia and the Pacific: Situation and Prospects”, Asia-Pacific
Forestry Sector Outlook Study, Working Paper Series, Regional Community
Forestry Training Centre, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, available at
1, Uttarakhand Forest Statistics at a Glance, Uttarakhand, Dehradun,,
pp.1, available at
Rehabilitation from Rajaji National Park: Moving Towards an Integrated
Approach for Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Conservation”, Journal of
Human Ecology, 28(3): 199-206 , p. 203.
Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forest and Ministry of Tribal
Affairs (2012), Government of India, New Delhi,, pp. 39, available at
Delhi, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
Recognition of Forest Rights Act, Ch III.
and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights)
Act”, available at http://tribal.nic.in/Content/ForestRightActOtherLinks.aspx.
visits in Uttarakhand and Western Uttar Pradesh, 30 May – 1 June 2010”,
p. 3, available at
Appraisal (1997-2002), Planning Commission, Government of India, New
Delhi,p.491, available at
the Forest Rights Act in Andhra Pradesh”, Economic and Political
Down To Earth, July 15, available at
Mahapatra, Richard (2013): “Rights without benefits,” Down To Earth, 15
November Available at
Relevant News / Current Affair (TheHindu) for UPSC (2014) CIvil Service Exam 30-12-2013
How to prepare Current Affairs from Newspapers in Less than one hour for UPSC IAS IPS CSAT Exam
IBPS, CAT or any other exam that involves interview and heavy
competition, you have to read newspapers.
- Because in the government job exams, at all three stages
(preliminary, Mains and interview) . They ask questions related to
- To write a decent essay, you need facts and viewpoints. For this you
need “Fodder”, and newspapers are best sources for the fodder material.
- Such magazines only serve as “supplement” and not as “substitute” of the newspapers.
- Why? Because the magazines have the page limit, they cannot give
justice to every single topic, even if they wish to. (and because on
every second page, they’ve to put big advertisement of coaching classes,
to cover the cost.)
- Same goes for the readymade blogs/ websites dealing with
current-affairs, they’re only supplements but not the substitutes of a
- Secondly, such magazines or websites for competitive exams do not
help you in the profile-based interview questions or role-playing
- In the UPSC IAS, IPS or CAT/IIM, Bank or any other job interviews, they ask you questions based on your profile.
- Your profile is made up of: Your Location + Academic Background + hobbies and Extra-curricular activities.
- Socio, political, administrative and economic problems of your city, district and state.
- And (Sometimes) the role-playing questions about how will you tackle
them, if you’re an inspector, tehsildaar, Collector, DSP, Secretary,
- For example, if you are an MBBS or Pharmacist, the current affairs
relate to TB/HIV/Malaria/Delhi Superbug related research, etc.
- If you’re a B.A (English): What’s the latest trend in English literature? What was the controversy in the Jaipur literature festival? And so on.
- Tennis, Cricket, Chess, Computer: then you are supposed to know the current affairs related to that field.
- Most of the people, whether UPSC, State PSC aspirants or MBA
aspirants: they don’t prepare for profile-based questions or current
affairs until the 11th hour. (i.e. When the interview or group-discussion (GD) is barely 20-30 days away).
- Then They start google searching for GK related to their profile.
- In such a short time, you cannot cover all satisfactorily. Therefore, daily reading of newspaper is essential.
- Even if you’re going to write your Mains exam in Hindi/ Gujarati/
Tamil / Telugu medium, still you should refer to English newspapers
because the local newspapers only serve the “masala” news of politics,
cricket and Bollywood.
- It depends on your time and energy, otherwise one newspaper is enough.
- You might have seen some coaching “Sirs” advising that you
must-read Hindu and Economic Times (ET). I think, this is an overkill.
You don’t have to become a share market expert. If there is some really
good columnist in ET (for example, example Bibek Debroy), then following
him is excellent, but you don’t have to go through two or three “Whole”
newspaper per day.
of UPSC (at least last three years), that should give you a rough idea
on what questions are asked directly or indirectly from newspaper. And
then read the newspaper keeping that in mind.
- Press conference of government, where they announce various
policies, administrative reforms etc. (I’m talking about the press
conference of union and State government, not the press conference of
Congress and BJP.)
- Various bills, minutes of Cabinet meetings.
- The big full-page advertisements given by ruling party, about their
achievements. (This usually comes before the election and on the birth
anniversary of Nehru Gandhi Family). It is important because, they list
out the various developmental schemes and provisions in it. Most
important part is “who runs the scheme?” for example NREGA thing for
under the jurisdiction of rural development Ministry (and not under
- Election related items: what will the initiatives taken by the election commission? Any problems or controversies.
- You have to prepare these for both Union as well as your own state
Government. (Your state-Government schemes and Administrative reforms
for the “profile Based Questions”)
What is not important?
- Press conferences of political parties and civil society.
- No need to do Ph.D on every scam. All you have to do is brief
highlight of what was the scam, how was it committed, what is the
presence status in investigation or court and how to prevent it in
future. You don’t have to go in minute details like on 23rd October
2007, Mr XYZ the accountant of store-dept in Commonwealth games
misreported a 50 rupees ball for Rs.5000. Learn to skip the garbage
sentences while you are reading a news item.
- Same goes for elections: The XYZ by-elections were conducted on 23th
October 2004 in which Mrs. XYZ wife of ABC belong with JYZ Political
- Maoists kidnap a collector = name of the collector is not important.
But now experts and politicians say we need a comprehensive
hostage-crisis guideline after this incidence= important.
- Railway accidents, how many killed =not important. Reason for the
rail accident and suggestions to prevent future accidents = important.
- SP says BSP took 50 crores or vice versa = not important.
- How many killed in floods, landslides or tsunamis on which date= not
important. But the reason behind those geographical phenomenons =
- ISRO sends an artificial satellite = important. How much does it weigh? = not important.
- When and How many men did leopards kill in Maharashtra = not
important. Why is leopard killing men in Maharashtra= important. What is
Government doing to stop the leopard? = important.
- Bilateral visits of prime ministers and presidents. What treaties or trade pacts did they sign?
- What is going on in UN, IMF, World Bank?
- Elections in the big nations : USA, Russia, China, France, UK.
- Political or military coup (usually in South America and Africa.)
- Any major event: the democratic uprising in Middle East, Israel
palestine, US vs China / Russia missile defence, NATO-Afghanistan and so
- Meetings of organisations such as ASEAN, G20 etc , and particularly what India did in such conferences and meetings.
- Climate change, environment related news.
- Science and Tech related items for example CERN, China’s space program, missle tests by N.Korea, Iran’s nuke program and so on.
What is not important?
- Lady Gaga or Justine Timberlake’s world tours.
- How many people are killed in a car bomb blast in Pakistan or Afghanistan?
- XYZ researchers found out that eating tomato daily helps preventing tooth ache = not important.
- Anything “small-time”, that does not affect future of the World. For
example sex-scandles of Italian PM or marital wooes of Sarkozy.
- Press conference or press note by Government, SEBI, RBI, Planning Commission etc.
- ASSOCHAM, NASSCOM etc. (they usually complaint or suggest about Government policies that affect the business houses.)
- Columns and Editorials related to Economy.
- IIP, GDP, WPI, CPI etc. Not the “numbers” but the reasons behind that number and the future because of that number.
- International: ASEAN, World Bank, EU etc.
- Those preparing for Bank exams, should also note down the names of Chaimen of various companies and banks.
What is not important in Economy
- Daily Ups and downs of sharemarket.
- “Numbers”. Because Economy is not about number but the meaning, history and future related to that number.
- For example, if IIP was 0.13 on Jan-2012. That itself is not important. Whether it was 0.13 or 0.128? that is not important.
- Important Questions are : is this IIP good or bad? And why is it
good or bad? What’ll be its impact on future of Indian economy and
Government / RBI policies?
- There is a narrow column on the left hand side of the front page,
most of the time, the yearbook related information, government schemes
etc. appear here.
- The main news item on the frontpage: it is usually
“not-very-important”. Reason most of the time it is the political news.
For example, “Bihar Mahadalit Land Racket.” If you are a candidate from
Bihar, you should read it, for the others, it is not worth it.
Question: What is a column / Editorial?
- These are big paragraphs like articles in the centre pages of a newspaper.
- Generally each article has photo of the author and usually the
author gives a 20 years’ old photo when he/she was in college. If you
ever happen to see them in actual TV Debate, it turns out they’re quite
older than what they look in the newspapers.
- Editorial is written by the editor himself. For example Shekhar
Gupta for IndianExpress on Saturday. While Columns are written by
experts (including self-proclaimed experts) on a particular topic of
politics, economy, international events.
- Usually columns are made up of 7-8 paragraphs. But not every
sentence and line is important; there are just 3-4 gemstones in it,
which you can use in your mains / essay / interview answers. So just
note them down.
- Some people use highlighters to mark important lines and then file
those newspaper cuttings. So do whichever method suits you (noting down
or filing the cuttings).
- Some people use highlighters to mark important lines and then file
- But Not every column is worth your time and energy. For example in
Indianexpress, there is one guy writes about Nepal’s political turomil
every week. But in Nepal, the Prime ministers are changed every week and
this guy happens to give ball by ball commentery of everything. It’s
not worth the “Cost-benefit” ratio. So skip him.
- Similarly there is one Yogindar Alagh in Indianexpress, who pretends to write on rural Development but just “I did this and that when I was a minister”=Not important.
- Maintain the balance: some column writers have a habit of being
totally cynical and anti-Government. For example Tavleen Singh of
Indianexpress, while I do admire her for having the guts to openly
write against Sonia, Mohan and Rahul, but in your answers, You must not
admire or criticize a particular individual (minister / politician) in
the mains / interview. And don’t prepare a line that is “too leftist” or
- And if you criticise the Government, then you should also offer the reform suggestions.
- Lifestyle = painting, pottery, music, fashion events etc. most of which cannot be afforded by middle class people.
- The last 3-4 pages of English newspaper are devoted to this. if your
“hobby” is tennis or chess, then you must follow the related
- For others, I say just skip it. Anything historic about Sports will
get published in the competitive magazines and or the free blogs/
current-affairs related websites anyways. So daily following these
sports-pages = not worth the time and energy.
- Bollywood and cricket related news = not important in any case.
Unless something related to administration or polity for example should
BCCI be brought under RTI? And the copyright act vs Bollywood.
- A study-desk or Table
- A Red colored 0.7mm ballpoint pen and or a red sketch pen.
- Loose papers, folders, notebooks
- And last but not the least a newspaper.
I’m taking Gujarat Edition of Indian express as reference; just follow
the same procedure for your City /State’s edition of Indianexpress/
- 20 people died in car accident in rajkot
- xyz girl eloped with a neighbour
- A cop was found taking bribes
- Stone-pelting and rioting in XYZ part of Ahmedabad after a cricket match.
- Keshubhai Patel said XYZ against Narendra Modi.
- Sanjay Joshi’s men have put posters against Modi in Ahmedabad.
Then what is important?
- Navjivan Trust of A’bad says no to Gujarati version of “Let’s kill Gandhi” written by Tushar Gandhi.
- Gujarat Maritime Board and pollution board gives clearance to
ship-breaking of Exxon Valdez, but NGO lobby says it contains dangerous
chemicals. (Names are not important, but the important part is the big
“environmental issue vs. livelihood of ship-breakers in Alang”
- Gujarat State Government launches “Girl Child education” and “School enrollment drive”.
- Ahmedabad Municipal corp will give Rs.250/- to all Government
school students who live more than 3 kms from the school, apart from the
mid-day meal, Bicycle distribution and Vidhyalaxmi scheme.
- These are devoted to “national news”
- Only concentrate on important exam oriented news. Underline the important lines using your red pen.
- Highlight the gemstones and move on.
- Highlight the important news lines and move on.
- Highlight the important news lines for example the timing of Balika Vadhu. Haha just kidding, skip this page.
- Most important. Scan through every item, including small box news.
Highlight the gemstones, if there are any important diagrams, cut and
- Skip it.
- Go through those red lines and either write them in the relevant notebook / cut and file it.
- Your can either keep five separate full-scape notebooks. OR you can
write these in loose papers and then file it in five separate folders.
- The advantage of loose papers = you can add more pages between, when
the follow up news comes. For example in case of QFIs. Same is not
possible in a notebook.
|Folder / Notebook||Sorting|
|Administration||All the polity, administration, Development related items should be either written or pasted here.|
file or notebook, make three sub-parts in it. First part- write or
paste the state/city related news. Second part- about your academic
Third part- news related to hobbies.
|S&T||All the science-tech, environment, climate change related stuff.|
but just the keywords or phrases that’d help you recall the entire
In the beginning, this’d be time-consuming mental torturing exercise.
But with time, you’ll develop the expertize of weeding out the unimportant news and note down the gemstones.
- I’ve seen Maestros who write the summary note of entire The Hindu
newspaper on just one side of an A4 sized paper, without missing even a
single important item. They don’t read every line of a newspaper, their
eyes are trained to scan through the lines and hand automatically
highlights the keywords. It’s an art and can be mastered only
by practice Daily writing habit also improves your handwriting speed,
which is again important for the Mains exam.
- Like a professional athlete This must be your daily regime as long
as you’re a contender. Just because prelims are over or just because
mains are over, doesn’t mean you stop this. You’ve to do this on daily
Relevant News / Current Affair (TheHindu) for UPSC (2014) CIvil Service Exam 29-12-2013
The energy report – India: 100% renewable energy by 2050
cent of India’s total primary energy supply is based on renewable
sources, could theoretically be achieved, according to a report released
by WWF-India and TERI, at WWF-India, New Delhi. The study examines the
possibility of a near 100% Renewable Energy Scenario (REN) for India by
the middle of the century
against a reference scenario in which the
economy is likely to be dependent primarily on fossil fuels – coal, oil
and gas. 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 for India is a sequel report to
100% Renewable Energy by 2050 released by WWF International in 2011 that
researched the technical potential and long term economic viability of a
renewable-energy-based future at the global level.
Indian Public Administration. Ramesh K Arora & Rajni Goyal
Harnessing plant, animal and human waste as effective inputs
can help a farmer save some money by not having to buy fertilizers and
the animal, plant and human wastes into useful components for the
manufacture of crop inputs such as vermicompost, pest repellents and
biogas, thereby reducing input cost for farmers.
goes waste. If farmers start practising this type of cultivation it can
definitely assure them cent per cent self sustainability,” says Dr. P.
Alagesan, Programme Coordinator, Myrada Krishi Vigyan Kendra,
Gobichettipalayam, Erode district.
the several farmers who have been introduced into this concept by
Myrada, Mr. M. Nagesh, from M. P. Doddi village of Talavadi block is
considered the best.
10 years back, the farmer has followed all the instructions carefully,
interacts with us on a regular basis and tried to set up maximum
interventions in his farm,” says Dr. Alagesan.
used to carry 45-50 kg of firewood daily from a nearby reserve forest.
But after the unit installation the farmer’s drudgery has been reduced
and he is able to save about Rs. 500 a month by not buying LPG gas.
family requirement is about 15 kg of cow dung daily to produce the gas
and once every 2-3 months the cow dung slurry is recycled through a
vermi-compost process unit. Farm wastes like leaves, crop residues etc
are also added to the slurry.
No external dependance
the amount of vermicompost I generate in my own unit, I can easily
supply the inputs for my three acres. I do not depend or buy outside
inputs for my crops. Beyond being a farmer’s friend earthworms have
become our family friend,” he says.
20 kg of cow dung and 10-15 litres of cow urine are collected
effectively in a modern cattle shed he has constructed from which 40
litres of Panchagavya and 20 litres of pest repellent are produced.
it is rare for a farmer to adopt rain-water harvesting structures since
many opine that their open fields are natural rain-water harvesting
units but Mr. Nagesh has built a cement tank (ten thousand litre
capacity) which he keeps open during the rains.
water tank is fitted with an airtight lid to protect water from direct
sunlight exposure thus preventing algae from growing on them.
farmer has further experimented with the implementation of eco san
toilet as an alternative approach to safe and efficient management of
human waste. The waste converted into manure from the toilet is used for
growing his fodder crops.
programme for eight families nearly a decade back on the importance of
harnessing the wastes as useful inputs. Initially it was met with a
lukewarm response with many shying away or expressing their
unwillingness to do it. But today nearly 60 villages and 800 families
are using this concept.
we find them to be more aware on the subject and the most encouraging
sign is those who practise it goad others also in their area to adopt
it,” says Dr. Alagesan.
One solution for two problems in fuel cells
search for pollution-free sources of energy. The first, electric
batteries, are already marketable but also plagued by concerns over high
recharge-time and suboptimal performance in cold climes.
fuel cells (HFCs), the other solution, face a different problem. Asian
car-makers are ready with HFCs running at 60 per cent efficiency and
already 50 per cent cheaper to make than in 2011.
receive upgrades. This week, researchers from the Illinois Institute of
Technology (IIT), Chicago, announced another one that increased their
performance and lifetime by altering just one component.
HFC works by consuming hydrogen that reacts with oxygen from the
atmosphere over platinum nanoparticles as catalyst to produce water and
electricity; the electricity powers a motor stationed in an external
circuit between the anode and the cathode of the cell.
platinum is dispersed by high surface-area carbon (HSAC) supports. The
HSAC supports have a tendency to corrode during vehicle start-up and
shutdown because of electric potentials at the anode and cathode.
the carbon support is lost, more of the platinum nanoparticles are
detached from the support surface and become inaccessible for reaction,”
Dr. Vijay Ramani, professor of chemical engineering at IIT and
principal investigator in the project said in an email to this
Dr. Ramani and his colleagues synthesised a compound called
titanium-ruthenium oxide (TRO) to support the platinum nanoparticles.
Titanium oxide formed the rigid, corrosion-resistant support structure
while a coating of ruthenium oxide allowed electrons to be conducted
through the frame.
ruthenium-oxide can be further oxidized, leaving them less harmed by
corrosion. — an oxidation reaction — which commonly occurs during
start-up and shutdown of the cell.
5,000 start–stop cycles during a test, the team found the loss in
surface area due to corrosion was 16 per cent for TRO, against 39 per
cent for HSAC. Also, with TRO, losses in catalyst activity were
diminished by 70 per cent, increasing performance.
Dr. Ramani found that their compound was also able to prevent the
platinum nanoparticles from oxidising. This happens when platinum gets
exposed to potentials of 0.9-1 V—values reached when the HFC transitions
between full- and no-load, 0.65-0.95 V.
beneficial electronic interactions between the nanoparticles and the
TRO, called strong metal support interactions, platinum dissolution was
far lesser than it would have been with HSAC, with which the
nanoparticles wouldn’t have had such interactions,” explained Dr.
costlier than carbon, an analysis by the IIT team found that more than
90 per cent of the cell’s costs were incurred by the use of platinum as
catalyst, irrespective of scale.
distinction for that is taken by the absence of hydrogen-refuelling
stations. “Economy of scale in manufacturing will necessitate a market
for fuel-cell vehicles, which in turn will require a hydrogen-fuelling
station to be in place. This is a classic chicken-egg issue,” quipped
Malarial drug resistance marker identified
the most dangerous malarial parasite resistant to front line drug
Drugs with artemisinin have led the fight against this single-celled
parasite’s depredations and contributed to a decline in the world’s
burden of malaria.
are resistant to artemisinin have been detected in Cambodia, Thailand,
Myanmar and Vietnam, raising fears that these drug-resistant forms could
spread to other parts of the world and put at risk the advances that
have been made in combating malaria.
team of scientists have identified a parasite gene whose mutations are
associated with artemisinin resistance. Such mutations could be “a
useful molecular marker for tracking the emergence and spread” of
resistance, noted Frédéric Ariey of the Institut Pasteur in France and
his colleagues in a paper published last week in Nature.
scientists “seem to have won the race to identify if not the gene, at
the very least a key gene, responsible for artemisinin resistance,”
remarked Christopher V. Plowe of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in
the U.S. in a commentary published in the same issue of the journal.
isolated from a malaria-sufferer in Tanzania and then cultured in it in
the laboratory, subjecting it to 125 cycles of escalating doses of
artemisinin over five years. Genome sequences of the resistant forms
that emerged were compared to that of a sensitive strain cultured in
parallel without being exposed to the drug. The analysis revealed that
the resistant parasites had eight mutations in seven genes that the
sensitive ones lacked.
from Cambodia with varying levels of artemisinin resistance. Mutations
in a gene producing a protein called K13 stood out.
Ariey and his colleagues then analysed the K13 gene sequence from over
900 parasites isolated from patients in various Cambodian provinces. The
K13 mutations were widespread in provinces where artemisinin resistance
had been reported and hardly found elsewhere. They also showed that
these mutations were a good molecular marker to identify patients with