Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stringent rules on bio-fertilisers

April 22, 2006

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 21: The State government has come out with stringent rules on bio-fertilisers including compulsory registration of manufacturers to protect the interests of farmers, who are increasingly turning to natural manures following their bad experiences with chemical fertilisers.
Manufacturers and marketers of bio-fertilisers and organic fertilisers will now have to register themselves with the agricultural department on or before May 31. The new amended rules to the Fertiliser Control Order - 2006 will come into force from June 1.
Those violating the FCO like selling or manufacture of spurious or substandard bio-fertilisers or organic fertilisers will attract imprisonment up to seven years and fine. Minor offences will attract jail sentence up to one year and fine.
The State government first introduced legislation a couple of months ago and inspired by the Act, the Central government issued orders extending Fertiliser Control Order to the entire country. The new legislation covers bio-fertilisers like rhizobium, phosphate solubilising bacteria, azotobacter and azospirillum while organic fertilisers include city compost, vermi-compost and pressmud.
Agriculture Commissioner Poonam Malakondaiah said the State has about 60 bio-fertiliser and organic fertiliser manufacturing units and in the absence of any regulations so far, farmers have been losing heavily because of spurious or substandard fertilisers.
"All our efforts to promote bio-fertilisers in the State have yielded little results because of spurious commodity available in the market. Now that we have come out with stringent rules and compulsory registration, farmers will go in for bio-fertilisers on a massive scale," she told reporters on Friday.
The State government has notified FCO laboratory at Rajendranagar for analysis of bio-fertilisers and organic fertilisers.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ecological crisis in India: Change in rain pattern in Ranga Reddy district

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 17: A severe ecological crisis is looming large over the neighbouring Ranga Reddy district with a change in rain pattern and steep fall in groundwater table in several places.
This summer is going to be worst-ever dry season in the past one decade what with 70 per cent of the borewells and surface water bodies drying up early. As Rangareddy district surrounds Hyderabad, the adverse environmental impact is likely to be felt equally on the State Capital.
Water levels in and around Hyderabad city have gone down almost by five metres over a period of two years. The fall was quite steep during 2004-2005 due to excessive drawal of underground water and the failure of the rainwater harvesting structures.
Earlier, borewells used to go dry only during summer. Now most of the dug wells remain dry throughout the year. According to a research study by Indo-French Ground Water Project, even electric motors, in many areas in Ranga Reddy district where the study was carried out, pump water for 45 seconds and run without water for the next 60 seconds.
The study noted that there had been a shift in the climatic conditions in the area. "Both time and space variability of rainfall has changed and it is becoming unfavourable. Ponds and tanks have become evaporative bodies. Fluoride levels in groundwater are much higher than the WHO safe limit for drinking for the whole year", the report stated.
The research study reveals that since the underground system and the problem associated with it is complex, heterogeneous and variable, corrective measures do not work and if they do, they are not foolproof.
Most of the rainwater harvesting structures constructed by the previous Telugu Desam government have failed to deliver the goods and even the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has found fault with the State government for its bad planning and execution.
All over the State the fall in the ground water levels ranged from five to 10 metres with Kadapa, Chittoor, Anantapur, Mahbubnagar, Ranga Reddy and Prakasam districts being the worst affected.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Kottur: Archaeological survey of India on a "treasure hunt"

April 15, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 14: The Archaeological Survey of India is on a "treasure hunt" in the nondescript Kotturu village of Visakhapatnam district searching Buddhist ruins for priceless artefacts, inscriptions and ancient gold and silver coins.
Kotturu is one of the six new archaeological sites selected by the Central government for excavations that are likely to throw a deep insight into the lifestyles of people dating back to second century BC. The ASI will dig up "mounds" in and around Kotturu that have so far been the target of vandals seeking treasure throve.
The Central government has decided to go in for a thorough excavation of the "mounds" in Kotturu after archaeologists discovered stone inscriptions containing Telugu words in Brahmi script about 2200 years old. Earlier excavations at the site brought out 107 gold coins, silver coins, pearls, diamonds and gems stored in a small vessel. The vessel was hidden in a rectangular container.
According to officials at the ASI office in Hyderabad, the excavations on Buddhist "mounds" will also throw more light on the language spoken by Buddhist monks and local people in those times. A rock edict in Brahmi script contained the words, "Tambayya Danam", which in Telugu means "donated by Tambayya".
Tambayya was believed to be a Telugu noble who had donated gold ornaments and precious stones to Buddhist monks towards charity. Tambayya's donation includes 21 silver and gold flowers and two gold containers.
Ever since the discovery of the rock edict, the interest of archaeologists and linguistics has gone up on the "mounds" in Kotturu. The edict has pushed the age of Telugu language by at least 800 years. Earlier, Telugu was thought to be evolved around the sixth. The latest evidence now shows that Telugu is as old as 2200 years.
Like Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada, the literature of Telugu has been in vogue for over 1500 years. Some archaeologists have been arguing that Telugu is more than 2000 years old. The first Telugu words can be observed in Ikshavakula inscriptions. Nagarjuna Hill inscriptions of 250 AD contain Telugu words. But the Kotturu inscriptions have come in as the first ever "solid evidence" to prove that Telugu was spoken even before the start of the common era.
The Kotturu "mounds" are similar in structure to the internationally famous "Salihundam", a Buddhist site in Srikakulam district. Salihundam is an ancient settlement containing a maha stupa, votive stupas, chaityas, platforms and viharas. Here the inscriptions date back to the second century AD. The Kotturu "mounds" are four hundred years older than the Salihundam and archaeologists expect more "surprises" during the excavations.
Kotturu and surrounding areas as also the ancient sites along the river Krishna in Krishna and Godavari districts had played an important role in the spread of Buddhism from India to Sumatra, China and other countries in the Far East.
The "mounds" are locally known as "Dhana Dibbalu" (mounds of treasure) in local parlance. There are Chaitya Grihas or halls of worship built of brick. Similar ruins are also found in Andhra Pradesh at places like Guntapalli near Vijayawada, Nagarjunakonda and Amaravathi in Guntur district. But these mounds are 100 years older than the Kotturu mounds.
Along with Kotturu mounds, the ASI has taken up excavations at ancient sites in Chaturbhuj Nala (Mandsaur district) and Gondarmau (Bhopal district) in Madhya Pradesh, Aragarh (Puri district) in Orissa and Sanauli, Baghpat and Latiya (Ghazipur district) in Uttar Pradesh.
The other oldest Telugu inscription is from 633 AD. The Telugu literature begins with an 11th-century translation of the Sanskrit classic Mahabharata.
Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gathasaptashathi) collected by the first century BC Satavahana King Hala. Telugu speakers were probably the oldest peoples inhabiting the land between Krishna and Godavari. ASI officials hope that the Kotturu findings are likely to give a historical look to the Telugu language and the traditions and culture of the Telugu-speaking people.