ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT FOR UPSC PRELIMS 2018

FOLLOWING ARE THE MONTH WISE NOTES FOR ALL CURRENT AFFAIRS RELATED TO ECOLOGY

DECEMBER 2017

  • Union government is working on a ―rent a roof policy to support its plan to generate 40 GW of solar power by 2022. What is “rent a roof” policy?

 Under the policy, a developer will take rooftops on rent and will offer lease to each household, and then feed the solar power to the grid.  This policy works under net-metering system, by which a consumer is only billed for the electricity consumed after deducting the power generated from one‘s solar rooftop panels that is supplied to the grid.  Union government aims to give the discoms financial incentives for every MW of rooftop capacity created in their area of operation.  However, to avail themselves of incentives, discoms should create the capacities through tariff-based competitive bidding.

 The proposed scheme seeks to shift the game from captive players to energy companies (independent power producers, or IPPs).

 

 

  • Maharashtra government is firm in ceding the AAREY FOREST LAND FOR METRO PROJECTS.

 This has aggravated distress among civil society as the forest area falls under eco sensitive zone.

What is the significance of Aarey forest?

 It is considered to be Mumbai‘s green lung which spreads over 1,300 hectare in the city’s northern suburb.

 It is home to several species of birds, insects and leopards, and was once part of the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

 This forest was once used to be over 3,000 acres in north Mumbai and has been reduced to around 1,300 acres.

 

  • Scientists have revealed that RE-CURVING CYCLONES play an important role in sensing the movement of cyclones.

What is a Re- curving cyclone?

  • On its way to diminish, if cyclone gets a sort of second wind by deflected right or eastwards is known as recurving cyclone.
  • This is due to air currents in the local atmosphere that push cold air from the poles towards the equator and interfere with cyclone formation.
  • In the southern hemisphere, the cyclones spin clockwise and therefore also re-curve in the opposite direction.
  • During the monsoon months, cyclones in the Western Pacific move westwards towards India and aid the

associated rain-bearing systems over the country.

  • However, in the years of a re-curve, they do not give as much of a push to the rain as they do in the good

monsoon years.

What is its relevance with Ockhi cyclone?

  • A challenge with re-curving cyclones is that it is hard for weather models to pick them early on as was the case with Ockhi. · August rains in India was dampened, which was 13% short of Cyclone Ockhi.The whirlwind that arose in the Bay of Bengal and revved up over Sri Lanka was expected to pass overLakshadweep and then ease into the Arabian Sea, far away from India‘s west coast.· However, the cyclone ended up sharply swerving into parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat.· It did not blow in very strongly because there it had not gained as much moisture from the Arabian Sea like it had over the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean boundary. · And though it wreaked havoc in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and destroyed several beaches in Goa when it curved back to the land.

 

  • Cyclone Ockhi that struck the Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala has left manyfishermen dead and about a thousand of them missing. The large-scale loss of lives and livelihood has raised serious questions about disaster management and government response.

 

 

 

 

Chabahar Port

  • The first phase of the chabahar port project known as the ―Shahid Beheshti port‖ was inaugurated

recently.

  • It opens up a new strategic transit route between Iran, India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan

under the 2016 Indo-Afghan-Iran trilateral pact.

  • The port lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India‘s western coast.
  • India is also constructing a railway line between Chabahar and Zahedan to connect the port to rest of the

Iranian railway network.

  • It is further to be linked with Delaram-Zaranj road, built by India in Afghanistan that connects at Afghan-Iran border via rail through Zahedan.

 

 

  • The world‘s newest island ―Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha‘apai was formed during a volcanic eruption in the remote Pacific three years ago. The island rose from the seabed about 65 km

northwest of the Tonga capital Nuku‘alofa.

 

 

  • Ahmedabad has been declared India‘s first World Heritage City by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO.
  • But it is facing difficulties in defending its tag of world heritage city due to pollution. Ahmedabad’s conservation committee has 3 years to document close to 3,000 buildings of heritage value to strict UNESCO standards. · The committee has also the responsibility to show that the decline and destruction in the city is slowing over the years. · If the deadline is missed, UNESCO may revoke or downgrade Ahmedabad’s listing to “heritage in danger”. · UNESCO experts have been warning that the city lacked a convincing plan for protecting its ancient citadels, mosques and tombs.

 

  • India‘s largest floating solar power plant project at the Banasura Sagar Dam in Wayanad district is completed and going to be commissioned soon.

 

 

  • Ro – Ro services in India
  • In RO-RO service, vessels have either built-in or shore-based ramps that allow the cargo to be efficiently rolled on and off the vessel when in port.
  • This is in opposite to the lift-on and lift-off (lo-lo) vessels, which use a crane to load and unload cargo.
  • This service is currently in operational in two states – Gujarat and Assam.
  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) rolled out a regular RO-RO between Assam- Meghalaya connecting Dhubri and Hatsingimari.
  • Dhubri and Hatsingimari are located in the north bank and south bank of River Brahmaputra respectively.
  • Recently, India‘s first RO-RO passenger (RO Pax) service was inaugurated between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat in the Gulf of Khambhat region.
  • Tuirial Hydro power
  • Tuirial Hydro Electric Project (60 MW) in Mizoram, being implemented by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation.
  • The project is built at a cost of Rs 1302 crore, was started in 1998, which is the biggest power project located in Mizoram.
  • It is earth fill and gravity dam over Tuirial which is the first ever Central project to be successfully commissioned in Mizoram.

 

  • Rewa Mega Multi Power Project
  • Rewa Mega Multi Power project with the capacity of 750 MW is located in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is signed between Delhi Metro Railways Corporation (DMRC) & Madhya

Pradesh Power Management Company (MPPMC).

  • Thus it becomes the first power project to conduct interstate sale of solar power to Delhi Metro.

 

  • Agariyas
  • Agariyas are nomadic tribes and traditionally salt farmers in Rann of Kutch, a seasonal salt marsh in Thar Desert, Rajasthan. · The tribes derive their names from the word ―Agar meaning salt farms.
  • During the monsoon months, the Rann of Kutch is submerged in sea water.
  • As the sea water finally begins to recede in October, the Agariyas move in and begin the elaborate process of salt farming.

 

  • NITI Aayog in collaboration with the European Union delegation to India has released the STRATEGY ON RESOURCE EFFICIENCY. The strategy aims to promote resource efficiency in India.
  • This strategy is the first policy document to emphasize resource productivity in the country. The Strategy emphasizes on Sustainable Public Procurement (SSP) as an action agenda which will be the market transformation tool to transform to a resource efficient economy.
  • The document is developed with the recommendations from the Indian Resource Efficiency Programme (IREP), launched by the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Indian Resource Panel (InRP) in April 2017.

About InRP: The new Indian Resource Panel (InRP) was officially unveiled in 2016, making India one of the first emerging economies to set up a national advisory body on resource efficiency. The InRP was created with support from the International Climate Initiative as part of the project ‘Resource efficiency and secondary raw materials management as a contribution to climate change mitigation’. The InRP will issue recommendations to Indian businesses and policy-makers on improving the general conditions for resource efficiency.

  • The Regional Level MARINE OIL POLLUTION RESPONSE EXERCISE TITLED ‘CLEAN SEA – 2017’, was recently conducted at sea off Port Blair.

The objective of the exercise was to ascertain preparedness of the Indian Coast Guard, resource agencies and other stakeholders in responding to a major oil spill in line with the provisions of NOS-DCP (National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan).

Background:

Indian Coast Guard is responsible for marine environment protection in the maritime zones of India and is the coordinating authority for response to oil spills in Indian waters. The Force has drawn up a National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOSDCP) and has established three pollution response centres at Mumbai, Chennai and Port Blair.

National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan: India promulgated National oil spill Disaster contingency plan (NOS-DCP) in the year 1996. Coast guard was designated as central coordination authority.

The objectives of the plan are:

  • To develop appropriate and effective systems for the detection and reporting of spillage of oil.
  • To ensure prompt response to prevent, control, and combat oil pollution.
  • To ensure that adequate protection is provided to the public health and welfare, and the marine environment.
  • To ensure that appropriate response techniques are employed to prevent, control, and combat oil pollution, and dispose off recovered material in an environmentally accepted manner.
  • To ensure that complete and accurate records are maintained of all expenditure to facilitate cost of recovery

 

  • The UNICEF has released the report on air pollution titled- ‘Danger in the air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children’. The report has once again set alarm bells ringing about high levels of air pollution and its likely impact on brain development among infants.

Highlights of the report:

  • Nearly 17 million infants worldwide live in areas where outdoor air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits. These babies are at a risk of suffering brain damage. Air

pollution-related ailments has led to the deaths of over 920,000 children under the age of five every year.

  • The threat is much higher in Asia. Nearly 16 million infants belong to Asia. Moreover, 75% of them live in the Indian subcontinent, which has three of the world’s 10 most populations countries in the world — India,

Bangladesh and Pakistan. In fact, India topped the list of countries with babies at risk, followed by China, the most populated country in the world.

  • Focusing on the adverse effect on the development of brain among infants, the UNICEF report has found a direct relationship between exposure to air pollution and cognitive outcomes. Affected infants faced problems of low verbal and nonverbal IQ and memory, reduced test scores, gradepoint averages among school children, along with neurological behavioral issues.
  • As per the report, Ultrafine pollution particles (particulate matter that is equal or less than 2.5 microns in diameter) pose an especially high risk because they can more easily enter the blood stream and travel through the body to the brain.

 

 

  • The UN, in its latest report- Global E-waste Monitor 2017, has warned about the health and environmental dangers from the processing of e-waste — the discarded electronic and electrical material — by the informal sector in India without proper safeguards.

The UN has made the following observations in its report:

  • Over 1 million poor people in India are involved in manual recycling operations, but “most of these people have very low literacy levels with little awareness of the dangers of the operations.
  • Severe health impacts and environmental damage are widespread in India, due to the final step of the e-waste processing by the informal sector. The dangers come from “improper and unsafe treatment and disposal through open burning or in dumpsites.
  • The value of recoverable precious materials like gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium contained in last year’s e-waste was $55 billion and much of it was going to waste.

 

Background:

 Domestically India produced 1.95 million tonnes of e-waste last year — or about 1.5 kg per person — and it also imports it from developed countries. Last year, the world produced 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste or 6.1 kg per

person, which is four times more than the e-waste produced by each Indian. Only 8.9 million tonnes — or 20 per cent — per cent of total global e-waste was recycled.

 E-waste includes a whole variety of small and large appliances, and electronic equipment including cell phones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, computers and lamps, small appliance and large appliances, lamps.

 

  • On the Energy Conservation Day celebrated on December 14th, the government unveiled the interactive online portal, ECO-NIWAS (Energy Conservation – New Indian Way for Affordable & Sustainable homes) for increasing awareness to build sustainable and energy efficient homes in the country.

 

  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has for the first time compiled a list of alien invasive animal species, totalling 157. Of the 157 species, 58 are found on land and in freshwater habitats, while 99 are in the marine ecosystem. This compilation was announced on the sidelines of the National Conference on the Status of Invasive Alien Species in India, organised by the ZSI and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Few examples:

  • Paracoccus marginatus (Papaya Mealy Bug), which belongs to Mexico and Central America but is believed to have destroyed huge crops of papaya in Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
  • Phenacoccus solenopsis (Cotton Mealybug) is a native of North America but has severely affected cotton crops in the Deccan.
  • Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Amazon sailfin catfish) has been destroying fish populations in the wetlands of Kolkata.
  • Achatina fulica (African apple snail) is said to be most invasive among all alien fauna. It is a mollusc and was first reported in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But today it is found all across the country and is threatening the habitats of several native species.

 

  • Niti Aayog is planning to set up a METHANOL ECONOMY FUND worth Rs 4,000-5,000 crore to promote production and use of the clean fuel. The government think-tank is aiming at generation of the fuel by converting high ash content coal into methanol and such a plant is expected to be set up by Coal India.

Niti Aayog plans to move a Cabinet note soon on the methanol economy and the plans to set up production plants. It expects that two plans can be commissioned in the next 3-4 years.

Methanol as an alternative fuel:

Methanol is a promising fuel as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.

Methanol can be blended with gasoline in low-quantities and used in existing road vehicles, or it can be used in high-proportion blends such as M85-M100 in flex-fuel or dedicated methanol-fueled vehicles. Technology is also being commercialized to use methanol as a diesel substitute.

 

  • Anti-smog gun

Anti-smog gun is a device that sprays atomised water into the atmosphere to reduce air pollution. Connected to a water tank and mounted on a vehicle, the device could be taken across the city to spray water to settle dust and other suspended particles.

  • The environment ministry has launched a pilot project named ‘Blue Flag’ for beach clean-up and development.

About the Blue Flag project:

The prime objective of the project is to enhance standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches. Under the project, each state or union territory has been asked to nominate a beach which will be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme.

  • According to a research report by ratings agency CARE, the 9.85% ratio of bad loans in banks has put India in the group of those nations that have very high nonperforming assets (NPAs). The only major countries with similar ratios are the troubled EU nations: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain — commonly referred to as PIIGS.
  • The Indonesian island of Bali recently declared a “garbage emergency” in response to the overwhelming amount of plastic waste that has floated ashore and spoiled pristine beaches. A 3.6-mile stretch of beach on the island’s western coast was declared an emergency zone after authorities realised that the volume of plastic being washed up was endangering the tourist trade.

Background: Indonesia is the world’s second largest contributor to marine debris, outdone only by China, the most populous country in the world. In addition to degrading the beaches, plastic waste blocks waterways, impacting transportation and increasing flooding risk, while posing a risk to marine animals.

  • China has launched ITS LONG MARCH 2C ROCKET with a trio of Yaogan-30 satellites into space. Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Yaogan-30 03 trio consists of three identical satellites equipped with two deployable solar arrays. Yaogan is a series of Earth-observing satellites launched by China since 2006. The satellites are intended for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment and disaster monitoring.
  • The Centre has recognised Odisha as a ‘Champion State’ for recording the highest growth in exports during 2016-17. The exports from the state have increased from Rs 19,082 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 40,872 crore in 2016-17 with merchandise exports from Odisha registering the highest growth rate of 114% among all the states.
  • China has launched homegrown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. The plane is codenamed Kunlong. With a wingspan of 38.8 metres (127ft) and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours. The amphibious aircraft has military applications but will be used for firefighting and marine rescue.
  • India’s first design university ‘World University of Design’ opens campus

India’s first and only Design University – World University of Deisgn has opened it’s campus at Sonipat, Haryana. The University has International Collaborations with foreign Universities like UWS University of West Scotland, VFS the Vancouver Film School, and IAAD the Italian University of Design.

The university offers country’s largest creative course catalogue – 23 specialized UG and PG programs in various Design arenas such as Design, Fashion, Communication, Visual Arts, Design and Retail Management, and Architecture. The University follows a unique curriculum that encourages Research, Academic Excellence, Industry Preparedness and Social Innovation.

  • Developing and industrialized countries have requested the World Bank to explore a framework for piloting activities that would reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation using a system of policy approaches and performance-based payments. The proposed framework is called the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (activities commonly referred to as REDD+).

The four strategic objectives of the FCPF:

 To assist countries in their REDD+ efforts by providing them with financial and technical assistance in building their capacity to benefit from possible future systems of positive incentives for REDD+.

 To pilot a performance-based payment system for REDD+ activities, with a view to ensuring equitable benefit sharing and promoting future large-scale positive incentives for REDD+.

 Within the approach to REDD+, to test ways to sustain or enhance livelihoods of local communities and to conserve biodiversity.

 To disseminate broadly the knowledge gained in the development of the Facility and the implementation of Readiness Preparation Proposals (RPPs) and Emission Reductions Programs (ERPs).

 

  • The Carbon Initiative for Development (Ci-Dev) was launched in 2011 by World Bank to build capacity and develop tools and methodologies to help the world’s poorest countries access carbon finance, mainly in the area of energy access. It is set up to use performance payments based on reduced emissions to support projects that use clean and efficient technologies in low-income countries.

Focus areas:

Increasing Energy Access: The Ci-Dev will provide financing for projects that

support access to energy in low-income countries, in collaboration with other parts of the World Bank Group.

Building on the CDM: The Ci-Dev will build on the infrastructure that has been created by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Carbon Finance: The Ci-Dev will use results-based payments as its vehicle for financing energy access projects, building on a decade of carbon finance experience by the World Bank Group.

 

The objectives of the Ci-Dev are the following:

 To demonstrate that performance-based payments for the purchase of certified carbon emission reductions (CERs) can lead to a successful and viable business model that promotes increased private sector participation, and share lessons for replication.

 To influence future carbon market mechanisms so that low income countries, and especially least developed ones, receive a greater and fairer share of carbon finance, resulting in high development benefits that avoid carbon emissions.

 To support low income countries in developing standardized baselines and establishing “suppressed demand” accounting standards in key areas such as rural electrification, household energy access and energy efficiency.

 To contribute proposals to further improve and extend the scope of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for use by least developed countries (LDCs), in particular for Programmes of Activities (POA)

 

 

  • The BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) is a multilateral fund, supported by donor governments and managed by the World Bank. It promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector, from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+), and from sustainable agriculture, as well as smarter land-use planning, policies and practices.

ISFL has a geographically diverse portfolio of large-scale programs that can have significant impact and transform rural areas by protecting forests, restoring degraded lands, enhancing agricultural productivity, and by improving livelihoods and local environments.

The ISFL supports programs in Colombia, Ethiopia, and Zambia. An additional program in Indonesia is under consideration. The fund provides technical assistance to support the design of programs that impact multiple sectors of the economy and results-based payments to incentivize and sustain program activities.

NOVEMBER 2017

 

  • THE 23RD MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP-23) OF THE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK  CONVENTION ON  CLIMATE CHANGE (UNFCCC) concluded in Bonn, Germany.   It is the first set of negotiations since the US withdrawal  from the Paris deal.

Highlights

Adoption of Fiji Momentum for Implementation: It set the  stage for negotiation in 2018. It is divided into three parts  which deals with:

ü Completion of the Work Programme  under Paris Agreement: Parties have  requested the Secretariat to develop  an online platform to provide an  overview of the work programme of

the Paris Agreement being carried by  different stakeholders.

ü Pre-2020 implementation and ambition: Parties agreed that there will be two stock-takes to discuss  pre-2020 commitments — in 2018 and 2019 —  before the Paris Agreement becomes

operative in 2020.

Agriculture: After six years, a decision was taken  to deal with climate actions in agriculture. Parties

are required to submit the following — reporting  on climate actions in agriculture; adaptation

assessment methods for improvement of soil  health, soil carbon and soil quality, as well as

considerations for the improvement of nutrient  use and manure management; and reporting on socio-economic and food security dimensions.

Gender Action Plan: The first ever Gender Action Plan to the UNFCCC was adopted at COP23 (role of gender in climate actions had earlier been included in the Lima work programme). It lays five priorities areas:

ü capacity building.

ü knowledge sharing and communication

ü gender balance and women’s leadership

ü coherence

The Conference outcomes:

  1. alliances were formed for phasing out coal
  2. decision to putting up green buildings and accelerating eco-mobility

iii. recognising gender in dealing with the issue, in a Gender Action Plan

  1. decision to get indigenous people (adivasis) have a say in climate talks
  2. decision to look into the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

Talanoa Dialogue:

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.

 

  • THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL PERMACULTURE CONVERGENCE (IPC) WAS HELD IN HYDERABAD.

Permaculture:

It is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.

The term was coined by Bill Mollison in 1978.

 

Significance of permaculture

Environment friendly: It discourages uses of  chemical and pesticide and promotes the uses

of eco-friendly means to maintain soil health  and increase productivity.

Decrease Global warming: Increasing area under  permaculture from current 108 million acres to 1

billion acres by 2050 could result in a total  reduction of 23.2 gigatons of CO2, from both sequestration and reduced emissions.

Promotion of Traditional practice: It incorporates traditional farming practices with modern technological and scientific knowledge to create efficient systems. It can also reduce the dependency of farmers on multi-national companies for genetically modified seeds.

Improve income: Instead of monoculture, permaculture uses polyculture where a diverse range of vegetation and animals are utilised to support each other to create a self-sustaining systems.

 

  • According to a Greenpeace analysis of NASA’s satellite data on particulate matter in India and China, the levels of fine particulate matter rose across India by 13% between 2010 and 2015 while they fell by 17% in China in the same period.
  • Lakhs of migratory birds have made their way to the Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon. Major bird congregations have been spotted in the wetlands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside Chilika and Mangalajodi, a major village on the banks of the lake.
  • The first edition of the International Symposium to Promote Innovation & Research in Energy Efficiency (INSPIRE 2017) was kicked off in Jaipur recently. The five-day symposium is being organized by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) in partnership with The World Bank, and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).

INSPIRE 2017 is an International Conference that brings together various stakeholders such as policy makers, innovators, financiers, influencers to showcase best practices in the sector.

  • Union government announced that BS-VI fuel will be available in Delhi by April 2018. By moving to BS-VI, the country will be using the highest specifications of fuel standard available in the world right now. Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India. The main difference between BS-IV and BS-VI (which is comparable to Euro 6) is in the amount of sulphur in the fuel.

BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80% reduction in sulphur content — from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm. Another major difference is NOx. BS-VI is expected to cut NOx

emissions from diesel cars by nearly 70% and from cars with petrol engines by 25%.

India first notified its auto emission norms in 1991 and then revised these in 1996 and later in 1999 when the BS norms were announced.

NOTE: The BS-IV norms were announced in April 2010 but it took nearly six years from then for the entire country to make the switch to these standards.

 

  • Aadi Mahotsav

It is a fortnight long tribal festival on the theme of ‘A Celebration of the Spirit of Tribal Culture, Cuisine and Commerce’. It is being held at Delhi.

Features:

More than 750 tribal artisans and artisans from over 25 states are taking part in the festival. The Mahotsav will feature exhibition-cum-sale of tribal handicrafts, art, paintings, fabric, jewellery and much more. A special feature of the

 

  • The waters of the Siang river, considered the lifeline of northern Arunachal Pradesh for centuries, has suddenly turned dark black triggering panic in the frontier state. The water from the river is no longer considered fit for consumption.

China is being blamed for these changes. China has been planning to dig the world’s longest tunnel to change the course of Yarlung Tsangpo from Tibet towards Taklimakan desert in Xinjiang but has been denying the same at public platforms.

Siang originates in China and then enters India through Arunachal Pradesh, it is then joined by two other rivers–Dibang and Lohit–as it enters Assam where it is called the Brahmaputra.

 

  • Facebook has partnered with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and a non-profit body, SEEDS in India, to offer tools to these agencies to help them respond more effectively to natural disasters.

Facebook will offer ‘disaster maps data’ that illustrate aspects like people’s movement and concentration of Facebook users in the given area before and after a calamity. The programme will be piloted in two disaster-prone States — Assam and Uttarakhand.

 

  • 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being held in New Delhi, India.

The Conference is being organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with the support of WHO Country Office for India and in partnership with Indian Society of International Law.

The objective of the Conference is to exchange knowledge and expand understanding on contemporary issues in international trade laws and research and innovation for access to medical products to achieve SDG 2030 agenda.

 

  • Union government had banned the use of petcoke and furnace oil in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. Petroleum coke or petcoke is a carbonaceous solid delivered from oil refinery coke units or other cracking processes. It is a bottom-of-the-barrel residue while refining crude oil, which is high-calorific value petroleum residue, helps to conserve natural resources.

It is over 90 percent carbon and emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal on a per-unit-of energy basis when it is burned.It can contain vanadium, a toxic metal which is toxic in tiny quantities, 0.8 micrograms per cubic meter of air. It is a key input material for cement producers and a highly polluting fuel. It is sometimes a source of fine dust, which can get through the air passage and lodge in the lungs, causing serious health problems. When it comes to sulphur content, petcoke with 75,000 ppm (parts per million) is clearly one of the dirtiest fuels on earth. Even coal, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, has just 4,000 ppm of sulphur.

ALTERNATIVE WAY TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE:

There is a clear need to find a way to dispose it in an environmentally friendly manner and cement kilns offer the best option.In cement kilns limestone is burnt at over 1500 degrees to produce clinker which is then crushed to produce cement. When petcoke is used as a fuel, the lime in the clinker absorbs the sulphur and the sulphur that is eventually let out of the stack is way below the permissible norms.

As petcoke has zero ash content, cement firms can use low grade limestone. This is a big advantage as almost 60 per cent of India‘s limestone reserves is low grade in nature

Furnace oil – It is a dark viscous residual product used as a fuel in different types of combustion equipment. It is obtained by blending residual products from various refining processes with suitable diluents to obtain the required fuel oil grades.

  • Colour Level of Health Concern AQI Values

Green Good 0 to 50

Yellow Moderate 51 to 100

Orange Unhealthy for sensitive groups 101 to 150

Red Unhealthy 151 to 200

Purple Very Unhealthy 201 to 300

Maroon Hazardous 301 to 500

  • Earth‘s artificially lit outdoor surface at night grew by about 2%, resulting in increasing light pollution.

Light pollution, also known as photo pollution, is the presence of anthropogenic light in the night

Environment. Light pollution has ecological consequences, with natural light cycles disrupted by artificial light introduced into the night time environment. Increased sky glow can affect human sleep

In addition to threatening 30 percent of vertebrates that are nocturnal and over 60 percent of invertebrates that are nocturnal, artificial light also affects plants and microorganisms.

  • Trump administration recently proposed the lifting of import bans for elephants

This is expected to ease the entry of trophy imports from countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia.

This has brought trophy hunting into the international limelight and the conservationists are divided in their opinions.

 

  • Pacific Shadow zone

The shadow zone is an area of almost stagnant water sitting between rising currents caused by the rough topography and geothermal heat sources.It is located at around 2km below the surface of the Indian and Pacific Oceans with barely any vertical movement that suspends ocean water in an area, leaving the region directly above isolated for centuries. The oldest water in the ocean in the North Pacific has remained trapped in it.

  • Mount Agung Volcano

The volcano is located in Bali, Indonesia. It was erupted last time in 1963. Indonesian government has issued a warning of the ―imminent‖ risk of a larger eruption and residents were warned to immediately evacuate a danger zone that circles Agung in a radius of 8-10 km.

  • Uluru

Uluru, the world‘s largest monolith, is a sandstone rock formation in the central Australia. It is also known as Ayers Rock and is considered as sacred to ―Anangu, the aboriginal people of the region. Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset.At a meeting of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park board, a unanimous decision was made to restrict the climbing of rock, which will come into effect from October 2019.

 

  • Worlds Highest Motorable Road

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed world‘s highest motorable road in Ladakh.

It is being constructed under the Project Himank. It is passing through Umlingla Top at a height of over 19,300 feet and 230 km from Leh.It is considered as a response to Chinese aggression in LAC in Ladakh.The Project Himank has already constructed roads like Khardung La (17,900 ft) and Chang La Pass (17,695 ft) in Leh by connecting Nubra valley and Durbuk valley in the cold desert.

 

  • Bhandhan Express

It is a cross border passenger train runs between India (Kolkata) and Bangladesh (Khulna), covering a distance of 172 km. This will be the second train to run between the two countries after Maitree Express, which connects Kolkata and Dhaka in Bangladesh, covering 375 km.

 

  • Namami Barak Festival

It is a 3-day river fest, held recently in the State of Assam, to showcase the potential and possibilities of Barak valley.It is organized in three districts of Barak valley with the main function organized in Silchar.The polo game was organized as part of this festival. The first polo club in the world was formed at Assam‘s Silchar in 1834.

 

  • Cherry Blossom Festival

Shillong in Meghalaya is known for cherry which belongs to Prunus Cerasoides.  It is also known as Wild Himalayan Cherry. It blossoms in autumn, usually in the month of November.

 

  • Valley of Honey

Araku Valley is a hill station in the Eastern Ghats, known for its coffee.In the winter season, it turns into valley of Honey with the bloom of Niger flowers and increase in bee keeping.The valley is located close to A.P – Odisha border, surrounded by various mountains which are endowed with bauxite ores. One of the important mountains is Galikonda which is one of the highest in A.P.

 

  • Indias Biggest Oil Refinery

India‘s biggest oil refinery is proposed on the western coastline in the Ratnagiri district in Maharastra. The refinery will stand next to world‘s biggest nuclear power project, the proposed 9900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP). The government has recently begun the joint measurement of land. The land has been notified as an industrial area under Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Act, instead of Land Acquisition Act, 2013. MIDC law is draconian and gives no voice to the people. So farmers from in Maharashtra have been protesting against it. The villagers are also concerned at the pollution caused by the refinery once it is operational.

 

  • Alappuzha – A Leading Urban Centre in Waste Management

Alappuzha in Kerala is among the five cities recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)as global success stories in solving the problem of solid waste. The other four cities are Osaka (Japan), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Penang (Malaysia) and Cajicá (Colombia). Alappuzha adopted decentralized waste management system. The biodegradable waste was segregated at the ward level, and treated in small composting plants which provide biogas for residents. Alappuzha has also received the Clean City Award from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2016.

 

  • Autumn Leaf

The Autumn Leaf is a rare butterfly species normally found in Karnataka and Kerala.It resembles a leaf found in the autumn with an orangish tinge. It is spotted for the first time after few years, in the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary (GSWS), Tamil Nadu. GSWS, also known as Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the endangered grizzled squirrel, is bordered by Periyar Tiger Reserve and Palaghat gap. It is considered as one of the Butterfly hotspots.

 

  • New Species in Andaman Musa paramjitiana

Edible wild banana species has been discovered in Andaman Island, the second such species on the island in two years. In 2014, Musa indandamanensis, wild banana species was discovered in a remote tropical rain forest on the Little Andaman Island. The latest discovery, Musa paramjitiana found in North Andaman Island. Its conservation status has been declared as Critically Endangered‘.

 

  • New Species in Western Ghats Tyrannomyrmexalii

A new species of ant was found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats region. It belongs to Tyrannomyrmex, a rare tropical genus of ants that is distributed in the Indomalayan bio-region.

Its Bio region extends from southern India and Sri Lanka to Southeast Asia. It is named as Tyrannomyrmexalii as a tribute to country‘s ―Ant Man‖ eminent myrmecologist Musthak Ali.

 

  • Bonnet Macaques

The bonnet macaque, an old world monkey, diurnal animal is endemic to southern India. They are found only in peninsular India with close proximity to humans. It exists as commensals to human, meaning it maintains commensalism with human beings. In Commensalism, one organism benefits from the other without affecting it. A study suggested that rhesus macaques were invading the bonnet‘s habitats in south India. Rhesus macaques are usually found in northern part of India.

 

  • Clouded Leopard

A Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelisdiardi), found only on Borneo and Indonesia’s Sumatra were recently captured during daytime as a rare sighting. It is a wild cat belongs to genus Neofelis. The other genus belongs to same family is Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelisdiardi). It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and listed in CITES Appendix I. The range of the clouded leopard extends from Nepal on the Indian subcontinent to southern China and throughout South-East Asia. Clouded Leopard National Park is located in the Sipahijola Wildlife Sanctuary in Tripura. It is the state animal of the Indian state of Meghalaya.

 

  • Gleadovia Konyakianorum

Scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic flowering plant belongs to the species ―Gleadovia konyakianorum in the Nagaland State. The species is named in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas. It is a holoparasite [complete parasite] that derives its entire nutritional requirement from the host plant, which is a Strobilanthes species. The plant was found in the semi-evergreen forest at an altitude of 1,500-1,600 metres,

 

  • Indian Emerald Dragonfly

It is a rare variety of dragonfly known to exist only in the Travancore hills of Kerala. It made a dramatic reappearance 83 years, as it was sighted in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) during an

odonata survey. Odonata is an order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies. It lives around forest streams and micro habitat near high altitude areas. It is easy to spot because it flies irregularly over the water body for nearly an hour Thus it acts as an indicator of the health of water bodies inside sanctuaries and reserves. If a particular habitat is disturbed by pollution, the species won‘t be able to survive.

 

  • World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health

Context: 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being held in New Delhi, India.

The Conference is being organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with the support of WHO Country Office for India and in partnership with Indian Society of International Law. The objective of the Conference is to exchange knowledge and expand understanding on contemporary issues in international trade laws and research and innovation for access to medical products to achieve SDG 2030 agenda.

 

  • Mahendragiri Gecko

A new species of gecko (lizards) belonging to the genus Hemidactylus was recently discovered from Mahendragiri hills in Andhra-Odisha border. It is the second gecko to be found endemic to the Eastern Ghats area. The first one ―House Lizard was discovered from Kanger Ghati National Park in Chattisgarh.

 

  • Most Threatened Ape – Tapanuli orangutan

Scientists have so far recognized six living species of great ape aside from humans.

They are Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos. But researchers have now made the list into seven, based on a collection of evidence showing that an isolated population of orangutans living in Sumatra is actually its own unique species. They’ve named the new species the Tapanuli orangutan. But there are only about 800 Tapanuli orangutans left. This makes this newly discovered species among the most threatened great ape species in the world.

 

  • Neelakurinji Reserve

The government has decided to redraw the boundaries of the Neelakurinji reserve located in Munnar in Idukki district of Kerala.Neelakurinji blooms once in 12 years and it is expected to bloom in July, 2018.The notification had triggered an outcry from the local community citing the presence of habitations, institutions, and places of worship within the notified area.

 

  • Nelapattu bird sanctuary

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary in Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh. It is an important breeding site for spot-billed pelicans. Spot-billed pelicans are a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes.

  • Nilgiris

The rare, pale-skinned white‘ tiger was recently spotted for the first time in the Nilgiris.

  • Black Buck Reserve

A wildlife conservation reserve dedicated exclusively to the blackbuck is coming up in the Trans-Yamuna region of Allahabad near the MP and UP border. The reserve in Allahabad is the first ever conservation reserve of its kind in UP. Blackbuck or Antilopecervicapra, also known as Indian Antelope is found in India, Nepal and Pakistan.

 

  • Meisenheimer Complex

It is a chemical compound which has been found to be highly effective in removing fluoride and metal ions (lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and iron) from drinking water.It is formed through the single step synthesis through mixing of two chemicals at room temperature.It repels water by nature. Thus a polystyrene sponge becomes a water repelling material when coated with this compound.It enables the sponge to absorb a wide variety of oils and organic solvents from water.

  • UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report

 

It focuses on the “gap” between the emissions reductions necessary to achieve the agreed targets at lowest cost and the likely emission reductions from full implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement. It is prepared by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Highlight

Insignificant Commitment: INDC pledges submitted by  countries to reduce current emissions are only about one- third of what is needed to prevent catastrophic  temperature increases by “at least” 3°C from pre- industrial levels by the year 2100.

Greenhouse emissions: Though the total  global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the rate of growth has decreased over the past few years.

o Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel  use and cement production  remained stable for the second year  in a row in 2016.

o Reduced growth in coal use since  2011, primarily in China and  secondarily in the United States, has

played a key role in the recent  slowdown in the growth of global  CO2 emissions.

Effect of short-lived climate pollutants

(SLCP): SLCP include a variety of gases  that have short-term warming effects  often in excess of CO2, but don’t stay in  the atmosphere as long. These include  methane, HFCs, black carbon (soot),

tropospheric ozone etc.

o It has been estimated that SLCP  mitigation has the potential to avoid  up to 0.6°C of warming by mid-

century while aggressive CO2  mitigation in a comparable scenario  leads to less than half as much near-

term reduction in warming.

Exploring “negative emission  technologies”: It is first time that report explores removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as an additional way to mitigate climate change, over and above conventional abatement strategies.

Emphasis on certain Sectors: Cost-effective measures in six sectors viz. agriculture, forestry, buildings, energy, industry, and transport, could reduce emissions by up to 36 GtCO2e a year by 2030,

Committed action from G20 countries as they collectively generate around 75% of GHG emissions. Their success in implementing (or exceeding) their NDC pledges will have a major impact on the achievement of the global temperature goals.

o It has pointed that three of the G20 parties — China, the EU, and India — are on track to meet their Cancun climate pledges (In Cancun, Mexico, in 2011, nations had agreed to GHG emission cuts ahead of 2020).

 According to it, to meet climate targets 80 % of the world’s coal reserves along with approximately 35% of oil reserves and 50% of gas reserves need to remain in the ground.

It recognizes the role of non-state actor like action by cities, states, provinces, and non-state actors like corporations in reducing emission intensity.

 

 

 

  • UN Environment Assembly

The UN Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. The third UN Environment Assemble will gather in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2017 under the overarching theme of ―pollution. The Assembly has the universal membership of all 193 UN Member States.

  • First CoP of Minamata Convention

The Minamata Convention is a global treaty established to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force in August 2017 with ratification by over 50 countries. The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (Mercury COP1) was held at Geneva, Switzerland. The report, ‗Towards a pollution-free planet‘, was launched during the COP1. Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the financial mechanism for Minamata Convention.

 

  • M-STRiPES

M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) is an app developed by Wildlife Institute of India. The app will be used for the first time in All India Tiger estimation. It is already in place in some national parks but it has been made mandatory for the fourth All-India Tiger estimation. It is expected that the app would ensure more robust estimate by eliminating human errors in the survey.

 

  • Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017

Bamboo is taxonomically a grass. Yet it was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

This was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation on non-forest land as the act mandates requirement of  felling/transit permit for its economic use. Though India has 19% share of world‘s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6%. So the Union Government has recently promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017. It exempts bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition of tree. So there is no more a requirement of felling/transit permit.

Hence this will promote cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas to achieve twin objectives of increasing the farmer incomes and also increasing the green cover.

  • India’s first wave-powered Navigational Buoy

A buoy is an anchored float serving as a navigation mark, to show reefs or other hazards, or foranchorage. A wave-powered navigational buoy, developed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). This buoy for guiding ships, is powered by wave energy while conventional ones use solar power, it stores energy generated by waves in a battery.

 

OCTOBER 2017

 

  • government has released the third National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) for 2017-31. The plan was released at the recently held meeting of Global Wildlife Program (GWP) that involves 19 Asian and African countries, United Nations, World Bank and other leading global organisations to deal with the wildlife crime.

Highlights of the plan:

 The NWAP 2017-31, under which there are 250 projects, is India’s road map to conserve wildlife for the next 15 years. The plan is woven around the agenda of the United Nations’ 15th Sustainable Developmental Goal — “Life on Land”.

 The key strategic changes in the new plan is adopting a “landscape approach” in conservation of all the wildlife — uncultivated flora (plants) and undomesticated fauna (animals) — rather than the areas where they occur.

 This means that while till now programmes and plans related to wildlife were focused on and around national parks and sanctuaries, now the strategies would be based on the landscape of the region that may not be limited to a reserve forest system alone.

 The plan has been divided into five components, which are further divided into 17 themes carrying 103 conservation actions. Each theme has a set of conservation actions and projects — 250, in all.

 Man-animal conflict mitigation, adapting to the climate change, managing eco-tourism, ensuring public participation in the conservation, developing human resources, strengthening research and monitoring through modern technology like radio collars and drones and ensuring funds for the wildlife sector have been given special thrust in the planning.

 The plan adopts a “landscape approach” in conservation of all wildlife – uncultivated flora and fauna – that have an ecological value to the ecosystem and to mankind irrespective of where they occur. It gives special emphasis to recovery of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats.

The government has also underlined an increased role of private sector in wildlife conservation. The plan lays down that the Centre would ensure that adequate and sustained funding including Corporate Social Responsibility funds are made available for the National Wildlife Action Plan implementation.

Background:

India is jointly hosting the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) with World Bank and United Nations Development Programme. The GWP will address issues related to illegal wildlife trade across 19 countries in Asia and Africa. It will act as a platform to exchange knowledge and coordinate in on-ground action for combating illegal poaching of wildlife and improve governance on wildlife conservation.

 

  • The Centre has launched a six-year project- called SECURE Himalaya– to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in the high Himalayan ecosystem spread over four states in India.

Key facts:

The project – called SECURE Himalaya – was launched by the Union environment ministry in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

  • The SECURE – securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems – is meant for specific landscapes. It includes Changthang (Jammu and Kasmir), Lahaul – Pangi and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh), Gangotri – Govind and Darma – Byans Valley in Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and

Kanchenjunga – Upper Teesta Valley (Sikkim).

  • Protection of snow leopard and other endangered species and their habitats is one of the key components of the project which will also focus on securing livelihoods of the people in the region and enhancing enforcement to reduce wildlife crime.
  • Enhanced enforcement efforts and monitoring under the project will also curb illegal trade in some medicinal and aromatic plants which are among the most threatened species in these landscapes.

 

  • In order to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures, development of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam have been approved under Namami Gange programme.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has recently notified the Wetlands Rules, 2017.

Definition – Wetlands are defined as an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water.  It could be natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt. It includes areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.

The rules apply to:

  1. Wetlands categorised as ―wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  2. Wetlands as notified by the central and state governments and UT administration.

Management – The new Rules farm out wetland management to states and union territories.

The State or UT Wetlands Authority will have to prepare a list of all wetlands and a list of wetlands to be

notified, within specified time.

However, it is up to the states to decide which wetlands are to be notified.

A comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands is to be prepared within a year.

CWRA – The new riles have done away with the earlier Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) entirely.

CWRA has been replaced by the National Wetland Committee, which has a merely advisory role. These include –

  1. advising the central government on proposals received from states/UTs for ―omission of the

prohibited activities.

  1. prescribing norms and guidelines for integrated management of wetlands based on wise-use principle.

iii. recommending trans-boundary wetlands for notification.

  1. reviewing the progress of integrated management of Ramsar Convention sites.

Restrictions – As per the new rules, encroachments on wetlands have been banned.

It also prohibits solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries and human settlements.

It says that conservation and management would be based on the principle of ‗wise use‘, which is to be determined by the Wetlands Authority.

SHORTFALLS

Definition – The 2010 Rules included in the definition of wetlands all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries, etc.It also included man-made wetland and the zone of direct influence on wetlands.However, the 2017 Rules are not as comprehensive as this.

It does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically for drinking water purposes, aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes. It also do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones..

Management – There were lethargic response from states and UTs, in the past, on wetlands protection.

So devolving management to states and UTs could be ineffective

Restrictions – The term ‗wise use‘ is subjective and could dilute the earlier restrictions.

There is also no timeline specified for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands.

The restrictions on ―any other activity likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the wetland, are not specified clearly in the Rules.

Appeal – The older provision of appealing to the National Green Tribunal does not exist in the 2017 Rules.

  • The Government has constituted a high-level committee for proper management of the water resources in the North Eastern Region (NER) under the Chairmanship of Vice-Chairman, Niti Aayog.

Key facts:

  • The Committee would facilitate optimising benefits of appropriate water management in the form of hydro-electric power, agriculture, bio-diversity conservation, reduced flood damage erosion, inland water transport, forestry, fishery and eco-tourism.
  • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) will serve as the coordinating point. The Committee will submit its report, including Plan of Action, by June, 2018.

 

  • Coal is mainly imported into India at Marmugoa port (Goa) from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.

Goa Pollution Control Board‘s 2015-16 report, states that the PM10 reading of Mormugao port exceeded permissible limits. Official records also show that coal in excess of permissible limits is being handled at the Mormugao port. nThis coal is mainly used up in steel plants of Karnataka and transport happens by road or rail. 34,200 tonnes of coal is transported each day through the rail route from the Marmugoa to various destinations in Karnataka. The nearly 400-km journey of this fossil fuel has been found to have profound ecological impacts and is risking habitations.

  • Red Sanders

Pterocarpussantalinus (Red sanders) is a species of Pterocarpus with a common name red sandalwood, and saunderswood. It is endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India. It is listed in the category of ―Endangered by the IUCN because of overexploitation for its timber in South India. This tree is valued for the rich red color of its wood and it is highly in demand in China. The wood is not aromatic and it is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.

  • Chondrichthyans

Chondrichthyes is a class that contains the cartilaginous fishes. Sharks, rays and chimaeras are collectively called as chondrichthyans. Cartilaginous fishes are jawed vertebrates with paired fins and skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone. The first ever assessment of the conservation status of Sharks, rays and Chimaeras in the Arabian Sea Region (ASR) was recently carried out. The assessment revealed that 3 marine species viz Pondicherry shark, the red sea torpedo and the tentacle butterfly ray might be possibly extinct in the ASR.

The guitar fish found in coastal waters of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Ganges shark were classified as ―Critically Endangered. The ASR covers the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Sea of Oman, and the Gulf

 

  • Tawny Lark

Tawny Lark belongs to a family of larks well-known for their mimicking abilities. It is one of India‘s 22 lark species. It is found only in the arid grasslands and scrub lands of central and west-central India including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Recently, a team of scientists found that male Tawny larks imitate the calls of 34 other bird species, including babblers and lapwings, squirrels and even whistles of local shepherds.

 

  • Butterfly Region in West Bengal

According to the recent study by Zoological Survey of India, Singur in West Bengal‘s Hoogly district is home to atleast 69 species of Butterflies. Five of the species found in Singur are rare and to be protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. They include species like the Tree Flitter, Striped Albatross, Pea Blue, Common Indian Crow and Danaid Eggfly.

 

  • Turtle Sanctuary

Ministry of Water resources has approved setting up of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad under Namami Gange Programme.

 

  • Discovery of new lizard

A new species of large Gecko or house lizard was recently discovered in the Eastern Ghats region. It is named after Kanger Ghati National park in Chhattisgarh as gecko ―Hemidactylus kangerensisis.It is also found in Sukma in Chhattisgarh and in the adjoining State of Telangana, which are part of the Eastern Ghats. Kanger Ghati National park is located near Jagdalpur in the Bastar region of Chhatisgarh. It is known for Hill Myna, the state bird of Chhatisgarh. The park is located in the catchment area of Godavari River.

 

  • Amrabad Tiger Reserve

Telangana Forest department has created a new ecotourism spot ―Octopus View Point‖ at Amrabad Tiger Reserve. Amrabad Tiger Reserve in the districts of Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda, is the largest tiger reserve in the country. Earlier, it was part of ‘Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger reserve’. But post-bifurcation, the northern part of the reserve is vested with Telangana state and renamed as ‘Amrabad Tiger Reserve’. The multipurpose reservoirs Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar are located in the reserve.

 

  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

The Forest Department has identified hundreds of leopards in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. It is a protected area and tiger reserve along the Western Ghats in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was first declared as a wildlife scantuary in 2008 and it is the largest wildlife scantuary in Tamil Nadu. It later became the fourth tiger reserve as a part of project Tiger. It is a significant wildlife corridor in the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve between western ghats and the rest of the eastern ghats.

 

  • Meeting of CMS and its outcomes

The Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Bonn Convention (CMS COP12) was held in Manila, the Philippines. It is the first time that the COP has been held in Asia. The slogan for the Conference is ―Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife & People, links to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Four Asian Vultures such as red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, Indian vulture and slender billed vulture are set to get highest protection by the convention.

The whale shark, which inhabits the Indian Ocean, got global protection too. The Caspian seal, the only marine mammal found in the world‘s largest inland sea has also been identified for conservation.

The next edition of the meeting will be held in India in 2020.

 

About Bonn Convention:

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is popularly known as Bonn convention. It is an environmental treaty under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme. It brings together the States through which migratory animals pass (the range states) and lays down conservation measures. Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving and mitigating obstacles to their migration. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. India is a party to this convention whereas China, Russia, US, Canada, Japan are not party to it.

 

  • According to the study, ‘A Global Disaster Displacement Risk Model’, conducted by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), calamities displace 23 lakh people every year in India.

Highlights of the report:

  • India ranks the highest among the world’s most disaster-prone countries for displacement of residents, with 23 lakh, on average, uprooted due to calamities such as floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Rise in homelessness will continue, according to the report.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

  • It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
  • UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

 

 

SEPTEMPER 2017

 

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, had recently convened the Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi, in partnership with the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India. The objective of this conclave was to set the stage for “FarmerZone”.

What you need to know about FarmerZone?

It is a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture which will use biological research and data to improve the lives of small and marginal farmers.

  • FarmerZone has been envisioned by the DBT and aligns with the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture that integrates science, technology, innovation and the farm ecosystem.
  • It is envisaged that “FarmerZone” will help cater to all needs of the farmer, from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water, and seed requirements to providing market intelligence.
  • The FarmerZone platform will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, thought leaders in agriculture, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions.

 

  • To harness the potential of mobile technology, APEDA has developed a mobile app- Hortinet- to allow farmers to apply on-line to facilitate their farm registration, tracking the status of application & approvals by State Government and Lab sampling by authorized Laboratories.
  • This mobile app initiative is expected to increase the accessibility and reach of the Traceability software system among the farmers and other stakeholders.

 

About Hortinet:

Hortinet is an integrated traceability system developed by APEDA for providing Internet based electronic services to the stakeholders for facilitating farm registration, testing and certification of Grape, Pomegranate and Vegetables for export from India to the European Union in compliance with standards.

About APEDA:

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985. The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).

  • PLASTIC ROADS

Roads constructed from mix of aggregate (sand and stone chips), bitumen and shredded plastic.

The new material mix is reported to have superior binding. But plastic roads are quite the rage in the European Union which has taken on massive environmental conservation and pollution mitigation goals.

status of plastic roads in India:India has already built some 21,000 miles of roads using plastic waste.

The civic authority in Bengaluru has experimented with plastic roads building some 600 km of thoroughfare.The Centre even issued a set of guidelines for plastic blending in rural roads programme, the Pradhan MantriGram Sadak Yojana.Researchers in Tamil Nadu, has developed plastic blended water-resistant blocks, it can be used to line canalsand other flowing water bodies.

  • How did GST impact Cess?

GST subsumed several central & state levies under it. Among them were three environment-related cesses – Swachh Bharat Cess, Clean Energy Cess and the historical Water Cess on water consumption by industry and local authorities. Unless the nodal ministries are compensated for revenue loss, the Cess-targeted schemes will suffer.

What are specifics of the cesses discussed above?

Water cess – Introduced under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act 1977, it was to augment the resources of the Central and State pollution control boards to address water pollution.

Water cess is the second most important source of revenue for State Pollution Control Boards next only to consent fees. The loss of this revenue will be a huge setback for boards which already suffer from poor technical capacity and autonomy.

Even if the loss is made good through budgetary allocation, the channelling of money through State budgets will make the boards even more vulnerable to the discretion of State governments.

It is to be noted that State governments have a dismal track record of empowering the pollution watchdogs.

Swachh Bharat Cess – The Centre collected ₹12,500 crore in 2016-17 through this Cess for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA) which aims to make India open-defecation free by 2019 and improve the appalling state of waste management in the country. While it is clear the programme will require significant public expenditure to meet the targets, it will be interesting to see whether budgetary allocations are maintained after the abolition of the cess.

Clean Energy Cess – Levied on coal at the rate of ₹400/tonne in 2016 (progressively increased from ₹50/tonnes in 2010), it amounted to a staggering ₹28,500 crore in 2016-17.

Touted as a tax on carbon, it met almost 50% of the budget of the ministry of new and renewable energy for 2016-17.

This is despite the fact that MNRE is only one of the beneficiaries along with the ministries of water resources, environment and drinking water and sanitation from the fund.

 

  • A new study has revealed that one of Lakshadweep’s bio-diversity rich islands Parali I has vanished. Parali I island, part of Bangaram atoll, which was 0.032 km2 in 1968 has been eroded to an extent of 100%, resulting in its inundation. Additionally, four other territories in the sea are also shrinking.

Key facts:

A general trend in erosion has been noticed in almost all islands he studied. The magnitude of such events was higher in Parali group, evidenced by the complete erosion and inundation of the island Parali I. The magnitude of net erosion was higher in Parali I island (100%), which resulted in its inundation. Apart from Parali I, net erosion was higher in Parali II (80%), followed by Thinnakara (14.38%), Parali III (11.42%) and Bangaram (9.968%). The complete erosion and inundation of Parali I was pointing to the gravity of issues associated with coastal erosion within the atoll.

What needs to be done now?

The study said the complete erosion and inundation of Parali I was pointing to the gravity of issues associated with coastal erosion within the atoll. Therefore, the results are indicative of the urgent measures to be implemented on each islet of the atoll to check further erosion. It is recommended to check the feasibility of a bio protection strategy using mangroves, in addition to the conventional physical protection measures.

  • The government has launched “Wood is Good” Campaign under the Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-Plus), a partnership between USAID and India’s environment ministry.
  • The idea is to promote wood as a climate-friendly resource and a substitute to materials like plastic and steel because it is carbon neutral unlike the others while leave a carbon footprint in their production.

 

Forest plus:

The Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-Plus) is a joint programme by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to strengthen capacity for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) implementation in India. The programme brings together experts from India and the United States to develop technologies, tools and methods of forest management to meet the technical challenges of managing forests for the health of ecosystem, carbon stocks, biodiversity and livelihood.

  • In a novel and unique initiative attempted anywhere in the country, the Telangana State Forest Department has re-introduced the endangered ‘mouse deer’ into the forests of Nallamalla in Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

Key facts:

  • The release of these mouse deer into the protected enclosure of 2.4 hectares is aimed at improving the biodiversity. The Amrabad Tiger .

Reserve was chosen because these animals were earlier wandering in this area.

  • The deer will gradually be weaned-off externally supplied food. Afterwards if they get a clearing by the field biologists, they will be released from their enclosure into the wild.

About Mouse deer:

Also called ‘spotted Chevrotain’, it is one of the endangered species usually found in deciduous and evergreen forests of the country. It has its own family called Tragulidae.

  • These animals are nocturnal in habitat and because of their small size they are called ‘smallest ungulates’ too.
  • Also called “Jarini Pandi” in Telugu, their number has been decreasing at an alarming rate in recent years because of destruction of habitat and poaching.

 

  • 30th Anniversary of Montreal protocol and 23rd World Ozone Day was celebrated on September 16th across the country.

Theme – “Caring for all life under the Sun”.

World Ozone Day:

Every year, on September 16, the World celebrates the International day for the preservation of Ozone layer as the World Ozone Day. During the United Nations convention in Vienna for the Montreal Protocol, the General Assembly declared September 16 as the World Ozone day in order to remind the world of the depleting ozone layer. The first ozone hole was discovered 30 years ago in May 1985 over Antarctica.

  • Recently, officials from five states viz. Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal proposed a number of strategic measures, to tackle human elephant conflict.

Background

  • In 2016-17, these states reported at least 253 deaths of people, the highest in the country related to this conflict, with crops being destroyed and livelihoods affected.
  • Though these states have 10 per cent of the elephant population but accounted for over 50 per cent of elephant deaths due to human-elephant conflict in the country.

Causes of Elephant-human conflict

  • It is a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Since most areas that form elephant habitat or range are close to or adjoining human settlement, there is often conflict between animals migrating or foraging for food, and local people.
  • Changing Habitat region: In the last two-three decades there has been an increasing dispersal of elephants out of forest areas and a “range expansion’. Eg: In the last 10-15 years, they entered Chhattisgarh, an area where there were no elephants since the Mughal period.

 

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) recently chose Buxa tiger reserve in West Bengal for the tiger augmentation programme.

significance of Buxa tiger reserve:It has notified as a tiger reserve in 1983, located in Alipurduar

district of West Bengal, parts of which border Bhutan. It has notified as a tiger reserve in 1983, located in Alipurduar  district of West Bengal, parts of which border Bhutan.The reserve is located very close to Assam‘s Manas Tiger Reserve. Buxa consists of moist, deciduous and evergreen forests.

How the augmentation program will be done?

Forest Department officials claimed there were tigers in the reserve, almost no sighting of the big cats raised questions about their presence. The initial plan is to introduce six tigers at Buxa. Experts have consciously decided not to augment tigers in the Buxa reserve from the Sunderbans, a completely different mangrove ecosystem. Instead, tigers from the forest reserves of Assam, which have a similar flora and fauna, will be introduced in Buxa. Experts believes that tigers are migrating from nearer Manas wildlife sanctuary through Buxa-Bhutan corridor.

(Note: DAMPIER HODGES line demarcate the northern limiy of sunderban)

 

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has proposed an amendment

to the Environment Protection Act, 1986 to impose fines of up to Rs 1 crore on polluters. Need:  Under the current system following are the recourse available to punish polluting industry: ü Maximum fine of Rs 1 lakh along with a jail sentence of up to five years. ü Violation is treated as a criminal offence, making the whole process cumbersome ü To shut down a polluting industry or an operation of a part of the industry temporarily. This might be disastrous for economy of the country as industry units have to shut down even in cases where contraventions are minor and reversible  Lack of power to impose fines was cited as reason for slow progress made on Namami Ganges project. Significance of the proposed amendment  To make pollution a civil offence for which the government can then demand costs from the polluters without going to the courts  An Expert Panel will be setup to look into cases of pollution and calculate the cost of remediation. A designated officer would then be the final authority to decide the cost that needs to be recovered from the polluting entity.  1 crore as penalty: Imposing hefty penalty is supposed to cause restraint over polluting industry.  Spot Penalties For Minor Violations: for Industries which caused neither substantial nor non-substantial damage to the environment.

  • ODOUR POLLUTION

the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has proposed guidelines to tackle it.

Centre’s Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, identified odour as a public nuisance.  India has regulatory frameworks to control air pollutants but, “no regulation has been made for abatement and control of odour which is now becoming cause of major problem with increasing urbanization and industrialization.  Clean and natural air is essential for sustainable civilization and is treated as a fundamental right across the world. Causes: In urban areas the common source of odour is garbage (bio-degradable MSW) and sewage.

Highlight of the Guidelines

  • Green Belt Around Landfill Sites: Developing barriers at landfill sites by creating a green

boundary with suitable species of plants/trees as natural media for reduction of odour

pollution and restriction of odour in and around landfill sites.

  • Tapping LFG (Landfill Gases) Efficiently: MSW Landfill system designed to mitigate fugitive

odorous emissions.

  • Integrated With The Urban Development Planning: Selection of landfill site should be so, that expansions of city in next two or three decades will not encompasses the selected MSW site.

 

  • landfill collapse in Ghazipur, UP, has killed two people and caused injuries to many.

The incident calls for addressing the problem of over-stressed landfills and adopting proper waste management techniques in cities.

The Solid-Waste Management Rules, 2016 prescribes certain conditions for landfill sites:

  1. a landfill site must not exceed 20 meters in height.
  2. it must not be older than 22-25 years.
  3. it must have a clay-lining at the bottom to save the land and ground water.

As against these specifications, the Ghazipur dump-yard is 50 metres high and almost 33 years old.

 

  • The conservation status of snow leopard has been changed from ―endangered to ―vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF SNOW LEOPARDS:

These are rarely sighted cats that live in the peaks of central Asia including the Himalayas and Russia‘s remote Altai mountains. Their habitat covers more than 1.8 million sq km, across 12 countries and usually found at elevations of 3,000-4,500m. Their coats change with the seasons from a thick, white fur to keep them warm and camouflaged in winter, to a fine yellow-grey coat in summer.They are threatened by poaching for their fur, infrastructure developments and climate change. In India this animal habitat is in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

 

  • FECAL SLUDGE MANAGEMENT (FSM) SYSTEM

FSM involves collecting, transporting and treating fecal sludge and septage from pit latrines, septic tanks or other onsite sanitation systems. This waste is then treated at septage treatment plants, which can be later reuse or disposed sustainably. Nearly 80 per cent of the sludge — a human

excreta and water mixture that bears disease-carrying bacteria and pathogens — remains untreated and is dumped into drains, lakes or rivers, posing a serious threat to safe and healthy living.

 

 

  • Scientists have obtained the first evidence of the elusive snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh. Camera traps have captured images of the big cat at Thembang village’s Community Conserved Area, a community-owned reserve, in West Kameng district.

The presence of the species outside protected areas highlights the importance of community support for conservation as well as landscape-scale planning.

Background:

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 22 priority landscapes of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program and while locals and researchers knew that there were snow leopards in the area, scientists had not been able to get photographs thus far.

What is a Community Conserved Area (CCA)?

In 2004, WWF-India introduced the concept of CCAs in the State to empower local communities to become active decision-makers and implement conservation initiatives.

  • Local communities in these CCAs form committees to undertake wildlife monitoring, patrolling and community-based tourism activities.

 

 

  • As part of its climate change commitments in the aftermath of signing the historic Paris agreement India is now exploring the possibility of carbon capture utilization storage (CCUS).

Need Commercial value of CO2: It has commercial and industrial uses, particularly for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in depleting oil fields. It has the ability to change the properties of oil and make it easier to extract.  CCUS will make great contribution to the development of low carbon economy for the world.  CCUS could improve the contradiction between economic development and environment protection.  CCUS is Imperative: Despite the adoption of alternative energy sources and energy efficient systems to reduce the rate of CO2 emissions, the cumulative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere needs to be reduced to limit the detrimental impacts of climate change [IPCC, 2013]. Therefore, regardless of the deployment of clean and efficient energy solutions, CCUS technologies need to be implemented.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): It is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation.  Carbon Capture Utilization Storage (CCUS): is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere.  In CCS, emissions are forced into underground rocks at great cost and no economic benefit while CCUS aims at using CO2 emissions by exploiting the resource itself and creating new markets around it.

 

  • Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has published an compendium of animal species in the Indian Sundarbans, estimating that there are 2,626 of them in the fragile island ecosystem.

 

  • World Sawfish day was observed on October 17th. The sawfish have been sighted off the Indian coast less than 10 times in over a decade and they appear to be more threatened than tigers and elephants, as per the scientists.
  • The sawfish today may be the most endangered fish species in India. Anecdotal evidence suggested they were once common along the Indian coast.

 

Key facts:

  • The sawfish has been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 enacted to save them from exploitation. § There are only five species of the sawfish ever identified — dwarf sawfish, knifetooth sawfish, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish and green sawfish. § Sawfish are elasmobranchs, meaning their skeleton is made of cartilage. They are closely related to sharks and have shark-shaped bodies and, hence, are also called flat sharks.

 

  • World Economic Outlook was recently released by the International Monetary Fund.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT:

An analytical chapter highlights some of the damaging macroeconomic impact of weather shocks, particularly for low-income countries.1 °C increase from a temperature of 22degree Celsius reduces the growth of median emerging market economy by 0.9% in a year. Its impact on the median low-income developing country is even higher.

 

  • Chromium VI

Researchers from CSIR have developed a new method to remove hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)) from industrial effluents. They have used the heat-dried fungal biomass which converts Cr (VI) to a tri-valent form of chromium. Chromium VI is neurotoxic, genotoxic and a carcinogen whereas Chromium trivalent is a non-toxic. Cr VI is found in high concentration in tannery waste which is slightly alkaline in nature.The positively charged heat dried biomass binds to Cr VI and adsorb the negatively charged Cr VI and other toxic metals such as lead, arsenic which are normally found in tannery waste.

 

  • India has topped the list of countries with pollution-related deaths in 2015, with 2.51 million people dying prematurely in the country that year due to diseases linked to air, water and other forms of pollution, according to a new study published in the reputed medical journal, The Lancet.

 

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has relaxed standards for upcoming sewage treatment plants (STP)
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (Bod) had to be no more than 10 mg/litre according to 2015 CPCB proposal. STPs coming up after June 2019 — except in major State capitals and metropolitan cities — need only conform to 30 mg/litre of BoD.. These include proposed STPS to treat sewage in stretches of the river downstream of Haridwar.
  • Bod < 10mg/litre is difficult to achieve as it required advanced technology that was too costly for most States. However, It is a step forward, because now we have standards for faecal coliform, which was not part of standards earlier.

 

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

Functions:

(i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution

(ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.

Biochemical oxygen demand (Bod):

  • Biochemical oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen required for microbial metabolism of organic compounds in water.
  • BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C
  • BOD can be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants

 

Provisions of Rules

  • One of the points of the government’s ₹20,000 crore push to clean the river was a 2015-proposal to have higher standards for STPs. That is, they would have to ensure that the biochemical oxygen demand (Bod) — a marker for organic pollutants — in the treated water had to be no more than 10 mg/litre. Existing laws permit BoD up to 30 mg/litre.
  • However, a notification by the Union Environment Ministry this month has junked the 10 mg/litre target.
  • It says that STPs coming up after June 2019 — except in major State capitals and metropolitan cities — need only conform to 30 mg/litre of BoD.
  • These include proposed STPs to treat sewage in stretches of the river downstream of Haridwar, including Kanpur and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
  • New STPs in State capitals, have to cap BoD at 20 mg/litre.
  • Plants in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli don’t need to stick to higher sewage-treatment criteria.

 

Reason for easing the norms:

The 10 mg criteria would require advanced technology that was too costly for most States. That kind of quality can be achieved in a phased manner.

 

  • Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016. Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015. The last time Earth experienced similar CO2 concentration rates was three to five million years ago, when the sea level was up to 20 metres (66 feet) higher than now.

 

  • Mouse Deer

The Telangana State Forest Department re-introduced the ‗mouse deer‘ into the forests of Nallamalla in Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

Mouse deer, also called as ‗spotted Chevrotain‘ are nocturnal species.

It is one of the endangered species usually found in deciduous and evergreen forests of the country.

Because of their small size they are called  smallest ungulates‘.

 

  • Monitor Lizard

India is home to four varieties of monitor lizard – Agra, Yellow, Water, and Large Bengal.

Monitor Lizards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

They share their Schedule 1 status with tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards, and hunting or harming them can attract jail terms of at least 3-7 years;

 

  • New species in Western Ghats

Scientists have described a new species of non-venomous endemic snake “Aquatic Rhabdops from the Western Ghats. It is 3 foot long nocturnal snake hunts for prey underwater. The new species is named after its aquatic nature since the adults are mostly associated with freshwater forest streams. All Rhabdops snakes are endemic to India. The Aquatic Rhabdops is found only in the laterite plateaus of the Northern Western Ghats in Goa, Southern Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka.

  • Gharial Exchange Programme

Bangladesh Forest Department and IUCN have piloted the first ever gharial exchange programme to initiate the captive breeding of the species in Bangladesh. The gharial is a crocodilian of the family Gavialidae, native to the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent. It is listed as ―Critically Endangered in the IUCN red list. The gharial is one of three crocodilians native to India, the other two being the mugger crocodile and the saltwater crocodile.

 

  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve

NTCA has given nod for shifting tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Mukundara Hills tiger reserve. The Mukundara Hills, located in the south-eastern Rajasthan, is the third notified tiger habitat in the State, after Ranthambhore and Sariska. It was established in 2013 to cater to the spill over tiger population from Ranthambhore. The reserve covers the existing Darrah, Chambal and Jawahar Sagar wildlife sanctuary.

 

  • Prakriti Khoj

It is an environment awareness initiative by the Union Ministry of Environment. The objective is to reach out to young minds to trigger their sensitivity towards environment protection and conservation. Schools under the National Green Corps (NGC) programme will get an opportunity to participate in the national level environmental quiz competition under this intitiative. NGC was initiated by Environment Ministry in 2001-02 for creating environmental awareness among children by formulating ―Eco-clubs in schools across the country.

 

  • B4 boat labs

B4‘ – the Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat‘, was launched to to safeguard the Asia‘s largest riverine island – Majuli island. The research will be carried out on floating ‗B4‘ boat labs along the Brahmaputra River to study the changes caused by dams, climate change, human interventions and the eventual effects it has on the river eco-system. Majuli is the first island district of the country and also known for being the seat of Assam‘s Vaishnava monasteries.

 

  • Forest Plus, also known as Land Use Science is a joint programme by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

It aims to strengthen capacity for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) implementation in India. It brings together experts to develop technologies, tools and methods of forest management to meet the technical challenges of managing forests for the health of ecosystem, carbon stocks, biodiversity and livelihood.

 

AUGUST  2017

 

  • The Union government is planning to make changes to the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.

THE PRESENT PROVISIONS

The maximum fine that can be imposed on a polluting industry or other entities is Rs.1 lakh along with a jail sentence of up to five years. Even this requires the government agencies to first file a complaint with a magistrate at the district level and secure a favourable order against the polluter.  At present, there are powers to shut down a polluting industry or an operation of a part of the industry temporarily. Currently, a violation of the Environment Protection Act is treated as a criminal offence. There is a felt need to have graded response to the pollution problem without everything ending up in court.

proposed changes

The level of fines for a polluting industry from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1 Crore to be increased.  The fine is to be imposed without going through a judicial process prescribed in the current law. A designated officer would be the final authority to decide the money that needs to be recovered from the polluting entity.  There is also a plan to make pollution a civil offence for which the government can demand costs from the polluters without going to the courts.

 

  • The Executive Committee of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved seven projects worth Rs 425 crore in the sector of sewage infrastructure, Ghat development and research. All the six projects will be provided with Operation and Maintenance cost for 15 years by Central government and 100% central assistance. § The approved projects will be undertaken in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

 

 National Mission for Clean Ganga: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA was dissolved with the constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council) in 2016.

  • It now works under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The aim is to clean Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner.
  • NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees.
  • The Director General(DG) of NMCG is Additional Secretary in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.

 

  • new solar project called ‘SUNRISE’

12 Indian and British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, has received a £7 million grant from the U.K. government to build self-sufficient solar-powered buildings in remote Indian villages. The grant is part of a new solar project called ‘SUNRISE’.

Key facts:

  • The programme is aimed at developing printed photovoltaic cells and new manufacturing processes which can be used to make solar energy products in India. These will then be integrated into buildings in at least five villages of India, allowing them to harness solar power to provide their own energy and go off-grid.
  • One of the key aims of the SUNRISE project for India is to provide a real-life example which proves that this technology works and that it is appropriate within communities.

 

  • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas celebrated the World Biofuel Day 2017 on 10th August. It aims is to sensitize youths (school and college going students), farmers and other stakeholders about the benefits of biofuel and seek their involvement in Biofuel programme run by the Government.

‘Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day. The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states. The elephant is part of India’s animal heritage and the Government celebrates this day to spread awareness about the conservation of the species.

African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants.

  • A Grant Agreement from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank of USD 24.64 million for “Ecosystem Service Improvement Project” was recently signed between India and the World Bank. The size of Project is USD 24.64 million which entirely will be financed by the World Bank out of its GEF Trust Fund.

About Ecosystem Service Improvement Project:

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will implement the Project in the States of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh through Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education under the National Mission for Green India.

  • The objective of the Project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Departments of Forestry and Community Organisations to enhance forest ecosystem services and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities in Central Indian Highlands.

 

Mitigation measures under the project include:

  • Using only approved and safe bio-control agents and following release and documentation protocols. § Avoiding using general bio-control agents; use host-specific ones for targeted species. § Promoting use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. § Ensuring that legitimate users are not denied access to resources as a result of declaration. § Establishing village level participatory monitoring protocols and social audit arrangements for the project. § Creating village level household beneficiary lists and identifying the most poor, farthest, marginal, and backward beneficiaries. § Ensuring convergence for alternative employment or income for landless livestock owners during common property resources (CPR) restoration.

 

  • The NITI Aayog has suggested setting up an authority which will take up installation of waste to energy plants in public-private partnership (PPP) mode to clean up municipal solid waste, which, it said, has become a “serious threat” to public health.
  • The Aayog made the recommendations in its Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20, released recently.

 

Need for waste management:

Rapidly rising prosperity has resulted in generation of vast volumes of solid waste in the cities. But, Cities have been “slow to develop effective ways” to dispose municipal waste. The mountains of waste, which can now be seen in nearly all cities, have become a serious public health threat.

Proposed authority:

  • Such an authority can be called Waste to Energy Corporation of India (WECI) and placed under the housing and urban affairs ministry.
  • The WECI may set up world class waste to energy plants through PPP mode across the country.
  • The authority can play a “key role in fast-tracking coverage” of waste to energy plants across 100 smart cities by 2019.

 

  • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences inaugurated the Ocean Forecasting System for Comoros, Madagascar, and Mozambique at the third Ministerial Meeting of Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES), held recently at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Key facts:

  • The ocean forecast and early warming information on high wave, currents, winds, tides, sub-surface ocean conditions cater to users like fishermen, coastal population, tourism sector, coastal defence officials, marine police, port authorities, research institutions and offshore industries of these countries. These ocean services are aimed towards safety at the sea.
  • The system would offer oil spill advisory services, high wave alerts, port warnings, forecast along the ship routes in addition to tsunami and storm surge warnings and help in search and rescue operations.
  • The INCOIS has already been providing these operational services to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Seychelles.

 

Benefits for India:

  • The Ocean Forecast System developed for the Indian Ocean countries and the real-time data from their territories also help to improve the ocean forecast and early warning system for the Indian coast too.
  • Wave surge and coastal flooding that occurred from July 28 to August 3 in 2016 along Kerala and West Bengal were well predicted and real-time data from Seychelles were highly beneficial for predicting these incidents, as many of these remotely forced waves originated from the southern and western Indian Ocean.

 

Background:

The ocean forecast and early warning services were most essential for safe navigation and operations at sea and the blue economic growth of many of these Indian Ocean rim countries and island nations.

About RIMES:

The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) is an international and intergovernmental institution, owned and managed by its Member States, for the generation and application of early warning information. RIMES provides regional early warning services and builds capacity of its Member States in the end-to-end early warning of tsunami and hydro-meteorological hazards.

 

  • In Pilibhit tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh, tigers have killed 6 people over the last 3 months. This is a new high even for this notorious conflict zone. Tadoba (Maharashtra) and Pilibhit are the two reserves that saw the bulk of the recent deadly attacks.
  • The ever surging foam & pollutants in Bellandur lake in Bengaluru has triggered much debate. The lake is just one of the many victims of our reckless hazard urban planning & development.

Foam Formation – when organic matter naturally breaks down, it releases fatty acids that float to the surface.  These act as natural surfactants, facilitating bubbles formation which often persist for a long time resulting in a foamy surface. Also, most surfactants in Indian detergents are not biodegradable and end up in the untreated sewage mix as potent foam generators. It is phosphorus in detergents entering wastewater acts as a nutrient that promotes the growth of water plants.

 

  • Researchers have recently discovered the largest volcanic region on Earth with nearly 100 volcanoes, two km below the surface of the vast ice sheet in west Antarctica. This huge region is likely to be bigger than east Africa‘s volcanic ridge currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

 

  • Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has come up with new guidelines for diversion of forest land.

 

Highlight  Guideline comprise a number of new costs for diversion of forest land, including possession costs ,habitat fragmentation costs and various ecological services cost like water recharge, nutrients in the soil, carbon sequestration and others.  NPV [NET PRESENT VALUE] formula will be used to assess the ecosystem service cost of diversion  Guideline will come into effect once the NPV(net present value) of forests is revised as prescribed by the Supreme Court in 2008  The Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) was assigned the responsibility of reassessing the value of forests.

 

NET PRESENT VALUE [NPV] of FOREST  It is defined under Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 .  It is the amount paid by the project proponent for diverting land for non-forest use to compensate the loss in ecosystem services.  It is calculated for a period of 50 years.  For NPV estimation forests are categorised into six eco-classes, or forest types, and three canopy cover density classes—very dense forest, moderately dense forest and open forest.

 

 

  • The department-related parliamentary standing committee recently made its recommendations in its 301st report on ‘GM crop and its impact on environment’. Problems observed by committee in approval process of GM crops.

Possibility of data manipulation: The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) does not conduct the closed field trials on their own but are solely dependent on the data provided to them by the technology developer making it susceptible to manipulations. Thus, the Committee recommends to ensure that the whole process of field trials is done in closed environment keeping bio-safety and health safety in mind and in collaboration with the agricultural universities so as to minimise the scope of fudging the primary data.  Concerns regarding GEAC: such as ad hocism in its constitution, criteria adopted for selection of its members, dominance of bureaucrats, no representation from civil society or states where Bt Cotton has been introduced, head is not from field of Biotechnology etc.  Functioning of DLCs: The Committee also feels that the presence of District Level Committee (DLC), which is one of the most important committees to regulate GM crop at the ground level, is hardly felt in any of the States/Union Territories. The Committee is of the view that MPs should be nominated as members in the District Level Committees so that the activities of these Committees are also shared with the public.

GEAC established under MoEFCC is the apex body for approval of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle. The GEAC is also responsible for approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.

 

 

India signed Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grant agreement with the World Bank for “Ecosystems Service Improvement Project”. Aim: To protect, restore and enhance

India’s forest cover and help in

maintaining ecological balance.

  • Objective: Strengthening the

institutional capacity of the

Departments of Forestry and Community

Organisations, to enhance forest

ecosystem services and improve the

livelihoods of forest dependent

communities in Central Indian Highlands.

  • The Ecosystem Services Improvement

Project will support the Government of India’s Green India Mission’s (GIM) goal of protecting, restoring and

enhancing India’s forest cover and responding to climate change.

  • The Project will be implemented in the states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh for 5 years by MOEFCC through the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education under the National Mission for Green India.

Green India Mission

National Mission for a Green India or the Green India Mission (GIM), is one of the eight Missions outlined under India’s action plan for addressing the challenge of climate change -the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures. The mission has the broad objective of both increasing the forest and tree cover by 5 million ha, as well as increasing the quality of the existing forest and tree cover in another 5 million ha of forest/ non forest lands in 10 years.

 

Global Environment Facility (GEF)  It was established during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to address the world’s most challenging environmental issues.  Its funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.  Since 1994, the World Bank has served as the Trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and provided administrative services.

 

  • Hurricane Harvey

 Harvey is a currently active tropical cyclone that recently made landfall in Texas as a major hurricane.  It is the first Category 4 hurricane to make a landfall in US since 2004 with powerful winds of up to 130 miles per hour.  The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) classifies hurricanes in western hemisphere into 5 categories distinguished by the intensities of their winds. The wind scale is used only to describe hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean and northern Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line.

Note: Category  5 : >157 mph; Highest category in the scale cause more catastrophic damage.

 

 

  • Tamil Nadu govt in collaboration with IIT Madras have been restoring Vaan Island in Gulf

of Mannar by deploying artificial reefs near vulnerable islands.

Background

  • Due to indiscriminate mining of coral, destructive fishing practices and frequent fires

caused by fisherman in past decades, area of Vaan Island had been reduced from 16 hectares

in 1986 to 2 hectares in 2014.

Highlights

  • It is the first attempt in India to protect and restore a sinking island.
  • Funding: The project has been funded by NAFCC of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

 

National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change [NAFCC]

  • Aim: To assist State and Union Territories that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation.
  • NABARD has been appointed as National Implementing Entity (NIE) responsible for implementation of adaptation projects under the NAFCC.

 

Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

  • It is the first marine biosphere reserve in Asia. · It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka, in the Coromandel Coast region. · Fauna: endangered Dugong (Sea Cow), three species of

endangered sea turtles, sea horses, several species of dolphins and whales etc. · It is a part of UNESCO MAB (Man And Biosphere) programme.

 

Prominent Corals in India

  • Lakshadweep: Known as India’s Coral Islands
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Gulf of Mannar
  • Gulf of Kutch
  • Netrani Island in Karnataka, Malwan in Maharashtra.

 

  • In 2017, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 2, the earliest date since ecological overshoot began in the early 1970s. It is calculated by WWF and Global Footprint Network.

 

Global Footprint Network

It is an international nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to enable a sustainable future where all people have the opportunity to thrive within the means of one planet.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF): Switzerland based International NGO, estd. in 1961 and engages in conservation of wildlife and natural habitat.

Objectives

  • Conserving the world’s biological diversity.
  • Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable.
  • Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
  • Enhancing active participation of all sections of society in nature conservation and environmental protection through environmental education, awareness and capacity-building.

 

  • aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) and this

may be depleting the ozone layer.

 Black Carbon

  • It is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete

combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. · BC particles strongly absorb sunlight and give soot its black color.

  • It is emitted directly into the atmosphere in the form of fine particles (PM2.5).
  • It’s known to be one-fourth as potent as carbon dioxide in whetting global warming.

Adverse effects of black carbon

  • Ozone depleting Agent: It can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical

reactions that can deplete the ozone layer.

  • Potential to upset monsoon: They can strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up

the atmosphere.

  • Enhance melting of glaciers: if deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow.

 

  • Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government has finally agreed to allow Punjab to restart Shahpur Kandi dam project. The construction was taken up in 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K. It is a gravity dam that is proposed to be constructed across Ravi River in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.  It is located downstream to the Ranjit Sagar dam, also known as Thein dam.  It will help in providing irrigation facility besides generating hydroelectric
  • Chambal River Bridge: It is India’s longest hanging bridge, constructed across the river Chambal in Kota, Rajasthan. Cables of the bridge are aerodynamic giving them the ability to be neutral in stormy winds. Few stretches of the river are protected as National Chambal Sanctuary, which is known for gharial, mugger crocodiles, gangetic river dolphins.

 

  • India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years by International Seabed Authority. Details India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules.  India had signed a 15 year contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the International Seabed Authority on March 25, 2002. In 2016 the govt approved extension of this contract upto 2022.  India is implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules (Polymetallic Nodules programme) through Ministry of Earth Sciences.  India is presently having an area of 75,000 square km, located about 1600 km away from her southern tip. Polymetallic nodules resource potential in this site is 380 million tonnes. Importance  India’s exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value.  India is entirely dependent on imports to meet its requirements of cobalt, which is the most strategic of the three metals (cobalt, copper and nickel). As for copper and nickel, India is in a precarious position.

 

  • North Koel Reservoir Project : Cabinet has given the approval for the completion of North Koel reservoir project in Jharkhand and Bihar. The North Koel River rises on the Ranchi Plateau in Jharkhand. It is a tributary of River Sone that joins the river Ganga in Bihar.  The project envisages building a dam named ―Mandal dam in Jharkhand.  The river along with its tributaries meanders through the northern part of Betla National Park.  The reservoir project is expected to flood villages which are within the Palamau Tiger Reserve.  Thus the GoI restricted the storage capacity of Mandal dam in order to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.  The project aims to provide irrigation the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu & Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad & Gaya districts in Bihar.

 

  • Mekedatu Project

 It is a proposed project by Karnataka involving the construction of a reservoir across the Cauvery River at Mekedatu, located about 110 km from Bengaluru.  It is proposed to have a storage capacity of 66.50 tmc ft and will meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru.  Tamil Nadu objected the project saying that it would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.  Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award, 2007, mandated an annual allocation of 419 tmcft to Tamil Nadu in the entire Cauvery basin, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. The Centre has notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in 2013.

  • Mechi River

 Cabinet approves MoU between India and Nepal for construction of a new bridge over Mechi River at Indo-Nepal border.  Mechi is a trans-boundary River that originates in the Mahabharat Range in Nepal.  It enters Indian state of Bihar to join Mahananda River.  The cost for the construction will be borne by GOI through Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan.  There is also a proposal for the construction of Kankai dam as a part of Mechi and Kosi river interlinking project.

 

  • India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The Doha amendment was made to Kyoto protocol in 2012 to extend the obligations of the developed countries for the second commitment period of 2013-2020.  It requires ratification from a total of 144 of the 192 parties of the Kyoto Protocol to become operational.  . US have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Canada withdrew from Kyoto protocol in 2012.

 

  • The Karnataka State Government has decided to limit the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around Kali Tiger Reserve.

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.  The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of shock absorbers to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002. And it may go beyond 10 kilometres in ecologically important patches.  Though the word ―Eco-Sensitive Zones is not mentioned in the Environment protection act, a clause in the act states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area.

 

  • Fatbergs

It is a term used to denote the giant lumps of floating waste produced due to leftover cooking oils and grease washed down the sink mix with solids in the sewers.  A UK company, Argent Energy, is now converting these fatbergs into usable fuel (Biodiesel).  The masses are heated to separate the oils and fats from the solid waste.

 

  • India and Germany signed an agreement on technical cooperation under the Indo-German Energy Programme – Green Energy Corridors (IGEN-GEC).

The main objective of this programme is to improve the conditions for grid integration of renewable energy.  This programme component supports the implementation of the Renewable Energy Management Centre (REMCs), Green Energy Corridors (GEC) scheme which is a prerequisite for large scale grid integration of renewable energy.  Green Energy Corridor is grid connected network for the transmission of renewable energy produced from various renewable energy projects.  It helps in synchronising the electricity produced from solar, wind and other renewable energy resources.  Renewable Energy Management Centre (REMC) will monitor renewable energy generation on a real-time basis and also make forecasts for hassle-free integration of solar and wind energies with the grid.

  • Varshadhare Project

It is a cloud seeding project flagged off by the Karnataka government to enhance the amount of precipitation from the clouds to generate more rain.

 

  • Mosses as Bio-indicators

A Bio-indicator is a living organism that gives us an idea of the health of an ecosystem.  Some organisms are very sensitive to pollution in their environment, so if pollutants are present, the organism may change its morphology, physiology or behaviour, or it could even die.  Bryophyte is a collective term for mosses, hornworts and liverworts which can be used as Bio-indicators. It thrives well in humid cities.  Mosses found on rocks and trees in cities can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution. Mosses generally absorb water and nutrients from their immediate environments .It responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or disappearing, allowing scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations.

 

  • Nasikabatrachus bhupathi

It is a new soil dwelling species of frog that has a snout-shaped nose like a pig, discovered by scientists in Hyderabad.  It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, near the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

  • Mongoose

Mongoose is a protected species under Part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.  Indian grey mongoose is the state animal of Chandigarh.  Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has recently seized mongoose-hair painting brushes in Kolkata.

 

JULY  17

  • Research published in Nature Biotechnology claimed to develop more efficient bio-fuel (Third generation Fuel)
  • Algae uses CO2 to generate fat and thereby produce energy but Genomics research team modified

an algae strain to enhance the algae’s fat content from 20 percent to more than 40 percent.

  • Fatty algae make the strain more fit to eventually produce biofuels at an industrial scale.
  • Moreover limiting availability of nutrients such as nitrogen is one way to increase oil production in

algae, but it can also dramatically inhibit or even stop photosynthesis, stunting algae growth and ultimately the volume of fat produced.

Benefits of algae fat

  • The fuel emits fewer greenhouse gases than most conventional energy sources.
  • No stress on food production and requirement of arable land and freshwater, unlike other biofuel feedstock, such as corn.
  • It would have lasting impacts on fields like pharmaceuticals, vaccines and nutritionals.

 

 

  • India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has signed an Accreditation Master Agreement (AMA) with the Green Climate Fund. With the signing of the AMA, NABARD becomes the first Indian organisation to get Direct Access Entity status and is the first step for the body to access GCF resources.

GCF:

The GCF was set up in 2010 under the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism to channel funding from developed countries to developing countries to allow them to mitigate climate change and also adapt to disruptions arising from a changing climate. It was central to the Paris climate agreement signed in 2015, that the world’s largest historical emitter.

  • The Green Climate Fund will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows. § It is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.

The Fund is governed and supervised by a Board that will have full responsibility for funding decisions and that receives the guidance of the COP. The Fund is accountable to, and functions under the guidance of, the COP.

 

  • Van Mahotsav, a week-long festival, is being celebrated in different parts of India. It is usually celebrated between 1 July to 7 July. Programmes like screening of short films and documentaries, seminars and exhibition, painting and poster competitions are organised to mark the occasion.

About Van Mahotsav:

Van Mahotsav began in 1950, with a tree plantation drive, in which national leaders participated. The festival of tree plantation was started by Dr. K.M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees.

  • Van Mahotsav is usually observed in the first

week of July every year and is celebrated on different days in different parts of India.

 

  • A group of U.S. researchers is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in the Godavari, India’s second longest river.
  • Using a mix of methods, including satellite-monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system.
  • Through cloud-based data collection and real-time mapping systems, the research and implementation teams intend to demonstrate the importance and value of detecting and anticipating pollutants that enter the river in the form of human waste, organic materials, and chemical contaminants.
  • The exercise is part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to support the programme of the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) to provide city-wide sanitation improvements in urban Andhra Pradesh. Sensors to monitor river pollution are an emerging technological approach in India.

 

Objectives of the project:

  • The long-term objective is to be able to inform State officials and citizens of a probable spike in, say, levels of dangerous microbes or effluents, similar to weather and air pollution forecasts.
  • Also, it is to be able to access “raw data” that could be used to inform the efficacy of a proposed faecal sludge treatment plant and whether behavioural interventions — including incentives or punishments — to restrict activities that pollute the river could actually work.

 

  • In July 2017, Study links extreme El Nino conditions and warming of Bay of Bengal to very heavy rainfall during the northeast monsoon. More on News  The extreme El Nino conditions in 2015 and the warming trend in the Bay of Bengal contributed equally to the unprecedented heavy rainfall witnessed in Chennai in 2015.  El Nino generally causes less than normal rainfall in the case of the southwest monsoon  In contrast, it brings about above-normal rainfall during the northeast monsoon.  This is because of the difference in seasonal wind patterns between the two monsoons.  Consistent warming of the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh also played an important role.  A simple linear correlation identified that the Bay of Bengal sea surface temperature positively and significantly correlated with northeast monsoon rainfall  Whenever the El Nino signal shows up in atmospheric circulation, the local sea surface temperature can also change.

 

  • An area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao has been declared a ‘No Development Zone,’ with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres of the river. An environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 will be imposed on anyone dumping waste in the river.

Key facts:

  • The NGT also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries.
  • It also directed the authorities concerned to complete projects, including a sewage treatment plant and cleaning of drains, within two years.
  • The court also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the Secretary of the Water Resources Ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials of the Uttar Pradesh government, to oversee implementation of the directions passed in its verdict. The committee is to submit reports at regular intervals.
  • Telangana State is planning to construct eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana’s Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.
  • The Telangana Irrigation Department has given its consent for the construction of the eco-bridges. Recommendations on the size and locations of the bridges are awaited from the National Board of Wildlife.

 

What’s the plan?

The ‘eco-bridges’ will be constructed at key spots along the 72 km-long, and at some places over a kilometre wide. The plan involves laying of fertile soil to grow grass and plants over the structure, so that fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.

Background:

The concept emerged after visits by experts from the Wildlife Board of India and the Wildlife Institute of India. They were concerned about the large-scale destruction of pristine forest along the corridor, which would result in cutting off tiger movement between TATR and Bejjur.

 

 

  • Deep sea vents are found on the sea floor through which the geo-thermally heated water, minerals and gas comes out. The hydro-thermal vents are formed near the oceanic ridges where the two tectonic plates intersect e.g. Sister Peak and Turtle Pit in Mid Oceanic Ridge, Atlantic Ocean.  The water is heated through contact of molten crust, thus increasing the temperature of the area up to 400 degree centigrade. These vents also form a feature known as black smokers.  It was found by the scientists while studying the oceanic temperature that there existed a diverse and vibrant benthic community of deep sea organism near the hydro-thermal vents.  Hydrothermal also have huge potential for mineral exploration as the vents are rich in Poly Metallic Nodules which include metals such as cobalt, gold, copper and rare earth minerals essential for electronic components.

Benthic Organism in Hydro-thermal Vents  Usually the life on the earth is driven by the light energy from the Sun. However the benthic organisms in the hydrothermal vents depend on the chemosynthetic bacteria for food.  The water in the hydrothermal vents is rich in dissolved minerals and forms the energy base for the chemosynthetic bacteria. The benthic organisms found in these vents are host to the chemosynthetic bacteria found in their bodies, thus living in symbiotic relationship.  These bacteria oxidise the sulphides or elemental sulphur to derive energy.

Benthic organisms found in vents are: Vent Shrimps: They have photoreceptor eyes adapted to detect radioactive particles.  Giant Tubeworm: Their haemoglobin binds not only with oxygen but also sulphide which is usually toxic to other organisms on the Earth.  Siboglinid Tubeworms: They have no mouth or digestive tract, thus absorbs the nutrients like parasitic worms.

 

  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) gave its directions to a PIL petition of which was transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014.

NGT mandates

An area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao has been declared a No Development Zone‘. Till the demarcation of floodplains and identification of permissible and non-permissible activities by the State government, the ‗No Development Zone‘ is to be followed.

All industrial units in the catchment areas of the Ganga should be stopped from indiscriminate groundwater extraction. Mechanical mining will be banned. Dumping of waste within 500 metres of the river is proibited. Rs. 50,000 fine will be imposed on anyone dumping waste in the river.

It also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries.

Tanneries from Jajmau in Kanpur should be shifted to leather parks in Unnao within a period of six weeks,.

 

  • According to the National Flood Commission of India (NFCI), about 40% of the state‘s area is floodprone.The floods caused by the release of water in the Brahmaputra‘s upstream have become a common monsoon bane in Assam.Human-made factors have compounded this annual problem.

 

  • UN Environment Programme’s Clean Seas Campaign called for a global ban on microbeads in personal care products.  In India, recently The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has classified microbeads as ―unsafe for use in cosmetic products. Increasing use of plastics and especially micro-plastics is developing into a major cause of concern for the environment. It is also getting dangerous as plastics are making way into the food chains of even birds, animals and fishes.

Microbeads:

Microbeads are smaller forms of plastic, no greater in size than 5 mm. Microbeads are added as an exfoliating agent to cosmetics and personal care products, such as soap, facial scrub and toothpastes.

 

  • TN government conceded the Government of India-owned Kamarajar Port Ltd‘s (KPL) request to divert 1,000 acres of the hydrologically sensitive Ennore wetlands for industrial installations that are best built on dry land. The proposal is pending Central government clearance.

Ennore creek is a backwater located in Ennore, Chennai along the Coromandel Coast.

It buffers the rich aquifers of the Araniyar-Kosasthalaiyar Basin from the sea.

  • PM NARENDRAMODI PRESENTED AN 11-POINT ACTION AGENDA FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM IN THE G20 SUMMIT.

THE 11 POINTS

Adoptation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Effective implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and other international resolutions.

Exchange of best practices and process of de-radicalisation of terrorism through G-20 countries.

Closure of terror funding with the help of Financial Action Task Force.

Weapons and Explosive Action Task Force must be formed to stop arms trading to a terror organisation.

Firm and deterrent action must be taken against those countries who support terrorism and these countries must be barred from G20 summit.

Countries attending G20 summit must exchange lists of designated terrorists and must take action against them and their supporters.

For those arrested for terror activities, the process of extradition must be simplified.

Concrete support among G-20 countries for Cyber Security to stop terror activities.

G-20 countries must form National Security Advisors on Counter Terrorism.

  • Hywind

It is the first full-scale floating wind farm being built in Scotland. It has turbines taller than Britain‘s wind farm ―Big Ben. The technology will allow wind power to be harvested even in waters that are too deep for the existing bottom standing turbines.

 

  • High Altitude Cloud Observatory

A high altitude cloud physics observatory has been established at Munnar, in Western Ghats.

It is used to observe cloud and rain processes over that region, with state of the art observations.

The observatory will enable better understanding of rainfall distribution and characterization of rainfall processes in the numerical models used for prediction of monsoon rainfall.

Another high altitude cloud physics observatory is functional at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra.

 

  • Typhoon “Noru”

The typhoon Noru‘, originated in south-east of Japan, had marked the beginning of the Monsoon season in the North-West Pacific. This is only the second time since 1950 that the first typhoon of the season materialised in the North-West Pacific.

 

  • Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary

The sanctuary is part of the mangrove wetland which spreads across Krishna and Guntur districts of A.P. The sanctuary is also an estuary, located in the coastal plain of Krishna Delta. The region potentially holds one of the most significant populations of fishing cats in the world and it has the potential to become world’s first reserve for IUCN identified endangered species including the fishing cat.

Recently, Smooth-coated otter was sighted for the first time in the mangrove forest adjacent to the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

  • Eco-bridges

Telangana is the first state to have eco-friendly bridges for the movement of tigers over a canal, cutting across the tiger corridor. The bridge links Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana. It requires laying of fertile soil to raise grass and plants over the structure, so that fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.

 

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has formed a new institution, the ―National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.The centre is located in Chennai and established with the objective of creating a new National Coastal Mission.

NCSCM‘s core strength is the coastal system research for the well-being of coastal communities and promoting sustainable development.

NCSCM‘s researches will be useful for arriving at policy decisions and for capacity building of coastal communities.

Along with other Ministries and State/UT governments, it will scientifically map the cumulative vulnerability of coastal environment to climate change and consequent threats to ecology, lives and livelihoods.

 

  • Neem Coated Urea

Urea, the nitrogenous fertilizer when applied to soil, is hydrolysed into ammonia and then to nitrite and

nitrate. This process is called Nitrification. Thus most plants take nitrogen in the form of Nitrates. When the process of nitrification is too rapid, nitrogen will escape to the atmosphere and plants will not be able to recover it from Urea efficiently. Coating Urea with Neem oil or Neem cake has been proved to be an effective natural inhibitor to the loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere. It slows down the process of nitrate formation and hence excess nitrate is not available for de-nitrification. Neem coating leads to more gradual release of urea, helping plants gain more nutrients and resulting in higher yields. There is also a lower underground water contamination due to leaching of urea and neem serves as a natural insecticide as well. Neem-coating will help check heavily subsidized urea‘s pilferage to chemical industry and other uses such as making of adulterated milk.

 

  • Oleogelator. Scientists have developed a simple, cheap and environment-friendly system that can effectively remove crude oil from sea which can pollute and even destroy marine ecosystems.

 

  • American Airlines cancelled nearly 50 regional flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. The reason for cancellation was the high day temperature which was expected to touch 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme heat alters the density of air, making it thinner.  • Thin air prevents generation of required ‘lift’, and makes it more difficult for aircraft to take off.

 

  • Birdlife International, a conservation organisation, has recognised three new sites in Goa as hotspots for protection. The new list now added
  1. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary,
  2. Navelim Wetlands and
  3. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The sites have been added to the list of “Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas”by birdlife international.

GBCN is a NGO, which is monitors and takes conservation measures of the birds of Goa.

The inclusion of these ecological hotspots in a new book comes after systematic data collection by the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN).

JUNE 07

  • According to a survey, Orang tiger reserve in Assam, which has the smallest core, is host to 28 big cats, thus having the highest density nationally. The count was revealed during phase IV of the all-India tiger estimation programme of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Know about Orang tiger reserve:

Spread over Darrang and Sonitpur districts and notified in February 2016, Orang Tiger Reserve is the 49th in the country. It has the smallest core of 78.28 sq. km.

 It is located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River. It is also known as the mini Kaziranga National Park (IUCN site) since the two parks have a similar landscape made up of marshes, streams and grasslands.

 

  • A sudden change in the colour of the Bosphorus Strait that divides the continents of Europe and Asia in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul since the weekend has alarmed some residents.
Bosphorus Strait:

It is a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, thus being a very strategic waterway. It’s length is 32 kilometers (20 miles) in the north to south direction. Bosphorus strait separates the European part from the Asian part of Istanbul.

Reason behind colour change:

The cause was a surge in numbers of the micro-organism Emiliania huxleyi. One of the most successful life-forms on the planet, Emiliania huxleyi is a single-celled organism visible only under a microscope. Its astonishing adaptability enables it to thrive in waters from the equator to the sub-Arctic.

 

  • The first ever State-wide population estimation of Nilgiri tahrs, has put the total population of the endangered species at 1,420, More on the News  In 2013, Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife planned to reintroduce Nilgiri thar into Mudanthurai tiger reserve.  Majority of number is 664 at the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar.  Found in Eravikulam National Park, Adimali forest (Idukki), Silant Valley National Park, Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. Threat to Nilgiri Thar  Temple tourism.  The meat is highly priced. There is no protection for the animals in several habitats.  Grasslands have been planted with eucalyptus, wattle and pine cultivation and plantations, including tea, which are not a natural habitat of Nilgiri thar.

Nilgiri tahrs : State animal of Tamil Nadu.  Endemic: Western Ghats from the Nilgiris to Kanyakumari.  IUCN status: Endangered status (because number fewer than 2,500 mature individuals).  Protected (Schedule I) by the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.  Confined to a narrow belt of higher elevation of Shola Forest.

 

 

  • To promote construction of environment-friendly buildings, RAJASTHAN GOVERNMENT HAS ADOPTED THE GREEN BUILDING RATING SYSTEM DEVELOPED BY THE INDIAN GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL (IGBC), which is part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Significance  Lays emphasis on checking exploitation of natural resources in the construction of buildings.  Ensure environment-friendly construction  It comprises a predefined set of criteria relating to the design, construction, and operations of green buildings. Three primary Green building rating agencies in India Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)  Developed by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.  Rating criteria (1) Site selection and site planning, (2) Conservation and efficient utilization of resources, (3) Building operation and maintenance, and (4) Innovation. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)  The vision of the council is, “To enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025”.  The council offers a wide array of services which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes. It also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
  • A model of water conservation adopted successfully by the authorities in Nalanda district of south central Bihar, has been selected for the national award for excellence in the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee programme (MGNREGP), by the ministry of rural development. The award for excellence will be conferred on ‘Project Jal Sanchay’, the water conservation model.

Project Jal Sanchay:

‘Project jal sanchay’ was launched under MGRNREGP, to offer farmers a wide spectrum of solutions to water crisis. Under this, check dams were created and traditional Aahar-Pyne irrigation system and traditional water bodies were desilted and renovated, accompanied by campaigns to create awareness about rainwater harvesting. The water conservation project has not only improved the availability of water but has also positively impacted farm production in the areas covered by the project.

  • World’s Energy Leaders have gathered in Beijing for second Mission Innovation Ministerial and 8th Clean Energy Ministerial. An Indian delegation led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change will be participating in the conferences.

Mission Innovation:

MI was announced on November 30, 2015 by the leaders of 20 countries that have a shared desire to accelerate global clean energy innovation during COPE 21 in Paris. The ‘Mission Innovation’ (MI) is an effort to accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation, including through participating countries doubling their respective clean energy research and development investment.

There is a concerted effort to enhance the pace of innovation and scale of transformation through this clean energy revolution launch to meet the requirement for economic, energy security goals in timely manner.

India is Founding Member of the Steering Committee and also a Member of the two sub-groups: Joint research and Capacity Building and Private Sector Engagement.

Clean Energy Ministerial:

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a high-level global forum to share lessons learnt and best practices, and to encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy. Initiatives are based on areas of common interest among participating Governments and other stakeholders. The CEM is the initiative of the USA. Presently, 23 countries are members of CEM. There are 13 initiatives under CEM covering energy efficiency, clean energy supply and cross cutting areas.

Since its launch in 2010, the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) has come a long way. Its various initiatives were instrumental in leading significant collaborative work amongst members in context of clean energy supply, demand side management and relevant cross cutting issues.

  • Rhododendron
  • Rhododendron is a large genus of flowering plants and is found mainly in Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas and Nilgiris. • Some plants of Rhododendron are evergreen and some are deciduous in nature. • The species is found in varied habitats from subtropical forest to alpine shrubs, rhododendrons range from dwarf shrubs to large trees. • The species has been designated as the State tree of Uttarakhand and its blooming in the Garhwal Himalayas is celebrated as ‘Phool Sankranti’, a festival of flowers.

 

  • The Estuarine or salt water crocodiles are found in the eastern coast and Andaman & Nicobar Islands in India. • Bhitarkanika National park on the odisha coast houses 70% of India’s salt water crocodiles. • Project Crocodile was launched by Government of India and UNDP to save the salt water crocodiles in Bhitarkanika. • Unlike other crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles lay eggs by creating a mound made of leaves of a particular mangrove species, which are plentifully available in Bhitarkanika.
  • Orang Tiger Reserve
  • Recently, the census carried out in the Orang Tiger Reserve has shown that the reserve has the highest density of tigers in the country. • Orang Tiger Reserve is the 49th in the country. Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Arunachal is the 50th and latest to be notified. • Orang has the density of 28 big cats followed by Kaziranga National Park (12.72) in Assam, Jim Corbett National Park (11) in Uttarakhand and Bandipur National Park (10.28) in Karnataka.
  • First Biodiversity Heritage Site
  • Ameenpur Lake is an ancient man-made lake that dates back to the time of Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who ruled the kingdom of Golconda between 1550 and 1580. • It becomes the first Biodiversity Heritage Site in the country. • The lake is now divided into two parts called Pedda Ameenpur and Chinna Cheruvu. • With the biodiversity heritage tag given under the Biological Diversity Act 2002, the lake, which will now be managed by a locally constituted Biodiversity Management Committee, also becomes eligible for funding for upkeep of the lake as well as its protection.

Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS)  These are areas of biodiversity importance, which harbour rich biodiversity, wild relatives of crops, or areas, which lie outside the protected area network. The purpose is not to cover the already designated protected areas such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.  Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act for notification of BHS by State governments in consultation with local bodies.

  • Karkata
  • Karkata, which stands for crab in Sanskrit, has been given a separate genus, indicating a higher order of distinctive features

 

  • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) launched a code for new commercial buildings in the country. • Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017 was developed by Ministry of Power and BEE. • The code sets parameters for builders, designers and architects to integrate renewable energy sources in building design with the inclusion of passive design strategies. • It promotes low-carbon growth and lead to 30-50% energy savings by commercial buildings by 2030. In order for a building to be considered ECBC-compliant, it will need to demonstrate minimum energy savings of 25 per cent. • Additional improvements will enable new buildings to achieve higher grades like ECBC+ or SuperECBC, leading to further energy savings of 35 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively.

 

  • Recently, Rajasthan government has set up rescue wards in rural areas of Jodhpur for wildlife of Thar Desert. These will provide quick treatment to animals injured.

 

  • Tamil Nadu government has planned to allow Forest Department personnel to cull the wild boar for a limited period of time.

Issue Involved  Ecologists warn that culling of wild boar will harm biodiversity  Wild boars: Scavenger in food chain  Adverse effect on some animals because it is important prey for carnivorous animals.  Furrowing wild boars ensure germination of seeds in the forest area.  However Wild boars are among the most significant causes of losses that farmers face. They devour tapioca, bananas, rice and oil seeds.

What is vermin?  Any animal which poses a threat to human and their livelihood especially farming, can be declared Vermin under Schedule V of Wildlife Protection act 1972.  States can send a list of wild animals to the Centre requesting it to declare them vermin for selective slaughter.

 

  • In June 2017, OECD released a report titled “Green Growth Indicators 2017” highlighting the slow progress in achieving the Green Growth. What is Green Growth?  It is fostering economic growth and development while ensuring the natural assets continue to provide the resource and environment services on which our well-being relies.  Green Growth is measured by Green Growth Indicators covering everything from land use to CO2 productivity and innovation. Highlights of report  The BRIICS have a higher average share of renewables at 14.8% than OECD countries at 9.6%, but the share has dropped in the BRIICS since 1990.  China and the US extract the most non-energy raw materials followed by India and Brazil (mostly biomass), and South Africa and Canada (mostly metals).  Urban areas are growing rapidly, even in some already highly urbanised countries, and across the OECD built-up areas are growing faster than populations.
  • Solar Rooftop Investment Program
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Punjab National Bank (PNB) signed a $100 million loan— that will finance large solar rooftop systems on industrial and commercial buildings throughout India. • This is the first tranche loan of the $500 million multi tranche finance facility Solar Rooftop Investment Program (SRIP) approved by ADB in 2016.

 

  • The Odisha government is all set to commission the ambitious Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) in 6 coastal districts to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to natural calamities. Odisha will be the first state in India to install EWDS to provide early warning to coastal people. • The government will install 122 towers to disseminate early warnings about cyclone, tsunami and flood to people. • The project will be implemented under the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP). • The project, which is being implemented with assistance from the World Bank.

MAY 17

 

  • first time in the country, the Uttarakhand High Court has declared that the rivers Ganga and Yamuna were “living persons.”  They were inspired by lawmakers in New Zealand. Barely a week earlier, had the New Zealand Parliament conferred legal personhood or human status to the Whanganui. The Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams are declared as juristic or legal persons or living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve river Ganga and Yamuna.

 

 

  • Tariffs plunged to a new low of Rs2.44 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) last week during an auction for 500 megawatt (MW) capacity at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan.

 

 

  • Geographic range is a key benchmark in assigning a species a threat level in IUCNs Red List. These scientists independently assessed threat levels for 18 species and found that IUCN has overestimated the geographic range for 17 of those, including the 10 for which they have suggested an enhanced threat status. For birds, IUCN relies on range maps provided by BirdLife International, while the team‘s study relied on independently reviewed data from eBird, which he described as the world‘s largest citizen science database.
  • Chenchus who live deep in the forest of Nallamala (tropical dry deciduous scrub with trees of axle wood, teak, Hardwicke) is also host to India‘s largest tiger reserve, the 3,728-sq.-km Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR). The recent order of NTCA means Chenchus will no longer be able to claim Nallamala as their home. The fact that Chenchus enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the Nallamala was recognised early by the British.  The British gave them rights not just to stay inside the forest but also do subsistence farming and grazing.

 

  • Madhav Chitale committee on Desiltation of Ganga has recommended study of sediment transport processes along with establishing annual sediment budgets to guide de-silting activities.

 

  • THE PHARMACY INDUSTRY IN HYDERABAD IS POLLUTING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH ANTIMICROBIALS.

The pollution contributes to a rise in drug-resistant infections, a new study published in the journal Infection alleges.  Drug resistance in India is the sheer number of neonatal deaths attributed to it, an estimated 58,000 every year, followed by hospital-acquired infections that fail to respond to last-resort treatment.  The crisis of drug resistance is exemplified by the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in India and the disease could spread to the international community.

 

  • World Conference on Environment-2017, held in New Delhi.

It is stated that 16 of the 43 hydropower projects currently under construction are stalled for various reasons.  The CAG, in its report tabled in March 2017, found that the standard procedures including for environmental impact assessments and public hearings have been bypassed.  Tapping hydropower is considered a key priority area in view of India‘s growing energy requirement.  It is noteworthy that India became a net exporter of electricity for the first time between April 2016 and February 2017, exporting around 5,585 million units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

  • Cloudburst

 If rainfall of about 10 cm or above per hour is recorded over a place that is roughly 10 km x 10 km in area, it is classified as a cloudburst event. Cloudbursts happen when saturated clouds are unable to produce rain because of the upward movement of very warm current of air.  Raindrops, instead of dropping down, are carried upwards by the air current. New drops are formed and existing raindrops gain in size.  After a point, the raindrops become too heavy for the cloud to hold on to, and they drop down together in a quick flash.  Hilly terrains aid in heated air currents rising vertically upwards, thereby, increasing the probability of a cloudburst situation.

 

  • Deep Ocean Mission

Government of India is all set to launch Deep Ocean Mission‘ by January 2018 and it will improve Indias position in ocean research field.  India was the first country in the world to have been given the Pioneer Area for exploration of deep-sea mineral viz. Polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin in 1987.  A First Generation Mine-site (FGM) with an area of 18,000 sq km has been identified. Latest technologies for extraction of metals from the minerals have also been developed under the programme.

 

  • North Indian Ocean level

From 1993 to 2003 —the North Indian Ocean (NIO) sea levels fell. This rise and fall was even as global temperatures steadily climbed and registered their largest two-decadal jump in more than a century. Such a ―decadal swing in the North Indian Ocean was unique and never observed in either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Also, the NIO was warming twice as fast as the other oceans after 2004.  Sea levels primarily rise due to water expanding from atmospheric heat and, more water being added from, for instance, melting ice sheets and glaciers.  Wind flows, which welled warm water on the Indian Ocean surface, changed directions every decade and probably influenced sea level patterns.

  • Aerotropolis in Assam

The Centre is planning to build an aerotropolis in Guwahati, Assam and has sought 2,000 acres from the State for the purpose.  An aerotropolis is an airport centric metropolitan hub, where infrastructure and economy are all based on the access to the airport serving as a commercial point like any traditional metropolis that contains a central city commercial core area and commuter-linked suburbs.  Andal Aerotropolis is India’s first Aerotropolis located at Andal in Durgapur sub-division between the industrial cities of Durgapur and Asansol in West Bengal, India.

 

Pampa Conservation

 The document, named Pampa Declaration, delineates a comprehensive plan and calls upon the government to create an additional standing committee at the local bodies to ensure participation of local government institutions.

Pampa:It is the third longest river in the South Indian state of Kerala after Periyar and Bharathappuzha.  The river is also known as ‘Dakshina Bhageerathi’ and ‘River Baris’.  The river rises at an altitude of 1,650 metres on the Peermade Plateau in the Idukki district of Kerala and joins the Arabian Sea through a number of channels.

 

  • India’s longest bridge

 India’s longest bridge – the 9.15 km long Dhola-Sadiya bridge, over the River Brahmaputra, in Assam was recently inaugurated.  The bridge will enhance connectivity and greatly reduce travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

 

  • Indias first underwater rail tunnel

 The country‘s first tunnel under the Hooghly river for establishing metro link between Howrah and Kolkata was recently completed.  Afcons Transtonnelstro, an Indo-Russian joint venture and Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation are involved in the project.  The project connects Howrah to the west and Salt lake to the east.

 

  • The Reang of Tripura

 Reang or Riang are one of the 21 scheduled tribes of the Indian state of Tripura. They speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru.  Education has been pressing a concern for the tribe. As per the 2001 census, 66.93% of the Reang population is illiterate.  Traditionally, jhum (shifting) cultivation has been one of the primary agricultural activities of the Reang tribe. However, with land rights being granted, many members of the community have taken to ploughing or settled cultivation.

  • Prime Minister launched the Narmada Seva Mission for the conservation of the crucial river, which is a lifeline of Madhya Pradesh. He also released Narmada Pravah – the Mission Work Plan for the river Narmada. Narmada Seva Yatra was started in December 11, 2016 from Amarkantak and ended in May 15, 2017.
  • With the onset of the breeding season of estuarine crocodiles, Bhitarkanika National Park will be closed for 3- months.  It is a national park located in Kendrapara district of Odisha in eastern India. It has been designated as a National Park since   It is also a Ramsar site.  The national park is surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife

Sanctuary. Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies to the east, and separates swamp region cover with canopy of mangroves from the Bay of Bengal.  The sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by a number of rivers – Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, Pathsala and others. The park is home to the saltwater crocodile, white crocodile, Indian python, black ibis, wild pigs, rhesus monkeys, chitals, darters, cobra, water monitor lizard. Olive ridley sea-turtles nest on Gahirmatha and other nearby beaches.

 

  • Albino Orangutan

 A rare albino orangutan has been rescued on the Indonesian part of Borneo island  Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

 The Bornean orangutan(has three subspecies),which along with the Sumatran orangutan are Asias only great apes, is classified by the IUCN as “critically endangered”.

 The creatures have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the island‘s rainforests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper plantations, and are sometimes targeted by villagers who view them as pests.  Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in trees.

  • Dholes

 The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), running a conservation breeding centre for the Dholes (Indian wild dogs), plans to reintroduce a pack of 16 into the forests.  The pack should be genetically strong and have the basic instinct to hunt.  It will be the third such zoo effort for the recovery and long-term survival of an endangered species.  Earlier, Darjeeling‘s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park had a programme for the red panda and a Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme was undertaken in Assam.  Protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed as „endangered by the IUCN, the dhole was adopted by IGZP in 2014 under the Central Zoo Authority‘s mandate.  Dholes, with a bushy tail and an alert gaze, are aggressive pack predators, covering long distances on a hunt.

 

  • Vaquita Porpoise

 With an estimated 30 or fewer individuals remaining, vaquita porpoise — the world’s most endangered marine mammal — may go extinct by 2018 if no action is taken to save them, a new study warns.  Known as the ‘panda of the sea’ because of its distinctive markings, the vaquita is endemic to the Upper Gulf of California.  Unsustainable fishing practices and illegal wildlife trade driven by demand for the swim bladder, has caused the vaquita population to plummet.  Listed as the most endangered cetacean in the world these mammals are often accidentally killed in gillnets also.

 

  • Smooth-coated otter

 The species is found in most of the Indian Subcontinent and eastwards to Southeast Asia, with a disjunct population in Iraq.  Smooth-coated otters are found in areas where fresh water is plentiful — wetlands and seasonal swamps, rivers, lakes, and rice paddies.  Major threats to Asian otter population are loss of wetland habitats due to construction of large-scale hydroelectric projects, reclamation of wetlands for settlements and agriculture, reduction in prey biomass, poaching, and contamination of waterways by pesticides.  The smooth-coated otter is listed as a vulnerable species. Their range and population are shrinking due to loss of wetland habitat and contamination of waterways by pesticides.  The otters are also protected in India under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

  • Common leopard

 In India, the leopard is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests.  It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.

 It is Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and included in Appendix I of CITES and also listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

 

  • Cobra Lily

 The incredibly rare Arisaema translucens, more commonly known as the cobra lily, was recently rediscovered in the western Nilgiris after 84 years.  They can be found only in a small area measuring less than 10 square kilometres in the Nilgiris.  The Toda tribals of the Nilgiris, who know the plant well, have an embroidery motif known as the ‗podwarshk‘, which resembles it.  The indigenous community could predict the early arrival of monsoon from the blooming of the cobra lily’s „translucens.

 Prized for their beauty around the world, cobra lilies are at even greater risk of extinction from the commercial trade in exotic plants.

 Of the handful cobra lily species found in the Nilgiris, only two are endemic.

 Cobra lilies have vanished in the past decades along with the disappearance of the shola tree patches in which they were found.

 

  • Traffic pollution reaches the Himalayas

 Geologists have found high levels of sulphur from diesel emissions along the Manali-Leh highway through the northwestern Himalayas.  While the good news is that heavy metal contamination was found to be low, the soil had significantly high levels of sulphur (490–2033 ppm).  Indian diesel contains some of the highest concentrations of sulphur in the world and an estimated 70% of automobiles running on Indian roads use diesel. With the likely increase of exhaust and sulphur in this region in the future, the paper recommends periodic monitoring of contaminant accumulation and human health along the Manali-Leh Highway.

 

APRIL 2017

 

  • In May 2010, Ahmedabad witnessed heatwaves with record-breaking temperatures that took a toll of 4,462 lives. This was 1,344 deaths more than that in May 2009.So the Amdavad Municipal Corporation (AMC), public health experts and institutes, civil society groups and other stakeholders joined hands to prepare a comprehensive Heat Action Plan (HAP) in 2013.
  • Four States — Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand which comprise India‘s most human-elephant.conflict-prone region, have decided to count elephants synchronously.This will be the first regional synchronous elephant census with an identical set of rules for direct and indirectcounting methods.The direct elephant counting method is based on sightings of elephants.In the indirect method, surveyors follow a dung decay formula for arriving at population estimationwhich is being used by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka at present.A variation of about 8% to 9% has been noticed between the two methods.
  • Hot lanes and Toll differential system

A high-occupancy toll lane (or HOT lane) is a type of traffic lane or roadway that is available to high-occupancy vehicles and other exempt vehicles without charge. Other vehicles are required to pay a variable fee that is adjusted in response to demand. While this was pioneered in the U.S. in 1969, its effective implementation in other countries such as China and Indonesia has encouraged millions of commuters to opt for car-sharing as it ensured them a speedier

and less costly journey.

A toll differential system based on the number of car occupants and on the latest pollution check of the vehicle is the need of the hour. The government should introduce a differential toll treatment for less polluting and higher occupancy vehicles.

 

  • Contrary to the general notion that pre-monsoon aerosol loading results in decrease in seasonal rainfall, a long-term (2002-2013) satellite observational study and model-based analysis by IIT Kanpur has found that higher aerosol loading results in delayed but more rainfall over Central and Northern India. The bulk of aerosols—about 90% by mass—have natural origins. Volcanoes, for example, eject huge columns of ash into the air, as well as sulfur dioxide and other gases, yielding sulfates. The remaining 10% of aerosols are considered anthropogenic, or human-made, and they come from a variety of sources. Automobiles, incinerators, smelters, and power plants are prolific producers of sulfates, nitrates, black carbon, and other particles. Deforestation, overgrazing, drought, and excessive irrigation can alter the land surface, increasing the rate at which dust aerosols enter the atmosphere. Even indoors, cigarettes, cooking stoves, fireplaces, and candles are sources of aerosols.
  • Brown carbon or organic matter, has a warming influence on the atmosphere depending on the brightness ofthe underlying ground.
  • Geo-Engineering is defined as the deliberate large-scale intervention in earth‘s climate system, to limit adverse global warming. One category of technologies, i.e., carbon dioxide removal to reduce atmospheric concentrations includes bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, direct air capture, and ocean fertilisation (adding nutrients to stimulate marine food production to absorb CO2). The other category is solar radiation management, or solar geo-engineering, to reflect sunlight and reduce the amount of infrared radiation getting trapped by greenhouse gases. Proposed technologies include brightening marine clouds, and deploying space mirrors. But the most discussed is injecting the stratosphere with reflective sulphate aerosols.

 

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) recently ordered that there would be no tribal rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) in critical tiger habitats. Both the ‗Guidance document for preparation of tiger conservation plan‘ and the Protocol/guidelines for voluntary village relocation in notified core/critical tiger habitats of tiger reserves‘ issued by the Environment Ministry acknowledge that although there is a need to keep forest reserves as inviolate for the purposes of tiger conservation, this ought to be done without affecting the rights of traditional forest dwellers. The NTCA and the relevant expert committee constituted to ensure tiger conservation under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WPA) have a mandate to ensure conservation along with human coexistence.

 

  • Arboreal Crab

Recently, scientists have discovered a new species of tree-dwelling crabs in Western Ghats of Kerala.The new species named ―Kani maranjandu‖ after the Kani tribe in Kerala.

It is different from other genus by having characteristic traits such as hard upper shell, long-legged, male abdominal structure and reproductive parts.

This is the first report of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab.

 

  • Comb jellies

A new genetic analysis suggests that comb jellies were the earliest animals to evolve on earth and not the sponges.

Comb jellies are the delicate marine predators.

They have considerably more genes which support their “first to diverge” status in the animal lineage than sponges do and thus the new study claims that they were the first branch of animal family tree.

 

  • Ipomea Carnea

Ipomea carnea is a Prosopis juliflora (Seemai Karuvelam) without thorns.  Ipomea carnea, also known as Neyveli kattamanakku has clogged every water body in the Tamil Nadu State and proved detrimental to its aquatic ecosystems. Ipomea carnea was introduced as an ornamental plant and it is a highly adaptive plant, which thrives both in inundated as well as dry conditions.

It has the capacity to turn a river into soil.

There are other similar species like Alternanthera philoxeroides (seemai ponnanganni), genus Sphagneticola (such as seemai karisalanganni) and Eichhornia crassipes (ahaya thamarai) have also invaded the aquatic ecosystem of Tamil Nadu.

These invasive species pose health hazards such as seemai ponnanganni grows even in sewage and industrial waste, absorbing lead, mercury and ammonia. The metals enter the body of those who consume the plant. These species does not possess the medicinal values of native species.

 

  • Gentoo penguin

Gentoo penguins are found in the Antarctic Peninsula and numerous islands around the frozen continent. Gentoo‘s are the world‘s third largest members in penguin family, reaching a height of 30 inches and always gather in colonies of breeding pairs.

They are found in Ardley Island off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and the island host one of the biggest and oldest Gentoo Penguin colonies.

Gentoos are partial to ice-free areas, including coastal plains, sheltered valleys, and cliffs. Like all penguins, gentoos are awkward on land. But they are pure grace underwater.

They have streamlined bodies and strong, paddle-shaped flippers that propel them up to 22 miles an hour (36 kilometers an hour), faster than any other diving bird.

They are protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened. It was included in IUCN Red List in 2007.

Recently, researchers have found that big eruptions of a volcano on nearby Deception Island have a huge impact on penguin‘s population.

Using the guano (Penguin excrement), which is accumulated in the sediment of freshwater Ardley lake, researchers unraveled the history of the penguin colony.

 

  • Three new plant species in Nilgiris Biodiversity

The three new species of plants belonging to the Balsaminaceae family were identified in Mukurthi National Park. The species Impatiens Kawttyana, tiahmushkulni and nilgirica were

named after Toda Deity hills ‗kawtty‘, ‗Taihmushkuln‘.

Toda tribes in Nilgiris believe that their god resides and rules them from

the hills and thus they preserve the ecosystem.

Mukurthi National Park is a protected area located in the western corner

of the Nilgiris plateau in Tamil Nadu.

It is part of Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, India‘s first International

Biosphere Reserve and part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Indian Wolf

Indian Wolf with the scientific name Canis lupus pallipes, synonym Canis Indica is one of the gray wolf subspecies. There are around 37 subspecies which are known to exist under Canis lupus. They are also called as Iranian Wolf, found in Western India, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Indian Wolf is adapted to scrublands, grasslands, and semi-arid pastoral environments. It is found mainly in the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The Indian Wolf is categorized as ‗Endangered‘ by IUCN. It is a Schedule I animal in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Jai Samand Sanctuary in Rajasthan is the only one known location where the Indian Wolves are kept in captivity.

Indian Wolf is one of the smallest subspecies of wolves and much of its habitat overlaps that of the Himalayan Wolf. Himalayan wolf (Proposed clade under Tibetan Wolf) is also a subspecies of Gray Wolf species. They are mainly found in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh.

 

  • Kharai Camels

Kharai camels also called as ―Swimming Camels‖ is a separate breed among the nine breeds of camel found in India.

Gujarat is the only State in India which is home to Kharai Camels.

The camel is adapted to extreme climate of Kutch and shallow seas and high salinity.

It grazes on mangrove trees and can swim up to three kilometers into the sea in search of their primary food mangroves.

The camels are bred by 2 distinct communities, the Fakirani Jats, who are the handlers and the Rabaris, who own the animals. The nomadic communities move in search of mangroves for their camels to feed on.

Jats, Rabaris and Sammas belong to maaldhari – the nomadic pastoralists of Kachchh who own herds of camels, goats, sheep, buffaloes and cows.

The steadily decreasing mangroves due to heavy industrialization along the coast have affected the traditional grazing routes.

Mangrove sites in Gujarat – Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Khambat and Dumas-Ubhrat.

 

  • Lionfish

The lionfish is a carnivorous fish native to the warm, tropical waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans (i.e., the Indo-Pacific region), including the Red Sea.

It is an invasive species in Atlantic Ocean and it has no known predators in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lionfish have been found in water depths from 1 to 300 feet on hard bottom, mangrove, seagrass, coral, and artificial reefs (like shipwrecks).

Lionfish is a nocturnal hunters and it is a top predator in the food chain.

  • Protecting Coral Reefs

In a recent research, Scientist has found that Common household vinegar may help protect Australia‘s iconic Great Barrier Reef.

Vinegar which contains weak Acetic acid may help in killing crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS), which is one of the primary reasons for the decline of corals.

This innovative method of killing the pest by vinegar has been proven safe to other marine life and will be introduced on the Great Barrier Reef.

The crown-of-thorns starfish is a large, multiple-armed starfish that usually preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps.

It is one of the largest starfish in the world and has a very wide Indo-Pacific distribution where coral reefs or hard coral communities occur.

The range includes tropical and subtropical latitudes from the Red Sea and the east African coast across the Indian Ocean, and across the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of Central America. It is most common in Australia.

 

  • Ban on Metal Mining

El Salvador is the first country in the world nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining.

 

  • BRS Convention

Conference of Parties (COP) to BRS (Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm) convention will be held in Geneva with the theme – “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste”. The BRS Conventions are multilateral environmental agreements, which share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

Basel Convention – It will discuss the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.

It covers wide range of wastes defined as ―hazardous wastes‖ that are explosive, flammable, poisonous, infectious, corrosive, toxic or eco-toxic including household and incinerator ash.

Rotterdam Convention – It will deliberate on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

The PIC procedure is the mechanism for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties for receiving the chemicals under the convention and ensuring compliance by the exporting countries.

The inclusion of chemicals under this convention does not ban the chemical. However, importing countries need to follow the PIC procedure and it may lead to an increase in the trade cost, as well as delay the import/export process.

Stockholm Convention – It will discuss on the control of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

POP – These remain intact in the environment for long periods (persistent), become widely distributed

geographically (long range transport), accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife

(bioaccumulation), and have a harmful impact on human health, or on environment (toxic).

Under the Convention, the chemicals can be listed for complete elimination from production, use, export and import (Annex-A), Restriction in use and production for specific purpose only (Annex-B) or Unintentional production (Annex-C).

Listing of chemicals under Stockholm convention bans/restrict the chemicals for trade, import, export and use along with minimizes unintentional release of POPs.

India has ratified all the three conventions and the meetings of the COPs of BRS Conventions are generally held every alternate year.

 

  • SAFAR

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR) operates under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences It facilitates information on air quality, weather and radiation (Ultraviolet index). The UV index is a rough measure of the amount of harmful ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight reaching the earth.

SAFAR has been operational in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and will also be set up in Ahmedabad.

SAFAR‘s recent data shows that Delhi faced a high risk of ultraviolet radiation; Mumbai has been at medium risk while Pune is in the low-risk zone.

In Pune, although the temperature was high, the UV index remained in low risk zone as there are still a lot of aerosol particles in the atmosphere which scatter back the ultraviolet dose.

In Delhi, there is not much variation between maximum and minimum temperatures and, hence, the UV index has been high.

 

  • World Conference on Environment

The conference was organized by National Green Tribunal and held at New Delhi.

UNEP, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF & CC), Ministry of Water Resources, Asian Development Bank and the Delhi Pollution Control Board are the Sponsors of the Conference.

 

  • Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world‘s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America.

The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.

The Prize is given by Goldman Environmental Foundation, which was launched by late Philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman.

This year, an activist from India has been chosen for this Prize.

Samantara, an iconic leader of social justice movements, led a historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh‘s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.

 

Dongria Kondh

The Niyamgiri hill range in South-West Odisha State, is home to the Dongria Kondh tribe.

They practice shifting cultivation and horticulture.

  • Belmont Forum

The Belmont Forum, created in 2009, is a high level group of the world’s major funders of global environmental change research and international science councils.

It provides an opportunity to identify study and deliver international environmental research priorities. India is a member of Belmont Forum, besides Australia, Brazil, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, Netherland, South Africa, UK and USA etc.

Ministry of Earth Science represents India in the Belmont Forum since 2012.

In order to coordinate the activities of the Belmont, a Full time Secretariat is hosted by one of the Belmont forum member on rotational basis. National French Research Agency (ANR), France is hosting the Secretariat from January, 2015 to December, 2017.

Recently, India has approved the collaborative agreement with ANR France for supporting the Belmont Forum Secretariat from 2015 to 2017.

 

  • DNA banks for wild animals

North India is all set to get its first DNA bank for wild animals.

Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), located in Uttar Pradesh‘s Bareilly district, is only the second institution in the country to house such a bank for wildlife DNA records.

The Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) in Hyderabad has the only other DNA bank in India.

 

  • Desalination

The process of converting sea water into potable water can be done using Graphene Oxide.

The Graphene oxide (GO) membranes can be used to filter common salts in sea water while allowing water to pass through on a commercial scale.

However, there is a problem associated with the use of Graphene Oxide. The membranes have a tendency to slightly swell when immersed in water and this increased spacing between successive sheets allows smaller salts to flow through the membrane along with water without being filtered. Recently, the researchers has addressed this problem by developing Graphene Oxide membranes that do not swell when immersed in water.

They have achieved this through having a certain interlayer spacing by storing the membranes in high humidity and then physically restraining the membrane from swelling.

This altered the rate at which water permeated through the membranes and efficiency of desalination process has increased.

 

MARCH 2017

  • The government has notified 56,825 square km area in the Western Ghats (WG) region as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).

What does the notification mean?

The notified land is spread over six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.In the ESA, all kinds of mining activities, thermal power plants and highly polluting industries would no longer be allowed. The existing mines shall be phased out within five years from the issue of final notification or on the expiry of the existing mining lease, whichever is earlier.All new „Red‟ category industries and the expansion of such existing industries shall be banned.Other kinds of projects and activities, like operation of hydropower plants, and „orange‟ category of industries, will be strictly regulated in the ESA.

New expansion projects of building and construction with built-up area of 20,000 square meters and above shall be prohibited too.

Why Western Ghats is so important?

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.It has over 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1,814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6,000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species.Thus, the demarcation of an ESA is an effort to protect the fragile eco-system from indiscriminate industrialisation, mining and unregulated development.Two committees – Gadgil and Kasturirangan – were appointed in the last eight years to identify the areas that needed to be kept out from such activities.

 

  • The EAST KOLKATA WETLANDS is the biggest ecological asset of the city and a Ramsar Site.A Ramsar Site is a wetland (shallow waters) which is designated to be of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established nearly 50 years ago (1971) by UNESCO.It came into force in 1975 and takes its name from Ramsar, the Iranian city where the convention was adopted.

significance :The wetlands have been historically created by a natural shift of the Bidyadhari, a tributary of the Ganga. The land on which Kolkata is built slopes to the east.

 

  • Kurukh Language

It is an endangered tribal language of the Dravidian family spoken by the Oraon tribal community. Oraon tribes are mainly found in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa and Andaman Nicobar Island. While most of the tribal languages in the Eastern India have their origins in the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman families, Kurukh is an exception. Recently the language was given official status in the West Bengal. Previously it was written in Devanagiri Script. Later a script was invented specifically for kurukh, TolongSiki Script.

 

  • Shahpurkandi dam project

It is a gravity dam that is proposed to be constructed across Ravi River in Gurdaspur district in Punjab. It will help in providing irrigation facility besides generating hydroelectric power. The construction was taken up in 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K. Recently both states signed the pact to resume the work. It is located downstream to the RanjitSagar dam, also known as Thein dam.

  • The transition from winter to the growing season, with rising temperature and melting ice, is referred to as thevernal window.
  • Monpa

Monpas live in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, centered in Tawang and West Kameng districts.Some also live in the Tibet Autonomous Region.They are believed to be the only nomadic tribe in Northeast India, viz., they were totally depended on animals like sheep, cow, yak, goats and horses and had no permanent settlement.They are generally adherents of the Tibetan Buddhism and are well known for Thangka paintings.

  • Chenani-Nashri tunnel/ Patnitop tunnel, the longest road tunnel is built on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. It is also Asia’s longest bi-directional highway tunnel with fully transverse ventilation system.It is 9.2 km tube tunnel, located at an elevation of 1,200 metre equipped with the world-class integrated tunnel control system and intelligent traffic mechanism. Integrated Tunnel control systems will automatically activate fire control, ventilation, signals, communication and electrical

systems, power supply, incident detection and no human intervention is required for its operation. Once the tunnel becomes operational, it will reduce the traffic jams on National Highway-1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanches in winter. National Highway-1A runs between Uri in J&K and Jalandar in Punjab. NH-1A, old numbering now does not exist and it is a part of NH-44 after renumbering.

 

  • China is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti and it is located just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, one of Washington‘s largest installations.Camp Lemonnier was established after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, is the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa.
  • Uttarakhand High Court declared that the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and all their tributaries and streams are ―living persons.Earlier New Zealand river Whanganui became the first in the world to be granted a legal human status.

 

  • Kamaladevi Chattopadhya National Awards

It is the new award instituted from 2017 by the Ministry of Textiles.The award is specially to recognize women handloom weavers and women handicraft artisans and to provide them due and economic benefits. Sant Kabir Award is also under Ministry of Textiles, conferred to outstanding weavers who have made valuable contribution in keeping alive the handloom heritage.

  • Madhukar Gupta Committee

A committee under the Chairmanship of Madhukar Gupta was constituted to give a report on border protection and address vulnerabilities in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border.

  • India’s first Carbon-neutral Panchayat

Meenangadi in Wayanad district is the India’s first carbon-neutral panchayat. The carbon-neutral project intends to offset carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by human

activities through a series of greening initiatives.

  • Jal Kranti Abhiyan

Jal Kranti Abhiyan is being celebrated every year to consolidate water conservation and management in the country. It was launched on 2015. The objectives of Jal Kranti Abhiyan are strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions and local bodies for Participatory Irrigation Management and enhancing livelihood security through water security in rural areas.

There are four important components of Jal Kranti Abhiyan viz. Jal Gram Yojana, Development of Model Command Area, Pollution Abatement and Mass Awareness Programme.

Jal Gram Yojana – Under this, two villages in every district (preferably facing acute water scarcity) are being selected as Jal Grams and an integrated water security plan is prepared to ensure optimum and sustainable utilization of water.

Funding – No separate fund have been allotted. Expenditure will be met from existing schemes such as PMKSY, MGNREGA etc.

 

  • Prosopis Juliflora

Prosopis Juliflora is a shrub or small tree in the family Fabaceae commonly known as Seemai Karuvelam.It is native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean.It was initially introduced in India during colonial times.Later in 1960s it was Seed Bombed i.e aerially seeded by helicopter in Southern Tamil Nadu to meet firewood demand. Since then it has become invasive species.It causes stomach poisoning in livestock by inducing a permanent impairment of its ability to digest cellulose.It causes drying up of water bodies and ground water as it absorbs more than 4 litres of water to obtain one kg of biomass. It cannot even shelter birds as it produces less oxygen and more carbon dioxide. It causes land erosion due to the loss of the grasslands that are habitats for native plants and animals.

 

  • World Wildlife Day (WWD)

United Nations General Assembly in 2013, designated 3rd March of every year as UN World Wildlife Day, marking the day of adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It is celebrated to raise awareness of the world‘s wild animals and plants. The CITES Secretariat is the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.

The World Wildlife Day 2017 was celebrated under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices.”

  • World Water Day

World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on 22 March.

  • New Tiger Reserves in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand state is soon to get two new tiger reserves.

The Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary across India and Nepal and Surai Range in Terai are the two proposed tiger reserves. Presently, the state has two tiger reserves – the Corbett tiger reserve and the Rajaji tiger reserve. With the addition, Uttarakhand would become the first state in North India to get four tiger reserves. Uttarakhand state has the second highest tiger population in the country after Karnataka. Corbett tiger reserve is also the oldest national park in India and it was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.

To get the tiger reserve status to a national park, the state government has to send a proposal to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). After NTCA has given its final approval, the State Government can notify the tiger reserve based on NTCA recommendation.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body created under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, for strengthening tiger conservation.

 

  • NTPC has installed India‘s largest floating solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Plant (RGCCPP) at Kayamkulam in Kerala.

Such floating solar panel system saves land usage and could be installed on saline water environment. It has various benefits like conserving water through reduction of evaporation, increased power generation due to cooling effect on the panels, reduced installation time.

 

  • Earth Hour

Recently, the world wide movement “Earth Hour” celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Conservation Group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) organizes Earth Hour every year to encourage everyone to turn off lights for one hour as symbol of their commitment towards climate change. The event was originated in Sydney, Australia in 2007.

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 2017

  • World Wetlands Day: at Bhoj Wetlands, Bhopal

This year World Wetland Day is being celebrated by centre in collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh at Bhoj Wetlands, Bhopal, which is one of the 26 Ramsar sites that India has designated under the Ramsar Convention.

 

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres raised the alarm about the risk of famine in northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen and recently the United Nations declared famine in a patch of South Sudan. Famine is declared after three criteria are met:

When one in five households in a certain area face extreme food shortages;

More than 30% of the population is acutely malnourished; and

At least two people for every 10,000 die each day.

 Famine was last declared in Somalia in July 2011

two reasons for the crisis.

Funding: the UN needs $5.6 billion to address the needs. Barely 2% of that money is in hand.

As all four countries are reeling from conflict, in many instances, the leaders of warring parties are blocking aid workers from delivering relief where it is most needed.

 

  • Ponds in Global Warming

– A study has found that due to the seven years of higher-than-ambient temperatures, the ability of a pond to absorb carbon dioxide reduced by 50% but the release of methane nearly doubled.– The ponds are also responsible for about 40% of methane emissions from inland waters.

 

  • Human Animal Conflict -Nagarhole Tigers

– In one month, seven tigers including a six month- old cub have died in the Nagarhole- Bandipur reserves in Karnataka. – Nagarhole National Park also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, is a national park located in Kodagu and Mysore district in Karnataka.- This park was declared as a Tiger reserve under Project Tiger in 1999.- The reserves form an integral part of theNilgiri biosphere which holds world’s single largest tiger population estimated over at570 tigers.

It is located to the north-west of BandipurNational Park and the Kabini reservoir separates the two parks.- Bandipur and Nagarahole hold more than221 tigers cumulatively.

 

  • Free Movement Regime (FMR)

The formation of Myanmar as a separate State in 1935 and decolonisation of the sub-continent in 1947 divided ethnic communities living along the Indo-Myanmar border. – These communities, particularly Nagas, found the newly created boundary to be inconsistent with the traditional limits of the region they inhabited. – And they felt a deep sense of insecurity as they became ethnic minorities on both sides of the border.

Therefore the Indian and Myanmarese governments established the Free Movement Regime (FMR), which allowed Nagas to travel 16 kilometres across the border on either side without any visa requirements. The ongoing activity of fence construction along the Indo- Myanmar has triggered apprehensions among the people living on either side of the border.

The affected people mainly are Konyak, Khiamniungan and Yimchunger Nagas who inhabit the areas of Eastern Nagaland in India and the Naga Self Administered Zone (NSAZ) in Myanmar.

  • South Talpatti Island

– South Talpatti or New Moore, was a small uninhabited offshore sandbar island in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of the Ganges- Brahmaputra delta region and few kilometers from the mouth of the Hariabhanga River. It emerged in the Bay of Bengal in the aftermath of the Bhola cyclone in 1970 and disappeared later due to sea level rise, changes in monsoonal rain patterns which altered river flows and land subsidence. – Both India and Bangladesh claimed sovereignty over it because of speculation over the existence of oil and natural gas in the region.According to Permanent Court of Arbitration’s verdict in 2014, the island will be under the jurisdiction of India, even though it is currently beneath the sea level.

  • Hatiya Island

– Hatiya Island is an island in the northern Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, at the mouth of the Meghnariver. – The Island falls under Noakhali District of Bangladesh. Other major offshore islands of this region are Bhola Island (which is the largest) and Manpura Island. – In 2015, Bangladesh government decided to relocate some Rohingya Muslims to Hatiya Island after the recommendation of Myanmar state-appointed body headed by Kofi Annan.

New rail line in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

– A 240 – KM broad-gauge railway line connecting Port Blair with Diglipur in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. – It is the first in the country that will bring the archipelago on the rail map.

  • Nilambur teak gets GI tag

– Nilambur teak is internationally known for its superior quality and elegant appearance. – Nilambur in kerala is also known as “Mecca of Teak”. Its teak will soon be added to the list of Geographical Indication (GI) tag. – Nilambur also has a Teak Museum. – The teak plantation in Nilambur, the world’s first teak plantation was done around the year 1842 -1844.

  • According to new census carried out by the Odisha State Forest and Environment department in 2016, as many as 181 Irrawaddy dolphins have been sighted in the state.This marks a significant drop from 2015 survey which had recorded 450 dolphins. The 2016 dolphin census in Odisha reported Humpback dolphins (34), bottlenose dolphins (31) and five pantropical spotted dolphins.
Key Facts

The Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 in 2016.About 55 dolphins were sighted this year in Bhitarakanika, compared to 58 spotted in 2015. In the Bhadrak Wildlife Sanctuary jurisdiction, only five Irrawady dolphins were sighted.

About Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries in South and Southeast Asia.It is slaty blue to slaty gray throughout, with the underparts slightly paler. It is identified by a bulging forehead, a short beak.It has established subpopulations in freshwater rivers, including the Ganges and the Mekong, as well as the Irrawaddy River from which it takes its name.Its habitat range extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines. They do not appear to venture off shore.Protection Status: IUNC has classified it as Vulnerable in Red Data list.Threats: fishing nets, developmental projects like construction of dams, tourism and diseases.

 

 

  • According to new study was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, scientists have identified the evolutionary pathway that led some plants to turn carnivorous.The study had probed the origins of carnivory in several distantly related pitcher plants from Australia, Asia and America, which appear strikingly similar to the human (or insect) eye.Though, each species of the pitcher developed carnivory independently, scientists concluded that the biological machinery required for digesting insects evolved in remarkably similar fashion.The similarity for has long been known to be an example of convergent evolution in which distinct species independently develop the same traits.These plants have enzymes basic chitinase, which breaks down chitin the major component of insects’ hard, exterior exoskeletons and purple acid phosphatase, which enables them to obtain phosphorus, a critical nutrient, from victims’ body parts.

 

  • Kaziranga National Park has consistently increased its One Horned Rhino population (Population in 2015 – 2401) because of rigorous conservation efforts in past few years.

Kaziranga National Park (Assam)

 Situated on the bank of river Brahmaputra it is one of the oldest wildlife conservancy reserves of India.

 It was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950 and later in 1974 was notified as Kaziranga National Park under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

 It is popularly known as the home of the “Big Five” – One Horned Rhinoceroses, Tigers, Asiatic wild buffalos, Eastern Swamp Deer, and Elephant.

 It hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned rhinoceros (68% of worldwide population).

 It has one of the highest densities of Tigers in the wild in the world and also houses almost entire population of the Eastern Swamp Deer.

 In 1985 it was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique natural environment and Tiger reserve in 2006.

 

Different types of Rhinoceros

White Rhinoceros (square-lipped rhino): It is a largest rhino species and has two subspecies namely:

Southern white Rhino: IUCN status – Near Threatened. Can be found mostly in South Africa with smaller translocated population in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Northern white Rhino: IUCN status – critically endangered (only 3 rhinos of its kind alive today).

Black Rhino (hook-lipped rhino): It is smallest of the African rhino species and occurs throughout southern and eastern Africa. It has 4 sub species:

Southern Central black rhino: IUCN status – Critically Endangered.

Eastern black rhino: IUCN status – IUCN status: Critically Endangered.

South Western black rhino: IUCN status – Vulnerable.

Western black rhino: Extinct in 2011.

 

Javan Rhinoceros (Lesser one-horned rhino): They are one of the rarest mammals left on earth. They are found only at Ujung Kulon national park, western java, Indonesia. IUCN status- Critically Endangered.

Sumatran Rhinoceros (Asian two-horned rhino or Hairy Rhino): Smallest among all species of rhinoceros. They are found in southeastern part of Asia including northeast India. IUCN status- Critically Endangered

Indian Rhinoceros (Greater one-horned rhino): They are the second largest species of rhinos. They are found in India and Nepal, and particularly in the foothills of the Himalayas. Status- Vulnerable.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) has been launched in 2014 to achieve a wild population of at least 3,000 Greater one-horned rhinos in the Indian state of Assam by year 2020.

 

  • Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) confirmed the multiple therapeutic properties of Neurocalyx calycinus.

About the plant

 It is used by the Cholanaikkan tribe to treat inflammations and wounds.

 It is endemic to Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.

 In local parlance it is known as ‘Pacha Chedi’.

 The anti-inflammatory activity of the leaves was found to be similar to the drug diclofenac sodium.

 The plant also possesses high Vitamin E content and cytoprotective activity in its cell lines, increasing its prospects as an anti-cancer drug.

 

Significance

 Pre-clinical trials have proved the plant’s efficacy in acting as an analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, wound and burn healer, immune system development etc.

 Patenting its herbal formulations would help in protecting the traditional knowledge of India.

 Commercial benefits of the usage of this plant can also benefit the dwindling Chilanaikkan Tribe.

 

  • The Government of India has decided to ban the use of 18 pesticides following the recommendations of the Anupam Varma Committee.

More on the Ban

 Complete ban of 12 pesticides would come into effect from January 1, 2018 while the rest 6 would be banned from December 31, 2020.   The GOI has also sought objections and suggestions on this draft order from all stakeholders before taking a final decision.   The Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) approves the use of pesticides in India.

 

Anupam Varma Committee

 This committee was constituted in July 2013 to review the use of 66 pesticides which are either banned or restricted in other countries.   The Committee recommended banning 13 pesticides, phasing out 6 by 2020 and reviewing 27 others in 2018.   The Committee did not review the use of Endosulfan as the matter was pending with the Supreme Court at that time.

 

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Government of Telengana organised a workshop on Preparation of Heat Wave Action Plan in order to mitigate the impact of the impending heat wave in 2017.

What are Heat Waves?

 Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures (more than the normal maximum temperature) during summer months.

 It is predominantly prevalent in North-western parts of India during March-June. In some parts, it extends up to July.

 The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has underlined the following criteria for heat waves:

Heat wave is not to be considered till the temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C (for plains) and 30°C (for hilly regions).

When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C , then a departure of 5 to 6 degrees from the normal is to be considered heat wave while a departure of 7 degrees is to be considered severe heat wave.

When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C then a departure of 4 to 5 degrees from the normal is to be considered heat wave while a departure of 6 degrees is to be considered severe heat wave.

In case the normal temperature of station is more than 45°C then heat wave is to be declared irrespective.

 Heat waves often lead to dehydration, stress, heat exhaustion and sometimes a fatal heat stroke as well.

NDMA released the Guidelines for Preparation of Action Plan – Prevention and Management of Heat Wave in 2016.

 With better preparedness and mitigation measures under place, casualties due to heat wave can be minimized if not eliminated.

 

  • LOST CONTINENT’

 

Scientists have made a startling discovery of an age old “Lost Continent” that has been found beneath the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius. The traces of zircon – disgorged during the volcanic eruptions – that was discovered on the rocks, signal the existence of an age old continent of Mauritia, which is believed to be lying somewhere underneath the islands in the Indian Ocean. Zircons occur primarily in granites and form a part of the continent plates. This lost continent is believed to be the outcome of the super continent Gondwana breaking up, which is almost 200 million years old! The discovery of the crust created quite a ripple and is believed to be the part of the ancient continent that broke off during the formation of the Indian Ocean.

 

 

  • Indian Seed Congress – 2017:

Indian Seed Congress – 2017 is being held in Kolkata. The theme of Seed Congress is “Seed of Joy”. The annual forum will deliberate on the new technological advances and the barriers to technology development and introduction. It will showcase new product range, services and network for better business development.It would provide a platform for the seed industry stakeholders to talk to technology developers, and policy makers.

  • India’s first floating elementary school:

Loktak lake, the largest freshwater lake in the country, has now become home to first of its kind loktak floating elementary school. Situated about 50 km from Imphal, the school has been inaugurated at Langolsabi Leikai of Champu Khangpok village in Manipur. It aims to provide education to drop outs students, who were rendered homeless due to the recent evacuation of phumdis.

 

  • Food Fortification Logo:FSSAI has also unveiled a Logo for fortified foodswhich may be used by food businesses. This Logo comprises of a square encompassing an F with a ‘+’ sign with a ring around it which signifies the addition of extra nutrition and vitamins to daily meals to provide good health, protection and an active life. Several food businesses have already started using this logo.

 

  • What is food fortification?

Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food. Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children. Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.

Food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.

  • ZEALANDIA

Zealandia has recently been given the status of a continent by several geologists who say that the long lost continent is submerged under water. While there is no formal recognition of the same by the New Zealand government, which is the major habitable administration on Zealandia; there is, however, wide interest in the media about the continent.

Where is it located? It is located on the southwest Pacific Ocean mostly surrounding, in what is the current land mass of New Zealand and its adjoining islands.

How big is it? The total area is estimated to be approximately 4,920,000 square km of which 93% remains submerged below the Pacific Ocean. In terms of size, it is the world’s largest current micro-continent, about half the size of the Australian continent.

Which habitable areas currently fall under Zealandia? New Zealand.  New Caledonia.  Norfolk Island.  Lord Howe Island Group.

 

  • Earth’s inner core doesn’t melt

Scientists have discovered why the crystallised iron core of the Earth remains solid, despite being hotter than the surface of the Sun.

Why earth’s core doesn’t melt?

Spinning within Earth’s molten core is a crystal ball — actually a mass formation of almost pure crystallised iron — nearly the size of the moon. Scientists found that on the edge of the inner core, pieces of crystals’ structure continuously melt and diffuse only to be reinserted due to high pressure like “shuffling deck of cards.” This energy distribution cycle keeps the crystal stable and the core solid.

Here, changing atomic structure of iron crystals is mainly responsible for the solid core:

At room temperatures and normal atmospheric pressure, iron is in what is known as a body-centred cubic (BCC) phase, which is a crystal architecture with eight corner points and a centre point.

However at extremely high pressure, the crystalline structures transform into 12-point hexagonal forms, or a close packed (HCP) phase. At Earth’s core, where pressure is 3.5 million times higher than surface pressure — and temperatures are some 6,000 degrees higher — scientists have proposed that the atomic architecture of iron must be hexagonal.

  • India’s only volcano active again:   

India’s only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has started spewing smoke and lava again. After lying dormant for 150 years, Barren Island volcano erupted in 1991.

  • Corbett gets nod to kill poachers

In a stringent anti-poaching measure, authorities at Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) have issued shoot-at-sight orders “to prevent killing of big cats in the reserve”.

Besides the shoot-at-sight orders, various other steps are being taken by the authorities, including barring villagers in the vicinity from entering the protected area and subjecting visitors to the park to extensive frisking.

About Corbett tiger reserve:

Corbett National Park is situated in the foothills of the Sub- Himalayan belt in Nainital districts of Uttarakhand state in India.Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India’s oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honored as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. Corbett National Park covers an area of 521 sq. km and together with the neighboring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve.Corbett is one of the richest bird regions of the Country and has been declared as an ‘Important Bird Area’ (IBA) by Birdlife International.

  • enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects

 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.

About the Scheme:

The scheme for “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects” has been rolled out by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy on 12-12-2014. The Scheme has been conceived on the lines of the “Charanka Solar Park” in Gujarat which is a first-of-its-kind large scale Solar Park in India with contiguous developed land and transmission connectivity.

This scheme envisages supporting the States in setting up solar parks at various locations in the country with a view to create required infrastructure for setting up of Solar Power Projects. The solar parks will provide suitable developed land with all clearances, transmission system, water access, road connectivity, communication network, etc. This scheme will facilitate and speed up installation of grid connected solar power projects for electricity generation on a large scale.

Under this scheme, it is proposed to set up at least 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects targeting over 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity within a span of 5 years starting from 2014-15.

Objectives:

The scheme aims to provide a huge impetus to solar energy generation by acting as a flagship demonstration facility to encourage project developers and investors, prompting additional projects of similar nature, triggering economies of scale for cost-reductions, technical improvements and achieving large scale reductions in GHG emissions.

Eligibility:

The solar parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments/UTs. The State Governments/UTs are required to select the SPPD for developing and maintaining the solar parks. All the States and UTs are eligible for benefits under the scheme.

The State Government will first nominate the Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD) and also identify the land for the proposed solar park. It will then send a proposal to MNRE for approval along with the name of the SPPD.

Funding:

The SPPD will then be sanctioned a grant of upto Rs.25 Lakh for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Solar Park. Thereafter, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of up to Rs. 20 lakhs/MW or 30% of the project cost including Grid-connectivity cost, whichever is lower, will be released as per the milestones prescribed in the scheme.

Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI) will administer the scheme under the direction of MNRE. The approved grant will be released by SECI.

Significance of UMSPP:

The Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up by 2019-20 with Central Government financial support of Rs.8100 crore. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tonnes of CO2 per year over its life cycle.

It would also contribute to long term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reduction in carbon emissions and carbon footprint, as well as generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment etc. The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas.

  • Record olive ridley nesting

A record-breaking mass nesting by 3.8 lakh endangered olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) took place at the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha in February 2017. Interestingly, no mass nesting had taken place at the site a year ago. It is believed that several environmental factors, including chemical factors like salinity of the beach and the sea near the coast, may have prompted these marine reptiles to give the coast a miss in 2016.

 

About Olive Ridley turtles:

Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers. The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES. The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.

  • Neyyar River Water Dispute

Neyyar originates from the Agastya hill in Kerala, and has two tributaries – Karuppaiyar and a jungle stream. – The water will help irrigate an area of 9,200 acres in Villavancode taluk in Kanyakumari district. The taluk was transferred to Tamil Nadu during the reorganization of states in 1956.

– In 2012, the TN government had filed a petition against Kerala govt seeking uniterrupted water supply from Neyyar River. – Tamil Nadu contends that the Neyyar is an inter-state river recognized as such under the 1956 States’ Reorganisation Act. – In its petition, TN argued that a portion of the river’s catchment area lay in territory of TN and hence, was entitled to receive 150 cusecs from the Neyyar Irrigation Project. – The petition also said, TN has not received the said quantum of water since 2004 which has caused serious hardship to the farming community.

– Previously, Kerala, in 1999 took the standthat Neyyar was not an interstate river and that it would not be necessary to conclude an inter-state agreement regarding sharing of its water.

  • Black rhinos on the brink of extinction:  

As the value of rhinoceros horn touches $65,000 per kg, poaching has begun to drive the African black rhinoceros to “the verge of extinction” – not just by reducing its population size, but by erasing 70% of the species’ genetic diversity.Two centuries ago, the black rhinoceros – which roamed much of sub Saharan Africa – had 64 different genetic lineages; but today only 20 of these lineages remain. The species is now restricted to five countries, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.The species overall is classified as critically endangered, and three subspecies, one including the western black rhinoceros, were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011.

  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has launched climate change programme to conduct study to assess the status, distribution and conservation of Pheasants and Finches in Central Himalayas.It is long-term monitoring project funded by Oracle and facilitated by CAF-India. It will focus on their conservation in the context of climate change with the help of community participation.
  • Pangolin

– Pangolins are nocturnal mammals, often called “scaly anteaters,” are covered in tough, overlapping scales. – These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long tongue, and are able to quickly roll themselves upinto a tight ball when threatened. – There are eight different pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

– They are the most trafficked mammal in the world. They are hunted for the bush meat and their scales made of keratin used in traditional medicines. – Recently, UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, placed the eight species of pangolin on the convention’s “Appendix I”. – Thus adding pangolins under “Appendix I” will prohibits any cross-border movement in the animals or their body parts for commercial purposes.

  • Pilot Whales

– Oceanic dolphins are a widely distributed family of dolphins that live in the sea of the order Cetaceans. – Cetaceans consist of the whales, dolphins, and porpoises. – Oceanic dolphins include several big species whose common names contain “whale” rather than “dolphin”, such as the killer whale and the pilot whales. Recently around 600 pilot whales were stranded in Farewell Spit. – Farewell Spit is narrow sand spit at the northern end of the Golden Bay, South Island of New Zealand.

– It has been the site of previous mass strandings and sometimes is described as a whale trap.

  • The Blue Carbon Initiative

– The Blue Carbon Initiative is a global program working to mitigate climate change through the restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems. – The Initiative is coordinated by Conservation International (CI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO).

 

  • Barren Island is the only active Volcano along the volcanic chain from Sumatra to Myanmar. Moreover, it is the only active volcano in India.

The Volcano erupted on January 23, 2017. The first Record of Volcanic eruption on significant scale was in 1787. Since 1991, the volcano has been showing sporadic activity and erupted in 2005.

 

Other volcanoes in India

Doshi Hill is an extinct volcano in north-west part of Aravalli range of Mahendergarh (Haryana).

Dhinodhar Hills is an extinct volcano in Kutch district of Gujarat.

Narcondam Island in Andaman and Nicobar is a volcanic island and classified as dormant volcano by Geological Survey of India. The island is listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites and famous for its endemic Narcondam Hornbill.

Baratang Island in Andaman is famous for Mud volcanoes.

 

  • India and State Global Air Report 2017

It is the first report on air quality by using the latest global data from 1990 to 2015.

 Report is conducted jointly by the independent research institute; ‘Health Effects Institute (US-based non-profit corporation)’ and The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (Independent research institution-University of Washington)

 The report provides information under various titles of ‘Air Pollution level and Trend’, ‘Global Burden of Disease’ and ‘Health burden due to air pollution’.

 

Highlights of the report

 As per the report, approximately, 90% of the world’s population lives in areas with unhealthy air in 2015.

 There is a 7% increase in the concentration of ground-level ozone, especially in developing countries.

 Efforts to curb pollution from the burning of coal will not show results soon on the quality of air global scale.

 Exposure to PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) is considered as the fifth (most or highest?) risk factor for death, which is accounting for about 4.2 million deaths across the globe.

 The highest concentrations of PM2.5 in 2015 related to combustion sources are in South and Southeast Asia, China, and Central and Western sub-Saharan Africa.

 The report highlighted that there is a significant increase in inhalable fine particles of PM 2.5 since 1990.

 Outdoor air pollution has increased the death rate in India, surpassing the most polluted country China.

 India is now competing against China for being the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from air pollution in 2015.

 The report highlights that the underlying reason for increasing pollution in India can be attributed to its growth, which is happening in terms of industries and its consumption of coal as the main source of energy.

 The report takes the cognisance of a new pollutant ‘ozone’. Though the casualties in India from ozone are far less than the well-known PM 2.5. However, the rate of increase in ozone-related deaths is alarming.

 The report is significant for India in providing more comprehensive pollution monitoring road map than currently in use Air Quality Index.

 

  • ISRO in collaboration with a private lifeguard agency appointed by the Goa government has conducted a study (Ripex 2017) on rip tides along the beaches of Goa.

What are Rip Tides?

 Rip tides (also known as ebb jet or tidal jet) are powerful currents running perpendicular to the shore.

 They pull the water out into the ocean.

 The term rip tide is a misnomer as tides occur due to moon’s gravitational pull while rip currents are caused due to shape of the shoreline or due to formation of sandbar.

 These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet lengthwise and less than 30 feet in width.

 Rip tides are dangerous because they catch swimmers unaware and pull them deep into the ocean.

 

JANUARY 2017

  • Recently the 27th annual waterfowl census was conducted in the Polachira Wetlands, in Kollam, Kerala . This year 15 Eurasian spoonbills were sighted at Polachira. They are migratory birds breeding from the UK and Spain in the west through to Japan in the East. The wetlands are the breeding ground for the Migratory Birds from all around the world.
  • GRADED RESPONSE ACTION PLAN

The union Environment Ministry recently notified a ‘Graded Response Action Plan’ against air pollution for Delhi and the National Capital Region.   The plan was prepared by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

  • Sikkim, after India’s cleanest title, it also becomes the first fully organic state. Agricultural lands in the state were gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing practices and principles according to guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production. The National Programme for Organic Production standards for production and accreditation system has been recognized by European Commission and Switzerland.
  • Kerala has been pegged as a ‘DESTINATION TO WATCH’ in 2017 and it is the only Indian entry in the list of 12 tourist hotspots brought out by Association of British Travel Agents

(ABTA) in its ‘Travel Trends Report 2017’.

  • DHARAMSHALA is declared as the second capital of Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala is located in the Kangra Valley, in the shadow of the Dhauladharmountains.

 

  • HOPE ISLAND: In addition to Gahirmatha coast in Odisha, Hope Island also becomes the destination for olive ridleys breeding area. Hope Island is a small island situated off the coast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh State.
  • CLIMATE-SMART VILLAGES

Madhya Pradesh has started an ambitious plan to develop 1100 climate-smart villages with an aim to prepare farmers to manage the climate change risks.   The villages in the agro-climatic zones will be taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.   The focus on Climate-smart villages will be on integrated agriculture which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries in addition to traditional farming.

  • TANGALIYA WEAVERS

Government of India has decided to facilitate Tangaliya weavers in purchase of looms, by providing them an assistance amounting to 90% of the price of looms. The government has also announced the formation of a special association of Tangaliya workers, which will work for their interest.

What is Tangaliya?

Tangaliya is a 700-year-old indigenous weave of Gujarat which employs an exquisite technique of weaving, using raw wool yarn. Tangaliya is a dotted woven textile of Surendranagar district, Saurashtra. It is found only in Gujarat.

  • CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION

According to the study, the rise in oxygen was associated with a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter – the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas. Multicellular life is largely a creation of the “Cambrian explosion,” which coincided with a spike in atmospheric oxygen roughly 500 million years ago. It was during the Cambrian explosion that most of the animals appeared and evolved.

THE SUDDEN SPIKE IN OXYGEN: The study linked the rise in oxygen to a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter. The key is to recognise that sediment storage blocks the oxidation of carbon. Without burial, this oxidation reaction causes dead plant material on Earth’s surface to burn. That causes the carbon it contains, which originated in the atmosphere, to bond with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. And for oxygen to build up in our atmosphere, plant organic matter must be protected from oxidation. And that is exactly what happens when organic matter — the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas — is buried through geologic processes.

Concern :The researchers warned that today, burning billions of tonnes of stored carbon in fossil fuels is removing large amounts of oxygen from the atmosphere, reversing the pattern that drove the rise in oxygen. And so the oxygen level in the atmosphere falls as the concentration of carbon dioxide rises.

  • NEW FAULT IN INDIAN OCEAN MAY TRIGGER QUAKES

Scientists have found a new plate boundary being formed on the floor of the Indian Ocean as a result of the largest earthquake that shook the Andaman-Sumatra region in 2012. Scientists warn that the new fault system could trigger more quakes in the future.Researchers have found evidence for this plate on the floor of the Indian Ocean in the Wharton Basin.(WEST OF AUSTRALIA AND SOUTH OF INDONESIA)

How this plate boundary may have been formed?

A slip-strike quake occurs when two plates slide horizontally against one another. Such quakes can be caused by deformations that occur in plates distant from fault lines as pressure builds up across a plate. They can lead to inter-plate earthquakes and cause a plate to break, resulting in a new boundary and this in turn can lead to even more quakes. It is this scenario that the researchers believe happened in 2012 when two earthquakes struck the Andaman-Sumatran regio (north-west part) of the Indian Ocean — the largest inter-plate earthquakes ever recorded.

  • SILICON IDENTIFIED AS ‘MISSING ELEMENT’ IN EARTH’S CORE

Earth’s core is made up of Iron and nickel, but there is a third element which has eluded identification till now. However, now scientists have been able to identify the third and elusive element as silicon. Researchers have identified silicon as the missing element deep in the core of the planet.

The core is composed 85 % by weight of Iron while nickel accounted for 10% of the core. This still left some 5% of the core unaccounted for. There were was possibility of the 5% being composed of Silicon, Oxygen or Sulfur. The researchers finally found that the 5% consisted of Silicon dissolved in the Iron and nickel.

  • TELANGANA PLEA AGAINST KRISHNA TRIBUNAL AWARD DISMISSED

The Supreme Court has dismissed a Telangana government petition against a decision of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal-II to limit the re-allocation of the river water only to the two successor States of Andhra and Telangana, and not dabble with the share of water enjoyed by the other two riparian States — Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The court has refused to intervene in the decision of the Water Dispute Tribunal-II to confine the question of re-allocation of river water, post bifurcation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, to the two successor States of Telangana and Andhra and not all the four riparian States. Background: The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar had decided to confine the reallocation of Krishna water between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In its recent verdict delivered in October 2016, the KWDT-II decided to maintain status quo on the allocation made to upper riparian States Maharashtra and Karnataka and take up further action on distribution of water to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh out of the allocation made to the erstwhile united State.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT):

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to adjudicate upon the water dispute regarding the Inter-State river Krishna and the river valley thereof. The tribunal gave its award in 1973. The KWDT in its award outlined the exact share of each state. The award contended based on 75% dependability that the total quantum of water available for distribution was 2060TMC. This was divided between the three states in the following manner.

Maharashtra 560 TMC.

Karnataka 700 TMC.

Andhra Pradesh 800 TMC.

  • CENTRE SETS UP A NEGOTIATION PANEL ON RIVER MAHANADI AND ITS TRIBUTARIES

Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has constituted a negotiations committee to assess availability and utilisation of waters of Mahanadi and its tributaries.

Background:

The committee has been set up with reference to complaint of State of Odisha under section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahandi Basin.

Key facts:

The committee will be chaired by Member (WP&P), Central Water Commission and will have 11 other members comprising representatives from the States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Union Ministries of Agriculture, Environment Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, India Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission.

The committee will also examine existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and will consider claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilisation of waters of these rivers.

What’s the dispute?

The 850km length of the Mahanadi river is divided almost equally between Chhattisgarh, where it is born, and downstream Odisha. Last year Odisha government opposed barrages that Chhattisgarh has been constructing.

Odisha government alleges that these barrages are meant to feed industrial projects and will block the flow of water into Odisha whose dependence on the river is greater. Chhattisgarh has denied this allegation pointing out that much of the river in Odisha flows untapped and straight into the sea.

  • YETTINAHOLE PROJECT

The Yettinahole project envisages to pump about 24 tmc ft of water from Yettinahole, a tributary of River Netravathi. It involves construction of dams and reservoir, pumping of water, flowing of water with gravitational force and finally filling of lakes. As per the project, 24 tmc ft of water from Yettinahole and a couple of other tributaries of Netravathi River will be drawn by constructing minor dams.

Criticisms: The Yettinahole Project has come in for very strong opposition from environmental groups, who argue that the diversion of river basins from their natural course of opposite direction is fundamentally unscientific and would greatly disturb the very pattern of landscape ecology.

 

  • BAN ON IMPORT OF EXOTIC SKINS

In a landmark decision that will spare the lives of tens of thousands of animals from the exotic leather industry, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade has banned the import of skins of reptiles and fur of minks, foxes and chinchillas.

  • AFTER JALLIKATTU, KAMBALA’S TURN

With an Ordinance promulgated to lift the ban on jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, the demand for lifting the ban on kambala — buffalo racing — is gaining momentum in coastal Karnataka.

  • EFFECTS OF ENDOSULFAN DEVASTATING: SC

The Supreme Court has given the Kerala government three months to disburse Rs 500 crore as compensation for over 5,000 persons who suffered from various deformities and health complications after using Endosulfan pesticides in the state. The court has also asked the state to consider setting up a centre to provide lifelong medical treatment to all the victims. The court also observed that the state government was at liberty to take necessary measure to recover compensation paid to victims from the Centre through appropriate proceedings.

Background:

The directive came while the bench disposed off a public interest petition filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in 2012, which complained about the adverse effects of Endosulfan. Both the Centre and Kerala were opposed to the ban of the pesticide due to their effectiveness on pests, but the top court stopped its usage in 2012. The Supreme Court had ordered the immediate ban of Endosulfan while disregarding pleas of over 150 private export companies. It had said “any decision affecting human life, or which may put an individual’s life at risk, must call for the most anxious scrutiny.”

About Endosulfan:

Endosulfan is one of the most toxic pesticides available in the market. It is an organic contact insecticide, first registered in Germany in 1954. Endosulfan has been banned in over 80 nations due to its ‘high toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor’.

  • KEN-BETWA RIVER-LINKING PROJECT FACES NEW HURDLE

A new hurdle has come in the way of the Ken-Betwa river interlink project in its terms of financing. The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) has recommended that Madhya Pradesh contribute 40% of the project cost, with the Centre contributing 60%. The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has opposed this and requested that 90% of the funds be routed through the Centre.

A lack of clarity on the funding pattern could mean more delays to the Rs. 10,000-crore project that would be the first ever inter-State river interlinking project.

  • CHINA DEVELOPS FLOATING LNG POWER PLANT

A Chinese company, Wison Offshore & Marine, has developed its version of a system for floating LNG power plant that can range between 10 mw to 800 mw units.

Key facts:

The system features integrated functions of LNG loading and storage facilities, regasification and power generation in a single unit.

The smallest unit starts at 10MW capacity, while the largest accommodates an 800MW power plant.

LNG has been selected as the fuel source in Wison’s designs. Alternative fuel options are also available as required. Significance of floating power generation solutions:

Compared with land-based solutions, the floating power supply is advantageous in fast-track implementation and attractive pricing with flexibility, as the construction work completed in fabrication yards normally results in efficiency and cost reduction. It is also an investment-friendly solution because it minimizes the land acquisition process and requires less civil works. because it minimizes the land acquisition process and requires less civil works.

  • NEW GINGER SPECIES WITH MEDICINAL PROPERTIES FOUND IN ANDAMANS

Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum belonging to genus Zingiber, was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.

  • STUDY THROWS LIGHT ON GROUNDWATER, RAINFALL LINK

According to a recently conducted study, the groundwater level in north India has been declining at a rate of 2 cm per year during the period 2002-2013, while in north-central and south India, it has increased by 1-2 cm per year during the same period. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar.

Highlights of the study:

While changes in monsoon rainfall pattern during the period of study can largely explain the total variability of groundwater storage in north-central and south India, the usage of groundwater for irrigation purposes accounts for groundwater variability in northwest India.

The increased usage of groundwater for irrigation in northwest India is, in turn, linked to changes in monsoon rainfall pattern. In Punjab and Haryana, groundwater extraction was mainly responsible for declining groundwater storage.

For instance, over the Gangetic Plain and other parts of north India monsoon rainfall has been declining since 1950, leading to reduced recharge of groundwater.

Also, as a result of declining monsoon rainfall and intensive agriculture, groundwater withdrawals in the country have increased over tenfold since the 1950s — from 10-20 cubic km per year in 1950, to 240-260 cubic km per year in 2009.

  • GREEN TRIBUNAL ORDERS TEST OF COSMETICS CONTAINING MICROBEADS

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to test cosmetic products containing microbeads after a plea sought a ban on their use on the ground they are extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.

The court also said that it is the duty of the government to ensure that no “dangerous” product is allowed to be manufactured or sold to public and directed the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to analyse the products in laboratory.

Background:

The order came on a petition seeking a complete ban on the use of microbeads in the manufacture, import and sale of various cosmetics or personal care products. The petitioner also argued that the unregulated production and usage of plastic in microbeads in various cosmetic products and their excessive usage by the end user is leading to water pollution across the globe.

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are tiny plastic substances measuring less than five millimetres that act as exfoliators (agents which remove dead cells) on skin and teeth when used in soap, toothpaste and other products. Many brands manufacturing beauty products use microbeads.

Concerns:

Over 299 million tonnes of plastic was produced worldwide in 2013 some of which made its way to oceans, costing approximately $13 billion per year in environmental damage to marine ecosystems, says a June 2015 report by the United Nations Environmental Programme that investigated the possible harm by microbeads/microplastics.

  • NEW SPECIES OF GIBBON DISCOVERED IN CHINA:

Scientists have discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests.

It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon by its discoverers, who are Star Wars fans. The name is also a nod to the fact that the Chinese characters of its scientific name, Hoolock tianxing, mean “Heaven’s movement”.

Gibbons are renowned for their loud song, which they use to mark territory, and this also sounded unusual.

The scientists estimate that about 200 Skywalker gibbons are living in China and also potentially in neighbouring Myanmar, but say that the species should already be classified as endangered. Habitat loss and fragmentation is putting the gibbons at risk of extinction.

  • MISSION 41K

It is a mission launched by Indian Railways to save Rs 41,000 crore on the Indian Railways’ expenditure on energy consumption over the next 10 years. This target will be achieved by taking a slew of measures which include moving 90% of traffic to electric traction over diesel. Presently, this is at 50 %of the total rail traffic. The Railways ministry plans to achieve this target by doubling the current pace of electrification.The railways also aim to procure more and more electricity at cheaper rates through open market instead of sourcing it through DISCOMs and thereby hopes to save as much as 25% on its energy expenses. New technologies are also being explored to bring down electric consumption.

  • WORLD’S LARGEST LED STREET LIGHTING PROGRAMME TO THE NATION

Union Minister of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal recently dedicated the LED based Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), currently running in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area, to the Nation. It is the World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme, which is being implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture under the Ministry of Power, Government of India. The SLNP programme is presently running in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

  • SOCIO-ECONOMIC CASTE CENSUS

Niti Aayog had setup a panel headed by Sumit Bose, to define poverty line and to identify the beneficiaries for various antipoverty schemes.   According to the panel’s recommendation,S o c i o – E c o n o m i c C a s t e C e n s u s w i l l replace the existing poverty line and the central government has accepted the recommendations.  Socio-Economic Caste Census  begun in 2011, the first national census to collect caste-based data since 1931.

Existing Poverty lines are

  1. Suresh Tendulkar poverty line – Those spending at least Rs.27 in rural and Rs.33 in urban areas in 2011-12 were identified as being above the poverty line.2. Rangarajan Poverty line – It raised the limit to Rs.32 and Rs.47 for rural and urban areas, respectively.
  • LAUGHING THRUSHES IN WESTERN GHATS

The bird species MontaneLaughing Thrushes are found only in the peaks of Western Ghats.  They are popularly called as Sky islands.   Two new sub- spe c i e s – Banasura Laughingthrushes (Endangered) and Travancore laughingthrushes (Vulnerable), are identified.  The two original species of the family were Nilgiri laughingthrushes (Endangered) and Palani laughingthrushes (Near threatened).

  • THE SCANDINAVIAN BAY IN DENMARK has the world record in carbon storing due to the presence of potential sea grasses. The carbon stored by them is called Blue carbon. Why Denmark bay? – Sea grasses in this bay are more protected and productive. So when the plants die, they remain in the sea and carbon stored by it remains in the meadow itself in the form of sediments. Sea grass is not seaweed, but a plant with flowers, leaves and roots. Denmark eelgrass – Zostera Marina is the most common sea grass.  It needs light and grows only in shallow water.

 

  • WARMEST YEAR

The year 2016 was the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880.   The global average surface temperature last year was 0.94°C higher than the 20th century average and July was the warmest month ever recorded.   Two phenomena were responsible for this. One was climate change and other was El Nino.   Previously 2014 was the warmest year and the record was broken in 2015 and subsequently now in 2016 showing a continuous rise in the earth’s temperature.   This is only the second time that the annual temperature record has been broken three years in a row. The previous trio was during World War II.

  • SUPER WHEAT

Researchers in the UK have announced genetically modified “superwheat” that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis to boost yields by 20 to 40 percent. Field trials are expected in 2017.

  • INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT INDEX (IDI)

The index is computed by World Economic Forum to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone.   The index has 3 pillars – Growth and Development, Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity and Sustainability. Lithuania tops the list of 79 developing economies, Azerbaijan and Hungary at 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.   India is placed at 60th place, much lower than the neighbouring countries. China (15th), Nepal (27th), Bangladesh (36th) and Pakistan (52nd).

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