Cities at crossroads: Don’t just light the fire



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


From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: What is biodegradable waste, biomethanation, etc.

Mains level: Article gives an expert’s overview on waste management problem in India.



  1. The Niti Aayog, in its Draft Three Year Action Agenda, has drawn attention to the need for a sustainable plan for solid waste management in Indian cities
  2. However, the Aayog has taken the stand that incineration or “Waste to Energy” is the best option as a sustainable disposal solution for the solid waste of larger cities
  3. Issue: This reasoning is flawed(according to writer). The Niti Aayog fails to point out that when incineration plants in cities use unsegregated waste to generate electricity, they emit toxic gases as by-products and irresponsibly dispose of these “dangerous by-products” in the air.

Problem with NITI Aayog’s Proposal

  1. We do not have effective mechanisms for monitoring emissions
  2. The Niti Aayog’s Draft Action Agenda neither incorporates lessons from the experience of incineration plants, nor does it take note of the many success stories of biomethanation in a number of Indian cities, including some large cities

Requirements of Incineration technologies

  1. Incineration technologies require a continuous supply of waste with a sufficiently high calorific value and a low moisture content
  2. According to experts, Indian waste is not suitable for incineration because it has too high a moisture content, leading to low calorific value
  3. A 2016 study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) finds that the calorific value of Indian waste is 800-1000 kcal per kg; it needs to be at least 2000 kcal per kg to be suitable for incineration

Reason behind this low calorific value waste

  1. India’s old tradition of kabadiwalas and the recycling of paper, glass, plastic, etc., becomes a contributing factor to the low calorific value of our municipal waste
  2. A study by the United Nations Environment Program in 2009 found that India’s informal recycling sector “recovers much of the dry, high calorific material leaving a moist residue with high green waste content unsuitable for production of combustible ‘fluff’ without considerable pre-treatment (that is, drying)”

Challenges in generating energy from waste

  1. Generating energy from waste is only one aspect of waste management — it is by no means the most efficient or the most economical means of generating energy
  2. The policy focus must not sway from examining the financial and environmental costs and benefits of the different alternatives for waste management
  3. In Waste to Energy, technology is moving fast, regulatory challenges are enormous and the challenges of enforcing emission standards are even greater

Waste to Energy Corporation of India 

  1. The Niti Aayog has recommended setting up a Waste to Energy Corporation of India under the Ministry of Urban Development, “which may set up world-class waste to energy plants through public-private partnerships (PPP) across the country”
  2. They have invoked the example of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which organises PPP efforts in roads. But the parallel is inappropriate(according to wrtier)
  3. Why: the land on which highways are built is already owned by the Government of India; there are no acquisition issues. Besides, the NHAI is a well-funded agency which receives the proceeds of the cess on petrol and diesel plus toll revenues. No such revenue is available for a new Central corporation on solid waste management

Niti Aayog’s silence on the segregation of Waste

  1.  The Niti Aayog is silent on the segregation of wet waste from dry waste at the source of generating waste.
  2. Incentives for segregation and a penalty for non-segregation must be the first action point of any agenda on municipal solid waste management
  3. Solid Waste Management Rules (2016) are a significant improvement over the Municipal Solid Waste Rules (2000) in emphasising the need for the enforcement of segregation and recommending change in municipal by-laws which allow for cost recovery in the collection of waste segregated at source and imposing a penalty for non-segregation

Why biomethanation is a better option?

  1. About half of the solid waste generated in Indian cities is biodegradable
  2. If this is segregated at source, it can be collected and delivered at a local biomethanation plant for anaerobic processing
  3. Unlike composting, in which biogas is released into the environment, biomethanation allows the capture of biogas which can be used for cooking or for electricity generation; it also produces liquid fertiliser
  4. Important Point: NISARGRUNA technology for biomethanation was developed by Sharad Kale, a professor at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Mumbai

The way forward

  1. NITI Aayog must follow up with extensive consultation with subject experts, stakeholders and practitioners in state governments and urban local governments.



A waste treatment technology, which includes the combustion of waste for recovering energy, is called as “incineration”.  Incineration coupled with high temperature waste treatments are recognized as thermal treatments.  During the process of incineration, the waste material that is treated is converted in to IBM, gases, particles and heat. These products are later used for generation of electricity. The gases, flue gases are first treated for eradication of pollutants before going in to atmosphere.



Bioremediation is a waste management technique that involves the use of organisms to neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site. Bioremediation is a “treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances”.

Missing the coastal growth opportunity



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

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: What are CRZs, particulars of Environment protection act

Mains level: Important for both environment and development point of view. Article shows how wrong implementation of environment laws can obstruct development projects.



  1. Article talks about how Coastal Regulation Zone norms are an example of a top-down, heavy-handed, legislative diktat from Delhi that ignores local dynamics
  2. Burdensome laws, accompanied by the onerous rules and regulations they impose, restrict economic activity in the entire country
  3. Due to these, India’s coastal regions have witnessed tepid growth in terms of size and economy.

Suffering due to the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA)

  1. The coastal regions suffer from the additional liability of having to comply with far-fetched coast protection norms originating under the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA)
  2.  Passed under the powers conferred on the Central government by Section 3 of the EPA, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules were first notified in 1991 and were further amended in 2011

What is CRZ?

  1. As per the norms created by the Central government, a CRZ is the land area from the high-tide line to 500m inland.

Exceptions in norms for Prohibited activities in CRZ

  1. There is a long list of proscribed activities within this zone, such as the setting up of new industries, expansion of existing industries, establishment of fish processing units, warehouses, land reclamation, etc.
  2. Although the norms carve out exceptions within these prohibited activities for certain undertakings, such as building ports or reconstructing dwelling units for local communities, it interestingly carves out a singular exception for the development of a greenfield airport proposed at Navi Mumbai.
  3. The regulation is replete with such curious exceptions to some specific cases, which raise questions pertaining to the criteria that was followed to determine permissible and non-permissible activities
  4. Going even further with the regulatory tangle created by these CRZ guidelines, the norms demarcate the zones into different numbered categories—CRZ I, CRZ II, CRZ III and CRZ IV
  5. This demarcation, it seems, is based primarily on the level of previous construction or developmental activity that’s been conducted in a region now within the regulated zone of either 500m or 100m


  1. The multiplicity of definitions, exceptions, permissible and impermissible activities not only lead to high regulatory and legal expenditure in obtaining project clearances, there is all-round confusion in implementation as well

 The execution of the CRZ rules

  1. The execution of the CRZ rules falls within the domain of several coastal zone management authorities created by the state governments for this purpose
  2. The authorities have to prepare coastal zone management plans based on the complicated regulation which also lists the guidelines that the authorities must follow in preparation of the plans

The Way Forward

  1. Even though the CRZ rules stand amended as on 6 January 2011, the new rules have done little to ease the regulatory burden imposed on a wide array of economic and development activities that may be pursued in coastal regions
  2. The Central government must assert its political will and rescind these regulations, leaving the task of administering coastal zones to the already created state coastal zone management authorities
  3. State governments in coastal regions will be better suited to devise laws concerning coast development, given their substantial political interest in the matter and superior knowledge of state goals as well as needs
  4. The Central government must restrict its role to advising state governments on the prospective benefits and costs of any regulation that the states propose

[op-ed snap] The river as being


  1. In a recent judgment, the Uttarakhand High Court declared the rivers Yamuna and Ganga as legal or juridical persons, enjoying all the rights, duties and liabilities of a living person
  2. Indian courts have granted this status to temple deities, religious books, corporations, etc., but it is for the first time that an element of the natural environment has been declared a legal person
  3. And it is not just the two rivers — all their tributaries, streams, every natural water body flowing continuously or intermittently of[f] these rivers will enjoy this status

The present state of the river:

  1. The dismal ecological state of these rivers, as well as the variety of factors responsible, is well documented
  2. And so are the crores of rupees spent by government agencies to (unsuccessfully) attempt a clean-up

The issues:

  1. The two issues before the High Court were: removal of illegal constructions on the banks of a canal in Dehradun, and the division of water resources between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (which had not been resolved since the formation of the new State)
  2. In December 2016, the High Court directed the removal of the constructions
  3. It also directed the constitution of the Ganga Management Board (a statutory body under the U.P. Reorganisation Act 2000), and prohibited mining of the Ganga riverbed and its highest flood plain area
  4. On the issue of resource division, the court directed the Central government to notify the settlement reached by the two States in a time-bound manner
  5. Three months later, when the matter came up before the court once again, the encroachments were still there, the settlement between the States was yet to take place, and the board had not been constituted

Three logical leaps that the Court took:

  1. First, for the court, an ‘extraordinary situation’ had been created which required extraordinary measures for the protection of the Ganga and the Yamuna
  2. From what was a clear breach of statutory duties under the U.P. Reorganisation Act, was the inability of the State to remove encroachments
  3. The case became one concerning the protection of health and well-being of the two rivers
  4. Second, the court recorded how the rivers provide ‘physical and spiritual sustenance’ to half the Indian population
  5. It found the constitution of the board to be necessary for various purposes including irrigation, water supply, and power generation
  6. And then, curiously, found it expedient to give legal status to the rivers as living persons
  7. Third, the court decides to exercise the parens patriae jurisdiction to declare the rivers and all their tributaries, etc. as living persons
  8. Parens patriae, literally ‘parent of the country’, is an inherent power of the sovereign, and not the courts, to provide protection to persons unable to take care of themselves
  9. The Director, Namami Gange, the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been appointed as the persons in loco parentis — persons who will act ‘in the place of parents’ for the two rivers
  10. These officers are now expected to act on behalf of the rivers for their protection and conservation
  11. They are ‘bound to uphold the status’ of the rivers and also to promote their health and well-being

The right to sue:

  1. The judgment comes close on the heels of New Zealand granting legal status to the Whanganui river
  2. But unlike the comprehensive Bill passed by the New Zealand Parliament recognising rights and settling claims, the High Court’s declaration is terse, and raises several questions
  3. In the eyes of the law, living persons such as companies, associations, deities etc., have rights and duties — primary among these being the right to sue and the capacity to be sued
  4. Which implies that from now on, the rivers can sue persons acting against their interests

Impertinent questions:

  1. The rivers have a right to be sued for what? Do they have a right not to be a receptacle for tons of sewage? Can they demand minimum ecological flows? A right not to be dammed, dredged, or diverted? If yes, who will sue whom? Can the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand now sue a Municipal Corporation in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar for the discharge of effluents downstream? Or will the Director, Namami Gange, sue the Central government for approving another hydro-power project on the river? Do other riparian State governments now have less of a role in the protection of the rivers as they are not the identified ‘custodians’? And what are rivers’ duties?

Is the judgment a game changer?

  1. The judgment does not take away existing statutory and constitutional rights and duties of citizens and government agencies to counter the pollution and degradation of these rivers
  2. What it does do is to identify three officers who will be the first-line defenders for the rivers
  3. Perhaps they will not be able to pass the (institutional) buck any more. But is that game-changing? Sadly, no.


The op-ed has points that can be asked in Prelims and has good points regarding the judgment of the Court, which  can be used in Mains answer.

[op-ed snap] What goes around must come around


  1. Wastewater is often an afterthought — flushed and forgotten — whether from household or commercial use
  2. We may not know where wastewater ends up and we’re not too troubled by the mystery, just so long as it’s gone
  3. The 2017 United Nations’ Water Development Programme’s World Water Development Report (WWDR)Wastewater: The Untapped Resource makes clear that we can no longer afford this disconnect

Readings of the Report:

  1. The report, to be officially released on World Water Day, that is, on 22nd March, notes that more than 80% of the world’s wastewater — over 95% in some least developed countries — is released into the environment untreated
  2. In Thailand, 77% of wastewater was untreated in 2012; it was 81% in Vietnam the same year and 82% in Pakistan in 2011

Relevant to Asia-Pacific:

  1. Untreated wastewater poses a threat to both human health and our aquatic ecosystems, and is a challenge that is particularly acute in Asia-Pacific
  2. This region is in the midst of a profound urban shift that is straining its already limited infrastructure and capacity to effectively treat wastewater
  3. As of 2009, an estimated 30% of urban dwellers in the region lived in slums, low-income areas, where wastewater is often discharged into the nearest surface drain or informal drainage channel
  4. Meanwhile, city-based hospitals and small- and medium-sized enterprises dump a slew of medical waste and toxic chemicals into wastewater systems

Socioeconomic factors:

  1. Socioeconomic factors typically determine access to efficient wastewater management services that can more effectively deal with such pollution loads
  2. Wealthier neighbourhoods are usually better served than slum areas, which are more likely to face the risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio due to consuming faeces-contaminated water
  3. However, even in countries with improved sanitation coverage, only 26% of urban and 34% of rural sanitation and wastewater services prevent human contact with excreta along the entire sanitation chain
  4. Along with the human cost, there are enormous economic stakes involved in the effective management of wastewater
  5. The WWDR estimates that for every $1 spent on sanitation, society benefits by an estimated $5.5, and notes that “neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable in the context of a circular economy”

Untapped resource:

  1. A circular economy is one in which economic development and environmental sustainability are interdependent, with a strong emphasis on minimising pollution, while maximising reuse and recycling
  2. From this perspective, wastewater is an untapped resource of unparalleled potential
  3. When safely treated, wastewater can be a source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials that is both affordable and sustainable
  4. The extraction of wastewater by-products such as salt, nitrogen and phosphorous has proven lucrative in Asia-Pacific
  5. In Southeast Asia, revenues from fertilizer have paid for the operational costs of the systems to extract them several times over

Water scarcity:

  1. While wastewater management receives little social or political attention, water scarcity does
  2. Last year, for example, the World Economic Forum warned that the water crisis would be the greatest global risk faced by people and economies over the next 10 years
  3. The problem is particularly severe in Asia-Pacific — two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas that experience water scarcity for at least one month per year and about 50% of these people live in China and India
  4. The lack of attention and resources devoted to effective wastewater management ignores one of the most potentially effective means of addressing the global water crisis

The Singapore example:

  1. Singapore is using reclaimed water, branded “NEWater”, to serve up to 30% of its needs
  2. While largely used for industrial purposes, the water is potable and demonstrates what can be accomplished through innovative policy approaches
  3. The largely industrial use of NEWater also points to wastewater’s potential benefits for food production and industrial development
  4. More effective and efficient management of wastewater requires greater support of municipalities and local governments, which often lack the human and financial resources they need to enforce environmental rules and improve infrastructure and services
  5. In terms of the former, businesses dumping toxins into local water systems often find it more cost-effective to pay fines rather than to modify their processes

Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development where 663 million people around the world still lack improved sources of drinking water put into perspective the urgency of our mission
  2. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 specifically focusses on water and sanitation, with Target 3 addressing water quality, but the availability of water is a cross-cutting issue upon which every aspect of development hinges


Put simply, water is life, and without a sustained commitment to improving and benefiting from effective wastewater management, that precious resource, and the billions of lives it nourishes, are in peril. An important read for both Mains and Prelims.

[op-ed snap] Saving the Ghats


  1. Hesitation shown by the Central government in deciding upon full legal protection for one of its most prized natural assets, the Western Ghats in their totality

The idea:

  1. The idea is that whatever is left of these fragile mountainous forests should be protected from unsustainable exploitation in the interests of present and future generations
  2. Presenting sustainable ways of living to the communities that inhabit these landscapes


  1. Quite unscientifically, the issue is being framed as one of development-versus-conservation
  2. Given the weak effort at forging a consensus, there is little purpose in the Centre returning to the drawing board with another draft notification to identify ecologically sensitive areas
  3. What it needs is a framework under which scientific evidence and public concerns are debated democratically and the baseline for ESAs arrived at

The Western Ghats:

  1. It is accepted, for instance, that the Ghats play an irreplaceable role in mediating the monsoon over the country and the forests harbour a rich biodiversity that has not even been fully studied
  2. New species continue to emerge each year in an area that has endemic plants and animals
  3. Scientist Norman Myers wrote nearly two decades ago, only 6.8% of primary vegetation out of the original 182,500 sq km remains in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka taken together
  4. The ecologically sensitive nature of the forests stretching 1,600 km along the western coast as a global biodiversity hotspot was emphasised by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by Madhav Gadgil
  5. For conservation purposes, the Kasturirangan Committee identified only a third of the total area
  6. Both expert groups have encountered resistance from State governments and industries, although they mutually differ in their recommendations

How much area is ecologically sensitive?

  1. The question that needs speedy resolution is how much of the Western Ghats can be demarcated as ecologically sensitive, going beyond the system of national parks and sanctuaries that already exist
  2. As a corollary, are other areas free to be exploited for industrial activity, including mining and deforestation, with no environmental consequences?
  3. A frequently cited example of destruction is the loss of ecology in Goa due to rampant, illegal mining
  4. More complicated is the assessment of ecosystem services delivered by the forests, lakes, rivers and their biodiversity to communities
  5. Gadgil, for instance, has underscored the unique value of some locations, such as those with fish or medicinal plant diversity peculiar to a small area, which should not get lost in the assessment process
  6. All this points to the need for wider and more open consultation with people at all levels, imbuing the process with scientific insights
  7. Several options to spare sensitive areas will emerge, such as community-led ecological tourism and agro-ecological farming


A national consultative process is urgently called for. The op-ed is very important for Mains. Remember the names of the Committees for Prelims, UPSC sometimes asks about them.

Microplastic particles clogging oceans

  1. Source: Primary Microplastics in the Oceans report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  2. Agence France-Presse Invisible particles, washed off products like synthetic clothing and car tyres account for up to a third of the plastic polluting oceans, impacting eco-systems and human health
  3. Unlike the shocking images of country-sized garbage patches floating in the oceans, the microplastic particles that wash off textiles and roadways leave the waterways looking pristine
  4. But they constitute a significant part of the “plastic soup” clogging our waters — accounting for around 15-31 percent of the estimated 9.5 million tonnes of plastic released into the oceans each year
  5. Developed nations: Many developed countries in North America and Europe, which have effective waste management, tiny plastic particles are in fact a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste
  6. Sources: In addition to car tyres and synthetic textiles, such particles stem from everything from marine coatings and road markings, to city dust and the microbeads in cosmetics
  7. Our daily activities, such as washing clothes and driving, significantly contribute to the pollution choking our oceans, with potentially disastrous effects on the rich diversity of life within them, and on human health
  8. Microplastics: Are hard to spot, they can seriously harm marine wildlife and as they enter the global food and water supplies they are believed to pose a significant risk to human health
  9. Such particles are small enough to actually move through our membranes


Can be quoted in mains. A question in prelims is hardly possible, but need to know as it is a report by IUCN. Also know about IUCN here along with other important points for prelims. A prelims question has been asked on it.

Q. With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct? [Prelims-2015]

1. IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments
2. IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
3. CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (b)

SC deadline for polluting industrial units

  1. The Supreme Court gave polluting industrial units three months to install effluent treatment plants to remove contaminants from the wastes before they are released into water bodies
  2. It directed the State Pollution Control Boards across the country to cut power supply to non-compliant companies
  3. The court put the onus on government bodies to establish common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) across the country within three years of acquiring land
  4. The States would then have to submit reports confirming this to the National Green Tribunal concerned under whose jurisdiction they come
  5. The local civic authorities could formulate norms to levy cess from users if required


Important step towards curbing effluent contamination in drinking water sources. Can be quoted in mains.

[op-ed snap] The ecological balance-sheet


  1. The Union Budget presented this month has made a broad-brushed allocation of ₹2,675.42 crore to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), an apparent increase by 18.88% from last year
  2. However, there is casual indifference shown to specific issues of wildlife conservation, pollution abatement and related areas demanding immediate policy interventions by the state

Budgetary Approach:

  1. Prima facie the budgetary approach to environmental protection appears to be as fragmented and flawed as the legal approach
  2. Even as the issues of forest management, resource conservation, pollution control and wildlife protection are manifest to be increasingly interconnected, they are treated in isolation with attention paid only at the macro-level
  3. Often proactive measures for environment are disproportionately counter-balanced by lax regulation in other sectors such as energy and large industries
  4. Dedicating funds, however large or small, for the Environment Ministry, in the complete absence of corresponding measures to boost alternative energy sources, place curbs on polluting industries and vehicles and adopt sustainable development approaches to economic growth is a farcical exercise
  5. In the current Budget too, while there has been an increase in allocation to the MoEFCC, funding for renewable energy forms, solar use in rural areas, etc. has been reduced

Inadequacy on the part of the government:

  1. There has been superficial renaming of ‘Clean Energy Cess’ levied on coal, lignite and peat as ‘Clean Environment Cess’ with an increase in the rate of levy to ₹400 per tonne
  2. Even as climate change and increasing pollution have been matters of great concern, a measly sum of ₹40 crore and ₹74.30 crore have been allocated to the Climate Change Action Plan and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), respectively
  3. While the national capital reeled under the heavy effects of air pollution, triggering heated debates on spiralling pollution levels in prominent urban pockets, the funding received by the CPCB is visibly unremarkable
  4. Heads of environment and ecology, coastal management, environmental monitoring and governance, National Afforestation Management have received funds sketchily with no accompanying rationale for such allocations or a clear framework for their utilization
  5. The treatment of wildlife conservation has been no different, with ambitious projects like Project Tiger having the budget slashed by ₹30 crore and Project Elephant receiving a marginal boost of ₹2.5 crore

Less allocation to Projects:

  1. Budgetary flow for the schemes under the Ministry of Environment has been fluctuating in the past and can be best described as insubstantial
  2. The rise and slump in allocations have been perplexing as they do not appear to have been based on receipts and expenditures of the preceding financial year
  3. In 2015, the total budget for the Ministry was reduced by 25%
  4. Centrally sponsored schemes have also experienced similar ups and downs with Project Tiger witnessing a slash of 15% in 2015
  5. This time as well, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been allotted an arbitrary sum of ₹8.15 crore
  6. Even as it is difficult to negotiate and coordinate with the State governments to chart an effective framework for conservation projects and streamline budgetary allocation, the funds dedicated to Central bodies such as the NTCA intuitively appear to be insufficient


  1. The expenditure budget for the MoEFCC reveals that under the Centrally sponsored schemes, transfers made to the States and the Union Territories remain grossly under-utilised
  2. A closer breakdown of the actual expenditure shows that out of the ₹850.02 crore dedicated to implementing the Centrally sponsored core schemes, the total outlay was only ₹566.38 crore
  3. These Centrally sponsored schemes include Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats and Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems
  4. For instance, Project Tiger has barely managed to utilise half the funds allocated to it
  5. The spectre of under-utilisation haunts State projects as well

Priorities and problems

  1. There is need to address the problems of disappearing wildlife, increasing conflicts, deterioration of ecology and habitat destruction
  2. For this, scientific, sustained and intensive measures of conservation are required
  3. A small step in this regard would be to acknowledge the role of the environment in budgetary allocations and ensure rational dedication of funds

Despite various hardships being faced due to deteriorating environment and various Conventions signed taking pledge to protect environment, even today, the seriousness about the Environment seems lacking. Underutilization of funds further shows that there is slack in working towards environment and related policies.


The op-ed is important for Mains answer.

[op-ed snap] Return to a dangerous normal


  1. A Tamil song describes Ennore is as an environmental crime scene
  2. Ennore is an area reserved for communal use such as the seashore, grazing grounds, and the margins of wetlands
  3. Two ships collided off Kamarajar Port Limited’s (KPL) harbour in Ennore
  4. The consequent oil spill, the disaster that is unfolding in the name of containment and remediation, and the hurry to declare the clean-up operation complete raises questions

Situation after a week:

  1. More than a week after the accident, there is no clarity on the quantity and nature of the material that spilled
  2. Denial, downplaying and buck-passing are standard disaster response protocol that have stood the test of time from Bhopal to Kodaikanal to the Chennai floods
  3. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, who have made a virtue of gutting environmental due diligence to expedite project approvals and ease the doing of business, are yet to utter a word about the spill
  4. No advisories on the toxicity of the spilled material have been issued
  5. No prosecution has been launched for violation of environmental laws by various agents

Criminal nonchalance:

  1. Despite the visibly oil-coated coastline, the Coast Guard, KPL and various ministers have sought to underplay the disaster by referring to the spill as minor or a non-incident, and its environmental effects as negligible, nil or temporary
  2. This nonchalance towards a toxic, inflammable chemical cocktail has emboldened the state to deploy untrained, bucket-wielding student volunteers, fishermen and conservancy workers to handle toxic oil with inadequate protective gear

Petroleum oils:

  1. Petroleum oils are complex mixtures of chemicals that are toxic, bioaccumulative and persistent in the environment
  2. Some, like benzene, are known human carcinogens
  3. They enter the body through inhalation, ingestion and the skin

Youth play:

  1. An oil spill clean-up is a hazardous waste remediation exercise
  2. But the world watched as Chennai’s youth rolled up their sleeves and scooped the oily emulsion bare-handed by the bucketful
  3. If this is how hazardous waste is cleaned in full view of the world, one wonders what crimes will be committed while cleaning up sites like the Bhopal factory, Unilever’s mercury-contaminated site in Kodaikanal, or the DDT-laced soils of Hindustan Insecticides in Eloor, Kerala — that are off-limits to citizens

Clean-up complete?

  1. In 1996, Union Carbide handed over its factory to the Madhya Pradesh government stating that the clean-up was complete
  2. Twenty years later, the site remains contaminated and begging for a real clean-up
  3. In Ennore too, the Coast Guard has been threatening to complete the clean-up in a couple of days — less than 10 days from when it commenced
  4. Ending the clean-up should not be determined by the stamina of the executing agency, but by the results of post-remediation assessments

The spill and work done so far:

  1. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services’ computer model on the first day of the spill estimated that for a 20-tonne spill at this time of the year at Ennore, more than 60% would be beached by the end of the ninth day
  2. What has been removed is the weathered oil and sludge from the nearshore sea and the accessible parts of the intertidal area
  3. The rocks remain covered with oil, and the gaps between rocks filled with toxic oily residues
  4. Standard practice is to use warm high-pressure water and foams to remove oil from such terrain
  5. Given that only buckets were in evidence, it is safe to assume that KPL or the Coast Guard do not have what it takes to clean spills that affect such rocky shores

State of Ennore Creek:

  1. Chennai’s seas and the Ennore Creek were in a state of crisis prior to the spill
  2. The spill is the latest in a series of insults on the estuarine and marine habitats
  3. KPL — a key agent in the unfolding drama — is dumping dredged sand onto salt pans that are part of the Ennore wetlands
  4. The petrochemical industries in Manali are discharging tonnes of oily chemical effluents into the creek and the sea
  5. The power plants in the area are discharging their coal ash and hot waste water into the wetlands
  6. Our regulators know all this and do nothing to enforce the law

The dedication:

  1. Thanks to the spill, the media glare is spotlighting the holes in our governance infrastructure
  2. The clean-up will only address the toxic oily residues, and even that only to the extent that public pressure persists

This governance deficit needs to be fixed if we are to avert the death of our life-support systems through the slow-motion disaster of day-to-day pollution or shock incidents like oil spills.


Make note of the points for a Mains answer.

[op-ed snap] Tarred by the oil spill


  1. Destruction is caused to a significant part of the Chennai coastline from the oil spill that followed a collision between two ships
  2. A large quantity of oil was released into the sea, affecting marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities
  3. It comes at a time when there is steadily declining pollution due to such incidents
  4. Ship collisions are less common today because GPS-based navigation systems have made their operation much safer

The spill:

  1. It is apparent that the first response to the Chennai collision involving an LPG tanker and the fuel carrier off the Kamarajar Port was seriously deficient
  2. The port initially denied any significant environmental damage from oil, but as the scale of the disaster began to unfold, and a large number of dead turtles and fish were washed ashore
  3. It became obvious that the spill had not been quickly contained
  4. Such failure calls into question the efficacy of the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan that is updated periodically for all stakeholders, notably ports, under the leadership of the Coast Guard

Further steps required:

  1. An independent inquiry is vital to determine whether the training and acquisition of equipment to handle such accidents for all agencies passed muster
  2. Pollution response equipment for all major ports and 26 non-major ports is funded to the extent of 50% by the Centre, casting a responsibility on ports to contribute the other half and build the capabilities to handle disasters
  3. Obfuscation of facts after an oil spill is counterproductive, since the impact is prolonged
  4. Considerable oil pollution is caused not just by catastrophes but through the discharge of ballast, sludge and water used for the cleaning of tanks
  5. The efficacy of chemical dispersants to degrade oil at sea remains controversial
  6. All this underscores the importance of timely advice from agencies such as the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, which is mandated to forecast the course of an oil spill

Reputation before international community:

  1. Moreover, it could erode the confidence of the international community in the country’s ability to fulfil its commitments within the UN system to protect marine life and biodiversity
  2. Failure to safeguard marine turtle and bird habitats, for example, is a clear violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and its specific memorandum on the Indian Ocean-Southeast Asian region to which India is a signatory


The op-ed is very important for Prelims and Mains both. Read b2b carefully.


Kamarajar Port: Ennore Port, officially renamed Kamarajar Port Limited, is located on the Coromandel Coast about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai. It is the 12th major port of India, and the first port in India which is a public company.

 Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services:

  1. It is an autonomous organization of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, located in Pragathi Nagar, Hyderabad
  2. ESSO-INCOIS was established as an autonomous body in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO)
  3. ESSO- INCOIS is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community through sustained ocean observations and constant improvements through systematic and focussed research

Chennai oil spill dooms turtles

  1. News: A thick oily tide from the sea lapped at the coast of several fishing hamlets in north Chennai, a day after two cargo ships, one of them an oil tanker, collided off Kamarajar Port in Ennore
  2. Impact: Several dead turtles and hatchlings coated with the black oil were washed ashore and discovered among the boulders
  3. Actions taken: Since there was a spill from the oil vessel, the Ennore Kamarajar Port authorities placed containment booms around the ships
  4. A Pollution Response team from the Coast Guard that had been alerted by the TNPCB reached the spot and used oil mop skimmers and sponge-like absorbents.


There can be a question on oil spill- impact and mitigation in prelims.

Air pollution action plan comes into force

  1. News: The graded response action plan for poor air quality, notified by the Centre earlier, has been rolled out
  2. What is it? It will cover the entire National Capital Region – the first such initiative
  3. As a result, Delhi could see strict air pollution-control measures, including a hike in parking charges and differential fares to encourage use of public transport in off-peak hours
  4. Measures as per the plan: The measures for very poor air quality include stopping the use of diesel generator sets, increasing parking fee by up to four times, augmenting public transport and stopping the use of coal and firewood by hotels and eateries


It is an important prelims tit-bit.

[op-ed snap] A new balance


  1. Expediting environmental clearances of pending projects
  2. Considering them as stumbling blocks for developmental initiatives

Importance of environmental clearance:

  1. Environmental clearance procedures are a prerequisite for efficient and sustainable management of natural resources
  2. They ensure that adverse impacts of economic growth are mitigated and managed, but these procedures are not, ipso facto, against development and growth
  3. Maintaining a balance between environment and development, nevertheless, is not an easy task
  4. The inputs of scientists and non-official experts on the environment ministry’s project appraisal committees are critical to ensure that the imperatives of economic growth and protection of natural resources are served
  5. Independent experts help maintain the checks and balances in the country’s environmental clearance procedures

Way ahead:

  1. A fast-developing country does require the environment ministry to work in tandem with agencies that further economic growth, but it would be alarming if the ministry gives up its primary function and becomes a clearing house
  2. It’s nobody’s case that the environmental clearance procedures in the country are foolproof. Data on projects, for example, is either scanty or dubious
  3. The environment ministry does require a change in direction. But it requires more careful thought and judgement than has been evident so far


Environmental Impact Assessment is an explicit topic in mains syllabus, very close to environmental clearances as it is taken up prior to any clearance. In light of this, the issue treated above becomes important for GS-3 as well as ethics (see Mains 2016 ethics paper to be clear on this).

Beijing to spend $2.6 billion this year to fight pollution

  1. What? Beijing aims to spend $2.6 billion to fight pollution and cap the capital city’s population to 22 million this year
  2. It also aims to control the annual average density of PM 2.5 to around 60 micrograms this year
  3. Why? The announcement came as Beijing along with 20 other cities suffered prolonged smog for over two weeks during which officials were criticised for not enforcing the red alert
  4. Actions: In 2017, 700 villages will switch from coal to clean energy. Total coal use will be cut by 30% to seven million tonnes and 300,000 outdated vehicles will be phased out


About PM 2.5:

  1. It refers to atmospheric particulates with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres
  2. These are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere
  3. Sources: All types of combustion activities, crushing or grinding operations, and dust from paved or unpaved roads, from the chemical change of gases
  4. Risk: Affects everyone but most harmful to children and senior citizens
  5. Effects: Premature death from heart and lung disease, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma

[pib] What is Saksham Programme?


  1. A month long awareness programme
  2. The programme is being organized by PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association) and other Oil & Gas PSUs under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas

Aim of Saksham 2017:

  1. Saksham – 2017 is aimed to create awareness amongst masses towards judicious utilization and conservation of petroleum products
  2. It will spread awareness about use of energy efficient appliances and switching to cleaner fuels

Initiatives taken:

  1. During one-month long drive, workshops will be held for drivers of commercial vehicles and housewives, cooks on adopting simple fuel saving measures
  2. It aims to educate on various steps for fuel conservation through activities like Quiz Show, Saksham Asian Cycling Championship, Walkathons, concerts and other activities across the country


UPSC can ask about this programme in your Prelims exam. You may also use it, wherever relevant, as a part of Mains answer.


Urbanisation has not led to hotter summer days for many Indian cities

  1. Common notion: Cities with heavily built-up areas and concrete structures are supposed to have higher temperature than non-urban regions due to urban heat island effect
  2. Latest study: Contrary to this notion, a “majority” of 84 cities across India, particularly those in central India and Gangetic Basin, have lower daytime temperature from March to May compared with the surrounding non-urban areas (taken as 1 km radius of the city)
  3. The results once again highlight the importance of increasing the vegetation cover in cities to effectively mitigate the urban heat island effect
  4. Mechanism: While cities have lower daytime temperature than surrounding non-urban areas from March to May, it is the reverse during nights
  5. During night time, the cities, particularly those in the Gangetic Basin, were hotter than non-urban areas. This is prominent in cities that are located in the arid region
  6. Reason: The relatively high vegetation cover leading to higher evapo-transpiration compared with nearby non-urban areas is the main reason why cities are relatively cooler than the adjacent non-urban areas during the day in summer
  7. While the cities have more trees, the non-urban areas are mostly crop lands and are barren during the summer months
  8. The absence of evapo-transpiration during night and the heat contained in the concrete structures increases the night time temperature in the cities during March to May
  9. Relation to heat waves: Since cities tend to have lower daytime temperature during March to May, the intensity of heat-waves will be lower in the cities compared with non-urban areas. This is prominent in cities that are located in the arid region.
  10. During winter: (December to February) Crops that grow in the non-urban areas result in increased vegetation cover and more evaporative cooling leading lower temperature than in the cities
  11. Also, there is increased biomass burning for cooking and heating in the cities during winter leading to increased emission of black carbon
  12. The black carbon emission increases the air temperature which may have a feedback to land surface temperature


Mains 2013 had a question on urban heat island effect. So understand this new mechanism. Tree plantation as a solution to the urban heat island effect is key here. Also, make note of all the bold keywords for prelims.

[pib] Know about World’s largest Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP)

Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP):

  1. Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) is currently running in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area
  2. It is the World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme
  3. Implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture under the Ministry of Power, Government of India

Progress so far:

  1. A total of 15.36 lakh street lights have already been replaced in the country with LED bulbs
  2. This results in energy savings of 20.35 crore kWh, avoiding capacity of 50.71 MW
  3. Reducing 1.68 lakh tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum

Role of EESL:

  1. In the SDMC Project, EESL is addressing complaints from various sources
  2. EESL is putting stringent complaint redressal mechanism and Centralized Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) to enable remote operation and monitoring of the street lights
  3. CCMS provides real time information on energy consumption and remote monitoring of the street lights


This is a good government initiative to cut down on harmful emissions. Make a note of the points for both Prelims and Mains. Take note of ‘what is EESL?’ for prelims.


[op-ed snap] Looking towards a greener future

Green Bonds:

  1. Finance environmentally friendly businesses and assets
  2. They have emerged as one of the key financing mechanisms driving the global economy’s transition to a greener future

When and by whom was it issued?

  1. First green bond was issued in 2007
  2. By two multilateral development banks (World Bank and European Investment Bank)

Rising trend:

  1. Green bonds have seen extensive participation from corporates and financial institutions, including sovereign and municipal bodies
  2. Global markets witnessed currency green bonds and innovative structuring along with maiden green bond issuance in a number of countries
  3. Supported by market-driven state policies and marked by a rapid growth in green bond issuance in India and China, the Asian market has emerged as a frontrunner in the green bonds space

Contributing to sustainable growth:

  1. India’s green bond market has witnessed a number of critical milestones following Yes Bank’s and India’s first green infrastructure bonds issued in February 2015
  2. A growing number of corporates and financial institutions have leveraged this innovative mechanism to raise capital, attracting foreign investments and inducing momentum in the market

India’s contribution:

  1. India has witnessed its award-winning first green masala bond (rupee-denominated bond)
  2. The International Financial Corporation raising an off-shore rupee bond on London Stock Exchange for investing in Yes Bank’s green bond
  3. India is demonstrating how innovations in emerging markets have the potential to capture global attention
  4. These green bonds have been crucial in increasing financing to sunrise sectors like renewable energy, thus contributing to India’s sustainable growth
  5. The Climate Bond Initiative, in its India update, indicated that about 62% of the green bond proceeds have been allocated to renewable energy projects
  6. Followed by the low carbon transport sector and low carbon buildings


  1. In January 2016, the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) of India published its official green bond guidelines and requirements for Indian issuers,
  2. Placing India amongst a select set of pioneering countries who have developed national level guidelines
  3. India the seventh largest green bond market globally
  4. In addition to SEBI’s guidance on green bonds, the Reserve Bank of India passed regulatory reforms aimed at strengthening and expanding India’s corporate bond market

Expectations from 2017 and beyond:

  1. Full potential of India’s green bond market remains untapped, with only a limited number of issuers so far
  2. With increasing interest from the government and market regulators, 2017 is expected to see further developments in terms of innovations and supporting policy and regulatory frameworks aimed at bringing more clarity and impetus to the space
  3. A more descriptive and exhaustive classification from Indian regulators and policymakers in the coming years would be crucial in expanding the green bond market further
  4. The upcoming year is poised to witness the first ‘blue bond’ issuance (bonds used to specifically finance water infrastructure) in India

Way ahead:

  1. Developed countries have reaffirmed their $100 billion mobilisation goal per year by 2020 in CoP. To support climate action in emerging nations, utilisation of green bonds is an effective vehicle to tap into climate funds
  2. Collective participation of regulators, policymakers, corporate and financial institutions is going to be crucial in pushing frontiers of green bonds further, unleashing new opportunities in addressing climate change


Keep important facts in mind about green bonds like- who issued it first etc. This can also be a part of solution for environmental issues in essay and GS answers.

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 .
  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.

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