Nature's treasure-trove

Read more below

  • Published 16.03.12

Book title: Asomor Prakritik Sampad

Editor: Dr Aditi Bezbaruah

Publisher: Assam Science Writers’ Association

Pages: 447

Price: Rs 250

Recently, at a lecture in Calcutta, nobel laureate Prof. Joseph Staglitz said the real scarcity in the world lay in its diminishing natural resources. “These,” he lamented, “were underpriced” and that “society, especially the underdeveloped world, should focus on innovations which save resources and the environment.”

We cannot help but admit that in the garb of development, which unfortunately may not reach all the segments of the society, we are damaging forests, water bodies, land, minerals and the very air we breathe. We are destroying and exhausting the soil that feeds us.

In fact, we are harming the entire eco-sphere we live in. And while damaging the natural resources and harming nature, we are threatening the very existence of life.

Against this backdrop, the Assam Science Writers’ Association has done a laudable job by initiating and doing a very important task by preparing the Asomor Prakritik Sampad. This document details the natural resources of Assam, which, no doubt, is a hotspot of biological diversity and natural abundance.

Preparing a book on natural resources of a region like Assam without compromising its accuracy and authenticity is not an easy matter. It is a Herculean task, and the editor, Dr Aditi Bezbaruah, and associate editor Dr Mantu Bhuyan are to be commended for performing this onerous task with diligence and care. All the contributors of the articles who happened to be experts in their respective fields deserve thanks and congratulations.

The editor and the writers have laboured to bring under focus the entire gamut of the natural resources, including the human resources of Assam, soil, water, minerals, coal, mineral oil, forests, medicinal and aromatic plants, bamboo and rattan, fibre bearing plants, birds, animals and insects, flowers, fruits, vegetables, tea and silk — almost everything is covered in a single volume.

I wish some agencies take up the matter and bring out an exhaustive book on this vast and important subject consisting of several volumes. To bring out such a voluminous work, a systematic and scientific survey and study through remote sensing and such other state-of-the-art devices should be undertaken. This broad-based and thorough study and analysis will help in development activities as well as to take pre-emptive and preventive measures and actions before it is too late or things goes beyond repair.

The book would have been even more comprehensive had a chapter on wastes, especially biomass, obtained from plant sources or agricultural sources and farm sector been incorporated.

Tea waste, pineapple waste, banana pseudo stems, sugarcane bagasse, cellulosic waste like jute caddis, saw dust, coal waste like fly ash, and waste from petroleum industry like tank bottom sludge and so on also form part of our biosphere.

It amply shows that Assam has a great potential and scope to utilise its vast resources of unutilised valuable wastes from almost inexhaustible sources. All this and other organic, inorganic and industrial wastes should be scientifically analysed and collated.

This book is an invaluable piece of work and can serve as a pathfinder and a beacon for further work. It has not only enriched scientific knowledge about natural resources of Assam but will also help in the development process of the state.