Qualification: 
Ph.D
pp_nikhilraj@cb.amrita.edu

Dr. P. P. Nikhil Raj currently serves as Assistant Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Future and the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore. He has been involved in environmental/ecological researches in India for the last 14 years. He started working extensively in the field of environmental research since his post-graduation thesis work on human-wildlife conflicts in the northern forest region of Kerala State.

Before joining Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Dr. Raj had worked in the prestigious research institutes such as Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), India and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore. During his tenure at these institutes Dr Raj had participated in different conservation projects. In 2011,he completed his PhD in Environmental Science, from SACON,Centre of excellence, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, affiliated to the Bharathiar University, Coimbatore.

Qualifications

Year Degree/Program Institution
2011 Ph. D. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), India
2004 M. Sc. University of Calicut, Kerala

Research

Dr. Raj’s major research question lies in understanding how natural systems respond to climate change and various anthropogenic pressures. He has published his research findings in international and national peer reviewed journals. He has presented his work in many international and national conferences/seminars. He is an ardent lover of nature. He loves to travel and explore local culture.

Publications

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication Title

2019

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Book review on the “Growth Delusion”-by David Pilling”, Current Science, vol. 116, no. 5, 2019.

2012

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Trend analysis of rainfall in Bharathapuzha River basin, Kerala, India”, International Journal of Climatology, vol. 32, pp. 533-539, 2012.[Abstract]


Knowing the variations in the general rainfall pattern of a river basin is vital to understanding the hydrological cycle and water budget of the basin. The present study examined the general rainfall pattern in Bharathapuzha River basin of Malabar coast of Kerala, using monthly rainfall data for 34 years collected from 28 rain gauge stations. We used Mann-Kendal's rank correlation statistics and wavelet analysis to examine the trend of rainfall. The annual rainfall, southwest monsoon, and pre-monsoon rainfall of the basin shows a significant decrement towards the later years of the study. We assume that the global climate and the local environmental changes are the chief factors for the variation. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society

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2011

P. P. Nikhil Raj, Azeez, P. A., and A. Hussain, S., “Performance evaluation of an irrigation project with reference to its irrigation objectives”, African Journal of Agricultural Research, vol. 6, no. 11, pp. 2472-2478, 2011.[Abstract]


During the late 1950s in India several river valley projects were started for irrigation and power generation. One such project is the Malampuzha project, the largest irrigation project in Kerala state. The project started functioning in 1956. It was expected to cater the irrigation need of 22554 Ha of rice paddy in Palakkad district. The present study is an attempt to evaluate the project by focussing on its original irrigation objectives. Data from the detailed project report (DPR) and those generated from field surveys using a custom made questionnaire was used for the study. The cost – benefit analysis conducted on Malampuzha irrigation project, with reference to its declared irrigation objectives, shows that the performance of the project is not satisfactory.

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2011

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Temperature rise in the Bharathapuzha river basin, southern India”, Current science, vol. 101, pp. 492-492, 2011.[Abstract]


In this article we examined the temporal trend of temperature in the Bharathapuzha river basin, southern India using historical temperature data (1969–2005). We used Mann–Kendall’s rank correlation statistics for seasonal and daily temperature. It shows an overall upward trend in annual and daily temperatures. The temperature during winter, and the southwest (SW) and northeast (NE) monsoon also showed significant increase.To demonstrate the occurrence of temperature trend in the four decade-long timescale, wavelet analysis was also carried out. The mean annual temperature of the basin during the period was 24.30°C, with a standardvdeviation of 0.3°C.

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2010

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Public on conserving an urban wetland: A Case from Kerala, India”, International journal of Social Ecology and sustainable development, Sustainable policy applications for social ecology and development (Edited by EG Carayannis) Information science reference (IGI global), USA, vol. 1, pp. 14-19, 2010.[Abstract]


The present study examines responses of the public to a proposed ecotourism program. Several individuals were randomly contacted in Kerala, India, to elicit their observations and responses to the proposed program, including residents, local travelers and workers. Though a large share of the sample population supported the project, anticipating that it would accelerate the development of the city and increase their annual earnings, many were unaware of the ecological importance of the mangrove wetland. Only 5% of the total sampled populations were aware of the importance of conserving wetland ecosystems in a growing city. This exemplifies the cheerless state of the environmental consciousness of the public in Kerala, despite that the city is among the most literate, socially advanced and environmentally cognizant populations in India. This study highlights the need for development of much deeper scientific consciousness among the public at large.

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2010

P. P. Nikhil Raj, Ranjini, J., Radhamani, D., Subramanian, J., Azeez, P. A., and Bhupathy, S., “Consolidated checklist of birds in the Pallikaranai Wetlands, Chennai, India”, Journal of Threatened Taxa, vol. 2, pp. 1114-1118, 2010.[Abstract]


We documented the avifauna of Pallikaranai marshes located near the Chennai metropolis in southern India. In total, 110 species of migratory and resident birds including those listed in the Red Data Book were recorded. Presently the wetland is facing severe threats from various anthropogenic pressures caused due to unplanned waste disposal and land conversion. The high population of migratory as well as wetland birds in this area emphasizes the urgent need of conservation of this urban wetland.

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2010

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Changing Rainfall in the Palakkad plains of South India”, Atmósfera, vol. 23, pp. 75-82, 2010.[Abstract]


Analysis of the general rainfall trend is vital in understanding the underlying features, for the purpose of forecasting and in identifying the changes and impacts that are very crucial for an agro-based economy like the one of India. Situated on the western side of the Palakkad Gap, the Palakkad plains connect the state of Kerala in India to the plains of Tamil Nadu and Deccan. The geographical location results in an environmental realm in the Palakkad plains that is different from the rest of Kerala. The present study examines the general trend of rainfall in the Palakkad plains using monthly rainfall data, almost spanning a century, collected from four rain gauge stations available in the area. The annual rainfall pattern of all the stations showed a trend of significant decline, as the years proceed. Changes in the rainfall may have implications on local ecology as well as in agricultural productivity. The decrement in rainfall may reflect the actual regional level climate changes compounded by various anthropogenic factors.

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2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Climate change congress Copenhagen”, Current science, vol. 97, no. 3, 2009.

2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Real estate and Agricultural Wetlands in Kerala”, Economic and political weekly, Environment, Technology and Development: Critical and Subversive Essays- Essays from the Economic and Political Weekly (2012), Edited By Rohan D’Souza p: 394., vol. 44, 2009.[Abstract]


The "rice culture" of Kerala is fast vanishing due to the increasing diversion of the land for non-agricultural purposes. The real estate sector is gradually swallowing up the rice cultivating low-lying wetlands. This paper attempts to examine the growth of real estate business and consequent destruction of the wetland ecosystems in the state. W etlands are an important part of the ecosystem and are also the most threatened part of it (Turner 1991). Conserving wetlands as shields against scarcity of water, floods, en-vironmental pollution, and distress of mi-cro-climatic vagaries is therefore impor-tant. Kerala has the largest proportion of land area under wetlands among all the states of India. Compared to other states of the country, wetlands in Kerala are un-der severe anthropogenic threats primari-ly because of high population density and the peculiar distribution of human habita-tions in the state. According to Nair and Sankar (2002), who mapped the wetland systems of Kerala using Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite data, the state has a total of 217 wetland units of which 157 units extend over more than 56.25 ha. In an agriculture-based economy with paddy as the prime crop the rice-growing wetlands of the state were significant. However, the steep growth in agricultural income in the state suddenly declined dur-ing the mid-1970s and have been fluctuat-ing thereafter (Mahesh 2000) due to the redistribution of landholdings. Farmers began diverting the waterlogged rice fields to perennial crops such as coconut or are-canut. They also started growing other more profitable crops like rubber. Land is habitually kept fallow for years since culti-vation is not profitable and as a result, pri-ority is given to cash crops such as rubber, coffee, tea, coconut, arecanut, and nutmeg (www.ecostatkerala.org). At present, rub-ber plantations cover about 18% of the total agricultural land and 11% of the to-tal geographical area of the state (Chat-topadhyay and Chattopadhyay 1997). There are many factors responsible for this rapid change from the "rice culture" of the state: shortage of labour, increased labour charges, and hikes in the cost of input are the major ones. According to Raj (2003) the percentage of population engaged in agriculture has gone down drastically to around 26% of the total rural population. The agricultural labourers have decreased to 16.07% from 25.55% of the total during 1991-2001 (www.kerala planningboard.org). However, about 60 lakhs of people in the state directly de-pend on rice cultivation (Harigovindan 2007). The state economy in recent years is subsidised by the non-resident Indian (NRI) remittan ces that amount to more than Rs 20,000 crore per annum. Keeping a wetland fallow for a while, as a prelude to diverting it for other uses, is a common trend in Kerala, especially near highways, roads, or commercial ventures. It is common to consider wetlands as waste-lands that provide much greater service if drained and reclaimed, a belief that is grossly ignorant of the valuable ecosystem services wetlands provide. Filling up wet-lands and paddy growing areas and con-verting them into built-up areas has become a practice since the late 1980s because of increased cash flow and economic deve-lopment due to NRI remittances. The real estate business has thus become a big venture in the state. The lack of justifiable returns and incentives from rice cultiva-tion, high population density, a consu-merist way of life, easy access to finance and demand for land for building have paved the way to a booming real estate sector. Increase in the agricultural land-holding after the Land Refor mation Act-1963 has also catalysed the diversion pro-cess in the state. The 1990-91 agriculture census shows that there are 54.18 lakhs of total agri cultural landholdings in the state of which 84% is less than 0.5 ha (www. kerala.gov.in/dept_agri).

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2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Spatial and temporal variation in surface water chemistry of a tropical river, the river Bharathapuzha, India”, Current science, vol. 96, pp. 245-251, 2009.[Abstract]


The study examines the spatiotemporal variation in water quality and quantity of Bharathapuzha river basin using multivariate statistical analysis tools. The sub-basins varied notably in terms of river discharge, elemental concentration as well as elemental load. It was found that in basins that are more disturbed, monsoonal discharge was much higher than the discharges in other seasons, while the slightly disturbed basin had consistent level of discharge throughout the season. Changes in land use and the impact of dams are major reasons for the spatiotemporal variations in the surface water chemistry of the river.

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Publication Type: Conference Proceedings

Year of Publication Title

2016

P. P. Nikhil Raj, Nikhil, M., Shreyaa, S., Harini, P. A., and Hariguhan, T. R., “Understanding the impact of Movies on changing the perspectives of students on Environmental issues”, International Conference on Environment and Ecology (ICEE 2016), 7-9 March 2016. Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, 2016.

2015

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Movies, as a driver of change in perspectives: an evaluation of the impact of environmental documentaries on students in adolescence Pathways to Future Education for Sustainable Development”. Tallinn, Estonia , pp. 22-24 , 2015.

2011

P. P. Nikhil Raj, Azeez, P. A., and Sebastian, M. K., “Ecological and ethno-cultural examination of the rise and fall in rice diversity in southern India with special reference to the Western Ghats,India”, Workshop on Paddy Growing Cultures in India, organized by JanapadaSampada division, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), 5th to 7th December 2011 at Dept. of Anthropology. Pondicherry University., 2011.

2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Cropping the 'real estate'; does money play the desperado? A brief from Kerala's agriculture wetlands”, National seminar on emerging issues in biodiversity management. Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, 2009.

2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Development of a city and disappearing urban water bodies a case from Palakkad city of Kerala, India ”, 10th ESRI India User Conference , Geography in Action. 2009.[Abstract]


Development of civilization has a coinciding, convergent and matching relation with urbanization and city development. The development of a city can be looked upon from different points of view and could be analyzed from different perspectives. Geographical Information System (GIS) is one effective tool for studying urban sprawl. Urban sprawl in the state of Kerala is extending in a fast pace, exerting pressure on most of the natural ecosystems of the state. During the last couple of decades the state has experienced drastic urban growth due to several factors, of which socio economic changes are one of the foremost. We examined the temporal variation in urban wetlands located in Palakkad city (South India), using Topographic sheets and imageries of two different time periods (falling within 1974 to 2008) using ArcGIS 9.3. It was found that the individual wetlands diminishing in area as time progress. Apparently the loss of the wetlands is highly correlated with the growth of the city.

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2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Analysis of rain fall trend and the variation in number of rain days in a tropical station.”, First World Young Earth-Scientists Congress 2009. Beijing, China , 2009.

2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Historical analysis of the first rain event and the number of rain days in the western part of Palakkad gap, South India”, Iop Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, The IARU International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, vol. 6. 2009.

2008

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Public opinion on conserving a mangrove wetland- A case from Kerala”, National seminar on Coastal wetland ecosystems of Kerala: Perspective and conservational strategies. S N College, Kannur, 2008.

2008

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Analysis of the general rainfall trend using the historical data: a case from Palakkad plains of Kerala”, International Conference on Climate Change, Biodiversity & Food Security in the South Asia Region . Punjab state council for science and technology, Chandigarh, 2008.

2007

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Weeds of the Bharathapuzha river basin Kerala with special reference to the influencing factors promoting weed growth”, National Conference on Environmental Challenges and Management (ECM-2007). Bharthiar University Coimbatore., 2007.

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Year of Publication Title

2015

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “Factors Influencing the Runoff Trend in a Medium Sized River Basin in the Western Ghats, India”, in Environmental Management of River Basin Ecosystems Springer-Verlag, 2015, pp. 111-125.[Abstract]


The present study examines the trends in the annual runoff of a tropical river basin Bharathapuzha, a medium sized river in southern India under the influences of anthropogenic pressures and climate change. The examination of the temporal trends in the rainfall, temperature and river runoff was done using historical datasets. It was supplemented with the data on the land use/land cover (LU/LC) change in the basin based on the LANDSAT TM data. By using a multiple regression model, the influential factors determining the river discharge were identified. The results show that while the rainfall influences the runoff positively, new water bodies, dams and other diversions in the fluvial setup in the basin influence the river runoff negatively.

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2009

P. P. Nikhil Raj and Azeez, P. A., “The general rainfall trend using the historical data: a case from the Palakkad plains of Kerala”, in Climate Change, Biodiversity and Food Security in the South Asian Region , Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, New Delhi, Macmillan Publishers India Ltd, New Delhi, 2009.