Sunday, June 21, 2009

A bio-energy village

A bio-energy village

A bio-energy village is a regional orientated concept for the use of renewable energy sources in rural areas. The system uses biomass from local agriculture and forestry in a Biogas powerplant in order to supply the energy demand of a village preferably complete, as electricity and district heating.
These villages tend to be self-powered and independent from external grids; despite being connected to overland grids for feeding surplus energy. The term bio-energy village describes only the energy dependency on fresh biologic material, whereas an ecovillage includes much more differentiated networks.

Energy production

Liquid manure, grass, silage and other raw materials from agriculture are fermented in a biological gas facility. The biogas produced fuels a combined heat and power plant (CHP). The heat is distributed over a district heating system, while power is fed into a local electricity grid. In winter additional heat requirements can be supplied by an additional heating plant, in which wood chips or straw are burned.

Existing projects


The first bio-energy village in Germany is Jühnde in the district of Göttingen. A project of the Interdisciplinary Centre For Sustainable Development (IZNE) at the University of Göttingen, and completed in January 2006, the project supplies the heat requirement of the village, and produces twice as much electricity as is used. It has been estimated that the participating households save €750 per year in energy costs.


In Mauenheim, Baden-Württemberg, a bio-energy village has been developed in Immendingen in the district of Tuttlingen, with approximately 400 inhabitants and 148 buildings. The biogas facility and wood chip heating system are supplemented by a solar energy system. The project started operation in 2006. It has been calculated that about 1900 tonnes of CO2 per year will be saved.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eco village: Definition


In 1991, Robert Gilman set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard.

Gilman defined an ecovillage as a:

  • human-scale
  • full-featured settlement
  • in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world
  • in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and
  • can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.
Characteristics of ecovillages

The principles on which ecovillages rely can be applied to urban and rural settings, as well as to developing and developed countries. Advocates seek a sustainable lifestyle (for example, of voluntary simplicity) for inhabitants with a minimum of trade outside the local area, or ecoregion. Many advocates also seek independence from existing infrastructures, although others, particularly in more urban settings, pursue more integration with existing infrastructure. Rural ecovillages are usually based on organic farming, permaculture and other approaches which promote ecosystem function and biodiversity. Ecovillages, whether urban or rural, tend to integrate community and ecological values within a principle-based approach to sustainability, such as permaculture design.
An ecovillage usually relies on:
  • "Green" infrastructural capital;
  • autonomous building or clustered housing, to minimize ecological footprint;
  • renewable energy;
  • permaculture;
The goal of most ecovillages is to be a sustainable habitat providing for most of its needs on site. However self-sufficiency is not always a goal or desired outcome, specifically since self-sufficiency can conflict with goals to be a change agent for the wider culture and infrastructure. Its organization also usually depends upon some instructional capital or moral codes - a minimal civics sometimes characterized as eco-anarchism:
  • local purchasing so as to support the local economy;
  • local food production and distribution;
  • moral purchasing to avoid objectionable consumption;
  • consensus decision-making for governance;
  • a choice to respect diversity.

The term ecovillage should not be confused with micronation, a strictly legal, not infrastructural, concept.

Sunday, June 7, 2009



Ecovillages are intended to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable intentional communities. Some aim for a population of 50-150 individuals because this size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology.Larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals exist as networks of smaller subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that allows for social networks within a broader foundation of support. Certain ecovillages have grown by the nearby addition of others, not necessarily members, settling on the periphery of the ecovillage and effectively participating in the ecovillage community.

Ecovillage members are united by shared ecological, social-economic and cultural-spiritual values. An ecovillage is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to centralized electrical, water, and sewage systems. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels, as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster. They see small-scale communities with minimal ecological impact as an alternative. However, such communities often cooperate with peer villages in networks of their own. This model of collective action is similar to that of Ten Thousand Villages, which supports the fair trade of goods worldwide.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Solar variation

Solar variation

An alternative hypothesis is that recent warming may be the result of variations in solar activity.Stott and colleagues have suggested that climate models overestimate the relative effect of greenhouse gases compared to solar forcing; they also suggest that the cooling effects of volcanic dust and sulfate aerosols have been underestimated.They nevertheless conclude that even with an enhanced climate sensitivity to solar forcing, most of the warming since the mid-20th century is likely attributable to the increases in greenhouse gases. Another paper suggests that the Sun may have contributed about 45–50 percent of the increase in the average global surface temperature over the period 1900–2000, and about 25–35 percent between 1980 and 2000.In 2006, Peter Foukal and colleagues found no net increase of solar brightness over the last 1,000 years. Solar cycles led to a small increase of 0.07 percent in brightness over the last 30 years. This effect is too small to contribute significantly to global warming.The general view is that the combined effect of the two main sources of natural climate forcing, solar variation and changes in volcanic activity, probably had a warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 but a cooling effect since.

An increase in solar activity should warm the stratosphere, whereas an increase in greenhouse gases should produce cooling there.The observed trend since at least 1960 has been a cooling of the lower stratosphere.Reduction of stratospheric ozone also has a cooling influence, but substantial ozone depletion did not occur until the late 1970s.

Svensmark and colleagues have proposed another hypothesis related to solar activity, which is that magnetic activity of the sun deflects cosmic rays that may influence the generation of cloud condensation nuclei and thereby affect the climate.Another paper found no relation between global warming and solar radiation since 1985, whether through variations in solar output or variations in cosmic rays.Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen, the main proponents of cloud seeding by galactic cosmic rays, disputed this criticism of their hypothesis.A 2007 paper found that in the last 20 years there has been no significant link between changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth and cloudiness and temperature.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse effect

The scientific consensus is that the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases due to human activity has caused most of the warming observed since the start of the industrial era and that the observed warming cannot be satisfactorily explained by natural causes alone. This attribution is clearest for the most recent 50 years, which is the period when most of the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations took place and for which the most complete measurements exist.

The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and first investigated quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.It is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warm a planet's lower atmosphere and surface. Existence of the greenhouse effect as such is not disputed even by those who do not agree that the recent temperature increase is attributable to human activity. The question is instead how the strength of the greenhouse effect changes when human activity increases the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Naturally occurring greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 °C (59 °F), without which Earth would be uninhabitable.The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 36–70 percent of the greenhouse effect (not including clouds); carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 9–26 percent; methane (CH4), which causes 4–9 percent; and ozone, which causes 3–7 percent.

Human activity since the industrial revolution has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to increased radiative forcing from CO2, methane, tropospheric ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide. The concentrations of CO2 and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since the mid-1700s.These levels are considerably higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years, the period for which reliable data has been extracted from ice cores.Less direct geological evidence indicates that CO2 values this high were last seen approximately 20 million years ago. Fossil fuel burning has produced approximately three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years. Most of the rest is due to land-use change, in particular deforestation.

CO2 concentrations are continuing to rise due to burning of fossil fuels and land-use change. The future rate of rise will depend on uncertain economic, sociological, technological, and natural developments. The IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios gives a wide range of future CO2 scenarios, ranging from 541 to 970 ppm by the year 2100.Fossil fuel reserves are sufficient to reach this level and continue emissions past 2100 if coal, tar sands or methane clathrates are extensively exploited.

Thursday, May 7, 2009



The Earth's climate changes in response to external forcings, including changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun,changes in solar luminosity, and volcanic eruptions. The thermal inertia of the oceans and slow responses of other indirect effects mean that climate can take centuries or longer to adjust to changes in forcing. Climate commitment studies indicate that even if greenhouse gases were stabilized at 2000 levels a further warming of about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) would still occur.

Global dimming, a gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth's surface, may have partially counteracted global warming during the period 1960-1990. Human-caused aerosols likely precipitated this effect. Scientists have stated with 66–90% confidence that the effects of human-caused aerosols, along with volcanic activity, have offset some of the warming effect of increasing greenhouse gases.

Ozone depletion, the steady decline in the total amount of ozone in Earth's stratosphere, is sometimes cited in relation to global warming. Although there are a few areas of linkage the relationship between the two is not strong.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Global warming

Global warming

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and the oceans since the mid-twentieth century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 years ending in 2005.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the twentieth century,and that natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect afterward.These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science,including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.

Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that global surface temperature will likely rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing climate sensitivity, and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. Some other uncertainties include how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Most studies focus on the period up to 2100. However, warming is expected to continue beyond 2100, even if emissions stop, because of the large heat capacity of the oceans and the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Increasing global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, likely including expansion of subtropical deserts.The continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice is expected, with the Arctic region being particularly affected. Other likely effects include shrinkage of the Amazon rainforest and Boreal forests, increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions and changes in agricultural yields.

Political and public debate continues regarding the appropriate response to global warming. The available options are mitigation to reduce further emissions; adaptation to reduce the damage caused by warming; and, more speculatively, geoengineering to reverse global warming. Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A successor to the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol is expected to be agreed at the COP15 talks in December 2009.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eco-innovation as a Technological Term

Eco-innovation as a Technological Term

The most common usage of the term “eco-innovation” is to refer to innovative products and processes that reduce environmental costs. This is often used in conjunction with eco-efficiency and eco-design. Many industries have been developing innovative technologies in order to work towards sustainability. However, these are not always shmet practical, or enforced by policy and legislation

Eco-innovation as a Social Process

Another position held (for example, by the organisation Eco Innovation) is that this definition should be complemented: eco-innovations should also bring greater social and cultural acceptance. In this view, this 'social pillar' added to James's (1997) definition is necessary because it determines learning and the effectiveness of eco-innovations.

This approach gives eco-innovations a social component, a status that is more than a new type of commodity, or a new sector, even though environmental technology and eco-innovation are associated with the emergence of new economic activities or even branches (e.g., waste treatment, recycling, etc). This approach considers eco-innovation in terms of usage rather than merely in terms of product. The social pillar associated with eco-innovation introduces a governance component that makes eco-innovation a more integrated tool for sustainable development.

Ecovation is the process by which responsible capitalism aligns with ecological innovation to construct products which have a generative nature and are recyclable back into the environment for usage in other industries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Eco-innovation is a term used to describe products and processes that contribute to sustainable development.Eco-innovation is the commercial application of knowledge to elicit direct or indirect ecological improvements.

It is often used to describe a range of related ideas, from environmentally friendly technological advances to socially-acceptable innovative paths towards sustainability.

Origins of the Concept of Eco-innovation
The idea of eco-innovation is fairly recent. One of the first appearances of the concept of eco-innovation in the literature is in the book by Claude Fussler and Peter James (1996). In a subsequent article, Peter James defines eco-innovation as 'new products and processes which provide customer and business value but significantly decrease environmental impacts' (James 1997).

Other Related Terms
Eco-innovation is closely linked to a variety of related terms. It is often used interchangeably with 'environmental innovation', and is also often linked with 'environmental technology', 'eco-efficiency', 'eco-design', 'environmental design', 'sustainable design', or 'sustainable innovation'. While 'environmental innovation' is used in similar contexts to 'eco-innovation', the other terms are mostly used when referring to product or process design, and therefore focus more on the technological aspects of eco-innovation rather than the societal or political aspects.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Eco efficiency

Eco efficiency

The term eco-efficiency was coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in its 1992 publication "Changing Course". It is based on the concept of creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution.

The 1992 Earth Summit endorsed eco-efficiency as a means for companies to implement Agenda 21 in the private sector, and the term has become synonymous with a management philosophy geared towards sustainability.

According to the WBCSD definition, eco-efficiency is achieved through the delivery of "competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life while progressively reducing environmental impacts of goods and resource intensity throughout the entire life-cycle to a level at least in line with the Earth's estimated carrying capacity."

This concept describes a vision for the production of economically valuable goods and services while reducing the ecological impacts of production. In other words eco-efficiency means producing more with less.

According to the WBCSD, critical aspects of eco-efficiency are:
  • A reduction in the material intensity of goods or services;
  • A reduction in the energy intensity of goods or services;
  • Reduced dispersion of toxic materials;
  • Improved recyclability;
  • Maximum use of renewable resources;
  • Greater durability of products;
  • Increased service intensity of goods and services.
The reduction in ecological impacts translates into an increase in resource productivity, which in turn can create a competitive advantage.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kosi embankment system (4&5)

The Kosi barrage with earth dams across river, afflux bunds and embankments above and below the river confines the river to flow within embankments. Embankments on both sides downstream of the barrage with a length of 246 km (153 mi) has been constructed to check the westward movement of the river. The embankments have been kept wide apart, about 12 to 16 km (9.9 mi), to serve as a silt trap

Sapta Kosi High Multipurpose Project (Indo-Nepal)

Government of India (GOI) and His Majesty's Government of Nepal (HMGN), have agreed to conduct joint investigations and other studies for the preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Sapta Kosi High Dam Multipurpose Project and Sun Kosi Storage-cum-Diversion Scheme to meet the objectives of both the countries for Development of a) hydropower generation, b) irrigation, c) flood control/management and d) navigation.
A 269-metre (880 ft) high concrete/Rock fill dam on the Sapta Koshi River with a dam toe underground power house with an installed capacity of 3000 MW at 50% load factor, a barrage on river Sapta Kosi about 8 km (5.0 mi) downstream of Sapta Kosi High Dam to re-regulate the water being released from the Sapta Koshi dam with two canals, Eastern Chhatra Canal and Western Chhatra Canal, off-taking from the either bank from barrage site to provide water for irrigation both in Nepal and India and Navigation through Koshi up to Kursela and also in the reservoir of Sapta Koshi dam are envisaged.
A Power Canal off-taking from the Eastern Chatra Canal is proposed for conveying the water required for irrigation at existing Kosi barrage at Hanuman Nagar and also the water which may be required downstream of Hanuman Nagar Barrage for the purpose of navigation. To utilize the head available between Chatra and Hanuman Nagar barrages for power generation, three canal Power Houses, each of 100 MW installed capacity are also proposed on power canal.
Necessary cushion in storage capacity of Sapta Kosi High Dam would be provided to moderate the flood downstream of dam.
Chatra Canal System would provide irrigation to large areas in Nepal and India (particularly in Bihar).
A Joint Project Office (JPO) has been set up in Nepal for investigation of the project.


Nepal has a total estimated potential of 83,290 MW out of which economically exploitable potential is 42,140 MW. The Koshi river basin contributes 22,350 MW of this potential.(360 MW from small schemes and 1875 MW from major schemes) and the economically exploitable potential is assessd as 10,860 MW (includes the Sapta Koshi Multipurpose Project [3300MW] mentioned above).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Development scenario

Development scenario
Multipurpose projects

After India attained independence in August, 1947, the development scenario in India has been resolute on technological development. In keeping with this approach, the National Flood Control Policy in 1954 (following the disastrous floods of 1954 in a large part of the Koshi river basin) stated that floods could be controlled through a series of flood protection works like dams, embankments and river training works. One such work which drew the immediate attention of the policy planners after independence was a solution to the recurring flood menace faced by people of North Bihar due to the Kosi and other rivers, flowing from Nepal to India. The Kosi project was thus conceptualized (based on investigations between 1946 to 1955), in three continuous interlinked stages – the first was a barrage to anchor this wayward river that had migrated about 120 km (75 mi) westward in the last 250 years laying waste to a huge tract in north Bihar and to provide irrigation and power benefits to Nepal and India. The second part was to build embankments both below and above the barrage so as to jacket the river within the defined channel. The third part envisaged a high multipurpose dam within Nepal at Barakshetra to provide substantial flood cushion along with large irrigation and power benefits to both countries. This was followed up by signing of the Kosi Agreement between Nepal and India on 25 April 1954 and which was revised on 19 December 1966 to address the concerns of Nepal. Further letters of Exchange to the Agreement between the two countries provided for additional schemes for providing benefits of irrigation. While the first two parts of the concept plan have been implemented at the cost of the Government of India, the third part, namely, the Koshi High dam, the kingpin of the whole concept, for various political reasons precluded any action for several years but has since been revived under a fresh agreement, in a modified form for further investigations and studies(1,2,3,4 & 5).
Details of the above projects are elaborated below.

Kosi barrage and irrigation(4&5)

Kosi Barrage, also called Bhimnagar Barrage after the name of the place where it was built between the years 1959 and 1963 straddles the Indo-Nepal border. It is an irrigation, flood control and hydropower generation project on the Kosi river built under a bilateral agreement between Nepal and India: the entire cost of the project was borne by India. The catchment area of the river is 61,788 km2 (23,856 sq mi) in Nepal at the Barrage site. The highest peaks – the Mount Everest and the Mount Kanchenjunga — lie in its catchment. About 10% of this catchment is snow-fed. The Eastern Canal and the Western Canal taking off from the barrage have been designed for a discharge capacity of 455 cubic metres per second (16,100 cu ft/s) to irrigate 6,125 square kilometres (1,514,000 acres) and 210 cubic metres per second (7,400 cu ft/s) to irrigate 3,566.1 square kilometres (881,200 acres) respectively. A hydropower plant has been built on the Eastern Canal, at a canal drop (3.6 km (2.2 mi) from the Koshi Barrage), to generate 20 MW. The Western Kosi Canal provides irrigation to 250 square kilometres (62,000 acres) in Nepal. A valuable bridge over the barrage opened up the East-West highway in the eastern sector of Nepal
An inundation canal taking off at Chatra, where the Kosi debouches into the plains, has been built to irrigate a gross area of 860 km² in Nepal. The project has been renovated with IDA assistance after Nepal took over the project in 1976.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2008 flood in Bihar

2008 flood in Bihar

On 18 August 2008, the Kosi river picked up an old channel it had abandoned over 100 years ago near the border with Nepal and India. Approximately 2.7 million people were reported affected as the river broke its embankment at Kusaha in Nepal, thus submerging several districts of Nepal and India. 95% of total flow of the Koshi was reported flowing through the new course. The worst affected districts included Supaul, Araria, Saharsa,Madhepura, Purnia, Katihar, parts of Khagaria and northern parts of Bhagalpur, as well as adjoing regions of Nepal. Relief work was carried out with Indian Air Force helicopters by dropping relief materials from Purnia in the worst hit districts where nearly two million persons were trapped. It has not been possible to assess the magnitude of deaths or destruction, because the affected areas are totally inaccessible. 150 persons are reported to have been washed away in a single incident (Dainik Hindustan, Darbhanga edition). Another news item stated that 42 people had died in the flood in Bihar.
The Government of Bihar has constituted a technical committee, headed by a retired engineer-in-chief of the water resource department to supervise the restoration work and closure of the breach in the East Kosi afflux embankment. Indian authorities were working to prevent further widening of the breach and channels would be dug to direct the water back to the main river bed.
The fury of the Kosi river left at least 2.5 million people marooned in eight districts of Bihar and inundated 650 km². The prime Minister of India declared it a national calamity. The Indian army and non-government organizations were operating the biggest flood rescue operation in India in more than 50 years. It is reported as the worst flood in the area in 50 years.

Glaciers, glacier lakes and GLOF
At present, in the Himalayan region, glaciers are melting and retreating resulting in formation of lakes insecurely dammed by ice or moraines. These dams are at risk of failing, causing a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) with flows as great as 10,000 cubic meters a second. Such floods are likely to destroy communication systems and various infrastructures like bridges roads, hydropower projects (directly or indirectly), foot trails, villages, fields and terraces, irrigation canals, and could cost hundreds or even thousands of lives. Such floods also transport huge amounts of sediment.
In the past two decades GLOF has become a topic of intense discussion within the development community in Nepal. Studies of the glaciers and glacier lakes were carried out in 1988 by a joint Sino-Nepalese team. In the Arun-Koshi river basin, there are 737 glaciers in Tibet and 229 glacier lakes, out of which 24 glacier lakes are potentially dangerous. Similarly, there are 45 glacier lakes in the Sun-Koshi basin, out of which 10 are potentially dangerous.
The Dig Tsho GLOF on 4 August 1985, completely destroyed the nearly completed Namche hydropower plant and also all the bridges, trails, cultivation fields, houses and livestock along its path to the confluence of the Dudh-Koshi and the Sun-Koshi rivers at a distance of 90 km (56 mi) from the Dig Tsho glacier. The Dig Tsho glacier is on the terminus of the Langmoche Glacier. This event brought into focus the seriousness of such events and the studies to assess the glaciers, glacier lakes and GLOF followed.
According to a Sino-Nepalese study, since the 1940s, there have been at least 10 cases of glacier lake outbursts within the basins investigated. Among them there have been five bursts in three glacier lakes of the Arun River Basin, and four in three glacier lakes of the Sun Koshi River Basin.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve

Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve is a wetland situated in the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi River in Nepal's Eastern Terai. Gazette-notified as a wild life reserve in 1976, it covers a reserve area of 175 km2 (68 sq mi) and is one of the Outstanding Important Bird Areas in the Indo-Gangetic grasslands. The park has large population of Swamp Francolin, breeding Bristled Grass-warbler, records of White-throated Bushchat and Finn's Weaver. The Koshi river forms the major landmark of the reserve and is home to 80 fish species, around 441 species of birds, 30 shore birds, 114 water birds, 20 ducks and 2 ibises. The endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican are also found here. The Koshi Barrage is an extremely important resting-place for migratory birds (87 nos winter visitors). In view of its rich biodiversity it was declared a Ramsar site of international significance in 1987. The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin locally known as sons in Bihar and a further endangered species (freshwater dolphin) have been recorded in the river.
The last surviving population of wild buffalo or arna in Nepal is found in the reserve (number at present is estimated to be 150). The reserve is a habitat of 20 other animal species such as hog deer, spotted deer, wild boar, blue bull and rock python.
The vegetation mainly includes tall khar-pater grasslands with a few patches of khair-sissoo scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest.
During the monsoon, the reserve is flooded with depths ranging from 10 to 300 cm (3.9 to 120 in). Birdwatching along the eastern embankment at dusk and dawn is one of the most exciting tourist attractions in the reserve. Gangetic River Dolphin, locally known as sons in Bihar, is an endangered species (freshwater dolphin).

The Kosi is known as the “Sorrow of Bihar”when it flows from Nepal to India, as it has caused widespread human suffering in the past through flooding and very frequent changes in course.
The Koshi has an average water flow (discharge) of 1 564 m³/s or 55,000 cu ft/s. During floods, it increases to as much as 18 times the average. The greatest recorded flood was 24,200 m³/s (850,000 cu ft/s) on 24 August 1954. The Kosi Barrage has been designed for a peak flood of 27,014 m³/s (954,000 cu ft/s)(2).
Owing to extensive soil erosion and landslides in its upper catchment by factors both natural and human, the silt yield of the Kosi is about 19 m³/ha/year (10 cu yd/acre/yr), one of the highest in the world. (2). The Arun, with its origins in Tibet, brings the greatest amount of coarse silt in proportion to its total sediment load. The river is able to transport its heavy sediment load down the steep gradients and narrow gorges in the mountains and foothills, but on the plains beyond Chatra where slopes are flatter the sediment load is deposited in an immense alluvial fan that has grown to an area of about 15 000 km². This fan extends some 180 km from its apex where it leaves the foothills, across the international border into Bihar state and on to the Ganges. Instead of a single well-defined channel, the river has numerous interlacing channels that shift laterally over the fan from time to time. Without sufficient channelisation, floods spread out very widely. The record flow of 24 200 m³/s is equivalent to water a meter deep and more than 24 kilometers wide, flowing down the slight slope of the alluvial fan at one meter per second.
The Kosi's alluvial fan has fertile soil and abundant groundwater in a part of the world where agricultural land is in acutely limited supply in relation to population. Subsistence farmers must balance the threat of starvation with that of floods. As a result, the flood-prone area is densely populated and subject to heavy loss of life. Floods have caused the Kosi to be called the “River of Sorrow”{3). It contributes disproportionately to India having more deaths in floods than any other country except Bangladesh.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

National parks & fauna

National parks and fauna

There are two famous national parks in the Koshi river basin: the Sagarmatha National Park, located in eastern Nepal, containing parts of the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest and the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve situated on the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi River in Eastern Nepal.

Sagarmatha National park

Sagarmatha National park is located in eastern Nepal, including parts of the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest. The park, which is also included as a UNESCO world heritage site, was created on 19 July 1976. Sagarmatha in Sanskrit means "Forhead of Universe" (Sagar: Sky or Heavens; Matha: Forhead) and is the modern Nepali name for Mount Everest. The park covers an area of 1,148 km2 (443 sq mi) and ranges in elevation from its lowest point of 2,845 m (9,330 ft) at Jorsalle to 8,848 m (29,030 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest (highest peak in the world). Other peaks above 6,000 m (20,000 ft) are Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam, and Pumori. The upper watershed of the Dudh Koshi river basin system lies in the park. The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude.
The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Danphe, Blood pheasant, Red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmatha National Park is also home to a number of rare species, including musk deer, wild yak, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda. Moreover, many other animals such as Himalayan thars, deer, langur monkeys, hares, mountain foxes, martens, and Himalayan wolves are found in the park.
In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow. Above this zone, all vegetation is dwarf plants or shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 m (18,900 ft), in the permanent snowline in the Himalayas.
The park's visitor centre is located at the top of a hill in Namche Bazaar, also where a company of the Nepal Royal Army is stationed to protect the park. The park's southern entrance is a few hundred metres north of Mondzo at 2 835 m (9,300 ft), a one-day hike from Lukla.
The presence of the Sherpas, with their unique culture, adds further interest to this park.UNESCO listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979 for its unique natural, cultural and landscape characteristics.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Koshi-Access to the basin

Access to the basin

From Katmandu, there is a road for some distance followed by trekking paths to Mt Everest, which crosses four major tributaries of the Koshi. Namche Bazar near Tibet border in Nepal (near southern base camp of Mt Everest) is the major tourist centre in the mountainous part of the Koshi belt. Birātnagar in Nepal, and Purnia and Katihār in India are major cities on the Koshi Plains. Kamlā, Bāghmati (Kareh) and Budhi Gandak are major tributaries of Koshi in India, besides minor tributaries like Bhutahi Balān.


In Nepal the Koshi lies to the west of Kanchenjunga. It has seven major tributaries: the Sun Koshi, the Tama Koshi or Tamba Koshi, the Dudh Koshi, the Indravati, the Likhu River, the Arun and the Tamur. The Dudh Koshi joins the Sun Koshi at the Nepalese village of Harkapur. At Triveni Sun the Koshi is joined by the Arun and the Tamar, after which the river is called the Sapta Koshi. At Barāhkṣetra in Nepal, it descends from the mountains and it is then called simply the Koshi. These tributaries encircle Mt Everest from all sides and are fed by the world's highest glaciers. Further down the Triveni, the river cuts a deep gorge across the lesser Himalayan range of Mahabharat Lekh in a length of 10 km (6.2 mi) and debouches into the plains near Chatra. After flowing for another 58 km (36 mi), it enters the north Bihar plains near Bhimnagar and after another 260 km (160 mi), flows into the Ganges near Kursela(1). The river travels a distance of 729 km (453 mi) from its source to the confluence with the Ganges.
The Kosi river fan located in the northern part of India (in northeast Bihar and eastern Mithila) is one of the largest alluvial cones built by any river in the world. This 180 km (110 mi)-long and 150 km (93 mi)-wide alluvial cone shows evidence of lateral channel shifting exceeding 120 km (75 mi) during the past 250 years through more than 12 distinct channels. The river, which used to flow near Purnea in the 18th century, now flows west of Saharsa (1). The Kosi alluvial cone and its adjoining area have been studied in detail by remote sensing techniques. The data have been integrated with the available geological and geophysical information to decipher the causes responsible for the lateral shift of such a high-magnitude fan. A satellite image shows the old palaeo-channels of the Koshi river with its former (before 1731) confluence with the Mahananda River north of Lava.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Koshi River-rafting

The Kosi River
The Kosi River, called Koshi in Nepal (Nepali: कोशी नदी), is a transboundary river between Nepal and India, and is one of the largest tributaries of the Ganges. The river, along with its tributaries, drains a total area of 69,300 km2 (26,800 sq mi) up to its confluence with the Ganges in India (29,400 km2/11,400 sq mi in China, 30,700 km2/11,900 sq mi in Nepal and 9,200 km2/3,600 sq mi in India). The watershed also includes part of Tibet, such as the Mount Everest region, and the eastern third of Nepal. The river basin is surrounded by the ridges separating it from the Brahmaputra in the north, the Gandaki in the west, the Mahananda in the east, and by the Ganges in the south. The river is joined by major tributaries, approximately 48 km (30 mi) north of the Indo-Nepal border, breaking into more than twelve distinct channels with shifting courses due to flooding. Kamlā, Bāghmati (Kareh) and Budhi Gandak are major tributaries of Koshi in India, besides minor tributaries like Bhutahi Balān. Over the last 250 years, the Kosi River has shifted its course over 120 kilometres (75 mi) from east to west. and the unstable nature of the river is attributed to the heavy silt which it carries during the monsoon season. Flooding in India has extreme effects. India is second in the world after Bangladesh in deaths due to flooding, accounting for one fifth of global flooding deaths. The Kosi River (The Sorrow of Bihar) is one of two major tributaries, the other river being Gandak, draining the plains of north Bihar, the most flood-prone area of India.

Formerly Kauśiki (named after sage Viśvāmitra because Viśvāmitra is said to have attained the status of Vedic ṛṣi or Rishi on its banks; Viśvāmitra was descendant of sage Kuśika and was called Kauśika in Rgveda), in Nepal and Bihar in northern India is a major tributary of the Ganges (one major tributary of the Koshi is the Arun, a major part of whose course is in Tibet). This river is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata as Kauśiki. Seven Koshis join together to form the Saptakoshi River/Sapt Koshi which is popularly known as the Koshi.
It is also the lifeline of the Mithila region, today spread over more than half of India's state of Bihar, and parts of adjoining Nepal and it forms the basis of legend and folklore of the region; the legend of Mithila extends over many centuries. Mithila is also the name of a style of Hindu art created in the Mithila area.

Thursday, January 1, 2009



Whitewater rafting can be a dangerous sport, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel has typically been associated with greater risk. Depending on the area, legislated safety measures may exist for rafting operators. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures. It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip. The equipment used and the qualifications of the company and raft guides are essential information to be considered.
Like most outdoor sports, rafting in general has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and increased in quality. As a result the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed. A classic example would be the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, which has swallowed whole expeditions in the past, leaving only fragments of boats but is now run safely by commercial outfitters hundreds of times each year, with relatively untrained passengers.
Risks in whitewater rafting stem from both environmental dangers and from improper behavior. Certain features on rivers are inherently unsafe and have remained consistently so despite the passage of time. These would include "keeper hydraulics", "strainers" (e.g. fallen trees), dams (especially low-head dams, which tend to produce river-wide keeper hydraulics), undercut rocks, and of course dangerously high waterfalls. Rafting with experienced guides is the safest way to avoid such features. Even in safe areas, however, moving water can always present risks -- such as when a swimmer attempts to stand up on a rocky riverbed in strong current, risking foot entrapment. Irresponsible behavior related to rafting while intoxicated has also contributed to many accidents.
To combat the illusion that rafting is akin to an amusement park ride, and to underscore the personal responsibility each rafter faces on a trip, rafting outfitters generally require customers to sign waiver forms indicating understanding and acceptance of potential serious risks. Rafting trips often begin with safety presentations to educate customers about problems that may arise.
Due to this the overall risk level on a rafting trip with experienced guides using proper precautions is low. Thousands of people safely enjoy raft trips every year.

Issues with rafting

Like all wilderness sports, rafting has to balance the conflict between nature protection and nature use. Because of frequent problems in the past, some rivers now have regulations restricting or specifying the annual and daily operating times.
Conflicts have also arisen with environmentalists when rafting operators, often in co-operation with municipalities and tourism associations, alter the riverbed by dredging and/or blasting in order to eliminate safety risks or create more interesting whitewater features in the river. Incongruously these measures usually are only temporary, since a riverbed is subject to permanent changes.
On the other hand, rafting contributes to the economy of many alpine regions which in turn may contribute to the protection of rivers from hydroelectric power generation and other development. Additionally, white water rafting trips can promote environmentalism. By experiencing first hand the beauty of a given river, individuals who would otherwise be indifferent to the environmental concerns of an area may gain a strong desire to protect and preserve that area because of a positive outdoors experience.