Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – October 24, 2018


Q.1) Critically examine the impact of urbanization on water bodies. What are the various government interventions in tackling loss of urban water bodies in India? Suggest remedial measures.


The one thing that is common to Mumbai, Srinagar and Chennai floods highlights how unfettered urbanisation has led to the depletion of water bodies in urban areas, which has pushed urban floods.

Impact of urbanisation on water bodies:

  1. City planners have willfully neglected and destroyed these water bodies.
  2. Water bodies are encroached, full of sewage and garbage.
  3. Because of unplanned urbanization, much of the landscape around the lakes has been covered by impervious surfaces. As a result, instead of rainwater, it is the sewage and effluents that are filling up urban water bodies.

Govt interventions:

  1. National lake conservation plan
  2. National Water Mission under National Action Plan on Climate Change
  3. National Water Policy
  4. Policy on Rain Water Harvesting
  5. The water (prevention and control of pollution) rules
  6. The water (prevention and control of pollution) act
  7. The water (prevention and control of pollution) cess act

Remedial measures:

  1. Planned urbanisation
  2. Developing local solutions life rainwater harvesting by involving the communities around water bodies.
  3. Reclamation of water bodies by desilting and periodic dredging.
  4. Strict implementation of environmental regulations.


Q.2) The limited opportunities to mine for minerals on land is making the world consider deep sea mining as an alternative. What are the benefits and environmental consequences of deep sea mining? Discuss the geopolitical issues with deep sea mining.


Deep sea mining is a relatively new mineral retrieval process that takes place on the ocean floor. Ocean mining sites are around large areas of polymetallic nodules or active and extinct hydrothermal vents.


  1. Ocean minerals are becoming increasingly valuable in the current market: with commodity prices soaring
  2. This could contribute to a more sustainable production of our future resources – for the benefit of mankind.
  3. The world’s supply of resources is unevenly spread across the globe. Accessing ocean resources help all nations develop.
  4. The special metals found in rich deposits there are critical for smart electronics and crucial green technologies, such as solar power and electric cars.
  5. As the world’s population rises, demand is now outstripping the production from mines on land for some important elements.
  6. Richness of the underwater ores mean the environmental impacts will be far lower than on land.

Environmental consequences:

  1. Ocean pollution could impact the biodiversity.
  2. There could also be disturbance to global climate patterns as it affects the oceans and seas largely.
  3. Exotic and little-known ecosystems in the deep oceans could be destroyed and must be protected.

Geopolitical issues:

  1. There could be increased conflicts around marine boundaries and demarcation of EEZ between nations.
  2. Some important resources are currently monopolised by single nations, such as the rare earth elements (REEs), which have widespread uses in communications, computing and weaponry.


Q.3) What are the lessons for India and Pakistan from the Korean summit? How can it be implemented to reduce the differences between the countries?


North and South Korea held a summit that gave hopes of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Any progress on India Pakistan bilateral relation could lead to similar hopes for South Asia.

Lessons for India and Pakistan:

  1. Over 12 lakh people are estimated to have been killed in the Korean War, as compared to over a lakh in the Kashmir conflict, the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan.
  2. Just life Korean Peninsula, India was partitioned after the Second World War.
  3. The threat of nuclear weapons loom large. Political reconciliation between India and Pakistan, many argue, will help reduce the salience of nuclear weapons.
  4. Both the countries possess many similarities which can be tapped for mutual benefit and also for South Asia.

However, the religious and voluntary basis of the South Asian partition stands in contrast to the primacy of the geopolitical in the division of the Korean Peninsula.

Way to implement:

  1. Restarting talks and diplomacy.
  2. Ensuring trade relations flourish despite tensions on other historic issues.
  3. India should try to engage all stakeholders in negotiations while Pakistan has to give assurances on curbing terrorism from its soil.
  4. In Korean peninsula, what is being considered is a peace treaty, an open border, greater economic and commercial cooperation.
  5. Resolving long-standing political disputes and normalising economic and cultural relations.


Q.4)India is planning to shift to BS-VI fuels by 2020.What are the challenges in its implementation and what supplementary measures can be taken to reduce the atmospheric pollution in india.


To bring down pollution levels and having cleaner vehicles on the road, Government has decided to skip directly to BS VI norms by 2020.

Challenges in implementation:

  1. It took 7 years for the entire country to shift to BS-IV. Leapfrogging one stage — BS-V — altogether makes the switch to BS-VI more difficult for both the oil companies and automobile makers.
  2. Introduction of higher grade fuel will be beneficial only if it is done along with the rollout of BS-VI compliant vehicles. Using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, and may damage the engine in the long run.
  3. For automakers, the big hurdle in jumping directly from BS-IV to BS-VI norms lies in equipping cars with two key fitments, and road-testing them within the time schedule.
  4. BS-VI norms may not bring perceptible change in air quality but may increase the prices of vehicles by Rs 20,000-Rs 2 lakh.
  5. Doubts have been raised about the ability of the oil marketing companies to deliver on the claim.
  6. Rolling out higher grade fuel and vehicles first in the cities has inherent drawbacks, as was evident in the BS-IV implementation. Just outside the peripheries of designated BS-IV cities, BS-III vehicles could be registered; BS-IV vehicles were more expensive, and BS-III fuel was cheaper than the BS-IV equivalent. Interstate trucks and buses were forced to stay on with BS-III engines simply because the fuel outside cities did not conform to BS-IV norms.

Measures to reduce atmospheric pollution:

  1. E-vehicles have to be propagated through subsidies and awareness generation.
  2. Urban forests and promoting greenery.
  3. Public transport systems and reducing private vehicle usage.
  4. Enabling healthy transport options life bicycling and walking by definite pathways for pedestrians.
  5. Transit Oriented Development policies reduce the need for long hours of travel.
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