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Q.1) Economy need of coastal regions should balance its ecological need. In this context analyze coastal regulation zones 2018 notification? Answer: New regulations:
  1. permit current Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in urban areas coming under CRZ-II
  2. does away with the restrictions on construction which date back to the Development Control Rules of 1991
  3. CRZ-II urban category pertains to areas “that have been developed up to or close to the shoreline”, and are legally designated municipal limits already provided with roads, water supply, sewerage connections and so on
  4. For rural areas, it adds a sub-category to CRZ-III; new provision, CRZ-III A, applies development restrictions to a much smaller area of 50 metres from the high tide line, compared to the 200 metres that was earmarked as the no development zone (NDZ) earlier for densely populated areas. These are defined as places with a population of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census. Areas with a population density below that will continue to have 200 metres as the NDZ.
  5. However, for tourism expansion, the new scheme will allow temporary facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks and changing rooms, maintaining only a slim margin of 10 metres from the high tide line.
  6. The system of granting clearances has also been changed. States will have the authority to approve proposals for urban (CRZ-II) and rural (CRZ-III) areas. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change will grant clearances for ecologically sensitive areas (CRZ-I), and areas falling between the low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward. The modifications also include demarcation of a 20-metre no development zone for all islands and guidelines to deal with sensitive areas.
Why
  1. relaxation of development controls along the coastline  to encourage construction of buildings and launch tourism activities
  2. affordable housing availability and tourism will grow if restrictions on coastal zones are relaxed
Impact
  1. It ignored two major issues: maintaining a well demarcated hazard line and factoring in the effects of climate change on sea levels
  2. impacts of periodic cyclones show that coastlines will become even more vulnerable.
  3. Protection of fishers poses a challenge, since the relaxation of development controls could subject them to severe commercial pressures
  4. decision to allow construction and tourist facilities closer to the coast may boost employment and grow local business, but without strong environmental safeguards, these could damage fragile ecosystems.
  Q.2) Pseudo-Science deliberation at recently held Indian Science Congress reflects undermining of research ethics in India due to poor peer reviewing of journals. In this context provides measures needed for strengthening scientific research ethics in India? Answer: In recent years, “pseudo-science” has crept into the otherwise progressive and constructive deliberations. As Prof. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government put it; pseudo-science “poses a great danger.” While it grabs headlines, it damages the cause of science. Measures to strengthen scientific research ethics:
  1. Taking measures to allow more private funding in research. As survey points out, in India, the government is not just the primary source of R&D funding but also its the primary user of these funds.
  2. Inculcate less hierarchical governance systems, that are less beholden to science administrators and encourage risk-taking and curiosity in the pursuit of excellence.
  3. Popularising the white list of journals and more credible accreditation of journals across the country.
  4. Doubling national expenditures on R&D with most of the increase coming from the private sector and universities.
  5. India needs to gradually move to have a greater share of an investigator-driven model for funding science research.
  6. Mission driven approach to R&D will focus more on results than the papers.
  Q.3) Discuss the negative impact of linear infrastructure on wildlife. Suggest measures combat the same. Answer: Man-made linear infrastructure such as roads, highways, power lines, railway lines, canals, pipelines (water, gas, petroleum), electric fences, and fire lines, have highly detrimental ecological impacts and pose significant threat to wildlife. Impact:
  1. Habitat Loss:There is direct loss of habitat during establishment and maintenance of roads, highways and railway lines due to clearance of vegetation, dumping of excavated earth and materials, movement of heavy vehicles etc.
  2. Habitat Fragmentation: Road and railway lines dissect contiguous habitat patches, resulting in smaller patches and consequent decline in biodiversity due to increased outer disturbances.
  3. Degradation of Habitat quality: wildlife habitats adjacent to rail and roads often suffers from various detrimental impacts from invasion of exotic species, pollution due to liquid solid wastes and emissions.
  4. Noise Induced Psychological and Behavioural changes in animals: Traffic noise is often attributed to cause significant psychological and behavioural issues in animals especially birds. Traffic noise directly interferes with birds’ vocal communication and consequently their territorial behaviour and mating.
  5. Injury and mortality:
  6. Road and rail induced injury and mortality has been one of the prime concerns for wildlife conservationists with and expanding infrastructure.According to govt. sources 49 elephants were killed in Railway accidents between 2016 and 2018 in India; highest deaths occurring in Assam and West Bengal.
  7. Overhead transmissions lines, electric fences pose significant threat of electrocution for birds, arboreal animals and even bigger mammals like elephants.
Redressal:
  1. New linear infrastructure projects that disregard MoEFCC’s guidelines and do not incorporate wildlife-friendly designs and required crossing structures should not be permitted in designated protected areas and critical habitats.
  2. There is an urgent need for formulation of a comprehensive and broadly applicable national policy to address the adverse effects of linear infrastructure on wildlife.
  3. It is important to adopt ecologically sound practices and alternatives to harmful linear intrusions in natural areas. Such measures could include natural crossings (e.g. Canopy bridges in Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary), underpass, overpasses etc.
  Q.4) The National Clean Air Program launched by the government is a shift from earlier air pollution tackling schemes but its success is still doubtful. Critically examine. Answer: National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) proposes a “tentative national target” of 20%-30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison. NCAP will be rolled out in 102 cities that are considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Shift from earlier schemes:
  1. NCAP takes into account available international experiences and national studies.
  2. It notes that internationally, actions have been “city-specific” rather than country-oriented, and cites examples such as Beijing and Seoul that saw 35%-40% PM2.5 reduction in five years.
  3. NCAP talks of a “collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination” between central ministries, state governments, and local bodies.
  4. NCAP appears to be targeting effective implementation. For example, it talks of “congestion management” at traffic junctions by the traffic police, solid waste management by municipal corporations, and stringent industrial standards put in place by concerned ministries.
Possible challenges:
  1. Reductions by similar levels as abroad might leave Indian cities still heavily polluted. Delhi’s very severe pollution levels are four times the permissible limits now, and a 30% reduction by 2024 would still leave it very dangerous for health.
  2. City-specific source apportionment studies is needed to refine air quality managements plans for the city.