Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important
Prelims Level: Particular details about Himalayan Biogeographic zone, Richness in Fauna and Endemic Species
Mains Level: The newscard talks in general about the biodiversity richness of Himalaya and highlights Threats to it.
Zoological Survey of India Report
The Indian Himalayas, which constitute about 12% of the country’s landmass, is home to about 30.16% of its fauna, says a new publication from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)
The publication, Faunal Diversity of Indian Himalaya, lists 30,377 species/subspecies in the region with the entire identified fauna in the country adding up to 1,00,762
The spread of Himalayan Region
Spread across six States — from Jammu and Kashmir in the west through Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and West Bengal’s Darjeeling to Arunachal Pradesh in the far east.
The Indian Himalayas are divided into two bio-geographic zones — the Trans-Himalaya and the Himalaya, based on physiographic, climatic and eco-biological attributes
Abundance of species
The entire region, spread over 3.95 lakh sq. km. is home to 280 species of mammals, 940 species of birds, 316 species of fishes, 200 species of reptiles and 80 species of amphibians
This put together accounts for 27.6% of the total vertebrate diversity of the country
Unique Features of the Himalayan region
The ZSI publication lists 133 vertebrate species of the region cited as threatened in the IUCN Red List. This includes 43 species of mammals like the critically endangered Pygmy Hog, the Namdapha flying squirrel and the endangered Snow leopard, the Red Panda and the Kashmir Gray Langur
Fifty-two species of birds are also in the threatened category like the critically endangered White-Bellied Heron and Siberian crane and vulnerable species like the Black Necked crane and the Indian Spotted Eagle, among others
Some of the rare high-altitude butterflies found in the Himalayas are Parnassius stoliczkanus (Ladakh banded Apollo) and Parnassius epaphus (Red Apollo), listed under Schedule I and Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, respectively
Most of the threatened species of vertebrates, particularly mammals, require population assessment and study of the role of climate change on their habitat
Climate change is a major threat as far as mammals and birds are concerned
The impact is visible in the shifting distribution of sensitive species like the Asiatic Black Bear, the Snow leopard, and the Himalayan Marmot
Carnivores and their habitats are threatened by ever-increasing human-wildlife conflict in the region
Habitat loss due to land use change, illegal wildlife trade, forest fires and increasing anthropogenic activities pose threats to this Himayalan biodiversity
Even with a focused approach, India will face several challenges, external and internal, in implementing selected Sustainable Development Goals.
The SDG agenda negotiated by the UN membership over the past three years is, perhaps, the most ambitious roadmap ever drawn up by the world body.
It lists 17 goals ranging from “Goal 1 – End poverty in all its forms everywhere” to “Goal 17– Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” and a staggering 169 targets that need to be monitored and implemented by 2030.
In contrast, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted by countries in 2000 to reduce extreme poverty by 2015, had a mere eight goals and 18 targets less than half and around one-tenth of the SDG goals and targets respectively.
Domestic efforts of a single country China , that pulled more people out of poverty than any other.
Today, India is home to more than 30% of the global estimate of over 1 billion people who live in extreme poverty.
A single Indian state Uttar Pradesh (UP),accounts for 8% of the world’s population living in extreme poverty.
Externally, India will have to raise adequate resources and also acquire the necessary technology to help achieve its SDG objectives.
In particular, the panchayat, which will be crucial to ensuring inclusion at the local level, remains the weakest link.
Finally, NITI Aayog, which also has the task of monitoring progress on implementation of the SDGs, will have to innovate to keep track of all 169 targets.
These formidable challenges notwithstanding, were India to succeed in addressing them, it will not only help achieve the SDGs, but would also put India on the path of becoming a global power.
The NGT has the jurisdiction over all civilcases where a substantial question relating to environment is involved.
These cases can arise out of – The Water Act, The Water Cess Act, The Forest (Conservation) Act, The Air Act, The Environment Protection Act, The Public Liability Insurance Act & The Biological Diversity Act.
When an environmentalist asked for the records of steps taken by the Govt. on NAPCC, the center replied with this –
“India is a signatory to the UNFCC & is not under obligations to NGT on that.”