International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
The International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer (or World Ozone Day) is observed every year on September 16 for the preservation of the Ozone Layer.
2018 Theme: ‘Keep Cool and Carry On: The Montreal Protocol’.
In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The ozone layer absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet light which is harmful to human life and other life forms. The layer absorbs about 97 to 99% of ultraviolet rays and maintain the ozone-oxygen cycle. Dobson unit is a unit which is used to measure the ozone in the atmosphere at a standard temperature and pressure.
Montreal protocol: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. The original Montreal Protocol was agreed on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.
The Montreal Protocol includes a unique adjustment provision that enables the Parties to the Protocol to respond quickly to new scientific information and agree to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol. These adjustments are then automatically applicable to all countries that ratified the Protocol. Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform). These compounds significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation.
CPCB report on river pollution
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has released a report on the extent of pollution in rivers in India. Based on the recommendations of the National Green Tribunal, the CPCB last month apprised the States of the extent of pollution in their rivers.
Increase in numbers: The number of polluted stretches of the country’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago, and the number of critically polluted stretches — where water quality indicators are the poorest — has gone up to 45 from 34.
Several of the river’s stretches — in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — are actually far less polluted than many rivers in Maharashtra, Assam and Gujarat. These three States account for 117 of the 351 polluted river stretches.
The most significant stretches of pollution highlighted by the CPCB assessment include the Mithi river — from Powai to Dharavi — with a BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) of 250 mg/l; the Godavari — from Someshwar to Rahed — with a BOD of 5.0-80 mg/l; the Sabarmati — Kheroj to Vautha — with a BOD of 4.0-147 mg/l; and the Hindon — Saharanpur to Ghaziabad — with a BOD of 48-120 mg/l. The CPCB, since the 1990s, has a programme to monitor the quality of rivers primarily by measuring BOD, which is a proxy for organic pollution — the higher it is, the worse the river. The health of a river and the efficacy of water treatment measures by the States and municipal bodies are classified depending on BOD, with a BOD greater than or equal to 30 mg/l termed ‘priority 1,’ while that between 3.1-6 mg/l is ‘priority 5.’ The CPCB considers a BOD less than 3 mg/l an indicator of a healthy river.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB): Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Functions: To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution. To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
Biochemical oxygen demand (Bod): Biochemical oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen required for microbial metabolism of organic compounds in water. BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C. BOD can be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants.
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)
MoEFCC has released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). ICAP has been prepared by the ministry after extensive deliberations and multi-stakeholders engagement in public domain for receiving comments. India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand. The overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.
The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are: Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38. Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38. Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38. Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
The broad objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan include: Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use. Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies. Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all. Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians. Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.
Go for green bonds
India must raise climate finance through Green Bonds. Global population and Economic growth has caused global warming, increase in Carbon Dioxide emissions. India must raise climate finance through Green Bonds to tackle issues arising of climate change. Green Bond is a debt instrument with which an entity raises money from investors and utilizes it to fund Green Projects (renewable energy, emission reductions and so on). It is recognized by United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Green bonds are issued by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, corporations, government agencies and municipalities. It was first issued by World Bank and European Investment bank in 2007. The first Green Bond issue in India, was by Yes Bank in 2015 followed by the CLP Wind Farms India for Rs.600 crores for its wind portfolio.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
The government along with United Nations body FAO has launched an agriculture project with $33.5 million grant from Global Environment Facility (GEF) that seeks to bring transformative change in the farm sector through conservation of biodiversity and forest landscapes. The project is being funded by the GEF and implemented by the government of India (agriculture and environment ministries) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Aim: The project aims to transform agricultural production to generate global environmental benefits by addressing biodiversity conservation, land degradation, climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management.
The project, to be implemented in five landscapes in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, strives to bring harmony between conservation and development efforts of the country.
GEF: The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. It is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues. GEF funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements. The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund. It is a FINANCIAL MECHANISM for five major international environmental conventions: the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The country’s biggest cyclotron facility that will produce radioisotopes vital for diagnosis and treatment of cancer has become operational. The machine – Cyclone-30 — is housed at the Kolkata-based Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and will start regular production by mid-next year after supporting nuclear systems are commissioned and regulatory clearances are obtained. This facility will provide for affordable radio isotopes and related radiopharmaceuticals for the entire country especially, for eastern India and also have export potential for Germanium-68 and Gallium-68 generator for in-situ production of Gallium-68 and Palladium-103 isotopes, used for breast cancer diagnosis and prostate cancer treatment, respectively.
Significance: With increasing number of Indians diagnosed with cancer every year, the cyclotron machine will produce radioisotopes for nuclear imaging specifically for cancer detection. At present, many radioisotopes are imported while some are produced in nuclear research reactors such as the Apsara at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and remaining in cyclotrons facilities run by large private hospitals. The addition of Cyclone-30 will increase the availability of radioisotopes and bring down the cost of treatment. Cyclotrons are used to produce radioisotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic use for cancer care. Radiations from these isotopes are used to destroy cancer cells.
It is the earliest animal on geological record — a strange oval creature with rib like segments running along its body that lived on Earth 558 million years ago. The fossils of this animal were recently discovered. Researchers found the fossil in a remote area near the White Sea in the northwest of Russia.
Dickinsonia grew up to 1.4 metres in length. It was part of the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth 20 million years prior to the ‘Cambrian explosion’ of modern animal life. The ‘Cambrian explosion’ was when complex animals and other macroscopic organisms — such as molluscs, worms, arthropods and sponges — began to dominate the fossil record.
Eco-sensitive area (ESA)
The centre will soon issue a fresh draft notification declaring Western Ghats as an eco-sensitive area (ESA) with all but one of the six affected states on board. Karnataka is set to reject the notification as “it will adversely affect the state’s economy.” Karnataka is not in favour of declaring the Western Ghats as an ESA. A draft notification regarding ecologically sensitive areas, issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), has been delayed for over a year due to on-going negotiations between the Centre and the states. The initial draft, in March 2014, which was to be finalised in 545 days or by September 2015, has been repeatedly pushed. The notice earmarked 60,000 square kilometres, or 37 per cent of the Ghats, as ecologically sensitive. However, it was protested by the states, especially Kerala, as ESAs restrict developmental activity. The Centre has since decided to accept recommendations from each state government. An ecologically sensitive area is one that is protected by the government given the sheer number of species, plants and animals endemic to the region. According to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the government can prohibit industrial operations such as mining, sand quarrying and building thermal power plants in sensitive areas. The definition offered by the MoEF: “An ecological sensitive area is a bio-climatic unit (as demarcated by entire landscapes) in the Western Ghats wherein human impacts have locally caused irreversible changes in the structure of biological communities (as evident in number/ composition of species and their relative abundances) and their natural habitats.” To categorise an area as ecologically sensitive, the government looks at topography, climate and rainfall, land use and land cover, roads and settlements, human population, biodiversity corridors and data of plants and animal species.
Tamil Nadu government has announced a novel scheme for the protection of the exotic Neela kurinji (Strobilanthus kunthianus) plants that flower only once in 12 years.
Neelakurinji: Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India. Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years. Some Kurinji flowers bloom once every seven years, and then die. Their seeds subsequently sprout and continue the cycle of life and death. The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.
World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) ‘Tx2’ programme
Nepal is set to become the first country in the world to double its tiger population as part of the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) ‘Tx2’ programme which aims to double the number of tigers all over the world. The government of Nepal recently announced that there are now an estimated 235 wild tigers in the nation, nearly double the number from around 121 in 2009. The success of Nepal in doubling tiger numbers has been largely attributed to the country’s political commitment and the adoption of innovative tools and approaches towards tiger conservation. Nepal was the first country to achieve global standards in managing tiger conservation areas, an accreditation scheme governed by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS).
‘Tx2’ programme: The World Wildlife Foundation had launched its ambitious TX2 programme at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. The programme aims to double the world tiger population by 2022, which is the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar.
WHAT IS WWF’S ROLE? WWF remains a major driving force behind Tx2. It aims at: Driving political momentum to ensure tigers remain a top priority for world leaders. Professionalising wildlife protection by training rangers, developing conservation standards (CA|TS) and technology (SMART) to achieve Zero Poaching. Tackling the illegal wildlife trade through our partnership with TRAFFIC. Focusing efforts in key tiger landscapes. Ensuring there is space for both tigers and people in the future. Wild tigers are found in a variety of habitats across Asia. There are currently 13 tiger range countries; Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The Bengal tiger is a Panthera tigris tigris population in the Indian subcontinent. It was treated as the nominate tiger subspecies prior to 2017. This tiger population was estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals by 2011. Since 2008, it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by poaching, loss and fragmentation of habitat.
Citizen science initiative helps save hornbills
A citizen science initiative named The Hornbill Watch has been documenting and providing valuable inputs for the conservation of Hornbills in India. India has nine hornbill species-Indian Grey Hornbill (endemic to India), the Malabar Grey Hornbill (endemic to the Western Ghats), Malabar Pied Hornbill (endemic to India and Sri Lanka) Great Hornbill, Narcondam Hornbill (endemic to Narcondam), Austen’s Brown Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, and White-throated Brown Hornbill
IUCN Status: Most hornbill species in India are listed as vulnerable or near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Example- Rufous-necked hornbill, the Austen’s brown hornbill and the great hornbill. Narcondam hornbill is listed as endangered.
Major threats to hornbills: hunting and loss of habitat.
Hornbill Watch: Hornbill Watch platform was set up by Nature Conservation Foundation and Conservation India in 2014 It is an interactive web interface that allows a person to report on hornbills anywhere in India
Significance of Hornbill Watch: The information on hornbill distribution in India is scarce and thus it gives a poor understanding of the change in hornbill distribution over time. Hornbill Watch serves as centralized database to determine hornbill distribution over time and thus help in identifying key areas for hornbill conservation across India
Global Media Compact to raise awareness of SDGs
UN has announced Global Media Compact to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. India’s ministry of information and broadcasting is part of it.
SDG Media Compact: SDG Media Compact is an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015. The Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals. The Compact is an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with the UN Foundation and with the support of FleishmanHillard.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health, to gender equality, and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)
In the series of meetings of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Group (IWG) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), the 3rd meeting is being held at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Vishakhapatnam. IONS, the 21st century’s first significant international maritime security initiative launched in February 2008, provides a forum for discussion of regional maritime issues and promotes friendly relationships among member nations. It presently has 24 members and eight observer navies. It is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead. Under the charter of business adopted in 2014, the grouping has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security.
WAYU- Air Pollution Mitigation Device
Air pollution control device WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit) for traffic junctions was recently inaugurated in Delhi.
WAYU is developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) as a part of Technology Development Project funded by Department of Science and Technology. The device has the capacity to purify air in an area of 500 meter square. The device consumes only half a unit of electricity for 10 hours of running and has a maintenance cost of only Rs. 1500 per month. The device works on two principles mainly Wind generation for dilution of air pollutants and Active Pollutants removal. The device has filters for Particulate Matter removal and activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for poisonous gases removal such as VOCs and Carbon Monoxide. The device has one fan and filter for sucking and removing Particulate Matter. There are two UV lamps and half kg of activated carbon charcoal coated with special chemical Titanium Dioxide.