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‘Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India’ released

Consists of 45 maps of metals, oxides, elements present in top, bottom soils

For the first time, ‘Geochemical Baseline Atlas of India’ developed by CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) for use by policy makers to assess environmental damage was released here on Saturday.

The atlas consisting 45 maps of metals, oxides and elements present in top and bottom soils across India will serve as a reference against which future generations of the country would be able to assess the chemical compositional changes on Earth’s surface. These maps help in finding out future contamination caused by industries or other bodies which cause pollution.

After the atlas was released by Shekhar C. Mande, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), P.K. Govil, retired chief scientist at NGRI, who headed the project said, that it will be given to International Union of Global Sciences (IUGS), which is preparing global maps.

To develop the maps, the globe was divided into 5,000 cells of 160 km by 160 km each. Of it, India has 122 cells. “We started this work in 2007 from cell number 1 here, which is in Kanyakumari. The last cell is in Arunachal Pradesh. Soils from uninhabited places were collected. The work ended in 2011. Now we have maps for 22 metals. With a glance at it, we will get to know regions with high and low concentrations of a metal,” Mr Govil said.

For instance, tanneries release chromium. By going through the map of chromium, policy makers will get to know regions with high concentration of it. “Policy makers should not allow tanneries in those regions,” he said.

Earlier, there was no way to prove if polluters denied causing damage to environment. Now, the baseline maps atlas helps show evidence of it.

A. Keshav Krishna and V.M. Tiwari are two other authors of the atlas.

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