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Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

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SOIL
6.1 INTRODUCTION
Soil characteristics and properties are determining factors for the growth of plants. It is
formed by the interaction among living organisms, rocks, air, water and other materials. Soil
generally differs markedly in their colour, clay, organic matter contents, depth, pedogenic
process depending on the land use, land cover and climate. Soil has a unique morphology from
surface down to parent material. Apart from its life sustaining capacity in a terrestrial ecosystem,
its structure, texture and erosion vulnerability affect the life support system in various
environments like water, air etc.

In recent years anthropogenic modification of land amounts to a major threat to its life
sustaining property and results into soil contamination, soil erosion and induced land slides. In
addition, the use of chemical fertilizers contaminates not only the soils but deteriorates the water
quality due to leaching out of soils. The construction activities in a hydroelectric project are
expected to include the excavation, quarrying, road construction, etc. in large scale which affect
soil adversely. Also, soil erosions in the catchment have immense effects on the life of reservoir
and other components.

Soil is one of the important aspects of EIA study because disturbances in the soil lead to
the deterioration of air and water quality and health hazards. In hydro-electric projects, erosion
hazard of the soil is also an essential aspect to be addressed as it decides the life of the project.
Baseline data on the soil is useful in preparing the catchment Area Treatment Plan including both
engineering and biological measures. In this section we describe the soil classes and their
properties of catchment area and project influence area and physical, chemical and biological
characteristics of soils retrieved from the project component areas. Understanding the nature,
characteristics, extent and distribution of different soils as well as their properties is helpful in the
soil management and conservation, crop production, water control and structure support.

6.2 SOIL CLASSIFICATION


6.2.1 Catchment Area
Soils of catchment area of Hirong H.E. Project comprise of 5 soil associations covering an
area of 1289 sq km Table 6.1. Soil association Lithic Udorthents Dystric Eutrochrepts is
Hirong H.E project, Arunachal Pradesh 6-1
Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

predominant in the catchment accounting for 68.7% of the total soil cover (Fig. 6.1). The dominant
part of the soil characterized by shallow, loamy skeletal soil having severe erosion hazards (Table
6.1) the soils is predominant in middle slopes and higher slopes. The predominant soil association
of Siyom valley is Lithic Udorthents Typic Udorthents, characterized by shallow loamy skeletal
having loamy surface with severe erosion hazards and strong stoniness. This association accounts
for 14% of the total soil area.

6.2.2 Influence Area


Influence area covers an area of nearly 536 sq km. and comprises of 5 soil series
associations (Table 6.1; Fig. 6.2). Soil series association Typic Udorthents Dystric Eutrochrepts
is most predominant soil especially in upper half of the catchment and accounts for 41% of total
soil cover. It is characterized by shallow, loamy skeletal soil having severe erosion hazards. In
lower half of the influence area Lithic Udorthents Typic Udorthents is predominant covering an
area of 166.5 sq.km. Soil has severe erosion hazards and is moderate stoniness.

6.2.3 Project Area


The proposed dam site is located on Typic Udorthents Dystric Eutrochrepts soil
association while power house is located on Lithic Udorthents Typic Udorthents soil
association. Both soils are loamy skeletal and prone to severe erosion. HRT tunnel align through
three soil series associations slightly differ in their characteristics.

Table 6.1 Soil associations and their description in catchment and influence area of Hirong
H.E. project

Soil Description Sub-Group


Series

S1 Shallow, excessively drained, loamy-skeletal Loamy-skeletal,


soils on very steeply sloping hill summit Lithic Udorthents
having loamy surface with very severe
erosion hazard and moderate stoniness:
associated with:
Moderately deep, somewhat excessively drained Loamy-skeletal
loamy-skeletal soils on moderately steeply Typic Udorthents
sloping side slopes with severe erosion hazard
and moderate stoniness

S2 Deep, somewhat excessively drained, Loamy-skeletal,


loamy-skeletal soils on moderately steeply Entic Haplumbrepts
sloping summits having loamy surface with
severe erosion hazard and moderate stoniness:
associated with;
Moderately shallow, excessively drained, sandy
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Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

skeletal soils on steeply sloping summits with Sandy-skeletal,


very severe erosion hazard and slight stoniness. Typic Udorthents

S3 Shallow, excessively drained, loamy-skeletal Loamy-skeletal,


soils on steeply sloping summits having loamy Lithic Udorthents
surface with severe erosion hazard and slight
stoniness: associated with;
Moderately deep, somewhat excessively drained, Loamy-skeletal,
loamy-skeletal soils on moderately steeply Dystric Eutrochrepts
sloping side slopes and slight stoniness

S4 Shallow, excessively drained, loamy-skeletal soils Loamy-skeletal,


on very steeply sloping summits having loamy Lithic Udorthents
surface with severe erosion hazard and strong
stoniness: associated with;
Moderately deep, somewhat excessively drained, Sandy-skeletal
sandy-skeletal soils with very severe erosion Typic Udorthents
hazard and moderate stoniness

S5 Rocky mountains covered with perpetual snow


and glaciers

6.3 SOIL CHARACTERISTICS


6.3.1 Physical and Chemical Characteristics
Soils were retrieved from various land use. The proposed dam site and catchment area
house good forest cover. The soils also were collected from village area and agricultural field.
Sand, silt and clay are important component of the soil texture. Soil texture influences physical
(porosity, permeability) and chemical (nutrients) of the soil. In general, forest area like dam site
and catchment area recorded high amount of sand including medium, fine and very fine sand
(Table 6.2) while agricultural area and village area were found to measure relatively high
percentage of clay and silt. Generally soils recorded optimum amounts of clay which is
considered to be a reservoir of nutrients. Optimum quantity of clay soil can be attributed to the
presence of good forest cover in the area. Bulk density of soils varies from 0.70 gm/cc to 1.31
gm/cc. Higher bulk density is attributed to the high amount of clay and silt and ultimately higher
nutrients. In the present study higher bulk densities were recorded from agricultural fields.

High moisture contents were recorded from forested area as compared to agricultural
fields and villages. High moisture contents in forest area can be attributed to the dense forest
canopy. The electrical conductivity ranged from 26 s/cm to 243 s/cm showing slight seasonal
variation.

In studied samples pH was recorded within optimum range. It has indirect effects on the
plant growth. The availability of the nutrients like phosphate and nitrate depends on the range of
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Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

pH. The pH range between 6 - 8 is most conducive for the availability of nutrients, which is true
for the present study. The concentrations of nitrate and phosphate ranged from 0.02 to 0.44 mg/g
and 0.03 to 0.45 mg/g, respectively. Minimum concentrations were observed in pre-monsoon
season. The soils are rich in organic matter with maximum in forested area. The high organic
matters in forested area can be attributed to the decomposition of litters. Organic matter
influences soil physical, chemical properties and biological properties. It is a source of carbon
energy for microbes.

6.3.2 Soil Microbes


The soil biota comprises of soil fauna, bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and algae. Soil
organisms are important regulators of nutrient cycling decomposition and maintenance of soil
structure. Soil bacteria and fungi form the most of soil biomass (Rosswall and Paustin, 1984).
Soil microorganisms also have major roles in determining ground water quality, plant and animal
health and organic matter cycle. A greater understanding of soil microorganisms can benefit land
management decisions, monitoring and predicting environmental changes.

The samples retrieved from the surrounding areas of the project components revealed that
soils is rich in microbial diversity comprises of fungi and bacteria. Generally soil samples from
forest area recorded high density of bacteria and fungi (Table 6.3). Temporally high densities
were recorded in monsoon season.

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Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

Table 6.2 Soil characteristics of proposed dam site and catchment area of Hirong H.E. project

Pre-monsoon Monsoon Winter


Parameters S1 S2 S3 S4 S1 S2 S3 S4 S1 S2 S3 S4
Physical characteristics
Soil Texture
Very Coarse sand 1.63 39.7 22.32 12.35 32.88 1.74 23.25 13.65 42.56 38.55 22.23 12.35
Coarse sand 48.03 7.93 21.36 18.26 9.735 48.03 20.15 17.21 29.12 21.38 21.12 14.52
Medium sand 25.29 10.9 26.33 31.25 16.05 24.15 25.61 25.61 10.9 14.98 21.87 26.53
Fine and very fine sand 22.62 22.7 12.03 19.12 23.82 23.15 15.32 21.45 12 15.22 16.38 14.56
Coarse silt 2.15 13.4 11.36 12.36 10.15 1.78 10.21 15.61 4.2 8.24 16.25 15.23
Fine, medium silt and clay 0.26 5.33 6.60 6.60 7.37 1.12 5.46 6.47 1.22 1.22 2.15 16.81
Moisture content (%) 18.24 13.90 9.12 11.56 17.78 59.79 10.23 16.23 32.3 40.98 15.36 22.39
Bulk Density (g/cc) 0.86 0.86 0.96 1.01 0.74 0.704 0.98 0.99 0.882 0.785 1.12 1.31
Water Holding Capacity (%) 72.86 94.1 68.23 56.23 122.50 80.04 87.00 76.23 64.94 82.37 70.25 95.63
E. Conductivity (s/cm) 26.00 65.00 76.00 110.00 64.00 243.00 105.00 110.00 69.00 230.00 130.00 125.00
Chemical characteristics
pH 6.89 6.69 6.98 6.45 7.36 7.53 7.12 6.83 6.28 4.93 7.01 7.00
Nitrate (N-NO3) (mg/g) 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.09 0.032 0.28 0.03 0.18 0.44 0.28 0.38 0.26
Phosphate (P-PO4) (mg/g) 0.17 0.04 0.12 0.12 0.03 0.164 0.16 0.35 0.139 0.229 0.28 0.45
Organic Matter (%) 4.62 7.18 2.12 3.18 7.38 2.746 3.35 2.59 4.32 4.32 2.39 3.67
Chloride (mg/g) NR 0.09 0.12 0.23 0.103 0.24 0.15 0.28 0.118 0.169 0.12 0.32
Sodium (mg/g)

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Environmental Impact Assessment Soil CISMHE

Table 6.3 Microbial communities in the soils of the proposed Hirong H.E. project

Pre-monsoon Monsoon Winter


Parameters S1 S2 S4 S1 S2 S4 S1 S2 S3

Fungal colony (mpn/g-1) 2.30 x 105 2.60 x 105 1.90 x 103 3.20 x 105 2.80 x 105 2.80 x 104 1.80 x 104 2.60 x 104 1.10 x 104
Bacterial colony (cfu/g-1) 3.50 x 106 2.42 x 107 3.50 x 106 6.50 x 107 4.50 x 107 2.40 x 106 3.50 x 106 2.20 x 105 3.10 x 105

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