THIS BLOG CONTAINS ALL RELEVANT CURRENT AFFAIRS FROM 2018 RELATED TO GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT, WHICH ARE REQUIRED FOR UPSC 2018 CS(P) EXAM 2018.
KINDLY SEE THE EARLIER POSTS FOR 2017 CURRENT AFFAIRS
- The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) and the Indian Yoga Association (IYA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate interaction and cooperation between the two organisations to promote wellness, spiritual and cultural tourism in the Krishna Circuit.
- Krishna Circuit is among the thirteen thematic circuits identified for development under Swadesh Darshan Scheme.Twelve destinations have been identified for development under Krishna circuitnamely Dwarka (Gujarat), Nathdwara, Jaipur & Sikar (Rajasthan), Kurukshetra (Haryana), Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, Gokul, Barsana, & Govardhan (Uttar Pradesh) and Puri (Odisha).
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
- A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
- PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
- Leisang in Manipur has become the last village to be added to the national power grid under the Rural Electrification Scheme.
The government considers a village electrified if it has basic electrical infrastructure and 10% of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power.
The government had allocated Rs75,893 crore for the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana with the aim of providing electricity access to all villages.Government of India has launched the scheme “Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana” for rural electrification.The erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) scheme for village electrification and providing electricity distribution infrastructure in the rural areas has been subsumed in the DDUGJY scheme.Rural Electrification Corporation is the Nodal Agency for implementation of DDUGJY.
The Yojana also includes the components:
- To separate agriculture and non agriculture feeders facilitating judicious rostering of supply to agricultural and non-agricultural consumers in rural areas
- Threats to the great barrier reef:
- It is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change.It is also under threat from the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which has proliferated due to pollution and agricultural run-off. The predator starfish feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue.
- The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres.The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
- 2562nd Buddha Jayanti celebrations, International Buddhist Conference was held in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautama Buddha.
- Trapdoor matriarch:It is the world’s oldest known spider which died recently at the ripe old age of 43 after being monitored for years during a long-term population study in Australia.
- The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to review the regulations for underwriting of a public issue, the model agreement for which was framed back in 1993 and has since been in operation.
What is underwriting? Underwriting is the mechanism by which a merchant banker gives an undertaking that in the event of an initial public offer (IPO) remaining undersubscribed, the banker would subscribe to unsold shares. The underwriting clause, mandatory in all SME IPOs, ensures the issue does not fail due to low demand from investors
- A four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and UNCCD Secretariat, to build the capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region to monitor and report on land degradation, was recently held in New Delhi.
- Established in 1994, the United Nations to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- It is the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21.
- To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
- The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations to build.
- By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, now and in the future, not only will the impact of climate change be reduced, but a conflict over natural resources will be avoided.
- In the Western Ghats parts of Goa, scientists have identified a new species of frog called Fejervarya goemchi.
- The Tourism ministry has awarded the Letters of Intent to nine agencies for 22 monuments of Phase-IV of the scheme, including the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan.
- The private players will undertake gap analysis of the actual requirement of the basic and advanced amenities, within the permissible guidelines of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and prepare a Vision Bid Proposal accordingly for the site opted by them.
- Once vision bid is accepted, MoU will be signed with the related party for upkeep of the Monument for overall enhanced tourist experience.
Adopt a Heritage Project:
The ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism was launched on World Tourism Day i.e. 27th September, 2017. This project is a key initiative of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), to develop the heritage sites / monuments and making them tourist-friendly to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance in a planned and phased manner.
How it works? The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. The project aims to develop synergy among all partners.
Monument Mitras: Successful bidders selected for adopting heritage sites / monuments by the Oversight and Vision Committee shall be called as Monument Mitras. The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities. The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities.
- The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, recently chaired the third meeting of the Island Development Agency (IDA). The Island Development Agency reviewed the progress made towards preparation of Development Plans for identified Islands.Members of the IDA include cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, forests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare).
About the Island Development Agency (IDA):
The IDA was set up on June 1 this year following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the development of islands. The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister.
- India is tying up with the United States and Finland to develop a pollution-forecast system that will help anticipate particulate matter (PM) levels at least two days in advance and at a greater resolution than what is possible now. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be coordinating this exercise and the plan is to have a system in place by winter.The new system, to be jointly developed with expertise from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a different modelling approach as well as computational techniques from that employed in the SAFAR model.
Currently, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), run out of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, serves as the apex forecaster of pollution trends in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad. It generates a likely air quality profile, a day in advance, for these cities.
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India, has introduced the System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
- It has been introduced for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location-specific information on air quality in near real time and its forecast 1-3 days in advance for the first time in India.
- It has been introduced for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location-specific information on air quality in near real time and its forecast 1-3 days in advance for the first time in India.
- The World Meteorological Organization has recognised SAFAR as a prototype activity on the basis of the high quality control and standards maintained in its implementation.
- The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
- Coastal security exercise “Sagar Kavach” was recently held in Goa.
- The exercise is conducted half yearly with an objective to check coastal security mechanism and validate standard operating procedures.
- The organisations participating in the exercise are Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Coastal Police, Police Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau, Customs, Department of Port, Department of Fisheries, Director General of Lighthouses and light ships and Fishing Community.
- Researchers have discovered the world’s smallest land fern in the Ahwa forests of the Western Ghats in Gujarat’s Dang district.
- The size of the new Malvi’s adder’s-tongue fern Ophioglossum malviae is just one centimetre.
- First Ever International SME Convention-2018 is being held in New Delhi. 150 participants from 31 countries and 400 entrepreneurs from India participated in the convention. The convention has specific focus on inclusion of MSMEs in the Make in India program & empowering women entrepreneurs.
- Organizers: The SME International Convention – 2018 is being organised by the Ministry of MSME and National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) along with KVIC and Coir Board.
- Theme: “Business beyond Borders”.
About SME Convention:
The International SME Convention 2018 is a platform for intensive business discussion, progressive interaction and trade association between progressive entrepreneurs from all over the world and offers a special focus on business and trade opportunities in India for International Entrepreneurs.
The platform facilitates exchange of relevant business partnerships and trade opportunities for India’s Best Small and Medium Enterprises.
Significance of MSMEs:
India is home to more than 60 million MSMEs, majority of who are in low-tech areas and serve the local domestic markets. Of these, a small percentage, have the ability and capability to derive access to International Markets, with the vast majority of enterprises working as ancillaries. Together the MSMEs constitute a single largest employer after the Agriculture sector in India. Highly developed economies have banked on their small and medium enterprises for both GDP Growth as well as higher employment resulting in higher per capita incomes.
- Scientists have proposed Earth BioGenome project, a massive project to sequence, catalog and analyze the genomes of all eukaryotic species on the planet.
What are Eukaryotes?
Eukaryotes include all organisms except bacteria and archaea. It includes plants, animals, fungi and other organisms whose cells have a nucleus that houses their chromosomal DNA. There are an estimated 10-15 million eukaryotic species on Earth.
About the project:
- The central goal of the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) is to understand the evolution and organization of life on our planet by sequencing and functionally annotating the genomes of 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes.
- The project also seeks to reveal some of the estimated 10 to 15 million unknown species of eukaryotes, most of which are single cell organisms, insects and small animals in the oceans.
- The Project also plans to capitalize on the “citizen scientist” movement to collect specimens.
- The initiative is led by a coordinating council with members from the United States, the European Union, China, Brazil, Canada, Australia and some African countries.
- This will take 10 years, cost $4.7 billion and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage capacity.
Significance of the project:
- The benefits of the project promise to be a complete transformation of the scientific understanding of life on Earth and a vital new resource for global innovations in medicine, agriculture, conservation, technology and genomics.
- The project is also being seen essential for developing new drugs for infectious and inherited diseases as well as creating new biological synthetic fuels, biomaterials, and food sources for growing human population.
- The project will likely enable the development of new technologies, such as portable genetic sequencers and instrumented drones that can go out, identify samples in the field, and bring those samples back to the laboratory.
- Two craft forms that are unique to Telangana were recently granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the GI registry in Chennai.
- It is an ancient metal craft that is popular in the state’s tribal regions.
- The uniqueness of this art form is that no two sculptures are the same, as they are not made out of a pre-designed cast.
- The craftsmen of this art form belong to the Woj community, commonly referred to as Wojaris or Ohjas in the rural areas of Telangana.
- They use brass as their main material and an ancient casting technique called ‘cire perdue’. As part of this technique, the craftsmen use clay and design a model of the sculpture that they want to create. They wrap the clay with wax threads before baking the mould, so that the wax melts away and the molten metal is poured into the mould.
- The common items made by the craftsmen include small idols and statues of tribal deities, jewellery, bells, small-scale animal sculptures and others.
- In this style of durries, weavers create beautiful patterns and dye them using vegetable colours, which are washed in flowing water after the printing process.
- Warangal district became a renowned hub for weaving these rugs due to the availability of cotton, which is grown by farmers in the area.
- The Union Home Ministry has decided to relax the six-decade-old Protected Area Permit regime from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1.
Foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, would now be allowed to visit some of the most pristine locations of the country which, so far, were out of bounds for them without a special permit.
What is Protected area permit?
Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas.
The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area.
How are these regions different?
- As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.
- Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits to a foreigner, seeking it.
- In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Union government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit.
Who can issue such permits?
- Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without the prior approval of the Union home ministry to facilitate foreign tourists subject to the certain exceptions.
- In cases of foreign diplomats, including the members of the United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, the special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
- In cases of the citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit, however, can be issued without the prior approval of the Union home ministry.
- Pune hosted the 12thedition of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) The Forum was attended by meteorologists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. This was the sixth SASCOF meeting hosted by India.
South Asian nations, supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have been conducting the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) since 2010.
- SASCOF was established as a platform where meteorologists from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries along with Myanmar, could discuss some of the common weather and climate-related matters.
- All these South Asian countries — except for Afghanistan, which is located in extreme northwest — experience common weather and climatological characteristics, like Southwest monsoon.
SASCOFs prepare consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale that provide a consistent basis for preparing national level outlooks. Such forums also serve to interface with user sectors to understand and enhance the use of climate information as orchestrated and supported by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).
- The West Bengal government has given its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition of Sunderban Reserve Forest under the Ramsar Convention.
Significance of the move:
Being conferred the status of a wetland of international importance will not only be a matter of pride for the Sunderbans but also bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area. Once conferred a Ramsar site status, it will be the largest protected wetland in the country. It will also help promote the Sunderbans as an eco-tourism hotspot.
The Indian Sunderbans, with 2,114 sq. km. of mangrove forests, comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report. Other than the forests, home to about 100 Royal Bengal tigers, the creeks and river systems of the Sunderbans are also part of the reserve forest.
- Apart from being the world’s largest tiger habitat, the mangrove forest in the Sunderbans is remarkable for the protection it provides to nearly 4.5 million people on the Indian side and another 3.5 million on the Bangladesh portion from tidal surge generated by cyclonic depression in the Bay of Bengal.
- About one-third of the total area is used as protected area for the conservation of biological diversity. In addition, the abundant fish and biomass resources – timber, fuelwood, pulpwood, leaves, shells, crabs, honey and fish – are harvested by local communities.
- The Sunderbans is also a major pathway for nutrient recycling and pollution abatement. The biodiversity of the Sunderbans is also diverse. The delta has the distinction of encompassing the world’s largest mangrove forest belt with 84 identified flora species, of which 34 are true mangroves.
Sunderbans is a contiguous ecosystem spread across India and Bangladesh. Other than threats such as climate change, sea level rise, widespread construction and clearing of mangrove forests for fisheries is posing a danger to the Sunderbans.
- The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- Adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, an Iranian city, the Convention came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.
- There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance, including the East Kolkata Wetlands also in West Bengal.
List of Ramsar sites
- Earth Day was celebrated on April 22ndacross the globe. It is considered to be the largest secular world event.
Theme of Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution.
Background: This day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and has ever since been an annual event. The person credited for organising the event 48 years ago is US Senator Gaylord Nelson.
- As part of the “Gram SwarajAbhiyaan”, the “Swachh Bharat Parva” was recently organized all over the country.
About Gram Swaraj Abhiyan:
“Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” is being organised between 14th April to 05th May, 2018.
- The campaign, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes.
- As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmesin 21,058 identified villages.
- The programmes coveredare Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has framed a new draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.
The salient features of the draft CRZ Notification, 2018 and changes with respect to CRZ Notification, 2011, are as under:
CRZ limits on land along the tidal influenced water bodies has been proposed to be reduced from 100 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less, to 50 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less.
A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been proposed to be stipulated for all Islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land.
For CRZ-III areas, two separate categories have been proposed viz.: CRZ-III A – Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have an NDZ of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011. CRZ-III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
Ease of procedures: Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I & IV areas, shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the MoEF&CC. For all other project activities located in CRZ-II/III areas, CRZ clearance shall be considered at the level of the CZMA.
FSI: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen at 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the Draft CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been proposed to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects.
Mining: Regulated limestone mining is proposed to be permitted, subject to strict Environmental safeguards, in areas adequately above the height of HTL, based on recommendations of reputed National Institutes in the Mining field.
Disposal of plastics and mangroves: The norms also prevent the disposal of plastic into the coastal waters and mandate the compensatory plantation of three times the mangrove area destroyed for development works. Mangroves in private land will not require a buffer zone.
Eco-tourism activities such as mangrove walks, tree huts, nature trails, and so on will be allowed in these areas through the development of coastal zone management plans (CZMPs) and public consultation.
The relaxations/amendment proposed in the CRZ Notification, 2018 shall, however, come into force only after the respective Coastal Zone Management Programme (CZMP) framed to the CRZ Notification, 2011 have been revised/updated by the States/UTs, as per the provisions of the CRZ, 2018 Notification and approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
What is CRZ?
Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ is a coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line and a range of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwaters and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations is CRZ. According to Coastal Regulation Zone notifications, it is divided into 4 zones:
- CRZ I – It refers to the ecologically sensitive areas, essential in maintaining ecosystem of the coast. These lie between the HTL and LTL. Only exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt is permitted.
- CRZ II – These areas form up to the shoreline of the coast. Authorized structures are not allowed to be constructed in this zone.
- CRZ III – This includes rural and urban localities. Only certain activities relating to agriculture and public utilities allowed here.
- CRZ IV – This includes the aquatic area up to the territorial limit (12 nautical miles). Fishing and allied activities permitted in this zone. Solid waste can be let off in this zone.
- Kayakalp awards were recently given to felicitate Public Health Facilities for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene.
About Kayakalp awards: Kayakalp – Award to Public Health Facilities” was instituted as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on 15th May 2015 as a National Initiative to give Awards to those public health facilities that demonstrate high levels of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control focuses on promoting cleanliness in public spaces.
- The ministry of urban affairs has launched the first workshop on star rating of garbage-free cities under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The star rating of garbage-free cities would create healthy competition among cities across the country.
About the star rating initiative:
What is it? The star-rating initiative, developed by the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban will be rating cities on a 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management.
- In a rare occurrence, olive ridley turtles have turned up for mass nesting for the second time at Rushikulya rookery on Odisha coast. The Rushikulya coast, in Ganjam district of Odisha, is considered to be a major nesting site in the world and lakhs of olive ridleys come here every year to lay eggs.
- The government has decided to extend the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme by six months until 30 September 2018, or till the time the second phase of the scheme is approved by it.
About FAME India scheme:
What is it? With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-India) scheme in 2015.
Aim: The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments, including two-wheelers, three wheeler auto, passenger four-wheeler vehicle, light commercial vehicles and buses. The scheme covers hybrid and electric technologies like a strong hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
Facts: FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals. It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be gaining in prominence as part of the renewable energy zeitgeist. However, mainstreaming electric vehicles will require an overhaul of the country’s energy and transport infrastructure. For example, EV charging stations will have to be set up on a war footing, and electricity generation will have to improve significantly even as its piggybacks on the push for solar energy. EV technology (especially the battery) will have to become much cheaper before it can perform well in a price-sensitive market like India.
- In a first, NASA is conducting a study of the world’s largest phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic, named the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) mission, to see how the tiny sea critters influence the climate in every season.
- It is the first research mission to conduct an integrated study of all four distinct phases of the world’s largest phytoplankton bloom.
About NAAMES Mission:
- The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) is an interdisciplinary investigation resolving key processes controlling marine ecosystems and aerosols that are essential to our understanding of Earth system function and future change.
- NAAMES is funded by the NASA Earth Venture Suborbital Program and is the first EV-S mission focused on studying the coupled ocean ecosystem and atmosphere.
- NAAMES consists of four, combined ship and aircraft field campaigns that are each aligned to a specific event in the annual plankton lifecycle.
The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) studies the world’s largest plankton bloom and how it gives rise to small organic particles that leave the ocean and end up in the atmosphere, ultimately influencing clouds and climate.
The North Atlantic plankton bloom is among the most conspicuous biological events annually recorded by satellite ocean color measurements, yet even fundamental controls on the bloom’s magnitude and interannual variability are controversial. The bloom climax is one event within an annual plankton cycle that essentially oscillates between a decreasing-biomass phase beginning in the summer and an increasing-biomass phase beginning in Winter-Spring and ending with the bloom climax in Spring.
Significance of the mission:
NAAMES is a five year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate. Observations obtained during four, targeted ship and aircraft measurement campaigns, combined with the continuous satellite and in situ ocean sensor records, will enable improved predictive capabilities of Earth system processes and will inform ocean management and assessment of ecosystem change.
- According to revised guidelines of the centre’s flagship scheme to promote organic farming, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), farmers will be eligible for an assistance of Rs48,700 per hectare for a three-year period for adopting these traditional methods of cultivation.
Who is eligible?
According to the revised guidelines, farmers practising traditional methods of organic farming like yogik farming, gou mata kheti, Vedic farming, Vaishnav kheti, Ahinsa farming, Adhvoot Shivanand farming, and rishi krishi will be eligible for financial assistance, in addition to those adopting standard organic farming practices like zero-budget natural farming and permaculture.
- Yogik farmingrefers to a system where it is believed that farmers can channelize cosmic energy to their fields by performing yoga.
- Rishi krishiis based on pre-Vedic, Vedic and medieval texts like Vishvavallava, Kashyapiyakrishisukti, and Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda.
- Gou mata khetiis a system of farming which uses cow dung and urine from indigenous breeds of lactating cows.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY):
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana is an elaborated component of Soil Health Management (SHM) of major project National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- Under PKVY Organic farming is promoted through the adoption of the organic village by cluster approach and PGS certification.
- Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster having 50-acre land to take up the organic farming under the scheme.
- The produce will be pesticide residue free and will contribute to improving the health of the consumer.
- Work on the 1,000 km-long India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway officially started with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signing an agreement with a joint-venture (JV) between Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra to upgrade the Yagyi-Kalewa section of the India-Myanmar Friendship Road in Myanmar.
This is NHAI’s first international project agreement. The project has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and would be executed on EPC mode at a cost of Rs.1177 crores.
About IMT Highway:
The 1,000 km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will run from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The highway will facilitate easy movement of goods and people among the three countries.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
- The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for entering into Headquarters (Host country) Agreement between India and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and authorizing the Ministry of External Affairs for signing the Headquarter Agreement.
Significance of the agreement:
The Headquarters Agreement will institutionalize the functional arrangements between India and ISA. It will help in smooth transition of ISA as international inter-governmental organization. Creation of ISA will lead to accelerated solar technology development and deployment in ISA member countries including India.
The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries. The ISA is the first international body that will have a secretariat in India.
Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.
India announced a goal of obtaining 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030 at the Paris climate change summit. It is close to achieving 20 GW grid connected solar power generation capacity this fiscal year (2018), in pursuit of achieving its target of 100 GW by 2022.
- An Indian Consortium consisting of IOCL, BPCL and HPCL and Saudi Aramco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here today to jointly develop and build an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex, Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (RRPCL) in the State of Maharashtra.
What it does? The strategic partnership brings together crude supply, resources, technologies, experience and expertise of these multiple oil companies with an established commercial presence around the world.
- president of India is visiting Equatorial Guinea. This is the first time ever that a head of state from India is visiting Equatorial Guinea.
About Equatorial Guinea:
- Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the west coast of Africa.Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language.It is made up of a mainland territory called Rio Muni, and five islands including Bioko, where the capital Malabo is located.
- India is hosting the 16thInternational Energy Forum (IEF) Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi.
About the IEF Ministerial meeting:
- The IEF Ministerial meetings are informal dialogues, at both the political and technical levels, aimed to improve policy and investment decisions, and through increased knowledge and experience sharing.
- The biennial IEF Ministerial Meetings are the world’s largest gathering of Energy Ministers who engage in a dialogue on global energy issues.
The International Energy Forum (IEF) is an inter-governmental arrangement set up in 1991. It is based in Riyadh.
Functions: It serves as a neutral facilitator of informal, open, informed and continuing global energy dialogue among its members comprising of energy producing and energy consuming states, including transit countries.
Members: There are 72 membercountries of IEF, including India, covering all six continents, which are signatories to the Charter of the IEF. Its membership accounts for 90% of global supply and demand for oil and gas.
- The Executive Board (EB) set up in 2002 comprising of 31 designated representatives of Ministers of the member states comprise the governing board of IEF.It meets twice a year.
- International Energy Agency (IEA) and Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are non-voting members of the Executive Board.
- The EB is chaired by the Host State of the next biennial Ministerial Meeting. Currently, India is the Chair of the Executive Board of IEF.
Key facts for Prelims:
- By virtue of being among the top 11 largest consumers of oil and gas (India is presently 4th), India has been the Permanent Member of the Executive Board since its set-up in 2002.
- India had earlier hosted the 5th IEF Ministerial in 1996 at Goa.
Need for international platforms:
Energy security continues to top the political agenda for energy importing as well as exporting countries, for industrialized as well as developing economies. This time of heightened energy consciousness is also a time of uncertainties and increasing interdependencies among nations.
This has prompted some to re-think fundamental policies. And the policy tuning of one country to meet new challenges and to reduce its particular energy uncertainties can in itself exacerbate uncertainties or create new ones for others. Not least considering the interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. As well as the links between energy and geopolitics. Global producer-consumer dialogue acquires increasing importance as nations revisit and modify established policies, and shape new ones, in their quest for energy security.
The world will need more and cleaner energy, used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to a larger share of the world’s population. The political challenge lies in operationalizing this energy imperative in a fair and sustainable way. Through national policies as well as in bilateral, regional and wider global co-operation.
- As many as 6 monuments/historical sites in the North Eastern states have been identified tentatively for listing under World Heritage Site.
Monuments/sites identified/placed under tentative list for listing under world heritage in the north eastern states are:
- Apatani Cultural Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India.
- Moidams – the Mound – Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty, Assam.
- Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh.
- River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam.
- Thembang Fortified Village, Arunachal Pradesh.
UNESCO world heritage site:
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.
- The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
- Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
- As of July 2017, 1,073 sites are listed: 832 cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed properties, in 167 states. Italy is the home for the largest number of sites with 53.
Selection of a site:
To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
Legal status of designated sites:
UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.
What are endangered sites?
A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if there are conditions that threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanization or human development.
- This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures. Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential dangers that could have adverse effects on a site.
- The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is reviewed on a yearly basis, after which the committee may request additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List.
- A ‘Kalamkari art museum’ has been opened at Pedana in Andhra Pradesh. The museum traces the history of the art and displays the process of extraction of natural colours from various sources.
Kalamkari is an ancient style of hand painting done on cotton or silk fabric with a tamarind pen, using natural dyes. The word Kalamkari is derived from a Persian word where ‘kalam‘ means pen and ‘kari‘ refers to craftsmanship.
There are two identifiable styles of Kalamkari art in India – Srikalahasti style and Machilipatnam style.
- In the Machilipatnam style of Kalamkari, motifs are essentially printed with hand-carved traditional blocks with intricate detailing painted by hands.
On the other hand, Srikalahasti style of painting draws inspiration from the Hindu mythology describing scenes from the epics and folklore. This style holds a strong religious connect because of its origin in the temples.
Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project:
Context: Construction works on 60 MW Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project have begun.
About the project:
- The Naitwar Mori Project with a generation potential of 60 MW islocated on River Tons, a major tributary of River Yamuna on the Ganga basin, in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand state in North India.
- This run-of-the river project was allocated to SJVN Ltd by the Government of Uttarakhand.SJVN Ltd is a Mini Ratna PSU under administrative control of the Ministry of Power, Govt. of India.
- Greentech Mega Food Park Private Ltd, first mega food park in Rajasthan, was recently inaugurated at Roopangarh Village in Ajmer. The Park has been set up at a cost of Rs 113.57 crore and will benefit around 25,000 farmers in this as well as neighbouring districts.
About Mega Food Parks:
Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.
- The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.
- These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.
- A maximum grant of R50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.
Mode of operation:
- The Scheme hasa cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
- The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
- CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
- The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.
Facts for Prelims:
India’s first mega food park ‘Srini Mega Food Park’, sprawling 147-acre space, was opened in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh in 2012.
- Google on March 26thcommemorated the 45th year of the Chipko movement.
What is Chipko movement?
Chipko, signifying ’embrace or hug’, was the strategy of hundreds of villagers –mostly women- in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, to save the forest cover on the Garhwal Himalyas.
- Reckless felling of trees on the hill slopes was having a devastating effect on the livelihood of the villagers. The floods in 1970, when the Alakananda River broke its banks, led to massive landslides that blocked the river and washed away hundreds of hamlets downstream.
- Widespread protests followed in the early 70s, when villagers led byChandi Prasad Bhatt, a Gandhian, literally embraced the trees to save them from the woodcutters’ axe.
The original Chipko andolan dates back to the 18th century and was started by Rajasthan’s Bishnoi community. The incident has been etched in the annals of history for the sacrifice of a group of villagers, who led by a lady named Amrita Devi, laid down their lives while protecting trees from being felled on the orders of then King of Jodhpur. After this incident, the king, in a royal decree, banned cutting of trees in all Bishnoi villages.
- Madhya Pradesh has won the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Kadaknath, a black-feathered chicken known for its flavourful meat. The GI tag will ensure that no one else can use the name Kadaknath while selling any other black chicken and will also translate into higher prices for producers.
- The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on the response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the South Asian Seas Region.
The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising the South Asian seas region namely Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be the Competent National Authority and national operational contact point for implementation of “Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan” under the MoU and shall respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India. Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be the national emergency response centre for marine incidents.
In order to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the South Asian region, the Governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka established the SACEP in 1982 in Sri Lanka.
The SACEP jointly with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) developed a “Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan” to facilitate international co-operation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to a major oil pollution incident in the seas around the Maritime States of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Need for special attention:
South Asia is one of the most diverse regions in the world. Bordered to the north by the Himalayas and to the south by the Indian Ocean, covers a diversity of ecosystems from lush tropical forest to harsh, dry desert. It is also one of the most populous regions, with over 1 billion people living in India alone.
- Most of the South Asian nations share many similar environmental problems, stemming from poverty and its consequences on natural resources. According to the World Bank, during the past decade, South Asia has been the second fastest economically growing region in the world, and their efforts at increased production have put increasing pressure on natural resources and the environment.
- Significant natural resource concerns of the region include depletion of water quality and quantity, dwindling forests and coastal resources, and soil degradation resulting from nutrient depletion and salinization.
The Malé Declaration on control and prevention of air pollution and its likely transboundary effects for South Asia is another significant efforts which encourages intergovernmental cooperation to combat the transboundary air pollution problem.
- India’s first insect museum opens in Tamil Nadu:
Context: India’s first insect museum with the state-of-the-art amenities was recently unveiled in Tamil Nadu.
- India and Pakistan will hold a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission to discuss various issues under the Indus Waters Treaty.
- This will be the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which should meet at least once a year as per the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
- The meeting of the PIC is held alternately in India and Pakistan every year.
- The PIC had last met in March 2017 in Islamabad.
About Indus Water Treaty:
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
- According to this treaty, waters of the three western rivers (the Jhelum, the Chenab, and the Indus itself) were allocated to Pakistan, and those of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej) were allocated to India.
- The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty.
What is PIC?
Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India-Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of Indus Waters Treaty. Under the treaty, it is required that India and Pakistan meet every financial year. The Indus Commission is the first step for conflict resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached at the Commission level, the dispute is to be referred to the two governments. If the governments too fail to reach an agreement, the Treaty provides an arbitration mechanism. The last meeting of the commission was held in July 2016.
- Madhya Pradesh has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging an order passed by Assistant Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI) on March 15 excluding the State from being granted the GI tag for basmati rice.
What’s the issue?
In May 2010, GI status was given to basmati grown only in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Madhya Pradesh moved a statutory opposition demanding that its 13 districts be recognised as traditional Basmati growing regions.
However, GI registry had rejected Madhya Pradesh’s claim as being the original and unique basmati growing region. It had observed that the documents and evidence filed by Madhya Pradesh show the importance, special characters of rice cultivated in Madhya Pradesh but not the basmati cultivation in the traditional growing area.
What’s the concern now?
Madhya Pradesh says non-inclusion of the state in the basmati growing areas would have an adverse effect on the lives of farmers who mainly depend upon basmati cultivation and it will also affect the export potential, which will indirectly reduce the country’s turnover from the export of basmati.
About GI tag:
What is it?
A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Significance of a GI tag:
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
- Government’s New Vehicle Scrappage policy was recently cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office and is awaiting the approval of the GST Council.
Highlights of the policy:
- The policy targets to take polluting vehicles out of the roads and help the automobile industry register higher sales.
- The policy mentions about vehicles older than 20 years becoming eligible for benefits under the scrappage scheme.
- The scheme would now come in effect from April 1, 2020, coinciding with the implementation of the BS-VI norms.
- The new vehicle scrappage policy of the Centre is unlikely to have any significant impact on the automobile industry in terms of increased demand, according to rating agencies.
- Also, analysts say the benefit offered under the scrappage policy would be 15% of the vehicle’s price. But this advantage would be muted as prices of diesel vehicles were expected to rise 10-15% once the new norms (BS-VI) come into force.
- The total population of commercial vehicles that will be older than 20 years in fiscal 2021 would be 50,000 vehicles, much lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 2.8 crore vehicles. In any case, 70,000 to 90,000 vehicles are scrapped every year. So, it is believed that the impact of the scrappage policy will be limited.
- Also, the proportion of commercial vehicles above 20 years would be one lakh to two lakh units. Besides, most of these older vehicles are used in rural areas and smaller towns by small fleet operators who operate used vehicles and have limited financial resources to purchase new vehicles. Thus, the proposed scrappage policy is unlikely to be materially positive for commercial vehicle demand.
It is the world’s largest tropical peatlands in Congo Basin.
Why in news? To protect the Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin from unregulated land use and prevent its drainage and degradation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia have jointly signed the Brazzaville declaration that promotes better management and conservation of this globally important carbon store.
Global peatland initiative: The declaration was signed on the sidelines of the Third Partners Meeting of the Global Peatlands Initiative, taking place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
What are peatlands? Peatlands are wetlands that contain a mixture of decomposed organic material, partially submerged in a layer of water, lacking oxygen. The complex biodiversity of the peatlands means they are home to a variety of species, but their high carbon content makes them uniquely vulnerable to incineration if they are drained.
About the Global Peatlands Initiative:
The Global Peatlands Initiative is an effort by leading experts and institutions to save peatlands as the world’s largest terrestrial organic carbon stock and to prevent it being emitted into the atmosphere.
- Earth Hour is being observed on March 24 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Earth Hour is also a “part and parcel” of the “Green Good Deeds” movement, in which every individual ought to take small, voluntary green actions to protect and conserve the environment and the earth. “Give Up to Give Back”:
On the occasion of Earth Hour, the World Wide Fund India has made a strong pitch for “Give Up to Give Back”.
The “Give Up to Give Back” initiative to inspire organisations, institutions and individuals to make the choice to curb some habits, practices and lifestyles that burden our lives and the environment. It includes taking steps like giving up single-use plastics, giving up fossil fuels, giving up lonely car rides for your employees, give up e-waste.
What is Earth Hour?
Dating back to 2007, Earth Hour is an annual event organized by the World Wildlife Fund that promotes conservation and sustainable energy. During this time, civilians are encouraged to switch off their lights for one hour to help reduce the effect of global warming and raise awareness for climate change and wildlife conservation.
It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.
What’s the difference between Earth Hour and Earth Day?
Whereas Earth Hour stands as a climate change initiative where people reduce their electricity usage, Earth Day (April 22) celebrates our natural environment by inspiring people to plant trees, recycle regularly and keep the planet tidy.
- NAIPUNYA RATHAM or World on Wheels is a multi-utility vehicle which aims to bring technology to the remote corners.
Where? It was launched recently in Andhra Pradesh.
Why? As part of the Smart village Smart Ward Programme, the Naipunya Rathaams will facilitate and look to improve digital literacy, digital skills and create an awareness on various government schemes that are underway in the new state of Andhra Pradesh.
- World’s longest sandstone cave discovered in Meghalaya:
Meghalaya is now also home to the longest sandstone cave in the world at 24,583m.
- The cave system has fossils of dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurus, a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
- The cave is Meghalaya is 6,000m longer than the current listed sandstone cave in the world, Cueva El Samán, (18,200m) in Venezuela.
- Niti aayog has initiated implementation of strategy on Resource efficiency. After detailed discussion,a road map for implementation of the RE in the country has also been evolved.
Following measures related to implementation of strategy on resource efficiency was announced by the NITI Aayog:
- NITI Aayog will facilitate the RE strategy implementation. Implementation however will be the responsibility of the line ministries/departments.
- A baseline survey on RE could be considered for better targeting.
- A Status paper on RE and Four sectoral strategy papers on RE are to be prepared.
- SWACH Bharat also means a clean production/mining environment, therefore resource efficiency and circular economy are also a part of this initiative.
- One pilot study on Ease of Doing RE Business in collaboration with DIPP could be considered.
- Finally, RE is a potential instrument for generating wealth from waste. Measures for promoting effective recycling of scrap generated in the country could be explored.
Strategy on Resource Efficiency:
- NITI Aayog in collaboration with the European Union delegation to India have 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.
- It 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.
What is Resource Efficiency and why do we need it?
Resource efficiency very simply put is making more with fewer materials. In practice, through a life-cycle approach, it leads to minimizing impact on environment & the associated societal burdens, transforming ‘waste’ into ‘resources’ fostering circular economy, and strengthening resource security.
Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy are important goals and central principles for achieving sustainable development. Sustainability is a global priority and SDGs commitment and 11th Five year plan also clearly enunciate importance of Resource efficiency (RE).
Facts for Prelims:
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.
- International Day of Forests is observed on March 21stevery year.
2018 Theme: Forests and Sustainable Cities.
About the International Day of Forests:
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.
- Every year onMarch 22, World Water Day is celebrated. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of World Water Day.
Theme: This year’s theme of World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water’ and exploring nature-based solutions (NBS) to the water challenges that we are currently facing.
Campaign: The campaign which is being run by UN is being called ‘The answer is in nature’ and the motto is to raise awareness on how we nations together can save water by following nature based solutions.
About World Water Day:
In the year 1992, March 22 was first officially added in the schedule 21 of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development as World Water Day in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Plastic Park to be set up in Deoghar District, Jharkhand:
Context: Government of India has approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District, Jharkhand.
About the project: The project would be set up at a cost of Rs. 120 crores in an area of 150 acres and a range of polymer products including woven sacks, moulded furniture, water tanks, bottles, pipes mosquito nets, etc would be manufactured. It has great potential for attracting investment for setting up an ecosystem for plastic industry and generate employment opportunities for the local populace. The project is likely to provide direct employment generation to about 6000 people and indirect employment to over 30000 people.
- Jackfruit is set to be declared as the official fruit of Kerala. The core objective of the government was to give a fillip to the production and sale of jackfruit and its value-added products.
Facts: Elephant is the state animal of Kerala, while ‘great hornbill’ is the state bird and ‘kanikkonna’, the official flower. The state had also recently declared pearl spot, popularly known as ‘karimeen’, as its official fish.
A recent report from the NITI Aayog said sex ratio at birth (SRB) nationwide had dropped from 906 in 2012-2014 to 900 in 2013-2015. In all, 17 of 21 large Indian States saw a drop in the SRB, with Gujarat performing the worst, declining 53 points.
Also, newer data from India’s Sample Registration System show the SRB fell even further in 2014-2016, from 900 to 898.
- International Women’s Day is being celebrated on March 8 across the world. It is an annual marker that aims to bring attention to women’s accomplishments and obstacles.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is ‘Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives‘. The theme aims to encourage women to raise voice for their rights and promote growing global movement to support gender parity.
How it all began?
The first Women’s Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909, in New York by the Socialist Party of America. The day was dedicated to the 15,000 women who marched through New York in 1908 as part of the garment strike.
In 1910, a German activist Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of celebrating Women’s Day in March at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.
On March 19, 1911, Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as the official date to celebrate Women’s Day.
- Karnataka government has unveiled the State flag for Karnataka. If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a flag after Jammu and Kashmir.
Expressing concern over the increase in the import of ornamental fishes to the country, which is posing a threat to India’s native fish populations, the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has urged the government to come up with quarantine facilities at major seaports and airports.
The government of India has only approved the import of 92 species of ornamental fish but the number of ornamental fish species being imported and in trade is somewhere between 200-300.
CEBPOL is a bilateral collaboration between the Indian and Norwegian governments, and focuses on biodiversity policies and laws.
Under the Centre for Biodiversity and Policy and Law (CEBPOL), the NBA is trying to bring out a national list of IAS. So far, no attempt has been made by any scientific organisation to have a national IAS (Invasive Alien Species) list across different categories. The list will be put made available on a public platform and will be communicated to different Ministries and stakeholders.
Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) is located near Bahadurgarh in Haryana. GCNEP is the sixth R&D unit under the aegis of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
GCNEP will help in capacity building, in association with the interested countries and the IAEA, involving technology, human resource development, education & training and giving a momentum to R&D in enlisted areas.
The main objectives of the centre include:
Mark Development of enhanced nuclear safeguards to effectively and efficiently monitor nuclear materials and facilities.
Mark Promoting the development of advanced, more proliferation resistant nuclear power reactors.
Mark Training manpower in the field of Nuclear Security and Radiological Safety.
Mark Educating in the field of Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Isotopes and Radiation Technologies, nuclear forensic.
Mark Establishing accreditation facilities for radiation monitoring.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the Ministry of Environment and Forests under ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
The GEAC is responsible for approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials (Biosafety Research Level trial-I and II known as BRL-I and BRL-II).
European Investment Bank (EIB) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd. have signed a loan agreement for a second line of credit (LoC) of Euro 150 million on non-sovereign basis.
The line of credit is for tenure of 15 years including a grace period of 3 years, and it will be used for financing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects in India. More than 1.1 million households are expected to benefit from clean energy produced with these funds.
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd:
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987 engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation with the motto: “ENERGY FOR EVER”.
The government has expanded the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme from 161 districts to all the 640 districts in India.
Ministry of Tribal Affairs has developed an android based mobile application called Tribal Diaries.
About the application:
It has been developed for internal monitoring and for connecting with officers/officials concerned with implementation of schemes / programmes for tribal development.
World Happiness Report for the year 2018 has been released. The World Happiness Report 2018, ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.
The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual
ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries.
The report includes four chapters on migration, both internal (within-country) and international (cross-country), investigating the happiness of migrants, their families left behind, and others living in the cities and countries receiving migrants.
Top ten in order of overall happiness are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
Performance of India and its neighbours:
India ranked 133rd, far behind terror-ravaged Pakistan and poorest-of-poor Nepal.
It was placed 122nd last year, which was a drop from 118th rank the preceding year.
Among the eight Saarc nations, Pakistan was at 75th position, up five spots from last year.
Nepal stood at 101, Bhutan at 97, Bangladesh at 115 while Sri Lanka was at 116.
China is far ahead at 86th spot.
NITI Aayog has released comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for its initiative ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’.
These roadmaps, which operate between 2018 to 2020, lay out detailed interventions which will be taken by the three participating States- Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – aiming to become ‘Role Model States’ in school education.
These roadmaps present the first-of-its-kind, customized, action-oriented programmes, outlining interventions at the individual, district and State level, it
The roadmaps were jointly prepared by NITI Aayog, the three States and the knowledge partners of the SATH Initiatives, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Piramal Foundation For Education Leadership (PFEL).
About SATHE Program:
What is it? SATH-E has been envisaged as a programme which aims to transform elementary and secondary school education across the selected states. SATH-E roadmap refers to a time-bound, goal-driven exercise that will reach its logical culmination by the end of the academic year 2020.
Implementation: The SATH-E initiative in based on formal agreements with the States and will be funded through a cost-sharing mechanism between NITI Aayog and the participating states. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership (PFEL) were chosen as knowledge partners for the project facilitating review, data collection and implementation.
World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the energy transition index as part of the report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition.
The index ranks 114 countries on how well they are able to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.
The overall list was topped by Sweden, followed by Norway at the 2nd position and Switzerland at the 3rd rank.
India has been ranked at 78th, lower than its emerging market peers like Brazil and China.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which invited bids for various highways, hopes to generate more than Rs 6,000 crore by leasing out the roads under the ‘toll-operate-transfer’ (TOT) model.
Under this newly launched ToT model, the right to collect user-fee or toll on selected national highway stretches built through public funding is proposed to be auctioned and assigned to a concessionaire for a period of 30 years against an upfront payment of a lump-sum amount to the government.
The concessionaire is also responsible for the operation and maintenance of the roads during the tenure.
The model concession agreement also seeks to address the risks associated with such a long concession contract, with several provisions designed to deal with eventualities like roadway expansion, high toll traffic variation, etc., to ensure that concessionaires are not exposed to undue risks.
The government can also increase the concession period in later stages, if the concessionaire wants it.
A survey of over a hundred tiger conservation areas by 11 leading conservation organisations and countries with tiger ranges that are part of the Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS) Partnership has found that only 13% of tiger conservation areas meet global standards.
The surveyed area is home to approximately 70% of the world’s wild tigers. At least one-third of these areas are severely at risk of losing their tigers and most of these sites are in southeast Asia.
World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3rd.
Theme: “Big cats: predators under threat”.
On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of
signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 182 member states. It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.
The focus of the convention is not solely on the protection of species. It also promotes controlled trade that is not detrimental to the sustainability of wild species. It has become the best-known conservation convention in the world.
The government has approved a Rs 1,151 crore scheme to promote in-situ (in the farm itself) management of crop residue in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The new central scheme will be implemented for two years.
The move is aimed at providing a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution to farmers to deal with the problem of stubble burning that results in raising air pollution levels in the capital and neighbouring states every winter
New Zealand has joined the United Nations-led CleanSeas campaign to rid oceans of plastic.
More than 40 other countries have already signed up.
The CleanSeas campaign was launched by the UN Environment in February 2017.
An India-UK Joint Team has won the Newton-Bhabha Fund for a project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin.
The Newton Bhabha Fund, provided by the British Council, aims to bring together the UK and Indian scientific research and innovation sectors to find joint solutions to the challenges facing India in economic development and social welfare.
The team members involved with the project will try to assess how the problem of arsenic poisoning can get aggravated in the next 25 to 30 years and influence groundwater management practices and suggest water remedial technologies accordingly.
Arsenic in groundwater:
Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes.
Arsenic-containing groundwater in Ganga River basin is hosted by the sediments deposited by the rivers during the late Quaternary or Holocene age (<12 thousand years). Incidence of high arsenic in groundwater reported from various parts of the country, particularly in the Ganga- plains is a serious threat to the health of human being.
Over the last three decades numerous measures have been initiated which includes alternate arrangement for supply of arsenic free water to the affected populace and providing arsenic removal plants.
Arsenic occurrences in ground water in these areas is highly sporadic in nature and all the sources in these areas are not necessarily contaminated.
Climate Watch is an online platform designed to empower policymakers, researchers, media and other stakeholders with the open climate data, visualizations and resources they need to gather insights on national and global progress on climate change.
Climate Watch is managed by World Resources Institute. It is a contribution to the NDC Partnership (World Bank, UNFCCC, Google etc.).
Climate Watch brings together dozens of datasets for the first time to let users analyze and compare the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, access historical emissions data, discover how countries can leverage their climate goals to achieve their sustainable development objectives, and use models to map new pathways to a lower carbon, prosperous future.
It contributes to the goals of the Paris Agreement by using open data to increase transparency and accountability, and provide actionable analysis on how countries can enhance their efforts to combat climate change.
The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), an UN-registered agency will collaborate with Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) to strengthen its quality, prediction ability and response capacity.
Benefits of this collaboration:
RIMES will provide technical support to OSDMA regarding analysis of data to be generated through automatic weather stations being installed in all the gram panchayats, validation of the forecast, early warning and preparedness for lightening, heat wave, flood, draught and Tsunami.
It would enhance the warning response capacities of the OSDMA by
imparting specialized expert training. It will also help to develop a one-stop risk management system for all OSDMA needs- integration of multiple data database/servers.
RIMES, an inter-governmental body registered under the United Nations. It is being owned and managed by 45 collaborating countries in Asia Pacific and Africa Region. The programme unit of the agency is located in Thailand.
RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
At present, India is chairing RIMES.
Phirangipuram to be Andhra’s first all-women rail station
Phirangipuram is all to be Andhra Pradesh’s first all-women rail station.
It will be a big step in addressing gender equality in the biggest public sector organisation in the country.
Scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown “supercolony” of more than 1,500,000 Adélie Penguins in the Danger Islands, a chain of remote, rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip.
The Karnataka government recently inaugurated the world’s largest solar park, Shakti Sthala. It is located in Tumkur district, about 180km from Bengaluru. The park ties in with the centre’s scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020. It has a capacity of 2,000 MW.
It is part of the “Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021” which aims to decrease dependence on traditional power sources and move to environmentally friendly ones to meet the growing power needs of the state.
IT capital Bengaluru has become the first city in the country to have a HeliTaxi. The first helitaxi service is being provided by a Bell 407 helicopter
Balkrishna Doshi is the newest winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, known as the Nobel for architects. He has built more than a hundred buildings that reflect his investment in local materials, social change and the environment. He is the first Indian to receive the award.
About the Prize: The international prize, which is awarded each year to a living architect/s for significant achievement, was established by the Pritzker family of Chicago through their Hyatt Foundation in 1979. It is granted annually and is often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel” and “the profession’s highest honor.” The award consists of $100,000 (US) and a bronze medallion. The award is conferred on the laureate/s at a ceremony held at an architecturally significant site throughout the world.
I – Metros’ -an association of all Indian Metro Rail companies has been launched.
About I- Metros’:
“I-Metros” is proposed to be a platform to provide a forum for exchange of ideas, pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience, best practices, innovations etc. among the Indian Metro rail companies to nurture excellence in performance.
This society will be registered under Society Registration Act-1860.
The objective of forming this association is to provide a common platform for all Metro rail companies for sharing experience, information, best practices, innovations etc.
This association will also undertake and promote techno-economic studies and research. It will safeguard the interest and rights of metro rail companies and will be resource tank of information for decision making
In a major boost for utilisation of renewable energy in the country, Diu has become the first and only Union Territory to be fully solar energy efficient.
Key facts: Diu’s geographical area is limited only to 42 square kilometers, however, despite the shortage of land, solar power plants have been installed at over 50 acres of land. A total of 13 megawatts of electricity from the solar power-generating systems is generated, with 3MW generated by rooftop solar plants and 10MW by other solar power plants.
- A floating island of 2,500 sq.ft with about 3,500 wetland plants will be introduced on the Neknampur Lake in Hyderabad on the eve of World Wetland Day on February 2nd. It will be introduced by Dhruvansh, a voluntary organisation working for protection of water bodies.
The ‘island platform’ has been designed using styrofoam, bamboo, gunny bags, coir and so on and could bear the weight of four persons, according to Madhulika Choudhary of the body.
It is a novel biological water purification technique that uses plants and micro-organisms to sequester impurities and decontaminate wastewater. The perennial plant used in this system is Typha latifolia which naturally absorbs pollutants. The plant boosts oxygen content of the watery medium around its roots to cleanse the dirty water. Besides, it also encourages proliferation of water decontaminating micro-organisms. And thus averts the need for using chemicals and aerators to improve water quality as is usually done in the conventional methods. The system requires no chemicals, no energy, no skilled manpower and no inputs, barring seeding the plants. It removes even the metallic residues to the extent of 80 to 99%, something that the conventional methods are unable to do. Notably, planktons and zooplanktons, which serve as nutritious feed for fish, thrive well in the water ponds of these units. The fish output of such integrated sewage treatment enterprises is relatively high and of good quality, being free of toxic residues. Also, these units can be transformed into environment-friendly eco-parks, boosting tourism by attracting migratory birds. Instead of producing sludge, the Typha-based treatment units produce biomass. This can further be converted into good quality particle boards or energy briquettes and pellets for use as clean fuel. The upper parts of Typha can be cut every 4 months or so for this purpose and the plant regenerates again.
SOC – Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so. Soils contain around 2,300 Gt (1 gigatonne = 1 billion tonnes) of organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial carbon pool. Benefits – Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health. It can contribute to agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and also reduce the need for chemicals. It helps address carbon mitigation and also improve conditions of fresh water, biodiversity, land use and nitrogen use.Moreover, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissions from fossil fuels by up to 15% annually. Utilising this option would thus offer the breathing time before other technologies can help transiting to a zero-carbon lifestyle.
- Bellandur Lake in Bengaluru again saw a major fire. some experts have asserted that chemicals and large amounts of methane in the lake may have resulted in an accidental spreading over a vast area.
- India ranks 177 among 180 countries in the Environmental Performance Index 2018.
A drop in the index from previous year calls for a relook at the country’s environmental policy. EPI is a biennial report by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the World Economic Forum. Switzerland leads the world in sustainability
- Bor Tiger Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary located in Wardha District of Maharashtra.
Mankidia is one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in Odisha.They critically depends on making rope with siali fibre that‘s richly available in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR). They were denied habitat rights inside the STR under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. So they would now be deprived of the non-timber forest produce.
Cryosphere refers to the frozen part of the earth surface. It might be comprised of snow, river and lake ice, sea ice, glaciers, ice shelves and ice sheets, and frozen grounds. This region plays a major role in the Earth‘s climate system through its impact on the surface energy budget, the water cycle, and sea level. It is a fundamental control on the physical, biological and social environment over a large part of the Earth‘s surface.
It is an upcoming project in J&K which aims at providing all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. The construction of the tunnel has been approved recently by PM-led Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
It‘s a weather term that applies to a massive winter storm that struck off the U.S. Southeast, the storm has dumped freak snow in this region. Bomb cyclones draw air from Polar Regions. A storm is considered a ―bomb when the pressure drops rapidly at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.
- Assumption Island – Seychelles
Assumption Island is one of the 115 islands constituting Seychelles archipelago. India signed a pact to develop Assumption Island, during PM Modi‘s visit to Seychelles in 2015. India has now signed a revised agreement with Seychelles. Assumption Island is leased to India for the operation of a naval base and air strip by the Indian navy. The agreement will enable India to help Seychelles build military infrastructure for the Seychelles People‘s Defence Forces. Seychelles has said it would ―suspend‖ the use of military facilities on Assumption Island in case if India is at war. This is because it is not a military base.
- National Clean Air Programme Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has formulated National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a medium term national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country. The NCAP focuses on collaborative and participatory approach covering all sources of pollution and coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Governments, local bodies and other stakeholders. A separate component on ‗Technology Assessment Cell‘ has been envisaged under NCAP to evaluate the technologies for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
Scientists have discovered the new species Tetramorium krishnani and Tetramorium jarawa in Havelock Island.
Frogs belongs to the genus Nyctibatrachus are commonly known as night frogs. They are found only in the Western Ghats mountain range. Scientists have recently discovered new night frog ―Mewasinghi, belonging to Nyctibatrachus from Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kozhikode.
- New Ginger Species Scientists have discovered two new species of Ginger in Manipur and Nagaland. Both the plants are from the family of Zingiberaceae, to which the commonly found Ginger (Zingiber officinale) belongs. The species discovered in Nagaland, is an epiphytic plant and grows on tall trees. The species from Manipur was found growing in rock crevices, boulders and humus rich soil in the Shirui Hills.
The humpback whale is one of the four species of baleen whales occurring in Indian waters.Characteristic baleen plates and paired blowholes help distinguish baleen whales from toothed whales. These whales strain huge volumes of ocean water through their baleen plates to capture food. Humpback Whales migrate annually from the summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator.They are found near coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. The Arabian Sea humpback whales are the only sedentary whales in the world, feeding and breeding in the same area. Researchers from Environment Society of Oman have tagged a female humpback whale named as ―Luban to track its movement via satellite. It started its journey from Oman, heading towards east and reached off the coast of Goa after two months. Even though the IUCN Red List categorises humpback whale as of ‗least concern‘, it recognised the distinct Arabian Sea population as ‗endangered‘ in 2008.
Recent findings proved an international ban on CFCs, has resulted in about 20% less ozone depletion. Scientists used data from the Aura satellite to determine how ozone and other chemicals have changed year to year. Aura is a NASA mission to study Earth’s ozone, air quality, and climate.
Nayachar is a newly emerged island with mangrove ecosystem in the middle estuary of the Hooghly River in West Bengal. This land mass was created in the Indian Sunderbans by river silt deposits, and remained largely submerged, rising occasionally above the water level. Till 1990 it was completely barren, with hardly any plant or animal species, at present there are 151 animal species on the island, making it a rare case in ecology. The natural succession of species on the island has been aided by the inundation of water during tides, and the soil brought from other places by fishermen.
- India‟s State Action plan on Climate Change
India‘s State Action Plan on Climate Change is implemented by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change. It supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies. India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables. States are important for the realisation of this goal and they are considered as Sub national modules. The Under2Coalition, a MoU by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050, is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number. Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India.
It is Located in Bharatpur district, the eastern part of Rajasthan. The park is spread over nearly 30 sq.km which comprises many artificial and seasonal lagoons. Keoladeo attracts several migratory birds that make the region their breeding and wintering grounds. It is an UNESCO World Heritage and also a Ramsar site. The Siberian crane is one of the rare species that was spotted here till about the turn of the century. It habitat for nearly 365 species of birds, including raptors and waterfowls. Animal such as Jackals, Sambar, Nilgai, wild cats, hyenas, wild boar, porcupine and mongoose can be found in the region.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) The IPCC is an international body for the assessment of climate change, it was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
- Reduction in Ozone Depletion The scientists have observed for the first time that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion.
Chiru goat is also known as the Tibetrean antelope. It is native of China (Tibet, Xinjiang region) and India (North Eastern Ladakh region) and regionally extinct in Nepal. Its numbers and distribution have decreased sharply as a result of commercial hunting for the underfur for making of shawls. In India, it is killed for making of the famous Shahtoosh shawls, which is renowned for its quality from Srinagar. In 2017, it has been included in ―Near Threatened category by IUCN. The parliamentary standing committee on science & technology, environment & forests had recommended to the ministry of environment, to conserve and breed the Chiru goat, which can then be given to the shawl makers. The motive behind such recommendation is to provide a sustainable livelihood opportunity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, Ministry of Environment has ruled out the possibility of conservation breeding citing that it may lead to decline in its population due to commercial poaching.
It is a vulnerable and little known carnivorous animal which is endemic to the Western Ghats. Nilgiri Marten looks like a civet or a mongoose and it most prefers higher altitudes. The present global population of the Nilgiri Marten is estimated below 1000. The animal is placed in schedule 2 of the part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Recent studies shows that Nilgiri marten is thriving in the Pampadum Shola National Park located on the southern portion of Western Ghats.
Shola forests ‘Sholas‘ are patches of evergreen tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. It is found in Southern India, particularly in the regions of Nilgiri, Palani Hills and Annamalai Hills. The Western Ghats and associated ranges in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The main varieties of Trees in this type of forest are Zenker, bishop wood, Indian mahogany, gular fig tree etc.
- ITEWS Indian Tsunami Early Warning System (ITEWS)
is established by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), under ministry of earth sciences. The ITEWS comprises a real-time network of seismic stations, tsunami buoys and tide gauges to detect tsunami genic earthquakes and to monitor tsunamis. It detects globally occurring earthquakes of 5 magnitude and above within 5-10 minutes of the event. The system is capable of displaying ticket messages related to tsunami events and triggering of a built-in siren alert system audible for up to 1 km.
- UN Environment Management Group (EMG)
The EMG is a UN system-wide coordination body on environment and human settlements. Its members include the secretariats of the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and other specialized agencies, programmes and organs of the UN. Representatives of intergovernmental bodies, civil society and international non-governmental organizations can be invited to contribute. The EMG works through technical meetings, Issue Management Groups and task forces.
- Automated Ocean Pollution Observation System
Union government has planned to setup an automated ocean pollution observation system. These systems will be installed in coastal areas of West Bengal, Goa, Mumbai, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai. It will help keep a tab on ocean pollution levels apart and provides insights on how the marine system is changing. It is an initiative under National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
There are five species of seas turtles in Indian waters — Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley. IUCN Status of these turtles are 1. Hawksbill- Critically endangered 2. Green turtle- Endangered 3. Leatherback- Vulnerable 4. Loggerhead- Vulnerable 5. Olive Ridley- Vulnerable Mostly these turtles are found in the eastern coast of the Country. Often turtle are confused with tortoises. The major difference between the tortoise and sea turtles is that tortoises dwell on land, while turtles live in the water for some or nearly all of the time.
- Speed Breeding Technique Australian scientists have developed the world‘s first ‗speed breeding‘ technique that can boost the production of the crop by up to 3 times. The technique is inspired by the NASA‘s experiments to grow wheat in space. It involved the use of continuous light on wheat to trigger early reproduction in the plants. It has largely been used for research but now is being adopted by industry. The scientists have used the technique to develop the new ‘DS Faraday’ wheat variety due for release to industry this year. DS Faraday is a high protein, milling wheat with tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting.
- latte tax”: Britain is considering implementing a “latte tax” to curb the consumption of disposable coffee cups.
- AS PART of its mission to clean the Ganga by 2020, the Central government has sanctioned the raising of a Territorial Army (TA) battalion comprising ex-servicemen of the Army. The battalion will be raised in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh as a Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF) battalion of TA for National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG). The government has allocated Rs 167 crore for the battalion under NMCG, the nodal agency for cleaning the Ganga. India’s first Governor General Shri C Rajagopalachari formally inaugurated the Indian Territorial Army on October 9 in 1949. It is an organization where volunteers apply for a short period of training every year, so as to be ready to tackle any emergent situation or to serve for the defence of India.
- A UK-wide ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads has come into force on 9 January.
- Under Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017, the Government of Sikkim has come up with a unique way of preserving trees by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini. With this, Sikkim is keen to not just preserve its forest cover but also forge amity between people and trees.
- Researchers at the University of Manchester have carried out the first ever comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of microwaves, considering their whole life cycle, from ‘cradle to grave’.
Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.
- Microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour (TWh) of electricity every year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity generated by three large gas power plants. microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all type of ovens in the EU, it is increasingly important to start addressing their impact on resource use and end-of-life waste.
- automated moorings
It is an automated ocean pollution observation system which will help keep a tab on ocean pollution levels apart from offering insights on how the marine system is changing. It is the new ocean data acquisition system which will do away with the present practice of collecting water samples from sea and studying their pollution levels thereafter.
- State-run gas transmission utility GAIL India (GAIL) has commissioned the country’s second-biggest rooftop solar power plant. The solar plant has been commissioned in Uttar Pradesh.
Where’s the largest power plant? Tata Power Solar has commissioned India’s largest solar rooftop project with 12 MW capacity in Amritsar.
- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have introduced value-added tax, a first for the Gulf which has long prided itself on its tax-free, cradle-to-grave welfare system.
- According to the updated IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list, here are the species that were marked as “EXTINCT”:
Christmas Island Pipistrelle : This small bat found exclusively on Christmas Island, Australia was listed as critically endangered last year. Predation, loss of habitat, and diseases were pointed out as causes for its extinction.
Christmas Island Whiptail-skink : Another species endemic to Christmas Island, this lizard went extinct this year. Non-native predators and insecticide poisoning drove it over the edge.
Christmas Island chained gekho : The species is listed as extinct in the wild, which means it is now found only in a captive breeding programme.
Gunthers Dwarf Burrowing skink : Though no record of the skink has been made for more than 125 years, this native of South Africa was officially confirmed to be extinct only this year.
Species placed under the “critically endangered” category:
Western Ringtail Possum: The number for this species has declined by almost 80 per cent in the past 10 years. Australia’s increasingly dry and hot climate has led to its dramatic decline.
Yellow-breasted Bunting: Loss of roosting site and use of pesticides are major causes of their its decline.
Plains Wanderer : Exposure to pesticides, habitat loss, predation by foxes have all affected the survival of this small quail-like bird
Green Poison Frog, Perret’s Toad, and Rose’s Mountain Toad are also listed as critically endangered.
- Researchers have found a new population of red handfish in the waters off Tasmania. The red handfish is believed to be the world’s rarest fish species.
Supreme Court has recently cancelled the iron ore mining leases of 88 companies in Goa. In Goa, the State government has displayed disregard for rules and processes while renewing licences for a second time in 2015. It inexplicably chose not to exercise its right to view the licences as fresh leases that require new environmental impact assessments. The government in Goa invited a cloud of suspicion by hastily launching the renewal of licences. This was just a day after it unveiled a Grant of Mining Leases Policy on November 4, 2014. Quite extraordinarily, it issued 31 orders on a single day, January 12, 2015. This is apparently to pre-empt the Centre‘s Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance that came into force the same day. Last year, public protests over contaminated groundwater and fouled air underscored the need for strict environmental controls. The mining operations are to be stopped from March this year till fresh mining leases and environmental clearances are granted. With SC’s order, grant of fresh licences and proper accounting of the losses, mining activity in its entirety should begin on a clean slate. Future decisions should be guided solely by the true cost to the environment and to human health. The court order should help restore some balance to the exploitation of iron and manganese ore in ecologically fragile Goa. The order has highlighted the grievous effect of commercial mining activity in absence of clearly laid down and strictly enforced rules. The Supreme Court‘s directions provide Goa with an opportunity to change course and become a mainstream tourist State.
- The southern coastal city of Cape Town in South Africa is currently facing its worst drought in over 300 years, which has entered its 3rd year.
A recent BBC report listed 11 world cities that were ―most likely to run out of drinking water‖ in which Bangaluru is numbered 2nd. The Report – It mentioned the acute shortage of water in Cape Town in South Africa, where people are now being rationed 50 litres daily. Notably, many fear that Cape Town could become the first major city to run dry in the modern era.
- The National Wetland Atlas, prepared by the ISRO in 2011, found that India has over 2 lakh wetlands, most which aren‘t notified as such. They thus run the risk of being destroyed and many court cases across the country reflect the precarious existence of wetlands. The iconic East Kolkata Wetlands, which is also designated ‗Ramsar wetland‘ of international importance, is being steadily eaten up by construction.
- Central Ground Water Board (CWGB) has conducted a study on Rapidly-depleting groundwater in 6584 blocks across the country. The CWGB assessment shows that groundwater in 1,034 of 6,584 blocks were over-exploited. More water was being drawn out annually than was being recharged. Further 934 blocks suffered from different stages of groundwater depletion. Tamil Nadu had the most number of over-exploited blocks but Punjab was the worst in percentage terms with over 75% of its assessed blocks falling in the over-exploited category.
Government of India has planned to implement a Water Conservation scheme Atal Bhoojal Yojana, with a fund of Rs.6,000 crores.
Punjab governments initially nudged the state‘s farmers into increasing paddy acreage by providing nearly-free electricity for pumping out groundwater and backing intensive MSP-driven procurement of paddy harvest. Now the Punjab state government is looking at steps to reduce the cultivation of water-intensive paddy. Recently the government has launched a pilot project in three villages under which digital meters will be installed on tube wells belonging to nearly 1,000 farmers in the three villages. Instead of compensating the state discoms for free power supply, the state will deposit certain amount of money in the accounts of the farmers. The farmers will be billed directly by the Discom on the basis of actual consumption. The state has entered into an agreement with experts from the World Bank, Punjab Agricultural University and various state departments.
- Rainfall in nw india in January 2018:
This showers are due to the interaction of western disturbances (cyclonic storms originating in the Mediterranean) and low-level easterlies. The current spell of rain in North and Central India will be beneficial to the standing Rabi crop, especially wheat.
- The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal.
- The tribunal will settle the row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing the waters of the Mahanadi River.
- The tribunal is expected to determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, present utilization of water resource in each State potential for future development.
- The tribunal will be setup as per the provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956.
- The Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other Members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.
- Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) is a journey of religious values and cultural importance for Hindus as they consider mount Kailash as Lord Shiva‘s Residence. Mount kailash is considered scared by Buddhists, Jains and followers of Bon religion. • Ministry of External Affairs organizes the Yatra during June to September each year through two different routes – Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand), and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim).Kailash is one of the highest parts of the world and close to the source of four mighty rivers of Asia – Indus,Sutlej,Brahmaputra and Ghaghra. Two sacred lakes- Lake Mansarovar and Rakhast Tal is found in the region.
- National River Conservation Plan • Under the National River Conservation Plan the river Sal project in Goa was sanctioned by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change The aim of the plan is to prevent pollution of rivers and improving water quality. • The activities under National River Conservation Plan include following 1. Sewage treatment plants for treating the diverted sewage. 2. Low cost sanitation works to prevent the open defecation on riverbanks. 3. Public awareness and public participation. 4. Electric crematoria to ensure proper cremation of the bodies brought to burning Ghats.
- ASH TRACK App • Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy launched a Web based monitoring System and a Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK. The Platform will provide a better interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc. • Fly ash, the end product of combustion during the process of power generation in the coal based thermal power plants. • It is a proven resource material for construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low-lying area development, etc. • Now the usage of flyash stands at 63% and the aim is to raise to 100 %.
- Gobar Dhan • During the budget, the finance minister announced the launch of ―GOBAR-Dhan‖ (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources-Dhan). The initiative has two objectives: • To make villages clean and generate wealth • Energy from cattle and other waste. • The GOBAR-Dhan initiative is expected to convert cattle dung and other organic waste to compost, biogas and even larger scale bio-CNG units. • The Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin will pilot this initiative.
- Operation Greens
Our Finance minister in his budget speech announced the ‗Operation Greens‘ on the lines of Operation Flood. • The main objective of the project, according to the finance ministry, is to reduce price volatility in agri commodities such as vegetables. • Operation Greens aims to promote farmer producers organizations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
- The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research and advocacy organization based in New Delhi.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has been ranked the top environment policy think tanks in India and 16th at the global level. • The rank was given by The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Global Seed Vault marks its 10-year anniversary by adding new seed samples from all over the world. • The Global Seed Vault is located deep inside a mountain on Svalbard, a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago. • Dubbed the ―Noah‘s Ark‖ of food crops the vault has the capacity to store up to 4.5 billion seeds.
- Wakhan Corridor
- The corridor is a narrow strip of inhospitable and barely accessible land in Afghanistan bordered by the mountains of Tajikistan and Pakistan, and extending all the way to China. • Wakhan corridor is known by its Persian name Bam-e-Dunya, or ―roof of the world. The area is populated by the Wakhins, members of a nomadic tribe in t he region.
- White -Naped tit bird
White-naped tit was the centre of attention at the 21st Indian Birding Fair, Jaipur. • White-Naped is a robust, strongly patterned, mainly black-and-white coloured bird with yellow in the flanks and sides of the breast • The white-naped tit (Machlolophusnuchalis) is endemic to India where it is found in dry thorn scrub forest in two disjunct populations, in western India and southern India. International Union For conservation of nature (IUCN) classifies the bird as vulnerable. • The Bird is considered vulnerable to extinction because of the scarcity of suitable habitats.
Virtually all of Australia‘s shellfish reefs have disappeared, making them the country‘s most threatened ocean ecosystem.
Shellfish reefs are made up of oysters and mussels.
They accrete dead shell material such that the reef grows in size and mass over time.
Just like coral reefs, they support the growth of important fish species whilst also helping to improve water quality and increase biodiversity.
The shellfish reef plays a crucial role in water filtration, increased local fish production, bank stabilization and sustaining biodiversity.
- Echindas • Echidnas, also called spiny anteaters, are mammals Echidnas are one of the world‘s oldest surviving mammals. • They are egg-laying mammals. • It is listed as ‗least concern‘ in IUCN classification.
- Antarctic Krill
- The krill population in the Antarctic is under threat, due to a combination of factors including industrial-scale fishing and climate change. Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant and successful animal species on Earth. The loss of krill could endanger the entire Antarctic ecosystems, with predators, especially penguins, in potential danger.
- New Plant species – West Bengal • Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India have identified a new plant species from Buxa and Jaldapara National Parks in West Bengal. The plant is named after former President Abdul Kalam as Drypetes kalamii. • It is a small shrub adding to the rich floral wealth of India. • The newly described plant is unisexual in nature, which means they have separate male and female plants. • The new species is found in wet, shaded areas of subtropical moist semi-evergreen forests, at a height ranging 50-100 meters. Being exclusive to these two parks, the plant is classified as critically endangered.
- Ring tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta)
- Lemurs are primates found only on the African island of Madagascar and some tiny neighboring islands. Ring-tailed lemurs have powerful scent glands and use their unique odor as a communication tool and even as a kind of weapon.
- It is under the endangered category in the IUCN red list.
- It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.
- Ring tailed lemurs is hunted for food and frequently kept as a pet.
- Wetlands International
Wetlands International coordinates the International Water bird census of which Asian Water bird census is an integral part. • It is a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. • It is one of the International Partner Organizations of the Ramsar Convention. • It was formerly known as International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB) and their scope included the protection of wetland areas.
- World Sustainable Development Summit 2018
The Prime Minister will soon inaugurate the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS 2018) in New Delhi. • WSDS is the flagship forum of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). • The theme of the 2018 Summit is ‗Partnerships for a Resilient Planet‘. • The ‗Greenovation Exhibition‘ at WSDS 2018 will showcase the latest technological advancements to meet Sustainable Development Goals. • The summit seeks to bring together on a common platform, global leaders and thinkers in the fields of sustainable development, energy and environment sectors. • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for sustainable development of India and the Global South. • TERI’s key focus lies in promoting clean energy, water management, pollution management, sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
The collision in the East China Sea that sank an Iranian tanker gave rise to an odd environmental disaster. • It is the largest oil spill in the decades yet hasn‘t attracted the global attention as it happened in a remote location in the high sea and also due to the type of petroleum spilt – condensate. • Condensate is a toxic, liquid byproduct of natural gas production and does not clump into black globules that can be easily spotted. • Absorbed into the water, it will remain toxic for a time; its exposure is extremely unhealthy to humans and potentially fatal.
India will host the official global World Environment Day celebrations on June 5. • The Theme of this year Environmental day will be ―Beat Plastic Pollution.
- World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Theme for 2018: “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”.
In focusing on the theme “wetlands for a sustainable urban future”, this year’s World Wetlands Day sheds light on the importance of wetlands for cities. Today, 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas. Forecasts expect the urban population to rise to 6.3 billion by 2050 – a more than eightfold increase since 1950. While the urban proportion of the world’s population will more than double from 1950 to 2050, the number of the world’s wetlands has already more than halved over the past 100 years
- The Centre has sanctioned a new project to control pollution in River Sal at Navelim town in Goa
- In a novel experiment, a group of farmers at the Lala Sanctuary in Kutch have decided not to use inorganic fertilizers and toxic pesticides so as to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB).
According to experts, when farmers use pesticides, GIB loses a major portion of its food — insects, locust, lizard among others — and the bird is forced to look for smaller insects in the grains, resulting in damage to the crops.
Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix
I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
This species was formerly widespread in India and Pakistan.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is in deliberation with the Ministry of Finance over the future of compensatory afforestation (CA) funds collected by the Centre.
Currently, the CA funds, amounting to roughly Rs 50,000 crore, are with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The ad hoc
body was created by the order of Supreme Court on July 10, 2009.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAF) has a provision for creating a national fund with contributions from user agencies—any person, organisation, company or department of the Central Government or state government making a request for diversion or de-notification of forest land for non-forest purpose.
According to the Act, the fund will be used for “compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value, catchment area treatment plan or any money for compliance of conditions stipulated by the Central Government while according approval under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.”
The CAMPA was created as National Advisory Council under the chairmanship of the environment minister for monitoring, technical assistance and evaluation of compensatory afforestation activities.
Lay down broad guidelines for State CAMPA.
Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by State CAMPA.
Make recommendations to State CAMPA based on a review of their plans and programmes.
Provide a mechanism to State CAMPA to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.
- The environment ministry has released the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017. The ISFR report is published every two years. The India State of Forest Report 2017 is the 15th such report in the series.
The report, however, for the first time contains information on decadal change in water bodies in forest during 2005-2015, forest fire, production of timber from outside forest, state wise carbon stock in different forest types and density classes.
Highlights of the report:
India’s forest cover increased by 6,778 sq km over the last two years. The increase, based on satellite data and subsequent ‘ground truthing’, has put the total forest cover at 7,08,273 sq km which is 21.54% of the country’s geographical area.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Telangana saw increase in their green footprint during the last two years though there is a worrying decline in six northeastern states, including a shrinkage of 630 sq km in the eastern Himalayas.
While overall green cover, including tree patches outside recorded forest areas, reported an incremental 1% increase (8,021 sq km) over the last assessment year in 2015, the quality of forests remain a hotly debated subject even as satellite monitoring has increased availability of data.
Taking into account the density (canopy covering branches and foliage formed by the crowns of trees), forest cover is divided into ‘very dense’, ‘moderately dense’ and ‘open’ forest. The ‘very dense’ forest cover has increased over the last assessment of 2015, but the ‘moderately dense’ category reported a decline — a sign which environmentalists consider quite worrying.
The report also shows the total mangrove cover stands at 4,921 sq km and has shown an increase of 181 sq km. All the 12 mangrove states have shown a positive change in the mangrove cover, as compared to the last assessment. Mangrove ecosystem is rich in biodiversity and provides a number of ecological services.
Facts for Prelims:
Report shows that three states – Andhra Pradesh, followed by Karnataka and Kerala – have shown the maximum increase in forest cover. On the other hand, forest cover in states like Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya has decreased in 2017 as compared to 2015.
The report notes that there was an increase of 2,647 sq km in the extent of water bodies over the decade (2005-15) with all states and Union Territories (UTs) showing an increase except Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh figure as the top three states reporting maximum increase in areas of water bodies including lakes and wetlands.
Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33%) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73%).
India may be endowed with 16 major forest types, and 221 types and sub-types based on the Champion and Seth classification, but retains very little of its ancient forests after centuries of pre-colonial and colonial exploitation. Latter-day development pressures are also taking their toll. Forest restoration should, therefore, aid the return of native vegetation.
Increase in forest cover over the years is in sync with India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the country would meet its target of creating additional carbon sink (2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent) through increase in forest and tree cover by 2030.
- The government has notified the draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules, 2018 to facilitate utilisation of over Rs50,000 crore among states to expand India’s forest cover. The draft rules, which come nearly one and half years after the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill was passed by Parliament in July 2016, specify the activities that would be allowed or restricted in a forest area.
Utilization of funds:
According to the proposed rules, 80% of the “net present value (NPV)” can be used for forest and wildlife management activities like assisted natural regeneration, artificial regeneration (by plantations), protection of plantations and forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention and others. 20% of the NPV, in a financial year, “shall be utilised for strengthening the forest and wildlife related infrastructure, capacity building of the personnel of state forest departments and other associated agencies and organisations involved in utilisation of these monies”.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016:
This act provides for setting up Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) at both central and state level to ensure expeditious and transparent utilization of amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
The act also seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state. The payments into the funds include compensatory afforestation, NPV, and any project-specific payments.
Environmentalists and forest rights activists have criticized the draft rules stating they violate the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.
They say these will result in further atrocities and crimes against tribals and forest dwellers.
FRA Act mandates that gram sabhas (village councils) have both the right and the power to protect, manage and conserve their forests.
- Swajal pilot project has been launched at Village Bhikampura, Karauli, Rajasthan.
Swajal is a community owned drinking water programme for sustained drinking water supply.
Under the scheme, 90% of the project cost will be taken care by the Government and the remaining 10% of the project cost will be contributed by the community. The Operations and management of the project will be taken care by the local villagers.
Besides ensuring the availability of clean drinking water to every
household round the year, the project would also generate employment.
- ‘Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological System (IAAMS)’ was recently inaugurated at INS Garuda. INS Garuda is the fourth air station to have been installed with this integrated system.
IAAMS is an ambitious project of the Indian Navy to modernise the Meteorological infrastructure of the nine Naval Air Stations. The IAAMS project at INS Garuda will give a major fillip to aviation safety through automation of weather monitoring process.
Equipped with the state of the art Meteorological Sensors viz., Radar Vertical Wind Profiler, Transmissometer, Ceilometer and Automatic Weather Observation System, IAAMS undertakes automatic and continuous recording of relevant weather parameters that are vital for accurate weather forecasting.
o It has a special alarm feature that alerts the duty staff about any abnormal change of weather parameters that may affect safe flying operations. The system can also provide automatic dissemination of routine weather reports of the air station as per World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards to other Air Stations and to ATC tower without human intervention.
- The Maharashtra government has approved Ghodazari in Chandrapur district as a new wildlife sanctuary in the state. The sanctuary, in the North East of Tadoba, will include 159 sq km of Brahmapuri forest.
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced the government’s plan to build a tunnel through the Sela Pass located at an elevation of 13,700 ft which will ensure faster movement of troops in Tawang, a strategically- located town in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China.
About the Sela pass: The Sela pass is located between the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh and considered crucial from strategic perspective. Sela Lake, near the summit of the pass, is one of approximately 101 lakes in the area that are sacred in Tibetan Buddhism.
It is a book authored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for students facing exams. It aims to get through to students across the country on the threshold of examinations, and hopes to help them thread the needle with ease.
- In a bid to conserve the dwindling rhododendron species of Tawang, a rhododendron park is being established in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Over 30 species of rhododendron will be planted and conserved in the park. It will also have a modern nursery, an information centre, resting sheds, and a parking facility, among other things.
About Rhododendron: Found in varied habitats from subtropical forest to alpine shrubs, rhododendrons range from dwarf shrubs to large trees. The smallest are R. nivale and R. pumilum at just 10 to 50 cm while the tallest species, R. arboretum grows over 40 metres tall.
- The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in collaboration with the Environmental Sanitation Institute and Tata Trusts, has developed a Sanitation Park in New Delhi.
Objective is to create awareness on various safe technological options.
The Park demonstrates various options pertaining to toilet technologies and solid and liquid waste management technologies, with a brief description of these technologies.
The Park also displays information regarding various interventions undertaken under the Swachh Bharat Mission, capturing the success stories and impact created under the Mission across the country.
- The 21st Indian Birding Fair is happening at the Man Sagar Lake, Rajasthan. This year, this fair is dedicated to the White Naped Tit bird, which is quite rare in Jaipur and are at the verge of extinction. White-Naped is a robust, strongly patterned, mainly black-and-white coloured bird with yellow in the flanks and sides of the breast. The bird is found in Udaipur and in some regions of Kutch as well. It is considered vulnerable to extinction because of the scarcity of suitable habitats.
- Scientists have discovered three new species of eel along the northern Bay of Bengal coast in the past few months. Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. Across the world about 1,000 species of eels have been identified. In India, the number is around 125.