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1. Disaster Resilient Infrastructure 

Challenges to climate-resilient infrastructure

  • Financing infrastructure projects is the biggest challenge with current infrastructure gap standing at $526 billion (Economic Survey 2017-18).

  • Huge uncertainties surrounding the scale, timing and nature of exactly how the climate might change raises the question: what should our infrastructure be adapted to?

  • There is no codification of what makes infrastructure climate resilient.

  • Prioritizing short-term measures to gain political traction leads to neglecting long-term planning needed to tackle climate change.

 

Way forward:

  • Promote R&D to better understand climate change and codify climate-resilient infrastructure to fill the information gap.

  • Make the most vulnerable and marginalised aware of the impacts of climate change.

  • Use innovative instruments like green bonds, PPP to raise finances for climate adaptation.

  • Inculcate climate change adaptation in developmental process with regular social audits by civil society and local people.

 

Conclusion:

  • Natural calamities caused by climate change take a great toll on human and animal life and property; hence, it needs to be tackled with every possible means at our disposal. Climate-resilient infrastructure is one such intervention which will go a long way in reducing the impact of climate change.

 

Background

  • Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) identifies investing in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for resilience and to “build back better” in reconstruction as priorities.

  • In the 10-point agenda announced by the Indian government during Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (2016), the first point focused on ‘working to ensure that all development projects are built to appropriate standards and contribute to the resilience of communities they seek to serve.”

  • An estimate suggests that India needs about $1.5 trillion investment in the infrastructure sector in the coming 10 years which is going to pose a challenge since the country is prone to many disasters like earthquakes, floods, cyclones, etc.

  • SDG Goal 9 recognizes disaster resilient infrastructure as a crucial driver of economic growth and development.

 

What is DRI?

  • Infrastructure that can stand any huge damage from any kind of natural disaster is known as Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. It encompasses structural and non-structural measures.

  • Structural Measures involve adjusting engineering designs and standards to reflect disaster risk such as flood control systems, protective embankments, seawall rehabilitation, and retrofitting of buildings.

  • Non-structural measures refer to risk-sensitive planning, enabling institutional frameworks, hazard mapping, ecosystem-based management, and disaster risk financing. Steps to be taken

 

Primarily, there needs to be efforts in four broad thematic areas which include:

  • On Disaster Risk Assessment- It would require good, time-series data on past hazards patterns (e.g. wind speeds, high flood levels) and capability to analyse this data to generate probabilistic risk assessments that can guide investment in disaster resilient infrastructure.

  • On standards of design & implementation- The national frameworks for design and construction standards must reflect the evolving understanding of natural hazards as well as advancements in engineering technologies.

  • On financing new infrastructure and mechanisms for covering risks- Disaster Risk Financing strategy could include budget reserve funds as well as disaster risk transfer instruments like catastrophic bonds.

  • On reconstruction and recovery of infrastructure after disasters- The “Build Back Better” principle must be followed not only for the structural design of the infrastructure but also in terms of management systems around it.

 

2. Indian Tsunami Early Warning System

More Details on ITEWS

  • Tsunami is a system of ocean gravity waves formed as a result of large scale disturbance of sea bed, mostly due to earth quake, submarine landslide or volcanic eruptions.

  • Indian Ocean is likely to be affected by tsunamis generated mainly from the earthquakes from two potential source regions, the Andaman-Nicobar-Sumatra Island Arc and the Makran Subduction Zone.

  • The presence of the tsunami genic zones increases the vulnerability of Indian coastline to the Oceanic hazards.

  • In response to the event such as December 2004 earthquake and tsunami, state-of-art Indian Tsunami Early Warning System at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Centre (INCOIS), Hyderabad was established.

 

Components of ITEWS

  • It comprises of a real time network of seismic stations, tsunami buoys, Bottom Pressure Recorder, Tide gauge and 24X7 operational warning centre to detect tsunami-genic earthquake and monitor tsunami.

  • INCOIS has also put in place a fail-safe satellite-based communication system; Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs), a computer-based earthquake alert and web access system etc. which is capable of sending messages and triggering built in siren alert system audible for up to 1 km.

  • It is capable of sending tsunami warning in less than 10 minutes after any major earthquake of 5 magnitude and above in Indian Ocean as well as in the Global Oceans.

  • ITEWS acts as a Regional Tsunami Advisory Service Provider along with Australia and Indonesia for the Indian Ocean region.

 

3. Urban Heat Island

More on the report

  • An analysis of satellite images shows that massive holes are formed in the fog over Delhi each year in the winter months of December and January.

  • Every winter, the whole of north India is covered by dense fog. But a phenomenon called urban heat island is burning holes in this layer of fog over New Delhi and other cities on the Indo-Gangetic Plain.

  • Its effect is so strong in Delhi that it saw 50 per cent less fog than surrounding areas.

  • The term "heat island" describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby surrounding areas.

 

The major factors responsible for UHI:

  • Direct pollution: From various sources of heat in city from fires, industry, home, agriculture burning in surround areas.

  • Absorption of heat: Heat conserving properties of the bricks, fabric and concrete materials of the city

  • Urban geometry: The height and spacing of buildings affects the amount of radiation received and emitted by urban infrastructure. The tall buildings within many urban areas provide multiple surfaces for the reflection and absorption of sunlight, increasing the intensity with which urban areas are heated.

  • Blanketing effect by atmospheric pollution on outgoing radiation

  • Lack of vegetation in urban region reduces the natural cooling effect from the shade and evapotranspiration.

  • Increase in demand for Energy: Increased temperatures during summer in cities amplify energy demand for air conditioning contributing to higher electricity consumption.

  • Increase in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution: Increased energy demand increases the production of energy from fossils fuels and thermal power plants leading to air pollution in surrounding areas.

  • Discomfort and danger to human health: Health is impacted due to general exhaustion, heat strokes, heat cramps, headaches and respiratory problems.

  • Secondary impacts on weather and climate: This includes changes of local wind patterns, formation of fog and clouds, precipitation rates and humidity. The unusual heat can lead to intense vertical movement of air leading to thunderstorms and precipitation

  • Impact on Plants, Forest and animals: High temperatures may create disturbances on biological life of plants

 

Effects of UHI on urban areas

  • How to counter UHI effect from the region?

  • Use of light-colored concrete and white roofs: to increase the albedo.

  • Use of green roofs: The roof of a building is partially or completely covered with vegetation which absorbs rainwater; provides insulation helping to lower urban air temperatures.

  • Construction of green buildings: These should be constructed in a manner that is resource-efficient, environmentally sustainable. For e.g.: Efficient use of sun light within the building to lower the overall energy usage of the building thus reducing the effect of UHI.

  • Planting trees in cities: Trees provide shade, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and fresh air, and provide a cooling effect.

  • Improvement in technologies and infrastructure: By promoting fuel efficiency to reduce the emission. Adhering to higher standards of emission norms like Bharat Stage VI.

 

4. Carbon Sink

  • A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration.

  • Carbon Sequestration is the process by which CO2 is captured from the atmosphere for long-term storage to slow down the accumulation of greehouse gases. E.g.: Afforestation, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) techniques.

Background

  • Step taken to increase Carbon Sink by GOI

  • Green India mission under NAPCC is implementing the plan to plant 10 million hectares by 2030. This will create carbon sinks to the tune of 2.5 billion tons.

  • CAMPA Fund: It will be used for afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.

  • National Afforestation Program: It is being implemented for afforestation of degraded forest lands

  • Nagar Vana Udyan Yojana: A minimum of 25 hectares of forests will be created in the city.

  • A National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change: To assist State and Union Territories vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation.

  • “Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India” by Department of Space. This provides detailed information on the present land use, and the severity of land degradation in different states from 2005 to 2013 which will provide the basis for future land use in the country.

  • According to Paris Climate Agreement, India has pledged to create a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. However, it has been found that India is likely to miss its target.

  • According to IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) India is most vulnerable to the impact of climate change adversely impacting the health, economic development and food security.

  • According to India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015 total forest and tree cover is 24.16 % of the total geographical area, which should be 33% as envisioned under National Forest Policy 1988.

 

Catchment treatment plan & its significance

  • Catchment area (area from which all precipitation flows to a single stream or set of streams) can act as a natural carbon sinks that can sequester substantial amounts of atmospheric CO2 in the form of organic carbon in the soil.

  • Improving catchment of water can be done through o Biological Intervention

  • The carbon stock in India is roughly 7 billion tonnes, equivalent to 25.66 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

  • 65% of carbon stock is stored in soil, and 35% in trees.

  • As per global carbon capture and storage(CCS) institute, India is one among 24 developing countries that are currently engaged in CCS activities such as capacity development, planning and pre-investment and project development. through afforestation drive and increasing soil porosity through vermiculture etc. as porous soil is able to hold more water than compacted soil.

  • Employing mechanical means such as check dams, underground reservoirs or cement slabs that can channelise the rainwater further into the soil. Planned management of catchment areas will prevent soil erosion, help recharge groundwater and deter forest fires by retaining moisture in the soil.

  • It will minimise human-animal conflict since such a plan will increase availability of water and fodder inside forests and recharge groundwater.

 

5. Leed For Cities

​​About LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

  • It is an international certification run by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which provides a framework to building owners and operators for identifying and implementing practical green building solutions.

  • It concentrates its efforts on improving performance across five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings.

 

About LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities

  • These are expansion of LEED designed to be applicable to cities, communities, neighborhoods, districts, townships and counties.

  • These will track performance on energy use, waste management, water, transport and even quality of life.

  • These frameworks require a community or a city to set goals, and implement strategies and plans to maintain and support these goals.

  • The city or community then uses an online platform to share performance data to measure and track progress toward those goals, thus focusing on outcomes rather than pledges.

  • For certification, projects will track and report key metrics across five categories- Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation and Human experience including Education, Prosperity, Equitability, and Health & Safety.

 

1.6. ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE INDEX

About Environmental Performance Index

  • It is biennial index produced jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

  • The EPI ranks countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 issue categories.

  • Switzerland is ranked first followed by France and Denmark

  • The 2018 Report on India

  • India fell 36 points lower as compared to 141 rank in 2016

  • The low rank of emerging economies including China (120) and India (177) indicates strain population pressures and rapid economic growth impose on the environment.

  • Moreover, India ranks 178 out of 180 countries as far as air quality is concerned. Its overall low ranking was linked to poor performance in the environment health policy and deaths due to air pollution categories.

 

7. Himalayan Research Fellowships Scheme

About the scheme

  • Aim: The scheme aims to create a young pool of trained environmental managers, ecologists and socio-economists. This pool will help generate information on physical, biological, managerial and human aspects of Himalayan environment and development.

  • Implementation: The fellowship scheme will be executed through various universities and institutions working in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) and preference will be given to the Institutions from north-eastern states.

  • Funding: The financial support will be provided under the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) and the fellowships will be awarded for a maximum period of three years.

  • Focus areas: The research may be undertaken in any of the identified broad thematic areas (BTAs) of the NMHS such as water resource management including rejuvenation of springs and catchments, hydropower development, assessment and prediction of water-induced hazards, livelihood options including ecotourism opportunities, biodiversity management including recovery of threatened species and skill development.

 

Other major Government steps to protect Himalayan Ecosystem

  • The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims to continuously assess the health status of the Himalayan Ecosystem and enable policy bodies in their policy-formulation functions

  • The Union Government has launched SECURE Himalaya, a six-year project to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in high Himalayan ecosystem.

  • National Mission for saving and sustaining Himalayan Eco-System and develop carbon sinks through a forestation in 2010.

  • Himalayan Ecosystem is the world's highest montane ecosystem extending for more than 3000 Kms. The biodiversity is very rich in Himalayan ecosystem. Some of the floral and faunal species include Oak, Rhododendron, Walnut, Juniper, Snow Leopard, Musk deer etc. A large part of Himalaya has been declared as biodiversity hot spot.

January Environmental Issues

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