Environmental degradation of the Obra-Renukoot-Singrauli area, India, and its impact on natural and derived ecosystems

Singh, J. S. ; Singh, K. P. ; Agrawal, M. (1991) Environmental degradation of the Obra-Renukoot-Singrauli area, India, and its impact on natural and derived ecosystems The Environmentalist, 11 (3). pp. 171-180. ISSN 0251-1088

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Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01263230


Vast stretches of the Obra-Renukoot-Singrauli region were once covered with natural forests. The tribal dwellings were small and interspersed. However, there has been rapid industrialisation in recent years. Quarrying for limestone, the establishment of a cement factory, thermal power stations and the construction of the G.B. Pant Sagar reservoir have resulted in a rapid build up of human population, the displacement of the original population, deforestation and conversion of natural forest ecosystems into savanna and marginal croplands. The converted ecosystems are under immense biotic stresses such as lopping, grazing, etc.The rainfall is meagre and erratic, the soils are highly weathered and impoverished, consequently the natural forests, as well as the derived ecosystems, are fragile. Signs of desertification are widespread. A rapid depletion in the wildlife has occurred. The establishment of thermal power stations and chemical and cement factories has also resulted in large scale gaseous air pollution, particularly of SO2 and HF, pollution due to particulate matter through fly ash and cement dust, and that due to liquid effluents. Surface coal mining has caused extensive damage to the natural ecosystems with growing dumps of overburden. The latter needs to be stabilised. This integrated research project on environmental degradation and its impact on air, soil, water and vegetation was divided into five sub-projects, each supervised by a principal investigator. These sub-projects were: (i) Industrial air pollutants and their effects on ecosystem structure and function; (ii) Analysis of structure and functioning of forest ecosystems; (iii) Analysis of structure and functioning of savanna and agroecosystems; (iv) Analysis of structure and functioning of watershed and water-bodies; and (v) Impact of land-use system, socio-economic- demographic conditions, and environmental perception and behavioural management. In these studies dynamics of plant biomass, productivity and nutrients, and biochemical-physiological responses of plants to pollution were emphasised. Environmental perceptions of the native and displaced populations were also studied. The paper outlines a range of recommendations which should help to improve the environmental quality of the region.

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