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1. Kerala Flood

Background

  • India’s Vulnerability to Floods: 40 million hectares out of a geographical area of 3290 lakh hectares is prone to floods in country.

  • Impact of Climate Change: Intensity of extremely wet spells and extremely dry spells during the South Asian monsoon season have been increasing since 1980.

  • Financial Drain: Floods costs the country Rs. 8,12,500 crore between 1953 and 2011 and according to World Resources Institutes (WRI), by 2030, up to $154 billion of the country’s gross domestic product could be exposed to flood risks each year, as climate change fosters more extreme weather events.

  • Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in June 2017 says the States have failed to conduct a scientific assessment of flood-prone areas and of the 349 dams surveyed, only 40 prepared detailed disaster management plans.

  • It also pointed out that poor dam management was responsible for India’s floods, such as Bihar in 2016 and Surat in 2006. In the 2015 Chennai floods, which claimed 295 lives, violation of dam safety norms was a critical factor.

 

Flood vulnerability in Kerala

  • RashtriyaBarh Aayog (RBA) had estimated 8.70 lakh hectares area as flood prone out of 38.90 lakh hectares of geographical area in Kerala.

  • Kerala State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in 2014 assessed that state is severely threatened by climate change (see infographic).

  • Central Water Commission (CWC), India’s only flood forecasting agency, does not have any flood forecasting system in Kerala.

  • Gadgil report on fragile ecosystem of Western Ghats (2011), had warned that illegal mining and deforestation had led to massive encroachment of river fronts in the state, and there was an urgent need for corrective action.

  • It also said that, unchecked quarrying and construction in ecologically sensitive areas, can cause disastrous floods due to premature siltation in many reservoirs in the Western Ghats.

 

Reasons

  • Incessant rainfall: Kerala received 2,346.6 mm of rainfall against a normal of 1,649.5 mm since the beginning of June. The “active” phase of the monsoon is when the monsoon trough moves south of its normal position causing heavy and intense showers in the southern peninsula

  • Dam Mismanagement: There was an instant release of water from dam due to heavy rain, as dam reservoirs were not emptied before the onset of rain, flooding the nearby regions at a much faster rate than expected. o Kerala government claimed that sudden releases of water from the Mullaperiyar dam (located in Kerala, but operated by Tamil Nadu) was a cause for the floods in the State.

  • Stone quarrying: A recent study by the Kerala Forest Research Institute pointed out that there were 5,924 big, medium and small quarries in the state. Mudslides and landslides were reported in 211 different places across the state which is attributed to increasing stone quarrying activity and large-scale deforestation.

  • Other factor which aided in flood are deforestation drive for development purpose, Uncontrolled sand mining has constrained river flows, while the rapid spread of high-rise buildings on unstable hill slopes has weakened the soil. This unplanned development has left the area susceptible to flash floods and landslides.

  • Large expanse of low lying areas: About 10 per cent of its geographical area is below the sea level.

 

Impact

  • Impact on Agriculture: Standing paddy crop and plantations of banana, rubber, cardamom, pepper and arecanut have been devastated as the floods have been concentrated in the plantation districts of Idukki, Kottayam and Wayanad.

  • Loss of Livelihood: According to Care Ratings, employment of nearly 41.3 lakh has been affected and the wage loss is estimated at around Rs 4,000 crore for August.

  • Loss of Soil Fertility: Flood cause heavy damages to top soil, which takes time to be restored to its natural state.

  • Cultural loss: Kerala government has cancelled the celebration of festival Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala.

  • Economic Impact: According to ASSOCHAM The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), floods in Kerala could potentially have caused damage worth Rs 15,000-20,000 crore, which include infrastructural damages to 134 bridges and 16,000 km of Public Works Department roads.

  • Disease outbreak: Following severe flooding, 196 leptospirosis (rat fever) cases and nine deaths have been confirmed in Kerala.

  • Leptospriosis (also called Weil's disease) is a waterborne bacterial disease, caused by the leptospiro bacteria. It rarely spreads from person to person and can be treated with common antibiotics. It’s incubation period is between five and 14 days.

 

NDMA guidelines on Management of Flood

  • Shifting the focus to preparedness by implementing Flood Management Programs (FMPs).

  • Ensuring regular monitoring of the effectiveness and sustainability of various structures and taking appropriate measures for their restoration and strengthening.

  • Continuous modernization of flood forecasting, early warning and decision support systems.

  • Ensuring the incorporation of flood resistant features in the design and construction of new structures in the flood prone areas.

  • Drawing up time-bound plans for the flood proofing of strategic and public utility structures in flood prone areas.

  • Improving the awareness and preparedness of all stakeholders in the flood prone areas.

  • Introducing appropriate capacity development interventions for effective FM (including education, training, capacity building, research and development, and documentation.)

  • Improving the compliance regime through appropriate.

 

Dam Management in India

  • About 75 percent of the large dams in India are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old. A badly maintained, unsafe dam can be a hazard to human life, flora and fauna, even India has had 36 dam failures in the past.

Dam Rehabilitaton and Imporovement Plan (DRIP)

  • It is an externally-aided project. 80% of the total project is provided by the World Bank as loan/credit and remaining 20% is borne by the States / Central Government (for CWC).

  • This project started in April 2012, for repair and rehabilitation of initially 225 Dams across seven states namely Jharkhand (DVC), Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand (UJVNL).

  • At present there are 198 Dams under this project which are scheduled for completion in June 2018.

 

Objective of DRIP –

Emergency Action Plan

  • The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the Dams under DRIP has been proposed. EAP is a formal plan that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and prescribes the procedures to be followed to minimize loss of life and property damage.

  • EAP help in streamlining the efforts and bring about better coordination among different agencies to execute rescue and relief activities.

 

Dam Safety Bill, 2018

  • The objective of this Bill is to help develop uniform, countrywide procedures for ensuring the safety of dams and provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.

  • It provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations

  • It provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.

  • The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 

About State Committee on Dam Safety

  • It will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.

  • It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

  • Every state having specified number of dams will establish State Dam Safety Organization which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geo-technical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.

 

2. National Redd+ Strategy

  • It encourages Parties and the private sector to take actions to reduce the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation

  • It encourages stakeholders to meet, on a voluntary basis to address issues relating to coordination of support

  • Modalities for national forest monitoring systems: It should be guided by IPCC guidance and provide data and information that are transparent and consistent over time.

  • Framing procedures for the technical assessment to support capacity-building for development and assessment of forest reference emission levels and/or forest reference levels.

 

Need for National REDD+ Strategy

  • Forest is the second-largest land use in India after agriculture.

  • Forestry sector in India can make positive contribution for climate change mitigation like carbon mitigation services of India’s forest by improving carbon stocks (carbon pools).

  • As estimated, REDD+ programme could provide for capture of around 1 billion tonnes of additional CO2 over the next 3 decades and significant financial incentives as carbon services under REDD+ including flow of positive incentives to local communities.

 

National REDD+ Strategy

  • Carbon pools

  • A system that has the capacity to store or release carbon.

  • The Marrakesh Accords recognize five main carbon pools or reservoirs in forests: Above-ground biomass, below-ground biomass, dead wood, litter and soil organic matter.

  • The strategy seeks to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and also developing a roadmap for enhancement of forest carbon stocks and achieving sustainable management of forests through REDD+ actions. Important provisions include -

  • Coverage of REDD+

  • REDD+ will cover all trees within forest areas and tree outside forest (TOF)

  • Research is being undertaken to assess the potential of carbon sequestration by grasslands, and coastal sea grasses, salt marshes, phytoplankton etc.

  • Phased approach of REDD+

  • Phase 1: development of national strategies or action plans, policies and measures, and capacity-building.

  • Phase 2: implementation of national policies,measures and national strategies or action plans

  • Phase 3: evolvement into results based actions that should be fully measured, reported and verified.

  • Sub-national REDD+ Approach

  • The country has been divided into 14 physiographic zones by the FSI. State Governments may collaborate and develop REDD+ Action Plan in a physiographic zone.

  • REDD+ Activities

  • REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. REDD+ aims to achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.

  • It includes Reducing Deforestation, Reducing Forest Degradation, Conservation of Forest Carbon Stocks, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks.

  • Initiatives for Enhancement of Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks include Namami

  • Ganga, Forestry Interventions for Other Major River Catchments, Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantations, beautification & Maintenance) Policy – 2015 and innovative programmes like Green Army of Maharashtra.

  • Developing strategies for addressing Deforestation and Forest Degradation

  • Creating proper awareness amongst stakeholders.

  • Improved Cook Stoves for Addressing Forest Degradation

  • Capacity Building and Trained Human Resource

  • o Building a Cadre of Community Foresters.

  • o Green Skill Development Programme.

  • Appointing Targets & appropriate Infrastructure Development

  • o State/UT Governments to work out the appropriate targets of afforestation and reforestation (A&R) for each State/UT that would enable the country meet the objectives of Green India Mission and NDC target.

  • Funding

  • o Finance Commission has recommended devolution of funds to states attaching a weightage of 7.5% of the State’s forest cover.

  • o Compensatory Afforestation Fund.

  • o Green Climate Fund and Other External Sources of Funding

 

3. Ban On Petcoke

About Pet Coke

  • Petroleum coke or pet coke, is a solid carbon rich (90% carbon and 3% to 6% sulfur) material derived from oil refining.

  • It is categorized as a “bottom of the barrel” fuel.

  • It is a dirtier alternative to coal and emits 11% more greenhouse gases than coal and nearly 17 times more sulphur than coal.

  • Petcoke is a source of fine dust which can get lodged in the lungs.

  • Petroleum coke can contain vanadium which is a toxic metal.

  • Sulphur-heavy petcoke and other polluting fuels such as furnace oil are widely used by cement factories, dyeing units, paper mills, brick kilns and ceramics businesses.

  • India is the world’s largest consumer of petcoke. Its consumption has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent over the past 10 years.

  • India had been becoming a dumping ground of pet-coke from the US, which has banned its internal use because of pollution.

  • India recently banned the import of petcoke for use as fuel.

 

Background

  • Environment Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) in April 2017 had asked for the ban on use of furnace oil and pet-coke in NCR region.

  • Supreme Court had banned its use in Delhi and NCR in October, 2017.

  • Following which the Central government decided to ban pet coke nationwide.

  • Though the Import of petcoke for fuel purpose is prohibited. It is allowed only for cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification industries, when used as the feedstock or in the manufacturing process on actual user condition.

 

Reasons for use of Pet Coke

  • Cheaper alternative: Per-unit delivered energy for petcoke is much cheaper compared to coal making it attractive for buyers.

  • Favourable tax regime: Though both these fuels are taxed at 18% under GST but the industries, which used these fuels for manufacturing, got entire tax on the fuels credited back. On the other hand on natural gas, which is not included in GST, the VAT is as high as 26 per cent in certain states.

  • Clean energy cess of Rs. 400 per tonne levied on coal, further promote shift to pet-coke.

  • Zero Ash Content in Pet coke is a big advantage over coal which has significant ash content. It also allows cement firms can use low grade limestone. This is a big advantage as almost 60 per cent of India’s limestone reserves are low grade in nature.

 

Impact of the ban

  • This decision gives a boost to the cement industry as it accounts for about three-fourth of the country’s petcoke use. Cement companies were impacted by the recent petcoke-related policy flip-flops.

  • The ban would benefit LNG importers, city gas distribution (CGD) etc. as other industrial units would shift from petcoke to alternate fuels such as natural gas.

  • Import of pet coke costs about Rs 15,000 crore annually and hence the ban would save precious foreign exchange.

 

4. Parivesh

About PARIVESH

  • It is a web based, role-based workflow application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities.

  • It automates the entire tracking of proposals which includes online submission of a new proposal, editing/updating the details of proposals and displays status of the proposals at each stage of the workflow.

  • The system includes monitoring of compliance reports including geo-tagged images of the site by regulatory body or inspecting officers even through the Mobile App for enhanced compliance monitoring

  • It also provides access to previous Environment Impact Assessment Reports, which is a valuable reservoir of information.

 

Significance of PARIVESH

  • It will improve the entire process of appraisal and environmental clearance because delay in environment clearance can cause a huge monetary loss and negatively impact business prospect of that region.

  • It will ensure transparency and expedite the process of granting clearance by enabling project proponent and citizen to track and interact with scrutiny officers, generate online clearance letters.

  • The Project Proponent can also track the movement of their application at different stages and can see the findings of the Expert Appraisal Committee on their project proposal.

  • It has been developed in pursuance of the spirit of 'Digital India' and capturing the essence of "minimum government and maximum governance".

 

5. Genetically Modified (Gm) Food

What are GM foods?

  • GM foods involve taking genes (DNA) from different organisms and inserting them in food crops for the purpose of enhancing its productivity or increasing its immune power or nutritional and aesthetic values. There is a concern that this ‘foreign’ DNA can lead to risks such as toxicity, allergic reactions, and nutritional and unintended impacts.

 

Safety of GM Foods

  • Safety of GM crops and products has been a matter of concern for human health. Risk assessment on a case-by-case basis is critical for a country-level decision to allow or restrict GM foods because various GMOs have different genes, which are inserted in multiple ways. Also, studies used to evaluate the risk must take into account different populations and geographies.

 

Safety of GM foods in India

  • Codex Alimentarius guidelines for assessing risks associated with GM foods:

  • Typically, the following parameters are considered for risk assessment:

  • Toxicity—acute, sub-chronic and chronic

  • Allergenicity, i.e. the potential to provoke allergic reaction due to cross reaction with other allergens or from new unknown GM proteins

  • Composition analysis of major and minor nutrients

  • Nutritional effects associated with genetic modification that could arise if GM DNA is inserted into the crop genome at a location where it modifies the existing DNA such that the nutritional content of the crop alters.

  • Stability of inserted gene to avoid its unintended escape into cells of the body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This is particularly relevant if antibiotic-resistant genes, used as markers while creating GMOs, were to be transferred.

  • Unintended effects that could result from the gene insertion leading to formation of new or changed patterns of metabolites.

  • In 2017, a Parliamentary Committee report that examined the impact of GM crops on environment and human and animal health identified huge gaps with respect to the safety of GM crops. It noted the following key issues:

  • There has been no Indian scientific study carried out so far to study the impact of GM crops on human health.

  • The government should reconsider its decision to commercialize GM crops in the country as it has not been scientifically proven that GM crops have no adverse impact on human health. It is relying solely on studies that have not been done in India rather than on our own population and in the context of our climate and environment.

  • It is very late in the day for the FSSAI to take a decision to label GM foods imported into the country. However, the committee strongly recommends that labeling on GM foods must be done with immediate effect.

 

Draft notification on labeling of GM foods

  • It was issued by FSSAI in May this year which mandates that any food that has 5 per cent or more GM ingredients, shall be labeled, provided this GM ingredient constitutes the top three ingredients in terms of percentage in the product.

  • Despite these, most GM foods studied did not disclose the fact on the label. A few also made false claims of being GM free. Nearly 65% of the samples that were found GM positive did not disclose its genetically modified ingredients.

 

Criticisms against FSSAI

  • Against draft labeling regulations: The exemption limit of 5 per cent in the draft notification of labeling is very relaxed compared to other countries such as the EU, Australia and Brazil, which have limits at or below 1 per cent. Also it is very difficult for government to quantify the GM content in all foods as the tests are prohibitively expensive and technically cumbersome.

  • FSSAI has not allowed any GM food on paper but has failed to curb its illegal sales: Since 2007, GM soybean and canola oils are being imported in India without the approval of FSSAI though GEAC had permitted its import.

 

Regulatory issues in the approval process for GM processed foods:

  • Since 1989, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been responsible for approving commercial cultivation of GM crops as well as the manufacture, import and selling of processed foods made from GM ingredients. So far, Bt cotton has been approved for cultivation.

  • After the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006, the GEAC wanted to restrict itself to approval of living modified organisms (LMOs) and shift the task of approval of processed foods to the FSSAI for which a notification was also issued in 2007.

  • In response, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) requested the MoEF&CC to continue regulating processed foods until the FSSAI was ready to do so in a scientific manner. The notification was kept in abeyance until 2016, making the GEAC responsible for approvals of processed foods, with no accountability of the FSSAI in practice despite Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act) stating that GM foods shall not be manufactured, sold, distributed or imported until the FSSAI approves them.

  • Meanwhile, in 2013, the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 were amended to mandate that packages containing genetically modified foods bear the words ‘GM’ on its principal display panel.

  • This rule was inconsistent with the fact that GM foods are not allowed in India and in fact created the false perception that GM food was allowed.

  • The FSSAI’s new draft labeling regulation of April 2018 aims to address the issue through labeling of GM foods. (For Draft labeling norms refer May 2018 VisionIAS current affairs)

 

Way Forward

  • The FSSAI must identify all GM products being sold in the market and prosecute companies and traders responsible.

  • It must set up a safety assessment system for approval of both domestic and imported GM foods.

  • India’s GM labeling regulations must be based on stringent exemption limit and qualitative screening as an enforcement tool meaning that all products wherein GM ingredients are used must be labeled even if the final product does not contain GM DNA or protein. The threshold limit for GM labeling exemption should be set at one per cent GM DNA and not on the weight of the ingredient.

  • The FSSAI should adopt qualitative screening (such as through quantitative polymerase chain reaction - qPCR) as an enforcement tool and the onus of proving unintentional presence should be on the food manufacturer. It must set up laboratories to screen GM foods for effective monitoring.

  • A symbol-based label such as ‘GM’ should be displayed on the front of packs which carry GM food -- just like the green “tick” along with the words “Jaivik Bharat” proposed for organic food.

 

6. Pesticides Ban

More about the news

  • The complete ban of 12 pesticides would come into effect immediately while the rest 6 would be banned from December 31, 2020.

  • The decision is based on Anupam Verma committee which was constituted in 2013 to review the use of 66 pesticides (which are either banned or restricted in other countries.) recommended a ban on 13 ‘extremely hazardous’ pesticides , phasing out of six ‘moderately hazardous’ ones by 2020, and review of 27 pesticides in 2018.

 

Significance of the Ban

  • The pesticides proposed to be banned are harmful not just to humans and animals but also leech into the soil and water bodies and harm the aquatic ecosystem.They also lead to bioaccumulation.

  • India is likely to improve its reputation in countries (where the concerned pesticides are banned) which imports food related products (both manufactured and raw) from India.

 

Concerns surrounding pesticide ban

  • It is estimated that at least 104 pesticides licenced for use in India have been banned in other parts of the world, whereas Verma Committee only reviewed 66. For example Glyphosate was not among the pesticides reviewed by the Verma committee even though it is banned in several countries.

  • There are also concerns that Committee left out certain deadly pesticides like Monocrotophos and had asked the industry to come up with safety data on these pesticides.

  • Once registered, safety information about pesticide molecules is not legally required to be reviewed periodically to keep pace with toxicological research. Further, only the Centre can ban pesticide molecules. States can only either refuse licences for their sale and manufacture or impose temporary bans no longer than 90 days.

  • This means Indians are regularly exposed to a deadly cocktail of pesticides, through direct application or in their food chain, with little updated information about the safety of the chemicals to humans or the environment.

 

Regulations for pesticide in India

  • Insecticide Act 1968, was enacted to regulate imports, manufacture, storage, transport, sale, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to prevent risk to human beings and animals.

  • The Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) approves the use of pesticides in India.

  • The health and family welfare ministry monitors and regulates pesticide levels in food, and sets limits for residues in food commodities.

  • Department of Agriculture, Co-Operation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) has launched a scheme “Strengthening and Modernization of Pest Management Approach in India” to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

  • “Grow Safe food” Campaign has been initiated to create awareness about the safe and judicious use of pesticides among the various stakeholders

  • India is signatory to UNEP led Stockholm Convention for persistent organic pollutants and Rotterdam convention which promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labelling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.

  • Draft Pesticides Management Bill 2017 aims to regulate the manufacture, imports, storage, transportation, inspection, testing and distribution of pesticides.

 

7. Kaziranga National Park

About the Kaziranga National Park

  • Kaziranga protected area was established in 1904 and is located on the edge of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

  • The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer other than the one-horned rhino.

  • Kaziranga is recognized as an ‘Important Bird Area’ by Birdlife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.

  • There are five ranges in the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division. These are Kaziranga (Kohora), Eastern Range (Agaratoli), Western Range (Bagori), Burhapahar Range and Northern Range with headquarters at Biswanath. Of these ranges, four are located on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra, while the Northern Range is located on the north bank of the river.

  • The Kaziranga South Division will cover all areas of Kaziranga situated on the south bank of the Brahmaputra with existing four Ranges viz. Kaziranga (Kohora), Eastern Range (Agaratoli), Western Range (Bagori) and Burhapahar Range.

  • The headquarters of the North division will be at Biswanath with three ranges under this division at Biswanath, Panpur and Gohpur (Gomeri). The Panpur Range and the Gohpur Range (Gomeri) will be newly created under the proposed Kaziranga North division.

 

Reason for Bifurcation

  • Due to expansion of area under the KNP, it became difficult for one division to manage the National Park and because of this these areas did not get the desired attention. Specific issues faced are-

  • Poachers remained un-convicted due to large area of the park, which can now be curbed better as it mostly happened in the northern region, and officers from the southern side were unable to prevent it.

  • The funds allocated were not only under-utilised but were largely unused, with bifurcation separate authorities will be more accountable.

  • It will also ease overcoming staff shortage as northern region can now recruit from northern Assam separately and so with the southern region.

  • Tourism was also suffering largely due to above mentioned reasons, bifurcation will lead to better management and increased visitation and hence, the revenue.

 

Criticism

  • It is predicted that this decision may have benefits in the short run, but in the long run it may-

  • come at the cost of the ecology, road and river network.

  • result in increased noise an air pollution due to increased footfall.

  • make the animals more ‘zoo-like’, and hence tamer, taking away the sense of adventure that attracts tourists to the Kaziranga National Park.

 

8. Cheetah Reintroduction Project

About the Plan

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), is nodal agency for the Cheetahs reintroduction plan.

  • In 2009 Project Cheetah was launched and Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (MP) and Shahgarh area in Rajasthan were also identified as other two sites for cheetah reintroduction plan.

  • Nauradehi was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of Cheetahs

 

Significance of the move

  • About Cheetahs

  • It was declared extinct in India in 1952 and last spotted in Chhattisgarh 1947.

  • The only mammal to become extinct in India in last 1,000 years.

  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

 

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • It is a statutory body and has overarching supervisory/coordination role as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

  • It approves the Tiger Conservation Plan prepared by the State Governments.

  • It will make India the only country in the world to host six of the world's eight large cats, including lions, tigers, jaguars, panthers and leopards.

  • Cheetah is the flagship species of the grasslands. This will help dryland ecosystems of India to return to their natural state.

 

Issue Involved

  • Earlier plans for reintroduction of Cheetah have been stalled due to insufficient funds and inadequacy of field assessment.

  • Some wild life experts are on the view that the introduction of African cheetah may act as an alien species to the native ecosystem which might generate negative effects on indigenous wild life species.

 

9. New Elephant Reserve

Status of elephant conservation;

  • Elephant is National Heritage Animal and categorised as Endangered under IUCN list.

  • It is under schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

  • Singhbhum Elephant Reserve in Jharkhand is the first Elephant Reserve of the Country.

  • Karnataka has the highest number of elephants followed by Assam and Kerala respectively.

  • Recently, Nagaland government declared the Singphan Wildlife Sanctuary as an Elephant Reserve, with the approval of central government.

 

About the Singhphan Elephant Reserve

  • It is located in Mon district of Nagaland and spreads over an area of 5825 acres.

  • It has huge tracts of forest, strategically located in contiguity with the Abhaypur Reserve Forest of Assam.

  • Presently, elephant distribution habitat in Nagaland is highly fragmented, this move will give better protection and conservation of elephants in the state.

  • After the declaration it became the 30th Elephant Reserve in the country.

  • Other Protected areas in Nagaland

  • Intanki National Park, Puliebadze Wildlife Sanctuary, Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and Rangapahar Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

10. The National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank

​​Related Information

  • Wildlife Genetic Resource Banking (GRB) is a systematic collection and preservation of tissues, sperm, eggs and embryos, genetic material (DNA/RNA) of living beings.

  • Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species

  • It is a dedicated laboratory of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

  • It is the only institute in the country working towards conservation of endangered wildlife using modern biotechnologies to save endangered wildlife species of India.

  • Union Science and Technology Minister dedicated the National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank (NWGRB) in Hyderabad.

 

More on News

  • It is established at Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) and can store 17,000 vials worth of samples.

  • So far, genetic resources from 23 species of Indian wild animals have been collected and preserved. However, it is planned to contain genetic resources from 250 species in the beginning.

 

Utility of the institute

  • This facility would increase the collection of genetic resources from wildlife by facilitating exchange of genetic material between Indian zoos for maintaining genetic diversity.

  • It would also facilitate research work.

 

11. 3d-printed artificial reef

What is an Artificial Reef?

  • It is a human made structure, similar to natural coral reef, built with the specific aim of promoting the marine life of an area.

  • Most common forms of artificial reefs are submerged shipwrecks, bridges, lighthouses, etc, which often start functioning as marine habitat after a period of time.

 

Similar Initiatives

  • In 2017, Tamil Nadu govt in collaboration with IIT Madras have been restoring Vaan Island in Gulf of Mannar by deploying artificial reefs.

 

What is 3D-Printing Technology?

  • It is an additive process wherein an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

  • Recently, World's largest 3D-printed reef installed in Maldives, for coral reefs survive due to threat posed by climate change and warming waters.

 

About the 3D-Printed Artificial Reef

  • It was developed using computer modelling and a 3D printer, which resemble reef structures typically found in the Maldives.

  • The reef structure is cast in ceramic, an inert material similar to the calcium carbonate found in coral reefs.

  • Live coral was then transplanted within the artificial reef, where it will grow and colonize the structure.

 

Significance

  • Rising temperatures across the reefs have led to coral bleaching thus the initiative is vital to ensure the survival of marine habitats.

  • Traditionally, coral reefs take hundreds of years to form. However, given the speed of ongoing man-made habitat destruction, reefs wouldn’t have time to recover.

  • Artificial reefs helps in generating marine ecosystem and boosting commercial activities by providing fishing grounds.

 

12. State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index 2018

Background

  • In 2001 the Energy Conservation Act was introduced which was instrumental in the formation of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the State Designated Agencies (SDA) in the states. It also put in place the much-needed institutional framework for formulating energy efficiency policies and implementing them.

  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is one of the eight national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). NMEEE aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating conducive regulatory and policy regime and has envisaged fostering innovative and sustainable business models to the energy efficiency sector. The Mission is implemented since 2011.

  • To compliment such efforts the index was recently released considering energy consumption, energy saving potential and states’ influence in implementing energy efficiency in buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture and DISCOMs.

 

About State Energy Efficiency Index

  • Its 4 main objectives are-

  • Help drive EE policies and program implementation at state and local level

  • Highlight best practices and encourage healthy competition among states

  • Track progress in managing states’ and India’s energy footprint

  • Set a baseline for EE efforts to date and provide a foundation to set state-specific EE targets

 

Major Parameters

  • Building sector: implementing UJALA for energy efficient lighting; incorporating Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in municipal building bye-laws; Making mandatory energy audits for certain category of buildings and provide financial incentives for EE building construction and retrofits.

  • Industry sector: BEE’s PAT programme; Programmes for driving energy efficiency in MSMEs and other non-PAT industries are few and far between.

  • Municipal sector: (Energy Efficiency Service Limited) EESL’s Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP); EESL’s Municipal Energy Efficiency Programme (MEEP) for public water works and sewerage system retrofits. Other state-level municipal energy efficiency initiatives.

  • Energy efficient transportation: tracking the fuel efficiency of State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTU) which is published by MoRTH, Use of FAME scheme to purchase hybrid/electric vehicles.

  • DISCOMs: reducing Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses.

  • It examines states’ policies and regulations, financing mechanisms, institutional capacity, adoption of energy efficiency and energy savings. The Index has 63 indicators in all - 59 across buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture and DISCOMs; and 4 cross-cutting indicators.

  • In each sector, energy efficiency indicators have been developed to measure the impact of state initiatives in driving energy efficiency in states. The indicators are both qualitative and quantitative, which include outcome-based indicators as well to signify realisation of the intended performance outcomes, to the extent possible, for various energy efficiency policies and programs.

  • The ‘Front runner’ states in the inaugural edition of the State Energy Efficiency Index are Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.

 

Conclusion

  • Periodic release of the State Energy Efficiency Index shall help track progress in managing states’ energy footprint and provide guidance in formulating data-driven, evidence-based policies and programmes at the state level.

  • It will also contribute towards national energy data management by helping streamline energy efficiency data collection in states.

  • The energy efficiency indicators shall be continuously revised and updated based upon the evolving EE landscape in India.

 

13. Bio-Jet Fuel Flight

​​About Bio-Jet Fuel

  • It is a type of Biofuel which are produced from biomass resources and used in place of, or blended with ATF.

  • Bio jet fuel can be produced from animal fat, used cooking oil, waste dairy fat, sewage sludge, etc.

 

Characteristics

  • The oil needs to have a freezing point below -47 degrees so it doesn’t freeze at altitudes at which planes fly.

  • It should not catch fire on ground when being transferred into a plane.

  • It must have the same density as ATF, have a certain calorific value and should not choke the filters.

  • It has lower sulphur content which causes less wear and tear.

  • Aircraft was powered with a blend of 75% air turbine fuel (ATF) and 25% bio-jet fuel made from jatropha crop.

  • The bio-jet fuel developed by CSIR-IIP was recognised by American Standard for Testing and Material and received a patent by 2011.

  • International standards permit a blend rate of up-to 50% bio fuel with ATF.

 

Significance

  • Reduce Dependency: The large-scale production of bio-jet fuels would reduce dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50 per cent on every flight and bring down fares.

  • Cleaner Environment: The move will be a step toward cleaner environment, because a flight completely powered by bio-jet fuel has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent.

  • Meeting Global agency target: It will help in meeting the International Air Transport Association (IATA) target for one billion passengers to fly on aircraft using a mix of clean energy and fossil fuels by 2025.

  • Employment Generation: Growth of bio-jet fuel and related infrastructure such as plant operations, village level entrepreneurs and supply chain management, will generate employment.

  • Additional Income to Farmers: Nearly, 70% of the cost of the bio fuel constitutes the feed cost, if the production of these crops scaled up by demand side factors, there will be increase in famer income.

 

Challenges

  • High Cost: It has noted that given the current immaturity of the supply chain of the aviation biofuel industry, these fuels have lower economies of scale and can cost almost two to three times higher than conventional ATF.

  • Agricultural Influence: The availability of bio-fuel is highly depended on condition of agricultural production in the country. For instance, production of Jatropha and other bio-fuel crop varies seasonally and does not assure optimum supply levels needed to meet the demand at any given time.

  • Ambiguity regarding greenhouse gas emission: Study by Yale university has found that use of plant jatropha (source of bio-jet fuel) could either reduce greenhouse gas emission by up to 85%, or increase them by 60%, depending on the circumstances in which it is produced.

 

Step Can be taken

  • Infrastructure: The infrastructure to mass-produce bio-jet fuel, and to deliver it at airports, is in growing stage, therefore, bio-jet fuel capable infrastructure as developed in Los Angeles Air-Port should be adopted by other countries.

  • Balancing the production: There is a need of balancing the production of raw material for food security and energy security, because production of the first generation of biofuels had shown the displacement of other agricultural activity.

August Environmental Issues

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