The National Mission for Clean Ganga partnered with UN Habitat recently organized a policy dialogue- ‘Urban Cafe: River for Habitat’ in New Delhi on the occasion of World Cities Day 2018. Experts in the sector got together to discuss the deep association that rivers have with various aspects of human civilization – our cities, our economy and various facets of our daily lives, the challenges to maintaining healthy river ecosystems and ways to deal with the same.
UN Habitat: The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development. It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada in 1976. It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The mandate of UN-Habitat derives from the Habitat Agenda, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996. The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world. As an inter-governmental policy making and decision making body, the Governing Council of UN-Habitat seeks to promote integral and comprehensive approach to human settlements, assist the countries and regions in addressing human settlement problems and strengthen cooperation among all countries on human settlement issue. UN-Habitat reports to the United Nations General Assembly.
World Cities Day 2018: World Cities Day is celebrated every year on October 31st.
Theme: “Building sustainable and resilient cities”.
The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.
Deal inked for biofuel research
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has signed a three-year, ₹11 crore deal with The Energy and Research Institute to set up a centre to produce “advanced biofuels and bio-commodities.” This is the fifth such dedicated centre for bioenergy-research and development set up by the Department. The others are located at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati; Transtech Green Power Limited, Jaipur; and the Oil and Natural Gas Energy Centre in the National Capital Region. The bio-centre would be focussed on not only developing technology but also commercialising it. Other than fuel, by-products envisaged at the TERI-DBT Centre include food, feed, nutrition supplements, bio-plastics and novelty speciality chemicals.
Classification of Biofuels:
1st generation biofuels are also called conventional biofuels. They are made from things like sugar, starch, or vegetable oil. Note that these are all food products. Any biofuel made from a feedstock that can also be consumed as a human food is considered a first generation biofuel.
2nd generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstock. The sustainability of a feedstock is defined by its availability, its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on land use, and by its potential to threaten the food supply. No second generation biofuel is also a food crop, though certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption. Second generation biofuels are often called “advanced biofuels.”
3rd generation biofuels are biofuel derived from algae. These biofuels are given their own separate class because of their unique production mechanism and their potential to mitigate most of the drawbacks of 1st and 2nd generation biofuels.
TERI: TERI is a non-profit research institution that conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development. It aims to focus on formulating local and national level strategies for shaping global solutions to critical issues. Its key focus lies in promoting clean energy, water management, pollution management, sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
Greater flamingoes visit Hope Island after 25 years
Recently a flock of five greater flamingoes were spotted on the Coast of Hope Island in East Godavari River Estuarine Eco (EGREE) System after a long gap of 25 years. Last occurrence: These were last seen in a group about two and a half decades ago, while a lone flamingo was recorded in the 2016 Asian Water Bird Census in East Godavari district.
Greater Flamingoes: 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,
Habitat: The species inhabits shallow eutrophic water bodies such as saline lagoons, saltpans and large saline or alkaline lakes.
Breeding site: The species nests in large dense colonies on mudflats or islands of large water bodies.
Threats: 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.
A recent study by NASA has confirmed the recovery of the ozone layer due to the absence of chlorine from Chlorofluorocarbon(CFC) in the atmosphere.
Highlights of the study: The study has confirmed the phenomenon by mapping the chemical composition of the atmosphere. The study revealed that chlorine levels declined by 0.8% each year between 2005 and 2016 and speculates that it could be the effect of the worldwide ban on the use of CFC. Previous research had hinted at the decrease in the depletion of ozone layer. Scientists believe that the ozone layer would fully recover by 2080.
What is ozone layer? A layer of ozone envelops the Earth and keeps damaging ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from reaching living things on the planet’s surface. The ozone layer exists mainly in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that reaches from 10 to 50 kilometers (about 6 to 30 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
What is ozone hole? The ozone hole is a region of depleted layers of ozone above the Antarctic region, whose creation is linked to increased cases of skin cancer.
Factors responsible for the depletion of ozone: Depletion of ozone is due to many factors, the most dominant of which is the release of chlorine from CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which destroys the ozone. CFCs are released by products such as hairsprays, old refrigerators etc.
What are CFCs? Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are compounds made up of combinations of the elements chlorine, fluorine and carbon; aerosols, refrigerants and foams contain CFCs. When these CFCs enter the air, they rise up into the atmosphere to meet up with and destroy ozone molecules. First used in 1928, CFCs have since become more common as various other CFC compounds were created. Some of the better-known CFCs are the Freon compounds, which were used as cooling ingredients in refrigerators and air conditioners. CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years.
How CFCs destroy the ozone? Once in the atmosphere, CFCs drift slowly upward to the stratosphere, where they are broken up by ultraviolet radiation, releasing the chlorine that catalytically destroys ozone. The process is as follows:
UV radiation breaks off a chlorine atom from a CFC molecule.
The chlorine atom attacks an ozone molecule (O3), breaking it apart and destroying the ozone.
The result is an ordinary oxygen molecule (O2) and a chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO).
The chlorine monoxide molecule (ClO) is attacked by a free oxygen atom releasing the chlorine atom and forming an ordinary oxygen molecule (O2).
The chlorine atom is now free to attack and destroy another ozone molecule (O3). One chlorine atom can repeat this destructive cycle thousands of times.
Applications of CFCs: CFCs have some interesting properties which can be fully exploited; therefore there are plenty of uses for these molecules. CFCs are not flammable; therefore they were used as propellants that would push other molecules out of the aerosol sprays. For the same reason CFCs were used to form foamed plastics. Also low flammability enabled people to use these molecules to dry clean hot electronic components of devices such as air conditioning
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has commissioned a report from the Maharashtra Forest Department on how tigress Avni (T1) was killed. Maharashtra government had permitted a hunter to kill the tigress- Avni. This move was widely criticised by the activists. The tigress, which is said to have killed 13 people, was shot dead in Yavatmal on November 2 by civilian hunter Asgar Ali, who was with a team of Forest Department officials.
NTCA: The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.
The functions of NTCA are as follows: Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management, Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan, Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament, Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation. According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.
Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme
The Union Cabinet has been apprised of India joining as Member of Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme (AMF TCP) under International Energy Agency (IEA). The primary goal of joining AMF TCP by India to bring down emissions and achieve higher fuel efficiency in transport sector.
What is Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme?
AMF TCP is an international platform under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) for co-operation among countries to promote cleaner and more energy efficient fuels & vehicle technologies. The activities of AMF TCP are deployment and dissemination of Advanced Motor Fuels. It looks upon the transport fuel issues in a systemic way taking into account the production, distribution and end use related aspects. AMF TCP also provides an opportunity for fuel analysis, identifying new/ alternate fuels for deployment in transport sector and allied R&D activities for reduction in emissions in fuel intensive sectors.
India and Other Members: Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has joined AMF TCP as its 16th member in May, 2018. The other member Countries of AMF TCP are USA, China, Japan, Canada, Chile, Israel, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Thailand.
Benefits for India: India’s association with AMF TCP will help in furthering its efforts in identification & deployment of suitable fuels for transport sector for higher efficiency and lesser emissions. The benefits of participation in AMF TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources. The duplication of efforts is avoided and national Research and Development capabilities are strengthened. There is an information exchange about best practices, network of researchers and linking research with practical implementation. After becoming member, India will initiate R&D in other areas of its interest in advanced biofuels and other motor fuels in view of their crucial role in substituting fossil fuel imports.
Global Cooling Innovation Summit
Two-day Global Cooling Innovation Summit will be held in New Delhi.
Global Cooling Innovation Summit: The Summit is a first-of-its-kind solutions-focused event that will bring together leaders from around the world to explore concrete means and pathways to address the climate threat that comes from the growing demand from room air conditioners. The event is jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance for An Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.
Global Cooling Prize: The summit will also see the launching of Global Cooling Prize— Mission Innovation challenge that aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard. Global Cooling Prize is a competition with global reach and participation to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies. The objective of this competition would be to develop a cooling technology that requires radically less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale. This awards programme will call world-wide attention to the most promising ideas across the globe. This award will celebrate successes and facilitate endeavours of innovators through providing recognition, encouragement and support. The award will also be able to build a collaborative platform that can utilize the potential of researchers so that public research contributes towards fostering innovation and create impact which is of social and economic good. This recognition will not only recognise the eminent contributions to clean energy research development and demonstration, but would also motivate younger researchers to focus on innovations needed in clean energy domain to make world a better place to live.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
Stating that State governments had failed to curb stubble burning, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to draw up a plan to provide economic incentives and disincentives to farmers.
What’s the issue?
Stubble burning is adversely affecting environment and public health. The problem has not been fully tackled and the adverse impacts on the air quality and consequent impacts on the citizens’ health and lives are undisputed.
What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?
The problem is required to be resolved by taking all such measures as are possible in the interest of public health and environment protection. Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice. The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue. Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has also been directed to be present to “find a lasting solution.” The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.
National Green Tribunal (NGT):
What is it? NGT has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
Ambit: The tribunal deals with matters relating to the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
Sanctioned strength: currently, 10 expert members and 10 judicial members (although the act allows for up to 20 of each).
Chairman: is the administrative head of the tribunal, also serves as a judicial member and is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Selection: Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews. The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts.
Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.
The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice. The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
Animal in news: Sangai deer
The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, India. It is also the state animal of Manipur and is under threat from poachers. There are less than 260 deer in its natural habitat, the 40 sq. km. Keibul Lamjao national park. The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, India. It is also the state animal of Manipur. Its common English name is Manipur brow-antlered deer or Eld’s deer and the scientific name is , Rucervus eldii eldii. The brow-antlered deer or the dancing deer is found in its natural habitat only at Keibul Lamjao National Park over the floating biomass locally called “phumdi” in the south eastern part of Loktak Lake. Phumdi is the most important and unique part of the habitat. It is the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil. Its thickness varies from few centimeter to two meters. The humus of phumdi is black in colour and very spongy with large number of pores. It floats with 4/5 part under water. IUCN status: Endangered
Loktak Lake : It is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India(Manipur), and is famous for the phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter at various stages of decomposition) floating over it. Keibul Lamjao is the only floating national park in the world which is on this lake. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is the last natural refuge of the endangered sangai (state animal) or Manipur brown-antlered deer. This ancient lake plays an important role in the economy of Manipur. It serves as a source of water for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply. The lake is also a source of livelihood for the rural fishermen who live in the surrounding areas and on phumdis, also known as “phumshongs”. Considering the ecological status and its biodiversity values, the lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on 23 March 1990. It was also listed under the Montreux Record on 16 June 1993, “a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur”. Loktak Lake is fed by the Manipur river and several tributaries and ‘Ungamel Channel’ (Ithai Barrage) is its only outlet now.
Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary
Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary in Vedaranyam Range has been closed for a week in view of water-logging caused by a heavy spell of rainfall. S study notes that the water quality at the Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary might be unsafe for avifauna to feed and breed. It is located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu spreads across an area of 30 sq.km and comprises sandy coastal, saline swamps and thorn scrub forests around the backwater. It is a protected area and a Ramsar site. It harbors the single-largest stretch of the unique dry-evergreen forest in the country besides open grasslands and tidal mudflats is of interest to tourists. Around 100 species of birds including the Greater Flamingo, Painted Stork, Little Sting, Sea Gull and Brown-headed gull have been making their presence felt since September. Blackbuck (Antilope Cervicapra) is the flagship species of the sanctuary. Other important animals are the spotted deer, black-napped hare, wild boar, Indian jackal, feral horses, palm civet, short-nosed fruit bat, jungle cat and monitor lizard.