Published: Tuesday 31 October 1995

Why not fossil Parks?

Biodiversity. This 12 letter word has created waves all over the world in the last few yeam So much has already been written, is being written and will be written about biodiversity and the need for the protection and conservation of that much-written-about thing the world over. But the spectrum is still very hazy and there is no clear-cut con- cept about the elementslitems which are included under this very broad umbrella.

Flora, fauna, natural resources, human beings and even their cultural aspects have 9 been considered for protection. But one most important aspect of evolution is being greatly ignored: fossils. Under no schedule or act are fossils being considered for protection and conservation. Are they not natural resources?

Fossils are the evidences of our evolution. Yet, there is no department which deals with the matter of fossils. The issue often gets tossed about between the departments of forestry, archaeology and human resources, or even the Geological Survey of India.

From the tourism point of view, fossil-rich zones can attract a steady stream of the curious, creating an additional source of foreign exchange for the country. The tourism department has a list of national parks, sanctuaries and reserve forests, but very few people know about our fossil reserves. It is time to take the cue from the Jurassic Park'fever' to popularise and project the most neglected heritage sites of India's natural gifts.

Many museums have kept fossils as exhibits, but only a handful of viewers pay any attention towards these, mainly because of the unimpressive way of projection, which fads to stir up any curiosity among the visitors. It is always advisable to keep them in their own natural habitats. This gives an overall idea of the site and the position in which they are presently existing. The difference in impact is much the same as between wildlife seen in zoos and seen in the national parks, sanctuaries or game forests. The difference in the feeling is same.

Few people in India have shown interest towards constructing a national fossil park Their number is quite negligible. But many fossil rich sites are still existing, which need to be developed and projected as fossil parks, Such is the case of the Rajniahal fossil series found in the Ra@mahal Hills in Bihar, In the world of palaeontology, it is one of the most fossil-rich sites. Many great palaeontologists did their research work on the Raimahal fossil series. The Father of Indian palaca-botany, Birbal Sahani, reconstructed an entire fossil plant, Williamsonia sewardiana from this very area.

Stalwarts like Oldham, Fiestmantel, Seward and many others have done their research work on this fossil flora since 1850, which shows the irnportance of the Rajmahal hills.

Today, fossils are being destroyed at an alarming rat, due to mining, quarrying and shifting cultivation by the local tribes. Many previously reported sites now have no fossil traces left, and the remaining sites are at the mercy of the decision-makers' initiative.

When the area is internationally so famous for its rich fossil flora, dating back to the Jurassic period, should the government and other concerned authorities neglect this vital issue any more? It is time they took immediate steps to protect this hidden treasure of the Rajmahal hills from permanent loss by declaring the site as a National Fossil Park, and develop it as an eco-tourism zone. ...

Hybrid face

I am a regular reader of your esteemed magazine. I would like to make a clarification regarding a story on 'Hybrid grains' in your Vol 3 No 19 bomil reading the article, I was dubee" because in the article the 2n=tN- tions; that the Tamil Nadu University released Indies first dn hybrid, MGRI. The claim is' and baseless. In fact, the Andbra Pradesh Agricultural UhimiiWjr4 ited to have released the first rim hybrid of the country and naumd k APHRI. Later, it also released a ston hybrid: APHR2. Both the varieties im released in December 1993 by dw d Chief Minister of Andhra PradeAk K Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy.

I would also like to bring to ym notice that both the variefies are bei cultivated on a largescale basis by fe ers. Our University has publislw handouts about their cultivation ilk, racular languages too.

Agricultural Polytechnic
Andhra Pradesh - 509 215

The error is regretted. The TmAu officials had told our correspondent d they had released India'sfirst rice ho But when contacted after the receipt A your letter, they stated January 15, 19 as the release date of their hybrid rice variejy. ...

Smart request

In one of the issues of your magazine,I read the review of a book, Beyond Fa rmeT First. I wo uld Rke to know where I can get a copy of the book. ...

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