Articles by Guest Authors


10 life hacks every student need to know

Your college life is amazing: pulling all-nighters, eating noodles and being constantly broke. Sounds like heaven, right? Sometimes it is just too much for an average student. It wouldn’t be that bad to have some rest and sleep enough every now and then. Or, you feel like you can afford to go for a coffee or have a dessert. It would be just nice. But, who said that you have to suffer from this during all your student years? There are plenty of life hacks for students that can make your life easier. Whether you are wondering how to get all your work done, or how to deal with annoying roommates, here is a pack of amazing life hacks every student should use.

1. Never study in the bed
You can find a lot of articles on the Internet explaining why you shouldn’t do that. Yes, the bed is the comfiest place, but if we happen to study in it, then it tempts us to fall asleep! While studying in the bed, you won’t be able to concentrate at all, which means you will not be productive. It is recommended to study while sitting at a table or desk.

2. Used textbooks
There is nothing like the smell of the new book and its pages. But, in fact, there is no sense in buying new books as you are going to use them just for a definite period of time. You can save some money and buy the used ones. They will do just fine. What is more, you can even try to resell them later.

3. Eating out
One of the best student hacks is eating out frequently. Eating out is way too expensive. Just limit yourself to eating out a couple of times a week and you will notice that you end up saving more money.

4. Turn off your phone
People tend to procrastinate, especially, when it’s time to do our homework, or some other important things. While studying, try to turn off your phone for some time. It will help you to concentrate on a studying material and be more productive. After, let’s say, 1 hour you can go back to scrolling your Instagram and posting new tweets, but you will not feel guilty anymore. 

5. Easily find sources for your assignments
It is a well-known fact that you cannot use Wikipedia as a source of truthful information. But did you know that on every page they have listed sources? Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and find a list of references. Or just order an assignment on one of the writing services. That is one of the coolest life hacks for students!

6. Skimming texts
One of the college hacks is not reading text entirely. Who needs to read all these boring articles while you can go out and have some fun? Wait, you do need to do this!  But, try to skip some parts of the text while reading and get a general idea of what it is about.

7. Get enough sleep
That is weird, but some of the top life hacks for students is to get enough sleep. We know that this is really hard as you have plenty of different activities. However, not sleeping well can make you less productive. Try to take naps from time to time. But don’t overdo it!

8. Give yourself an award
When you reached some goal or finished your homework, treat yourself with a dessert or watch your favorite TV show. The award doesn’t have to be big, just something that can boost your mood.

9. Organize your life
The organization makes it easier to find everything, which saves you a lot of time. Just put your socks in the sock drawer and leave your notebooks on the table. Before going to sleep, choose and prepare clothes for the next day. By doing this, you will not be struggling with what you should wear in the morning and have more time for breakfast.

10. Look for offers and coupons
Student discounts are everywhere and they come in various forms. Most of the clothes brands will give you a discount if you show them your student card. You can also get discounts for the cinemas, museums and many other different places.

The study life hacks don’t end up here, but try to use at least some of them. Being a college student is challenging enough, but after trying some of these top study life hacks, I can guarantee that you will be having the time of your life in college. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and find a list of references. Or just order an assignment on one of the writing services like this That is one of the coolest life hacks for students.

Harry Southworth

 Is there a perfect travel plan?

After reading many travelogues here on this blog, here are a few of my thoughts about travelling. If I am ever asked whether there is a perfect travel plan, my answer would be a firm No.  I do love beaches but spending a day there, relaxing on the beach, would not be my idea of a holiday and  any extended holiday on a beach or in a five or four star resort, would not enthuse me at all. Someone mentioned recently to me that I love to visit temples. Well! That is true to an extent. I do love to visit temples, but to qualify for my visit, it has to be at least 500 years old and preferably in ruins and without an idol. However, visiting old temples, is not my only choice. I also love to visit museums and old ruins. Here are some of my top favourites.

If anyone opts for a holiday in east Asia, the temple ruins of Siem Reap, Cambodia, are the most visit worthy temple ruins on earth, according to me. There are number of temples here, but the best from the angle of fine workmanship, is undoubtedly the smallest temple of the lot, Banteay Strei. I have never seen before, such exquisite and dainty carvings on stone. The bass reliefs at other places are carved in such way that a two dimensional picture materializes in your front. In Angkor Wat temple for example, some of the bass reliefs, have three or even four depth levels, to make carvings appear more realistic. However, the carvings in Banteay Strei are almost three dimensional. A flower or a sea shell, appears as if the real thing has been pasted on the stone. In this temple ruin, lintels on the doors and the windows, each tell a story from Hindu mythological scriptures. Since I had read most of the stories in the past, it was fun for me to see the carvings in details. However a person unknown to Hindu Mythological stories, can easily follow them from excellent guide books available. 
Going to the west and beyond the Arabian sea, a treasure world of ruins opens if one opts for Red Sea Holidays. In addition to a huge variety of historical treasures such as the Sphinx, the iconic Pyramids of Giza, which can be seen with Cairo as your base, there are stunning beach resorts for a lazy day in the sun. Sharm el Sheikh beach resort offers a perfect base for scuba diving enthusiasts, who want to explore aquatic treasures of red sea. Other beach resorts which are popular are at Taba and Hurghada. The icing on the cake for an Egypt holiday however, at least according to me, is the Egyptian museum at Cairo. With over 120000 artifacts in stock, this museum is a treasure house for people interested in history. You can see here King Tutankhamen's Golden Mask, and Ramses' mummy on display in only one place.
Talking of museums, the best and perhaps the most accessible museum in India, is New Delhi's National Museum. The ancient civilizations wing on the ground floor is a wonder world of ancient Indian history. Small statues, clay toys, ornaments and personal effects from a period of 3000BC to 1500BC from the Indus valley sites such as Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Dholavira and Lothal are well displayed here.
What surprised me very much that many present day things of daily use have their origins here. Even the humble bullock cart used by farmers in rural India has a design today. Which is very similar to the one used by Indus valley civilization people. There are two more museums in the Indian subcontinent, which I can never hope to see. One is in Lahore and other in Peshawar. Both these museums have great frescos and panels from Gandhar era.

Coming down to south India, the ruins at Hampi are perhaps the best in India. From fourteenth to sixteenth century AD, Vijayanagara kings had created, some of the most wonderful temples here. Hazari Ram temple and Vitthala temple,which is without doubt the best, still stands here with all the glory of the past. My holiday at Hampi was so memorable that I shall cherish it for my life.

I always find a visit to such old temple ruins or to a museum deeply satisfying. To learn about history is actually to learn about our past follies and mistakes. I think that if everyone decides to learn from history and vows not to repeat the misdeeds, the world can be a far safer and happier place.

Perhaps more important aspect of planning a trip besides choosing a destination is to decide whether use services of a travel service company or do it on your own. Both have their pluses and minuses. My personal preference is for a tour arranged by a professional set up because they take care of almost all the head aches.

A traveller


Railway Modelling: The US scene

Milind  ( is an old friend, who resides in US. After reading my blogpost about Model Railways, he has  sent  me his experiences and photographs about this hobby in US. I thought of sharing these with readers and feel sure that the readers would find it interesting.

I read your blog about Hornby trains with great interest and it brought back memories of my childhood. In 1949, my father who was in the Indian Navy, gave me a simple Hornby train set: a clockwork engine and three cars on an oval. The set didn't last very long and, as was the case in those days, being quite expensive wasn't replaced.
Nearly fifty years later in early 2000s I decided to build an O gauge train set with the help of my young son Hari. I created a layout modeled on a typical small mid-Western city like Moline Illinois, the hometown of John Deere, which I first saw in the mid-1970s. The layout is an "L" shape of approximately 8 feet at the base and 12 feet long, on two levels, with a town on the upper level and a marshaling yard where trains are stored and containers can be loaded on the trains.

The first photograph shows a Union Pacific Railway company's Big Boy locomotive (in black). American steam locomotives had much more variety and were often of much greater size than those in the UK or Europe, due to (i) the large number of railways in the United States and (ii) the sheer size of the country. The Big Boy locomotives were the only locomotives to use a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, consisting of a four-wheel leading truck for stability entering curves, two sets of eight driving wheels and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the large firebox. The nomenclature — 4-8-8-4 - is interesting; that's how railroaders described steam engine layouts: leading truck, main drivers and trailing truck. The Big Boy had an overall length including tender of 135 feet and was designed to haul 3,200 long ton freight train over 1.2% maximum grades at speeds up to 50 mph. The articulated design — the main 68" driving wheels were divided into two "trucks" with their own power and each truck had a swivel point at the center so it could turn independently of the other — was to ensure that the long engine would be able to navigate curves designed for shorter engines.

On the track below is a model of the Santa Fe Super Chief in red and silver. This is one of the most popular models and the first diesel model created by the Lionel model railroad company. The Super Chief ran for 35 years between Chicago and Los Angeles, and covered the 2,200 mile distance in 39  hours and 45 minutes. It was an all Pullman (sleeping car) train, which made very few stops between Chicago and Los Angeles. For much of that period, the vast majority of travelers took the train as flying was too expensive; this changed in the late 1960s with the result that the Super Chief was discontinued in 1971.

It is interesting to compare the careers of the US and English model train makers: Joshua Lionel Cowen (1877 - 1965) founded the Lionel train company in 1900 and became the largest toy manufacturer in the world in the early 1950s. Hornby (1863 - 1936) founded Meccano which got into trains in the 1920s, much later than Lionel. Lionel's early trains were in a very large gauge called Standard, with 2-1/8" track representing a US track width of 4' 8" (note that India has the widest gauge in the world at 5 feet 6" versus the 4 feet 8" in much of the rest of the world). Standard gauge trains were very large and a typical set would require a room of 20 feet by 25 feet. This limited the hobby to rich families with large houses and the pieces were expensive to manufacture, so Lionel and others introduced O gauge with a track of 1 & 1/4" making it approximately 1:48 scale. This made the models and tracks smaller than Standard, so a middle class family could have a reasonable layout without a huge room. At the same time, the locomotives and carriages were large enough children -- mostly boys -- could play with them.

In the United States HO scale (1:87) took off after World War II when a large mass market for trains emerged due to increasing affluence yet O scale was too large for the smaller houses. Lionel introduced Ho in the 1950s but was never very successful at it.
HO (half O gauge) and OO (double 'O') have the same track size but rolling stock scales are different. In OO rolling stock is made to 1:76 scale so the stock is 20% larger than the track. Hornby introduced OO under the trade name "Dublo (probably for Double O)" in the 1920s, but these were mostly clockwork trains. Their first successful electric trains were introduced in the late 1930s, and ran on DC versus AC for O gauge.
Today model railroading is an active hobby in the United States with probably a million to two million enthusiasts and at least three monthly publications. However, it is a very mature hobby as young boys stop being interested in trains after they get past the Thomas the Tank Engine stage. So its not clear how long the hobby will survive.


My home city of Pune is planning for a metro rail, Here are two articles written by Ms. Anagha Paranjape Purohit, which I find highly informative.

Metro & 4 FSI in the Metro Influence Zone: What it will mean to Pune?

Since my blog last week, I have further gone into an analysis of the 4.0 FSI in the Metro Influence Zone. We have to realise that its not a matter of just becoming accustomed to a massive serpentine elevated track in the city, but it means a huge social upheaval. Just see the numbers below and I wonder if you will back the current Metro funding proposal. And all I ask is whether in-depth studies and estimates are carried out behind the proposed policies or are 4.0 FSI provisions just floated without understanding or estimating its social impact and costs?

1. The current length of the Pune Metro within the core city area is 57.58 km.
2. Considering the 500 m on both sides, the Metro Influence Zone will be 57.58 sq km.
3. This equals to 14230.57 acres of Metro Influence Zone in Pune city core

As per the Development Plan, the provisions of the Metro Influence Zone are applicable to Residential and Commercial zoned properties, which is approximately 40% of the total land area in Pune.
4. So 40% of 14230.47 acres = 5692.2 acres, will have to be redeveloped  with 4.0 FSI in the next 5 years or face a burdensome cess equal to 5% of the property value.
5. 10% Open Space is mandatory for any development, which is not compensated through FSI. So removing this 10% from the above, we have a total of 5123 acres available for 4.0 FSI redevelopment.

6Thus, 225,412,000 sq ft of residential and commercial space can be generated in Pune with 1 FSI on 5123 acres. However, most of the core area in Pune is already developed with 1 FSI and so the above floor space possibly exists today. 
7. To this, we will add a whopping 676,236,000 sq ft, thus creating a total space of 901,648,000 sq ft in Pune just in the Metro Influence Zone. Additionally, there will be development outside the Metro Influence Zone as well, which I am not accounting in these numbers.
8. Considering that a 1000 sq ft makes one average apartment in Pune, the above space will generate 751,372 homes or offices of 1000 sq ft each. These will have to be generated in 5 years, as the 4 FSI condition is to increase density for the Metro to become viable. Also, it is a mechanism to generate funds for the Metro, so the Urban Local Body will surely facilitate redevelopment within this Zone as fast as possible to fund the Metro.
9. On an average, every year in Pune, all the Developers collectively generate 22000 to 25000 flats. Considering the same rate of construction, Pune will be able to generate the 751,372 flats of 1000 sq ft each in 34 years. Alternatively, Pune's Developers will have to build 150,000 flats every year to meet the 751,372 flat requirement in 5 years. What will happen to the housing market? Will Developers create such a huge supply of housing and office space by paying extra premium? 
10. Considering occupancy of 5 persons per flat (of 1000 sq ft), the additional FSI will add 3,381,180 people to Pune in 5 years, if all apartments are occupied. Further, it will add even more people as office spaces will accommodate even more people per sq ft. 
11. Approximately 33 lakh people have the potential to stay within Pune city with the provision of 4.0 FSI in the Metro Influence Zone, still not counting the rest of the city.
12. Realistically, not all properties will redevelop with the 4.0 FSI due to various constraints like road widths available, plots not getting amalgamated etc. Thus, considering that 50% of the above area cannot use the 4.0 FSI, we will still have more than 15 lakh population that could possibly add to Pune's existing population if that much housing space is created within the Metro Influence Zone. 
13. For a city that has a population of 26 lakhs within the core area, an addition of approx. 15 lakh people will spell disaster. 
14. Further, we all just had months of the Development Plan discussions in Pune highlighting the fact that Open Areas have shrunk (15-20% is suggested by the UDPFI, while Pune has allocated 6%), School reservations are inadequate, Affordable housing reservations are miniscule. So how will this influx of people live in Pune? What will be the impact on street crowding? Where will the watersupply come from? Where will the waste go?
Just to cite an example of differential street crowding: In Mumbai, a 2.26 FSI creates a Street Crowding of more than 4500 persons/hectare versus a 7 FSI in New York where the street crowding is about 2000 persons/hectare (Ref. Planner Shirish Patel)
While Urban Metros are being pushed, there are possible alternative urban planning models which are getting ignored, some of which are: 
Urbanize and Decentralize instead of creating massive, dense and sprawling cities
Connect outside areas versus creating inside networks
Focus on Bus Routes for shorter & compact distances, Metro for larger distances.
Provide point-to-point connectivity between Residential areas and Economic Hubs
But with the diktat for the Metro, no one is really even testing alternatives and there lies the worry. And also suspicions that vested interests are at work. 
The typical pro Metro argument that I hear is "if we want our cities to grow and become engines of economic development, urban mobility is important and Metro can provide it". While Metro is propagated as an essential urban amenity towards greater urbanization and thus economic growth, we should ask ourselves whether 'economic growth' and 'prosperity' should be a promise to deliver better quality of life or disruption of social life and displacement of people? 

Pune Metro and its impact on Raising the Cost of Living in Pune

The latest addition, amongst numerous other reports on the Metro, includes the Lohia Committee Report. Since Metro is proposed in cities of India, considerable thought seems to be now going into (albeit being very late) on 'how to really finance this monster infrastructure?' In 2009, a very rosy picture was placed in front of the urban citizens that this glamorous, silver, shiny Metro will be adequately financed using State and Centre funds, supplemented only marginally by Local Municipal Corporation funds and actual ticket fares. The Lohia Committee report, as it reads today, seems like the government ready to do a backflip on this promise.

The Report begins by saying that the financial burden incurred by a Metro is not justified for availing high international loans as huge amounts will be spent in servicing the interest on these loans. Further, the State and the Centre has limited capacity to provide grants to such infrastructure development. On the other hand, the report continues that, urban mobility can only be addressed by proposals like a Metro, which I feel is a fallacy. Thus, the report urges the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to look at "innovative" mechanisms to finance the Metro. Some of the suggestions include raising FSI, levying cess on petrol in cities, toll charges while entering the city, high parking charges etc.

After reading the report, understanding the Metro routes and related changes in FSI and estimating the implications on the lives of urban Indians, the whole exercise of the Metro itself seems like a losing proposition. And I fail to understand who is being obstinate enough to yet push its execution in cities like Pune and Nagpur. When currently, the entire nation is reeling under inflation, rising costs of living, does it make sense to add massive infrastructure that will cause huge amounts of debt? Wouldn't these debts, indirectly be serviced by charging citizens taxes, tolls and cess? Is it really the right time to add to the financial burden of the 'aam admi'?

If we have identified cities as centres of economic growth, should we be incentivizing people to move to cities or push them out with very high costs of living? The urban middle class, despite the raised costs of living, will still survive. But what about the citizens at the edge? Are we threatening this massive displacement of poor people who will move out of cities to reduce their costs of living? And if this happens, it will mean that instead of increasing the density of urban centres, we may end up moving people to the city's fringe to avoid taxes and tolls. And these will be massive settlements just outside the municipal boundaries taking advantage of lower tax regime there, but at the same time using city's infrastructure and amenities. If we are to find thet urbanization will be more rapid at the fringes, does  a network of a Metro inside the city make sense? Or should we be connecting people from outside to the inside? Who then will really ride the Metro and from where to where?

Higher FSI (4.0 proposed) in the Metro Influence Zone (500 m on both sides of the Proposed Metro Line) will mean that huge housing and commercial office space will be generated. Will this ensure dropping of real estate prices? Most probably not. So, since to avail the extra FSI any developer needs to pay 1.5 times the actual rate, creation of this 'undemanded' housing stock will make real estate development with 4.0 FSI economically unfeasible. So the additional 3.0 FSI over the actual 1.0 FSI will remain notional. And finally, if it remains notional, that means the objective of increasing the population density in the city centres will not be achieved. Once again, I come back to my original question...Who will really ride the Metro to make it a feasible option? Further to my argument in the point above, if most people who will ride the Metro are from outside to inside the city, why should existing areas of the city disrupted with the 4.0 FSI densification?

Thirdly, there is a cess that will be levied on properties within the Metro Influence Zone that will fail to redevelop and use the 4.0 FSI. This cess will be levied annually at the rate of 5% of the property value. Consider a situation of a bunglow owner in Kothrud or Prabhat Road. This person will be dependent on a Developer to negotiate an amalgamation so that the overall land will be more than 21000 sq ft (0.2 hectraes). This is a pre-requisite for availing the much hyped 4.0 FSI. So, while the cess is an incentive for redevelopment, it can become a negotiation threat that a Developer can possibly use against property owners. Is there a mechanism that is being established for arbitration of such disputes? If not, once again, many of these properties will come under litigation, thereby not facilitating the use of 4.0 FSI and I returning to my original question....Who will really ride the Metro?

Fourth point is that many properties in the Metro Influence Zone are unlikely to use the expensive paid component of 3.0 FSI, due to failing to have the right road widths to avail of maximum height for the new building. Is it justified that these property owners will be levied the cess for failing to redevelop to 4.0 FSI?

Lastly, in Pune we are all a part of a growing city. The arms of the city are extending in five major directions, four of which will come under the Metro Line. The Metro lines will connect Kharadi to Vanaz and Katraj to Hinjewadi. So, while the Metro lines will be of benefit to the people on the fringe, the properties and lives of people in the city centre is threatened to get disrupted. Pune, still being a relatively compact city, a distances within the city centre are short and less people in these areas will tend to ride the Metro. However the Metro Infleunce Zone threatens to disrupt these people, while the true beneficiaries of the Metro Line will remain relatively unaffected.

With these arguments, I vehemently oppose the Metro proposal as it stands today, its route alignments and its financing options. This Metro proposal will create a mess of Pune that will be very difficult to fix. It will reduce the quality of life of Punekars as we will see more people in less area, high street crowding and more competition to use the meager amenities existing in the city. If you remember, I had written a blog earlier about diminishing green space per person in Pune.

I implore all Punekars to rise and demand that,
1) A detailed study should be conducted on the socio-economic implications of the 4.0 FSI and neighborhoods before it is proposed for the Metro feasibility
2) A detailed traffic forecasting and scenario planning of alternative transport policies, rather than remain fixated by the Metro proposal
3) Plans that promise to increase walkability in the city, a very important component if Metro is to be successful and feasible
4) Detailed study and plans on the fiscal burden and potential increase in cost of living in Pune due to the Metro and the taxes and tolls levied for its financing.

Why, without these, should we Punekars blindly accept a Metro?

Attached below are the proposed Metro Routes. Due to the file size required to see the routes, please scroll to the right to see the full image.

An Interesting research paper by Mr. Ramesh Athavale , Formerly Scientist, National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad and Emeritus Scientist, CSIR, India.

Use of Sarasvati Palaeo- Channels in Reclamation of Water- Logged areas of Punjab and Haryana-A Concept Note.


The states of Punjab and Haryana occur in the Arid to Semi-arid Climate region, with average annual precipitation varying between 300 to 600mm. The natural steady state equilibrium of this region, between water input in the form of precipitation, river inflow and sub surface inflow on one side and surface and sub surface outflow, bare soil evaporation and evapotranspiration on the other side, is disturbed since the arrival of canal irrigation, more than 100 years ago. The irrigation development culminated with establishment of the vast command area of the Bhakra -Nangal project. While irrigation of this fertile plains region of India has benefitted the nation with timely and stupendous increase in food production, there have been inevitable side effects, in terms of secular degradation of the soil productivity, due to the exacerbating problem of water logging and salinisation of soils, which now affects thousands of hectares of agricultural land.
Multiple cropping is practiced in Punjab and Haryana. It is estimated that, in the case of paddy cultivation, approximately 50 percent of the applied irrigation water deep percolates through the soil. The estimate for other crops is about 33 percent of applied irrigation. In the absence of a commensurate natural capacity for sub surface drainage and outflow, this has resulted in rise of the water table. The water table rises up to the crop root level and causes reduction in crop yield. Some of the rising water evaporates and the salts dissolved in it are deposited in the soil, causing salinisation of the soil and further degradation of its productivity. These phenomena are not unique to Punjab and Haryana. About 10% of irrigated land worldwide suffers from water logging. However, as is described further, there might be a unique solution to our problem. 

Magnitude of the Problem:

Various estimates of the extent of water logging and salinisation in Punjab and Haryana are available. I quote from the treatise ‘Unravelling Bhakra’, by Dharmadhikary (2005). According to a 1990-91 statistical data, the waterlogged and salt affected areas in Haryana amounted to 2, 49000 Ha and 1, 97000 Ha respectively. Corresponding figures for Punjab were 200,000 Ha and 490,000 Ha. The seriousness of the problem can be best highlighted by quoting the following two expert statements from the same treatise.
  1. According to Bhamrah, the yields of Paddy and Wheat were 41% and 56% lower in affected lands.
  2. As per Vinay kumar, vice chancellor of the CCS Agricultural University at Hissar, the current estimate of saline and water logged areas in the state of Haryana is around 400,000 Ha and if suitable measures are not taken , then the area with such problem is likely to be about 2,000,000 Ha in next two to three decades. This dire prognosis means that 70% of the irrigated area in Haryana will be affected.

Measures for reclamation of water logged and salinized areas:

Three different methods are practiced for draining out the sub soil water and reclaiming the affected area. These are: 1. Vertical drainage, 2. Surface drainage and 3. Sub surface drainage. Dharmadhikary (2005) has evaluated the efficacy of these three methods in the context of Punjab and Haryana, in a chapter devoted to ‘water logging and Salinisation’ in his treatise on the Bhakra project.
  1. Vertical Drainage: Vertical drainage comprises extraction of ground water, for use in conjunctive irrigation, with resultant lowering of the local water table. This is being practiced on a large scale. However, this solution is advisable only in areas where the ground water is of good quality. It should not be used in areas where the ground water is inherently brackish or saline, because of geological and paleoclimatic reasons. The Central Ground Water Board (Anonymous, 1997), has prepared a ground water quality map of the country. This map delineates such areas in Punjab and Haryana. Even in areas having good quality ground water, one should note that ground water is a replenishable but finite source and is not being naturally replenished at the same rate at which it is being extracted at present. Further the fraction of ground water (50 to 33 percent of the irrigation quantum) that percolates back has an increased content of total dissolved solids, because of evaporation effects. It seems therefore, that the vertical drainage measure can work only in some of the affected area and here also, it can not be a long term solution.
  2. Surface channels. These field drainage cuts, by definition, are not more than 1 to 2 meters deep. They can be used for collecting excess water accumulated on the surface and releasing it in a canal, for ultimate disposal outside the command area. Reluctance of the farmers to surrender land to allow the drains to pass through, and their apprehension about seepage of poor quality water in their farms are some of the difficulties encountered in this method of reclamation.
  3. Sub surface drainage. In this method, a network of vertical, inclined and near horizontal perforated pipes is buried underground to drain out the excess water in a sump and then disposed in another outlet. This method is extensively practiced in Netherlands and a pilot project, with assistance from Netherland, has been implemented in Haryana.
A common denominator in large scale application of any one or a combination of these methods is the problem of disposal of the drained water, outside the affected area. Solutions such as pressure injection of this water in deep boreholes or releasing it in large manmade pans, having impervious linings, have been suggested. However, most experts agree that construction of a long interstate canal, for its disposal in the Gulf of Kachchh, is a permanent, although expensive, solution of the problem.

The Sarasvati Solution:

The ancient Sarasvati originated in Himachal Pradesh, entered Haryana near Kalka, moved through Punjab and Haryana into Rajasthan, meandered and wound further downstream, till it debouched in the Gulf of Kachchh. The river is currently known as Ghaggar River in its upper reaches. The Ghaggar is an ephemeral stream. Several major and minor tributaries joined the Sarasvati over its course. The Sarasvati river system can be considered as a separate entity and not as a part of the Indus basin. It dried up a few thousand years back, due to tectonic movements, tributary diversions and climate changes. This thesis is now well documented and accepted by almost all, barring a few skeptics. The dry courses of the main river and its tributaries are at present covered with sand, loam and silt, deposited by wind over last few thousand years. They could be discerned only after the advent of remote sensing techniques. (Sankaran, A.V., 1999; Roy and Jakhar, 2001).
It is reported that the currently obscure Sarasvati was a mighty river, with bank to bank width varying from 6 to 10 Km and filled with pebbles, gravel, coarse sand and fine sand, like any other river bed (Kalyanaraman, S., Internet blog). The river channel should also be proportionately deep. All such river bed material constitutes a highly permeable medium, which should be present all along the river course, and have a natural down gradient. We thus have a subterranean channel(s) system with considerable capacity to store and transmit water.
The problem of disposal of the water drained out from the thousands of hectares of waterlogged, salinized and erstwhile fertile areas of Punjab and Haryana (and similarly affected irrigated parts of Rajasthan), is considered as the most difficult aspect of reclamation through man made sub surface drainage. It is suggested here that the presently dry and pristine sub surface beds of the Sarasvati and its tributaries in the desert area, can be used to dispose off the water collected through a network of sub surface drains. The quality of this water will be poor in the initial stages but will improve in course of time. This approach, prima facie, seems less expensive and faster than the alternative approach-suggested by some- of taking the drained water all the way South West, to the sea, though a lined canal.
It is proposed through this concept note that a study group for evaluating the technical feasibility, environmental impact, inter- state transfer issues, cost/benefit ratio and other relevant aspects, may be constituted and a pilot experiment may be undertaken, at a site in the palaeo channel of the Sarasvati. If the report of the study group is favorable and is followed by an action plan, then we might see a rejuvenation of the Sarasvati River, besides achieving reclamation of the affected agricultural lands.

  1. Anonymous (1997), “Status of ground water quality including pollution aspects in India”, Central Ground Water Board, New Delhi, pp.1-68.
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Reference to this paper:
Proceedings of conference on ‘Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilization’, held at India International Center, New Delhi, October 24-26, 2008. Edited by S.Kalyanaraman, published by : Aryan Books International , New Delhi and Sarasvati Research and Education Trust, Chennai. ISBN: 978-81-7305-365-8. pp. 88-94.2008.
By Mr. R.N. Athavale, Formerly Scientist, National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, And Emeritus Scientist, CSIR, India.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Tags: Tags, Water Logging and Salinisation, Reclamation, Sub surface drainage, disposal in palaeo channels, Rejuvenation of Sarasvati.