Selection of plant species for the reclamation of mine-degraded land in the Indian context
S.K. Maiti, Chandan Shee and Mrinal K.Ghose

The increasing trend towards opencast coal mining in India is leading to serious air pollution. This paper examines the sources of air pollution in coal mining areas, and focuses on the role of ‘green belts’ in checking the dispersion of air pollutants to surrounding areas. It describes the mechanisms for removal of air pollutants. A survey was conducted in the Jharia and Eastern Coalfield areas to identify existing plant communities and to select useful plant species for the control of air pollutants by ‘green belts’. The dust collection capacities of the leaves of different trees were estimated, and stomatal size and frequency analysed. The dust-arresting capacities of some plants commonly growing in mining areas were ranked according to their potential. The removal of gaseous pollutants depends on stomatal size and frequency. A uniform scale, the percentage of stomatal coverage, has been calculated for commonly growing plant species, and they have been ranked accordingly to their effectiveness. The higher the stomatal coverage, the better the removal efficiency. Trichomes on the leaf surface were found to be important for capturing dust. Some species were found to increase their stomatal frequency in polluted areas. This paper concludes that selection of plant species should be made on the basis of size of stomata, stomatal frequency and tolerance to specific pollut-ants. A scheme for the design of ‘green belts’ for the attenuation of air pollution has been proposed, based on percentage stomatal coverage in leaves and the dust-arresting capacity.

Key words: coal mining, dust, green belt, stomata, tree canopy

Land Contamination & Reclamation, 15 (1), 55-65 (2007)

DOI 10.2462/09670513.690

© 2007 EPP Publications Ltd 

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Article code 690