HYDERABAD: Castor oil also known as ‘Arandi ka tel’ in Hindi and ‘Amudham’ in Telugu has been an age old home remedy for a variety of ailments in India but the castor bean plant has another use which can prove useful in fighting a major problem — soil pollution.
Castor seed plant is known to be one of the most sturdiest plants which has been observed growing in areas where the soil is highly polluted, including in areas where mining is carried out. Castor plants growing in these areas absorb toxic heavy metals from soil. Hence, Castor bean plants can be grown in such polluted lands and over a period of time the levels of heavy metals can be reduced in the soil.
A study conducted by researchers from University of Hyderabad’s plant sciences department highlights how castor bean plants can prove a boon in remediation of areas in and around Hyderabad where soil is highly polluted with heavy metals due to industrial pollution.
The study, authored by Boda Ravi Kiran a PhD scholar and co-authored by Prof MNV Prasad, a faculty member of the department of plant sciences reports that the plant was seen growing in industrial areas like Bollaram, Patancheru, Bharatnagar and Kattedan. The study by UoH scholar reports that when the castor bean plants growing in industrial areas were tested, roots of the plants were seen to contain lead in as high as 19.53 milligrams per gram of the root. Even leaves and stem of the plant were found to be containing lead but in smaller quantities.
Not just this, but castor plant has also been observed to accelerate the remediation of polluted soils due to presence of some chemicals in them known as chelators which enhances the capability of castor bean plant to accumulate heavy metals.
Government bodies can take a cue out of this study if they are serious towards remediation of polluted areas.