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Wednesday , November 21 , 2012
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Tsunami of earthy facts
Ranchi geologist’s book dwells on exotic wealth

Did you know that the epicentre of an earthquake, which triggered what is considered the earliest tsunami, was in present-day Jharkhand?

If you didn’t, you will soon be able to look up Squeezing Earth to Death: Premises and Effects — a book authored by Ranchi-based geologist Nitish Priyadarshi that tracks changes in the global environment — for little known facts and warning signals on our own Mother Nature.

“An earthquake leading to tsunami had occurred near Chaibasa nearly 1,600 million years ago. Study of rocks at a place north of Chakradharpur by geologists from University of Munich in 2006 had revealed this,” said Priyadarshi, holding a copy of his book that he received in Ranchi from Bloggingbooks, a sister concern of German publisher Südwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften GmbH & Co. KG.

The book has recently been released in the US and UK.

The environment specialist said the geologists had reached the conclusion on the tsunami findings after studying rock formations that they termed “Chaibasa Formation”.

The 280-page book also answers curious questions like why the groundwater of Delhi is saline.

Basing his work on field visits as well as elaborate research, Priyadarshi dwells on an array of issues, especially concerning river pollution, coal, global warming, uranium mining and its effects in Jharkhand and availability of gold, diamond, platinum and other rare elements.

“Writings in the Mughal period show that people collected diamond in rivers like Shankh, Brahmani and Koel in Jharkhand. Also, at Sadni Falls near a place called Simah, about 19km from Palamau, diamond mines existed,” the author mentions, quoting from a 1777 report of Captain Hawkins, who was the then in-charge of Ramgarh Battalion.

The book observes that Hawkins’ report said the three rivers “carried gold dust” and “the raja of Chotanagpur engaged his people in mining gold in the rivers”.

Switch to present, platinum, which is costlier than gold, can be found in places such as Jojohatu, Hatagamharia, Roro Buru, Kinsi Buru, Tonto in the Singhbhum region.

The book also draws attention to river pollution — including Subernarekha and Damodar in Jharkhand — across the country. “Heavy metals such as chromium, lead, arsenic and mercury are found in large quantity in these rivers, as a result of mining. In major portions, the water is dead and no aquatic life can survive,” he points out.

Talking about global warming, he highlights how it isn’t a new concept in Jharkhand but one that has found mention in the myths of tribal communities for centuries.

According to popular beliefs, when asuras (a tribe group) tried to burn coal to melt ore and extract iron, Singbonga (the Supreme God in Sarna religion) residing above felt the heat emanating from ovens. The ecology was thrown out of balance and it rained fire, killing many.

Priyadarshi goes on to explain how coal, uranium mining the like have contributed to global warming.

The book is priced at £40 (UK) and $60 (US) respectively.

“As it will be exorbitant if we stick to the original price, the German company is looking to tie up with some Indian publisher and then launch the book here,” Priyadarshi said.

The PhD holder, who takes special classes on environment management at Ranchi University’s postgraduate department of geology, has also penned Handbook of Geology in Chotanagpur (1998) and contributed to Water Encyclopaedia (2004) earlier.

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