Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 14, 2018


Q.1) Despite a strict law, what do you think are the reasons for which illegal trade of wild birds is rampant in India? What are the steps taken by Government for conservation and management of endangered species of birds? (GS–3)


  • Over the past two decades reports have shown that of the 1,300 Indian species of birds, about 450 are being traded in domestic and international markets.
  • Winter is a preferred time for the trade as the birds can undertake longer journeys without food and water, and can be stored in smaller spaces to avoid detection.
  • Since West Bengal shares a weak 2,216 km border with Bangladesh, the birds are easily taken to the neighbouring country, and smuggled all over the world via traders in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

Illegal trade of wild birds is rampant in India:

Despite a strict law, the illegal trade of wild birds is rampant in India because of the following reasons:

  • The main reason for the unabated wildlife trafficking across India is its weak international land borders.
  • The biggest bottleneck in ensuring efficient checks on wildlife trafficking is the exponentially growing demand for animal trophies in India.
  • The lack of political will and governance failures worsen the situation.
  • It is an unending problem as long as there is demand for wild Indian birds in local markets.
  • While there are provisions in the law to prosecute the buyers of these birds, it has not been implemented.
  • The underground nature of trade in wild Indian birds makes it difficult to enumerate it.
  • Disincentives for over-exploitation and illegal trade, such as penalties for legal infringements are also not strong enough.

Steps taken by Government for conservation and management of endangered species of birds:

The steps taken by Government for conservation and management of endangered species of birds are as follows:

  • India is signatory to several major international conventions for the protection endangered species of birds.
  • Some of them are: Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • The Central Government has enacted the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for protection of wildlife including birds.
  • The Act, inter alia, provides for creation of Protected Areas for protection of wild life and also provides for punishment for hunting of specified fauna including birds specified in the schedules I to IV thereof.
  • Important habitats of birds have been notified as Protected Areas under the Act.
  • Wetland (Conservation and Management)Rules 2010 have been framed for protection of wetlands, in the States, which are habitats of birds.
  • The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System also provides assistance to the States for management of wet lands including Ramsar sites in the country.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for control of illegal trade in wildlife, including endangered species of birds and their parts and products.
  • Research and monitoring activities on birds are promoted by the Government through reputed research organizations.

Q.2) Bellandur lake in Bengaluru has been in the news in recent months for the surge of foam and froth from the polluted lake, and the rise of smoke and flames from the area surrounding it. Examine the magnitude of polluted lakes, its challenges and measures adopted by government. (GS–3)


  • The microbes feeding on the rotting organic matter consume all the oxygen in the water, disturbing the ecology for the survival of fish life.
  • When such organic matter naturally breaks down, it releases fatty acids that float to the surface.
  • These act as natural surfactants, which allow minute bubbles to form which often persist for a long time. This is how foam is formed and turns into froth.
  • Phosphorus is useful for agriculture, but it is directly responsible for choking our surface waters with aquatic vegetation.


The challenges in curbing polluted lakes in India are as follows:

  • India has no mandatory rules limiting phosphorus content in detergents and laundry bars.
  • Even the demand for detergents has grown at the rate of 10-11 per cent per annum between 2005 and 2010, and is likely to have been faster in the subsequent years because of rapid urbanisation.
  • The phosphorus content in the detergents in India is much higher than 2.2 per cent.
  • Aquatic vegetation not yet covered by the rules under the Environment Protection Act 1986.
  • Waste management is critical — solid waste (garbage), liquid waste (sewage), and aquatic waste.
  • Additional challenges are posed by encroachment, which diminishes catchments for freshwater.

Measures adopted by government:

The measures adopted by the government in curbing polluted lakes in India are as follows:

  • Dredging of dried lake beds and tank beds in the drought affected areas
  • Implementation of Wetland Conservation measures as per Ramsar Convention
  • Digging deep trenches surrounding the lakes to avoid waste dumping, especially in urban areas
  • Exclusive missions of various state governments like Mission Kakatiya of Telangana for rejuvenating lakes, ponds and tanks.
  • Rejuvenation works taken up under MGNREGA, PMKSY etc
  • New Municipal and Solid Waste Management Rules mandates segregation, recycling and reuse of waste, and emphasis on waste treatment before discharging.

Q.3) What do you mean by bioremediation? How does it work? How can it address pollution? Discuss. (GS–3)


  • Bioremediation is a natural process that involves the use of biological entities to neutralize the contaminated site.
  • It is a “treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances”.
  • Bioremediation is the technology that uses microorganism metabolism to remove pollutants.
  • It uses relatively lowcost, low-technology techniques, which generally have a high public acceptance and can often be carried out on site.

This technology includes:

  • biostimulation (stimulating viable native microbial population),
  • bioaugmentation (artificial introduction of viable population),
  • bioaccumulation (live cells),
  • biosorption (dead microbial biomass),
  • phytoremediation (plants) and
  • rhizoremediation (plant and microbe interaction
  • Bioventing
  • Bioleaching
  • Land farming

Usage of bioremediation:

The usage of bioremediation are as follows:

  • Bioremediation can be used at the site of contamination (in situ) or on contamination removed from the original site (ex situ).
  • In the case of contaminated soil, sediments, and sludges, it can involve land tilling in order to make the nutrients and oxygen more available to the microorganisms.
  • Bioremediation serves as a very effective method of removing poisonous contaminants and heavy metals from effluent water.
  • It also serves as a cheap and easy means of water treatment which leaves behind non-toxic by product since it involves living organisms with the ability to transform toxic matters in their normal biological activities to yield non-toxic by products.


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