Prof Devendra Swaroop Bhargava
Lakes in India had been serving as drinking-water-supply sources apart from other uses like recreation, boating, etc. Ever since the Green-Revolution (mastered & advocated by MS Swaminathan) was adopted in India without taking due regard of the possible adverse environmental impacts on lakes particularly due to the ignorance & greed of the illiterate-farmers, Indian lakes started dying. This paper attempts to bring out this serious environmental tragedy caused by the “pseudo-environmentalists” dominating the environmental scenario and decision-making in India.
Lakes in general get created naturally or are man-made to serve the various human-needs. Apart from serving as Water-Resources, they also receive run-offs during monsoon times and the wastewaters generated around them including from the agricultural activities/fields. Thus, undesirable material and pollutants of varying kinds find their entry into the lakes. Some of these pollutants are taken care of by the nature but some special pollutants damage the very existence of the lakes, thanks to the stated ‘green-revolution’. The world famous Dal-Lake in the J&K state of India had been the greatest victim.
THE DYING of LAKES via GREEN REVOLUTION
To improve agricultural-yield, synthetic nutrients (N,K & P) alongwith insecticides/pesticides were added to the agricultural fields as per the green-revolution’s main theme. The doses of these nutrients depend on the varying and numerous parameters of the agricultural fields and desired crops. Indian farmers were/are mostly illiterates of a higher level/order apart from being greedy like most other business-people. They therefore, added much higher amounts/doses of these chemicals in the hope of a bumper crops with complete killing of insects and pests. Thus, lots of unused insecticides and pesticides were left over on the agricultural fields only to be washed off with runoffs from the agricultural-lands and pollute the various water-resources including the rivers and lakes.
It is to be understood and recalled that unlike the human-beings, plants and animals cannot/do not uptake or feed on their food once they are full or after their hunger is satisfied. As a result, all the extra or the leftover food/nutrients is washed out with runs-offs from the agricultural lands/fields only to enter into the rivers and lakes.
In the lakes, ponds, confined water-storages/bodies, etc. these nutrients along with carbon-dioxide (produced by the aerobic-bacteria through the disintegration of organic matter, present in all waters, in the presence of oxygen) in the presence of sun-light serve the needs to produce algae. The algae blooms in the presence of high concentrations of the stated nutrients. Therefore, when all the nutrients are utilized/finished, the algae begins to die and since the dead algae cannot float, it starts settling to reach the lake-bottom. The settled bottom-algae, an organic-matter, begins to get stabilized aerobically first and soon thereafter when all the Dissolved-Oxygen in the lake-bottom is utilized/finished, it starts getting stabilized anaerobically only to produce foul-gases like methane, inert residual fibrous-material and release nutrients which diffuse upward to reach the lake-top where, in the presence of carbon-dioxide and sunlight, they again start aiding the production of algae as algal-blooms. This cycled-process is called “eutrophication” (a bio-algal symbiosis process) and once this process of eutrophication starts in a lake, it never ends as discussed above. But the above-stated fibrous-material keeps collecting and building up at the lake-bottom such that it occupies significant lake-depth in a time span of several decades. This phenomenon was reportedly observed in around 1960 in J&K State’s “Dal”-lake when a foreign-tourist staying in a house-boat (a boat with built-in bed-room with toilet) took a spring-board dive into the lake but never came-up because he got entangled in the above-stated heavy fibrous-builtip.
After numerous decades, the thickly built and compressed fibrous-layer occupied the entire lake-depth to produce marsh-land which later is reclaimed for constructions to denote a complete death of a lake.
Thus, eutrophication has partly killed the above-said Dal lake and is fast taking other lakes towards their end. This is the disastrous-Gift of Green-Revolution enforced by its master, Dr. MS Swaminathan who enforced the Green-Revolution without anticipating its adverse impacts and consequences of its implementation by the illiterate farmers. It is very unfortunate for India not taking corrective measures. On top is the fact that India’s blind-faith in Dr. MS Swaminathan is reflected in the approval of a proposed SUPER GREEN REVOLUTION in India.
(Writer is former Professor of Pollution Control & Environmental Engineering at IIT Roorkee & AIT Bangkok. He is an Author of over 500 research papers and recipient of 32 Academic Awards.)