top of page

1. India State Of Forest Report 2017

  • Recently, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released the biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017, prepared by Forest Survey of India (FSI). Key findings

  • Forest cover:  India is ranked 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land area under forest (21.53%) and tree cover. The target is to achieve 33% of area under forest cover.

  • There is an increase of 1% (8,021 sq km) in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015.

  • The maximum increase in forest cover has been observed in Very Dense Forest (VDF) followed by increase in forest cover in open forest (OF).

  • The agro-forestry and private forestry has also shown expansion. There is a jump from 42.77m3 in the 2011 assessment to 74.51m3 in timber production in ‘Trees outside Forests’ (TOF) category.

  • Forest cover in states:

  • 15 states/UTs have above 33% of geographical area under forest cover. About 40% of country’s forest cover is present in 9 large contiguous patches of the size of 10, 000 sq.km, or more.

  • 7 States/UTs have more than 75% forest cover: Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur.

  • 8 States/UTs have forest cover between 33% to 75%: Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam.

  • The three leading States with maximum Forest cover (in terms of area): Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

  • States with highest Forest cover in terms of percentage geographical area: Lakshadweep (90.33%), Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (81.73%) Aichi biodiversity targets They are a series of goals that were set in 2010 at a Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting for protection and conservation of biodiversity.

  • Target 11:

  • By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial & inland water, and 10% of coastal & marine areas, are conserved through systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Protected Area Network in India: provided under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

  • Sanctuary is an area which is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance. It is declared for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment. Certain rights to people living inside the Sanctuary could be permitted.

  • The National Park is like that of a Sanctuary. However in a National Park, no rights are allowed.

  • Conservation Reserves can be declared by the State Governments in any area owned by the Government, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and Sanctuaries and those areas which link one Protected Area with another. The rights of people living inside a Conservation Reserve are not affected.

  • Community Reserves can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land, not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat. The rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected.

  • Mandatorily providing 4 hectares of land to displaced family

  • No eviction of tribals from forest area until alternate land is provided

  • Completion of the entire rehabilitation and relocation exercise within three years Refer January 2018 Current Affairs for Forest Rights

 

2. Doubling Of Protected Areas

  • Present status At present protected areas are 729 in number & cover 4.9% or 162,072 sq. km of India’s geographical area. About 0.3% of EEZ (exclusive economic zone) is under Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in India.

  • Why needed? India’s network of protected areas is far below the “Aichi Target”. Protected areas are the last refuges of endangered wildlife. They also provide ecosystem services being river watersheds and sequestering carbon. Competing use of land will put more pressure on forests in future. To tackle climate change and Global warming effect. Also, increase in forest cover is declared under India’s INDCs.

  • Way forward States such as Uttar Pradesh (2.4 %), Rajasthan (2.8 %), Jharkhand (2.7 %), West Bengal (3.2 %), Bihar (3.4 %), Madhya Pradesh (3.5 %), Tamil Nadu (4.1 %), which have contributed less than the national average to the network of projected area, may be requested to achieve the average national target of at least 5% of their geographical area under the four protected area categories. Some of the critical marine area within territorial water of India can be considered for declaring as sanctuaries whereas a large marine area can be covered under conservation reserve. While India has done well in conserving some species like tiger, it needs to up its ante as far as Protected Area Network is concerned, where its neighbours like Bhutan and Nepal fare better than our 5% (of land under PA). However, a mere declaration is not sufficient, we need actual protection.

 

3. Draft Rules For Compensatory Afforestation Act, 2016

  • Background

  • Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act came into force in 2016. 57  

 

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016

  • It established National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (NCAF) under the Public account of India and State Compensatory Afforestation Funds under public accounts of states. These funds will receive payments for: o compensatory afforestation, o net present value of forest (NPV), o Other project specific payments. The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%. The funds will be non-lapsable and interest bearing by the rate decided by central government on a yearly basis. 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 Act provides statutory status for two ad-hoc institution, namely; o National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for management and utilisation of NCAF. o State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority for utilisation of State Compensatory Afforestation Fund.

  • The act also seeks to provide for constitution of a multi-disciplinary monitoring group to monitor activities undertaken from these funds. The act also provides for annual audit of the accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Recently Forest Survey of India has taken an initiative namely, e-green watch, for online monitoring of various afforestation works being carried out by state forest departments under CAMPA. Over Rs. 50,000 crore has been collected under CAMPA fund in lieu of forest land diverted to non-forest purposes such as industrial projects like mining. Currently State receives only 10% of funds to use for afforestation and forest conservation, as against the Act’s promise of 90%. Highlight of the rules Allowed Activities:

  • 80% of the accumulated funds can be utilized by states for 12 listed activities which include protection of plantations and forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention and control operations, improvement of wildlife habitat, relocation of villages from protected areas etc.

  • While remaining 20% will be used to strengthen forest and wildlife related infrastructure, capacity building of the personnel of state forest departments and other associated agencies and organisations. Prohibited activities: Funds cannot be used for certain activities like payment of salary and travelling allowances to regular state forest department employees, undertaking foreign visits etc.

  • Accountability Framework: Forest bureaucracy would be accountable for any lapse on the part of state in carrying out compensatory afforestation exercise in a time-bound manner. Usage of Interest accrued on the amount available in state fund:

  • 60% of it shall be spent for six activities for conservation and development of forest and wildlife while the 40% will be spent for the non-recurring and recurring expenditure of the state authority, with the approval of the steering committee of the said authority. Consultation with gram sabha or Van Sanrakshan Samiti (VSS) or village forest committee: while taking up afforestation or plantation projects in forest land under the control of forest department and being managed under a working plan with participation of local people Managing national and state fund:

  • The National fund will be managed according to the provisions of Government Accounting Rule, 1990, and the General Financial Rules, 2017. The state fund will be managed according to provisions of the state financial rules or any such rules notified by the state or union territory government and as per the guidelines issued by the national authority. Issues with compensatory afforestation Violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006: Draft rules tend to bypass Gram Sabha through VSS, which is not a legal body, over lack of clarity over consultation mechanism.

  • It also enables the forest bureaucracy to entrench its control over forests and subvert democratic forest governance established by the FRA Act, 2006 and PESA Act, 1996 Lack of monitoring mechanism for expenditure from funds: despite findings of Comptroller and Auditor General in 2013 about massive misutilization of funds by the forest department. Capacity building of state forest departments: as utilisation of 90% of funds depend on it and they lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation  

  • Hydroponics It is a subset of hydroculture, which means growing of plants in a soil less medium or in an aquatic based environment. It uses minerals and nutrients present in solution to feed the plants in water without soil. Thus, plants grow only on sunlight and water. Wetlands in India According to Ramsar Convention, wetland is defined as, “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6 metres". World Wetland Day is observed every year on 2nd February. This day marks the adoption of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

  • The theme of 2018 is “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future” Difficulty in procuring land: as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc. The problem is compounded by unclear land titles. Low quality forest cover: compensatory afforestation cannot make up for the ecological value lost by cutting the existing forests. Also, computing the appropriate NPV of a forest is a challenge. Increase atrocities against tribals and forest dwellers: as it create scope for illegal plantations by forest departments and the joint forest management committees.

 

4. Floating Treatment Wetland

  • What are FTWs?

  • FTWs are buoyant structures or rafts of wetland vegetation that are deployed in water bodies such as ponds and lakes with permanent pool of water. These plants are perennial non-invasive emergent plants which mimic the functions of natural wetlands. However, in contrast to the traditional wetlands the roots of the plants do not take root in soil however they stay suspended in water column in order to allow plants to adjust to the water fluctuations without any harm. Various plants grown on FTW are vetivers, canna, cattails, bulrush, citronella, hibiscus, fountain grass, flowering herbs, tulsi and ashwagandha. Significance –

  • Helps to purify the lake by breaking down and consuming the organic matter in water with the help of micro-organisms growing in the plant root system of FTW through microbial decomposition o Reduces the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of the lake o Reduces the growth of algae by restricting sun rays seeping into the lake o Improves the biodiversity of the lake The Neknampur plant, based on the soil-less hydroponic technique, has been recognised by the India Book of Records as the largest FTW in the country.

 

5. OLIVE RIDLEY NEST AT RUSHIKULYA

​​About Olive Ridley

  • It is best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach each year to lay eggs. It is included in Vulnerable category by the IUCN Red list because they nest in a very small number of places, and thus, any disturbance to even one nest beach could have huge repercussions on the entire population.

  • They are found along both- eastern and western coasts of India. Two other major nesting sites in Odisha are - coast along Gahirmatha beach (the largest mass nesting site) and the mouth of the Debi river Trading in products of Olive Ridley is banned under CITES.

  • The species is also a protected animal under Schedule 1 of India's Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Threats faced by Olive Ridleys: 59  

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

  • It is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It is legally binding but it does not take the place of national laws. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.

  • Accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches.

  • Development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres.

  • Poaching for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs. Steps taken by Government Making use of Turtle Excluder Devices(TEDs) mandatory for fishermen to reduce accidental killing of these turtles Temporary fences have been erected on a stretch of 4.5 km to prevent predators

  • Continued Patrolling at sea to check the entry of fishing trawlers in meeting zone Streamlining and regulating tourist flowto the nesting coasts

 

6. Red Sanders

  • Red Sanders Pterocarpus santalinus or Red Sanders is an endemic tree of South India. They are found in Tropical Dry Deciduous forest of the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh and also found in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Red Sanders

  • Usually grow in the rocky, degraded and fallow lands with Red Soil and hot and dry climate. IUCN has put it under the category of endangered species in the Red List due to the dwindling population because of illegal felling and smuggling.

  • It is used for various purposes such as immunity medicine, furniture, radiation absorbent, musical instrument, food dyes and spices, Ayurveda and Sidha medicine, decorative and ornamental purposes etc. It is a rare kind of sandalwood, high in demand internationally due to its red colored wood. The major markets for the wood are – China, Japan, Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal. Its export is banned in India in accordance with the CITES and Wildlife Protection Act 1972. However, its smuggling is rife and is rampant in the southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

 

7. World Sustainable Development Summit 2018

  • The World Sustainable Development Summit is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

  • World Sustainable Development Summit is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.

  • It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.

  • It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.

  • It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.

 

About World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS)

  • It is a flagship forum of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) which has been conceptualised as a single platform to accelerate actions towards sustainable development and climate change. It seeks to bring together global leader and thinkers on a common platform on various issues of sustainable development such as transition to clean energy, effective waste management mechanisms, combating air pollution etc. It has been built on the success of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was the leading forum for discussing sustainable development issues. The theme for 2018 event is 'Partnerships for a Resilient Planet'.

 

Energy Transitions Commission India (Etc India)

  • It was launched by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) on the sidelines of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) 2018. It is a unique, high-level, multi-stakeholder platform with experts from diverse fields to suggest pathways for energy and electricity sector transitions in India This is inspired by the work of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and its flagship project the New Climate Economy.

  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) It is a non-profit, scientific and policy research organization located in Delhi in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development issues since 1974. Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) was conceived by TERI and developed with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, is a national rating system for green buildings in India. 61   It is the first country-specific Commission and thus can act as a model for other emerging economies as they seek to move to renewable energy sources. It will also help in a change towards low-carbon energy systems that enable robust economic development and limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

 

8. ASH TRACK

  • About the Platforms These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc. The ASH TRACK App would be managing 200 million tonnes of fly ash by tracking coal based power plants situated within 100 km and 300 km from given location and availability of fly ash, along with prospective users within the same radius. The App gives plant-wise, utility-wise and State-wise ash utilization status in the country. The thermal plants are required to regularly update fly ash generation, utilisation and stock on the web portal and the app.

  • Facts on Fly Ash It is a fine powder, which is the by-product of burning coal in thermal power plants. It is a proven resource material for many applications of 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. It can be advantageously used in agriculture as an agent for acidic soils, as soil conditioner — improving upon some important physico-chemical properties of the soil such as hydraulic conductivity, bulk density, porosity, water holding capacity, etc. India is still not able to match the potential of its fly ash use. As per a recent study by CSE only 50- 60% of the fly ash generated is being utilized. Following steps have been taken to utilize its potential:

  • 2009 notification of MoEF provided guidelines on ash utilization advocating its usage within 100 km radius of thermal power plants. o New and innovative uses are also taking place- especially initiated by power companies like NTPC in collaboration with Institutes like IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur e.g. Manufacture of pre-stressed railway concrete sleepers

  • Maharashtra became the first state in the country to adopt the Fly Ash Utilization Policy and has decided to come up with an export policy for fly ash in the light of demand from places like Singapore and Dubai.

 

9. Heat Wave

  • More on news In view of this forecast, NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) is preparing states to deal with Heat Wave 2018. The instances of heat wave have been increasing. According to Ministry of Earth & Science (MoES) there were 74 days of severe heatwave on an average between 1961 and 1970, peaking to 98 days between 2001 and 2010. According to Global Climate Risk Index 2018, India is the sixth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of facing extreme weather events [storms, floods and temperature extremes (heat and cold waves)] 62   Normal Temperatures: It refers to the mean temperatures during those months between 1981 and 2010. Heat Wave: According to NDMA, It’s a period of abnormally high temperatures (more than the normal maximum temperature) that occurs during the summer season, with the resultant atmospheric conditions causing physiological stress, and sometimes death, among affected populations.

  • Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) classification of heat wave: Heat wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40ºC for Plains and at least 30ºC for Hilly regions. When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40ºC o

  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 5º C to 6º C o

  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 7º C or more When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40º C o

  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4º C to 5º C o

  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 6º C or more When actual maximum temperature remains 45ºC or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat wave is declared.

  • Impacts of Heat Waves: It typically involves health impacts such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. It claimed 4620 deaths between 2013 and 2016.

  • Heat Wave Vulnerability Index Index was published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, in 2017 It can be used by planners, policymakers, and disaster mitigation experts in protecting the public from the health burden of heat.

  • Reason for Heat Waves Weather Phenomenon: In summer season, there is an upper air anti-cyclone over Rajasthan and Gujarat. It sucks hot dry desert air which gets transported to Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.

  • El Nino Impact: Studies have linked an increase in heat waves to more increase in El Nino events, or years marked by an anomalous heating in the Central Pacific Ocean.

  • Indian Ocean temperatures are also rising faster than the other ocean which might be reducing moisture over the Indian mainland, thus playing some part in longer stretches of hot days.

  • Other Reason: Deforestation, the urban heat-island effect, and industrial pollution are also blamed for exacerbating heat waves NDMA's Guidelines for Preparation of Action Plan – Prevention and Management of Heat-Wave Enabling an early Warning System that provides advance forecast about high temperatures and impending heatwaves

  • Drafting and Developing Heat Action Plan by states: with participation from State and district government leaders, municipal health agencies, disaster management authorities and local partners.

  • Appointment of a State Nodal Agency and Officer: at the State or district levels to oversee the Heat Action Plan

  • Vulnerability Assessment and Establishing Heat-Health Threshold Temperatures: To identify vulnerable areas and populations in order to establish priorities and minimum thresholds for heat alerts and activities. Inter-agency cooperation and engagement: Develop a clearly defined inter-agency emergency response plan with roles and information flows clearly marked out.

  • Implementation and Monitoring: Government along with public should be made are responsible for implement and monitor the components of a heat action plan Evaluating and Updating the Plan: After every heat season, state must assess the efficacy of its heat action plan and updated it annually by incorporating feedback from stakeholders. Strategies for Reducing Extreme Heat Exposures and Adapting to Climate Change (Long term plans): States should consider mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of extreme heat, such as increasing the green cover in a city to reduce urban heat island effect etc.

  • Improving preparedness of local level health system: by capacity building Of Health-Care Professionals to treat people with heat-related complications Undertaking public awareness and community outreach initiatives: involving various media, non-government and civil society etc.

  • Pollutants covered under NAAQS Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide, lead, Ozone, PM10, PM2.5, carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Arsenic, Benzene, Benzopyrene, Nickel. Central Pollution Control Board It is statutory organisation constituted in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Functions To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.

  • Way Forward Limiting temperature rise to 1°C: Adherence to Paris Agreement and limiting global mean temperature below 2°C might also cause a 30-fold increase in severe heat wave frequency by the end of the century. Strengthening state government’s capacity to improve their mitigation preparedness in the same way as Ahmedabad which has adopted Heat Action Plan on the lines of guidelines by NDMA. Get institutional support by Inclusion of heat waves in the notified list of natural disasters Promotion of traditional adaptation practices such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes. Popularization of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks and insulating housing materials.

 

10. Green Skill Development Programme

  • Some are hosted by environment-related governmental and non-governmental organisations/ institutes of professional excellence, with varied thematic mandates pertaining to environment, called the ENVIS Resource Partners (RPs).

  • Green Skills: Green skills are those skills needed to adapt products, services and processes to climate change and the related environmental requirements and regulations. They include the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. (OECD definition) These skills are required in areas such as such as Renewable energy, Waste water treatment, Climate resilient cities, Green construction, Solid waste management etc.

  • More on news Utilising the vast network and expertise of ENVIS Hubs/RPs, the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has taken up an initiative for skill development in the environment and forest sector to enable India's youth to get gainful employment and/or self-employment, called the Green Skill Development Programme(GSDP). After a pilot project in 2017, now ministry has taken following steps to expand it:

  • Door to door collection coverage is scanty at best, and segregation at household level is a rarity.

  • Collection even from community bins is not regular. Collection efficiency is low.

  • Processing is limited to very small portion of the waste.

  • Dumping is done in land-fills without any regard for environment and without following scientific methods of disposal. Such inadequate disposal practice lead to problems that will impair human and animal health and result in economic, environmental and biological losses. 

  • Improper waste management causes public health and environmental hazards like climate change, air and water pollution, soil contamination, spreads odours and disease, and breeds vermin including flies, mosquitoes, rats, dogs and monkeys.

  • Increased budget allocation for ENVIS in budget 2018-19 by 33%. Out of this, the training courses under GSDP will be funded. o Increased target: A total of 5 lakh 60 thousand people will be imparted training between 2018-19 and 2020-21.

  • More green skills now: The government has identified 35 courses including pollution monitoring (air/water/noise/soil), effluent treatment plant operation, forest management, water budgeting etc.

  • Skilling the unskilled: By 2022 India will need around 10.4 crores of new workforce in various sectors and hence skill development is prerequisite to meet the demand.

  • The trainees of this programme can also be exposed for the expertise on wildlife conservation, nurseries, horticulture etc. and can be absorbed with Department of Environment and Forests of the State Governments as well Focus on equity: the programme aims to train youth who have not been able to continue higher education due to different financial or social constraints but has an urge to learn new things and do something fruitful.

  • The green skilled workforce having technical knowledge and commitment to sustainable development will help in attainment of SDGs, INDCs and National Biodiversity Targets. Green skill is crucial for making a transition from energy and emission intensive economy to cleaner and greener production and service patterns.

February Environmental Issues

bottom of page