JANUARY 2019 (1-31)

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
India recently submitted its Sixth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity-rich megadiverse countries to have submitted the report. The submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on parties to international treaties, including the CBD. As a responsible nation, India has never reneged on its international commitments and has earlier submitted on time five national reports to the CBD.
Highlights of the report:
The report provides an update of progress in achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) developed under the convention process in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets. The report highlights that while India has exceeded/ overachieved two NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and with respect to two remaining NBTs, the country is striving to meet the targets by the stipulated time of 2020. According to the report, India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17% of Aichi target 11, and 20% of corresponding NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management. Also, India has been investing a huge amount on biodiversity directly or indirectly through several development schemes of the central and state governments, to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per annum as against the estimated annual requirement of nearly Rs 1,09,000 crore.
CBD: At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for “sustainable development” — meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations. One of the key agreements adopted at Rio was the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has been ratified by 196 nations.
The 12 National Biodiversity targets of India are: By 2020, a significant proportion of the country’s population, especially the youth, is aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. By 2020, values of biodiversity are integrated into national and state planning processes, development programmes and poverty alleviation strategies. Strategies for reducing the rate of degradation, fragmentation and loss of all natural habitats are finalized and actions put in place by 2020 for environmental amelioration and human well-being. By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and strategies to manage them developed so that populations of prioritized invasive alien species are managed. By 2020, measures are adopted for sustainable management of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Ecologically representative areas under terrestrial and inland water, and also coastal and marine zones, especially those of particular importance for species, biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved effectively and equitably, based on protected area designation and management and other area-based conservation measures and are integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes, covering over 20% of the geographic area of the country, by 2020. By 2020, genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farm livestock, and their wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity. By 2020, ecosystem services, especially those relating to water, human health, livelihoods and well-being, are enumerated and measures to safeguard them are identified, taking into account the needs of women and local communities, particularly the poor and vulnerable sections. By 2015, Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization as per the Nagoya Protocol are operational, consistent with national legislation. By 2020, an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity action plan is made operational at different levels of governance. By 2020, national initiatives using communities’ traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity are strengthened, with the view to protecting this knowledge in accordance with national legislation and international obligations. By 2020, opportunities to increase the availability of financial, human and technical resources to facilitate effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the national targets are identified and the Strategy for Resource Mobilization is adopted.
What are Aichi Targets? The ‘Aichi Targets’ were adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its Nagoya conference. It is a short term plan provides a set of 20ambitious yet achievable targets, collectively known as the Aichi Targets. They can be divided into:
Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.
Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

Initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from Farming
Recognising the need to cut down on carbon emissions to tackle climate change, the government of India has taken the following steps to reduce the emissions from the farm sector: Crop diversification programme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI). Increasing the area under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as an alternative to the widely used practice of transplanted paddy. Deployment of zero tillage drill machines and other residue management equipment to enable planting of Rabi crop in the standing residue of rice crop to avoid stubble burning. Adopting the practices like alternate wetting and drying, direct seeded rice system of rice cultivation, use of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers, integrated nutrient management practices, leaf colour chart-based nitrogen application, use of urea super granules etc in rice cultivation.
Neem coating of urea.
Planting of trees under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), Sub-Mission on Agro-Forestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM).
Spreading of micro irrigation under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)-Per Drop More Crop
Models of Integrated Farming System (IFS) have been developed for replication in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and in the States for enabling climate-resilient agriculture and cutting down the carbon emissions.
Together with above initiatives, various sub-programmes initiated by government like Soil Health Card (SHC), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic for Value Chain Development for North East (MOVCD), Rainfed Area Development (RAD), Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM) are contributing towards cutting down of carbon emissions from farm sector.

GEF assisted Green – Ag Project to transform Indian Agriculture
The Government has launched the “Green – Ag: Transforming Indian Agriculture for global environmental benefits and the conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes” in association with Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The features of the project are:
The project would be implemented in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in high-conservation-value landscapes of five States namely, (i) Madhya Pradesh: Chambal Landscape, (ii) Mizoram: Dampa Landscape, (iii) Odisha: Similipal Landscape, (iv) Rajasthan: Desert National Park Landscape and v) Uttarakhand: Corbett-Rajaji Landscape.
The Green-Ag project seeks to integrate biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management objectives and practices into Indian agriculture. The project aims to catalyze a transformative change of India’s agricultural sector to support the achievement of national and global environmental benefits and conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes. The project supports harmonization between India’s agricultural and environmental sector priorities and investments to realise the national and global environmental benefits without compromising on India’s ability to strengthen rural livelihoods and meet its food and nutrition security.

Measures to tackle stubble burning
Stubble burning in states such as Haryana and Punjab is a major cause of air pollution in north India in October and November. The stubble burning is one of the main reasons for the higher level of pollutants in the air in the National Capital Region. The Central government has initiated following steps to reduce and eradicate the stubble burning in the neighbouring states of NCR: In the budget of the 2018-19, the central government had announced a special scheme’ to encourage farmers in these states to shift to alternative ways of dealing with agricultural waste. In pursuance of the announcement in the budget, the government announced a central sector scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi’.
The scheme provides for in-situ crop residue management machinery to the farmers on subsidy, the establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) of in-situ crop residue management machinery and undertaking Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities for creating awareness among farmers to avoid stubble burning.
The Union Ministry of Power has brought out a policy for biomass utilization for power generation through co-firing in pulverized coal-fired boilers. The Ministry of Power has decided that the States of Haryana and Punjab shall issue bids for all coal based Thermal Power Plants to use a minimum of 5 per cent of biomass pellets and up to 10 per cent to be co-fired with coal.
The government is also taking steps to popularize zero tillage farming where the crop seed will be sown through drillers without prior land preparation and disturbing the soil where previous crop stubbles are present.
These measures have made a positive impact. The satellite data indicates that paddy residue burning events in 2018 have reduced by 29.5 per cent, 24.5 per cent and 11.0 per cent in the States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, respectively when compared with the paddy residue burning events in the year 2017.

Yellow alert sounded for Cyclone Pabuk
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has stated that cyclone Pabuk will move northwestwards and cross the Andaman Islands late on 6th Jan as a cyclonic storm with wind speed up to 90 kmph. IMD has sounded a yellow alert for the cyclone Pabuk. The Pabuk cyclone would cause heavy rain over the Andaman Islands.
Cyclone Pabuk
Cyclone Pabuk originated over the Gulf of Thailand and neighbourhood. The IMD predicts that Pabuk would move west-northwestwards and emerge into the Andaman Sea. Then it would move northwestwards and cross the Andaman Islands. Then recurve northeastwards towards Myanmar coast and weaken gradually.
Course of Cyclone Pabuk
Cyclone warnings
The four stages of cyclone warnings in India are: The First Stagewarning Pre Cyclone Watch, issued 72 hours in advance. It contains an early warning about the development of a cyclonic disturbance in the north Indian Ocean, its likely intensification into a tropical cyclone and the coastal belt likely to experience adverse weather. The second stage warning is Cyclone Alert, is issued at least 48 hrs in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. It contains information about the location and intensity of the storm likely direction of its movement, intensification, coastal districts likely to experience adverse weather and advice to fishermen, the general public, media and disaster managers.
Stage of warning Colour code
Cyclone Alert Yellow.
Cyclone Warning Orange.
Post-landfall outlook Red.
The Third Stage warning is Cyclone Warning, issued at least 24 hours in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas and the landfall point is forecasted at this stage.
The Fourth Stage of warning is Post Landfall Outlook and it gives likely direction of movement of the cyclone after its landfall and adverse weather likely to be experienced in the interior areas.
Even though there is no cyclonic situation for Odisha, Seven districts of Odisha have been put on alert and the weather in Odisha would be cloudy and dry.

Impact of increase in salinity on Gangetic Dolphins
A five-year study by researchers Sangita Mitra (National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai) and Mahua Roy Chowdhury, (a marine biologist from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal) has been published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. The research has found that raising water salinity level is threatening the habitat of Gangetic river dolphins.
Findings of the Study
The study was conducted in the lower stretch of river Hooghly, covering 97 km stretch of the western, central and eastern Sundarbans in India between 2013 and 2016 in different seasons. The study area was demarcated for boat-based and land-based surveys based on interaction with local fishing communities. Researchers also measured the salinity level of the water during the different points in the survey. The findings of the Survey are: No sighting record for Gangetic dolphin in waterways wherever the salinity level crosses 10 parts per trillion (ppt). The increase in salinity in the eastern and central region of Sundarbans has affected the habitat of the Gangetic Dolphin. The increase in the salinity was due to hydrological changes such as reduction in freshwater flow, reduced discharge from barrages, runoff from adjacent agricultural lands and river water abstraction for irrigation. The increasing salinity was conducive for marine cetaceans like Indo-Pacific hump-backed and Irrawaddy dolphins as these species can thrive in saline waters. The other major threats to the dolphin habitats are excessive fishing, use of vulnerable fishing gears, noise from motorized boats and lack of awareness among local communities.
Gangetic Dolphin
Gangetic Dolphins are the only surviving freshwater dolphin in India. Gangetic Dolphins are found in the river systems of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Karnaphuli- Sangu in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The IUCN status of the Gangetic Dolphin is Endangered. Gangetic Dolphin is the National Aquatic Animal of India.

CITES — Washington Convention
India has proposed to remove rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
The species is currently part of Appendix II of CITES that has species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. But, India doesn’t want that for rosewood.
Why India wants rosewood removed from the list?
The species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range, even it is invasive in some parts of the world. The regulation of trade in the species is not necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future and the harvest of specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):
It is an International agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species. It also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs
It was signed on March 3, 1973 (Hence world wildlife day is celebrated on march 3).
It is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Secretariat — Geneva (Switzerland).
CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
Classifications:
It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. They are.
Appendix I: It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.
Appendix II species: They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.
Appendix III species: They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.

Asian Waterbird Census (AWC):
A waterbird survey conducted in the Upper Kuttanad region of Kerala has recorded 16,767 birds of 47 continental and local species. The survey, conducted as part of the annual Asian Waterbird Census, has spotted three new species — Greater flamingo, Grey-headed lapwing, and Blue-cheeked bee-eater.
AWC: Asian Waterbird Census is an annual event in which thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia count waterbirds in the wetlands of their country. This event happens every January. This event is coordinated by wetlands International and forms part of global waterbird monitoring programme called the International Waterbird Census (IWC). Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) was started in the year 1987. Its main focus is to monitor the status of waterbirds and the wetlands. AWC also aims to create public awareness on various issues concerning wetlands and waterbird conservation. Each year the census is carried out as a voluntary activity. In India, the AWC is annually coordinated by the Bombay Natural history Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International.
What are waterbirds?
According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands. These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) launched by the government to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country.
Objective: Overall objective of the NCAP is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities.
NCAP is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.NCAP’s focus on ‘city based plans’ is a shift from earlier air pollution mitigation schemes which were based on national strategies. Also air pollution impact on health will be included in making plans, which is a novel feature of the scheme.
Need of NCAP:
In 2018, fourteen Indian citieswere among world’s 20 most polluted, according to WorldHealth Organization (WHO) data.
In 2017, air pollution accounted for 12.4 lakh deaths in India and average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if air pollution levels were contained within safe limits, as per Indian Council for Medical Research report.
In recent years, medium and small towns and cities have witnessed spurt in pollution thus getting fast reflected in the 102 non-attainment cities of India.
Since air pollution isnot a localized phenomenon, the effect is felt in cities and towns far away from the source which creates the need of inter-state and inert-city coordination in addition to multi-sectoral synchronization.
Recent policy interventions have shown minor improvement in air quality in some major cities but there is a need of higher level and focused time bound initiatives at both city and rural level to address the issue in comprehensive manner at national level.
Features of the scheme:
Target:NCAP is a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. It aims at 20%–30% reduction of PM5and PM10 concentration by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
Coverage: It targets 102 non-attainment cities.
City specific action plans are being formulated for 102 non-attainment cities, guided by a comprehensive science-based approach involving source apportionment studies.(A non-attainment city is considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards).
Smart Cities program will be used for implementing the plan in 43 Smart cities included in a total 102 cities.
Institutionalisation:The NCAP will be institutionalized by respective ministries:
At the Centre, Apex Committee at the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change and at the State level, Chief Secretary Level Committee will be constituted.
Implementation mechanism: Following will be constituted for effective implementation:
Sectoral working groups, national level Project Monitoring Unit and Project Implementation Unit.
State level project monitoring unit
City level review committee under the Municipal Commissioner and DM level Committee in the Districts.
Existing programmes of government, in reference to climate change, including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) will be dovetailed while executing NCAP.
Monitoring: Number of monitoring stations in the country will be increased including rural monitoring stations, technology support, emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives and trained manpower and regular inspection drives will be initiated.
Collaboration between various levels of governments and civil society: The approach for NCAP includes coordination between:
Relevant central ministries among themselves like Ministries of Road Transport and Highway, Petroleum and Natural Gas, New and Renewable Energy, NITI Aayog, CPCB and experts from the industry and civil society etc.
Centre and state governments and local bodies.
Partnershipwith international organizations, and leading technical and research institutions.

Pune to have Traffic Robot on its Roads
The Traffic Police Department of Pune is looking at a futuristic model to maintain traffic flow and spread awareness about the traffic rules.
Roadeo
The traffic police authorities of Pune are planning to introduce a robot named ‘Roadeo’ which would move around city roads, functioning as a quasi-traffic policeman and cautioning commuters about traffic rules and offences. Roadeo consists of 16-inch LED display to showcase traffic rules and other important messages such as ‘Wear a helmet’, ‘Do not jump the signal’ and others. The Hands of the Roadeo is also engineered to move and show stop signs to vehicles. Roadeo is also equipped with a siren, skid-steering wheels and obstacle-detection sensors. It is a first of its kind initiative in the entire country. If this pilot project turns out to be successful it would go a long way in easing the traffic management burden and reducing the workload of overburdened policemen. The Robot “Roadeo” is developed by SP Robotics Maker Lab, a Pune based laboratory that trains people to learn about robotics and build tech themselves.

Yellow Vests Protests
The protestors are referred to as Yellow Vests because they don the “Gilets Jaunes” (yellow vests), which the French drivers are required to carry in their cars. It is a leaderless movement which no reported structure or leadership to the movement.
Why are they protesting?
Though there is no consensus on the French media about why the yellow vests are protesting. Some report that the protesters are primarily angry about what they see as President Emmanuel Macron’s apparent indifference toward tough conditions for working people and for others the movement is evidence of a middle-class backlash. The increase of the taxes on the fuel provided an opportunity for the anger to outburst.
France Go Green Policy
The tax imposed by the government of France was in line with the pro-Green agenda espoused by Macron’s government. The government of France had already pledged to ban all gasoline-fueled cars by 2040.
Is this an anti-green movement?
US President Trump has linked the protests in France with Paris Climate deal. He said the protests are due to France’s commitment to the expensive and ridiculous Paris Climate deal. But the movement has avoided any explicit anti-Green stance and the Fuel taxes in France are not the highest in Europe and are actually lower than Germany. The workers feel they are squeezed by the government as only 20 per cent of the tax actually goes toward supporting the country’s transition to cleaner energy. The protestors see government as too technocratic and favouring the rich, ignoring the plight of the worker and the middle class. The rallying cry also includes an immediate increase in the minimum wage and pension benefits.
France U-turn on Tax Hike
The government of France has bowed down to the pressure and has suspended the proposed tax hike for six months. The government has even announced an immediate freeze on gas and electricity price. The announcements have failed to satisfy the protestor’s anger. They have vowed to continue their protest campaign dismissing the steps taken by the government as insufficient.

Survey on sanitation across Cities on the Bank of River Ganga
The Quality Council of India undertook a survey on the status of sanitation across cities and towns on the bank of River Ganga for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. There are 39 towns on the banks of river in West Bengal, 20 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in Bihar and 14 and two towns respectively in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.
Findings of the Survey
The findings of the Survey are: Four out of five towns along the River Ganga have waste dumps along the banks and nearly 55 per cent of the towns have drains emptying into the river without any cleaning. Only 19 towns had municipal solid waste (MSW) plants and only 7 towns in the plains can claim installation of a trash cleaner in their territory. 72 per cent of towns have nullahs (drains) discharging into the river and 77 per cent of these drains do not have functional screens that filter out filth.
12 towns have scored A, 44 B-grade and the rest scored a poor C grade in performance.
Poor-performing towns were in states of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Different Grades
Grade A – Towns had good cleanliness and waste management services.
Grade B – Towns managed only a partial cleanliness around the ghats.
Grade C- Towns have a lot to do to achieve over improvement in cleanliness, solid waste management and in setting up infrastructure at treating sewage flowing into the river.
Quality Council of India
The Quality Council of India (QCI) is an accreditation body established by the government of India in partnership with the Indian industry. Quality Council of India (QCI) is set up as a non-profit autonomous society to establish an accreditation structure in the country and to spread quality movement in India by undertaking a National Quality Campaign.

Desalination plants harm environment: UN
Prevailing drinking water crisis in India and the prospect of desalination technology in India. Availability and access to improved source of drinking water is a basic indicator for human development and bears direct relevance to health and well-being of individuals.
Availability of drinking water in India is falling:
Between 2001 and 2011, there has been a significant decrease in use of wells (22.0 %), as a major drinking water source, indicating fall in ground water tables. Per capita annual availability of water in the country is expected to fall from 1860 metre cube a year in 2001 to 1140 metre cube a year by 2050. Niti Aayog report warns that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020. Report estimates that demand will be twice the availability by 2030 and water scarcity would account for a 6% loss in India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Rural areas also cannot rely on groundwater due to erratic rains and the fact that the groundwater is increasingly used for farming when monsoon rains are delayed or insufficient.
Considering above problems, using seawater, that most coastal states have access to, can be an effective solution. India’s National Water Mission identifies desalination as a major tool to make sea water and brackish water accessible and usable for the people. India already has desalination plants but to bring uniformity in the field of water desalination in the country the Union government is working on a new mission on desalination.
Desalination: Desalination essentially means removing salt and other minerals to make water fit for drinking or other purposes. The filtration of saline water can be done through Thermal Desalination Technology or Membrane Technology like Reverse Osmosis (RO).
Australia, Caribbean Islands, the Middle East, South Africa, USA, etc are some other countries that have established large desalination plants for domestic use. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination and is helping India to set up desalination plants.
Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have the highest installed capacity of desalination in India. Chennai’s one-third water demand is met by two desalination planta of Minjur and Nemmeli, churning out 200 million litres of water per day (MLD).
Challenges posed by desalination plants:
Environmental and human rights issues: the discharge from desalination plants i.e. brine, comprises about 5% salt whereas global seawater has 3.5% salt.
The brine reject tends to create a sort of niche microhabitat with higher levels of salinity around areas where they are let out.
Brine can cut levels of oxygen in seawater near desalination plants with “profound impacts” on shellfish, crabs and other creatures on the seabed.
Brine water often contains toxins like chlorine and copper used in desalination.
Brine reject from the plant is often let out directly onto the beaches and near coastlines, thus eroding the coastline and the livelihoods of locals, in addition to turning the groundwater salty.
Less efficient: As per a UN study, desalination plants pump out 142 million cubic metres of salty brine every day, to produce 95 million cubic metres of fresh water, thus increasing the overall salinity of the oceans.
High energy cost: Desalination plants are highly energy-intensive and capital intensive. Using coal to heat saline water means thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide is produced in a 100 MLD plant.
Lack of monitoring of plants: India does not have standards for governing the brine concentration entering the sea, nor the EIA process is followed during planning a plant, which allows companies running desalination plants to escape responsibility.
Following steps may help in increasing the viability of desalination in India:
Using alternate energy sources: Using cheaper forms of energy other than electricity like solar power, wind energy etc. Big ponds of saltwater can use solar heating directly for desalination as done in regions in the Middle East.
Salt extraction: Brine is rich in salt content which can be harnessed for extraction of salt by setting up adequate infrastructure near desalination plants.
Pumping brine underground: Instead of flushing brine near coastal areas, it can be channelized and stored underground or piped deep into ocean.
Alternate technologies: Setting small viable plants catering to small areas like individual villages using a different desalination technology called electrodialysis, powered by solar panels, could provide enough clean, palatable drinking water to supply the needs of a typical village.
Legal framework: Harnessing of sea water resources should be included in the draft National Water Policy framework released in 2016, with legal safeguards and provisions for management of desalination plants.
Exploring other options: Water rich states like Tamil Nadu receive ample rainfall from the monsoons and might not need large scale desalination plants. To meet drinking water needs of cities, conserving and protecting lakes and wetlands is a cheaper and environmentally better option than desalination.

NMCG Officials and Partners Come Together to Contribute to Clean Ganga Fund
The officials and partners of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) came together on one platform, to make personal donations to the Clean Ganga Fund on a voluntary basis. “Clean Ganga Fund (CGF)” is set up with voluntary contributions from residents of the country and Non-Resident Indian (NRIs) / Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and others. The Fund will have the objective of contributing to the national effort of cleaning of the river Ganga. Domestic donors to the Fund shall be eligible for tax benefits as applicable in the case of the Swachh Bharat Kosh. The Fund would be managed by a Trust to be headed by Finance Minister. The secretariat of the Trust will be set up in Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation under the Mission Director, Clean Ganga.
Features of CGF: CGF will explore the possibility of setting up daughter funds in other jurisdictions/countries of high donor interest such as USA, UK, Singapore, UAE, etc. to enable tax benefits to donors in their respective jurisdictions. CGF will identify and fund specific projects which could be pilot projects, R&D projects, innovative projects or other focused projects. CGF will be subject to such audit as required by law as well as audit by any agency determined by Government.
The following broad activities will be financed from the Fund:
a)Activities outlined under the ‘Namami Gange’ programme for cleaning of river Ganga
b) Control of non-point pollution from agricultural runoff, human defecation, cattle wallowing, etc.
c) Setting up of waste treatment and disposal plants along the river around the cities.
d) Conservation of the biotic diversity of the river.
e) Community based activities to reduce polluting human interface with the river.
f) Development of public amenities including activities such as Ghat redevelopment.
g) Research and Development projects and innovative projects for new technology and processes for cleaning the river.
h) Independent oversight through intensive monitoring and real time reporting.
i) Any other activity as approved by the Trust.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) –
It was registered as a society on 12thAugust 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860. It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council). The Act envisages five-tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below:
National Ganga Council under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG). State Ganga Committees, and District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.

Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon
Chinese researchers have announced that cotton seeds transported to the moon have sprouted, marking the first time humans have grown biological matter on moon. The seeds were sent as part of China’s Change-4 mission, a probe which landed on the far side of the moon recently. Along with cotton seeds, the biological growth experiments on the lunar surface included rapeseed, potato, and Arabidopsis seeds, as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast
Change 4 Mission: Change 4 is a part of China’s Lunar Exploration programme and seeks to explore the far side or dark side of the moon. Chang’e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover mission in 2013.

Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s
In 1980s, Rate of Ice loss was 40 billion metric tons/ year which has increased to 252 billion metric tons/year since 2009. Rate of Ice melting is 15% higher than last year.Antarctica Ice coverage studied in three parts: Eastern, Western and Peninsular Antarctica. Rate of Ice Melting in West Antarctica and Antarctica Peninsula accounts for 4/5th of total Antarctica ice loss. “Eastern Antarctica” which had been considered Stable (little or no ice loss/gain) is now losing ice at rate of 51 billion metric tons/year
Study Warning: Observed Ice melting in East Antarctica along with Western and Peninsular Antarctica could lead to sea level rise more than 10 feet in next 100 year. Increased rate of Ice melting is key indicator of Human-Induced Climate Change
Effort: India has two research bases Maitri and Bharati (under National Center for Polar and Ocean Research) in Antarctica for multi-disciplinary studies

Flamingo fete a huge draw at Pulicat lake
Three days flamingo festival started in Pulicat region
Flamingo Festival: Flamingo Festival is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nellapattu. Flamingo Festival is being organized for last 12 years. Over 9,000 migratory birds arrive(mainly from Siberia) at Pulicat region for breeding . Festival accounts huge gathering of domestic as well as foreign tourist
Pulicat Lake: Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake after Chilika lake(Odisha) in India. Lake located on border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with about 96% in Andhra Pradesh and 4% in Tamil Nadu
Nellapattu Bird Sanctuary: Important breeding site for Spot-billed pelicans and other migratory bird. Sanctuary has two major plant communities, Barringtonia swamp forests and southern dry evergreen scrub
Eco-Tourist Hub: Sullurpeta, Nellapattu, Atakanithippa and Bhimunivaripalem would be focus areas for infrastructure development for promoting eco-tourism
The Greater Flamingo birds are the most widely found species among the Flamingo.
These are long-legged and long-necked birds which are the filter feeders and get their characteristic pink colour from their diet of brine shrimps and algae available in the coastal wetlands. flamingoes are the indicators of healthy coastal environment, The species inhabits shallow eutrophic water bodies such as saline lagoons, saltpans and large saline or alkaline lakes. The species nests in large dense colonies on mudflats or islands of large water bodies. The species suffers from low reproductive success if exposed to disturbance at breeding colonies (e.g. from tourists, low-flying aircraft) or if water-levels surrounding nest-sites lower resulting in increased access to predation from ground predators such as foxes and feral dogs.
IUCN Status: Least Concern (LC)
Hope Island: Hope Island is a small tadpole shaped Island situated off the coast of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, in Bay of Bengal.
It is formed from the sediment outflow carried by the waters of the Koringa River, a distributary of the Godavari. It acts as natural barrier for storm surges and possible tsunami events and provides tranquility to the ships anchored in Kakinada Bay which makes Kakinada Port one of the safest natural ports in the Eastern Coast of India. The sandy beaches of Hope island, along with the adjacent Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary are a nesting ground of the Vulnerable Olive Ridley turtle.

International Solar Alliance
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is going to propose a new bank exclusively for financing energy access to billions.
 The proposal- The bank is still at the ideation stage: ISA has asked the Asian Development Bank to prepare a concept note. A public-private partnership is being thought of for the proposed, which will work for 1.2 billion people who lack access to energy as well as the 2.4 billion who lack access to clean energy. Existing banks do not focus on universal energy access—those still deprived are the poorest of the poor; thus, out of the ambit of these banks. Therefore, we need special finance mechanism which can target these people.
ISA: The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.
Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.

Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW)
An alliance of global companies has launched a new organisation- AEPW- to help eliminate plastic waste, especially in the ocean.
 Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW):
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), comprising about 30 companies, pledged over $1 billion to eliminate plastic waste across the world. They aim to invest $1.5 billion over the next five years for the same. The alliance is designed as a non-profit organization. It includes companies from across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa as well as the Middle East are part of the Alliance. The aim is to develop solutions to mitigate plastic pollution and promote a circular economy by utilising used plastics. Member companies include those that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle plastics, as well as chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies, also called the plastics value chain. From India, Reliance Industries will advance efforts towards a sustainable future.
Significance:
Plastic waste management is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment.

19 amphibian species are critically endangered: ZSI list
According to Zoological Survey of India, 19 amphibian species critically endangered.
Important Facts: According to IUCN, critically endangered species are the ones that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Among the amphibians listed, 19 species are treated as critically endangered and 33 species as endangered. There are around 40 per cent amphibians across the globe which are threatened with extinction.
Zoological Survey of India: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was established on 1st July, 1916 to promote survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of various aspects of exceptionally rich life of the erstwhile ´ British Indian Empire. Institution Headquartered in Kolkata.
Objectives of ZSI: Exploration, Survey, Inventorying and Monitoring of faunal diversity in various States, Ecosystems and Protected areas of India. Periodic review of the Status of Threatened and Endemic species. Preparation of Red Data Book, Fauna of India and Fauna of States. Bio ecological studies on selected important communities/species. GIS and Remote Sensing studies for animal diversity as well as for selected threatened • Chromosomal Mapping and DNA finger printing.

Protest against proposed bird sanctuary in Manipur
Protest against proposed bird sanctuary in Loktak lake, Manipur
Important Facts: Manipur Government has proposed a bird sanctuary at Loktak lake in Bishnupur district. The people in the village are protesting because once the bird sanctuary will be established, the fishing will be banned in the lake and poor people who drive their livelihood will starve to death.. The villagers of Thingnunggei are poor and they have no other means of earning a livelihood except for catching fish and plucking vegetables from the lake.Why Government proposed bird sanctuary: Loktak is largest freshwater lake in India and attract thousands of Migratory birds. However, in a recent year, there has been sharp decline in their number which has forced the state government to provide protection to these migratory species.
Reason for declining number of Birds: Poaching is the one of the main reason cited. Human intrusion and Hydro Electric power projects are also responsible for decline.
Loktak lake: Largest freshwater Lake in North-East India. It is known for its circular floating swamps (called phumdis in the local language). The Phumdis are collection of heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter. The lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and it was also listed under the Montreux Record. Keibul Lamjao National Park located at the south western part of the lake. It is the world’s only floating national park and is home to the endangered Manipuri brow-antlered deer, Sangai (State Animal). Keibul Lamjao National Park was initially declared as a Sanctuary in 1966, was subsequently declared a National Park in 1977

Himalayan glacier recedes as climate change hits home
According to a new research, Chaturangi glacier, a tributary of the Gangotri glacier, is retreating at a “considerable rate” and may vanish in the future. The Chaturangi glacier was connected with the Gangotri glacier till 1989 but is now detached and retreating at the rate of about 22.84 m/year. The study observes that the rate of retreat of Chaturangi glacier is much higher than Gangotri glacier. This is because of its smaller size and fast response time to climatic variability.
Impact: Scientists have raised concerns that retreat of glaciers like Chaturangi impact flow and water level in the Ganga as Ganga originates from Gangotri glacier, which is fed by tributary glaciers. According to NASA’s Land Use Land Cover Change programme, glacial melt in the long run will impact agriculture, reduce soil health, increase landslides and floods, and increase temperature in areas downstream. Glacial retreats will also increase Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in Uttarakhand Himalayas

Himalayan glacier recedes as climate change hits home
According to a new research, Chaturangi glacier, a tributary of the Gangotri glacier, is retreating at a “considerable rate” and may vanish in the future. The Chaturangi glacier was connected with the Gangotri glacier till 1989 but is now detached and retreating at the rate of about 22.84 m/year. The study observes that the rate of retreat of Chaturangi glacier is much higher than Gangotri glacier. This is because of its smaller size and fast response time to climatic variability.
Impact: Scientists have raised concerns that retreat of glaciers like Chaturangi impact flow and water level in the Ganga as Ganga originates from Gangotri glacier, which is fed by tributary glaciers. According to NASA’s Land Use Land Cover Change programme, glacial melt in the long run will impact agriculture, reduce soil health, increase landslides and floods, and increase temperature in areas downstream. Glacial retreats will also increase Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in Uttarakhand Himalayas

India can lead the world on solar grid goal
India celebrating 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi. At the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Indian PM, reiterated that through International Solar Alliance or ISA we focused on “one world, one sun and one grid” About 5,000 people of Indian origin are attending the event that has Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth as the chief guest
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
The theme of this year’s PBD was “Apna Bharat Apna Gaurav”: Connecting Across Generations’. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, returned to India from South Africa. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. During the event, individuals are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth

How air pressure change in Arctic is causing fog in Delhi
A new study of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, has found that widespread fog conditions over the Indo-Gangetic plains were connected to the abnormal movement of high pressure systems over the Arctic Circle and the Eurasian middle latitudes. The study is based on analysis of 105 cases of fog events in the period between 1979 and 2013. The study period for the research was December and January months
Mechanism: When an environment with lower air pressure surrounds the Arctic region, the cold air stays locked-up within the Arctic Circle. The development of high air pressure over the Arctic Circle, combined with east-west movements of air circulation over Eurasia cause more cold air to advance towards the tropical latitudes and the Indo-Gangetic Plains. It then allows development of high pressure and favours fog formation in the Indo-Gangetic Plains

Groundwater ‘time bomb’ is ticking
Future generations face an environmental “time bomb” as the world’s groundwater systems take decades to respond to the present day impact of climate change, scientists have warned.
What’s the issue?
As per the findings by an international team of researchers, groundwater reserves are already under pressure as the global population explodes and crop production rises in lockstep. But the extreme weather events such as drought and record rainfall — both made worse by our heating planet — could have another long-lasting impact on how quickly reserves replenish.
 Why is the crisis described as a time bomb?
Researchers found that only half of all groundwater supplies are likely to fully replenish or re-balance within the next 100 years — potentially leading to shortages in drier areas. This could be described as an environmental time bomb because any climate change impacts on recharge occurring now, will only fully impact the baseflow to rivers and wetlands a long time later.
The process through which rainwater is filtered through bedrock and accumulated underground can take centuries and varies greatly by region. As climate change delivers longer droughts and bigger superstorms, the extremes of rainfall become more pronounced, impacting groundwater reserves for generations to come. In arid areas took far longer — several thousand years in some cases — to respond to alterations in climate than reserves in more humid parts.
Situation of groundwater in India:
Today, India is the largest user of the groundwater in the world with almost 90% being used for drinking water and almost 60-70% for irrigation. Current statistics also show that nearly 50% of urban water supply comes from groundwater. India is on the threshold of a very serious groundwater crisis, which needs mitigation both in the fields and at the policy corridors of the country.
The groundwater crisis is embedded at two different levels: Groundwater exploitation of aquifers (where groundwater is stored) in different parts of the India and Groundwater contamination that find origins, both in geogenic source such as Arsenic and Fluoride along with anthropogenic sources of contamination primarily due to poor disposal of waste and wastewater.

CRZ Regulations
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the 2019 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, replacing the existing CRZ norms of 2011. The new CRZ norms have been issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The new CRZ norms aim to promote sustainable development based on scientific principles.
Objective of CRZ Regulations 2019: To promote sustainable development based on scientific principles taking into account the natural hazards such as increasing sea levels due to global warming. To conserve and protect the environment of coastal stretches and marine areas, besides livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal area.
Salient Features of CRZ Regulations 2019:
Two separate categories for CRZ-III (Rural) areas:
CRZ-III A: The A category of CRZ-III areas are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line (HTL) as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.
CRZ-III B – The B category of CRZ-III rural areas have population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas have a No Development Zone of 200 meters from the HTL.
Floor Space Index Norms eased: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, the Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen. As per the latest notification, the government has decided to de-freeze the Floor Space Index and permit FSI for construction projects.
Tourism infrastructure permitted in coastal areas: The new norms permit temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities, etc. in Beaches.
Streamlining of CRZ Clearances: The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Now, the only such projects which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) will be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level.
No Development Zone of 20 meters for all Islands: For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, No Development Zone of 20 meters has been stipulated in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions.
Pollution abatement: To address pollution in Coastal areas, the treatment facilities have been made permissible in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.
Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCA): Sundarban region of West Bengal and other ecologically sensitive areas identified as under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 such as Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutchh in Gujarat, Achra-Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Karwar and Coondapur in Karnataka, Vembanad in Kerala, Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, Bhaitarkanika in Odisha and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh are treated as Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas. These Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas will be managed with the involvement of coastal communities including fisher folk.

Sarus crane:
Sarus crane, whose numbers pushed to the edge by habitat degradation and human callousness, now seems to be getting a new lease of life in Uttar Pradesh, where it enjoys the status of official State bird.
Rise in numbers: The population of the Sarus crane, a bird distinguishable by its red upper neck and white collar, has climbed to 15,938 as per the 2018 census (summer). This is a jump of 5.2% from 2017, when there were 15,138 Sarus cranes across U.P. Its population in Uttar Pradesh has steadily grown since 2013, as wetlands thrive and farmers, fisherfolk nurture their nests.
Key facts:
The Sarus (Grus antigone) is the tallest flying bird in the world.
It is also India’s only resident breeding crane.
IUCN status- ‘vulnerable’.
It has three disjunct populations in the Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia and northern Australia.

Satkosia Tiger Reserve:
Two trained elephants will be used to patrol Odisha’s Satkosia Tiger Reserve. The two elephants are being brought from the Similipal Tiger Reserve. This step has been undertaken for resuming the ambitious tiger reintroduction programme in Satkosia.
Satkosia Tiger Reserve:
It was established in 1976 as a wildlife sanctuary. The area was declared as Satkosia Tiger Reserve in 2007. Satkosia is the meeting point of two bio-geographic regions of India; the Deccan Peninsula and the Eastern Ghats, contributing immense biodiversity.

Micro-plastic fibres found in groundwater
A new study published in the journal Groundwater has reported micro plastics in fractured limestone aquifers – a groundwater source that accounts for 25% of the global drinking water supply. The study identified microplastic fibers, along with a variety of medicines and household contaminants, in two aquifer systems in Illinois. It is estimated that 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste have been produced since the 1940s, and 79% of that is now in landfills or the natural environment
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are plastic particles of less than 5 mm in diameter. They enter the environment either as primary industrial products, such as those used in scrubbers and cosmetics, or via urban waste water and broken-down elements of articles discarded by consumers.
Impact of Microplastic pollution:
The ingestion of microplastics is dangerous for humans as these substances contain high concentrations of toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls. Microplastics are a major threat to oceans and the marine life. According to a 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report, microplastics are estimated to constitute up to 30% of marine litter polluting the oceans

Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development
The Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development was inaugurated by the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at Rome. The centre has been opened by the Italian government in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
The important aspects of the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development are:
The centre’s origin can be traced to a declaration endorsed by the G7 meeting of the Environment Ministers in 2017. The centre would facilitate coordination among the G7 and African countries on common initiatives in Africa to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.
The Centre would contribute towards addressing the needs of Africa by providing a platform for G7 countries to steer their cooperation to contrast environmental degradation and promote sustainable economic growth in the region.
The centre will provide a fast-track, demand-driven mechanism for African countries to access grant resources that support policies, initiatives, and best practices on climate change, food security, access to water, clean energy, and accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
The centre would be hosted by UNDP which would utilise its extensive country office network and programmatic hubs, and global expertise and knowledge, to enable the African countries to access the resources available through it.
Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals
Africa referred to as Dark Continent still has up to 330 million of its population living in poverty and up to 60% of unemployed Africans are young people. The centre will help to speed up progress and quickly resource national development priorities in the African countries to address these challenges and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Golden langur breeding project in Assam:
Assam has announced the success of the Golden Langur Conservation Breeding Programme in the State. The golden langur conservation project was undertaken at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati during the 2011-12 fiscal. The golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) is currently endangered. Apart from a 60 square mile area in north-western Assam, small populations are found in Bhutan and Tripura.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
There are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), says a report by Greenpeace. Airpocalypse III, as the Greenpeace report is titled, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
Highlights of the Report:
Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). These specify upper limits to a range of airborne chemicals and compounds. While 102 of these cities were included in the NCAP, the remaining 139 cities were left out. That’s because the government’s list of 102 cities relied on average pollution data until 2015, whereas Airpocalypse III used data updated up to 2017. Even if the NCAP were able to reduce pollution by 30% by 2024, 153 cities would still be left with pollution levels exceeding the NAAQS. Of the 139 cities that have not been included in the non-attainment list under the NCAP, there are several cities that have a population of more than 1 million, and PM levels (recorded in 2017) above NAAQS. These include: Ranchi, Dhanbad (Jharkhand); Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh); Chennai, Madurai (Tamil Nadu); Meerut (Uttar Pradesh); Pimpri-Chindwar, Thane, (Maharashtra); Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara (Gujarat); and Howrah (West Bengal).
National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
The government, earlier this month, announced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
The programme will not be notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act to create a firm mandate with a strong legal back up for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.
Key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ₹300 crore for the first two years.
The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.
The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.
It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.
Various committees: The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.