Tag Archives: Plants

Making electricity uses up the most water!

The power sector has a large impact on the amount of water consumed.

ElectricityCertain processes in coal power plants require large amounts of water. In India, most of these power plants are installed in coastal areas. These plants draw ocean water, desalinate it and bring it to the required quality of water for the turbines and then re-use it.  The wastewater that exits the plant is supposed to be taken far into the ocean, (around 2km from the edge and very deep), so that the water can mix in easily over a period of time. Unless we manage the exit water very carefully, it can result in extensive pollution and have a detrimental impact on marine life.

When a large coal power plant or a nuclear power plant is set up, a prerequisite is providing a large amount of water round the clock, year after year. This lessens the availability of natural water resources to those who are dependent on it. Governments and engineers don’t warn us that if human beings start using large quantities of water, the other species of the animal kingdom that are dependent on water will be deprived of it. There is a slew of both nuclear and coal power plants coming up, with no protest on this threat that is real.

Current scenario in the Power sector

About 700,000 MW of new power project proposals are in various stages of application at the Ministry of Environment.  Prayas, an organization working on initiatives in Energy, has calculated that the total amount of additional water required for these new projects, if they are created, can provide fresh water for around 150 million Indians and can meet 9-10% of agricultural requirements or about 25 million tonnes of food grains annually in India. India is already water stressed. So the question is:Should we continue building these large power plants?Or should we look for alternatives to meet these energy needs?

The InstalledHow do we first understand the ‘demand for electricity’ that is projected by the Government?These are based on date from the past, estimates of the deficits of the present and extrapolations into the future.How legitimate are these projections? Can decisions involving money at a million dollars to a mere MW and with incalculable damage that each such MW wreaks as havoc ecologically, be permitted to be made without public consultation? Can the brutality of closed-door decision-making inside government corridors be continued any more?  The needs for a common man are basically for lighting or probably charging his cell phone, or for a mixer/ grinder in the kitchen. There is no legislation to stop homes in Gurgaon that are now centrally air-conditioned. Night-time sports, 24-hour shopping malls … can we continue the insanity?

The GovernmentIndia’s efficiency is one of the worst in the power sector with respect to international practices. Power Ministry and Planning Commission data show that if India’s efficiency was maintained at the power sector’s international best practice level, it can give virtually about 35-40% more power within the existing infrastructure.

There is really no shortage of power at the moment. By taking the efficiency to the international best practice level, you will indirectly reduce the additional demand for electricity and in turn reduce the number of power plants required.

What are the alternatives currently available?

Sunlight is one of the best sources of renewable energy available. If sunlight is tapped in the most effective way, it will not require any water. The water footprint of technologies such as biomass and wind energy is minimal. And India being a tropical country, there is a huge potential.

What is the solution?

First, we need the right to information on how we can manage our requirement of energy without having an impact on these natural resources. We urgently need to transform our thinking. Efficiency improvement, energy conservation and demand-side management are the three major areas that need focus.

More professional groups should be involved in the energy movement.Authorities and government officials and policy makers usually detest any such public engagement and discussion. And individuals would not have the perseverance without the support of groups aligned and committed. How can organizations rally behind such a struggle to keep the balance between natural resources and energy footprint?

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Plant them quick and soon

Plant them quick and soonIt was a rare outing for students of Government Higher Primary School at Kanminike to the south of Bangalore. Accompanied by five teachers, over 100 students walked into the Global Eco Club (GEC) farm on Mysore Road. They went around in a line, enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day. Some of them chased butterflies, while others curiously watched honeybees at work.

Finally, they assembled at a place where they were told that each of them could pick up a plant of their choice. Their faces lit up, as their eyes reached for their favourite ones. As they walked away with their favourite pick, after a refreshment of biscuits and water, Arun Kumar, who runs GEC, broke into a broad grin.

Nurturing love for the environment in young ones is one of the many activities of GEC, which is striving for a greener Bangalore. Arun gave up his eight-year franchise of Reliance Infocomm to pursue his passion. “I felt I should do something on the green front,” says Arun, who came up with the idea of Project Gandhadagudi to plant sandalwood saplings in educational institutions. He first approached the management of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and planted medicinal and sandalwood saplings on its sprawling campus.

“In one year, I planted over 2,000 saplings across Bangalore. PES University gave me a 20-acre land where I grew saplings of medicinal, fruit and flowering plants, besides vegetables,” says Arun. He was inspired by Salumarada Thimmakka [Thimmakka of the saal trees], the environmentalist who planted and tended to nearly 300 trees along a 4-km road in Magadi taluk of Ramanagaram district. “If you have the passion and idea to do some service, support will come your way,” he feels. “My policy is to sell and serve. Initially, I executed all works of GEC with my personal savings. Now I sell saplings to corporates, estates and other individuals to raise funds for initiatives like planting saplings in educational institutions and giving saplings for free to school students. My aim is a garden in every house of the city. I want to build a strong community to protect the environment,” he adds.

The farm is also a model of how rainwater can be properly utilized. It is sustained by just one borewell, which is recharged with rainwater collected in pits dug at four different spots. The farm, with around 20 fruit and several medicinal trees, has a separate section for indoor plants apart from special species to attract butterflies and bees. “I’m aiming to make Karnataka the fruit capital of India,” adds Arun, who helps out farmers in association with the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR). “GEC exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs action and support,” he signs off.

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Plant them quick and soon

Plant them quick and soonIt was a rare outing for students of Government Higher Primary School at Kanminike to the south of Bangalore. Accompanied by five teachers, over 100 students walked into the Global Eco Club (GEC) farm on Mysore Road. They went around in a line, enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day. Some of them chased butterflies, while others curiously watched honeybees at work.

Finally, they assembled at a place where they were told that each of them could pick up a plant of their choice. Their faces lit up, as their eyes reached for their favourite ones. As they walked away with their favourite pick, after a refreshment of biscuits and water, Arun Kumar, who runs GEC, broke into a broad grin.

Nurturing love for the environment in young ones is one of the many activities of GEC, which is striving for a greener Bangalore. Arun gave up his eight-year franchise of Reliance Infocomm to pursue his passion. “I felt I should do something on the green front,” says Arun, who came up with the idea of Project Gandhadagudi to plant sandalwood saplings in educational institutions. He first approached the management of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and planted medicinal and sandalwood saplings on its sprawling campus.

“In one year, I planted over 2,000 saplings across Bangalore. PES University gave me a 20-acre land where I grew saplings of medicinal, fruit and flowering plants, besides vegetables,” says Arun.Arun says he was inspired by SalumaradaThimmakka [Thimmakka of the saal trees], the environmentalist who planted and tended to nearly 300 trees along a 4-km road in Magadi taluk of Ramanagaram district. “If you have the passion and idea to do some service, support will come your way,” he feels. “My policy is to sell and serve. Initially, I executed all works of GEC with my personal savings. Now I sell saplings to corporates, estates and other individuals to raise funds for initiatives like planting saplings in educational institutions and giving saplings for free to school students. My aim is a garden in every house of the city. I want to build a strong community to protect the environment,” he adds.

The farm is also a model of how rainwater can be properly utilized. It is sustained by just one borewell, which is recharged with rainwater collected in pits dug at four different spots. The farm, with around 20 fruit and several medicinal trees, has a separate section for indoor plants apart from special species to attract butterflies and bees. “I’m aiming to make Karnataka the fruit capital of India,” adds Arun, who helps out farmers in association with the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR). “GEC exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs action and support,” he signs off.

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Are your plants getting the right amount of water?

watering-can-old-manTending to a garden is a liberating experience and lets you bring out the eco-philic side of you. Although looking after a garden is not rocket science, care must be given to all aspects to ensure your plants look healthy and fresh. One such aspect that is generally overlooked by most of us is watering the plants. Although it appears to be a simple activity, it is in fact one of the most misinterpreted, often with disastrous consequences for the plant. When understood and carried out properly, it is capable of significantly influencing the relationship with the garden.

So let’s start at the very beginning. While we say “we’re watering the plants”, we don’t water plants, we actually water the soil.

Yes, that’s right. Plants take in their required amount of water from the soil so watering the soil around the root zone (away from the stem) is most beneficial to the soil micro-organisms, and therefore the plant.

Equally critical is knowing that plants need moist soil rather than wet or submerged soil. Moist soil enables the water to break down necessary components in the soil into a small enough size to be absorbed through the plant’s root system. Over watering can lead to loss of nutrients and minerals and also decrease aeration.

Plants should be watered early in the morning and not late in the evening. Plant diseases are known to spread in wet, dark conditions and when we water in the late evening, water tends to stay on the leaves, making the plant more susceptible to catch mildew (a fungal disease). In daytime, if water does get on the leaves, it has a chance to dry out in the sunlight. Also, plants need water mainly during daylight to produce food, so watering early morning would ensure that they are able to carry out their activity.

Gardens are completely dependent on our watering and so it needs to be planned and regular. Erratic watering stresses the plants. Allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering is not a good idea and works only for specific plants. Most plants require consistently moist soil conditions.

How do you water plants?

For an urban home garden, there are several ways to water from the simple bucket and mug or rose-can (can with a shower-head nozzle) to the more planned drip irrigation mechanism.

Adopt a method that is best suited for you and one that does not waste water. As far as possible, try to harvest rainwater. Reuse grey water – i.e. water used for washing clothes or vessels for use in the garden. But remember this is only if we avoid synthetic detergents and use natural alternatives or other powders.

Mulched soil has greater water retention capacity and also provides nutrients. It is best suited for a garden. If you have a rooftop garden, ensure windbreaks to prevent uprooting of plants.

Paying attention to the health of the soil is the most important aspect of a plant’s health. Ensuring a well-proportioned mix of sand, red earth, compost and soil-building material (like cocopeat) is essential to make the soil loose, porous and to increase its water retention capacity.

The needs of each plant are different and so plan your gardening activity accordingly taking care of each plant to have a healthy and lively garden.

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