UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honour- Champions of the Earth Award, bestowed upon five other individuals and organisations. French President Emmanuel Macron, President of France and Modi have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022. Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy.
Champions of the Earth Award: The Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental recognition, was founded in 2005. The award celebrates exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. The award also recognises the efforts for promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action.
Government launches SATAT initiative to promote Compressed Bio-Gas production
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has launched Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) aimed at providing sustainable alternative towards affordable transportation. The initiative was launched with PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs i.e. IOC, BPCL and HPCL). The SATAT initiative has potential to boost availability of more affordable transport fuels, better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste, as well as provide additional revenue source to farmers. It will also benefit vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs. Under it, Expression of Interest (EoI) have been invited from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available biogas in market for use in automotive fuels. It will boost availability of more affordable transport fuels and enable better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste. It will pave way for efficient municipal solid waste management and help in tackling problem of polluted urban air due to farm stubble-burning and carbon emissions. It will boost entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment and provide additional source of revenue to farmers. It will also help achieve nation’s climate change goals and bring down dependency on natural gas and crude oil imports and act as a buffer against crude oil and gas price fluctuations. Bio-gas is produced naturally through process of anaerobic decomposition from waste and bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, municipal solid waste, sugarcane press mud, sewage treatment plant (STP) waste, etc. It is called CBG after biogas is purified and compressed, which has pure methane content of over 95%. CBG is exactly similar to commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. It has calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties are similar to CNG. CBG can be used as alternative, renewable automotive fuel. It has potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years, given the abundance of biomass in the country. Advantages of converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on commercial scale are,It results in responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution.It generates additional revenue source for farmers.It boosts entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment.It supports national commitments in achieving climate change goals.It also helps in reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil.It also serves as buffer against crude oil and gas price fluctuations.
World Habitat Day
The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.
2018 theme: Municipal Solid Waste Management. The focus of this year’s World Habitat Day celebrations is taking action to address the municipal solid waste management challenge. This year’s theme is Municipal Solid Waste Management with a slogan Waste-wise cities.
The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202, and was first celebrated in 1986.
India launches Operation Samudra Maitri to help earthquake-tsunami affected Indonesia
India has launched massive humanitarian operation Samudra Maitri to provide assistance to earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia. The operation was launched after telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo and following Indonesia’s acceptance of international aid. Under this operation, India has dispatched two aircraft C-130J and C-17 and three naval ships carrying relief material and personnel to the country. C-130J aircraft had carried medical team along with tents and equipments to set up field hospital. C-17 aircraft is carried medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance. Three Indian Navy ships were deployed INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). A shallow earthquake of magnitude 7.5 (richter scale) had struck in neck of Minahasa Peninsula, Indonesia on 28 September 2018 with its epicentre located in mountainous Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi. The earthquake was located 77 km away from provincial capital Palu. This event was preceded by sequence of foreshocks, largest of which was a magnitude 6.1 tremor and followed by localised tsunami which had struck Palu, sweeping shore-lying houses and buildings on its way. The combined effects of earthquake and tsunami had led to deaths of at least 1,424 people and injured further 2,549. It was deadliest earthquake to strike Indonesia since 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake, as well as deadliest earthquake worldwide so far in 2018. The earthquake also had caused major soil liquefaction in areas in and around Palu.
How wet is the ground after rain? for first time, India gets soil moisture map
A countrywide forecast prepared for the first time recently depicts deficit soil moisture conditions in India. This forecast has been jointly prepared by IIT Gandhinagar and the India Meteorological Department (IMD), for the first time. It provides a country-wide soil moisture forecast at seven and 30-day lead times. Through this joint project, the IMD has provided this information from mid-July onwards. It uses the ‘Variable Infiltration Capacity’ model to provide the soil moisture prediction.
The product, termed ‘Experimental Forecasts Land Surface Products’, is available on the IMD website and has been developed using the hydrological model that takes into consideration soil, vegetation, land use and land cover among other parameters.
Significance of soil moisture: Crucial information needed for agriculture is not revealed only through rainfall data, so soil moisture gives us more information on what is needed for crop growth in different parts of the country. Soil moisture is crucial for agriculture since it directly affects crop growth and how much irrigation is required for the area.
Findings of soil moisture map: Based on presently observed conditions,Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh are deficient in terms of soil moisture right now. If similar conditions prevail longer, these regions which will demand heavy irrigation whether that comes from groundwater or surface water storage (reservoirs). Soil moisture conditions in western Uttar Pradesh, Bundelkhand, and Chhattisgarh are likely to be normal or surplus at the start of the rabi sowing season.
DGCA wants carriers to check carbon emissions from Jan 1
As per the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the air transport industry contributes 2% of global carbon emissions. The International Air Transport Association is a trade association of the world’s airlines. Consisting of 290 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total Available Seat Miles air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland. The International Civil Aviation Organization,is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.Its headquarters is located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.Like ICAO adopted CORSIA, India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued guidelines for aeroplane operators flying on international routes.
DGCA said all operators flying on international routes have to capture their fuel consumption and carbon emission data annually from January 1, 2019. From 2021, the operators will have to meet offsetting requirements by purchasing and cancelling “emission units”. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the Indian governmental regulatory body for civil aviation under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. This directorate investigates aviation accidents and incidents. It is headquartered along Sri Aurobindo Marg, opposite Safdarjung Airport, in New Delhi.The Government of India is planning to replace the organisation with a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), modelled on the lines of the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
CORSIA: Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), is an emission mitigation approach for the global airline industry, developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). CORSIA addresses emissions from international air travel. The CORSIA is part of an effort from the ICAO to halve carbon emissions by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.CORSIA aims to address any annual increase in total carbon dioxide emissions from international civil aviation in order to avoid the impact of any unusual fluctuations in air traffic in 2020 levels.
CORSIA scheme is divided into two parts — Monitoring, reporting & verification- Under this, carriers will have to record fuel use on each international flight and calculate carbon dioxide emissions according to the prescribed formula. Then they will have to report the emission information to the DGCA and ICAO. Under offsetting requirements- ICAO has said that the price of the emission units in the carbon market will be determined on the basis of availability of units and the level of offsetting requirements.
CORSIA is only a part of aviation industry’s four-pillar strategy to address the sector’s impact on climate and to meet the carbon targets. Other measures include adoption of new technology, including deployment of sustainable alternative fuels, more efficient aircraft operations, and infrastructure improvements including modernised air traffic management systems.
Next steps at Gir
Recently 21 Asiatic lions died in Gujarat’s Gir National Park in less than a month which raises serious questions about the conservation of the big cats in their only habitat.
Reasons for lion deaths: Infighting between lion prides: Male lions are known to maul each other to death but they never harm females. Viral infection: In 2012, the scientists from Indian Veterinary Research Institute identified the Goat Plague (Peste Des Petits Ruminants) virus in a lion carcass. According to a CAG report , more than 50 percent of the Gir lions have spilled out of the protected area and face threat of speeding trucks and trains, open wells and live wires. More than 30 lions have perished to accidents in the past two years, according to the park’s records.
In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the translocation of “some” lions from Gir to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh(MP) which Gujarat government refused, arguing that MP has not gone by the IUCN’s guidelines for translocation. However MP’s forest officials retort that Kuno satisfies all the conditions laid down by the Wildlife Institute of India (the agency mandated to monitor the relocation of Gir lions). Gujarat submitted before the Supreme Court that one of the reasons it did not want to part with the lions because there were metapopulation in the state spread over several locations within the Greater Gir Region. An epidemic caused by a virus wiped out more than a third of the lion population in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in the 1990s. Gujarat should work towards colonising new habitats outside the Gir landscape within the State eg Barda wildlife sanctuary. close to Gir, which can increase suitable lion range from its present, much smaller area. A geographically separate population of Asiatic lions also needs to be created. Gujarat should also turn its attention to reducing the drivers of disease, which includes controlling feral dog populations.
River under threat: Musi River
Musi River – is a tributary of the Krishna River in the Deccan Plateau flowing through Telangana state in India. Due to indiscriminate urbanization and lack of planning, the river has become a receptacle of untreated domestic and industrial waste dumping out of Hyderabad. The river water downstream of the cities remains highly polluted, considered a major disaster in Hyderabad.
ICMR confirms Canine Distemper Virus killed Gir animals
Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has confirmed that the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) was responsible for lion deaths in the Gir forest of Gujarat It recommended that the remaining lions be vaccinated to prevent further outbreaks.
IUCN Status: Endangered
The lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard. It was also known as “Indian lion” and “Persian lion”.
India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin Research Centre to come up soon in Patna
National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna, capital of Bihar. It will India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin research centre. The announcement for the centre was made on the occasion of Dolphin day (October 5), observed in Bihar for protection and conservation of Gangetic river dolphin to create awareness to save endangered species. NDRC will play important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save endangered mammal whose population is decreasing. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.
Gangetic river dolphin: Gangetic river dolphin (scientific name: Platanista gangetica) is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in Yangtze river, Indus river in Pakistan and Amazon river. Gangetic river dolphin species are found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal. It is almost completely blind and finds its way and prey using ultrasonic echoes, with sound being everything for them to navigate, feed, escape danger, find mates, breed, nurse babies and play. Gangetic Dolphin’s presence signals healthy river ecosystem. Dolphins prefer water that is at least 5-8 feet deep and are usually found in turbulent waters where there is enough fish for them to feed on. They prefer deep water with adjoining shallow water and live in zone where there is little or no current that helps them save energy.
Threats: Entanglement in fishing nets, hunting for their oil and meat, poisoning of water supply of river from industrial and agricultural chemicals. They are facing most significant threat from building of dams along the upper course of their habitable rivers. It causing the segregation of populations and has a narrowed gene pool in which dolphins can breed.
Protection Status: Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and have been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Conservation Program: Environment Ministry had launched Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme in 1997 to build scientific database of their population status and also study their habitat quality of the dolphins’ distribution range. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary located in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district of Bihar is India’s only dolphin sanctuary is spread over 50 km along the Ganges
Scientists develop tiny spheres to trap water contaminants developed
Scientists at Rice University in the US have developed tiny spheres that can catch and destroy bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical used to make plastics that often contaminates water. This new material helps in overcoming two significant technological barriers for photocatalytic water treatment.
Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is commonly used to coat insides of food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. BPA that seeps into food and drink is considered safe in low doses, but prolonged exposure is suspected of affecting the health of children and contributing to high blood pressure.
Tiny spheres: The micron-sized spheres resemble Venus’ flytrap (a carnivorous plant) of particles and has tiny flower-like collections of titanium dioxide petals of less than 100 nanometers size. It has two-faced structure, with hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface. BPA is hydrophobic and naturally attracted to the cavity. Once trapped, reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by the spheres degrades BPA into harmless chemicals.
Methanol Cooking Fuel Program of India
Signifying a paradigm shift towards the use of alternate cooking fuel technology, the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL) has rolled out the country’s first methanol-based cooking fuel project-‘Green and Clean Fuel Pilot Project on Methanol Cooking Stove’. Under the pilot project, stove and methanol canister will be made available in a limited scale. The methanol cooking fuel will be available in canisters of 1.2 kg capacity each, which will be priced at around Rs 32 and around 18 of them would be equivalent to one conventional domestic LPG cylinder. The technology for the canister and the special burner has been provided by Sweden. In two months, APL will start commercial production of methanol-based cooking fuel. Initially the product will be made available for the northeastern region. This is India’s first step towards realising the concept of ‘Methanol Economy’, the flagship programme of NITI Aayog. Through the programme, the NITI Aayog has been working on a roadmap to replace 20% of the country’s crude imports through methanol alone.
Methanol as an alternative fuel: Methanol is a promising fuel as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.
Why Methanol? Methanol can be used as an energy producing fuel, transportation fuel and cooking fuel, cutting down India’s oil import bill by an estimated 20% over the next few years. Unlike CNG, using methanol as a transportation fuel would require minimal alteration in the vehicles. Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions — such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — and can improve air quality and related human health issues. Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide. As a high-octane vehicle fuel, methanol offers excellent acceleration and power. It also improves vehicle efficiency.
International Year of Millets slotted for 2023, India thanks FAO for endorsing its demand
Acting on India’s proposal, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has agreed to celebrate ‘International Year of Millets’ in 2023. Aim is to create awareness and inspire all stakeholders to work towards improving production and productivity of the climate-resilient and nutritious millets across the globe.
Significance: The decision of FAO Committee on Agriculture to endorse India’s proposal in Rome signifies India’s prominence in agriculture diplomacy.
Government steps to recognise millets in India: India’s India, which celebrates 2018 as ‘National Year of Millets’, had in April notified these cereals as ‘ nutri-cereals’ and allowed its inclusion in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for improving nutritional support. Recognising millets’ anti-diabetic properties, the notification called it a “powerhouse of nutrients” and identified several varieties of millets for promotion. The millets in the category of “ Nutri-Cereals” include Sorghum(Jowar), Pearl Millet
(Bajra), Finger Millet ( Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kangani/ Kakun) and Buckwheat ( Kuttu) among others. In July 2018, the government substantially hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of millets so that more and more farmers may opt for cultivation of these less water consuming crops.
International trade fair on organics and millets: The Karnataka government will hold an international trade fair on organics and millets in January 2019 in Bengaluru to promote them as the next-generation smart foods. The second edition of the Organics and Millets International Trade Fair 2019 will be the largest congregation of India’s Organic and Millets community. As the largest gathering of the stakeholders (Farmers, sellers, buyers and exporters), the fair will position Karnataka as the country’s millets capital and promote them as the best food for all. According to the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), over 500 million people in more than 30 countries depend on sorghum as a staple food. However, in the past 50 years, these grains have largely been abandoned in favour of more popular crops like maize, wheat, rice and soybeans.
A flower awaits its place under the sun
For farmers frustrated by the vagaries of monsoon, Tamil Nadu’s State flower, Gloriosa superba is a gold mine waiting to be exploited. The plant, which contains 24 types of alkaloids (nitrogenous organic compounds) and 10 non-alkaloidal medicinal compounds, is widely used in native medicinal compositions and in the treatment of gout and as a pain killer in allopathic medicine. Its cultivation, though confined to a few pockets in Tamil Nadu, has started to spread in the recent years.
Challenges and concerns: A major problem in the cultivation of this species is pollination. The peculiar structure of the flower impedes pollination rate. Rajendran has come up with a novel method to tackle this by resorting to ‘touch pollination’ or manual pollination of implanting pollen grains. The other problem is the high cost of raising the plant. But the returns are huge as there is no need to plant it again and again. Tamil Nadu farmers contribute the major share of global consumption of 800 to 1,000 tonnes per annum and the demand goes up by 10 to 15% every year. Even in the absence of proper marketing facility for Gloriosa, this is the only produce for which the farmer can decide the price.
Van Vihar National Park
Van Vihar National Park is a located in the Bhopal district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is located adjacent to Upper Lake of Bhopal city at Madhya Pradesh in Central India. It harbors herbivores like Chital, Sambar, and blue bull under free ranging condition and the animals like tiger, lion, leopard, hyena, crocodile and gharial under captive condition Van Vihar Safari Park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, where one could found birds like Peacocks, Munias, barlets, wagtails, bulbuls, orioles, Kala Teetar, Blue Kingfisher, Phakta and migratory birds such as Tree Pie and Drongo.
From energy to infrastructure, IPCC lists four pathways to curb global warming
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recently released a report in Seoul presenting four pathways to explore the possibilities of keeping the temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius. The demand to prepare a report was made by smaller and poorer countries, especially the small island states, which face the maximum risks from the impact of climate change. In earlier reports, which have formed the basis of global action, the IPCC has said that climate change could have “irreversible” and “catastrophic” impacts if the global average temperatures were allowed to rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius. The report, known as SR15, will be the main scientific input at the Talanoa Dialogue in the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP24) in December 2018 in Poland.
IPCC assessments: The assessment refers to climate models that project “robust differences in regional climate characteristics” between ‘present-day and global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius’, and ‘between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius’.
These differences include:
(i) increase in mean temperatures in both land ocean regions
(ii) hot extremes in most inhabited regions,
(iii) heavy precipitation in several regions, and
(iv) the probability of drought and precipitation deficits in some regions.
The report also points out that “climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth” are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and increase further with 2 degrees Celsius. As per report, advantages of keeping the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels:- By 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5 degrees compared with 2 degrees Celsius. Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5 degrees, compared with at least once per decade with 2 degrees Celsius. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5 degrees, whereas virtually all (over 99 per cent) would be lost with 2 degrees Celsius. Reduce the number of people exposed to climate-related risks and poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050. The same limit can result in reduced losses in yields of maize, rice, wheat and other cereal crops, particularly in Asia. Varying amounts between 100 to 1000 gigatons (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide would need to be removed from the atmosphere in these four pathways, the report says. The world currently emits about 47 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Assessments of the new report:The IPCC report says that to limit the global temperature rise, interventions are required in the following areas namely:
(iii) Urban infrastructure (including transport and buildings)
(iv) Industrial systems
The world would need to bring down its greenhouse gas to about half of its 2010 levels by 2030, and to net zero by about 2050 to keep the increase in global average temperatures to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial times. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) would be used to compensate for residual emissions and, in most cases, achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius following a peak.
India’s Case: The report also highlights the following impacts that developing countries like India would face if its warming touches 2°C as compared to 1.5°C: Higher risks from heavy precipitation events, including flooding and tropical cyclones of category 4 and 5, over the North Indian Ocean near the Arabian Sea. Increased number of hot days; Kolkata can expect annual conditions to be equivalent to that of the 2015 heat wave. Coastal flooding from sea level rise; high risk to coastal communities due to loss of coastal ecosystems, such as, communities around the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta and Mahanadi delta will be subject to increased vulnerability. It will dent India’s GDP by 2.8% and depress the living standards of nearly half the population by 2050, with people living in the severe “hotspot” districts of central India, particularly Vidarbha, staring at the prospect of an over 10% dip in economic consumption. Decreased food availability as a result of projected dip in crop production, particularly maize, rice, wheat and other cereal crops; decreased nutritional quality of rice and wheat. Rising temperatures creating severe negative impact on livestock due to changes in feed quality, spread of diseases, and lack of availability of water resources. Increased risk of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. Extinction rates for plants, vertebrates, and insects will increase by 50 per cent.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Currently 195 countries are its members. It comprises a group of several hundred scientists of different nationality who assess climate change science. Every 5 or 6 years, IPCC comes out with comprehensive periodic reports on Climate Change called Assessment Reports (AR).
Functions: IPCC neither monitors climate related parameters or data nor does it conduct any research work. It merely assesses the most recent scientific, socio-economic and technical information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.
Awards: IPCC’s 4th AR had helped them to win Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. During this time R.K. Pachauri was its Chairman.
Government reconstitutes Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority
Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has reconstituted Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA). This comes after tenure of the last EPCA expired on October 3, 2018. Former IAS officers Bhure Lal will continue to be Chairman of reconstituted EPCA. The other members of the 20-member re-constituted EPCA include Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy Research Institute (TERI); Arunabha Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Energy Environment and Water; Navroz K. Dubash, Senior Fellow for the Centre for Policy Research. Others members include Vishnu Mathur, Director General, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers; Krishna Dhawan, Chief Executive Officer, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, New Delhi and Arvind Kumar, former professor of surgery, AIIMS in New Delhi and among others.
Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA): EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986. Its mandate is to protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region. It is also mandated to enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels. In November 2017, EPCA had enforced several measures, including ban on brick kilns, closure of Badarpur thermal power plant, hot mix plants and stone crushers, and construction activities in NCR.
CII, UN Environment inks MoU for environmental cooperation
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UN Environment for coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development. The MoU aims to cover all major interest common areas of both CII and UN Environment. It also aims to provide framework of cooperation and facilitate cooperation in areas including environment, renewable energy, climate change, resource conservation and management, energy efficiency, water sanitation, smart cities and urban infrastructure. The major activity planned by CII and UN Environment under this MoU includes #Un-plastic Initiative. It will begin with ‘Call to Action’ which will include commitments by industry to take action to curb plastic pollution. Further, CII will work towards voluntary codes in Indian industry on issue of plastics. Outside India on global scenario, CII will engage with industry forums in different countries to which it is linked, especially in Africa through its annual CII-Africa Conclave.
UN Environment: UN Environment (or UNEP) is leading global environmental authority that sets global environmental agenda, promotes coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as authoritative advocate for global environment. It was established in June 1972. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya
Researchers have confirmed the presence of the elusive Eurasian Otter one of the least-known of India’s three Otter species in the Western Ghats after more than 70 years. While the species is widespread across Europe, northern Africa and several south Asian countries, it is not as frequently seen as smooth-coated or small-clawed otters in India. Otters are members of the mammalian family called Mustelidae. They are shy and have elusive habits, adapting to a variety of habitats ranging from marine to freshwater environments.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened.
It is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
Major threats to Asian otter population are loss of wetland habitats due to construction of largescale hydroelectric projects, conversion of wetlands for settlements and agriculture, reduction in prey biomass, poaching and contamination of waterways by pesticides. Poaching for pelt and other body parts that are believed to possess therapeutic properties. Few nomadic hunting tribes eat otter flesh. Reductions in prey biomass (fish stocks) and infrastructural developments have led to disappearance of otters from the many streams and rivers which were once major otter habitats.
Wildlife Protection Act 1972
Prior to Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, India only had five designated national parks. This was the first umbrella act which established schedules of protected plant and animal species. By this act, hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed. Extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act. There are six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
Out of the six schedules , Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection and offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties. The penalties for Schedule III and Schedule IV are less and these animals are protected. Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted. These are Common crow , Fruit bats, Mice & Rats only. Schedule VI contains the plants, which are prohibited from cultivation and planting. These plants are as follows
Beddomes’ cycad (Cycas beddomei)
Blue Vanda (Vanda soerulec)
Kuth (Saussurea lappa)
Ladies slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.)
Pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana)
Red Vanda (Rananthera inschootiana
Salient Features of the Act
The Act symbolized the efforts at wildlife protection which began in 1887 for the protection of wild birds.
With its amendments in 1912, wild animals were added under the purview of the Act. The amendment in 1991 included certain specified plants which made the Act cover approximately the entire wildlife resources which are in need of protection and management. The Act consists of 6 schedules. Schedules I to V include species based on their risks of survival. Schedule I animals are accorded the highest protection, and their hunting, trade and commerce are strictly regulated. Schedule VI was added by the amendment of 1991 to include certainly specified plants. An expert committee, constituted by the National Wildlife Board, considers amendments to the Act as and when necessary. The amendment of 1991 took away the powers of t-\][-
]he State Governments to declare any wild animal as vermin. Immunization of livestock within a radius of 5km from a national park or a sanctuary has been made mandatory.
Odisha, Andhra on red alert as cyclone Titli inches close
India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued red alert to Odisha and Andhra. It said the deep depression over the Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ and is moving towards the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast. Earlier, Cyclone Mekunu had hit parts of coastal Karnataka, Mangalore and Udupi. ‘Mekunu’ is a Maldivian name as it is located to the northwest of Maldives and west of Lakshadweep. The Indian Ocean is an active zone at present and is throwing in a number of disturbances. Moreover, a Cyclone named Luban, the first of the Post Monsoon season had already developed over the Arabian Sea.
How are Cyclones named?
Cyclonic storm ‘TITLI’ has hit the Bay of Bengal and another cyclonic storm ‘LUBAN’ has hit the Arabian sea.
How are cyclones named?
In September 2004, an international panel on tropical cyclones decided that countries from the region would each put in names, which would be assigned to storms in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
Eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand – participated and came up with a list of 64 names. In the event of a storm, the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre, New Delhi, selects a name from the list.
Why it is necessary to name cyclones?
The late origin of this naming system — unlike storms in the Atlantic, which have been getting named since 1953 — was ostensibly to protect sensitivities in the ethnically diverse region.
The purpose of the move was also to make it easier for “people easily to understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane in a region, thus to facilitate disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.
Guidelines for naming cyclones:
Citizens can submit names to the Director General of Meteorology, IMD, for consideration, but the weather agency has strict rules for the selection process.
A name, for instance, ‘should be short and readily understood when broadcast’.
The names must also be neutral, ‘not culturally sensitive and not convey some unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning’.
Furthermore, on the account of the ‘death and destruction’ a storm in the Indian Ocean causes, their names are retired after use, unlike those in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific lists, which are reused every few years.
Category 1: Wind and gales of 90-125 kph, negligible house damage, some damage to trees and crops.
Category 2: Destructive winds of 125-164 kph. Minor house damage, significant damage to trees, crops and caravans, risk of power failure.
Category 3: Very destructive winds of 165-224 kph. Some roof and structural damage, some caravans destroyed, power failure likely.
Category 4: Very destructive winds of 225-279 kph. Significant roofing loss and structural damage, caravans destroyed, blown away, widespread power failures.
Category 5: Very destructive winds gusts of more than 280 kph. Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction.
Names reused every six years:
Atlantic and Pacific storm names are reused every six years, but are retired “if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing,” according to forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The country’s cyclone season runs from April to December, with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and wide damage to crops and property.
What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?
Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.
Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
Environment Ministry, World Bank release report on Strengthening Forest Fire Management in the Country
Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and World Bank Report have jointly released report on Strengthening Forest Fire Management in the Country. The report discusses policies on forest fire prevention and management (FFPM) at national, state and local levels. It also underscores need for comprehensive national policy and guidelines. It provides recommendations on five broad themes – policy, institutions and capacity, technology, community engagement and data and information. It has analysed patterns and trends of forest fires in India and looks at national and international best practices in FFPM.
Key Points from report: Forest fires are leading cause of forest degradation in India. Forest fires occur every year in almost every state in India and some districts have been found to be more vulnerable than others. In fact, just 20 districts (mostly located in Northeast India) account for over 40% of all forest fires detected between 2003 and 2016. Similarly, top-20 districts (mainly in Central India) account for about 48% of total fire-affected area, while having just 12% of the country’s forest cover in the year 2000 and 7% of its land area.
Reasons for forest fire: Like in other parts of the world, people are main driver of fires in India and forest fires are distributed close to people and infrastructure. But over longer term, shifts in climate caused by anthropogenic global warming may further alter India’s forest landscape and fire regime.
Relation with Monsoon: India’s monsoons are largely responsible for seasonal nature of forest fires in the country. Forest fires peak during dry months of March or April before arrival of monsoon. The fire season mainly occurs during the four-month period between February 15 and May 15. However it has not clear how drying of monsoon due to reduced contrast in land-sea temperatures (which has weakened engine that drives monsoon) has affected intensity or frequency of forest fires.
Region distribution: Forest fires in Northeast are concentrated in smaller area that is subject to repeat burning. The peak fire season is most concentrated (shortest) in Northeast and Northern state of Bihar. Fires in other regions, particularly districts in Central and Southern India are more expansive. Districts experiencing widespread and frequent forest fires include areas of dry and moist deciduous forest in orderlands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Telangana that are affected by fire on nearly annual basis.
Ecological value of Forests: According to scientists from National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), fires affecting forests have significant ecological value. Between 2006 and 2015, NRSC scientists forest fires were detected in just under half (281 of 614) of protected areas in India. In 2014, fires burned about 8.6 % of forest cover in protected areas.
Its findings are crucial for India’s own commitment under Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. It is also expected to be key input in issuing national policy on Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FFPM). Though MoEFCC issued national guidelines on FFPM in 2000, but these are no longer being implemented.
Andhra Pradesh’s push for chemical-free farming inspires other states
Use of chemical pesticides in India, including those that are banned in other countries, has been a matter of concern and a raging topic of discussion in the country. Addressing the issue, the Andhra Pradesh government has adopted a chemical-free approach with the concept of zero budget natural farming and is now scaling it up to an unprecedented level to cover the entire state by 2024. The push for zero budget natural farming by the Andhra Pradesh government has inspired Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh to adopt it as well. Additionally, international agencies like the United Nations Environment and others have expressed interest in supporting the natural farming practice in Andhra Pradesh. Zero budget natural farming is a farming practice or set of methods which involve natural farming without chemicals and no spending on purchased input. the main aim of Zero Budget Natural Farming is the elimination of chemical pesticides and promotion of good agronomic practices. It also can sustain agricultural production through an eco-friendly process in tune with nature to produce chemical-free agricultural produce. Soil fertility and soil organic matter is restored by pursuing zero budget natural farming. Less water is required under zero budget natural farming and it is a climate-friendly system of agriculture.” While zero budget natural farming is being scaled up by Andhra Pradesh and is practised in several other states, it first evolved in Karnataka out of a collaboration between agriculturalist Subhash Palekar, who put together the zero budget natural farming practices for the state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha. Andhra Pradesh is now taking zero budget natural farming to the next level by facilitating the transition of six million farms/farmers cultivating eight million hectares of land from conventional synthetic chemical agriculture to zero budget natural farming by 2024, making Andhra Pradesh India’s first 100% natural farming state. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN is also giving Andhra Pradesh approximately Rs 10 million ($150,000) for capacity building for the purpose of zero budget natural farming. One of the organisations that is playing a key role in mobilising that fund is the Sustainable India Finance Facility – a partnership facilitated by the United Nations Environment, the World Agroforestry Centre and BNP Paribas – which aims to facilitate long-term investments to reverse the continued depletion of agricultural systems, fisheries, forests, renewable energy and wildlife. On September 25, in an address at a conference on “Financing sustainable agriculture: Global challenges and opportunities” at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Naidu highlighted his state’s achievements with Zero budget natural farming.
BNP Paribas in India: BNP Paribas has had a presence in India for over 150 years having established its first branch in Kolkata, in 1860. With this unparalleled experience of the Indian market, it is among the leading corporate banks in the country. Through its branches in eight key cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune — BNP Paribas offers sophisticated solutions in its three core businesses — Corporate and Institutional Banking, Investment Solutions and Retail Banking — many of them in association with strong local partners. BNP Paribas’ Corporate & Institutional business is an active player in Fixed Income and Debt Capital Markets, Cash Management & Trade, Corporate Finance and Institutional Equities.
The bank also offers services for individual clients in Wealth Management. BNP Paribas has a presence in other businesses through joint ventures in Home Finance and Securities Services with Sundaram Group; in Life Insurance with State Bank of India. In addition, the Group has subsidiaries in Fleet Management (Arval) and has an asset management company, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund.
BNP Paribas in Asia Pacific: In Asia Pacific, BNP Paribas is one of the best-positioned international financial institutions with an uninterrupted presence since 1860. Currently with over 17,000 employees* and a presence in 14 markets, BNP Paribas provides corporates, institutional and private investors with product and service solutions tailored to their specific needs. It offers a wide range of financial services covering corporate & institutional banking, wealth management, asset management, insurance, as well as retail banking and consumer financing through strategic partnerships.
The Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF) provides a catalytic platform for unlocking capital from investors and private finance institutions to channel resources into overlooked environmental sectors with positive transformative potential in India. SIFF bridges the gap between the government, private sector, and civil society, coordinating cross-functionally to support the country in working towards its inclusive development and emissions reduction goals as stated in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). SIFF is a partnership facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Agroforestry Centre and BNP Paribas SA. It facilitates long-term investments to reverse the continued depletion of agricultural systems, fisheries, forests, renewable energy and wildlife, with a special focus on improving well-being of marginalized communities.
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Leveraging the world’s largest repository of agroforestry science and information, we develop knowledge practices, from farmers’ fields to the global sphere, to ensure food security and environmental sustainability. ICRAF is the only institution that does globally significant agroforestry research in and for all of the developing tropics. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at scales. ICRAF’s work also addresses many of the issues being tackled by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically those that aim to eradicate hunger, reduce poverty, provide affordable and clean energy, protect life on land, and combat climate change.
Our Vision: An equitable world where all people have viable livelihoods supported by healthy and productive landscapes.
Our Mission: To harness the multiple benefits trees provide for agriculture, livelihoods, resilience and the future of our planet, from farmers’ fields through to continental scales.
ICMR scientists confirm canine distemper virus in 21 Gir lions
The canine distemper virus (CDV) has been found by scientists in the recent death of 21 Asiatic lions in Gujarat’s Gir forest. Scientists at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) National Institute of Virology in Pune have found active transmission of the canine distemper virus (CDV) in at least 21 lions of Gujarat’s Gir forest. ICMR- National Institute of Virology (NIV) also asked the government to shift healthy lions from Gujarat’s Gir forest after, fresh samples of the wild cats tested positive for CDV virus. Scientists collected samples of nasal, ocular and rectal swabs, from 27 lions from Gir forest, who were unwell using molecular methods i.e. RT-PCR and were under treatment or observation at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh, Gujarat.
Canine Distemper Disease: It is a contagious and serious disease caused by a canine distemper virus (CDV) that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. It has also been found in foxes, wolves, raccoons, red pandas, lions, tigers, leopards and other wild cats as well as seals.
Spread: CDV is transmitted through air as well as infected body secretions, shared food and water bowls and equipment and through the placenta of mother to its baby.
Treatment: There is no cure for canine distemper infection. Treatment typically consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections; control vomiting, diarrhea and neurologic symptoms; and combat dehydration through administration of fluids. Animals infected with canine distemper are separated from other animals to minimize the risk of further infection.
According to ICMR scientists, there are no papers about the mortality rate due to the CDV in lions. The prevalence of this virus and its diversity in wildlife of India is not studied and only a few reports are available regarding the detection of the CDV in captive wild carnivores which included tigers and red panda.
The National Institute of Virology, Pune is an Indian virology research institute, of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). NIV is also the National Monitoring Center for Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Rota, Measles and Hepatitis.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR): Apex body in India for formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. Conduct, coordinate and implement medical research for the benefit of the Society. Translating medical innovations in to products/processes and introducing them in to the public health system.
Jal Bachao, Video Banao, Puraskar Pao contest
The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation announced the winners for the Third and Fourth fortnight of the Jal Bachao, Video Banao, Puraskar Pao contest. Jal Bachao, Video Banao, Puraskar Pao contest was launched by the Ministry in collaboration with the MyGov portal of the Government of India with the objective of spreading awareness about water conservation.
IAF launches MedWatch mobile health app
Indian Air Force (IAF) has launched ‘MedWatch’ mobile health app to provide health information to users, including first-aid and other health and nutritional topics. It was launched on 8 October on the occasion of IAF’s 85th anniversary. It is first of its kind mobile health app built by any of the three armed forces.
MedWatch app: The app was conceived by doctors of IAF and developed in-house by Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) with Zero financial outlay. It will provide correct, scientific and authentic health information to air warriors and all citizens of India. It comprises host of features like information on basic First Aid, health topics and nutritional facts, reminders for timely medical review, vaccination and utility tools like Health Record Card, BMI calculator, helpline numbers and web links. The app is available on www.apps.mgov.gov.in.
IWAI launches Ro-Ro service from Neamati to Manjuli Island in Assam
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) in collaboration with Assam Government has launched new Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) facility connecting Neamati to Manjuli Island in Assam. The Ro-Ro facility will cut down circuitous road route of 423 km that trucks take from Neamati to Majuli Island via Tezpur Road Bridge. It will limit distance between these points to only 12.7 km with use of river route. For this, IWAI has procured new vessel MV Bhupen Hazarika and is also providing needed terminal infrastructure. The vessel is 46.5-metre-long, 13.3-metre-wide and has carrying capacity of eight trucks and 100 passengers. The commencement of Ro-Ro services to Majuli island would be a landmark event towards augmenting connectivity not only in Assam but the entire North Eastern Region.
Ro-Ro Ferry Service: It refers to vessels used to carry wheeled cargo like cars, semi-trailer trucks, trucks, trailers, and railroad cars that are driven on (rolled on) and off (rolled off) ferry on their own wheels or using platform vehicle.
Majuli is world’s largest riverine islands located on Brahmaputra River. It has 144 villages with a population of over 1,50,000. The habitants of the island are facing serious challenges of connectivity. They cross river using conventional ferry service at various locations for their day to day needs. In absence of adequate number of bridges, cargo and passenger movement takes through longer road routes leading to critical loss of time and money. Earlier, IWAI had started similar Ro-Ro service between Dhubri and Hatsingimari which had reduced travel distance by 190 kms. Permanent Ro-Ro terminal was constructed at Dhubri for the purpose. It also has constructed floating terminals at 11 locations along length of Brahmaputra waterway.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI): IWAI is nodal statutory body in charge of development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. It was established in October 1986 and is headquartered in Noida, UP. Its main function is to build necessary infrastructure in inland waterways, surveying economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation. It undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping.
Cabinet approves MoC between India and Finland on Environmental Cooperation
Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Finland on Environmental Cooperation. The MoC will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation between two countries in field of environment protection and management of natural resources on basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits. For this it will take into account applicable laws and legal provisions in each country. It is also expected to bring in latest technologies and best practices suited for bringing about better environment protection, better conservation and better management of climate change and wildlife protection and conservation.
Areas of cooperation under MoC
Conservation of Marine and Coastal Resources
Waste management and waste-to-energy technologies.
Integrated water management of Oceanic and Sea Islands.
Environmental and Forest monitoring and data management.
Air and water pollution prevention and purification, remediation of contaminated soils.
Promotion of circular economy, sustainable management of natural resources and low-carbon solutions.
Any other areas jointly decided upon.
‘Minimum river flows’ for the Ganga
In a first, the National Mission for Clean Ganga has mandated the minimum quantity of water — or ecological flow — that various stretches of the Ganga must necessarily have all through the year. The new norms would require hydropower projects located along the river to modify their operations so as to ensure they are in compliance. Power projects that don’t meet these norms as yet would be given three years to comply and “mini and micro projects” would be exempt from these requirements.
The upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain: 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.
For the main stem of the Ganga — from Haridwar in Uttarakhand to Unnao, Uttar Pradesh — the notification specifies minimum flow at various barrages: Bhimgoda (Haridwar) must ensure a minimum of 36 cubic metres per second (cumecs) between October-May, and 57 cumecs in the monsoon; and the barrages at Bijnor, Narora and Kanpur must maintain a minimum of 24 cumecs in the non-monsoon months of October-May, and 48 cumecs during the monsoon months of June-September.
Designated Authority: The Central Water Commission would be the designated authority to collect relevant data and submit flow monitoring-cum-compliance reports on a quarterly basis to the NMCG, according to the notification.
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.
National Environment Survey (NES)
India’s first ever National Environment Survey (NES) will be launched in January, 2019 to map environment data of 55 districts across 24 states and 3 Union Territories.
What it does? The NES will rank all districts on their environmental performance and document their best green practices based on various environmental parameters.
How? The first NES will be carried out by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) through Environmental Information System (ENVIS) and its hubs and resource partners across the country. It will be done through grid-based approach, using grids measuring 9×9 km to collect comprehensive data on various environmental parameters.
The parameters include air, water, soil quality; solid, hazardous and e-waste; emission inventory; forest & wildlife; flora & fauna; wetlands, lakes, rivers and other water bodies. It will also assess carbon sequestration potential of all the districts across the country.
The green data from this survey will provide important tool in hands of policy-makers for decision making at all levels – district, state and national. The survey will fully map and create emission inventory, provide valuation of ecosystem services and collate research in the field of environment. Initially the survey will be focusing on 55 districts and later will be scaled up to all districts in the country. The skilled manpower required for the survey will be provided from persons skilled and trained under MoEFCC’s Green Skill Development Programme.
Environment Information System (ENVIS) is a one stop, web enabled and comprehensive portal which provides information on environment and related subject areas to researchers, academicians, policy planners, environmentalists, scientists, engineers and the general public. It is a decentralized network of databases in operation since 1982-83 (Sixth Plan) and is run by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change. The network, as on October, 2016 consists of 70 Centres housed in reputed institutions, of which 30 Centres dealing with “State of the Environment and Related Issues”, are hosted by the Environment/ Forest Department of State Governments/ Union Territory (UT) Administrations. Remaining 40 Centres, hosted by environment-related governmental and non-governmental organisations/ institutes of professional excellence, have thematic mandates, for instance, Renewable Energy, Pollution Control, Hazardous Substance Management etc.
Delhi To Enforce Emergency Plan
With the Air Quality Index or AQI moving to the “poor” category, the Central Pollution Control Board has decided to implement an emergency action plan in the National Capital. An AQI in the range of 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. The Supreme Court has empowered the Environment Pollution Control Authority(EPCA) to take various measures to tackle pollution. Under the order, the EPCA has mandated enforcement of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the city.
Graded Action plan: An emergency protocol under the Graded Response Action Plan which involve a series of measures on basis of the Air Quality Index are set to be implemented. When the mark is between moderate and poor category, the burning of garbage will be stopped and pollution control regulations will be enforced. If the air quality drops to very poor category, additional measures will be taken including stopping of diesel gensets, enhancing parking fees and increasing frequency of metro and buses. For severe and very severe category air quality, additional measures would include frequent mechanised cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water, stopping entry of trucks, stopping construction activities and appointment of task force to take decisions like shutting of schools.
Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA):
EPCA was constituted with the objective of ‘protecting and improving’ the quality of the environment and ‘controlling environmental pollution’ in the National Capital Region. The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the region. EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Composition: Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Functions: To protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region. To enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.
The southeast flank of Mount Etna in Sicily is sliding towards the sea at a rate of several centimetres a year.
What’s causing this? It’s likely caused by gravity pulling on Etna’s lower underwater slopes, far from the summit.
Concerns: The kind of stress that this movement creates inside volcanoes can cause devastating landslides. This means Etna is more susceptible to catastrophic collapse than had previously been realised.
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most frequently erupting volcanoes. It is also the volcano with the longest record of continuous eruption. Located near the east coast of the island of Sicily in Italy, Mount Etna is 10,900 feet (3,329 meters) tall with a base circumference of about 93 miles (150 kilometers). The mountain’s largest feature is the Valle del Bove (Valley of the Ox), a large horseshoe-shaped caldera on the eastern slope. Etna sits on the active fault between the African plate and the Ionian microplate, which are both being subducted together beneath the Eurasian plate. In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.