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The River Basin
Development Projects:

Projects are ongoing to develop the Sarasvati River Basin:


Salicornia Farms in salt marshes and Arid Lands:

Salt marshes require a low-energy environment to start, such as a lagoon, estuary, or the inside of a sandbar.
Salicornia farms have been set up in Mexio and demonstration farms have been started also in Pali district of Rajasthan and in Luni, Kutch (Chitralekha, Gujarati Magazine, March 1996 issue).   Maritime ecological zones.  

Tidal creek :
The shallow tidal waters of the marsh serve as a nursery to the young of many species, including shrimp, crabs and fish.


 The marsh levee is the area along the banks of the tidal creeks. The only plant that grows here is the Smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora. This is the most common plant in the marsh. The size of the plant varies depending on what part of the marsh it is growing in. The tallest plants are on the levee, and the shortest are in the high marsh.

What causes this variation is the amount of oxygen and salt in the sediments. The continuous movement of the water across the levee keeps the sediments in this part of the marsh from becoming anaerobic or having high salt concentrations. Because of this the Smooth cordgrass grows faster and is taller in the levee.

In fall the grass leaves turn from green to a yellow-brown, or gold color. Due to the golden color of these grasses, Georgia's coastal islands have been given the nickname 'The Golden Isles'.

Low Marsh
The low marsh occupies the area just behind the levee. The tide floods this area of the marsh for several hours each day. The water moves slowly through the marsh across the dark anaerobic (without oxygen) mud. Due to the harsh conditions, few animals successfully live in the low marsh.This is the habitat of fiddlercrab, mud snai, marsh periwinkle, ribbed mussel oyster.

High Marsh:
Moving inland the low marsh changes into the high marsh. The soil of the high marsh is sandier and it is covered by water for only an hour or less each day. Due to high concentrations of salt in the soil the plants that live here are stunted. Smooth cordgrass grows only 3 to 12 inches tall. Often it is absent from this part of the marsh. Other plants that are more salt tollerent, like the glasswort and saltwort are found. The very salty areas where no plants can grow are called 'Salt pans'.

At low tide can be seen large groups of Sand fiddler crabs moving across the salt pans, searching for food. Around structures (docks, pilings, warfs) are also found Wharf crabs.

The tidal waters reach the areas above the high marsh only during spring and storm tides. Because of this the soil is less salty, and a variety of plants are able to grow in this area of the marsh. This area of the marsh is also where the Brackish-water fiddler crabs build their burrows.

Transition Community
This area is a common feeding ground for the island's mammals, birds and reptiles. At slightly higher elevations other marginal or transitional plants will grow, including the Marsh elder and Groundsels.

Maritime Forest
The transitional plant community merges with the islands forest. In places where the change in elevation is rapid the forest will extend down to the marsh border.

Salicornia is a halophyte which can be grown in salt marshes (like Kutch) and in salty terrain (as in Thar desert) and can provide more high-quality vegetable oil per plant than soybeans. Europeans perk up salads with the succulent tips of the vegetable, which is known as the "samphire".

Salicornia L.

bigelovii Torr. = SYNONOMY: Salicornia mucronata Bigelow, non Lag. borealis Wolff & Jefferies maritima Wolff & Jefferies = SYNONOMY: Salicornia europaea auct. non L. , Salicornia europaea var. prostrata auct. non (Pallas) Fern. , Salicornia herbacea auct. non (L.) L. , Salicornia prostrata auct. non Pallas , Salicornia ramosissima auct. non J. Woods rubra A. Nels. = SYNONOMY: Salicornia europaea ssp. rubra (A. Nels.) Breitung , Salicornia europaea var. prona (Lunell) Boivin virginica L. = SYNONOMY: Salicornia depressa Standl. , Salicornia europaea sensu Wolff & Jefferies, non L. , Salicornia europaea var. pachystachya auct. non (W.D.J. Koch) Fern. , Salicornia europaea var. simplex auct. non (Pursh) Fern.

Salicornia virginica (Pickleweed) is a perennnial species.
The salt water nourishes two food crops before it reaches the salicornia. Shrimp are first grown in it, and their waste makes the water a perfect environment for a fish called tilapia, an increasingly popular menu item. "They get a double use of that water, and all the waste from the fish is extra fertilizer for the field crops," explains Kevin Fitzsimmons of the University of Arizona, which is working to increase yields from saltwater farming.

Salicornia rubra Family: Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae)

Salicornia brachiata, Miq.; Ths.; Roxb.(syn. Arthrocnemum brachiata. Miq.; Arthrocnemum ciliolatum, Bunge.) India (Madras Presidency): leaves and shoots eaten as greens. Vernacular names - Tamil: Oomarie keeray. Telugu: Queiloo, Koyaloo. Ref. SHORTT, WATT.

 Salicornia Indica, R. Br.; Drege; Ritt. ex Ung.; Willd. India (Madras Presidency): used as a pot-herb.Vernacular names - Tamil: Pavala poondoo. Telugu: Koyya pippali. Ref. SHORTT.
Glasswort, Jointed Botanical: Salicornia herbacea (LINN.) Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae. Pickleweeds, also called glassworts, are stem-succulent halophytic plants with minute leaves. They occur in both coastal salt marshes and interior saline basins. Pickleweeds have been used as food and as a source of minerals for manufacturing glass.It produces dense mats of stems, which are trailing and slightly woody below. The upper stems are succulent and essentially leafless. Pickleweed, like many members of the beet family, is a halophyte, tolerating high soil salinity. It copes with the salt by allowing it to enter through the roots and storing it in the succulent upper stems. At the end of the growing season, these stem segments are sloughed off, disposing of the salt.

Salicornia subterminalis (left) + S. virginica (right) ------ Glasswort, Pickleweed ------ Chenopodiaceae Salicornia subterminalis form of pickleweed is similar to S. virginica, but differs in having glabrous seeds and slender flowering spikes with sterile upper parts. It is found in coastal salt marshes, where it is less common than S. virginica. It also occurs in interior alkaline areas of the deserts supporting the alkali sink scrub community .

Salicornia virginica, S. bigelovii and S. europaea, are succulents. They have green stems that turn yellow or red at the tips. These plants survive in the salty soils by concentrating the salts into specific areas. Those areas of the plant eventually die due to the high concentrations of salt.

Salicornia Virginica is a fleshy herb with prostrate stem and ascending branches. Very small leaves (minute scales) give the appearance that the branches are leafless.

Saltwort Batis maritima, has a woody stem and green succulent leaves.


D.N. Tewari 1, R.N. Mishra 1

The desert ecosystem poses difficult problems to man. The forest area in Thar desert is scanty with poor growth of vegetation. While the productivity is extremely low, the demand for fuel and fodder is very high. Consequently there is over-exploitation of vegetation cover accentuating the pace of desertification.

To cope up with this situation, desert afforestation activities have assumed an important place. Of the total budget allotted for desert development, 40% is utilized for forestry and pasture development. People have been motivated to practise agroforestry, silvipastoral and other types of plantations.

The Arid Forestry Research Institute, Jodhpur, is strengthening the research base on desert ecosystems. It has also started extension of development of technologies and education of masses about environment improvement by accelerating the pace of afforestation and sustainable management of tree groves.

Tourism is developing in this desert, where visitors come to enjoy the solitude, silence, and serene beauty of the desert. Avenue plantations of neem and Tecomella attract the attention of all.

1 India.



A. K. Upadhyaya 1

Irrigated plantations in the arid zone of western Rajasthan (India) started almost 25 years ago using water from the Indira Gandhi Canal. An area of 0.18 million ha has been planted. Of this area, about 29 500 ha is command area and rest is uncommand area. The command area plantations, using flow irrigation methods, are almost 2% of the total command land of the Indira Gandhi Canal Project. Based on the studies conducted in the area, the mean annual increment of various tree species, viz. Dalbergia sissoo, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Acacia nilotica, Prosopis cineraria, Tecomella undulata, Ziziphus maurtiana and Acacia tortilis has been discussed. The mean annual increment in 5-year old plantations was found maximum in the case of Eucalyptus camaldulensis (42.75 m3/ha) and minimum in Prosopis cineraria (5.23 m3/ ha). Strategies are suggested in the paper n order to effectively combat desertification in the arid zone of western Rajasthan.

Keywords: Combating desertification, irrigated plantations,afforestation techniques, mean annual increment.

1 Conservator of Forests, Forestry Development Project, Aravalli Bhavan, Jhalana Institutioinal Area, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. [Papers presented in XI World Forestry Congress, Antalya, Turkey, 13 to 22 October 1997]

The Role Of Forestry:


Using Australian Flora on the Thar Desert :

17 May 1996

Forest scientists from the University of Melbourne and the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) have joined forces to tackle the growing salinity of productive land along the Rajasthan Canal in north-west India.

The project, funded by AusAID, has established a strong collaboration between forest scientists at the ICFRE in Jodhpur, the School of Forestry and the CSIRO Tree Seed Centre in Canberra.

The Rajasthan Canal constructed in the 1960s, carries precious water from the Ganges River into the great Indian Thar Desert for the irrigation of agricultural crops. Cracks in the canal have allowed water to seep on to adjacent land, causing water logging and salinity problems in other productive land.

It has been established that trees will intercept water seepage, thus reducing the problem. The aim of the collaboration is to trial species from the Australian flora which can be added to the list of species currently grown along the canal. Dr Chris Weston from the School of Forestry has visited Rajasthan twice to establish a trial of selected Eucalypts, Acacias and Casuarinas near Phalodi in Rajasthan.

"This collaborative project will help to solve a potentially disastrous environmental problem in Rajasthan," he said.  

Groundwater Resources and Drainage system
in NW India:

(See details in Sarasvati River document in pdf format).

In the central part of the Sarasvati River Basin, in Rajasthan alone, the potential for one million groundwater wells has been established by Dr. K.R. Srinivasan and Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, Sarasvati-Sindhu Research Centre, Chennai. (See details in Sarasvati River document in pdf format).

The desiccation of the Sarasvati River has affected the drainage system in NW India. The canal systems: Sirhind Canal, Bhakra Canal, Gang Canal, Indira Gandhi (Rajasthan) Canal systems have to be augmented by complementary drainage systems to cope with the problems of water-logging and resultant increase in the salinity of the land even in presently areas in Haryana and Punjab.

Integrated microwatershed development projects have been designed as peoples' projects, to replenish the groundwater resources and to avoid the use of surface water (to avoid losses due to evapotranspiration). Use of groundwater for irrigation and drinking water purposes can be facilitated through the use of pumpsets powered by wind- and solar-power.

Land use in the semi-arid lands of Rajasthan and in the marshy areas of the Rann of Kutch, has to be focussed on tree plantation with high-income yielding crops such as almonds, dates and olives and development of farms for halophytes such as salicornia (which yield edible oil) which are salt-tolerant species.

The Sarasvati (Ghaggar) River from Adi Badri to Anupgarh, which is fed by monsoon rains, can be made to flow beyond the monsoon season by desilting the river courses and by providing regulated flow of water using check-dams. This will reduce the dependence of farmers on groundwater for irrigating the fields. (See details in Sarasvati River document in pdf format).

Sub-surface drainage
to control salinity and water-logging:

The Rajasthan Agricultural Drainage Research Project (RAJAD) is a joint undertaking by the Government of India, the Government of the State of Rajasthan, and the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). RAJAD is a large scale applied research project on the use of horizontal sub-surface drainage to control soil salinity and combat waterlogging in irrigated agricultural lands in North-Western India.  

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