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1. Community Forest Resource

Finding of report

  • Poor implementation: Only seven states have formally recognized the rights of forest dwelling communities (Only 3% of potential areas) to manage and govern their forest resources with huge disparities among states.

  • Global Acceptance of CFR: As of 2013, at least 15.5%, of the world’s forests were under some form of community control.

  • CFR governance helping forest conservation: Forest-dependent communities have adopted an innovative practice to manage their CFR areas, among which protection from forest fires and the protocols for sustainable harvest of NTFPs are common to most Gram Sabhas.

  • Improving Livelihood: CFR has increased collective bargaining power of community which has helped in alleviating poverty and reverses the trend of migration from forest areas.

  • Increasing new employment opportunities in CFR areas: A bottom-up approach plans by Gram Sabha for development plan is creating huge employment opportunity for its members in the CFR areas.

  • Strengthening PVTG Status: Members from particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) are benefitted from inclusive approach under Act, which provide them a sustain source of livelihood and mainstreaming in the development process of country.

 

Challenges

  • Operational Challenges: Communities have often faced stiff resistance from forest departments in attempts to assert CFR rights despite approval from gram sabhas.

  • Administrative reluctances: The state and district administration have taken little initiatives to scale up the recognition of CFR rights or support CFR management in the country.

  • Fencing of CFR areas to avoid case of ‘encroachment’, when a group of outsiders from a nomadic community camped inside the village’s CFR with their livestock.

  • Unscientific Plans: Concerns among the department officials about ecological integrity and scientific rigour in the CFR plans of gram sabhas, as sometimes their plans are for short term gains rather than long-term sustenance.

 

Conflicting legislations and orders:

  • Conflicts between Ministry of Tribal Affairs and MoEF&CC: National Tiger Conservation Authority order in March 2017, denied forest rights to communities in critical tiger habitats.

  • Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, prohibits (and prescribes punishment) for activities such as grazing and removal of forest produce, FRA, on the other hand, legitimizes the use of forests for grazing and collection and sale of NTFPs

  • Different legislations in states for collection and trade of NTFP's.

  • Poor Financial health of concerned departments in States: A total of Rs 26.54 crore have been approved to five states which is insufficient for proper implementation of ACT.

  • Lack of Awareness: Most gram sabhas eligible for CFR rights are not aware of the full potential of CFR rights

  • Infrastructure and Marketing constraints: Connectivity to market is a major challenges as it constraint future prospect of minor produce sale and production.

 

Way Forward

  • Convergence of Plans and procedure: CFR management should be integrated into existing government’s programmes like MGNREGA, National Bamboo Mission, National Horticulture Mission, Aspirational District program etc. so that the flow of funds to gram sabhas becomes an institutionalized practice.

  • Use of technology: GPS devices can be used by the villages in identifying and mapping locations in their CFR areas that need intervention.

  • Adopting best practices: Many states can learn from other in effective implementation of FRA, as CFR rights can revitalise rural economy, create employment and develop sustainable business models from forestry.

  • CAMPA fund can be utilized strengthening CFR activities like fund for fire protection work in the CFR areas.

  • Develop guidelines for the role of government departments in CFR areas to explicitly clarify the role of government as facilator and support CFR governance processes without undermining the autonomy and authority of gram sabhas

  • Develop a new framework for CFR governance: Ministry of Tribal Affairs should develop a framework to ensure ecological sustainability, financial transparency and social equity in CFR governance.

  • Build capacity and leadership of CFRMCs: To provide them information on the best methods to tap the potential of these areas to improve their livelihoods as well as health of the forests.

  • Resolve the timber debate in CFR areas: Gram sabhas should be allowed to sustainably harvest and sell timber in their CFR areas with proper checks and balances mechanism in place to ensure that illegal timber exploitation does not happen inside CFR areas.

  • Develop a multi-tier FRA monitoring and information system: rigorous well-designed web-based information system is needed to ensure successful implementation, disseminating cross learning and monitoring the impact of FRA initiatives on local livelihoods and forest health.

 

2. National Policy On Biofuels-2018

  • Biofuel is any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from organic matter in a short period of time. This is in contrast with fossil fuels, which take millions of years to form. Biofuels are considered renewable form of energy as it emits less than fossil fuels. Different generation biofuels:

  • First Generation Biofuels: It uses the food crops like wheat and sugar for making ethanol and oil seeds for bio diesel by conventional method of fermentation.

  • Second Generation Biofuels: It uses non-food crops and feedstock such as Wood, grass, seed crops, organic waste are used in fuel preparation.

  • Third Generation Biofuels: It uses specially engineered Algae whose biomass is used to convert into biofuels. The greenhouse gas emission here will be low in comparison to others.

  • Fourth Generation biofuel: It aimed at not only producing sustainable energy but also a way of capturing and storing CO2.

 

Different types of Bio Fuels:

  • Bio ethanol: It is an alcohol produced from fermentation of carbohydrate and cellulosic material of crops and other plants and grasses. It is generally used as an additive to increase octane number of fuel.

  • Bio Diesel: It is a methyl or methyl ester of fatty acids produced by trans esterification of oils and fats obtained from plants and animals. It can be directly used as fuel.

  • Bio gas: Biogas is methane produced by anaerobic digestion of organic material by anaerobes. It can be produced either from biodegradable waste materials or by the use of energy crops fed into anaerobic digesters to supplement gas yields.

  • The Union Cabinet recently approved National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 to encourage the generation and use of biofuels.

 

Background

  • The government has also formulated National Policy on Biofuels earlier in 2009. The policy included features like:

  • An indicative target of 20% blending of biofuels both for biodiesel and bioethanol by 2017

  • Biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds on waste, degraded and marginal lands to be encouraged.

  • MSP for non-edible oilseeds to ensure fair price to farmers.

  • Minimum Purchase Price (MPP) for purchase of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.

  • Major thrust on R&D with focus on plantations, processing and production of bio-fuels, including Second Generation Bio-fuels.

  • Financial incentives for second generation bio-fuels.

  • National Biofuel Coordination Committee, headed by the PM to provide policy guidance and coordination.

  • A Biofuel Steering Committee, chaired by Cabinet Secretary to oversee implementation of the Policy.

  • However, the Biofuels programme in India has been largely impacted due to the sustained and quantum non-availability of domestic feedstock for biofuel production.

  • In India, industrial-scale availability of ethanol so far has been only from sugar factories, which were free to divert it to other users such as alcohol producers, who would pay more.

  • The National Policy on biofuels-2018 tries to address these supply-side issues by encouraging alternative feedstocks with an aim to reduce the cost of producing biofuels and improve affordability for consumers as well as developing biofuel production into a vibrant Rs 1 trillion industry in the next six years.

 

Salient Features of the National Policy on biofuels, 2018

  • Categorisation of biofuels to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category. The two main categories are:

  • Basic Biofuels- First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel

  • Advanced Biofuels - Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc.

  • Expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

  • Allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol to ensure appropriate price to farmers during surplus. However, it needs the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

  • Thrust on Advanced Biofuels: Viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives and higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

  • Encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

  • Synergising efforts by capturing the roles and responsibilities of all the concerned Ministries/Departments with respect to biofuels in the policy document itself.

 

Potential Benefits of the policy

  • Reduce Import Dependency: The large-scale production of biofuels would reduce import dependency on crude oil and save forex.

  • Cleaner Environment: By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be reduction in GHGs emissions and other particulate matters.

  • Municipal Solid Waste Management: It is estimated that, annually around 62 MMT of Municipal Solid Waste gets generated in India. The policy promotes conversion of waste/plastic, MSW to drop in fuels (hydrocarbon fuels from solid waste).

  • Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: addition of 2G bio refineries across the Country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.

  • Employment Generation: the establishment of bio-refineries would create jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.

  • Additional Income to Farmers: Farmers can capitalize on agricultural residues /waste which otherwise are burnt by them. They can sell their surplus output to ethanol making units when price dump, thus, ensuring appropriate price.

 

Challenges and way forward

  • Abuse of policy especially when prices of crude oil soar as farmers would find it economically more rewarding to convert farm produce into ethanol for doping with petrol.

  • Need of improvement in technological and financial feasibility with respect to production of biofuels. Thus, industry academic collaboration should be enhanced in an integrated manner.

  • Inadequate supply-chain infrastructure to deliver biofuels to the final consumer. Hence, improved investment should be done in building robust infrastructure.

  • Limits on private investment: The government should also take steps to remove policy barriers that have discouraged private investment in building supply chains for tapping India’s huge biofuel potential.

 

3. Scheme For Biomass Based Cogeneration Projects

Cogeneration

  • Cogeneration – ‘generating together’ – refers to the process wherein we obtain both heat and electricity from the same fuel at the same time.

  • A variety of fuels can be used for cogeneration including bagasse, natural gas, coal, and biomass.

  • Its advantages include: lowering the cost of energy generation, low capital investment, higher profitability of plant due to substantial reduction in cost of production, less consumption of costly and scarce fuels like diesel oil etc.

  • The potential for cogeneration projects is estimated at 3500 MW of additional power generation from the country’s existing functional sugar mills.

 

More about the scheme

  • It aims to support Biomass based Cogeneration Projects in Sugar mills and Other Industries for power generation in the country.

  • It will provide Central Financial assistance(CFA) for projects utilizing biomass like bagasse, agro-based industrial residue, crop residues, wood produced through energy plantations, weeds, wood waste produced in industrial operations, etc.

  • Municipal Solid Waste is not covered under the programme.

  • The assistance will be provided at the rate of Rs.25 Lakh/MW (for bagasse cogeneration projects) and Rs.50 Lakh/MW (Non-bagasse Cogeneration projects) after successful commissioning and commencement of commercial generation and performance testing of the plant.

  • Registered Companies, Partnership Firms, Proprietorship Firms, Cooperatives, Public Sector Companies, Government owned Firms are eligible for financial support available under the scheme.

  • Biomass based cogeneration projects which intend to add capacity to the existing plants will also be considered for grant of CFA.

 

DUST STORM

​​What is a Dust storm?

  • A dust storm, or sandstorm, is a phenomenon common in hot and dry climates.

  • Dust storms are also known as Haboob, which is Arabic for violent wind.

  • The strong storms can develop in many parts of the world and can travel for thousands of miles or even across oceans.

  • A dust storm requires a large availability of dust, and enough sustained wind to lift the particles.

  • Dust storms also commonly occur with thunderstorms before it is about to rain.

  • The rain water does not manage to reach the ground as it is evaporated by the heat.

  • This causes the air to cool down, meaning there is an area of cold air sitting above the warm air on the ground.

  • The cold air comes down in a down-burst which splashes against the surface which kicks the dust upwards.

 

Why was the recent storm so devastating?

  • The recent storm was aided by ‘ideal’ conditions that magnified its intensity. o There was huge thunderstorm complex that swept through the area overnight, generating high winds that also carried lots of dust.

  • Temperatures in Rajasthan reached 45®C.

  • There was presence of easterly wind that brought in moisture.

  • The intensity of western disturbances increased.

  • Unsustainable farming practices have deteriorated the soil profile aiding the erosion.

  • There were more deaths also due to lack of disaster resilient infrastructure.

 

Impact of dust storms

  • It leads to loss of life and property as witnessed in North India.

  • They are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution.

  • They carry harmful particles that increase the spread of diseases across the globe. Virus spores in the ground are blown in the air and spread through acid rain or urban smog.

  • Inhaling dust affects the respiratory system. Prolonged exposure to dust can cause silicosis, which leads to lung cancer.

  • They also put people in danger of keratoconjunctivitis sicca or 'dry eyes', which, if left untreated, may lead to visual impairment or blindness.

  • They get deposited in the Ocean changing the salinity of the waters and affecting the marine ecology.

 

Related information

  • IMD was able to give timely warning about the Dust storm through its “Now Cast” services, which is a free SMS service sent on extreme weather conditions is provided every three hours.

 

Way forward

  • There is a need to check desertification which is affecting nearly one-fourth of the nation.

  • Sustainable farming practices like Permaculture, organic farming should be encouraged in areas with degraded soil.

  • There should be adoption of practices that reduce dust formation in Urban areas at construction sites, unpaved roads etc.

  • There needs to be more investment in disaster resilient infrastructure like storm shelters.

 

4. Suva Expert Dialogue On Loss And Damage

Loss and damage in UNFCC

  • 1991: Proposed by Vanuatu on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the international community to provide “assurance” that climate change would not endanger their survival; Suva expert Dialogue

  • It is an expert dialogue decided at COP23 in Bonn due to demands of developing nations for a separate agenda item on loss and damage.

  • The dialogue aims for facilitating the mobilization and securing of expertise, and enhancement of support, including finance, technology and capacity-building, for addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

 

Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage

  • It was established in COP 19 under UNFCCC in 2013

  • It deals with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism), including extreme events and slow onset events, in vulnerable developing countries through-

  • Enhancing knowledge and understanding of comprehensive risk management approaches to address L&D;

  • Strengthening dialogue, coordination, coherence and synergies among relevant stakeholders;

  • Enhancing action and support, including finance, technology and capacity-building.

  • It is also anchored in the Article 8 of the 2015 Paris agreement which emphasizes the “importance of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change”.

  • 2010: Establishment of the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI) Work Program on loss and damage in Cancun (COP 16);

  • 2013: Establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) under the Cancun Adaptation Framework;

 

How to deal with Loss and Damage:

  • Effectively Addressing Slow Onset Processes through developing a lowland drainage system, creating vegetative buffers and setback Areas, developing mobile marine protected areas Map flood zones and mapping flood zones etc.

  • Tackle Migration and Displacement especially from Small Island Developing States through o Improved disaster risk reduction and management, climate change adaptation measures and developing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Loss and Damage

  • They are a group of 57 small island countries that tend to share similar sustainable development challenges, including small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters etc.

  • They were first recognized as a distinct group of developing countries at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992.

 

Impact of Loss and Damage on SIDS

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes 5th Assessment Report (AR5) describes the particular affectedness of SIDS to be mostly defined by:

 

Sea level rise (SLR):

  • Immediate effects of SLR include saltwater intrusion of surface waters, increasingly severe storm surges, submergence and increased flooding of coastal land.

  • Longer-term effects of SLR are increased erosion, saltwater intrusion into groundwater and a decline of coastal wetlands (saltmarshes, mangroves etc.)

  • SLR endangers freshwater supplies (through salinization), food yields (through loss of arable land) and physical safety (through damages to coastal infrastructure such as roads, housing and sanitation systems), in several low-lying Small Island States and leads to the displacement of people

  • Tropical (and extra tropical) cyclones cause various risks including certain vector, food- and water-borne diseases, deterioration of water quality and quantity, destruction of infrastructure and loss of productive farmland, loss of livelihoods, coastal settlements, ecosystem services and economic stability to the decline and possible loss of coral reef ecosystems. For some SIDS, their very existence could be threatened by SLR.

  • Ocean acidification, which result in reduced coral growth and coral skeleton weakening which will have impacts on coastal protection and marine biodiversity. a policy on "migration with dignity”.

  • International collaborations such as Platform on Disaster Displacement and Global Compacts for safe, orderly and regular migration and on Refugees

  • Plugging Legal gaps for cross border movements and development of the issue in the international and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) policy sphere.

 

Comprehensive Climate Risk Management which includes:

  • Risk reduction through structural measures (e.g. engineering techniques to achieve hazard resistance structures), non-structural measures (e.g. knowledge, practice or agreements to reduce risks and impacts),

  • legislative measures (such as building codes and standards) or early warning systems;

  • Financial risk transfer through climate risk insurances, catastrophe bonds or climate bonds;

  • Risk retention through contingent credits, contingency and reserve funds, contingency budgets and social protection;

  • Resilient recovery after a disaster to “build back better” to prevent or reduce future L&D;

  • Transformational approaches (e.g. diversification of livelihoods and migration) to address residual L&D

  • Climate Risk Insurance through initiatives such as G7 “InsuResilience Initiative and G20 “Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions”

  • Loss and Damage Finance needs to be made available after a scientific assessment of L&D, developing financial instruments and plugging gaps in existing institutional arrangements within and outside of the UNFCCC including making GHG emitters accountable.

 

Concerns

  • Fair and just redressal mechanism which address communication gaps, effectively targets financial support to make it reach to those who require it the most and addressing the technological gaps regarding risk assessment and reduction is yet to reach fruition.

  • Current mechanisms and financial instruments for managing climate have been inadequate in terms of lack of technical capacity and access to finance.

  • Doubt over feasibility of climate-based insurance system due to lack of terms of affordability of premiums by small and marginal farmers and the access of payouts (following an extreme event or weather-related disaster).

  • Gaps in current loss and damage mechanisms like slow speed of action to address climate issue.

 

Conclusion

  • The Suva dialogue is expected to help in furthering collective understanding of approaches to address loss and damage and identify finance needs for addressing the gaps that exist in meeting these needs in developing countries.

  • Further, the areas where finance approaches have not yet been matched like, addressing slow onset events or for recovery and rehabilitation from climate-related events can be better addressed through such forums in future.

 

5. Clean Air- India Initiative

About the initiative

  • The Clean Air India Initiative is a collaborative project between Get in the Ring (a platform for start-ups by the government of the Netherlands), Start-up India and INDUS Forum (an online matchmaking platform of Indian and Dutch businesses).

  • The campaign aims to curb air pollution in Indian cities by promoting partnerships between Indian start-ups and Dutch companies and build a network of entrepreneurs working on business solutions for cleaner air.

  • Under the initiative, an ‘INDUS impact’ projects is also present which aims to halt the hazardous burning of paddy stubble by promoting business partnerships that “up cycle” it. This entails using paddy straw as feedstock to make materials that would find use in construction and packaging.

 

#StartUpLink

  • It was launched by Invest India and Dutch government for Indian and Dutch start-ups which offers access to key information, relevant networks, pilot opportunities, and navigators for the respective start up ecosystems.

  • The initiative will fulfil the twin objective of facilitating market expansion for start-ups in the two countries alongside fostering a joint sense of innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • ‘Clean Air’ India Ring is a critical component of the Indo-Dutch #StartUpLink.

  • The initiative is a multi-corporate challenge that will test and scale innovations through collaboration between start-ups, corporates and governments that solve the problem of pollution.

  • As a partner for #StartUpLink, Dutch company shell has established a Shell E4 Start hub, the first energy focused start up hub in India.

 

6. Toxicity In Indian Rivers

More about the news

  • The report has highlighted that 42 rivers in India have at least two toxic heavy metals in quantities beyond the permissible limit.

  • Ganga, the national river, was found to be polluted with five heavy metals—chromium, copper, nickel, lead and iron.

  • It is an issue because a majority of Indians still use water directly from rivers for their domestic use. With an increase in population, the pressure on these rivers will only increase.

  • According to the report, mining, milling, plating and surface finishing industries are the main sources of heavy metal pollution and the concentration of such toxic metals has increased rapidly over the past few decades.

 

Type of toxic metals and sources of metal Pollution

  • The term ‘‘heavy metal’’ refers to any metal and metalloid element that has a relatively high density ranging from 3.5 to 7 g/cm3 and is toxic or poisonous at low concentrations.

  • Primary metals considered to be toxic are lead, arsenic, copper, cadmium, mercury and nickel. These hazardous metals are also referred to as trace elements.

 

Health impacts of toxic metals

  • Heavy metals pose a serious threat to humans and the environment because of its toxicity, non-biodegradability and bioaccumulation and may result in reduction of species diversity.

  • Their absorption in the body may cause changes in the blood composition and damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, and other vital organs.

  • It also causes acute or chronic toxicity/ poisoning resulting in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous functions.

  • It leads to physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer and various other allergies.

 

Corrective measures

  • Controlling runoff pollution such as agriculture runoff, urban runoff and runoff from livestock farms through afforestation, sustainable agriculture practices and using wastewater for irrigation etc.

  • Proper enforcement of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) drinking water standards for trace and toxic metals for humans as well as for livestock and irrigation use in India.

  • Chemical and biological treatment to industrial discharge from the tanneries, mining and other industries along with establishment of common effluent treatment facilities for smaller industries

  • Promotion of effective and efficient implementation of water pollution control laws and regulations.

  • Using Green remediation techniques such as Phytoextraction for soils and wetlands contaminated with toxic metals. e.g. - Water hyacinth is used for cleansing polluted water by absorbing pollutants especially chromium.

  • Stringent Government policy and monitoring for effluents discharged from agriculture and industries into the several Indian rivers. CWC has recommended that quality of water should be monitored at least four times a year.

 

7. Ghg Emission From Shipping Industry

About IMO

  • It is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

  • It is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping through a fair and effective regulatory framework.

  • IMO currently has 174 Member states and 3 Associate members.

  • India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having it as a member-state in the year 1959.

  • International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that if treated as a country, international shipping would be the sixth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world - roughly the same as Germany. It accounts for around 2.2% of global CO2 emissions and they are projected to grow between 50 and 250% by 2050 if no action is taken.

  • IMO was tasked with limiting and reducing emissions from shipping under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

  • Despite its major role in polluting the planet, shipping was not accounted for in the Paris agreement on climate change.

  • The world’s shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change, bringing it closer in-line with the Paris agreement.

  • The agreement took place in the historic London session of Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of IMO.

  • The ultimate goal for shipping industry is to reduce greenhouse gas emission to zero by the middle of the century, with most newly built ships running without fossil fuels by the 2030s.

  • The agreement was opposed by Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the US.

  •  Indian Health Sector has been suffering from thee chronic problems: corruption in medical education, falling standards of ethics and governance in medical sector and shortage of doctors. As pointed out by Lodha Committee, NITI Aayog and Parliamentary Standing Committee, these problems are primarily attributed to faulty provisions of Indian Medical Council Act 1956. It gives Medical Council of India (MCI) disproportionate power in medical governance.

  • National Medical Commission Bill 2017 seeks to repeal the old act and establish new institutional framework for medical governance in India. However the Bill has been criticised for following:-

  • 1) Unlike MCI, members of NMC are selected by government and not elected. Thus it gives government disproportionate power over medical governance.

  • 2) Medical Advisory Councils are relegated to NMC. This also makes NMC a very powerful body.

  • 3) Provision of Bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice allopathy will subject public health at risk. 

 

However, these criticism overlook the following provisions of NMC which will definitely improve medical governance: -

  • 1) Uniform Medical Entrance exam through NEET will create a level playing fields, bring uniformity, reduce corruption in admission and bring better public vigil.

  • 2) There are autonomous boards under NMC which will: (A) regulate admission procedure in UG and PG courses, (B) set qualification standards, (C) give accreditation to new medical colleges, (D) respond to increasing demand of doctors by increasing seats in colleges, and (E) ensure the medical professional ethics in medicine.

  • 3) Provision of bridge course will definitely address to the shortfall of doctors, especially in rural and remote areas. This could also be supplemented by allowing MBBS, Nurses and Paramedics to administer more treatments than they are currently allowed to do.

 

Pollution from Global Shipping Industry

  • Large commercial vehicles primarily run on heavy fuel oil which is not refined and emits black carbon, unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. Of the total global air emission, shipping accounts for 18 to 30 % of the nitrogen oxide and 9% of the sulphur oxides emission.

  • Diesel engines also account for around one-fifth of the world’s black carbon emissions which is the second-largest driver of global warming next only to carbon dioxide.

  • Pollution from ships affects the health of communities, especially in coastal regions around the world. It is a cause of concern because it continues to increase as the sector grows whereas land-based emissions, particularly from fixed installations, have been reduced dramatically at great cost.

 

Mechanism to reduce the emissions further:

  • Slowing down- A recent study of container ships, bulkers and tankers found that greenhouse gas emissions from these three types of ships could be reduced by a third cumulatively if their speed is reduced, because it will lower power requirements and thereby fuel consumption.

  • Scrubbers- Ships can install scrubbers or other exhaust gas cleaning devices to remove polluting particles. (However, discharges from open-loop scrubbers are let into the water, which can pollute the marine environment)

  • Using low-sulphur fuels- Ships use heavy fuels because they are cheaper. But to cut emission of pollutants they should adopt fuels without Sulphur like liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG also reduces nitrogen oxide and black carbon emissions.

  • Alternative energy sources- Experiments with wind and solar power, and bio-fuels are being undertaken to reduce carbon footprint.

 

About NBA

  • It is a statutory body established under the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

  • It performs facilitative and advisory functions for the Union government on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

 

8. India Biodiversity Awards, 2018

About BugunLiocichla

  • It’s the only new bird species to have been discovered in India since 1947.

  • They are found only in the Singchung village of Arunachal Pradesh.

  • It has been named after the Bugun tribe.

  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered (CR).

 

WPA status:

  • Threat: Activities like timber extraction, forest clearance and infrastructure development have threatened its habitat.

  • SingchungBugun Community Reserve (SBVCR): It’s a 17 km^2 hotspot for biodiversity launched by Bugun community of Singchung Village by joining hands with the Forest Department.

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, allows the state government to declare any private or community land that is not part of a national park, sanctuary or conservation reserve as a community reserve, to protect fauna, flora and traditional conservation values and practices.

 

About Amur Falcon

  • They are the longest travelling raptors in the world which migrates to India from Mongolia and then reach South Africa via Myanmar and central & western India.

  • Males are mostly grey in colour and the females have dark-streaked cream or orange underparts.

  • They used to be hunted for meat by Nagas. However, after vigorous campaign for their conservation, not a single bird is being hunted in the area.

 

About kharai camels

  • Kharai Camel or Swimming Camels are found only in Gujarat’s Bhuj area.

  • Kharai Camel can live in both coastal and dry ecosystems.

  • It grazes on saline / mangrove trees and is tolerant to high saline water.

  • It can swim up to three kilometers into the sea in search of mangroves, its primary food.

  • They are bred by two distinct communities — FakiraniJats, the handlers, and Rabaris, who are owners.

 

Background

  • In 2012, the Government of India, in partnership with UNDP India, initiated the India Biodiversity Awards

  • Aim: To recognize and honour outstanding models of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and governance at the grassroots level.

  • Awards is presented in different categories:

  • Conservation of Wild and Domesticated Species

  • Sustainable Use of Biological Resources

  • Replicable Mechanisms for Access and Benefit Sharing

  • Best Biodiversity Management Committees

 

Different awards given in various categories are:

  • SingchungBugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee: Conservation of Wild Species (Institution) for conservation of the BugunLiocichla bird.

  • Lemsachenlok Organization: Conservation of Wild Species (Institution) for successful creation of an 8-10 sq km Community Conserved Area to encourage coexistence and reduce human-wildlife conflict. The village has now become a safe haven for 85 species of birds, including Amur Falcons.

  • Kutch UntUchherakMaldhariSangathan (KUUMS): Conservation of Domesticated Species (Institution) for working closely with the local community to breed, cure and protect Kharai camels.

  • KaldenSinghiBhutia (Sikkim): Conservation of Domesticated Species (Individual) for conservation and propagation of Tibetan sheep.

  • Sangham Women Farmers Group: Sustainable Use of Biological Resources (Institution) for preserving agrobiodiversity. They also started the Millet Sisters Network to conserve and preserve different varieties of millets, with the produce organically certified and packaged for marketing in the urban areas.

  • Parvathi Nagarajan (Tamil Nadu): Sustainable Use of Biological Resources for environment protection, wellness and women's empowerment. She joined hands with the Sustainable Livelihood Institute (SLI) to take regular ‘Herbs for Health’ classes for women in her area.

  • Raipassa Biodiversity Management Committee, Tripura: Sustainable Use of Biological Resources for ensuring that bio-resources of the area are traded in a manner, that is both commercially and environmentally viable. This community depends on the cultivation, collection and sale of broom grass for its livelihood.

  • EraviperoorGrama Panchayat, Kerala: Biodiversity Management Committee is an excellent model of a multi-stakeholder partnership in local biodiversity conservation, sustainable management of water resources, promotion of renewable energy and enhanced livelihoods. They have rejuvenated a tributary of the river Pampa and have successfully revived the traditional cultural practice of boat racing.

  • PithorabadGrama Panchayat, Madhya Pradesh: Biodiversity Management Committee has conserved around 115 traditional types of paddies, 32 varieties of vegetables, and medicinal plants by establishing a community seed bank and facilitated value addition in the form of marketing for select products like organic wheat.

 

9. South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (Sawen)

About SAWEN

  • It is an inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement support body of South Asian countries namely- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

  • It was officially launched in January, 2011 in Paro Bhutan.

  • In 2016 the Union Cabinet gave permission to adopt the statute of SAWEN.

  • SAWEN operates its activities from the Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

  • It focuses on policy harmonization, institutional capacity strengthening through knowledge and intelligence sharing; and collaboration with regional and international partners to enhance wildlife law enforcement in the member countries.

 

Other River Dolphins in the world

  • Apart from the 3 river dolphins in India, there are 4 other important species viz-

  • Amazon River Dolphin (the pink river dolphin or Boto) are found only in freshwater and are Vulnerable.

  • Tucuxi (Data Deficient Category), found in Amazon and its tributaries, can live in both salt- and freshwater.

  • Yangtze river dolphin (Baiji) of China has been declared "functionally extinct" in 2006.

  • Yangtze/Finless Porpoise (only porpoise species that can live in freshwater) is Endangered and is found in the Yangtze River and its adjacent lake systems.

 

10. Indus Dolphins (Bhulan)

About Indus Dolphin (Bhulan)

  • They are endangered, freshwater, and functionally blind species of dolphins which rely on echolocation to navigatecommunicate and hunt prey including prawns, catfish and carp.

  • Except for a tiny, isolated population of about 30 in India’s Beas River (185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike), Indus river dolphins live exclusively in the Indus river in Pakistan.

  • In 2017, a survey was done by WWF-Pakistan which showed an increase in their population. Similar survey is being conducted in India now with the help of WWF-India.

 

Other Indian River Dolphins

  • Ganges River Dolphin (Susu) o It is endangered, can only live in freshwater and is essentially blind.

  • It has been declared as national aquatic animal.

  • It once ranged throughout the Ganges-Brahmaputra- Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sanguriver systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, from the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal. Today its population is divided by dams into isolated groups and has a much reduced range.

  • The lowest estimate for the total population is 1,200-1,800 individuals.

  • Irrawaddy Dolphin o They are Crtitically Endangered and live in both salt- and freshwater in South and Southeast Asia.

  • Three exclusively freshwater populations are found in Irrawaddy/Ayeyarwady River (Myanmar), Mekong River (Lao PDR, Cambodia); and Mahakam River (Indonesia).

  • In addition, very small numbers survive in the partially freshwater Songkhla Lake (Thailand) and the brackish Chilika Lake (India). Irrawaddy dolphin is the only salt water dolphin found in India.

 

Main threats to the river dolphins are:

  • Unintentional killing through entanglement in fishing gears and over-exploitation of prey or Fisheries bycatch, mainly due to the widespread use of non-selective fishing gear.

  • Directed harvest for meat and for dolphin oil which is used as a fish attractant and for medicinal purposes

  • Water development projects (e.g. water extraction and the construction of barrages, high dams, and embankments) have resulted into genetic isolation of dolphin populations.

  • Other Issues- They are key indicators of river health, and river pollution due to industrial waste and pesticides, municipal sewage discharge and noise from vessel traffic are primary reasons for their decline. Compounds such as organochlorine and butyltin found in the tissues of Ganges River dolphins are a cause for concern about their potential effects on the sub-species.

 

11. Black Panther

Related information

  • Odisha is the only state in the country to have melanistic tigers, white tigers and black panthers.

  • Conservation Status of Black Panther

  • o Vulnerable: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

  • o Schedule I: Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,

  • o Appendix I: CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

 

Phenomenon of Melanism

  • Melanism is the undue development of dark-coloured pigment in the skin which gives black skin in many animals, birds and even fish.

  • Melanism is hereditary- but it is not necessarily passed on directly to the next generation.

  • A normal-coloured leopard can carry the recessive melanistic gene. Moreover, if both parents are black, the leopard cubs are always black.

  • A closer look at a panther’s coat will reveal the characteristic spots of the leopard hiding under a cloak of excess melanin which is called 'ghost striping'.

 

About Black Panther

  • It is the same species as a normal-coloured panther with a high amount of pigment (melanin caused by agouti gene) causing the animal to appear black.

  • Other habitats of Black Panther; o Kerala (Periyar Tiger Reserve),

  • Karnataka (Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary),

  • Chhattisgarh (Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve),

  • Maharashtra (Satara),

  • Goa (Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary),

  • Tamil Nadu (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve),

  • Assam

  • Arunachal Pradesh.

 

12. Gaj Yatra

  • IFAW is an NGO working on conservation measures towards animal welfare.

  • Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) rolled out the ‘Gaj Yatra’ from Tura in Garo Hills, Meghalaya.

 

About Gaj Yatra

  • ’Gaj Yatra’ aims at securing 100 elephant corridors across India.

 

About Indian elephants

  • In 2010, Elephants were declared as national heritage animals.

  • Under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 Elephant is a Schedule I animals and Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

  • World Elephant Day was founded to bring attention to the plight of Asian and African elephants.

  • Western Hoolock gibbon

  • The western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) and the eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) are the only apes found in India.

  • It is listed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN red list.

  • In India, it is listed on Schedule 1 of the Indian (Wildlife) Protection Act 1972.

  • It is a mega-campaign by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to raise awareness about the shrinking space for India's wild elephants

  • It was launched on World Elephant Day, August 12, 2017.

  • It was organized in the Garo Hills in recognition of the people’s initiative of community forests for human-elephant harmony and conservation of animals such as hoolock gibbon.

 

About elephant corridors

  • As forest lands continue to be fragmented, relatively narrow, linear patches of vegetation provide linkages between larger forest patches.

  • These linkages allow elephants to move between secure habitats freely, without being disturbed by humans reducing man-animal conflict.

  • In many cases, elephant corridors are also critical for other wildlife including India’s endangered National Animal, the Royal Bengal tiger.

 

13. National Water Informatics Centre

About NWIC

  • It would be a repository of nation-wide water resources data and would work as a Subordinate Office under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation which is to be headed by a Joint Secretary level officer.

  • It will provide latest and reliable water data (other than classified data) through web-based India Water Resources Information System (India-WRIS) on a GIS platform in Public Domain.

  • It will also collaborate with leading national and international research institutes to provide technical support to central and state organisations dealing with water emergency response of hydrological extremes.

  • It is a component of National Hydrology Project and also in consonance with the National Water Mission which has an objective of “conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution through integrated water resources development and management”.

 

National Hydrology Project

  • It is a central sector scheme. Under this, the Hydro-meteorological data will be stored and analyzed in real time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at State, District and Village level.

  • Its components include-

  • o In Situ Hydromet Monitoring System and Hydromet Data Acquisition System.

  • o Setting up of National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC).

  • o Water Resources Operation and Management System

  • o Water Resources Institutions and Capacity Building

 

Water Resource Information System

  • It is a joint venture of the Central Water Commission (CWC), Ministry of Water Resources and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Department of Space.

  • India-WRIS provides 'Single Window solution' for all water resources data & information in a national GIS framework.

  • India-WRIS Wiki

  • It is a collaborative knowledge sharing web application developed for sharing updated information.

 

Merits of NWIC

  • It will be easier to take a decision even on settling inter-state river water sharing dispute with the single window source of the updated data.

  • A comprehensive “Water Resources Information System” (WRIS) in public domain will help in generating awareness and involvement of all concerned, for effective integrated water resources management.

  • It will help in scientific assessment, monitoring, modelling and Decision Support System (DSS) of Water resources.

May Environmental Issues

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