For bioremediation of polluted soil and prevention of global warming
VELLORE: Mass cultivation of bamboo and `malai vembu' (a variety of neem grown in the hills) could be taken up in Vellore district for bio-remediation of polluted soil, prevention of pollution from tannery and sewage effluents and to prevent global warming, according to G. Kumaravelu, full time member of the State Planning Commission and a retired Indian Forest Service officer.
Speaking at a meeting with Vellore Collector C. Rajendran, Conservator of Forests A.V. Venkatachalam, Vellore District Forest Officer T.V. Manjunatha, District Revenue Officer A. Saravanavelraj and other officials of the Forest Department at the Collectorate here on Wednesday, Dr. Kumaravelu said that a sum of Rs.10 crore has been allotted for the Environment Protection and Clean Energy Development Fund.
The development fund has been created by the Tamil Nadu government to implement schemes aimed at environmental protection and prevention of global warming.
The Planning Commission member said that the Forest Department has identified four species of bamboo for cultivation under the scheme.
He suggested that the sewage water from Vellore Corporation could be treated and utilised to irrigate 10 acres of bamboo that could be cultivated for the purpose of scientific disposal of the sewage. Each municipality, having a population of one lakh, discharges one crore litres of sewage water every day at the rate of 100 litres per head.
Dr. Kumaravelu said that each of the 140 municipalities in Tamil Nadu could take up cultivation of bamboo trees around it, and utilise the treated sewage for irrigating the same.
Since the roots and tubers of the bamboo have the capacity to treat the effluents, they could be used for pollution control, he said. It was possible to get a yield of 10 tonnes of bamboo per acre and a revenue of Rs.25,000 to Rs.30,000 per acre per year four years after commencement of cultivation, at the rate of Rs.2500 to Rs.3000 per tonne. Vermi-compost could also be produced from bamboo. If bamboo was cultivated on five lakh acres of agricultural land, out of the 145 lakh acres in the State, we could get 100 lakh tonnes of vermi-compost every year. The women's self-help groups could be entrusted with the task of cultivating bamboo on one acre of land each. If the scheme was implemented throughout Tamil Nadu, it was possible to harvest 100 lakh tonnes of bamboo every year after four years. It was possible to market the bamboo since the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) alone used 10 lakh tonnes of wood-based raw materials every year, he said.
The Planning Commission member said that `malai vembu' could also be cultivated in Vellore district, and this would go to feed plywood industries that could be started in the district.
There were only 682 wood-based industries in Vellore district, as against 5154 in Virudhunagar district and 1319 in Tuticorin district. All the wood-based industries could start co-generation units to produce electricity to meet the energy shortage on account of factors such as absence of rainfall and shortage of coal. He suggested cultivation of sandalwood along the banks of Palar River as well as in the forests as they would yield rich resources.
Later talking to newspersons, Dr. Kumaravelu said that it was possible to produce one MW of power per hour by cultivating bamboo on 300 acres, each acre yielding 20 tonnes per year. Twenty bamboo species were tried in tannery effluent affected lands in Ambur, Vaniyambadi and Dindigul and in the land polluted by the dyeing industries in Tirupur, and were found successful.
A species called `bamboo vulgaris' is suited for production of fabrics and carry bags. Technology is available for the production of corrugated sheets (for roofs) from bamboo.
The Tamil Nadu government could earn revenue of Rs.2750 crores per annum by levying a carbon tax of Rs.50 per tonne of coal produced, he said.