The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to consider declaring all elephant corridors in the country as eco-sensitive zones. NGT has given two weeks time to the Ministry to look into the issue and to proceed in the matter for declaration of such areas as eco sensitive zones. The observations came while the green panel was hearing a plea that highlighted the increasing number of unnatural elephant deaths taking place in the state. The petition said, “Owing to the increased denudation and loss of their forest habitats, elephants have come increasingly into conflicts with humans and faced deliberate retaliatory killings and accidents at railway crossings, high tension power lines, power fences and trenches.”
What are Eco-sensitive zones?
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-sensitive Zones”.
The section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards
Besides the section 5 (1) of this act says that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area, maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants for an area, environmentally compatible land use, and proximity to protected areas. The above two clauses have been effectively used by the government to declare Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFA). The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones.
The MoEF (Ministry of Environment & Forests) has approved a comprehensive set of guidelines laying down parameters and criteria for declaring ESAs. A committee constituted by MoEF put this together. The guidelines lay out the criteria based on which areas can be declared as ESAs. These include Species Based (Endemism, Rarity etc), Ecosystem Based (sacred groves, frontier forests etc) and Geomorphologic feature based (uninhabited islands, origins of rivers etc).
New species of Indian horned frogs from Himalayan regions:
Scientists have discovered four new species of Indian horned frogs from Himalayan regions of Northeast India.
What are Horned frogs? Horned frogs get their name from fleshy horn-like projection on upper eyelids of some species
They were discovered in the forests of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Scientists have named them as Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys himalayana), Garo white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys oreocrypta); Yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys flavipunctata) and Giant Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys periosa). These frogs vary in size — yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog measures about 5.7-7.5 cm and is smallest among four. Giant Himalayan horned frog measures about 7.1 to 11.2 cm, making it largest of 15 horned frog species found in Northeast India.
BASIC nations push for ‘climate finance’
The top climate change negotiators from Brazil, South Africa, China and India (BASIC) convened in Delhi recently to push for developed countries on their earlier commitment to providing $100 billion annually from 2020. The meet was held ahead of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP24) to be held in December, in Katowice, Poland.
Katowice Conference: The representatives from at least 190 countries, think-tanks, and activists will converge in Katowice, Poland to try to agree on a Rule Book that will specify how countries will agree to take forward commitments taken at the 21st COP in Paris in 2015. In CoP21 in Paris, the countries had agreed to take steps to limit global warming to 2C below pre-industrial levels and “as far as possible” limit it to 1.5C before the end of the century.
BASIC meeting: This 27th BASIC meet chaired by Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India expressed their “deepest concern” over some developed nations’ attempting at unilaterally applying new eligibility criteria for developing countries’ access to funding under the Global Environmental Facility and the Green Climate Fund. Such criteria, according to the ministers, “are not compatible with guidance from the Conference of the Parties and are a departure from the letter and spirit of the Convention and its Paris Agreement. The BASIC ministers urged developed countries to honor their commitments and increase climate finance towards at least $100 billion per annum goal by 2020, to be scaled up significantly thereafter. The BASIC group also encouraged developed countries to progressively and substantially scale up their financial support and finalise a new collective finance goal to inform parties for future action through NDCs (nationally determined contributions).The NDCs are the commitments made by countries to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions. In the post-2020 period, the ministers called upon developed countries to provide financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the convention. The ministers also called upon to clarify about what constitutes climate finance.g., whether investments made by private companies in developed countries in new green technology or improving efficiency in a thermal plant count as climate finance.
A virtual climate summit to cut carbon footprint
World leaders will participate in an innovative climate change summit that will take place entirely online so it is carbon neutral. The event will be the first global political meeting to be held online. It will consist of a rolling, 24-hour livestream that will begin in the Marshalls’ capital Majuro, then include addresses from leaders and panel discussions before delivering a declaration. The Virtual Climate Summit is the brainchild of Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, whose low-lying Pacific island nation will drown beneath rising seas if global warming continues unabated. It’s main aim is to encourage the international community to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The cutting-edge setup was designed to show that even small nations such as the Marshalls could make a big difference on the world stage using creative, climate-friendly solutions. The online summit as an example of the innovative thinking needed to combat climate change. The eco-friendly event stands in stark contrast to many other international political summits, which involve thousands of delegates jetting across the world to a venue where they stay in air-conditioned comfort. The organisers of the UN’s COP21 talks in Paris in 2015 estimated it generated 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, although much of this was later offset through carbon-credit schemes. A UN report warned recently that the threshold could be reached as early as 2030 unless there was unprecedented global action to rein in emissions. 17 of the 18 hottest years on record had occurred since 2001 and that the cost of climate-related disasters in 2017 topped $500 billion.
About Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF): The CVF is an international partnership of countries highly vulnerable to a warming planet. The Forum serves as a South-South cooperation platform for participating governments to act together to deal with global climate change.
India gets UN Environment award
United Nation Environment has awarded Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India with Asia Environment Enforcement Awards, 2018 for excellent work done by the Bureau in combating transboundary environmental crime. WCCB has been conferred this award in Innovation category.
Why WCCB has been chosen? WCCB has adopted innovative enforcement techniques that have dramatically increased enforcement of transboundary environmental crimes in India. Notably it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to get real time data in order to help analyze trends in crime and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crimes across India. In order to involve the public in the fight against wildlife crime, WCCB has also developed a scheme to enroll willing persons as WCCB Volunteers.
Asia Environmental Enforcement Award: The Asia Environment Enforcement Awards publicly recognize and celebrate excellence in enforcement by government officials and institutions/teams combating transboundary environmental crime in Asia. The awards are given to outstanding individuals and/or government organizations/teams that demonstrate excellence and leadership in enforcement of national laws to combat transboundary environmental crime in one of the following eligibility criteria areas: collaboration; impact; innovation; integrity and gender leadership.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau: Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the MoEFCC, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country. Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated: To collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities. To disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals. To establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank. Co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act. Assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control. It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.
ZSI report on Andaman & Nicobar Islands fauna
A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) titled Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones: Islands of India has for the first time come up with a database of all faunal species found on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, putting the number at 11,009.
The documentation proves that the islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species. It has 11,009 species.
Endemic species: The Narcondam hornbill, its habitat restricted to a lone island; the Nicobar megapode, a bird that builds nests on the ground; the Nicobar treeshrew, a small mole-like mammal; the Long-tailed Nicobar macaque, and the Andaman day gecko, are among the 1,067 endemic faunal species found only on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nowhere else.
Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).
Endemic reptiles: Eight species of amphibians and 23 species of reptiles are endemic to the islands, and thus are at high risk of being threatened.
Marine faunal diversity: Includes coral reefs and its associated fauna. In all, 555 species of scleractinian corals (hard or stony corals) are found in the island ecosystem, all which are placed under Schedule I of the WPA. Similarly, all species of gorgonian (sea fans) and calcerous sponge are listed under different schedules of the WPA.
Concerns: The publication cautions that tourism, illegal construction and mining are posing a threat to the islands’ biodiversity, which is already vulnerable to volatile climatic factors. Some of the species in A&N Islands are restricted to a very small area and thus more vulnerable to any anthropogenic threat. Any stress can have a long-lasting impact on the islands’ biodiversity, devastating the population size of any endemic fauna, followed by extinction within a limited span of time.
Vulnerable species: Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (C. jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica). Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened, according to the IUCN.
The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km. The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh.
SSB to patrol Dudhwa tiger reserve
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) have joined hands to provide security to Dudhwa forests and its rich wildlife.
How will it be done?
It has been agreed that joint long route patrolling comprising SSB, Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) field staff would be held at regular intervals. Stress will be laid on intelligence and information sharing among various security agencies about activities of wildlife and forest criminals. A mechanism to establish SSB border outpost level communication and information sharing will be developed to strengthen the safety of Dudhwa.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve: It is protected area in Uttar Pradesh that stretches mainly across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts. It comprises Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. It shares north-eastern boundary with Nepal, which is defined to large extent by Mohana River. The area is vast Terai alluvial floodplain traversed by numerous rivers and streams flowing in south-easterly direction. Faunal diversity: Apart from tigers, it is also home to swamp deer, sambar deer, barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer, Indian rhinoceros, sloth bear, ratel, jackal, civets, jungle cat, fishing cat, etc.
Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB): It is Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) entrusted with guarding country’s border with Nepal and Bhutan. It was established in 1963 and functions under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Its headquarters are in New Delhi. It has specialist jurisdictions for national border patrol, security, and integrity.
Scientists mull stratospheric barrier to curb global warming
Scientists have found that spraying sun-dimming chemicals high above the earth to slow global warming could be remarkably inexpensive costing about $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period. This geo-engineering technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) could limit rising temperatures that are causing climate change.
What are Stratospheric Sulphur Aerosols?
Stratospheric sulfur aerosols are sulfur-rich particles which exist in the stratosphere region of the Earth’s atmosphere. The layer of the atmosphere in which they exist is known as the Junge layer, or simply the stratospheric aerosol layer. These particles consist of a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. They are created naturally, such as by photochemical decomposition of sulfur-containing gases, e.g. carbonyl sulfide. Sulfur aerosols are common in the troposphere as a result of pollution with sulfur dioxide from burning coal, and from natural processes. Volcanoes are a major source of particles in the stratosphere as the force of the volcanic eruption propels sulfur-containing gases into the stratosphere.
What is Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI)?
Under SAI delivery of precursor sulfide gases such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or sulfur dioxide (SO2) are sprayed by artillery, aircraft and balloons. It would involve the use of huge hoses, cannons or specially designed aircraft to spray large quantities of sulphate particles into the upper layer of the atmosphere to act as a reflective barrier against sunlight. Total costs estimated to launch a hypothetical SAI effort 15 years from now would be $3.5 billion and average annual operating costs would be about $2.25 billion a year over 15 years.
This proposed method could counter most climatic changes, take effect rapidly, have very low direct implementation costs, and be reversible in its direct climatic effects.
Benefits of the SAI: Mimics a natural process. It is technologically feasible. The method is economically feasible and efficient.
Possible side effects:
Tropospheric Ozone depletion. Whitening of the sky. Tropopause warming and the humidification of the stratosphere. Involves Health effects. Stratospheric temperature rise and circulation change.
Sources: the hindu.
Impact Based Forecasting Approach
A new technology called ‘Impact Based Forecasting Approach’ has been developed by IMD to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall. The technique is designed to forecast the expected impact as a result of expected weather. Hazard and vulnerability are taken into consideration in this forecast approach. The heavy downpour had led to floods in Kerala and was result of climate change. State Government had blamed IMD for lapses in its part for wrong rain forecast. IMD had forecasted estimated 98.5 mm rain in the state between 9 and 15 August, 2018 but Kerala received was 352.2 mm of rainfall resulting in severe flooding. Pre-event scenario will help state governments authorities to minutely monitor impact of rainfall and take real-time decisions. It will help to avoid disastrous situation similar to Kerala floods. It can generate scenario to help take decisions to release water or not from reservoirs after heavy downpour. It will be helpful for every state authority to take decision. This system can be run in pre-event scenario.
India Meteorological Department (IMD): It is national meteorological service of the country and chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology and associated subjects. It was formed in 1875. It functions under Ministry of Earth Sciences. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
Mandate: Undertake meteorological observations and provide current information and forecasting information for most favourable operation of weather-dependent activities such as irrigation, agriculture, aviation, shipping etc. Offer warning against severe weather phenomenon such as tropical cyclones, norwesters, dust storms, heat waves, cold waves, heavy rains, heavy snow, etc. Provide met-related statistics needed for agriculture, industries, water resources management, oil exploration, and any other strategically important activities for the country. Engage in research in meteorology and allied subjects. Detect and locate earthquakes and evaluate of seismicity in various parts of the country for developmental projects.
New species of shark identified in Indian Ocean:
A new species of a deep sea shark- the Pygmy false catshark, has been found in the northern Indian Ocean, the first such discovery in India since 2011 when the Mangalore houndshark was identified. The Pygmy false catshark is currently known only from deep waters (200-1000m depth) and has a length of about 65cm. It is dark brown without any prominent patterns.
The new species was found off the southwestern coast of India and north of Sri Lanka. Its scientific name is Planonasus indicus – from ‘planus’ meaning flat and ‘nasus’ meaning nose. The new species was first observed was on April 26, 2008, when it was caught in fishing nets in Kochi, Kerala.
Threats to Coral Reefs
The Reef & Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) has reported that some affected areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are showing “substantial signs of recovery.”
Corals: Coral polyps are small (0.25-12 inches), soft-bodied marine organisms. They belong to the group cnidaria. other cnidarians include hydras, jellyfish, and sea anemones. The coral polyps share a symbiotic relationship with algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae live inside the coral polyps and perform photosynthesis, producing food which is shared with the coral. In exchange the coral provides the algae with protection and access to light, which is necessary for photosynthesis.
Coral Reefs: The corals secrete calcium carbonate which acts like a cement. These bind together coral, sand and pieces of rubble to form a solid structure known as the reef. The major types of coral reefs are:
Fringing Reefs: These are coral reefs that grow in shallow waters and in areas of low rainfall runoff, primarily on the leeward side. They closely border the coastline or are separated from it by a narrow stretch of water.
Barrier reefs: These grow parallel to the coast, but are separated from land by a lagoon. Example: Great Barrier reef, Queensland, Australia
Atolls: These grow surrounding (or partly surrounding) an island which then sinks relative to sea level. Example: Maldives consists of 26 atolls.
Location of coral reefs: Coral reefs are mainly found in tropical seas (30°N to 30°S )where the sea is shallow (less than 100m); and warm (usually between 25° and 29°C). They are also found in cold waters (temperature as low as 4°C) at depths between 40m to 2000m. Unlike tropical corals, they don’t need sunlight to survive and don’t have zooxanthellae living in their polyps. They feed solely by capturing food particles from the surrounding water. Example: They are found off the coast of Norway’s Røst Island,
In India, coral reefs are located in 7 regions: Goa coast, Kerala coast, Palk Bay,Gulf of Kucch, Gulf of Mannar, Lakshadweep islands
Andaman and Nicobar islands
Importance of coral reefs
Biodiversity: Coral reefs are extremely productive ecosystems and are called ‘the rainforests of the sea.’ Despite covering less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, reefs host more than 25% of all marine fish species and other marine animals.
Regulating services: Coral reefs protect the shoreline and reduce flooding. Coral reefs contribute to land accretion (opposite of land erosion)
Economic value: Coral reefs support human life and livelihoods and are therefore important economically. For example: According to WWF, 1 sq.km of well-managed coral reef can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood annually. Further, coral reefs support tourism industry in countries like Seychelles and Maldives.
Cultural values: Coral reefs have aesthetic and recreational values
Threats to Coral Reefs:
Climate Change and its impact on Coral reefs: With rising global temperatures, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks have become more frequent. Bleaching is when corals lose the highly pigmented zooxanthellae from their tissues due to stress from high sea temperatures and solar irradiation exposing the white calcium carbonate skeletons of the coral colony.
Ocean acidification: Carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere has been reducing calcification rates in reef-building and reef-associated organisms by changing chemical properties of seawater through a decrease in pH. This can ultimately lead to dissolving coral reefs.
Increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms: Violent storms will lead to coral breakage, dislocation and degradation from wind and waves
Changes in precipitation: increased precipitation will lead to more freshwater runoff. Freshwater run-off reduces salinity levels, may cause bleaching, and brings increased nutrients and sediments, which can lead to disease outbreak
Altered ocean circulation patterns may lead to lack of food due to dispersal of larvae
ENSO: Sudden exposure of reef flat corals to the atmosphere during events such as extreme low tides, ENSO-related sea level drops or tectonic uplift can potentially induce bleaching. The consequent exposure to high or low temperatures, increased solar radiation and sea water dilution by heavy rains could lead to zooxanthellae loss and also cause coral death.
Marine Pollution: Zooxanthellae loss occurs during exposure of coral to increased concentrations of various chemical contaminants and oil. Plastic and garbage at the seaside often ends up in the sea and disrupts the coral reefs’ delicate environment.
Overfishing and destructive fishing practices – such as purse seining, fine-mesh fishing, ‘moxy’ nets, cyanide fishing and blast fishing result in unsustainable damage to coral reefs
Coral mining (for example in south and south-east Asia) which involves blasting of reefs and coral being removed, cause immediate destruction but also result in indirect detrimental effects such as sand erosion and sedimentation
Sedimentation: Erosion caused by construction, mining, logging, and farming has lead to increased sediment in rivers. The sediment drastically reduces the amount of light reaching coral reefs and destroys them. Further, destruction of mangroves, which check sediments have aggravated the problem.
Extent and cause of coral bleaching in India:
The corals of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: These were severely affected by the 2004 Tsunami and have not yet fully recovered. Other reasons for coral bleaching in these islands include unregulated tourism, fishing and marine pollution
Coral in the Gulf of Kachchh region: Siltation and Eutrophication due to developmental activities have been the major cause of bleaching of corals.
Corals of Lakshadweep islands: Periodic dredging for boat passage in the lagoons, amongst others, affects the health of corals in these coral islands.
Gulf of Mannar reefs: They are affected due to intense local activities like intensive fishing, illegal harvesting of protected species which affects the ecological balance, pollution from boats, construction along the shores etc.
Impact of Coral Bleaching:
Ecological Impacts of bleaching: Decline in marine species diversity. Land masses will be directly exposed to waves leading to a risk of erosion. Changes in coral communities affect the species that depend on them.
Socioeconomic impacts of bleaching: Degraded coral reefs are not able to provide the ecosystem services on which local human communities depend. Reefs damaged by coral bleaching can quickly lose many of the features that is important for the aesthetic appeal that is fundamental to reef tourism. Thus there is loss of revenue from tourism. It can drive large shifts in fish communities. This results into reduced catches for fishers targeting reef fish species, which in turn impacts food supply and associated economic activities. Coral reefs are a valuable source of pharmaceutical compounds. Degraded and dead reefs are less likely to serve as a source for important medicinal resources.
International Coral Reefs Initative (ICRI): The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal partnership between Nations and organizations which aims to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight countries: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. India is a member of ICRI
Main objectives are: Encourage the adoption of best practice in sustainable management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
Capacity Building, Raise awareness at all levels on the plight of coral reefs around the world. The ICRI declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR).
Global Coral Reef monitoring network: It is a network under ICRI which works to provide scientific information and communication on the status of coral reef ecosystems to increase conservation and management for coral reefs
International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN): ICRAN is a strategic alliance of private and public organizations that acts worldwide to address the management of coral reef ecosystems and the needs of the communities that depend upon them. It operates by sharing and promoting traditional knowledge, current research, and best practices in order to strengthen reef management.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has included coral reef conservation and restoration as an ecosystem based adaptation measure (EBA) for coastal protection.
Coral Triangle Initiative: The six governments of the Coral Triangle – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste have established partnership to conserve coral reefs and the multitude of species and fisheries they support.
Conservation of Coral Reefs in India
The protection of coral reef has been stressed under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). Corals are included in Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) also takes up the issue of coral reef habitat destruction. On the recommendations of the National Committee on Mangroves and Coral Reefs following coral reef areas in the country have been identified for intensive conservation and management since 1987: Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshdeep Islands, Gulf of Kutch (Gujarat), Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu)
The coral bleaching Alert System (CBAS) has been initiated by INCOIS since 2011. This model uses the satellite derived Sea Surface Temperature (SST) in order to assess the thermal stress accumulated in the coral environs. This information yields in drawing the early signs of the intensity and spatial extents of coral bleaching
National Coral Reef Research Centre has been established at Port Blair. Database Network and Website on Coral Reefs has also been established.
Biggest coral reseeding project launches on Great Barrier Reef
Scientists have launched the largest-ever attempt to regenerate coral on the endangered Great Barrier Reef by harvesting millions of the creatures’ eggs and sperm during their annual spawning.
What’s the plan? The plan is to grow coral larvae from the harvested eggs and return these to areas of the reef which have been badly damaged by climate-related coral bleaching.
This is the first time that the entire process of large scale larval rearing and settlement will be undertaken directly on reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.
Central Water Commission
The Central Water Commission should be disbanded, experts and activists said at India River Week (IRW)-2018. This will be one of the many demands in the Citizens Report from IRW-2018 for rejuvenation of the Ganga.==
Why disband CWC?
According to the experts, the panel has too much on its plate and it needs to go for better regulatory framework. It is a body which is doing multiple jobs—collecting data, making policies, giving technical and financial approvals to various projects, monitoring and what not. It is not capable of doing all this.
Long- and short-term measures to save Ganga (Experts views): For restoring the e-flows, all proposed projects in the Ganga River Basin should be cancelled. The construction of all projects in the headstreams of the river should also be cancelled. Among medium-term measures, old dams should be decommissioned. The inland waterways and riverfront development projects should be withdrawn as they are harming the Ganga. An autonomous institute for the Ganga should be established rather than a one controlled only by the government. On policy front, a national river policy and a separate national urban water policy to govern the urban use of water resources should be put in place. No use of machinery to extract sand and other boulders from the riverbed should be proposed. To improve the base flows, improve upon crop pattern and better irrigation methods. Other suggestions include- reducing groundwater extraction from the Ganga, promoting rainwater harvesting, ensuring better functioning of existing sewage treatment plants in the Ganga basin (to ensure clean river), comprehensive Ganga law on the lines of the draft given by late G D Agarwal, establishing protected zones in origin stretches of all major rivers and tributaries (for biodiversity conservation), teaching ecology in all science and engineering curricula across the country and studying of climate change impacts on the Ganga, among many others.
CWC: Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
Functions: The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
Water Deficit next year in India
Latest edition of Global Water Monitor & Forecast Watch List has been released by IScience (US based limited liability Corporation). As per the report, water deficits will increase and intensify in India in 2019.
Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM): The findings are based on ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). The model analyses global water anomalies using observed temperature and precipitation.
Highlights of the report: The forecast predicts severe to exceptional surplus water for regions including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram. Moderate to severe deficits were forecast for Bihar. From February through April, deficits in India are expected to moderate overall and some regions in the country’s eastern third will normalise. However, intense deficits will persist throughout Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and along the Tungabhadra River through Karnataka. The forecast for the final months — May through July (2019) — indicates primarily moderate deficits in India and pockets throughout the region. Some surpluses are expected in Jammu and Kashmir, northern Pakistan, along the Gandaki River in central Nepal, and pockets of Tamil Nadu. The 12-month forecast through July 2019 indicates exceptional (greater than 40 years) water deficits in Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh. Though this September’s extreme heat was unrelated to El Niño — which usually introduces warm dry conditions — El Niño is being blamed for low rainfall during the June-to-September monsoon season. The monsoon rain deficits have caused drought-like conditions in almost a third of Indian districts, and added stress for the farmers. The report also notes that India’s coffee production is expected to fall to its lowest in five years due to flood damage to plantations in southern states such as Kerala and Karnataka. India exports about three quarters of the coffee it produces, and flood damage has been reported in all key producing areas of the country. The future forecast will help visualise the impact and intensity at a large scale.
Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi , Kenya
The first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was held in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. It was organized by Kenya and co-hosted by Japan and Canada. “India endorses the growth of the Blue Economy in a sustainable, inclusive and people centered manner through the framework of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)”.
Sagarmala Programme – It has identified 600 plus projects entailing a huge investment of $120 billion (nearly Rs. 8 lakh crore) by 2020. It saves India $6 billion per annum in logistics costs besides creating 10 million new jobs and boosting port capacity by 800 Million Metric Tonne per Annum (MMTPA) to an overall 3500 MMTPA.
Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) – It is developed with a proposed investment of $150 Million per location. It will become a microcosm of the blue economy, with the growth of industries and townships that depend on the sea and contribute to global trade through sea connectivity. It also focuses on the development of coastal communities and people through skill gap analysis, skill development centers to train coastal communities in the sustainable use of ocean resources, modern fishing techniques and coastal tourism. Several green initiatives were taken in the coastal regions like 31 MW of captive solar power generation at various ports, installation of oil spill response facilities, and Study to identify ways to re-use waste water at ports.
The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy. It builds on the momentum of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris and the UN Ocean Conference 2017 “Call to Action”. The world has rallied around the enormous pressures facing our oceans and waters, from plastic pollution to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is international recognition that we need to develop our waters in an inclusive and sustainable manner for the benefit of all.
Indian scientists have discovered in India an endangered sub-species of hog deer (Axis porcinus annamiticus), earlier believed to be confined to the eastern part of central Thailand. Researchers reported the presence of a small population of hog deer in Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP), Manipur. The population genetically resembles A. p. annamiticus. The study indicates that the western limit of hog deer is Manipur; not central Thailand as believed. Since hog deer is losing habitat in other countries, the genetically distinct and evolutionarily significant population found in KLNP— considered a biodiversity hotspot on the India-Myanmar border—is significant for conservation. The hog deer or Pada is an endangered species in the IUCN Red List and is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The species has lost ground in most of its distribution range. A small and isolated population of under 250 was reported from Cambodia. However, it was widely distributed throughout the Southeast Asian countries at the beginning of the 20th century. Two sub-species of hog deer have been reported from its range. The western race is distributed from Pakistan and the terai grasslands (along the Himalayan foothills, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh), while the eastern race of hog deer is found in Thailand, Indo-China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.