[op-ed snap] The wrong approach to environmental regulation

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not much

Mains level: The recent decision decision of the SC on Diwali crackers is a hot topic of discussion these days. It is important to go through the issues related to this judgement.



  1. The article talks about the recent SC order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), which has expectedly turned into a controversy

There are two distinct issues that need to be separately analysed:
a) the scope of the state’s regulatory power vis-à-vis a religious celebration

  1. On this account, the matter is relatively clear
  2. The bursting of firecrackers releases a heavy dose of carcinogens in the atmosphere, presenting a public health challenge for the entire city
  3. As soon as it is clear that bursting of firecrackers by one person presents a health challenge to another, any argument of religion cannot reign supreme in a constitutional, secular republic

b) the agency of the state that such regulation should vest with

  1. The more difficult question is the choice between regulation
  2. The decision requires numerous inputs from scientific organizations, regulatory institutions, public policy experts and civil society
  3. Since a court of law does not have in-house expertise in these domains, it should leave such matters to the executive
  4. The Supreme Court delivered its arguments in the broader framework of the “right to breathe clean air” and the “right to health”
  5. But it went about dismissing the commercial considerations of the firecracker industry.
  6. These considerations could have equally been framed in terms of the right to livelihoods of thousands who depend heavily on the sale of firecrackers during Diwali

Possible harm to the credibility of the SC

  1. Bans are rarely effective
  2. It is difficult to imagine that no firecracker sale will happen in the entire territory of Delhi and NCR as a result of the SC order
  3. If the police fail to enforce the order, the credibility of the SC, particularly in cases of environmental regulation, will suffer immensely

Dealing of this matter by the SC

  1. The manner in which the SC has dealt with this particular case also raises a number of concerns
  2. It first passed an order on 11 November 2016 (after Diwali) banning the sale of firecrackers
  3. Then it partially lifted the ban on 12 September 2017
  4. To make matters worse, the court has ordered suspension of all the temporary licences issued after its 12 September 2017 verdict which allowed the grant of these licences

These kind of issues are not new

  1. In an earlier instance, the SC had increased the entry tax on trucks entering Delhi without factoring in the demand elasticity of goods (carried in those trucks) transported to Delhi

The way forward

  1. The elected government is in the best position to elicit scientific and economic inputs and take a call, even if it involves expending political capital
  2. The governments at the Centre and the states should involve different agencies like the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation and the pollution control boards and invest in setting regulatory standards
  3. This can solve environment issues, better than Judiciary

[op-ed snap] At Bonn, stay the course


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the COP, NDCs, etc.

Mains level: The UPSC is known to ask questions on COP and UNFCCC. Also, these issues are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.



  1. The article talks about the upcoming COP-23 meeting, issues to be discussed and challenges in attaining the targets.

23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  1. Between November 6 and 17 this year, world leaders and delegates from various countries will gather at Bonn for attending this
  2. The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA)
  3. PA was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016

Issues to be discussed

  1. Adaptation to climate change
  2. Reduction in greenhouse gases
  3. Implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, eferred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  4. In addition, the Bonn meetings will include the 47th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47) which assists on science and technology

New warming target

  1. At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C
  2. But since previous discussions had centred on the Lakshman rekha of 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target
  3. Half a degree reduction may seem really small, but in terms of the impacts on ecosystems, geophysical cycles and diverse life forms on earth, this is a substantial difference

Is achieving the target of 1.5°C really possible?

  1. Many scientists who research climate change, believe that we are on our way to a world that is 4°C warmer and that limiting warming to less than 1.5°C is an impossible dream
  2. But a recent paper in Nature Geoscience scientists analyses scenarios to demonstrate that limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility
  3. But this would imply continuing to strengthen pledges for 2030, deepening the mitigation targets rapidly and deeply

Article 14 of the Agreement

  1. It provides the details on the targets, taking stock and reviewing them and the progress made towards long-term goals
  2. The first such stock-taking covering all aspects such as mitigation, adaptation communications, and support for implementation is expected to take place in 2023

Issues that can halt the progress

  1. This is the first COP after the US pulled out of the PA and the implications of this at a global platform are likely to become more evident
  2. According to earlier reports from the UN and other groups, the NDCs, when added up, fall short of what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C and will likely take us about a degree higher
  3. Further, most NDCs are conditional — they depend on financial and technological support from rich countries for their full implementation

The way forward

  1. Political conditions prevalent today are not favourable to renegotiate the Paris Agreement
  2. Our only hope is to see a greater readiness on the part of all nations to compromise on their erstwhile hard positions, and sincerity to make progress in reducing emissions


Nationally Determined Contributions

  1. Countries across the globe adopted an historic international climate agreement at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015
  2. In anticipation of this moment, countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
  3. The climate actions communicated in these INDCs largely determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement: to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C, and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century

Odisha hikes compensation for deaths caused by wild animals


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Important step taken by the state government. Odisha has many critical Biodiversity areas. The man-animal conflicts is one of the reasons behind decreasing population of critical wild animals. The step will help to counter this issue.


Increase in compensation by Odisha Government

  1. The State government has decided to increase the ex-gratia compensation for human deaths caused by wild animals to Rs. 4 lakh from the existing Rs. 3 lakh
  2. ‘Ex gratia’ means ‘done from a sense of moral obligation rather than because of any legal requirement’
  3. Why: Because the man-animal conflict is on rise in Odisha

The reasons behind Man-Animal conflicts

  1. According to the State Forest and Environment Department, increasing biotic and anthropogenic pressure on forests are affecting the biodiversity and the habitat as a whole
  2. As a result animals stray out of the forest towards human habitation in search of food, water or use these areas as routes to access other wilderness area to meet their ends

India’s greenhouse gas emissions up by 4.7% in 2016


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Green House Gases, Non-green house gases.

Mains level: The article comprehensively shows the recent data on green house gas emissions, not only for India but also for the rest of the world.


Report by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

  1. According to the report, trends in global CO2 and total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions show that India’s emissions have gone up by 4.7% in 2016
  2. For most major GHG emitters in the world, the emission figures have gone down, barring India and Indonesia
  3. The report’s data is based on the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) produced by the European Union

What about other GHG emitters?

  1. The report shows that emissions in the U.S. saw a fall of 2%, the Russian Federation 2.1%, Brazil 6.1%, China 0.3%, and, the United Kingdom 6.4%

Non-CO2 emissions

  1. In 2016, the five largest emitting countries and the European Union accounted for 68% of total global CO2 emissions and about 63% of total global GHG emissions
  2. Most of the emissions consist of CO2, about 72%
  3. But methane , nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases also make up substantial shares of 19%, 6% and 3%, respectively
  4. The combined share of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions is about 28% in total GHG emissions, but it varies for the largest countries:
    (a) 11% for Japan
    (b) 31% for India
    (c) 20% for China
    (d) 23% for the US
    (e) 25% for Russia

Ganga Mission plans turtle sanctuary in Allahabad

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Remember the endangered species mentioned in the article

Mains level: Important step taken by the government to protect endangered species. One of its kind project in the recent times.


Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad

  1. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) will establish a turtle sanctuary in Allahabad
  2. The step can be seen as part of efforts to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from “escalating anthropogenic pressures”
  3. The government had also planned such a sanctuary in Varanasi in 1989 under the Ganga Action Plan-I
  4. However, its future hangs in the balance as the Uttar Pradesh government and the Union Environment Ministry are considering de-notifying it over construction activities along the bank

Particulars of the project

  1. The project at an estimated cost Rs. 1.34 crore would contribute to the sustenance of more than 2,000 aquatic species, including threatened gharials, dolphins and turtles in the Ganga

Why is Allahabad important for aquatic biodiversity conservation?

  1. The Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles
  2. And the National Aquatic Animal — Gangetic dolphin, the Gharial and numerous migratory and resident birds

Central control out, subjective aspects in: why new wetlands Rules are different


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Wetlands, Ramsar Convention, etc.

Mains level: Wetland are very crucial for coastal areas, the SC’s comment on their conservation has made them more important for the mains paper.


SC’s comment on wetland conservation

  1. The Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the disappearance of the country’s wetlands
  2. It said, “If there are no wetlands left, it will affect agriculture and several other things. It is a very, very important issue”

SC’s observation on funds allocated for wetland conservation

  1. The court has observed that even after Rs 900 crore was spent on works related to wetlands, the activities shown were extremely general in nature
  2. SC has asked the Centre to provide a status report on funds disbursed to states, and the manner of their utilisation

Government’s response on the issue

  1. The government has informed the court that the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, had been notified to replace the earlier set of guidelines that came into effect in 2010

New rules on wetlands conservation

  1. The 2010 Rules specifically included in the definition of wetlands “all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries and man-made wetland and the zone of direct influence on wetlands”
  2. These have not been spelt out in the 2017 Rules

Difference between the old and new Rules

  1. The differences between the old and new Rules are also apparent in their applicability
  2. The 2010 Rules listed six points describing protected wetlands; the new Rules have done away with them
  3. And instead state that wetlands are limited to and do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones
  4. They apply to
    (a) wetlands categorised as “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention and
    (b) wetlands as notified by the central government, state government and UT administration
  5. Restriction on activities in wetlands now no longer includes reclamation
  6. The Rules provide no timelines for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands
  7. The restrictions on “any other activity likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the wetland”, are not specified in the Rules

HC asks Delhi, neighbouring states to implement ban on burning of crop residue


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Not Much

Mains level: It is a serious issue causing pollution. These kind of issues are specially mention in the Mains syllabus.


Direction from Delhi High Court

  1. Court has directed the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the NCR of Delhi
  2. Why: to implement notifications and directions issued under the Air Pollution Act to ban burning of crop residues
  3. The Court recognised the need for companies and industries to comply with their corporate social responsibility towards curbing air pollution
  4. The Court directed that orders must be issued to these entities to collect crop residue from fields of farmers by providing them money as consideration for lifting the agricultural residue

It is Suo Motu Action by the HC

  1. In response to alarming air pollution levels in the NCR, the Delhi HC had taken up the matter suo motu (on its own motion) in August this year

Pollution watchdog issues guidelines to manage odour at urban solid waste landfills

Image result for solid waste management

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

How effective was demonetisation as a policy, in achieving its stated goals? Critically examine.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Demonetisation implications



  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issues detailed guidelines for proper monitoring and management of odour at urban municipal solid waste landfills

Solid waste management

  1.  As per official estimates, at present around 62 million tonnes of solid waste is generated every year and it is expected to reach 165 million tonnes in 2030.
  2. Of the 62 million, only 43 million tonnes is collected and only 12 millions tonnes is treated
  3. The Solid waste Management Rules 2016, identified odour as a public nuisance.
  4. Odour regulation” is still in nascent stage in India. Odorous compounds may have a direct effect on human health. It generally leads to vomiting, headaches, nausea etc


  1. It suggested a green belt around landfill sites and advocated for selection of “appropriate plant species for vegetation cover” to assist in reducing odours.
  2. MSW Landfill system be designed for tapping LFG (landfill gases) efficiently to mitigate fugitive odorous emissions
  3. The guidelines also batted for initiating legislative norms for creating baseline data on odour
  4. Need for gradual shift for installation of Continuous Odour Measurement Systems (sensor based)  for getting real-time data.
  5. It also outlined challenges to odour monitoring like lack of source-based database on odour levels, low awareness on odour (public nuisance) and lack of legislative obligations
  6. It stated that the selection and number of landfill sites for a city should be based on factors like requirement of land for the disposal site by considering the present population and projected growth over the next 20 years at least.
  7. Other factors include whether the selected site is free from the influence of other odorous sources and the topography of the site (slope, proximity to water sources like river and natural springs).
  8. Selection of landfill site should be integrated with the urban development planning so that even expansions of city in next two or three decades are not encompassing the selected MSW site
  9.  Guidelines have been prepared keeping in view the various mandatory and statutory provisions and the climatic conditions that accelerate biodegradation of organic wastes

Terms of co-existence

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Parks with with large Elephant population

Mains level: ‘Conservation’ is specially mentioned in the Main Syllabus


New regional plan to curb human-elephant conflict

  1. The regional plan was recently inaugurated by the wildlife wardens of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal
  2. It requires their departments to come together, for the first time, to resolve a problem
  3. These five states have about 10 per cent of the country’s elephant population but account for over 50 per cent of deaths due to human-elephant conflict

Reason behind this conflict

  1. Elephants, like tigers, are among the flagship species of conservation
  2. But unlike tigers, the bulk of whose territories falls within protected areas, only about 20 per cent of the elephant’s range lies in national parks and sanctuaries
  3. With forests thinning out, elephants in most parts of the country have dispersed into areas with high density of human population
  4. This migration has meant that humans and elephants compete for the same resources

New Plan

  1. The new plan divides elephant habitats into three zones:
    (1) Areas with forest cover sufficient enough to conserve elephants
    (2) habitats where humans and animals will co-exist
    (3) elephant removal zones” in agricultural areas
  2.  In the agricultural areas, the plan envisages capturing the animals and removing them to other forest areas
  3. And if that fails, keeping some of the animals in captivity

[op-ed] Investing in the ecosystem

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Important article that talks about natural capital assessment.



  1. The article talks about the natural capital and how it can maximize the benefits of economic growth and development

What is natural capital?

  1. Natural capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things
  2. It is from this natural capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible

Value of the Indian Natural Capital

  1. With 11% of the world’s floral and faunal species, India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries
  2. India is blessed with every major ecosystem, these biomes directly contribute billions of dollars to the Indian economy, annually
  3. The financial value of India’s forests, for example, which encompass economic services such as timber and fuel wood, and ecological services such as carbon sequestration, is estimated to be $1.7 trillion

Crossing of boundaries

  1. Scientists have identified nine earth system processes to have boundaries
  2. These boundaries mark the safe zones, beyond which there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’
  3. Four of these boundaries have now been crossed
    (1) climate change
    (2) loss of biosphere integrity
    (3) land system change
    (4) biogeochemical cycles, such as phosphorus and nitrogen cycles
  4. This means that human activity has already altered the balance of a few delicate equilibriums
  5. The effects of these alterations are reflected by changing weather patterns, accelerated extinction events for both flora and fauna, and global warming
  6. This stresses the need for a comprehensive evaluation system that takes these undesirable side-effects of economic activities into account

What can be done to reduce Natural Capital Risk?

  1. Natural capital risk is one of many risks that an organisation faces, and a thorough natural capital assessment can help integrate this risk into risk management committee
  2. Natural capital thinking can also create opportunities to innovate and adopt newer, more efficient technologies

The way forward

  1. Unlike the economic value of goods and services, the intangible nature of natural assets is mostly invisible and hence remains unaccounted for
  2. While it may be difficult to put a price tag on nature, unchecked exploitation of scarce natural resources and an inadequate response to India’s unique climate challenges can be a very costly mistake
  3. Integrating natural capital assessment and valuation into our economic system is critical to usher in a truly sustainable future for India

Water conservation scheme a big success


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the JSA

Mains Level: A good and effective solution to water problem. The solution can be used all over India for solving water problems and to counter effects of climate change on water bodies.


Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (JSA) 

  1. It is a programme of Rajasthan Government
  2. It has turned out to be a success in Pratapgarh district
  3. In the district
    (1) the groundwater table has increased
    (2) green agricultural fields have expanded and
    (3) no tankers with drinking water had to be sent to as many as 94 villages this year

NGT hails efforts

  1. The National Green Tribunal lauded the efforts made under the programme
  2. The NGT’s Bhopal declaration has described the JSA as a massive climate change adaptation programme
  3. The JSA is praised as an initiative which would make every village of the State self-reliant in water by using scientific tools for rejuvenating traditional water bodies


5 chemicals banned in firecrackers

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Effects of using prohibited chemicals

Mains Level: This SC order is more important because it is related to environment degradation, a hot topic these days.


Prohibition of toxic chemicals

  1. The Supreme Court has prohibited the use of five chemicals, in the manufacture of firecrackers
  2. These chemicals are labelled as toxic by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
  3. Prohibited Chemicals: antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead

Indonesia to resume work on ‘Giant Sea Wall’ to save sinking Jakarta

  1. What’s the issue? Greater Jakarta, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, sits on a swampy plain and is sinking at a faster rate than any other city in the world
  2. The solution: Jakarta has focused its attention on bolstering its defences with a 15-mile ‘Giant Sea Wall’ and refurbishing the crumbling flood canal system
  3. However, the reclamation work was suspended due to regulatory and environmental concerns
  4. Now, Govt has decided to allow work to continue on a key phase of the wall, which aims to shore up northern Jakarta while revamping the capital’s image into a Singapore-like waterfront city

Indian representation at IUCN Congress

  1. Three Indian conservationists will be felicitated for their work on nature conservation
  2. Kolkata-based ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh will be awarded the prestigious Luc Hoffmann Award
  3. He is being recognized for his pioneering work on the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW), which have been designated a Ramsar Site (Wetland of International Importance)
  4. Bibhuti Lahkar from Assam is one of the three persons to be receive the IUCN Heritage Heroes Award
  5. Lahkar, a grassland specialist working in Manas National Park, is the only Asian to get nominated
  6. The International Brandwein Medal will be awarded to Kartikeya V. Sarabhai, for his lifetime work in creating an exemplary education movement focused on nature, the environment, and sustainability across India
  7. Sarabhai is the founder director of Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad

10-day IUCN World Conservation Congress begins

  1. News: The opening ceremony of the 25th World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) took place at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Hawaii
  2. Theme: Planet at the crossroads
  3. Hawaii is the endangered species capital of the world. Islands are the frontlines of biodiversity loss and most vulnerable to climate change

Six rivers flowing above danger mark in Bihar

  1. News: The Falgu river inundated a vast area in Nalanda district
  2. While the Ganga and Five other rivers are flowing above the danger mark in Bihar
  3. At least 10,000 people in nine panchayats in Nalanda district were affected by the swollen Falgu river

49 rhinos died in Assam since May

  1. News: 49 rhinos have died since May in Assam and the horns of only 19 were recovered by the Forest Department
  2. Poachers: Killed five rhinos in Kaziranga National Park and one in Orang National Park in little over two months
  3. Natural: 22 rhinos were killed in natural calamity (flood) and 21 had natural deaths across Kaziranga, Manas and Pobitora forest areas

Centre lets microbeads off the hook

  1. News: Key arms of the Indian government have side-stepped the microbeads issue either passing the responsibility or saying that no studies have been conducted to ascertain the harm posed
  2. Microbeads: Small pellets of plastic, extensively used in personal care products such as shampoo, baby lotion and face cream and considered toxic to marine life, are being banned internationally
  3. Context: A petition filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) requesting a ban on microbeads was referred to Ministries of Health, Environment and Water Resources
  4. Petition argued that microbeads are too small to be caught by sewage treatment and water filtration techniques and they pass unchecked into rivers and seas and contaminated them
  5. They take centuries to degrade and worse, are sometimes eaten by fish and other aquatic animals and could even make their way into human diets

De-register 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi, says NGT

  1. News: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered Road Transport Offices (RTO) to de-register all diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old
  2. The NGT also directed RTO to share data of the vehicles that will be de-registered
  3. In April 2015, the NGT had ordered a ban on diesel vehicles over 10 years old
  4. The order was challenged, but the NGT dismissed the appeal

Government supports big diesel cars

  1. News: The Centre backed the plea of makers of big cars for lifting the ban on fresh registrations of large cars in the National Capital Region
  2. Background: The Supreme Court had banned fresh registration of diesel luxury cars and SUVs with over 2000 CC engine capacity
  3. Centre: Big diesel cars and SUVs have better emission norms than smaller cars
  4. The Centre also warned that if the ban is continued, global car makers would opt to leave India for greener pastures, increasing unemployment and reducing FDI
  5. Alternative: The Centre suggested that instead of the ban, car makers should be allowed to deposit with the government 1% of the price of every 2000 CC diesel vehicle bought

Volkswagen US settlement

  1. News: German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) has reached a US$ 15 billion settlement with US car owners after admitting it cheated emission tests
  2. The deal would offer to repair or buy back the affected diesel vehicles and pay owners compensation
  3. The deal would be the largest car scandal settlement in the history of US
  4. Background: In 2015, US regulators discovered that VW cars were fitted with software that could distort emissions tests
  5. VW had subsequently said that 11 million cars were affected worldwide

Significance of Russian poplars

  1. Central to rural economy in Kashmir
  2. Source of livelihood for many because fruit boxes are made of it
  3. Given its height, poplars stand distinctly in Kashmir landscape and are present in most highways, forming a canopy and forms a tourist attraction
  4. The Russian variety grows faster than the local variety

Campaign to protect poplar trees in Kashmir

  1. News: A mass awareness campaign has started in Kashmir to protect the poplar trees from being cut down
  2. Background: In 2014, the J&K High Court first banned the sale, purchase and plantation of female Russian poplars, post which lakhs of trees were cut down
  3. Allergy: The ban was due to a public outcry and medical warnings that their cotton shedding laden with pollen, during late spring was the main cause of allergies
  4. Campaigners: Poplar-induced allergy stands at number six as a cause of allergy, with dust being the leading source
  5. Also, the size of its cotton is big enough to enter human body
  6. Alternative: Pruning poplar trees during autumn could cut down cotton circulation by 80% in spring

Work on eco-tourism project by September

  1. Context: Wagamon-Thekkady-Idukki-Gavi Eco-tourism Circuit project
  2. Aim: To give a boost to the tourism sector in the Area
  3. A walkway will be built in the pine valley forest
  4. Development: Eco Friendly infrastructure and facilities

HC stays curbs on new diesel vehicles

  1. Context: HC of Kerala stayed, partially, a directive of NGT for two months
  2. HC allowed registration of new vehicles of 2000 cc engine but continued the decision of NGT not to permit diesel vehicles older than 10 years
  3. Earlier: NGT had given order to follow the above decisions
  4. HC: There was absolutely no data available before the tribunal to pass such an order
  5. NGT didn’t pass an order on the basis of a detailed study of the quality and standard of pollution in the State

China to adopt world’s strictest vehicle emission standards

  1. Context: Chinese capital Beijing will implement the world’s strictest vehicle emission standards by next year, called Beijing VI
  2. Target: To reduce hazardous hydrocarbon emissions by 5%
    By 2022, overall vehicle emissions pollution in Beijing will be reduced by 20 to 30%
  3. Background: Gasoline standards in Beijing are always one or two stages ahead of other Chinese cities
  4. Beijing took the lead in China in using unleaded gasoline 2007 and worked out Beijing II gasoline standard in 2014
  5. Later in 2005, 2008 and 2012, Beijing issued and implemented Beijing III, Beijing IV and Beijing V gasoline standards

Nature lovers launch localised birding app

  1. A group of nature enthusiasts launched an application to provide info on birds
  2. Aim: To create awareness among people about ecological conservation
  3. It will provide information about 250 birds found in the city suburb of Vasai
  4. The application also gives a status of the bird as per the IUCN list

Two Kerala trees facing extinction- II

  1. Gluta travancorica (nick name- chengkurinji) found only at particular elevation of western ghats in Kollam district
  2. It is a protected species & grows only in the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollam
  3. Sizygium travancoricum is a mangrove found mostly in the southern parts of Kerala
  4. It is felled for medical purpose
  5. Reason for extinction: Uprooting of plants for different application, no re-plantation, no visible programme to propagate and survival of trees

Two Kerala trees facing extinction

  1. Context: The report on plant species named as State of the World’s Plants, noted that two Kerala trees are facing extinction
  2. The two trees are Gluta travancorica and Sizygium travancoricum- they are with the ‘Travancore tag
  3. The report is given by Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), the IUCN, and the Natural History Museum
  4. The report will be presented in the UN Biodiversity Summit at Nagoya, Japan, in October

Disclosure in public interest

  1. CIC finds the issue of disclosure of report of Shailesh Nayak Committee is very vital and of greater public interest
  2. If the report discussed the errors and inconsistencies of the CRZ notification, they should be made known to the public in general and appellants in particular
  3. Why? So that there can be a fair chance of analysing scientific, administrative or legal basis of these amendments, that might have been identified by the Committee

Conservation suffers as roadkills in Chinnar sanctuary shoot up

  1. Context: A study conducted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI)
  2. Finding: 85 roadkills in the past six months within the Chinnar sanctuary limits
  3. This is one of the highest number of roadkills during the period compared to sanctuaries in other States
  4. Reason: Lack of strict measures to enforce speed limits on vehicles on the Chinnar-Udumalpet road

‘Plant kingdom faces increasing threats’

  1. Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens warned on threats faced by plants through its report
  2. State of the World’s Plant: First global report on plant drawn up by botanists at the Kew Gardens research centre
  3. Kew Gardens research centre: Has one of the world’s largest collections of plants in its greenhouse and sprawling gardens
  4. Report: The threats to the plant kingdom come from farming, house construction, diseases and pesticides are also responsible
  5. Climate change is playing a marginal role only

China to name and shame polluters of Mt Everest

  1. China will introduce black list system for the tourist who pollute historic places and Mt Everest
  2. Aim: To preserve the beauty of scenic places and also to protect ecology of Mt Everest

SC amends order, diesel cabs to be phased out gradually

  1. Supreme Court made it clear that its final objective is a gradual phase out of diesel taxis
  2. SC changed its blanket ban to allow diesel-run All India Travel Permit taxis to operate till the expiry of their existing permits
  3. Background: The SC ban on diesel taxis in Delhi from May 1 had led to widespread protests
  4. State and the Centre urgently approached SC for modification of its order
  5. Reason: There are around 64,000 diesel cabs with All India Travel Permits (AITP)
  6. Ban on them would have severely affected the growing BPO businesses located mostly in NCR

Himalayan varieties help scientists develop blight-resistant pomegranate

  1. Context: Scientists have developed a new variety of pomegranate
  2. Developed with the use of wild Himalayan pomegranate
  3. It has the ability to resist disease of bacterial blight
  4. Benefits: To contribute to the environment-friendly cultivation
  5. Reduce use of pesticides
  6. Bacterial blight: Major destroyer of this fruit crop specially in South India
  7. 60% of the fruit crop is being lost every year in the country
  8. It also accounts for high use of hazardous pesticides

Illicit timber trade thrives in Uttarakhand forests

  1. Context: Uttarakhand forest facing threat from illicit traders
  2. The state has 65% of forest area
  3. Issue: No inventory made by the State
  4. This encouraged a flourishing and organized trade in illicit timber
  5. Illicit traders kill the roots by making deep marks using a sharp instrument
  6. Uses acid to make tree die and to extract Resins
  7. Reason: Pine trees have high commercial value in market

Relief for wetlands

  1. Context: NGT has stopped the construction near Bellandur-Agara wetlands
  2. Reason: On the basis of environmental clearances
  3. Rules: No construction is allowed in a buffer zone of 75 metres around the lake and 50 metres from the edge

Tourism a hindrance to marine ecology: study

  1. Context: Mangroves for the Future (MFF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India’s gap analysis study
  2. Aim: To assess the impact of marine tourism activities on the Grande island (Goa) archipelago
  3. Also, identify and assess the key threats from unsustainable marine tourism activities
  4. Finding: Various marine activities off the Goan coast are threatening the rich bio-diversity and marine life in the State
  5. Reason: Failure of State’s multiple agencies dealing with eco-system conservation, tourism and fisheries to have a coordinated initiative to regulate such activities
  6. Redressal: local community engagement and support, science-based management and monitoring were essential components of successful marine conservation initiatives

Centre steps in with special aid

  1. Context: Central govt has approved a special assistance of Rs 35,000 crore to help Maharashtra
  2. Why? To tide over the mess in its irrigation sector
  3. Criticisms: Successive governments have performed poorly in irrigation sector amidst allegations of misuse of funds and authority
  4. Plan: Funds will be diverted over three years towards completion of 199 ongoing projects in the drought-affected areas of Marathwada and Vidarbha
  5. Aim: To double the state’s irrigated area to 126 lakh hectares from the existing 48 lakh ha

A people’s movement in Uttar Pradesh to revive a river

  1. Context: An effort to give new life to dead river Katha is underway in UP
  2. The river had dried in 1830
  3. Effort to turn barren riverbed into a lake
  4. Plan to tap nearby water sources to feed it
  5. Also, to put up check dams to harvest monsoon water along the river bed
  6. One House One Pot: Water movement launched by villagers

NGT halts Tawang hydro power project

  1. Context: NGT has suspended the clearance for Tawang hydro power project, Arunachal Pradesh, granted in 2012
  2. Why? The clearance didn’t consider the impact of the hydro project on the habitat of the black-necked crane
  3. Other species found in the region- the red panda, the snow leopard and the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala)
  4. Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) is a recently-described primate species in the area

Tweaked Bill sees greater role for States in forest fund management

  1. Context: The Union Cabinet has amended a Bill on environmental laws
  2. Aim: To ensure a greater role for States in deciding how they will use funds to replenish forests affected by development projects
  3. The Bill is part of modifications proposed to expedite the creation of a central body, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)
  4. Advantages: Utilisation of these amounts will result in mitigating the impact of diversion of forest land, creation of productive assets
  5. It will also generate huge employment opportunities in rural areas, especially in backward tribal areas

2016 already shows record temperatures

  1. Context: Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  2. What? 2016 is off to a record-breaking start for global temperatures
  3. It has been the hottest year to date, with January, February and March each passing marks set in 2015
  4. March was also the 11th consecutive month to set a record high for temperatures, which agencies started tracking in the 1800s
  5. Urgency: NOAA is the third independent agency, along with NASA and the Japan Meteorological Association, to reach similar findings

About El Hierro island

  1. It is a remote Spanish island nestled deep in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa
  2. It has rugged coastline of great black volcanic cliffs, badland moonscapes and ancient forests, the island
  3. It is a UNESCO biosphere reserve

Spanish island vying for 100% clean energy


  1. Context: El Hierro, a tiny rugged Canary island, has gone all out to produce all its electricity from renewables
  2. On February 15, for first time, its hydro-wind plant produced enough electricity for the 7,000 inhabitants for more than 24 hours
  3. Limitations: It still needs to be convinced that it can rely 100% on renewable energy for long periods of time
  4. The two water reservoirs are not big enough to produce clean electricity all year round

Coral bleaching hits 93% of Great Barrier Reef

  1. Context: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering with 93 per cent of the reef affected by bleaching
  2. It is the worst coral bleaching in its recorded history
  3. Bleaching has also spread south to Sydney Harbour for the first time and across to the west
  4. Reason: Whitening triggered by warmer water temperatures

Drought hits production of sugar

  1. Context: Data by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA)
  2. Data: The country produced 24.34 million tonnes of sugar in the current crushing season against 26.47 million tonnes last season
  3. Reduction: This implies that sugar production in the country has decreased by 8%
  4. Reason: Over two-thirds of the sugar mills in Maharashtra and Karnataka have closed down due to drought

Learn about Sacred Groves

  1. Sacred means something considered to be holy and Grove means a small area of land with trees of particular types grown on it
  2. Concept: Sacred Groves is an area with particular types of trees dedicated to local deities that are protected by local communities through social traditions and taboos
  3. Significance: They are rich repositories of valuable medicinal plants including rare, endangered, and threatened species
  4. They are valuable gene pools of immense ecological significance

The circle of economy, the cycle of drought

  1. Context: Daily struggles of lakhs facing the most immediate consequences of an extended drought and acute water scarcity in Latur district
  2. Effects: Poor farm yield, low income and diminishing spending power of the farmers
  3. The weddings lack the pomp, while festivities are curtailed both in urban and rural areas
  4. Geographically, too, the impact of the current crisis varies across regions
  5. The shifting rainfall pattern is the biggest cause of crop failure, which has hit both kharif and rabi sowing this year

Rapid urbanisation, exploitation big threats

  1. Damage: Over the years, several sacred groves in Kerala have disappeared
  2. Reasons: Urbanisation, encroachments, and reckless exploitation of biological resources
  3. The breakdown of the joint family system and fragmentation of landholdings have also led to the destruction
  4. Cattle grazing, poaching of birds and animals, and the shift to cash crops are the other threats
  5. Encroachments have resulted in the shrinkage of some of the largest ‘kavus’ in Ernakulam and Kannur districts.

Kerala on a mission to conserve sacred groves


  1. Context: State Medicinal Plants Board (SMPB) is embarking on a project for conservation of sacred groves in Kerala
  2. Aim: To arrest the depletion of the rich gene pool and protect the hotspots of local biodiversity
  3. Funds: 1.34 crore project by by the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB)
  4. Involves conservation and resource augmentation of sacred groves with medicinal plants in over 100 hectares
  5. Activities: Bio-fencing, inventorisation of plant wealth and cleaning up of water bodies.

Ultra-thin graphene sensor to detect air pollution in homes

  1. Context: Scientists have developed a graphene-based sensor and switch that can detect air pollution inside homes
  2. The sensor detects individual CO2 molecules and volatile organic compound gas molecules found in buildings, furniture and even household goods
  3. These gases are measured in parts per billion and are extremely difficult to detect with current environmental sensor technology, which can only detect in parts per million (ppm)
  4. Sick building syndrome: An increase in health problems due to air pollution in personal living spaces, in recent years
  5. There are also other conditions such as sick car and sick school syndromes

Rising heat linked to more reef bleaching

  1. What? Some corals in the Great Barrier Reef are known to be resilient when subjected to rises in temperature but a study warned that this protective mechanism could soon disappear
  2. If sea surface temperatures (SST) rise by as little as 0.5 degrees C over present, present coral bleaching could spread dramatically
  3. Reason: Innate response to the stress of warming waters that corals have shown in the past
  4. How? When corals are exposed to a pre-stress period in the weeks before bleaching, this acts like a practice run & corals become more tolerant & less vulnerable to bleaching
  5. However, if SST rise more than 2 degrees C above monthly average temperature, this protective mechanism could be lost and more corals may be damaged

Melting of Greenland ice sheet reaches new low

  1. Context: Acc to Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) data, the seasonal melting of Greenland’s vast ice sheet reached record levels in 3rd week of April
  2. Why? It coincides with unusually warm weather in the Arctic, with temperatures at some weather stations on the ice reaching 10 degrees Celsius
  3. Imbalance: Rain and meltwater at this time of the year typically runs back into the snow and freezes again
  4. But by warming the snow further, it reduces the amount of heating needed to prompt the melting to start again later in the season

NGT stays appraisal of Bhadradri thermal power project

  1. What? NGT has directed Environment Ministry not to proceed with the project appraisal of the Bhadradri Thermal Power Plant at Manuguru until further orders
  2. Why? Alleged violation of the Environment Act, Water Act and Air Act
  3. Also, the work for the project had commenced even before the Environmental Clearance was obtained
  4. Who? NGT had been approached in December last by the Human Rights Forum for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (HRF)

HC wants IPL matches shifted from Maharashtra

  1. What? Bombay High Court directed BCCI to shift IPL matches (scheduled after April 30) outside Maharashtra
  2. Time: A Division Bench has granted 15 days to make all arrangements to shift the matches
  3. Issues: People continue to be without water in Latur and even ground water is not available
  4. Even cities around Mumbai like Thane, Kalyan and Pune are reeling under severe scarcity of water and
  5. HC: Therefore the court cannot act as mere spectator
  6. Shifting of IPL matches alone won’t solve the problem, but it can be a beginning so that water used for pitches can be diverted to affected areas

Heat waves claim lives in AP

  1. Context: Heat wave sweeping Andhra Pradesh has claimed 45 lives till date
  2. Preparations: Hospitals and health centres have to gear up to treat the people
  3. Govt has urged philanthropists to come forward and set up water kiosks to help passersby
  4. Govt: Would extend all possible assistance to the victim’s families

Let’s know more about Nautilus pompilinus


  1. What? It is a pelagic marine mollusc
  2. It has one of the oldest animal lineages on the planet
  3. It is a palm-sized adult animal & can live up to 20 years in ocean depths
  4. Commonly known as pearly nautilus considering the pearly nacre on its external shell

Ballast water bringing invasive species to coasts

  1. News: Scientists fear that ballast water carried by ships is providing a vehicle to bring in exotic species
  2. The expansion of seaports and minor ports could pave the way for the arrival of invasive species in coastal areas
  3. Evidence: 10 invasive species in the biodiversity-rich intertidal habitats of the Kerala coast are found
  4. Species: It includes seaweed, bryozoan, mollusc and ascidian
  5. Ballast: It is a compartment in a ship which provides it stability. It holds water which moves in and out to balance the ship

Hundreds of fish found dead in Bengaluru’s Ulsoor Lake

  1. News: A large fish kill was reported in the Ulsoor Lake on Monday morning
  2. Officials said: This was almost an annual occurrence with rising temperatures
  3. Important Reasons: Fish kill is usually a direct result of reduced dissolved oxygen level in the water
  4. Algae in the lake release oxygen into the water, it uses up dissolved oxygen during night time along with the fish, creating a big drop in the dissolved oxygen levels

Learn more about Falcated duck

  1. IUCN listed: Classified as near threatened in terms of its conservation prioritization
  2. Recent estimates: World population of this species to be just about 89,000 individuals
  3. Greatest threat: Loss of habitat and hunting
  4. Cause for concern : Loss of habitat in their winter migratory region
  5. With this new sighting, the checklist of Birds of Goa stands at 461 species

Falcated Duck sighted in Goa


  1. News: A new bird Falcated Duck, a very rare vagrant species to the south of India, which became the latest addition to the checklist of ‘Birds of Goa’
  2. Significance: Falcated duck is a regular winter migrant to the northern States of India.
  3. In World: They breed in Russia and north China in summers and migrates towards north of India in winter
  4. Some individuals though are known to move further south.
  5. 2 reports from south: First was reported from Tamil Nadu in 2012
  6. In Jan 2015, a single individual was reported from Akola in Maharashtra and this sighting by the birding trio is only the third from south India

Learn about Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)

  1. What? a tradable certificate of proof that 1 MWh of electricity has been injected (or deemed to have been injected)
    Issued by: Renewable Energy generators injecting power to the grid
  2. Why? to address the mismatch between availability of renewable energy sources and the requirements of obligated entities to meet their RPO

Learn about Renewable purchase obligation (RPO)

  1. What? the minimum share of total power that electricity distribution companies and some large power consumers need to purchase from renewable energy sources
  2. Roadmap by: The Electricity Act and National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC); for increasing the renewable energy in total generation
  3. Mandated by: Central/State Regulatory Commission
  4. Present scenario: many of the states are not fulfilling RPOs, which has led to large inventory of unsold Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)

Centre has asked states to prepare green energy action plans

  1. Aim: To introduce renewable energy technologies and install solar rooftop panels with year-wise targets
  2. RPO: to set annual targets for renewable purchase obligation (RPO) till 2022
  3. To identify locations to set up renewable energy plants

Learn about Himalayan griffon vulture?

  1. Family: The Himalayan vulture or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae
  2. Characteristics: Himalayan griffons do not breed in the first 3 years, and hence juvenile birds of the species do not remain in breeding grounds to avoid competition
  3. IUCN Listed: Near Threatened
  4. Where? Found in Kazakhstan, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Thailand, Burma, Singapore and Cambodia

Himalayan griffon spotted in Goa

  1. Context: Birdwatchers in Goa have reported spotting the rare Himalayan griffon, also known as Himalayan vulture
  2. Background: The Himalayan griffon was previously believed to belong to the upper Himalayas and was presumed to stray till the Gangetic plains at the most
  3. Spotted Places: In recent years, spotted even in southern states including Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

What is geocement?

  1. Geocement is made out of industrial wastes.
  2. It comes in two-part packing – 35 kg Geocement powder and 15 kg Geobinder liquid.
  3. Both can be mixed at construction sites like normal cement.
  4. It comprises a range of products including geo-binder, geo-powder and geo-concrete (geocrete), is aimed at cutting down carbon emissions by over 80%.

Kiran Global Chems unveils ‘green’ cement

  1. Kiran Global Chems Ltd. has introduced its indigenously-developed eco-friendly Geocement.
  2. This cement will play a role in cutting carbon emission levels while being stronger than Portland cement.
  3. For every tonne of cement production, there will be about 800 kg of CO2 emission. But Geocement will help cut emissions.
  4. The anti-bacterial properties of the cement can be used for construction of underground seweage pipes and toilets as well.
  5. This company is the first one to come out with green cement for commercial use.

Cabinet approves policy on Promotion of City Compost

  1. The Union Cabinet has given its approval for a Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
  2. Market development assistance of Rs. 1500/tonne of city compost for scaling up production and consumption of the product.
  3. Market development assistance would lower MRP of city compost for farmers.
  4. Eco-Mark standard for City Compost would ensure that environment friendly quality product reaches the farmers.
  5. Fertilizer companies and marketing entities will also co-market City Compost with chemical fertilizers through their dealers’ network.

What is the benefit of promoting of City Compost?

  1. Composting can reduce the volume of waste to landfill/dumpsite by converting the waste into useful by-products.
  2. Compost from city garbage would not only provide carbon and primary/secondary nutrients to soil but also help in keeping the city clean.
  3. It will also prevent production of harmful greenhouse gases (especially methane) and toxic material that pollutes groundwater apart from polluting the environment.
  4. City Waste composting would also generate employment in urban areas.

Whales fatally disoriented by sound, magnetism?

More than one hypothesis on stranding of whales point to hearing sensitivity of these toothed mammals implicated in such events.

  1. Episodes of mass stranding of whales across the world show pilot whales to be the most commonly involved in the phenomenon.
  2. More than one hypothesis on stranding of whales, including short-finned pilot whales that died in large numbers on the Thoothukudi coast in Tamil Nadu.
  3. Point to hearing sensitivity of these toothed mammals implicated in such events.
  4. Sensitivity to low frequency sound is key for whales, as they use echolocation for orientation.
  5. An undersea earthquake of 4.7 Richter magnitude that could have sent out magnetic waves and disoriented them, causing them to change their navigational path.

Chennai prepares to welcome the Olive Ridleys

Volunteers are clearing city beaches of garbage from the recent floods, ahead of the turtles’ nesting season.

  1. The Turtle Talks, one of the organisations involved in clean up activities for over a month now.
  2. They found over 6 tonnes of garbage during clean-ups at the seashore near Pattinambakkam and the Broken Bridge over the weekend.
  3. The Student’s Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN), Chennai Trekking Club and many volunteers were also a part of the clean-up activity.
  4. If there is so much garbage on the sands, it will become impossible for the turtles to come and lay their eggs.
  5. Another issue is the bright lights along the beach, which might result in the baby turtles moving towards the source of illumination on the road.

Let’s know Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) ?

  1. The CMS (also known as Bonn Convention) under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  2. It aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range.
  3. India had become a party to the CMS since 1st November 1983.
  4. Pakistan and Nepal are the Indian neighbours who are signatories to this MoU.

Ashtamudi, a lake in distress

  1. There is a massive scale encroachments continuing along Ashtamudi lake.
  2. It is the estuarine islands of the lake that are expanding in size due to encroachments.
  3. The lake is a Ramsar wetland of international importance and second largest estuarine system in Kerala.

Olive Ridleys find new haven in East Godavari

A recent study has revealed that Olive Ridley Turtles are finding the islands in East Godavari district safe abodes for nesting.

  1. There has been a steady increase in the number of these seasonable visitors arriving at the Hope Island, Sacemento Island, Yellaiahpeta and Surasani Yanam.
  2. Every December, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles come all the way from the Indian Ocean to the shores of Bay of Bengal in search of suitable places for nesting.
  3. The seashores in Odisha are the most sought after sites for these turtle varieties to lay eggs before swimming back to the Indian Ocean.

The gap in environmental crime statistics

Rajasthan alone accounts for half of all environmental crimes committed in India in 2014. In six states and four Union territories, no environmental crimes were recorded.

  1. In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) began compiling data on environment-related offences.
  2. Ironically, Delhi, which rivals Beijing in poor air quality and where the Yamuna is choking under the weight of industrial and household waste, records no crimes under 2 laws.
  3. Most of the offences relate to just two Acts, the Forest Act and the Wildlife Protection Act, with the bulk recorded under the former.

How does the NCRB define an environment-related offence?

It includes violations under only 5 laws:

  • Forest Act, 1927
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  • Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (as amended in 1988).

Union Government notifies stricter standards for Coal Based Thermal Power Plants

Government has notified the revised standards for coal-based Thermal Power Plants in the country with the primary aim of minimising pollution.

  1. Government has notified the revised standards for coal-based Thermal Power Plants with the primary aim of minimising pollution.
  2. The new standards are aimed at reducing emission of sulphur dioxide, PM10 and Oxide of nitrogen.
  3. It would in turn help in bringing about an improvement in the Nation Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) index around and in thermal power plants.
  4. The technology employed for controlling of proposed emission limit of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) will also help in reducing mercury emission at about 70-90%.

Climate change warming world’s lakes at alarming rate

For the study spanning six continents, a total of 236 lakes, representing more than half of the world’s freshwater supply, were monitored for at least 25 years.

  1. Climate change is warming lakes around the world at an alarming rate, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems.
  2. Lakes are warming at an average of 0.34 degrees Celsius each decade all around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems.
  3. At the current rate, algal blooms, which can ultimately rob water of oxygen, will increase 20 per cent in lakes over the next century.
  4. These rates also imply that emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, will increase 4 per cent over the next decade.
  5. The ice-covered lakes, including Canadian lakes, are warming twice as fast as air temperatures and the North American Great Lakes are among the fastest warming lakes in the world.

What is the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE)?

RCEs are acknowledged based on recommendations of the Ubuntu Committee of Peers for the RCEs, which consists of signatories of the Ubuntu Declaration signed in 2002.

  1. RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate.
  2. RCEs also develop regional knowledge bases to support ESD and promote its goals in a resource effective manner.
  3. The RCE-Tirupati will work on a mix of features like Eastern Ghats, coastal communities, marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

Other 5 RCEs in India –

  • RCE-Srinagar, working on western Himalayas
  • RCE-Guwahati on Eastern Himalayas
  • RCE-Chandigarh on wetland ecosystems
  • RCE-TERI (Goa) on Youth empowerment and energy
  • RCE-Kodagu on traditional knowledge and tribal communities of Western Ghats.

RCE-Tirupati to focus on Eastern Ghats

With special focus on fragile environment and sustainable development of Eastern Ghats, the United Nations University has sanctioned a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) to Tirupati.

  1. The RCE-Tirupati will be part of the Foundation for Environmentally Sustainable Development with Focus on health, education, awareness and livelihoods.
  2. The region initially selected for operation is the stretch comprising Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and Prakasam districts.
  3. The centre aims at capacity building in target groups.
  4. Such as schools and colleges and creating awareness among tribal and coastal communities on importance of bio-resources, their judicious use and conservation.

Did you know about Inle Lake ?

  1. Inle Lake is located in Taunggyi district in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state.
  2. It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 116 km.
  3. The wetland ecosystem of this freshwater Inle Lake is home to diverse flora and fauna.
  4. The Inle Lake is nesting place for globally endangered Sarus crane.

India to have 8 new observatories

  1. India announced a programme to open 8 more long-term ecological observatories to study the effects of climate change.
  2. The new facilities under Indian Long Term Ecological Observatories(ILTEO) will assess the health of 8 different biomes.
  3. It will scientifically monitor flora and fauna to assess how climate change is affecting natural and closely associated human systems in agriculture and pastoralism.
  4. It will cover the Western Himalayas to Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas to Andaman and Nicobar islands, central India to the Sundarbans, and from J&K to Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Gangotri glacier getting less snowfall, higher temperatures

A team of climate scientists recorded and analysed snow and meteorological parameters for a period of 13 years from 2000 to 2012 and found a warming trend.

  1. The health of majestic Gangotri glacier that feeds the river Ganges has been affected.
  2. As maximum temperature in region has shot up by 0.9 degree Celsius and snowfall reduced by 37 cm annually.
  3. Scientists from institute, part of the DRDO, were based at ‘Bhojbasa’ observation station, nearly 5 km south from Gangotri glacier snout named ‘Gaumukh’, to record the findings.
  4. Situated in Uttarakhand district, the 30.2 km-long Gangotri glacier is the second largest in India.
  5. One of the primary sources of fresh water supply to the river Ganges, Gangotri has been found to have retreated more than 1,500 metres in the last 70 years.

Centre to amend 2 laws to meet climate goals

  1. India will amend the Electricity Act and the Energy Conservation Act in order to achieve the efficiencies that it has pledged to the UNFCCC meeting.
  2. India’s official spokesperson said that ambitious targets on energy efficiency would have to be accompanied by rules and implementation.
  3. Indian companies have achieved global energy efficiencies in many sectors.

Let’s dive into Him-Parivarthan project?

  1. The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) institute, initiated Him-Parivarthan project to assess the extent of the glacier melt.
  2. Under this project four sites have been identified on the glacier based on the data of the last twenty years.
  3. It will be monitored over the next two years to understand the climate change on the glacier.

What you need to know about SASE?

  1. Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) was set up under DRDO in 1969 near Manali.
  2. To combat the hazards of snow and avalanches to help the Armed Forces to fight and live in the mountains.
  3. Also to accelerate the pace of socio-economic growth of the inaccessible snowbound hill regions.

SASE was initially assigned the task of studying snow and avalanche problems along certain mountain highways in snowbound belt of Indian Himalayas.

‘Climate change is changing landscape of Ladakh’

“The snowfall has come down significantly in the last couple of decades and the glacier is melting at a higher rate putting the lives of farmers at risk,” says ‘glacier man’ Chewang Norphel.

  1. The excessive glacier melt is resulting in floods putting the lives of 80 per cent of farmers in the region at risk as glaciers are the primary source of water.
  2. This has affected agriculture in Leh and affected crop pattern.
  3. The effects of climate change are also very much evident on the Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield.
  4. The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), an institute under the DRDO has recently initiated “Him-Parivarthan”, a project to assess the extent of the glacier melt.

Chewang Norphel called the glacier man for creating artificial glaciers in Ladakh to tide over the water shortage for irrigation.

Govt. bats for revising RPO target to 10% by 2022

The government is looking at increasing renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets from 3 per cent to 10 per cent so as to meet the 1 lakh MW solar capacity by 2022.

  1. Under the RPO, distribution companies (discoms) are mandated to purchase a certain amount of their power from renewable sources.
  2. The current tariff policy mentions separate percentages of RPO for solar and non-solar sources.
  3. If we have to achieve the target of 1,00,000 MW of green power, we will have to increase the RPO targets to 8-10 per cent by 2022.
  4. Right now some states have given RPO target (solar, non-solar combine) of 5-7 per cent, so that they need to increase to 15 per cent by 2022.
  5. The recently announced UDAY package that aims to alleviate the discoms’ debts also includes a rule that they will now have to comply with the RPO.

The draft notification for BS-V and BS-VI norms for automobile sector issued

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport & highways (MoRT&H) has decided to advance the date for implementation of the higher level emission standards.
  2. The govt. is keen that the road transport sector should take a lead role in reducing the harmful effects of emissions on environment and climate change.
  3. Accordingly, the ministry has now decided to implement BS –V norms from 2019.
  4. BS-VI norms, which aim at substantial reduction in NOx/4C levels will be implemented from 2021.
  5. This reflects a firm commitment to play a major role in reducing vehicular emissions.

Weather-related disasters becoming more frequent: UN report

An average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 % from 1995-2004.

  1. The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters report, also found the 5 countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the US, China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.
  2. Asia accounts for the “lion’s share of disaster impacts” including 332,000 deaths and 3.7 billion people affected.
  3. Flooding alone accounted for almost half of all weather related disasters between 1995 and 2015, affecting 2.3 billion people, out of which 95% live in Asia.
  4. Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk.

Let’s have a jaunt to Famous lakes.

  1. Sasthamkotta Lake, the largest freshwater lake of Kerala, named after ancient Sastha temple (a pilgrimage centre) located on its bank.
  2. The purity of the lake water for drinking use is attributed to the presence of large population of larva called cavaborus that consumes bacteria in the lake water.
  3. Vembanad Lake holds rich fish diversity and has identified under National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
  4. Ashtamudi Estuary, a large palm-shaped waterbody which is fed by the Kallada River, a tropical brackish water habitat.
  5. Ashtamudi means ‘eight coned’ in the local Malayalam language.

Let’s dive into Ramsar Sites Convention, 1971?

  1. Ramsar Convention (formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat).
  2. It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  3. The Ramsar Convention has listed 2,122 wetlands of international importance spreading over 20.53 crore hectare across the world.
  4. In India, there are 26 Ramsar sites, covers 6.89 lakh hectare.

Genetic cataloguing of aquatic germplasm

A genetic catalogue of the aquatic germplasm of the Ramsar sites of Kerala using molecular tools will soon be created.

  1. A project to prepare the document of the shell and fin fish varieties of the fish diversities of the Ramsar sites of Ashtamudi estuary, Sasthamkotta Lake and Vembanad-Kol Wetland in Kerala.
  2. The current project envisages generating DNA barcodes of the fish and shellfish species.
  3. It will serve as specific markers to facilitate accuracy in documenting the valuable fish resources of the study area.
  4. The study would help in developing species-specific molecular signature through DNA barcoding of the fish diversity.
  5. The DNA-based approaches could resolve the taxonomic ambiguities and may even lead to the possible identification of new species hoped the scientists.

Wetlands of India are considered as the most threatened of all ecosystems in India due to habitat degradation, salinity, excessive inundation, water pollution, excessive development like road building.

State’s stand will feature in the final notification on Kasturirangan Report

Eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) identified by State government & regulation on sand extraction & stone quarrying will feature on Kasturirangan Committee report.

  1. Following extensive survey and public consultation, State government submitted report on the recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee.
  2. It had considered as ESZ areas not only the wildlife areas but also eco-sensitive zones in 40 taluks of the State.
  3. As per directions of SC, the Forest Department has started the process of taking possession of forest land that has been encroached upon.
  4. At present, acquisition was in cases where encroachment has been more than three acres.
  5. In cases where encroachment was less than three acres, leaving it to the State government to decide.

To Make India Brighter and Smarter Launches iLEDtheway

  1. Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy launched the microsite www.iledtheway.in .
  2. It is a great initiative, to take the pledge to switch to LED bulbs, to protect the environment and make country more energy efficient.
  3. Switching to LED bulbs will not only bring down carbon footprint, but ensure savings.
  4. Under the DELP scheme, EESL has distributed over 2.4 crore LED bulbs to consumers.

More Indian birds enter list of threatened species

Destruction of grasslands, wetlands and forests takes its toll on birds

  1. According to Red List of birds released by the IUCN for 2015, total of 180 bird species in India are now threatened, as against 173 last year.
  2. Five have been uplisted from the Least Concerned to the Near Threatened category, a sign of increased threat.
  3. It includes Northern Lapwing (a grassland bird) and four wetland birds, namely Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-Tailed Godwit.
  4. Two other wetland birds, Horned Grebe and Common Pochard have been uplisted from Least Concerned to Vulnerable.
  5. Steppe Eagle (a raptor from grasslands), which is a regular winter visitor to the Indian subcontinent, uplisted from Least Concerned to Endangered.

Three vulture species, namely White-backed, Slender-billed and Long-billed have also been severely affected by diclofenac.

India, China seen leading growth in green bond market: Moody’s report

The global green bond market is expected to exceed $40 billion, with countries such as India and China offering sizeable growth potential.

  1. India is looking to raise these low-cost, long-term funds to finance its plan to quadruple its renewable energy production and to make it economically viable.
  2. Seeking to minimize India’s dependence on the coal-fuelled electricity, government has pushed renewable energy to the top of its energy security agenda.
  3. India has established itself as an early leader in Asia’s nascent green bond market.
  4. India plans to set up a green energy capacity of 175,000 megawatt (MW) by 2022.
  5. Solar, wind, biomass and small hydro power plants will contribute 100,000MW, 60,000MW, 10,000MW and 5,000MW respectively.

A Green bond is a debt instrument with which an entity raises money from investors. The bond issuer gets capital while the investors receive fixed income in the form of interest. When the bond matures, the money is repaid.

Union Government flagged off Climate Special Science Express

The Science Express aims to create awareness among various sections of the society especially the students about various challenges and issues associated with Climate Change

  1. It is an innovative science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train and has been custom-built for Department of Science and Technology (DoS&T) by Indian Railway.
  2. It is collaborative initiative of DoS&T and Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Union Ministry of Railways.
  3. For the first time, solar panels have been installed on the roof top of coaches.
  4. Broad themes covered in each exhibition coach on Climate change, Adaptation, Mitigation etc.

Ministry of H&FW bans sale of Diclofenac in multidose vial

  1. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has banned the sale of Diclofenac in multidose vial. Henceforth, it will be sold only in single-dose vial packaging for human use.
  2. This ban was imposed on recommendation of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in order to save and protect vultures from brink of extinction.
  3. Diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is administered as painkiller to cattle, is the chief cause of mass extinction of vultures.
  4. Vultures have a robust digestive system which can even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead. But,do not have a critical enzyme that breaks down diclofenac and die of renal failure after eating carcasses of cattle administered the drug.
  5. In 2006, India had banned the use of veterinary drug Diclofenac for treating cattle. But the multi-dose vials available in the market for human use were widely misused for veterinary purpose.

Ocean fish numbers on ‘brink of collapse’: WWF report

  1. The report said populations of fish, marine mammals, birds and reptiles had fallen 49% between 1970 and 2012. For fish alone, the decline was 50%.
  2. Damage to coral reefs and mangroves, which are nurseries for many fish, add to problems led by over-fishing.
  3. Other threats include coastal development, pollution and climate change, which is raising temperatures and making waters more acidic.
  4. New UN sustainable development goals, including ending over-fishing and destructive fishing practices by 2020 and restoring stocks “in the shortest time feasible” is needed.
  5. Safeguarding the oceans can help economic growth, curb poverty and raise food security, it says.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

Highest Rated App. Over 3 lakh users. Click to Download!!!