February 22, 2012

Objectives of Watershed Management

Rational utilization of land and water sources for optimum production causing minimum damage to the natural resources is known as watershed management. The objectives of watershed management are as follows:


1. To rehabilitate the watershed through proper land use adopting conservation strategies for minimizing soil erosion and moisture retention so as to ensure good productivity of the land for the farmers.


2. To manage the watershed for beneficial developmental activities like domestic water supply, irrigation, hydropower generation etc.


3. To minimize the risks of floods, droughts and land slides.


4. To develop rural areas in the region with clear plans for improving the economy of the regions.


February 21, 2012


The land area drained by a river is known as the river basin. The watershed is defined as the land area from which water drains under gravity to a common drainage channel. Thus watershed is a delineated area with a well defined topographic boundary and one water outlet. The watershed can range from a few square kilometers to few thousand square kilometers in size. In the watershed 

The hydrological conditions are such that water becomes concentrated within a particular location like a river or a reservoir, by which the watershed is drained.


The watershed comprises complex interactions of soil, landform, vegetation, land use activities and water. People and animals are an integral part of a watershed having mutual impacts on each other. We may live anywhere we would be living in some watershed.


A watershed affects as it is directly involved in sustained food production, water supply for irrigation, power generation, transportation as well as for influencing sedimentation and erosion, vegetation growth, floods and droughts.


Thus management of watersheds treating them as a basic functional unit is extremely important and the first such Integrated Watershed Management was adopted in 1949 by the Damodar Valley Corporation.


Watershed degradation: The watersheds are very often found to be degraded due to uncontrolled, unplanned and unscientific land use activities. Organizing, deforestation, mining, construction activities, industrialization, shifting cultivation, natural and artificial fires, soil erosion and ignorance of local people have been responsible for degradation of various watersheds.



Watershed management practices- APPSC Group 1 - Mains Material - Paper 4

 In the fifth year plan, watershed management approach was included with a number of programs for it and a national policy was developed. In watershed management the aspects of development are considered with regard to availability of the resources.


The practices of conservation and development of land and water are taken up with respect to their suitability for people's benefit as well as sustainability. Various measures taken up for management include the following:


1. Water harvesting: Proper storage of water is done with provision for use in dry seasons in low rainfall areas. It also helps in moderation of floods.


2. Afforestation and agro-forestry: In watershed development, afforestation and crop plantation play a very important role. They help to prevent soil erosion and retention of moisture. In high rainfall areas, woody trees are grown in between crops to substantially reduce the runoff and loss of fertile soil. In Dehradun trees like Eucalyptus, Leucaena and grasses like chrysopogon are grown along with maize or wheat to achieve the objectives. Woody trees grown successfully in such agro-forestry programs include Sheesham, Teak and Keekar which have been used in watershed areas of river Yamuna.


3. Mechanical measures for reducing soil erosion and runoff losses: Several mechanical measures like terracing, bunding, bench terracing, no-till farming, contour cropping, strip cropping etc. are used to minimize runoff and soil erosion particularly on the slopes of watersheds. Bunding has proved to be a very useful method in reducing runoff, peak discharge and soil loss in Dehradun and Siwaliks


4. Scientific mining and quarrying: Due to improper mining, the hills lose stability and get disturbed resulting in landslides, rapid erosion etc. Contour trenching at an interval of one meter on overburdened dump, planting some soil binding plants land draining of water courses in the mined area are recommended for minimizing the destructive effects of mining in watershed areas.


5. Public participation: People's involvement including the farmers and tribals is the key to the success of any watershed management program, particularly the soil and water conservation. People's cooperation as well as participation has to be ensured for the same. The communities are to be motivated for protecting a freshly planted areas and maintaining a water harvesting structure implemented by the government or some external agency (NGO) independently or by involving the locale people. Properly educating the people about the campaign and its benefits or sometimes paying certain incentives to them can help in effective people's participation.


Successful watershed management has been done at Sukhomajri Panchkula, Haryana through active participation of the local people.


Watershed management in Himalayan region is of vial importance since most of the watersheds of our country lie there. Several anthropogenic activities accelerate its slope instability which need to be prevented and efforts should be made to project the watershed by preventing overgrazing, terracing and contour farming to check runoff and erosion etc. On steeper slopes with sliding faces, straw mulching tied with thin wires and ropes helps in establishing the vegetation and stabilizing the slopes.



February 17, 2012

Wasteland Reclamation - G1 mains - paper4

Some important practices leading to wasteland reclamation are discussed as under :

1. Afforestation and Reforestation. Afforestation means growing forests over culturable wastelands where there were no forests before due to lack of seeds, trees or other adverse

factors. Whereas, reforestation means replanting forests over areas where they were destroyed or degraded by overgrazing, shifting cultivation, excessive felling, forest fires, etc. Restoring forests will not only help in checking soil erosion, floods and water logging, but also increases the land productivity.

2.      Changing Agricultural Practices. Shifting (orjhoom) cultivation can be replaced by crop rotation, mixed cropping or developing plantation crops which would improve fertility and support a large population.

3.      Leaching. Salt affected lands can be recovered by leaching them with more water, especially in the areas where ground watertable is not high. In case of flood-prone and irrigated lands, salinity can be prevented by providing adequate drainage to such lands.

 4.     Managing Topography. When water runs downhill, it erodes soil. The faster it runs, the more soil it carries off the fields. Water runoff can be reduced by leaving grass strips in waterways and by :

(j) Contour ploughing that is, ploughing across the hill rather than up and down. The ridges created by cultivation make little dams that trap water and allow it to seep into the soil rather than running off. Contour ploughing is generally combined with strip farming.

(b) Strip farming, that is, the planting of different kinds of crops in alternating strips along the contours. When one crop is harvested, the other is still present to protect the soil and keep water from running straight downhill. (cj Tied ridges are often useful in areas where rainfall is very heavy. This method involves a series of ridges running at right angles to each other, so that water runoff is blocked in all directions and is encouraged to soak into the soil. (d) Terracing involves shaping the land to create level shelves of earth to hold water and soil. The edges of the terrace are planted with soil anchoring plant species. This is an expensive procedure, requiring either much hand labour or expensive machinery, but makes it possible to farm very steep hillsides.

5.     Drainage. This is required for water logged soil reclamation where excess water is removed by artificial drainage. It can be achieved in following manner :

(i) Surface drainage. This is used in areas where water stands on the fields after heavy

rains by providing ditches to run-off the excess water. («) Sub-surface drainage. Horizontal sub-surface drainage is provided in the form of perforated carrugated PVC pipes or open jointed pipes with an envelope of gravel 2-3 m below the land surface. Chances of evaporation of water leading to accumulation of salt almost become nil in this method.

6.     Mulching. Shifting sand can be controlled by mulching (use of artificial protective covering). Some plants such as potato tops, cotton stalks, maize stalks, tobacco stalks, etc., are used as a mulch. A mulch is a protective layer formed by the stubble i.e., the basal parts of herbaceous plants, especially cereals, attached to the soil after harvest. Mulches not only act as wind barriers, but also reduce evaporation and increase soil moisture by addition of organic matter. Mulching is effective against water erosion as well.

7.     Ecological Succession. Ecological succession is a natural process of establishment or re- establishment of an ecosystem. This approach is particularly useful in mining and industrial wastelands, where the agriculturally oriented methods fail. Instead of planting


February 16, 2012

Wastelands- G1 mains- Paper 4

Land is a precious resource, since it is put to diverse use by man. India with a land area of 32,88,000 km2 which is about 2.4% of the world supports 15% of the world's population. The per capita land resource available now in India is less than 0.4 hectares, in comparison to more than 0.9 hectare in China. About 44% of our land is used for agriculture, 23% is covered with forests, 4% is used for pastures and grazing fields, 8% for housing, agroforestry, industrial areas, roads and so on. The 14% land is barren and about 8% is used for miscellaneous purposes. The rapid increase of urbanisation and migration of population to towns and cities has created many problems. All this has led to the utilization of agricultural land for housing construction, industries etc.

The rational use of land resource is possible by adopting and integrated land-use policy which involves prevention of land misuse and reclamation of degraded and under-utilised land, wastelands, fallows, etc. Reclamation of abandoned mines and brick kilns may yield some much required land. Fertile agricultural land should not be sacrificed for non-agricul­tural purposes such as road building, development of industries or construction of water reservoirs. Urban areas should not be developed on agricultural lands. Wastelands are lands which are unproductive unfit for cultivation grazing and other economic uses due to rough terrain and eroded soils. The lands which are water-logged and saline are also termed as waste lands.

The geomorphic processes become active in the absence of land management practices. As a result, these processes erode and transport soil layers making those lands infertile, stony and useless.

The deforestation leads to soil erosion and the eroded soils exhibit droughtly tendency. Further, the falling trees aggravate the lowering of water table and dry conditions. The loss of fertility followed by erosion also leads to the transformation of marginal forest lands into wastelands.

Wastelands are broadly categorized under two groups :

(i) Barren and Uncultivable Wasteland. It includes lands which cannot be brought under cultivation or economic use except at a very high cost, whether they exist as isolated pockets or within cultivated holdings. They are mostly lands such as hilly slopes, rocky exposures, stony or leached or gully land and sandy deserts.

(ii) Cultivable Wasteland. These lands are cultivable but not cultivated for more than five years. It comprises all lands available for cultivation, but not taken up for cultivation. Next to 'fallow' lands, cultivable wastends are important for agricultural purposes because they can be reclaimed through conservational practices or cultivation or grazing or agro-forestry.

Maximum wasteland areas in our country lie in Rajasthan followed by M.P. and Andhra Pradesh. The major anthropogenic activities leading to wasteland formation are deforestation, overgrazing, mining and eroneous agricultural practices.


February 15, 2012

Greenhouse gases Sources - G1 Mains - Paper 4

S. No.


Major sources



Fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, respiration.



Wetlands, anaerobic decomposition of organic wastes, termites.



Natural soils, fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion.



Photochemical reactions in troposphere, transport (diffusion) from stratosphere.



Manufacturing of foams, aerosol propellant.



Refrigerant, aerosol propellant, manufacturing of foams.



Electronics solvent.



Refrigerant, production of fluoropolymers.



Industrial degreasing solvent.



Intermediate in production of CFC-11, CFC-12, solvent.


Impact of Greenhouse Effect - G1 Mains - Paper4

The greenhouse effect's impact is to make life as we know it possible on planet Earth, but the greenhouse effect may also bring an end to life as we know it.

The greenhouse effect refers to the trapping of heat by certain gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and methane. Although these gases occur in only trace amounts, they block significant amounts of heat from escaping out into space, thus keeping the Earth warm enough for us to survive.

Humans have been adding greenhouse gases in excessive amounts to the atmosphere ever since the Industrial Revolution, which is enhancing the greenhouse effect and resulting in what is now known as "global warming." This increase in greenhouse gases has the potential to cause catastrophic problems for Earth and its inhabitants.
The Biggest Problem – Sea Level Rise

The most dangerous aspect of global warming is probably sea level rise. In fact, the world's oceans have already risen 4-8 inches.[1] That may not sound like much, but it has been enough to cause the erosion of some islands.

People have had to relocate to higher ground on low-lying islands in the South Pacific and off the coast of India as a result of the effects of global warming. Further sea level rise could cause great suffering. In Bangladesh alone, there are 15 million people living within 1 meter of sea level and another 8 million in a similar circumstance in India.

Inhabited land could be inundated if sea levels continue to rise. Much of the world's best farmland is low-lying, as are many of the world's largest cities. Even a very modest rise in sea levels would have an enormous impact on millions of people around the world.
Droughts and Floods

Ironically, changes in the climate due to excess greenhouse gases are causing both increased drought and increased flooding.

Violent storm activity will increase as temperatures rise and more water evaporates from the oceans. This includes more powerful hurricanes, pacific typhoons, and an increased frequency of severe localized storms and tornadoes. As these storms often result in flooding and property damage, insurance premiums are skyrocketing in coastal areas as insurance companies struggle to cover escalating costs.

Warming also causes faster evaporation on land. Many dry areas, including the American West, Southern Africa, and Australia are experiencing more severe droughts. The amount of land on the Earth suffering from drought conditions has doubled since 1970. This has occurred even as total global rainfall has increased by an estimated 10%!
The Human Price of Climate Change

Drought is driving current increases in food prices around the world, in combination with increased use of grains for fuel. Globally, the number of malnourished people decreased up until the late 1990s. Now that number is increasing.

Disease carriers will expand their territory, either by moving to higher elevations in mountainous areas or by expanding their territory further from the equator. This expansion will expose millions of humans to the often deadly infectious diseases that these animals transmit.

150,000 annual deaths worldwide have been tied to climate change already, according to a 2005 World Health Organization report. Climate related deaths are expected to double in 25 years. Industrialized countries may be sheltered from the current impacts of climate change, but others are not.

Heat waves and droughts are responsible for these deaths, as well as floods and more powerful storms linked to climate change.
Approaching a Slippery Slope

Global temperatures have risen about .8° Celsius or 1.4° Fahrenheit already. As a result of this increase, the vast arctic tundra is melting, releasing enormous volumes of both carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. This creates the possibility of a self-reinforcing loop of climate change: as more carbon dioxide and methane are released from the arctic tundra, the greenhouse effect will be further enhanced.

The world's oceans are losing their ability to absorb carbon because of rising water temperatures, according to accumulating evidence. This is significant because the world's oceans hold 50 times more carbon than do the world's forests and grasslands. The decreasing capacity of the Earth's carbon sinks to absorb carbon could further increase the likelihood of runaway climate change.
Rapid Climate Shifts

Scientists are becoming convinced that past cycles of climate change on the Earth have been anything but slow and incremental, ever since the idea that the Earth may warm over time as a result of human-created climate change has reached the public consciousness.

Climate change happens suddenly and violently. Research indicates that the Earth's climate exists in a stable state for many thousands of years. Then, pressure for change builds from increases or decreases in carbon levels as well as changes in solar radiation. At some point, the Earth reaches a tipping point where global climate systems and ocean currents are radically altered over the course of only a few years, or even months.

Once that threshold is crossed, the Earth's climate goes through a period of dramatic disequilibrium, finally settling down in a new stable state that is very different from the previous one.

There is no turning back if we cross the threshold and reach a tipping point. Weather patterns all over the world may be disrupted, ending life as we know it. We must not gamble with all of life on Earth. You should work to take decisive action to avoid devastating climate change.


February 14, 2012

Solution to Acid Rain - G1 Mains - Paper 4

Reduce emissions:

Burning fossil fuels is still one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity so people are now researching new ways to burn fuel which don't produce so much pollution.

• Governments need to spend more money on pollution control even if it does mean an increase in the price of electricity.

• Sulphur can also be 'washed' out of smoke by spraying a mixture of water and powdered limestone into the smokestack.

• Cars are now fitted with catalytic converters which remove three dangerous chemicals from exhaust gases.

Find alternative sources of energy

• Governments need to invest in researching different ways to produce energy.

• Two other sources that are currently used are hydroelectric and nuclear power. These are 'clean' as far as acid rain goes but what other impact do they have on our environment?

• Other sources could be solar energy or windmills but how reliable would these be in places where it is not very windy or sunny?

• All energy sources have different benefits and costs and all theses have to be weighed up before any government decides which of them it is going to use.


Conserving resources

• Greater subsidies of public transport by the government to encourage people to use public transport rather than always travelling by car.

• Every individual can make an effort to save energy by switching off lights when they are not being used and using energy-saving appliances - when less electricity is being used, pollution from power plants decreases.

• Walking, cycling and sharing cars all reduce the pollution from vehicles.


Effects of Timber Extraction - g1 mains - paper 4

 Effects of Timber Extraction

The major effects of limber extraction on forest and tribal people include :
1.Poor logging results in a degraded forest.
2.Floods may be intensified by cutting of trees or upstream watersheds.
3.Loss of biodiversity.
4.Climatic changes such as lower precipitation.
5.New logging roads permit shifting cultivators to gain access to logged areas and fell the remaining trees.
6. It results in forest fragmentation which promotes loss of biodiversity because some species of plants and animals require large continuous areas of similar habitat to survive.
7.Exploitation of tribal people by the contractors.
8.Soil erosion specially on slopes occurs extensively.
9.sedimentation of irrigation systems, floods may be intensified by cutting of trees on upstream.
10. Scientific research documenting the impact of timber extraction indicate that it has resulted in fragmentation of the remaining forest, as well as decrease in biodiversity
11. loss of non-timber products and loss of long-term forest productivity on the site affect the subsistence economy of the forest dwellers.


Estuaries Ecosystem - G1 Mains - paper 4

The estuarine system is quite rich in flora and fauna. Estuary is formed near the coastline, where the river water mixes with sea water. Estuaries are very fertile in nature.The biotic and abiotic components are as follows.

1. Biotic components - These include

(i) Producers - Producers are mainly micro flora like diatoms, green algae like spirogyra, volvox, chlorella, blue-green algae like anabaena, toria, etc., Macroflora like sea weeds, submerged grasses and rooted plants.

(ii)           Consumers - The chief consumers are protozoans like noctiluca, euglena, vorticella, etc., and a large number of crustaceans, rotifers, annelids, small and large fishes, etc.

(iii)         Decomposers - Bacteria and fungi disintegrate the dead organic material of the living.

2. Abiotic components - They include the organic, inorganic and climatic factors like heat, light pH, pressure, etc.

In India important estuaries are Chilka Lake in Orissa, Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh and Thailanadu and Hoogly Matta in West Bengal.


Ocean Ecosystem - g1 mains - paper 4

Oceans arc the largest and most stable marine ecosystems. Oceans cover approximately 70 per cent of the earth's surface. Ocean water is saline and highly rich in minerals and gases. The biotic and abiotic components are discussed below.

1.          Biotic components - They are classified as

(i)            Producers - They consists of phytoplanktons, e.g., diatoms, dinotkgellatesred, brown algae, etc.

(ii)            Consumers - Crustaceans, molluscs, fishes, etc., are the primary consumers. The secondary consumers are herring, mackerel, shad, etc.. whereas the tertiary consumers include fishes like cod, haddock, halibut, etc.

(iii)          Decomposers - Saprophytic bacteria and fungi are the decomposers of ocean ecosystem.

2.          Abiotic components - The main abiotic components are light, heat, pH, inorganic and organic substances.


River Ecosystem - g1 mains - paper 4

Rivers are freshwater lotic ecosystems. Rivers are quite large in terms of their size, speed of flowing water, amount of water, 02 quantity and physical and chemical conditions. Their biotic and abiotic components are as follows:

1.          Biotic components - These include

(i)           Producers - They include phytoplanktons, blue-green algae, green algae, water moss and diatoms.

(ii)           Consumers - The consumers are cephalopteryx, helodes, phalacrocera, etc.

(iii)         Decomposers - Bacteria and fungi are the micro-organisms that feed on the dead organic material.

2.          Abiotic components -These comprise organic substances, inorganic materials and climatic factors of a region.


February 9, 2012

Our Judicial System - Composition and Organization


We have two sets of Government—one for the Centre and the other for the States. Powers of both Governments have been well defined in the Constitution. Although we have a dual polity (federal form of government), our judiciary is not like that. We have a single unified judiciary. In other words, all the Courts interpret and enforce the State laws as well as the laws made by the Union Parliament. The subordinate courts, district courts and High Courts are all subject to the control of the Supreme Court. The Constitution says that "the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India."


Necessity of a Supreme Court may be underlined thus:

Firstly, India has a federal political system. The Supreme Court in a federal system has to interpret the Constitution. For the sake of stability of the Federal Government it is essential that the Central Government and the State Governments should act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. If some dispute arises between the Centre and the States or for that matter between the States themselves, it has to be settled by the Supreme Court. That is why the Supreme Court is called the final Interpreter and Guardian of the Constitution.

Secondly, the Supreme Court and the High Courts protect the fundamental rights. For the purpose of protecting the rights of the citizens, the Supreme Court and the High Court may issue the Writs or directions to the concerned authorities.

Thirdly, the Supreme Court gives a new meaning to the Constitution to meet the new situations. The Supreme Court helps the Constitution to adapt itself to the changed conditions of society.


The composition and organisation of the Supreme Court is given below:

1.   Appointment of the Judges: At the commencement of the Constitution the number of judges was eight including the Chief Justice of India. The number of judges has since been increasing. Now in accordance with an Act of 2008 the Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of India and not more than thirty other judges.

Every Judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President. The appoint­ments are made after consultations with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of High Courts as the President may deem necessary. But while appointing a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted. The Chief Justice must consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court before making any recommendation to the President of India in this regard.

The criteria for the appointment of the Chief Justice of India shall be seniority.

2.   Qualifications for Appointment as a Judge: A Judge of the Supreme Court must be a Citizen of India, and

(a)    must have been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court, or

(b)   an advocate of a High Court for at least ten years, or

(c)       must be, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished Jurist.

3.   Oath of Office: Every Judge before he enters upon his office has to make an Oath or Affirmation that he (a) will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution; (6) will uphold the sovere­ignty and integrity of India; and (c) will perform the duties of his office without fear or favour, affection or ill will. The Oath is administered by the President of India.

4.  Term of Office and Removal: The Judges enjoy a reasonable security of tenure. Once appointed, a judge retires on attaining the age of 65 years.

A judge may resign his office by writing to the President. He may also be removed from his office by the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. But that is possible only when an Address of each House of Parliament (passed by a majority of the total membership of that House and by majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting) has been presented to the President.

Women Judges M. Fathima Beevi was appointed as the first woman Judge of the Supreme Court in 1989. She was followed by Sujata V, Manohar. The third woman Judge was Justice Ruma Pal, who was appointed in the year 2000. In May 2010 the Supreme Court got a lady Judge after a gap of many years.

5.  Salaries, etc., of the Judges: The Chief Justice and other Judges are paid such salaries as may be determined by the Parliament. Their salaries are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. The salaries and allowances of a

Judge shall not be varied to his disadvantage during his term of office. Salaries and allowances of the Judges may be reduced only during periods of financial emergency.

6. Seat of Supreme Court: Delhi is the seat of the Supreme Court. The Court may sit in such other place or places as the Chief Justice of india may, with the approval of the President, decide.


February 6, 2012


Why is the Judiciary kept Indepen­dent of the Control of Executive and Legislature?

The Supreme Court and the High Courts administer justice not only between citizen and citizen but also between 'State' and a 'Citizen'. Judges independence is essential for the functioning of a democratic Constitution. An independent judiciary is said to be the first condition of liberty. The independence of the Judges of the Supreme Court is ensured by the following provisions:

1.        Appointment of Judges: In appointing the Judges the President shall consult the Chief Justice of India. The Chief Justice should take into account the views of four of his senior most colleagues. Thus, neither the Executive (Ministry of Law and Justice) nor the Chief Justice of India acting on his own can have full control over Judges' appointment. In other words, "neither political bias nor personal favoritism" would play any part in the appointment of Judges. It has enhanced independence of the judiciary.

2.    Security of Tenure: A Judge can remain in office till he has attained the age of 65 years. He can be removed by the President on the ground of "proved misbehaviour or incapacity" on an Address of each House of Parliament. The word 'proved' is very significant. It means that an Address can only be presented after an allegation has been thoroughly examined by some impartial tribunal.

3.   Salaries, etc. are Charged on the Consolidated Fund of India: Judges' salaries, allowances, etc. shall not be varied to their disadvantage during their term of office. Moreover, they are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subject to Vote of Parliament. The salaries of the Judges cannot be reduced except during periods of Financial Emergency.

4.     No Discussion with respect to the Conduct of any Judge: No discussion shall take place in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any Judge in the discharge of his duties, except when a motion for his removal is under consideration. The conduct of a Judge cannot ordinarily be a subject-matter of discussion inside legislature.

5.     Punishment for the Contempt of Court: Genuine criticism of a Judgment is allowed, but nothing should be done to lower the authority or dignity of the Court. The Supreme Court has the power to punish for contempt of itself.

6.      Prohibition of Practice after Retirement: A retired judge of the Supreme Court cannot plead any case in any court or tribunal in India, This ensures that the judges, while making decisions, would not be unduly influenced by their former colleagues or superiors.