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Government Schemes in Environment for UPSC

Compensatory Afforestation Fund

In 2006, adhoc CAMPA was established for the management of Compensatory afforestation fund.

CAMPA Act:

  1. To compensate the loss of forest area and to maintain the sustainability, the Government of India came up with a well-defined Act, known as CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority).
  2. The law establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
  3. These Funds will receive payments for: (i) compensatory afforestation, (ii) net present value of forest (NPV), and (iii) other project specific payments. 
  4. The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
  5. According to the Act’s provision, a company diverting forest land must provide alternative land to take up compensatory afforestation.
  6. For afforestation, the company should pay to plant new trees in the alternative land provided to the state.

Issues with CAMPA:

  • In 2002, the Supreme Court had observed that collected funds for afforestation were under-utilised by the states and it ordered for centrally pooling of funds under ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
  • The law says that land selected for afforestation should preferably be contiguous to the forest being diverted so that it is easier for forest officials to manage it. But if no suitable non-forest land is found, degraded forests can be chosen for afforestation. In several states like Chattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand where the intensity of mining is very high, to find the non-forest land for afforestation to compensate the loss of forest is a big task.
  • Utilisation of CAMPA fund: Several state governments are not utilising it properly. An amount of Rs 86 lakh from CAMPA funds meant for afforestation was reportedly spent on litigation work in Punjab.
  • Moreover, at several places, the loss of natural species is compensated with plantation of non-native species in the name of the artificial plantation. It serves as a threat to even the existing ecosystem.  

Definition of land as forest

  • The conundrum of defining forest has been around since the 1980s.
  • In 1996, the Supreme Court in its Godavarman Judgement expanded the definition of Forest that includes lands,
    1. That was already notified by the Centre as forests,
    2. That appears in government records as forests
    3. That fell in the “dictionary definition” of forest.
  • Under the third category, it is the prerogative of the States to define their own criteria and define tracts of land as a forest which is known as ‘deemed forests’.
  • This is because, a tract of grassland in one State might qualify in one region as forest, but not in another.
  • However, not all States have submitted such criteria and once a State applied criteria, it couldn’t be reversed.
  • Forests defined under these criteria constituted about 1% of the country’s forests.
  • The discussion on this deemed forests came up because the Uttarakhand government had put forth a set of criteria defining forest land and asked the Environment ministry for it’s opinion.
  • The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) have clarified that the States need not take the Centre’s approval to define what constitutes unclassified land as forest.

Government plans ‘Green Wall’ of India

The Centre is mulling an ambitious plan to create a 1,400km long and 5km wide green belt from Gujarat to the Delhi-Haryana border.

  • The plan is inspired by Africa’s ‘Great Green Wall’ project, running from Senegal (West) to Djibouti (East), which came into effect in 2007.
  • The overarching objective of India’s Green Wall will be to address the rising rates of land degradation and the eastward expansion of the Thar desert.
  • The green belt being planned from Porbandar to Panipat will help in restoring degraded land through afforestation along the Aravali hill range. It will also act as a barrier for dust coming from the deserts in western India and Pakistan.
  • The Aravali has been identified as one of the key degraded zones to be taken up for greening under India’s target to restore 26 million hectares (mha) of its land.
Government plans 'Green Wall' of India UPSC

Great Green Wall of Africa

  • It aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions, the Sahel.
  • The African initiative is still only 15% complete.
  • Once fully completed, the Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet – an 8,000 km natural wonder of the world stretching across the entire width of the continent.
  • African countries during the UNCCCD COP14 sought global support in terms of finance to make the Wall a reality in the continent’s Sahel region by 2030.
  • Sahel is a semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan.
  • It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south.
Government plans 'Green Wall' of India UPSC

Aravali Mountain Range

  • The Aravallis, is the oldest fold mountains on Earth. Geological studies show its age as three billion years.
  • It spans over 800km from Gujarat to Delhi (through Rajasthan and Haryana).
  • The highest peak in the Aravalli Range is Guru Peak on Mount Abu.

Radio-collaring Asiatic lions 

Why in news ?

  • The Gujarat Forest Department has begun Radio-collaring Asiatic lions in a bid to study their movement patterns, territories and habitat preferences.

Details :

  • Radio-collars are fitted with small radio transmitter that will beam signals to the satellites at a preset frequency and the satellites, in turn, will relay the signals to a control-room in Sasan.
  • The government has set up a high-tech monitoring unit at Sasan which will serve as control-room for the collars.
  • This will help the forest department in monitoring of the group’s movement, research, knowing the territory of the animal and other details.
  • During floods and other calamities and spread of diseases, the radio collars would be a big help for forest teams.

About Asiatic lions :

  • Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.
  • They used to range from Turkey, across Asia, to eastern India.
  • At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
  • They are estimated to be 523 in the wild.
  • The lions face the usual threats of poaching and habitat fragmentation.
  • Other threats are identified as encroachment, forest fire, natural calamities, grazing, collection of fuelwood, Non-timber forest produce (NTFP)
  • However, recent death of around two dozen lions is attributed to the deadly Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in Dalkhaniya range of Gir forest division.
  • Conservation Status- Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Appendix I of CITES, Endangered on IUCN Red List

Herbivore Census In Gujarat’s Gir Forest

  • Every summer, the Forest Department of Gujarat conducts a Herbivore Census in Gir forest.
  • This year’s exercise is of particular significance because it is the last Herbivore Census ahead of next year’s Lion Census, which is a once-infive-years exercise.

 Herbivore Census

  • The Herbivore Census covers ungulates such as spotted deer, blue bulls (nilgais), sambars, Indian gazelles (chinkaras), fourhorned antelopes (choshinga) and wild boars, as well as Indian langurs and peafowl.

Importance

  • Wild ungulates and langurs are the main prey of Asiatic lions
  • A count provides a sense of the available of the prey base
  • A strong prey base
  • In 2013-14, the last Herbivore Census herbivores were 1.32 lakh, higher than the about 1.25 lakh counted in 2012-13.

Why it’s done in summer?

  • During summer, foliage is reduced to a minimum
  • Also, wild animals concentrate around water points
  • The forest is divided into 19 routes and forest divisions for the census,

Asiatic Lion Census:

Asiatic Lion Census is conducted after every 5 years by Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Next Asiatic Lion Census is in May 2020.

The census will be carried out using scientific methods laid out by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Plan Bee

Plan Bee, a unique strategy adopted by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks, has won the best innovation award by Indian Railways.

  • Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR)’s Plan Bee, involves setting up of devices (an amplifying system imitating the buzz of a swarm of honey bees) near tracks, which emit the ‘buzzing’ sound of swarming bees, considered as a natural repellent of elephants (elephants have a natural fear of the perilous stings of the insects).
  • First one was installed near the Guwahati railway station.

Forest-PLUS 2.0 Programme

US Agency for International Development (USAID) and India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) have launched Forest-PLUS 2.0.

What is it?

  1. Forest-PLUS is a five-year programme initiated in December 2018 that focuses on developing tools and techniques to bolster ecosystem management and harnessing ecosystem services in forest landscape management.
  2. Forest-PLUS 2.0, the second set of pilot projects, is meant to enhance sustainable forest landscape management after Forest-PLUS completed its five years in 2017.
  3. The programme’s first set focused on capacity building to help India participate in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It included four pilot projects in Sikkim, Rampur, Shivamogga and Hoshangabad.
  4. Under these, field tests, innovative tools and approaches for Indian forest management were developed. Promotion of bio-briquettes in Sikkim, introduction of solar heating systems in Rampur and development of an agro-forestry model in Hoshangabad were some of the achievements of this programme.
  5. Forest-PLUS 2.0 comprises pilot project in three landscapes — Gaya in Bihar, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Medak in Telangana. The choice of these sites was driven by the contrast in their landscapes – Bihar is a forest deficit area, Telangana is a relatively drier area where there is ample scope for community livelihood enhancement and Kerala is rich in biodiversity.

The targets of this set are:

  1. 1,20,000 hectares of land under improved management.
  2. New, inclusive economic activity worth $12 million.
  3. Measurable benefits accrued to 800,000 households.
  4. Three incentive mechanisms demonstrated in managing landscapes for ecosystem services.

Rhinos to be Re-introduced in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has cleared a proposal by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to introduce rhinoceroses in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR).

Reasons for Translocation

  • This has been done to boost tourism and revive the habitats of species that survive on low-height grass.
  • Rhinos reduce the size of elephant grass by eating it which would encourage species thriving on lower-height grass like- Hog Deer, Cheetal, Sambar and Swamp Deer.
  • Geographical terrain and environmental conditions in CTR are suitable for rhinos.
  • Valley habitats bounded on either side by the lower Himalayas (north), Shivalik Hills (south) and the Ramganga Reservoir (east) are the ideal sites. They would act as natural barriers to rhino movement and will minimise man-animal conflict.
  • The rhino’s range, once continuous across the flood plains of the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra, now limited to small fragmented pockets in India and Nepal as a result of anthropogenic pressures and poaching, as per the WWI experts.
  • Re-introduction into habitats in the historic range would create safety-net populations for the species and also restore their ecological role in these faunally-degraded habitats.
  • Rhinos are poached because their horns are considered an aphrodisiac.

Wildlife Institute of India

  • It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It was established in 1982.
  • It is based in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
  • It offers training programs, academic courses, and advisory in wildlife research and management.

Special Rhino Protection Force

Indian Rhinoceros:

Initiative was started in 2015 on the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Joint effort by the both the Central and State n governments to control rhino poaching in the tiger reserve.

Indian Rhinoceros:

  • Habitat: Indo- Nepal Terai and Northern West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable.
  • Largest of all the Asian rhinos and the fourth largest land animal in the world.
  • 85% of the population found in India.
  • Assam has 91% of total Rhino population of India- mainly in Kaziranga National Park, and a few in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

Indian Vision Rhino 2020:

Aim: To translocate Rhinos from Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to five other protected areas.

An effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in Assam by 2020.

Kaziranga National Park:

  • Location: Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam.
  • Crisscrossed by four main rivers- Brahmaputra, Diphlu, Mora Diphlu and Mora Dhansiri.
  • Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
  • Described as a biodiversity hotspot due to its high
  • species diversity and presence of high-visibility species.
  • Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
  • Described as a biodiversity hotspot due to its high species diversity and presence of high-visibility species.

Inhabitants of the National Park:

  • The Endangered Ganges Dolphin
  • Vulnerable and rare species of Bengal Slow Loris
  • Assamese Macaque
  • Capped Langur
  • Golden Langur
  • and the Hoolock Gibbon (only ape found in India).

    Q. Consider the following statements about Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF).

1. The SRPF is basically a tiger protection force named after the rhino since the threat of poaching is more for the one-horned herbivore.

2. It is an initiative of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

2. The force would be used for Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Manas National Park.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1, 2

b) 2, 3

c) 1, 3

d) 1, 2, 3

MOSAiC expedition

  • The MOSAiC mission stands for Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate is spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.
  • It is the largest ever Arctic expedition in history.
  • It will be the first to conduct a study of this scale at the North Pole for an entire year.
  • Objectives – To parameterise the atmospheric, geophysical, oceanographic and all other possible variables in the Arctic, and use it to more accurately forecast the changes in our weather systems.
  • It will help the researchers better understand the impact of climate change and aid in improved weather projections.
  • Hundreds of researchers from 19 countries take part in this exceptional endeavour.
  • The 32-year-old polar researcher from Kerala will be the only Indian aboard the mission.
  • First mission – In 1893-1896, Norwegian explorer Fridtj first managed to seal his wooden expedition ship, Fram, into the North Pole.     

Microbial fuel cells

  • The London Zoo has used plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a fern.

Microbial fuel cells

  • They are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate current.
  • Electrons produced by the bacteria are transferred to the negative terminal and flow to the positive terminal.
  • Plants naturally deposit biomaterial as they grow which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil.
  • This creates energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.

Benefits over other power sources

  • Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight.
  • On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.

SAFAR

  • The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) is a national initiative introduced by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to measure the air quality of a metropolitan city, by measuring the overall pollution level and the location-specific air quality of the city.
  • The system is indigenously developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and is operationalized by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • It has a giant true color LED display that gives out real-time air quality index on a 24×7 basis with color-coding (along with 72 hours advance forecast).
  • The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among the general public regarding the air quality in their city so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up.
  • It organizes awareness drive by educating the public (prompting self-mitigation), and
  • It also helps the policy-makers to develop mitigation strategies keeping in mind the nation’s economic development.
  • SAFAR is an integral part of India’s first Air Quality Early Warning System operational in Delhi.
  • It monitors all weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction, UV radiation, and solar radiation.
  • Pollutants monitored: PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, and Mercury.
  • The World Meteorological Organization has recognized SAFAR as a prototype activity on the basis of the high-quality control and standards maintained in its implementation.
  • SAFAR system would benefit cost savings to several other sectors like agriculture, aviation, infrastructure, disaster management, tourism, etc. which directly or indirectly gets affected by air quality and weather.

Air Quality Index (AQI)

The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality.

  • It focuses on health effects one might experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
  • AQI is calculated for eight major air pollutants:
  • Ground-level ozone,
  • PM10,
  • PM2.5,
  • Carbon monoxide,
  • Sulfur dioxide,
  • Nitrogen dioxide,
  • Ammonia,
  • Lead,

India’s “First” Emissions Trading System for Particulate Pollution (PM)

Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has initiated the programme for market based trading system to reduce air pollution in Surat, Gujarat .

  • It’s a market based system where the government sets a emission limit and allows industries to buy and sell permits to stay below the emission cap.
  • The emission trading scheme (ETS), was designed by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) along with the team of researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the Economic Growth Center at Yale University and others from the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
  • Globally, cap and trade systems have been used to reduce other forms of pollution, such as programmes that have successfully reduced sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the United States. But the Gujarat programme is the first in the world to regulate particulate air pollution.

Emission Cap and Trade System

  • Under this, the regulator first defines the total mass of pollution that can be put into the air over a defined period by all factories put together.
  • Then, a set of permits is created, each of which allows a certain amount of pollution, and the total is equal to the cap.
  • These permits are the quantity that is bought and sold.
  • Each factory is allocated a share of these permits (this could be equal or based on size or some other rule).
  • After this, plants can trade permits with each other, just like any other commodity on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).
  • Whatever the final allocation, the total number of permits does not change so the total pollution is still equal to the predefined cap.

AIR QUALITY EARLY WARNING SYSTEM, DELHI

  • Objective: The early warning system will help in proactively forewarning, 3-4 days in advance, any large scale air pollution events which may occur over the Delhi region and give alerts to take necessary steps as per Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of the Government of India.
  • Bodies involved: The air pollution system has been developed jointly by the scientists at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, India Meteorological Department and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
  • Components: The warning system consists of –
  • real time observations of air quality over Delhi region and details about natural aerosols like dust (from dust storms) and particulate matter using different satellite data sets
  • Predictions of air pollutants from two different air quality prediction systems based on state-of-the-art atmospheric chemistry transport models and
  • Warning Messages and Alerts and Bulletins.

BAMBOO TECHNOLOGY PARKS

What’s in news?

Union Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) announced that Bamboo Technology Parks would be set up in the two new Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Key data’s:

  • In a review meeting with officials of the Ministry and the North Eastern Council (NEC), Dr. Jitendra Singh, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, has announced that the Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC)would be set up in the two new Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • CBTC will implement a project called “Bamboo Technology Parks”.
  • The Bamboo Technology Parks would be set up in three places – Jammu, Srinagar and Leh.
  • The project was associated with the National Bamboo Mission (NBM). Bamboo is a member of the grass family.

Need of the project:

  • In Jammu & Kashmir, the bamboos grown in the region were exploited commercially.
  • To boost the cultivation, the above proposed project was taken.
  • For achieving this target, a model for bamboo cultivation, harvesting and utilization currently existing in the North Eastern Region will be replicated in the two new Union Territories

National Bamboo Mission (NBM):

  • NBM was launched on April 2018, being implemented as a sub scheme under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH).
  • MIDH is Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • Aim of NBM: to increase area under bamboo cultivation and also adopting region-based strategies to promote bamboo products.
  • Coverage states: Specially covers North Eastern States and also the other states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Financial Assistance:
    • North Eastern States – 90:10 ratio.
    • States in plain region – 60:40 ratio.
    • Union Territories – 100% ratio.

Facts about Bamboo:

  • Bamboo are evergreen perennial flowering plants.
  • Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system.
  • Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete, and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel.

Wasteland Atlas-2019

Recently, the Ministry of Rural Development has released the fifth edition of Wastelands Atlas (2019).

  • It has been prepared by the Department of Land Resources (Ministry of Rural Development) in collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space.

Significance of Wasteland Atlas

  • Unprecedented pressure on the land beyond its carrying capacity is resulting in the degradation of lands in the country.
  • Therefore, robust geospatial information on wastelands will be helpful in rolling back the wastelands for productive use through various land development programmes.

Key Points

  • reduction in the wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, marshy land, sandy areas, and degraded pastures.
  • The wastelands have undergone a positive change in the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and West Bengal.
  • The majority of wastelands have been changed into categories of croplands, plantation and industrial areas.

Wastelands

  • Wastelands are a barren and uncultivated land lying unproductive or which is not being utilized to its potential.
  • It includes degraded forests, overgrazed pastures, drought-struck pas­tures, eroded valleys, hilly slopes, waterlogged marshy lands, barren land, etc.

Swachh – Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan

The Environment Ministry is undertaking a mass cleanliness-cum-awareness drive in 50 identified beaches under the “Swachh – Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan”.

About Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan:

  1. Launched by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
  2. Aim: To make beaches clean and create awareness amongst citizens about the importance of coastal ecosystems – in Beaches across 10 states / UTs.
  3. The campaign will be organized in the beaches after consultation with the state governments.
  4. Environment Education Division and Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under the Environment Ministry will be responsible for its implementation.
  1. At end of the drive, the best three beaches will be suitably awarded along with a certificate of appreciation for all the participating eco-clubs.
  2. The implementation of the drive will be monitored by the MoEF&CC officials.

National Green Corps ‘Ecoclub’

aunched under the Environment Education Awareness and Training (EEAT), the National Green Corps (NGC) popularly known as “a programme of Ecoclubs” is a nationwide initiative of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India (now Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change).

 Objectives:

  • To impart knowledge to school children, through hands-on experience, about their immediate environment, interactions within it and the problems therein.
  • To develop requisite skills of observation, experimentation, survey, recording, analysis and reasoning for conserving the environment through various activities.
  • To inculcate the proper attitude towards the environment and its conservation through community interactions.
  • To sensitize children to issues related to environment and development through field visits and demonstrations.
  • To promote logical and independent thinking among children so that they are able to make the right choices in a spirit of scientific inquiry.
  • To motivate and stimulate young minds by involving them in action projects related to environmental conservation.

Methodology:

  1. The scheme is being operated through Eco-clubs of 50-60 students having interest in environment related issues, formed in member schools.
  2. Eco clubs are supervised by a Teacher In-charge, who is selected from among the teachers of the member school.
  1. There is District Implementation and Monitoring Committee to supervise, organise training for In-charge teachers, and monitor periodically the implementation of scheme at the District level.
  2. There is a State Steering Committee for guidance, direction and to oversee the implementation of the scheme.
  3. The State Nodal Agency coordinates the implementation of the scheme in the State and organize related activities like training to Master Trainers.
  4. The National Steering Committee will give overall direction to the programme and ensure linkages at all levels.

HT Bt cotton – GM Cotton

  • Herbicide-tolerant Bt (HT Bt)Cotton is genetically modified cotton crop.
  • It is also known as BG-III cotton, an advanced version of Bt Cotton, as it takes care of weeds problem.
  • Herbicide is like a poison which is used to destroy unwanted vegetation.
  • They are designed to tolerate specific broad-spectrum herbicides, which kill the surrounding weeds, but leave the cultivated crop intact.
  • The herbicide-tolerant trait was developed and commercialised by US-based multinational seed giant Monsanto.
  • Currently, Bt-Cotton is the only GM crop allowed to be grown in India.
  • Herbicide-Tolerant Bt-cotton has unapproved genes which is not permissible in India.
  • The herbicide-resistant gene in HT cotton can spread through pollen into biodiversity system leading to transformation of weeds into super weeds.
  • It will threaten growth and yields of all crops in future and leads to health hazards.
  • But farmers in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra cultivates the unapproved HTBT cotton, as they want improved seeds and technology for better crops.
  • In the absence of government approval, production of HT Bt cotton is illegal.

Centre unveils plan for coastal zone management

The Environment Ministry has unveiled a draft plan that will dictate how prospective infrastructure projects situated along the coast ought to be assessed before they can apply for clearance.

Plan

  1. The draft Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) is part of a World Bank-funded project.
  2. It lays out guidelines for coastal States to adopt when they approve and regulate projects in coastal zones.
  3. It seeks to assist the Government of India in enhancing coastal resource efficiency and resilience by building capacity for adopting and implementing integrated coastal management approaches
  4. The document was prepared by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management, a Ministry-affiliated body.
  5. As per the report, Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) has to be a continuous process rather than a “one-off” investment action.

The key activities proposed for coastal zone development include: 

  • mangrove afforestation/shelter beds
  •  habitat conservation activities such as restoration of sea-grass meadows
  • eco-restoration of sacred groves
  • development of hatcheries
  • rearing/rescue centres for turtles and other marine animals
  • creation of infrastructure for tourism
  • restoration and recharge of water bodies
  • beach cleaning and development
  • small infrastructure facilities

Livelihood improvement projects include

  • demonstration of climate-resilient or salinity resistant agriculture
  • water harvesting and recharge/storage
  • creation of infrastructure and facilities to support eco-tourism
  • community-based small-scale mariculture
  • seaweed cultivation
  • aquaponics
  1. Environmental and social aspects ought to be integrated into the planning, design, implementation of projects.
  2. Projects should avoid or minimise impacts on cultural properties and natural habitats, compensate any loss of livelihood or assets, adopt higher work safety standards, occupational and community health and safety

Action so far

  • So far three coastal States, Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, have prepared Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plans with support from the World Bank.
  • Such plans would be prepared for the selected coastal stretches in other States/UT.
  • Inadequate planning has often obstructed coastal zone development projects

Forest landscape restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge

The centre has launched a flagship project on enhancing capacity on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge in India, through a pilot phase of 3.5 years implemented in the States of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.

Background:

At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.

What is Bonn Challenge? What is FLR approach?

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.

The 2020 target was launched at a high level event in Bonn in 2011 organised by the Government of Germany and IUCN, and was later endorsed and extended to 2030 by the New York Declaration on Forests of the 2014 UN Climate Summit.

The Bonn Challenge is an implementation vehicle for national priorities such as water and food security and rural development while simultaneously helping countries contribute to the achievement of international climate change, biodiversity and land degradation commitments.

Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.

It will create approximately USD 84 billion per year in net benefits that could bring direct additional income opportunities for rural communities.

What is FLR?

  • Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is the on-going process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
  • FLR is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape to meet present and future needs.
  • It is long-term because it requires a multi-year vision of the ecological functions.
  • The majority of restoration opportunities are found on or adjacent to agricultural or pastoral land. In these situations, restoration must complement and not displace existing land uses.
  • This result in a mosaic of different land uses including: agriculture, agroforestry systems and improved ecological corridors.
  • It integrates a number of guiding principles, including: Focus on landscapes, restore functionality, Involve stakeholders, Tailor to local conditions and Avoid further reduction of natural forest cover.

SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS AND ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Launched by: Hyderabad-based National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR). 
  • Objective: The training programme of SLACC has been launched to help Rural Poor Farm-based Households adapt to Climate Change and sustain their livelihoods. 
  • Parent programme: It has been launched under the National Rural Livelihood Mission. 
  • Coverage: Total 638 drought and flood-prone villages of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are being covered on pilot basis under this first of its kind initiative. It will be scaled up nationwide in due course. 

India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

India Cooling Action Plan Launched.

Significance:

  • India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.
  • The overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.

The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:

  1. Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38.
  2. Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38.
  3. Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38.
  4. Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
  5. Recognize “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under the national S&T Programme.

The following benefits would accrue to society over and above the environmental benefits:

  • Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing.
  • Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling.
  • Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of products to farmers, less wastage of produce.
  • Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection.
  • Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment’s.
  • Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide the push to innovation in a cooling sector.

‘Green Bonus’ Demand of Himalayan States

What is the issue?

  • Recently, 11 Himalayan States of India met in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, demanding a “green bonus”, or a payment for environmental services they provide to the nation.
  • This has brought to the surface the long-standing problem of integration of the mountain regions with the mainstream India.

What was the demand?

  • The Himalayan states stretch from J&K (which was still a State during the meet) to Tripura.
  • The ruling government had earlier committed a financial package to address the special developmental needs of the Himalayan States.
  • The Himalayan States argued that they paid a developmental price for maintaining forests, rivers, and other environmental goods that help the rest of the country.
  • The States, thus, asked for –
  1. help to develop hydropower resources
  2. subsidies for their environmental protection measures which deny them normal ‘development models’
  3. recognition of their efforts to meet human development parameters

Ocean energy declared as Renewable Energy 

The government has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy.

Accordingly, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has clarified to all the stakeholders that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion etc. shall be considered as Renewable Energy and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).

Potential of oceans as a renewable energy source:

Oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface, making them the world’s largest solar collectors.

The ocean can produce two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun’s heat, and mechanical energy from the tides and waves. These energies are non-polluting, reliable, and very predictable.

  1. Tidal energy: Tidal Energy, also known as Tidal Power is classified as an alternate energy or better known as the renewable source of energy. It is one of the forms of hydropower energy that exercises energy of the oceanic tides to generate electricity. 
  2. Ocean wave energy: It uses the power of the waves to generate electricity. Unlike tidal energy which uses the ebb and flow of the tides, wave energy uses the vertical movement of the surface water that produce tidal waves.
  3. Ocean thermal energy: The sun’s heat warms the surface water a lot more than the deep ocean water, and this temperature difference creates thermal energy. 
  4. Ocean current energy: The energy of ocean currents under the surface is comparable to the wind above it. Underwater turbines — large propellers tethered to the seabed — are used to derive power from this source.
  5. Osmotic energy: This technique — the most surprising — produces energy from the movement of water across a membrane between a saltwater reservoir and freshwater reservoir.

Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

What is Jalyukta Shivar?

  • Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts, the project aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
  • Nearly 52 per cent of the state’s geographical area is prone to drought, either naturally or due to poor rainfall.
  • This includes Marathwada and adjoining areas of Madhya Maharashtra and large parts of Vidarbha.
  • The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
  • Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams were proposed.
  • In the first phase, planned during 2015 – 2019, Jalyukta Shivar envisaged making 5,000 villages drought-free, every year.
  • During its proposed tenure, the government eyed at making 25,000 drought-prone villages water-sufficient.

Thank you!

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, Times of India, Internet.
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