Environment


Pollution

Children and Digital Dumpsites Report Highlights impacts of E-waste

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What is the News?

The World Health Organization(WHO) has released a report titled “Children and Digital Dumpsites”.

About Children and Digital Dumpsites Report:
  • The report summarizes the latest scientific knowledge on the links between informal e-waste recycling activities and the health impact among children.
  • The report also underlined the risk faced by children working in the informal processing of discarded electronic devices or e-waste.

Key Findings of the Children and Digital Dumpsites Report:

  • Every year, as many as 18 million children — as young as five years — and about 12.9 million women work at e-waste dumpsites.
  • The e-waste from high-income countries is dumped in the middle- or low-income countries for processing every year. This e-waste is dismantled and recycled by children.
  • This e-waste contains over 1,000 precious metals and other substances like gold, copper, mercury, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • Low-income countries do not have proper safeguarding regulations, which makes the process even more dangerous.
  • Moreover, children are especially preferred at these dumpsites because of their small and dexterous hands. Several women, including pregnant women, also work at these sites.
Impact of E-Waste:
  • Children: The children working at these e-waste dumpsites are prone to improper lung function, deoxyribonucleic acid damage, and increased risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Children are also less likely to metabolize or eradicate pollutants absorbed.
  • Women: Processing e-waste exposes women as well as their children to toxins, which can lead to premature births and stillbirth.
  • E-Waste Areas: The hazardous impact of working at e-waste dumpsites is also experienced by families and communities that reside in the vicinity of these e-waste dumpsites.

Read Also :-E-Waste Management in India- An Overview

Recommendations:
  • The report has called for the monitoring, safe disposal of e-waste, and raising awareness about its outcomes on the health of children and women working at these dumpsites.

About E-Waste:

  • E-Waste(Electronic-Waste) is a term used to describe old, end-of-life, or discarded electronic appliances. It includes computers, mobiles, consumer electronics among others.
E-Waste Generation:
  • According to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, the volume of e-waste generated is surging rapidly across the globe.
  • About 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2019. But only 17.4% of this e-waste was processed in formal recycling facilities.
  • The rest of it was dumped in low- or middle-income countries for illegal processing by informal workers.
  • Moreover, this is likely to increase in the coming years because of the rise in the number of smartphones and computers.

Source: Down To Earth

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged , ,

“Oil Spill” at Sri Lanka’s Coast

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What is the News?

Sri Lanka is preparing for a major oil spill. A burnt-out container ship is sinking outside Colombo’s harbor with nearly 350 tonnes of oil in its fuel tanks. This ship was burning for the last 13 days, causing Sri Lanka’s worst maritime environmental disaster.

What is an Oil Spill?

  • Oil Spill is the contamination of seawater due to an oil pour as a result of an accident or human error.
  • Oil spills into oceans most often are caused by accidents involving tankers, barges, pipelines, refineries, drilling rigs and storage facilities.

Impact of Oil Spill:

Environmental Impact of Oil Spill:
  • Oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.
  • Oil coating on feathers destroys bird’s abilities like waterproofing and insulation. It also decreases the water repellency of birds feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.
  • Both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills.
  • Birds can also die of overheating as they are not able to lose body heat due to oil coating.
  • Ingested oil can be toxic to affected animals, and damage their habitat and reproductive rate.
Economic Impacts of Oil Spill:
  • It can result in less tourism and commerce on beaches and populated shorelines.
  • The power plants and other utilities that depend on drawing or discharging seawater are severely affected by oil spills.
  • Major oil spills are frequently followed by the immediate suspension of commercial fishing.

Human Impact of Oil Spill:

  • The effects of oil spill on marine life can in turn adversely affect humans. For instance, the contamination of local ecosystems can impact communities that rely on marine ecosystems to survive.
  • Water supplies in surrounding areas are at risk of contamination from oil spills.
  • Fishermen and local ship workers can lose their sources of income. Because now health problems will be associated with exposure to oil such as respiratory damage, decreased immunity, and increased cancer risk.

How are oil spills cleaned? There are a few ways to clean up oil spills including:

  • Skimming: It involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.
  • In situ burning: It means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
  • Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets. It makes it easier for microbes to consume, and further, break it down into less harmful compounds.
  • Natural actions in aquatic environments such as weathering, evaporation, biodegradation and oxidation can also help reduce the severity of an oil spill. It also accelerates the recovery of an affected area.
  • Sorbents: Various sorbents (e.g., straw, volcanic ash, and shavings of polyester-derived plastic) that absorb the oil from the water are used.
  • Dispersing agents: These are chemicals that contain surfactants or compounds that act to break liquid substances such as oil into small droplets. They accelerate its natural dispersion into the sea.
  • Biological agents: Nutrients, enzymes, or microorganisms such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris that increase the rate at which natural biodegradation of oil occurs are added.

Source: The Hindu

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

Biomedical Waste Management during pandemic – Explained, Pointwise

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Introduction

Prior to the pandemic, India’s biomedical waste management capacity was already limited. Now, with the advent of the pandemic, biomedical waste generation has increased manifold. CPCB has given guidelines to discard the biomedical waste generated in Covid-19 camps and Covid-related material such as gloves and masks in households. However, the implementation of the guidelines is limited as local bodies are not equipped to handle biomedical waste, and even the public doesn’t have enough knowledge about segregating it. All this is leading to the piling up of biomedical waste.

According to the environment ministry, nearly 146 tonnes of biomedical waste is generated per day in the country due to diagnostic activities and treatment of Covid-19 patients. Since India is fighting with the second wave of Covid-19 and still producing and using numerous masks, Personal Protection Equipments, etc. the medical waste generation is going to increase further. So, India needs practical solutions to tackle this silent menace created by the pandemic.

Biomedical waste generation during the pandemic
  1. According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the quantity of Biomedical wastes generated per day in the country has almost doubled from 7.22 lakh kg in pre-Covid times to nearly 14 lakh kg now. This rise in waste generation is directly related to the number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
  2. The IMA also noted that the per-bed Biomedical waste generation was 250 grams per day before the pandemic. But today, per-bed Biomedical waste generation is around 400 grams per day.
  3. The majority of biomedical waste generated during the pandemic is related to Covid-19 treatment. Such as personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, face masks, head cover, plastic coverall, hazmat suit, syringes, and other medical equipment used by both healthcare providers and patients.
  4. According to scientists, these biomedical wastes will take thousands of years to biodegrade. During the process, they will also release tonnes of microplastics into our environment.

To tackle this menace the CPCB even launched a COVID19BWM App to track biomedical waste.

What is biomedical waste?

In simple terms, it means any waste generated during diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities. Management of biomedical waste is an integral part of infection control and hygiene programs. Without proper treatment, these medical wastes can create an adverse impact on the environment and public health.

Only about 10% – 25% of BMW is hazardous, and the remaining 75%–95% is non-hazardous. So, the segregation of biomedical waste is the key to its management.

Biomedical waste management rules in India

In July 1998 the government of India notified the biomedical waste management rules. There was modification of rules in 2000, 2003, and 2011. But the 2011 medical waste management rules remained as a draft due to a lack of consensus on categorization and standards.

After the consensus and standardization, the Indian government released Biomedical Waste Management rules in 2016. The salient features of this rule are,

  1. Expansion of the ambit: The scope of the rules have been expanded to include various health camps such as vaccination camps, blood donation camps, and surgical camps
  2. Role of State governments: The State Government has to provide land for setting up a common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility (CBMWTF). Apart from that, the State government will also have to set up a district-level committee (This committee shall submit its report to the State Pollution Control Board every 6 months).
  3. Segregation: Biomedical waste has been classified into 4 categories instead of the earlier 10 categories. This is to improve the segregation of waste at the source.
    • Yellow – This includes post-operated body parts, caps, masks, pathological wastes, bedding, placenta, plaster of Paris, etc
    • Red – This includes syringe, IV Sets, catheters, gloves, urine bags, blood bags, dialysis kits, etc
    • White – This category contains waste sharps including needles, syringes, etc.
    • Blue – This category contains glassware and metallic body implants
  4. Role of health care facilities: The health care facilities have a larger role in medical waste management. Such as,
    • Compulsory pretreatment of the laboratory, microbiological waste, and blood bags before disposal
    •  Phasing out chlorinated plastic bags, gloves, blood bags, etc
    • Maintaining a registry of biomedical wastes generated in their facility and updating them daily.
Biomedical waste management practice in India
  1. The management of Biomedical wastes begins at the bedside of the patient. The hospitals categorize, segregate, pre-treat, and dispose of the medical waste in different containers.
  2. As per the 2016 rules, these wastes have to be treated and disposed of by Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility (CBWTF).
  3. In case, there is no CBWTF within the reach of a healthcare facility, then such healthcare facility should install a captive treatment and disposal facility.

According to the government data, India had 200 authorized CBWTFs in 28 States in 2020 for the environmentally safe disposal of biomedical waste. The remaining states do not have such facilities.

As per official government data for 2018, India generated 608 tonnes per day of Bio-medical Waste. Of that, 528 tonnes of waste was treated and disposed of properly. So, every day there are few tonnes of biomedical waste that went untreated. The impact of Covid-19 also affects the waste handling capacity of CBWTF and captive treatment centers.

Effects of biomedical waste in India

Pollution and health hazards are the two important impacts of medical wastes.

Pollution due to biomedical waste
  1. Land Pollution: If not treated and dumped into landfills then there is a high chance for heavy metals like cadmium, lead, mercury, etc. get released. Further, there is a chance these metals get absorbed by plants and can then enter the food chain also.
  2. Air Pollution: Pathogens present in the waste can enter and remain in the air for a long period in the form of spores or pathogens. As the Covid-19 spread through the air, improper treating/not treating it might lead to a new wave of Covid-19.
  3. Radioactive pollution: Hospitals are increasingly using radioactive isotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The main radioisotopes used in hospitals are technetium-99m (Tc-99m), Iodine-131(I-131), etc. This radioactive material can come from research laboratories, ICUs in liquid form. These have carcinogenic properties.
Health hazards due to biomedical waste
  1. Spread of infectious diseases: According to the WHO study, improper waste management is one of the major causes of an increase in infectious diseases globally. This is why the Covid-19 pandemic wastes require proper treatment.
  2. Operational health hazards: Improper handling of biomedical waste might lead to Injuries from sharps and exposure to harmful radioactive wastes. This will create issues for nurses, emergency medical personnel, sanitary workers.
  3. Increase antimicrobial resistance (AMR): The biomedical wastes aggravate the problem of AMR. Ever since the pandemic, the use of biocides (sanitizers, disinfectants, and antibiotics) increased manifold. If there is no proper treatment of biocides then the AMR will increase rapidly.
Suggestions to improve biomedical waste management
  1. Improving the sustainability of the health care sector: The government has to move beyond monitoring and enforcement. Instead, the government has to invest along with the health service providers to scale up the proper treatment of biomedical waste.
  2. Equipping Municipalities and Panchayats: The government has to provide training to ground-level workers to segregate biomedical wastes. Further, the government can even allot sufficient funds through central funding from National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
  3. Stringent actions against defaulters: The ill-operated health care facilities and CBWTFs have to be strictly punished. The government can even initiate the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for producers of biomedical equipment.
  4. Trigger Innovation: The government can incentivise start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that offer solutions for waste segregation and treatment.
  5. Awareness campaigns for waste segregation in households: Due to home quarantine and home treatment many individuals do not use yellow and red color bags for segregating their medical wastes. So, during the supply of medicine, the health officials have to create awareness about waste segregation. They should also provide garbage bags(Red and Yellow) along with their medicines.
Conclusion

With the opening-up of vaccination for all above 18 years, the volume of infectious waste generated from the vaccination clinics will increase manifold. So, the government has to ensure proper awareness regarding waste segregation, and  creation of proper facilities to treat the medical waste in India.

Posted in 7 PM, PUBLICTagged ,

Long-term “nitrogen dioxide”(NO2) exposure affects lungs: Study

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What is the News?

According to a study, Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide(NO2) pollution can affect lung function. Also, NO2 can increase the risk of pulmonary disease.

Key Findings:

  • The annual maximum NO2 exposure recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 21.3 parts per billion.
  • The study found that air pollution exposures in some parts of the survey area exceeded this figure.
  • Further, healthy individuals (mostly from low-income, urban communities) suffered a decline in lung function due to air pollution.
About the Study:
  • The study happened over a period of five years in Mysore, Karnataka. It is conducted from 2012-2014 to 2017-2018
  • The researchers conducted in-home field spirometry (lung function test). They conducted this test before and after bronchodilation (expansion of the bronchial air passages).
  • Most of the participants in the study used Liquified Petroleum Gas(LPG) cylinders provided under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
About Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2):
  • Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2) belongs to one of the highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen oxides (NOx). Other nitrogen oxides include nitrous acid and nitric acid.
  • Formation: NO2 is formed when fossil fuels like coal, oil, gas and diesel are burned at high temperatures. It is also formed during the burning of wood and natural gases.

Effects of NO2

 Health effects

  • Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system. Such exposures can aggravate respiratory diseases particularly asthma.
  • NO2 along with other NOx reacts with other chemicals in the air to form both particulate matter and ozone. Both of these are also harmful to the respiratory system.
Environmental effects:
  • NO2 and other NOx interact with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere and form acid rain. Acid rain harms sensitive ecosystems such as lakes and forests.
  • The nitrate particles make the air hazy and create visibility challenges.
  • NOx in the atmosphere contributes to nutrient pollution in coastal waters.

Source: Down To Earth

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, Index | Reports | Summits, PUBLICTagged


Protected areas

Flaws in Haryana Government’s order demanding demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis

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Synopsis:

The Haryana government’s order demanding the demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis is surrounded by multiple flaws. It would result in brutal violations of human rights. Therefore, the government should provide alternative land and reasonable facilities to those facing eviction.

Background:
  • The Haryana government has ordered to break 10,000 jhuggis in Khori Gaon without providing any rehabilitation plan.
    • Khori Gaon is located on the Delhi-Haryana border and comes under the Faridabad Municipal Corporation (FMC) jurisdiction.
  • The demolition is imperative as the jhuggis are located in a forest area and the residents don’t have any ownership over them. However, the order is surrounded by multiple flaws.
Issues associated with the Order:
  • First, it will put unprecedented stress on the residents, who are already facing immense uncertainties during the pandemic. Eviction may endanger the health, economic well-being, and lives of thousands.
    • Recently, a construction labourer (named Ganeshilal) committed suicide on hearing the demolition news.
  • Second, the order doesn’t extend to big high-rise buildings located in the same forest area. This includes The Taj Vivanta Hotel, the Sarovar Portico Hotel, the Pinnacle Business Tower, and the Radha Soami Satsang Centre.
  • Third, it undermines the right to shelter under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as no prudent plan for rehabilitation is given.
    • In the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation case, the Supreme Court held that it would be the duty of the state to provide the right to shelter for the poor and needy.
    • In the Shantistar Builders case, the Supreme Court held that the right to life includes the right to have reasonable accommodation.
  • Fourth, it violates India’s international obligation. The country has ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which guarantees a right to housing for all irrespective of income.

Apart from this, there exist other issues that make the situation worse for the poor dwellers.

Other Concerning issues:
  • First, the cut-off date for rehabilitation hasn’t been updated by Haryana Urban Development Authority since 2010. The cut-off date was fixed as 2003 but since then massive migration has taken place in the state, but the date hasn’t been updated.
    • Gujarat has a cut-off date of 2010 while Rajasthan and Bihar use 2009, and Karnataka requires just a one-year stay.
  • Second, several of those residents who settled before the cut-off date don’t possess the requisite documents. Thus, 90% of the 10,000 houses of the settlement of Khori Gaon will be denied rehabilitation.
  • Third, the multiple housing schemes of the government including the current PM Awas Yojana have not been implemented properly.

Read Also :-Higher Education in India: An Analysis 

Way Forward:
  • The Haryana government should do rehabilitation of the jhuggi-dwellers prior to their removal. This would involve 
    • conducting a detailed survey prior to the eviction, 
    • drawing up a rehabilitation plan and 
    • ensuring that upon eviction the dwellers are immediately rehabilitated
  • The Haryana government should update its rehabilitation policy by learning from other states’ progressive housing policies.
    • For instance, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act provides for a survey, removal and resettlement plan.
    • Under this, removal is done only when land is required for a public purpose; else the jhuggis are upgraded and improved in-situ.
    • An alternate house is provided if the family is staying in the jhuggi since 2015.

Source: Click Here

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged ,

SC refuses to stay demolition of settlements in “Aravalli range” in Haryana

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What is the News?

The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop the demolition of over 10,000 settlements encroaching on forests in the Aravalli range in Haryana’s Faridabad district.

What was the case about?
  • Public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the demolition of the settlements.
  • The petitioners had also asked the court for more time to produce documents to claim rehabilitation.
What did the Supreme Court say?
  • The Supreme Court has refused to stop the demolition. It said that the residents had enough time to prove their claims in accordance with a notification issued by Haryana in 2020.
  • The court also said the onus was on the State to rehabilitate the residents in compliance with a 2003 scheme. Hence, demolition should continue.
About Aravalli Range:

Read Also :-Are courts encroaching on the powers of the executive?

  • Aravalli Range is the oldest mountain range in India and one of the oldest mountain systems in the world.
  • The Aravalli range is spread across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
  • History:
    • The natural history of the Aravalli Range dates back to times when the Indian Plate was separated from the Eurasian Plate by an ocean.
    • Mining of copper and other metals in the Aravalli range dates back to at least the 5th century BCE, based on carbon dating.
  • Rivers: The three major rivers and their tributaries flow from the Aravalli. Namely Banas and Sahibi rivers which are tributaries of Yamuna, as well as Luni River which flows into the Rann of Kutch.
  • Highest Peak: Guru Shikhar Peak on Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range (1,722 m).

Source: The Hindu

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged ,

Maharashtra’s “Chandrapur” district is a hotbed for human-animal conflict

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What is the News?

Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district has seen 22 deaths from tiger attacks in 2021. However, the Central Chanda divisional forest area has kept the numbers down to two only.

Tigers in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra:
  • Chandrapur accounts for as many as 200 of Maharashtra’s 311 tigers. Under this, the Central Chanda area is estimated to hold 25 adult tigers. Hence, this district is a hotbed for man-animal conflict.

How did the Central Chanda area reduce deaths from the Tiger attack? The forest officials from Central Chanda has taken a series of measures. This includes,

  • Raising awareness among locals and avoiding accidental run-ins with the tiger
  • Changing timings of entry of villagers into the forest area
  • Ensuring villagers went in groups and not alone
  • Entry Registers were set up at the entrance of the forest area to act as a deterrent for those trying to sneak into the forest.
  • An anti-snare campaign was organized to educate villagers against setting up traps to catch small herbivores which end up attracting tigers
  • To motivate the forest staffers, certificates for good work were provided to them.
Tiger Reserves and Sanctuaries in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra:

Tadoba Tiger Reserve:

  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
  • The reserve includes the Tadoba National Park and the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Vegetation: Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak Forests.
  • Significance: It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.It was established as the second Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra in 1994-95.
Ghodazari Wildlife Sanctuary:
  • Ghodazari Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve established in 2018 in the Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
  • The sanctuary is considered a key region on the connecting corridor for the tiger migration between the Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve and Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Lake: Ghodazari lake is an important destination for native and migratory birds due to its undisturbed water body and abundance of food.
  • Fauna: Tigers are the main attraction and reason behind the creation of the sanctuary. Other wildlife mammals and reptiles are also found in the sanctuary.
  • Flora: The Sanctuary consists mainly of deciduous forest. It has an extensive distribution of teak, ain, Bamboo and other trees.

Source: Indian Express

Read Also :-WILDLIFE (PROTECTION) ACT, 1972 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

Issues with NTCA Circular on Shutting Down Tourism in Tiger Reserves

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Synopsis: The recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves shut down the tourism activities in tiger reserves. But the circular needs course correction.

Introduction:

India’s Project Tiger program is a globally successful initiative to conserve tigers. At present, India has 51 tiger reserves now boasts of at least 3,000 tigers.

The entire country is gearing up to relax the lockdown norms. However, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) closed the tourism activities in tiger reserves till further announcement. This deserves a wider public discussion.

The reason behind the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  • A lion at Chennai’s Vandalur Zoo has died of suspected coronavirus infection. Similarly, a tiger died at Jharkhand’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park after suffering from fever. This raised the suspicion regarding  Covid-19 disease transmission from human beings to captive wild animals.
  • This is why the NTCA issued a circular to chief wildlife wardens of all the tiger range states.
Issues with the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  1. Encroachment into the power of States: Forests and wildlife reserves fall under the concurrent list. The state chief wildlife wardens are the ultimate deciding authority for most issues concerning state forests. Thus, the recent NTCA Circular violates decentralized decision-making. For example, the Madhya Pradesh government has challenged the decision of NTCA.
  2. Against Vaccination Policy of locals: Tiger reserves were closed for almost two months during the second wave. Government and civil society organizations used this lockdown time to propagate the uses of vaccines, educate the nearby community towards testing, treating the Covid-19 diseases. All this done with one incentive, that is, faster reopening of forest reserves to the public to boost their economic activity. If this is reversed by the recent NTCA Circular, then the vaccination policies might delay in and around the tiger reserves.
  3. Research on the vulnerability of animals to Covid-19The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to zoo animals and domestic pets has been documented earlier. But these studies mention that the fatality rate in the animal is a rare case.
    • Further, these studies also point out that, direct contact with infected humans is the primary cause for infection in wild animals. That is not feasible in the majority of the wildlife reserves in the world. As Jeeps and people are required to keep a distance from park animals. Not only that, In India the masks are mandatory for visiting the tiger reserves. So, the NTCA circular failed to look into the scientific aspects of disease transmission.
  4. Loss of revenue and biodiversity: The wildlife tourism economy brings in substantial revenue to the state governments. When the governments are opening up their economy, the revenues from wildlife tourism is very essential for their economic recovery.
    • The role of tribal people to live close to or inside the protected areas is very important. As they collect minor forest produce and help to conserve the forests.
    • The cost-benefit analysis shows the entire biodiversity also faces losses during the lockdown. This is due to reasons such as uncontrolled fires, poaching, etc.
  5. The arbitrary reason to exclude other protected areas: The NTCA circular only protects the 51 tiger reserves in India. In India, there is an enormous presence of wildlife outside the tiger reserves.
Read more: “Srivilliputhur-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is the 51st tiger reserve in India”
Suggestions to improve the recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  1. Training the local forest officials: Instead of a blanket ban, the government can train the local officials to decide whether to allow safaris for people based on local conditions.
  2. Utilizing the opportunity: Forest departments should prepare the protected areas against future pandemics by implementing steps such as
    • Setting up Non-invasive, bio-safe protocols for Covid-19 vulnerable species under wildlife surveillance.
    • Creating Early warning systems for preventing the Covid-19 spread if any wild animal died from Covid-19.
  3. Encouraging the role of environmental research organizations in conserving species during the pandemic.
  4. Launching scientific research and prevention measures: State government should launch these measures to decide whether to open the protected area or not.

Read Also :-Stressed assets circular to be revised soon

The NTCA circular on tiger reserves is a centralized, non-scientific-based decision. This decision has to be replaced with decentralized, science-based decision-making to protect the bio-diversity of India. 

Source: The Indian Express 

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged ,


Bio-Diversity

“Black Softshell Turtle” – Pact Signed for Conservation in Assam

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What is the News? The Hayagriva Madhava Temple Committee in Assam has signed an MoU with Turtle Survival Alliance India, Help Earth, and Assam Forests Department to conserve the Black Softshell Turtle.

As part of the pact, a Vision Document 2030 was also released. The document aims to raise at least 1,000 black softshell turtles by 2030.

About Black Softshell Turtle(Nilssonia nigricans):
  • Black Softshell Turtle is a species of freshwater turtle. It is found in India and Bangladesh.
  • Distribution:
    • Brahmaputra’s drainage and Near Temple Ponds in Assam
    • Bangladesh (Chittagong and Sylhet)
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  • Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972: It does not enjoy legal protection.
  • Significance:
    • Temple Ponds in Assam conserve Turtles based on religious grounds.
    • At the Bayazid Bostami shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the black softshell turtle is known as mazari(inhabitant).
  • Threats:
    • Hunted for turtle meat and cartilage in regional and international markets.

Read Also :-Environment Legislation News

About Hayagriva Madhava temple
  • The Hayagriva Madhava temple exists in a hilly place which is located at Hajo nearby Guwahati, Assam. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
  • Built by: The present temple structure was constructed by King Raghudeva Narayan in 1583.
    • According to Historians, the temple was built during the Pala period of 10th-12th century A. D.
  • Significance: The temple is revered by Buddhists also, as they believe that Hayagriva Madhava temple is the place where Buddha attained Nirvana. Thus, the temple becomes an ancient pilgrimage center for both Hindus and Buddhists.

Source: The Hindu

 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged ,

“Bharitalasuchus tapani”- A carnivorous reptile, lived 240 million years ago

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What is the News?

Researchers from the Indian Statistical Institute had carried out extensive studies on rocks of the Yerrapalli Formation in Telangana during the mid 20th Century. During that time, they uncovered several fossils. By studying some of these fossils, the team has now provided information on one of the reptiles(Bharitalasuchus tapani).

What information they have provided on the Bharitalasuchus tapani?

Bharitalasuchus tapani

  • The reptile has been named Bharitalasuchus tapani. It is a carnivorous reptile that lived 240 million years ago.
    • In the Telugu language, Bhari means huge, Tala means head, and Suchus is the name of the Egyptian crocodile-headed deity.
  • Named after: The reptile has been named after palaeontologist Tapan Roy Chowdhury. For his contribution to Indian vertebrate palaeontology, and especially his extensive work at Yerrapalli Formation.
  • Genus: The reptile belonged to a family of extinct reptiles named Erythrosuchidae.
  • Key Features:
    • Bharitalasuchus Tapani were robust animals with big heads and large teeth, and these probably predated other smaller reptiles.
    • They were approximately the size of an adult male lion and might have been the largest predators in their ecosystems.

Read Also :What are Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges?

About Erythrosuchidae:
  • Erythrosuchidae (meaning red crocodiles) are a family of large basal archosauriform carnivores. They lived from the later Early Triassic to the early Middle Triassic.
    • The Triassic is a geologic period and system which spans 50.6 million years from the end of the Permian Period to the beginning of the Jurassic Period. It is the first and shortest period of the Mesozoic Era.
  • The first Erythrosuchidae remains were discovered in South Africa in 1905 and more were found in China and Russia.
    • The South African one is about 245 million years old, while the ones from China and Russia are around 240 million years old.
About Yerrapalli Formation:
  • Yerrapalli Formation is located primarily in the Pranhita–Godavari Basin in Telangana.
  • It is a Triassic rock formation consisting primarily of red mudstones. The area preserves fossils of freshwater and terrestrial vertebrates, as well as trace fossils of invertebrates.

Source: The Hindu

 Read Also :-First Case of “Yellow Fungus” detected in UP

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, Miscellaneous, PUBLICTagged ,

Govt. report flags lapses in “filovirus study” among Nagaland bats

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What is the News?

The government of India has concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and protocols followed for the filovirus study of bats in Nagaland.

What was the filovirus study about?
  • Researchers from India, China and the US had conducted a study in Nagaland on bats and humans carrying antibodies to deadly viruses like Ebola.
    • From India, the National Centre for Biological Sciences(NCBS) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(TIFR) participated in the study.
  • Findings: The study found the presence of filovirus reactive antibodies in human and bat populations in northeast India. Hence, the study suggested that Bats in South Asia act as reservoir hosts of a diverse range of filoviruses.

Note:

  • Filoviruses belong to a virus family called Filoviridae and can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates.
  • So far, three varieties of this virus family have been identified: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus.
Significance of this filovirus study:
  • The findings of the study became significant given the debate over the origins of COVID-19 worldwide and the handling of bat samples at the Wuhan Institute laboratory.
  • However, scientific experts and officials have made it clear that the Nagaland bat study on filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg) was in no way related to the coronavirus(SARS) studies at Wuhan.
Government of India’s inquiry into filovirus study:
  • The Government of India had ordered an inquiry in 2020 into this study. The inquiry investigated how the scientists were allowed to access live samples of bats and bat hunters (humans) without due permission.
  • The inquiry concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and the protocols followed by the study. The lapses include:
    • Firstly, the study did not have the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR)
    • Secondly, the Bangalore based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is not equipped in terms of Biosafety and Biosecurity for testing samples.

Source: The Hindu

Read Also :-Most pollution linked deaths occurs in India

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged ,

“Gharials Conservation” – Odisha Forest department Announces Cash Reward

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What is the News?

The Mahanadi Wildlife Division in Odisha has announced a cash reward of Rs 1,000 for rescuing Gharials and informing wildlife personnel. The division will also provide compensation to fishermen whose fishing nets are destroyed by gharials.

About Gharials:
  • Gharials are one of the longest of all living crocodilians. They derive their name from ghara, an Indian word for pot. It is named so because of a bulbous knob (narial excrescence) present at the end of their snout.
  • Features: Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a fish-eating crocodile. It is also the only living crocodilian with visible sexual dimorphism.
  • Indicator Species: They are also a crucial indicator of clean river water.
  • Distribution:
    • Gharials were once abundant in the main rivers and tributaries of the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Mahanadi-Brahmani river systems.
    • But they are now limited to only 14 widely spaced and restricted localities of India and Nepal.
    • In India, Gharials are present in Son River, Girwa River, the Ganges, Mahanadi River, and the Chambal River.
    • The Satkosia gorge in the Mahanadi is the southernmost limit of gharials.
  • Protected areas: National Chambal Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  • Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Threat: Construction of Dam, barrages, and water abstraction, entanglement in fishing nets, River bed cultivation, and sand mining.
  • Initiatives: Indian government launched Project Crocodile with UNDP and FAO in 1975. It included an intensive captive rearing and breeding programme intended to revive the dwindling gharial population.
Crocodiles in India: India has three species of Crocodiles, namely:
  1. Gharials (Gharials are genetically weaker than salt water crocodiles and muggers)
  2. Mugger crocodile IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  3. Saltwater crocodile IUCN Status: Least Concern.
Crocodiles in Odisha:
  • Odisha is the only state in India having all three species of crocodiles (gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodiles).
  • Odisha State Forest Department has begun conservation of these three crocodile species since 1975 by establishing three rearing centres
    • Tikarpada for gharials in Angul district,
    • Ramatirtha for muggers in Mayurbhanj, and
    • Bhitarkanika for saltwater crocodiles in Kendrapara district.

Source: Down To Earth

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged


Legislations and initiatives

Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India

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What is the news?

‘Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India’ was released recently by Ministry of Environment. It was released on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification.

Note: Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations.

About Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India

  • Published by: The Atlas has been published by Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad.
  • Prepared using: The Atlas was prepared using IRS Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) data of 2011-13 and 2003-05 time frames in the Geographical Information System (GIS) environment.
  • The Atlas provides a state-wise area of degraded lands for the time frame 2018-19.
  • It also provides the change analysis for the duration of 15 years from 2003-05 to 2018-19.

Significance of the Atlas

  • It is helpful in prioritizing areas to be taken up for minimizing the impact of desertification and land degradation.
  • Moreover, the Atlas will also be helpful in strengthening the proposed National Action Plan for achieving land restoration targets by providing important inputs.
Also read: Land Degradation – Causes and Consequences
Efforts to Combat Desertification
  • India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) and is committed to achieving the land degradation neutral status by 2030.
  • India hosted the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019.
  • Further, India is striving towards achieving the national commitments of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and the restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
    • The concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) emerged from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. LDN responds to an immediate challenge: intensifying the production of food, fuel and fiber to meet future demand without further degrading our finite land resource base.  
    • In other words, Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) envisions a world where human activity has a neutral, or even positive, impact on the land. 
    • The UNCCD Secretariat launched this Land Degradation Neutrality initiative, which has been enshrined in the SDGs as target 15.3 on achieving a land degradation neutral world by 2030.
  • The Government of India has set up a Desertification Cell under the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The cell represents India in UNCCD.
About World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on 17th June.
  • The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1995 after the day when the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) was drafted.
  • Aim: The day is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
  • The theme for 2021: “Restoration. Land. Recovery. We build back better with healthy land”.

Source: PIB

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

Flaws in Haryana Government’s order demanding demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis

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Synopsis:

The Haryana government’s order demanding the demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis is surrounded by multiple flaws. It would result in brutal violations of human rights. Therefore, the government should provide alternative land and reasonable facilities to those facing eviction.

Background:
  • The Haryana government has ordered to break 10,000 jhuggis in Khori Gaon without providing any rehabilitation plan.
    • Khori Gaon is located on the Delhi-Haryana border and comes under the Faridabad Municipal Corporation (FMC) jurisdiction.
  • The demolition is imperative as the jhuggis are located in a forest area and the residents don’t have any ownership over them. However, the order is surrounded by multiple flaws.
Issues associated with the Order:
  • First, it will put unprecedented stress on the residents, who are already facing immense uncertainties during the pandemic. Eviction may endanger the health, economic well-being, and lives of thousands.
    • Recently, a construction labourer (named Ganeshilal) committed suicide on hearing the demolition news.
  • Second, the order doesn’t extend to big high-rise buildings located in the same forest area. This includes The Taj Vivanta Hotel, the Sarovar Portico Hotel, the Pinnacle Business Tower, and the Radha Soami Satsang Centre.
  • Third, it undermines the right to shelter under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as no prudent plan for rehabilitation is given.
    • In the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation case, the Supreme Court held that it would be the duty of the state to provide the right to shelter for the poor and needy.
    • In the Shantistar Builders case, the Supreme Court held that the right to life includes the right to have reasonable accommodation.
  • Fourth, it violates India’s international obligation. The country has ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which guarantees a right to housing for all irrespective of income.

Apart from this, there exist other issues that make the situation worse for the poor dwellers.

Other Concerning issues:
  • First, the cut-off date for rehabilitation hasn’t been updated by Haryana Urban Development Authority since 2010. The cut-off date was fixed as 2003 but since then massive migration has taken place in the state, but the date hasn’t been updated.
    • Gujarat has a cut-off date of 2010 while Rajasthan and Bihar use 2009, and Karnataka requires just a one-year stay.
  • Second, several of those residents who settled before the cut-off date don’t possess the requisite documents. Thus, 90% of the 10,000 houses of the settlement of Khori Gaon will be denied rehabilitation.
  • Third, the multiple housing schemes of the government including the current PM Awas Yojana have not been implemented properly.

Read Also :-Higher Education in India: An Analysis 

Way Forward:
  • The Haryana government should do rehabilitation of the jhuggi-dwellers prior to their removal. This would involve 
    • conducting a detailed survey prior to the eviction, 
    • drawing up a rehabilitation plan and 
    • ensuring that upon eviction the dwellers are immediately rehabilitated
  • The Haryana government should update its rehabilitation policy by learning from other states’ progressive housing policies.
    • For instance, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act provides for a survey, removal and resettlement plan.
    • Under this, removal is done only when land is required for a public purpose; else the jhuggis are upgraded and improved in-situ.
    • An alternate house is provided if the family is staying in the jhuggi since 2015.

Source: Click Here

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged ,

“Operation Olivia” to Protect Olive Ridley Turtles

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What is the News? Indian Coast Guards (ICG) are using an aircraft for ‘Operation Olivia’ to protect Olive Ridley turtles.

About Operation Olivia:
  • Operation Olivia was launched by the Indian Coast Guard in the early 1980s.
  • Purpose: The operation aims to protect Olive Ridley turtles when they arrive at the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.
  • Indian Coast Guards(ICGs) execute this operation. As part of the operation, ICGs conducts round-the-clock surveillance. Assets of Indian Coast Guards such as fast patrol vessels, air cushion vessels, interceptor craft, and Dornier aircraft are used in this operation to enforce laws near the rookeries (colony of breeding animals).
About Olive Ridley Turtles:
  • The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I (It prohibits trade in turtle products by signatory countries)
    • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

Click Here to Read more About Olive Ridley Turtles

Nesting Habitat of Olive Ridley Turtle:
  • Olive ridley turtles have a unique habit of mass nesting called Arribada. Under this, thousands of female turtles come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • The Odisha coast has three arribada beaches at Gahirmatha, the mouth of the Devi river, and in Rushikulya, where about 1 lakh nests are found annually.
    • Recently, a new mass nesting site has been discovered in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. As per reports, it has more than 5,000 nests in a season.
Need of Operation Olivia:
  • Firstly, damage to Olive Ridley Turtles Eggs: There are three main factors that damage Olive Ridley turtles and their eggs:
    • heavy predation of eggs by dogs and wild animals,
    • indiscriminate fishing with trawlers and gill nets and
    • beach soil erosion
  • Secondly, dense fishing activity along the coasts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal.
  • Thirdly, development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centers.
  • And lastly, poaching for their meat, shell, and leather.

Source: The Hindu

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Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

Issues with NTCA Circular on Shutting Down Tourism in Tiger Reserves

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Synopsis: The recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves shut down the tourism activities in tiger reserves. But the circular needs course correction.

Introduction:

India’s Project Tiger program is a globally successful initiative to conserve tigers. At present, India has 51 tiger reserves now boasts of at least 3,000 tigers.

The entire country is gearing up to relax the lockdown norms. However, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) closed the tourism activities in tiger reserves till further announcement. This deserves a wider public discussion.

The reason behind the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  • A lion at Chennai’s Vandalur Zoo has died of suspected coronavirus infection. Similarly, a tiger died at Jharkhand’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park after suffering from fever. This raised the suspicion regarding  Covid-19 disease transmission from human beings to captive wild animals.
  • This is why the NTCA issued a circular to chief wildlife wardens of all the tiger range states.
Issues with the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  1. Encroachment into the power of States: Forests and wildlife reserves fall under the concurrent list. The state chief wildlife wardens are the ultimate deciding authority for most issues concerning state forests. Thus, the recent NTCA Circular violates decentralized decision-making. For example, the Madhya Pradesh government has challenged the decision of NTCA.
  2. Against Vaccination Policy of locals: Tiger reserves were closed for almost two months during the second wave. Government and civil society organizations used this lockdown time to propagate the uses of vaccines, educate the nearby community towards testing, treating the Covid-19 diseases. All this done with one incentive, that is, faster reopening of forest reserves to the public to boost their economic activity. If this is reversed by the recent NTCA Circular, then the vaccination policies might delay in and around the tiger reserves.
  3. Research on the vulnerability of animals to Covid-19The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to zoo animals and domestic pets has been documented earlier. But these studies mention that the fatality rate in the animal is a rare case.
    • Further, these studies also point out that, direct contact with infected humans is the primary cause for infection in wild animals. That is not feasible in the majority of the wildlife reserves in the world. As Jeeps and people are required to keep a distance from park animals. Not only that, In India the masks are mandatory for visiting the tiger reserves. So, the NTCA circular failed to look into the scientific aspects of disease transmission.
  4. Loss of revenue and biodiversity: The wildlife tourism economy brings in substantial revenue to the state governments. When the governments are opening up their economy, the revenues from wildlife tourism is very essential for their economic recovery.
    • The role of tribal people to live close to or inside the protected areas is very important. As they collect minor forest produce and help to conserve the forests.
    • The cost-benefit analysis shows the entire biodiversity also faces losses during the lockdown. This is due to reasons such as uncontrolled fires, poaching, etc.
  5. The arbitrary reason to exclude other protected areas: The NTCA circular only protects the 51 tiger reserves in India. In India, there is an enormous presence of wildlife outside the tiger reserves.
Read more: “Srivilliputhur-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is the 51st tiger reserve in India”
Suggestions to improve the recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
  1. Training the local forest officials: Instead of a blanket ban, the government can train the local officials to decide whether to allow safaris for people based on local conditions.
  2. Utilizing the opportunity: Forest departments should prepare the protected areas against future pandemics by implementing steps such as
    • Setting up Non-invasive, bio-safe protocols for Covid-19 vulnerable species under wildlife surveillance.
    • Creating Early warning systems for preventing the Covid-19 spread if any wild animal died from Covid-19.
  3. Encouraging the role of environmental research organizations in conserving species during the pandemic.
  4. Launching scientific research and prevention measures: State government should launch these measures to decide whether to open the protected area or not.

Read Also :-Stressed assets circular to be revised soon

The NTCA circular on tiger reserves is a centralized, non-scientific-based decision. This decision has to be replaced with decentralized, science-based decision-making to protect the bio-diversity of India. 

Source: The Indian Express 

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged ,


Climate Change

Breach of Constitutional Propriety by Governor

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Synopsis: Governor Dhankhar’s official visit to violence-hit areas is a breach of constitutional propriety.

Introduction 

The West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s recently visited areas hit by post-poll violence in Cooch Behar.  This starts grave disobedience of the limits of constitutional decorum.

  • The governor ignored the norm that constitutional heads should not show their differences with the elected rules in public. In December 2020, Ms. Banerjee had appealed to the President to recall the Governor for his political statements. 

Share some other instances of governors leaving their limits of office and voicing their opinion publically.

It may be debated that the current situation in West Bengal is different from those in which other Governors had dropped the limits of their office as post-election violence is something that should not be witnessed at all in electoral democracy.

  • Firstly, Mr Dhankhar’s criticised the government of West Bengal openly. His visit to Cooch Behar is a louder action that indicates derogation of the elected regime.
    • The Governor’s visit to a scene of violence cannot be justified as a sign to show unity with victims.
  • Secondly, Tamil Nadu Governor, M. Channa Reddy, visited the RSS headquarters in 1993 in Chennai after a bomb explosion there.
  • Thirdly, the then West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi got some criticism for ignoring the limits of the constitutional office. He stated the cold horror at the police firing that left 14 protesters dead at Nandigram in 2007.

The way forward  

  • The governor’s larger belief should not offer public comment on situations handled by the ruling regime.
  • Even if someone views that the situation was because of the regime’s inaction, principles should be followed. Any advice or warning the Governor wants to give to the elected government must to in private and in confidence.
  • To conclude, West Bengal has certainly failed by allowing post-poll celebrations to attacks the losing side. The responsibility is on the incumbent chief minister to restore order and end the violence. She believed that the degree of the violence was being blown up by the Opposition.

Source: click here

Posted in 9 PM Daily ArticlesTagged

 Are courts encroaching on the powers of the executive?  

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Synopsis: The instances of courts intervening in the executive matters without providing comprehensive legal reasoning are increasing. SC’s recent decision to put stay on farm laws has been analysed in this context. 

Introduction  

The Supreme Court is trying to make a political settlement between farmers and the government. It has put a stay on farm law and made a committee for mediation. But the court has not provided any legal or constitutional reasons for that. 

What are the contradictions in this decision of SC? 

The following reasons suggests that the decision of SC to stay farm laws was a clear encroachment into the domain of executive. 

Firstly, the petition was filed on the argument that only states are eligible to enact farm laws under Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. SC should have analysed the validity of such basis.  

Secondly, the court is giving the example of the protests during Maratha reservation case in which it had issued a stay on the law in question. But in that case the stay was given on constitutional grounds 

Third, the reason given by the court for its decision was not a legal reason. It provided hat this step will ease the hurt feelings of farmers and it will become easier to bring them on the negotiation table.  

Fourth, In the recent years, SC has been hesitant to take up constitutional challenges to similarly politically controversial moves. This decision by SC also falls into the same category. For Example; the cases of Article 370, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, reservation quotas for economically weaker sections, electoral bonds, and the ‘love jihad’ laws. 

Fifth, Earlier SC Held protests as completely legal and part of the exercise of citizens’ rights under Article 19 of the Constitution.  But in a related case told that the question of whether the tractor protests should be allowed or not is a ‘law and order’ question and the decision will be taken by Police.  

SC is under question of the critics these days, but the positive roles played by it cannot be ignored due to that. In the Navtej Johar case (Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India) court acted in a counter-majoritarian manner and decriminalised Homosexuality.  

Posted in 9 PM Daily ArticlesTagged ,

Pardoning Powers of Governor 

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Why in News? 

Tamil Nadu Governor will make a decision on a plea for the release of a prisoner. The prisoner is undergoing life imprisonment for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. 

 Facts: 

 Pardoning Powers of Governor: 

    • Article 161: It provides that the Governor shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person. But the person should be convicted of any offense against any law which is under the executive power of the State. 
    • Exceptions:  
      • Governor cannot pardon the death sentence (President has the power to do so) 
      • The Governor cannot grant pardon, reprieve, respite, suspension, remission, or commutation in respect to punishment or sentence by a court-martial. However, the President can do so. 

 Different Pardoning Powers of Governor: 

    • Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments, and disqualifications. 
    • Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment which in turn may be commuted into simple imprisonment. 
    • Remission: It implies reducing the period of a sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year. 
    • Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special facts such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender. 
    • Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President. 

 Difference Between Pardoning Powers of President and Governor  

Pardoning Powers of President and Governor Source: LAXMIKANTH

Article Source

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Polity and NationTagged

Aspect of Mercy petition in India and Judicial intervention

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Former Punjab CM Beant Singh’s assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana’s mercy petition was accepted by the Home ministry in 2019. But the decision could not be implemented as the Council of Ministers didn’t send the file to the President. Recently the Supreme Court criticised the government for their delay and scheduled a hearing for that.

This created a larger debate on the relevance of mercy petition itself and the pardoning power of Executive in India.

What is a mercy petition?

A mercy petition is filed by a convict to change his/her punishment (especially capital) into a lesser form of punishment. It is also called clemency petition/plea or executive clemency.

Mercy Petition can be exercised after all the legal remedies were exhausted. (Legal remedies include all the remedies available under prevailing law and Constitution).

A petition can be filed with the President (under Article 72 of the Indian Constitution) or the governor (under Article 161 of the Constitution).

This provision of pardoning power or mercy towards convicts was first originated in the United Kingdom. Later the concept made its presence in the United States of America, India, Canada, etc.

What is the procedure to file a mercy petition?

A convict under a death sentence is eligible to make the mercy petition. But it should be filed within seven days, after the dismissal of her/his appeal by the Supreme Court and intimation of the same to the convict by the Superintendent of the Police (SP).

First, A written petition is filed before the President/Governor either by the convict or his/her relative on his/her behalf. The petition can be filed on the following grounds:

    • The convicted person is the sole bread earner of their family.
    • The physical/mental fitness of the convict or his/her age.
    • Law for the crime committed was quite harsh.
    • The court committed an error or mistake unknowingly.

The grounds might play an important role in the decision-making process.

Second, the Petition will be forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs for comments and recommendations.

Third, the Home Ministry analyses the merits of the Mercy petition. During this phase, the Ministry also discusses the matter with the concerned State government.

    • After this, the Home Minister makes the recommendation on Mercy petition to the President.

Fourth, As per the advice of the Council of Ministers (CoM), the President can either accept or reject the mercy plea. There is no time limit prescribed for the President to exercise this power.

The Governor is also empowered with pardoning powers, but the Governor cannot pardon the Death sentence. However, he can commute, remit, reprieve the death sentence for the offences against the law, which is under executive power of the State.

What is the reason to have mercy petition?

First, The option for mercy can result in good conduct by the Convict in the prison. This helps in solving the issue of prison discipline.

Second, Mercy petition adds a human touch to the country’s judicial process. The mercy petition process judges the convict based on humanity and not on legality (concluding judgement based on evidence and witnesses).

Third, Mercy Petition can save an innocent person from being punished due to doubtful conviction or miscarriage of justice. Thus, this process is very significant as it provides an opportunity to correct the errors made during the judicial process.

Fourth, pardoning is provided with the belief that it will serve for better public welfare and for the greater public good.

Challenges with the mercy petitions in India:

First, there is no time limit given in the Constitution for a decision on Mercy Plea. There are many instances when the mercy petitions are kept pending for a long period. This is seen as a violation of Human Rights by legal experts. The convicts face mental, emotional and physiological trauma during the delayed period.

Second, the experts also say, “Mercy petition is dealt largely without mercy by the successive governments”. They point out reasons such as

    • President not bound to accept the Mercy Petitions. It is the discretion of President
    • The critics also point out the information released by the RTI Act, “There are 77 mercy pleas decided by successive Presidents between 1991 and 2010. Of these 69 were rejected and only 8 were accepted”.

Third, the President is not bound to state the reasons for the rejection of Mercy Petition. It results in a lack of transparency in the process.

Judicial interventions on Mercy petition:

First, In Ranga Billa Case: the court mentions that “nature and ambit of the pardoning power is entirely a discretionary remedy. Providing grant or rejection of petition need not state the reason for the actions.

Second, In the Kehar Singh vs Union of India (1989) case: The court mentions “pardon by the President is an act of grace. Therefore, pardoning cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The power exercisable by the President is exclusively administrative in nature, and it is not justifiable.

Third, In the Dhananjoy Chatterjee (alias Dhana) vs the State of West Bengal (1994) case: The Supreme Court said that “The pardoning power under Articles 72 and 161 can be exercised by the Central and State Governments. The powers shall not be exercised by the President or Governor on their own”.

Fourth, In Mohd. Afzal Guru vs. State of Delhi (2014) case: The court said that “there has to be 14 days gap between the rejection of mercy petition and actual execution of the death penalty”.

Way forward:

Pardoning power of the executive is very significant as it corrects the errors in the judicial process. Timely disposal of mercy petition is a boon. To ensure that the government have to fix the time frame and create certain binding conditions to exercise the Mercy petition. This will facilitate smooth functioning of Indian democracy.

Posted in 7 PM, PUBLICTagged ,


Organisations and initiatives

Summary of State of Environment Report 2021 – Explained, Pointwise

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Introduction

The Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) has released its annual State of Environment Report, 2021. This year’s assessment has been made against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report highlights the dismal state of the environment in India wherein the country is jeopardising its natural wealth for meeting its economic objectives. 

It also throws light on the impact of Covid-19 over India, which may create a pandemic generation in future who would possess poor health and education levels.

The report is a reminder for humans to stop indiscriminate usage of the environment. As the Environment has increased, the progression towards sixth mass extinction. The focus should now be on developing eco-friendly products and living harmoniously with nature in order to attain sustainable development. 

About State of Environment Report
  • It is an annual publication by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) along with Down To Earth.
  • It covers aspects such as forests, wildlife, agriculture, rural development, water and sanitation, and climate change. 
  • This publication is regarded as the most credible and complete annual survey of India’s environment.
About Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
  • CSE is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi. 
  • It researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable. 
  • It creates awareness about problems and proposes sustainable solutions. For instance, it exposed the high level of pesticides present in American brands of soft drinks such as Coke and Pepsi.
  • In 2018 the CSE was awarded Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
Key Findings of the State of Environment Report 2021
  • Biodiversity and forests:
    • Environmental crime cases are increasing and the disposal of the cases is slow. In 2019, 34,671 crimes were registered and 49,877 cases are pending trial. To clear the backlog in a year, courts need to dispose of 137 cases a day.
    • Forestland diversion is continuing consistently. In 2019, over 11,000 hectares were diverted in 22 states. Eight coal projects were granted clearance in ‘No-Go’ areas.
    • More than 160 species have gone extinct over the last decade (2009-2019).
  • Sustainable Development Goals:
    • India ranks 117 among 192 nations in terms of sustainable development. Its rank was 115 in the 2020 report. 
    • Five best performing states in achieving SDGs: Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana
    • Five worst-performing states in achieving SDGs: Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Pollution Levels:
    • India’s air, water, and land have become more polluted between 2009 and 2018.
    • Tarapur in Maharashtra has emerged as the most polluted cluster.
    • In 2019, 1.67 million Indians died due to air pollution. Its economic cost was over $36,000 million, which is equivalent to 1.36 percent of India’s GDP.
    • Both the surface and groundwater in the country are under threat, with 86% of the water bodies critically polluted.
  • Rural India:
    • Community health centres in rural India need 76 percent more doctors, 56 percent more radiographers and 35 percent more lab technicians.
  • Climate Change:
    • India recorded 12 of its 15 warmest years in the period between 2006 and 2020. Further, India also had its warmest decade on record. 
    • Extreme weather events continued their rampage across the country. India was the fourth-worst hit in the world in terms of internal displacements due to disasters.
    • Between 2008 and 2020, some 3.73 million people per year were displaced because of floods, earthquakes, cyclones and droughts. 
  • Pandemic related:
    • The world is going to face a pandemic like the current one more frequently, as we know just 0.1 per cent of potential zoonoses. These are diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. Ex – Bird Flu, Anthrax, Ebola etc.
    • The country is all set to host a ‘pandemic generation’. 375 million children (from newborn to 14-year-olds) will have a long-lasting impact ranging from being underweight, stunting, and increased child mortality.
    • Out of the 500 million children forced out of school globally, India accounts for more than 50%.
    • Covid-19 has also turned the world’s poor into poorer. 115 million additional people might get pushed into extreme poverty.
Analysing the Key Findings of State of Environment Report 2021

First, the data shows that humans possess a minuscule level of information to tackle future pandemics. The world remains ignorant of 99.9 percent of potential zoonotic viruses.

Second, the nations would be left with poor human capital in the future if immediate steps towards sustainable development are not taken. 

The report said that malnutrition and hunger levels could rise with more pandemic events in the future. This would reduce the potential of human capital.

Third, humans have been increasingly exploiting the environment, as observed by rising air and water pollution levels.

A reduction in intervention would allow natural healing of the environment, as seen by the appearance of the “clean air and blue sky” during the country-wide lockdown.

Fourth, India is performing poorly in the attainment of SDG goals in comparison to its peers. It is behind all South Asian nations except Pakistan.

Challenges such as hunger, low food security, achieving gender equality, fostering innovation are the reasons why India’s rank slipped in 2021.

Fifth, the loss of species and biodiversity shows a progression towards the Sixth Mass Extinction (Holocene extinction).

As per the report, before an extinction phase sets in, there are two signs: Loss in population and shrinking distribution areas. These two signs are evident among all species currently.

Suggestions from the State of Environment Report 2021
  1. The government must undo its 2020 policy decisions that effectively diluted India’s environmental regulation regimes. 
    • For instance, the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification 2020 was an extremely lenient version of its predecessor.
  2. The focus should be on tackling the pandemic without jeopardising the environment.
    • For instance, the rise in plastic waste due to the higher usage of masks and PPE kits can be tackled with innovative solutions. 
    • Dr Binesh Desai’s model of Eco Bricks should be adopted in constructing buildings and hospitals. (Around 52% of the Eco brick is made from plastic.)
  3. There should be timely completion of targets aimed at countering climate change and achieving Sustainable Development goals. This demands timely devolution of funds and resources to the respective departments. For example, 
    • With just 55 percent of the target met, India is nowhere close to installing 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022
    • The country also has a target of setting up at least 50 solar parks by 2021-22. However, not even one park has been operationalised till now.
  4. The expenditure on health and environmental research should be enhanced. This will help in finding out eco-friendly methods of production and develop greater resilience against future pandemics. 
Conclusion

The State of Environment Report is a reminder of the progressive worsening of the environment due to human actions. It calls for resetting our relationship with nature in such a way that it leads to sustainable development. India should now switch from a reactive to a proactive approach in order to mitigate and develop greater resilience against the upcoming environmental changes.

 

Posted in 7 PM, Index | Reports | Summits, PUBLICTagged

Children and Digital Dumpsites Report Highlights impacts of E-waste

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What is the News?

The World Health Organization(WHO) has released a report titled “Children and Digital Dumpsites”.

About Children and Digital Dumpsites Report:
  • The report summarizes the latest scientific knowledge on the links between informal e-waste recycling activities and the health impact among children.
  • The report also underlined the risk faced by children working in the informal processing of discarded electronic devices or e-waste.

Key Findings of the Children and Digital Dumpsites Report:

  • Every year, as many as 18 million children — as young as five years — and about 12.9 million women work at e-waste dumpsites.
  • The e-waste from high-income countries is dumped in the middle- or low-income countries for processing every year. This e-waste is dismantled and recycled by children.
  • This e-waste contains over 1,000 precious metals and other substances like gold, copper, mercury, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • Low-income countries do not have proper safeguarding regulations, which makes the process even more dangerous.
  • Moreover, children are especially preferred at these dumpsites because of their small and dexterous hands. Several women, including pregnant women, also work at these sites.
Impact of E-Waste:
  • Children: The children working at these e-waste dumpsites are prone to improper lung function, deoxyribonucleic acid damage, and increased risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Children are also less likely to metabolize or eradicate pollutants absorbed.
  • Women: Processing e-waste exposes women as well as their children to toxins, which can lead to premature births and stillbirth.
  • E-Waste Areas: The hazardous impact of working at e-waste dumpsites is also experienced by families and communities that reside in the vicinity of these e-waste dumpsites.

Read Also :-E-Waste Management in India- An Overview

Recommendations:
  • The report has called for the monitoring, safe disposal of e-waste, and raising awareness about its outcomes on the health of children and women working at these dumpsites.

About E-Waste:

  • E-Waste(Electronic-Waste) is a term used to describe old, end-of-life, or discarded electronic appliances. It includes computers, mobiles, consumer electronics among others.
E-Waste Generation:
  • According to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, the volume of e-waste generated is surging rapidly across the globe.
  • About 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2019. But only 17.4% of this e-waste was processed in formal recycling facilities.
  • The rest of it was dumped in low- or middle-income countries for illegal processing by informal workers.
  • Moreover, this is likely to increase in the coming years because of the rise in the number of smartphones and computers.

Source: Down To Earth

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged , ,

UN High- Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land degradation and Drought

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What is the News? The Prime Minister of India has delivered a keynote address at the United Nations (UN) High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought.

About UN High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought:
  • The dialogue has been organized by the President of the United Nations(UN) General Assembly.
  • Aim: It aims to focus the international community’s attention on land issues. So that it can generate political will for implementing land solutions within COVID-19 adaptation and recovery strategies.
    • The dialogue encourages all Member States to adopt and implement Land Degradation Neutrality targets and National Drought Plans.
  • Indian Prime Minister(PM) presided over the 14th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Thus, he spoke at the opening segment of the dialogue, which is part of UNCCD.
What are the key takeaways from Indian PM address?
  • Firstly, India is working towards restoring 2.6 crore hectares of degraded land by 2030. India is also assisting fellow developing countries to develop land-restoration strategies.
  • Secondly, India is working towards restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
    • This would contribute to India’s commitment to achieving an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • Thirdly, over the last 10 years, India has added around 3 million hectares of forest cover. This has enhanced the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country’s total area.
  • Lastly, India has also taken up some novel approaches in many parts of India.
    • Example: Banni region in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat suffers from highly degraded land and receives very little rain.
    • In the Banni region, land restoration was done by developing grasslands. It helped the region in achieving land degradation neutrality.
    • The region also supports pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry.

Read Also :-What is Land Degradation?

About UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification)
  • UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. It was established in 1994. It has 197 parties.
  • Purpose: It seeks to work towards maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity and mitigating the effects of drought.
14th Session of COP-14 of UNCCD:
  • India had for the first time hosted the 14th session of the Conference of Parties(COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) at Greater Noida in 2019.
  • The theme of the Conference was ‘Restore land, Sustain future’.
  • During the conference, the Delhi Declaration was issued. The declaration called for better access over land and emphasised gender-sensitive transformative projects.

Source: PIB

Read Also :-Lessons from the past for way forward in Myanmar

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

TERI organises “World Sustainable Development Summit 2021”

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What is the News?

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has addressed the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021.

About World Sustainable Development Summit:
  • The World Sustainable Development Summit is an annual event organized by The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI) since 2001.
  • The summit was earlier known as Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.
  • Purpose: The summit brings together Nobel laureates, political leaders among others on a common platform to deliberate on issues related to sustainable development and climate change.
  • The theme for 2021: Redefining our common future: Safe & Secure Environment for All

Key Takeaways from the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021:

  • The availability of water is continuously declining. Agriculture sector alone consumes 85% of available water.
  • Thus, water conservation methods should be used in Agriculture to manage available water resources efficiently.
About The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI)
  • TERI is a non-profit research institute. It was established in 1974 as Tata Energy Research Institute and renamed to The Energy Resources Institute in 2003.
  • Purpose: It conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment, and sustainable development for India and the Global South.
  • Location: New Delhi.
Other Initiatives by TERI:
  • Lighting a Billion Lives(LaBL): It is an initiative of TERI to provide clean lighting access to the bottom of the pyramid communities.
  • Green Olympiad: It is conducted by TERI in association with MoEFCC. It is an international environment examination that is annually organized for middle and high-school students.
  • Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA): It was conceived by TERI and developed with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. It is a national rating system for green buildings in India.

Source: AIR

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged


Environment and Ecology

“Sea Snot” outbreak in Turkey and its effect on the marine ecosystem

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What is the News?

Sea Snot accumulation in the Sea of Marmara (Turkey) is causing grave environmental concern. This is because Sea Snot can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

  • The Sea of Marmara is an inland sea entirely within the borders of Turkey. The sea connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey’s Asian and European lands.
Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara (Source: Wiki)

About Sea Snot:

  • Sea Snot is also known as Sea Saliva or Marine Mucilage. It is a collection of thick, slimy, mucus-like substance found in the sea. It is composed of compounds secreted by marine organisms.
    • Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some microorganisms.
  • Formation: It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change.
    • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming. Water pollution also causes the problem.
Sea Snot in Turkey:
Sea Snot (Source: Reuters)
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in Turkey in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece. But the current outbreak in the Sea of Marmara is by far the biggest in the country’s history.
  • Reason for this outbreak: The overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change. The uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has also led to the present crisis in Turkey.
Effects of Sea Snot:

Marine Ecosystem:

  • The growth of the mucilage which floats upon the surface of the sea like brown phlegm poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • It has already caused mass deaths among the fish population and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • Moreover, the mucilage is now covering the surface of the sea and has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface.
  • If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.
Livelihood:
  • The Sea Snot outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.
  • The sludge is getting collected in the fishermen’s nets making them so heavy that they break or get lost.
  • Moreover, the mucilage coating the strings makes the nets visible to fish and keeps them away.

Diseases:

  • Several experts have warned that the ‘sea snot’ can cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Source: Indian Express

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged

SC appointed Central Empowered Committee(CEC) report on Sand mining in Rajasthan 

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Why in News? 

SC has appointed a Central Empowered Committee(CEC) to look into sand mining in Rajasthan. The panel has submitted its report. 

 Facts: 

  • Background: In February 2020, Central Empowered Committee(CEC) was appointed by SC. Its mandate was to look into illegal sand mining in Rajasthan and submit a report suggesting measures to deal with it. 

 What are the recommendations given by the committee? 

  • It has recommended imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh per vehicle and Rs 5 lakh per cubic meter of sand seized. 
  • It has been said that no unregistered tractor shoulbe used as a commercial vehicle to transport sand from the mining site to the transit depot. 
  • It has also recommended   
    • Termination of all the khatedari leases located within 5 km from the riverbank, where violations are detected. 
    • The scrapping of the excess royalty collection contract system. 

 Addition Facts: 

  • Sand Mining: It is an activity referring to the process of the actual removal of sand from the foreshore including rivers, streams and lakes. 
  • Regulation of Sand Mining: 
    • Sand is a minor mineral, as defined under section 3 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,1957 (MMDR Act).  
    • Section 15 of the MMDR Act empowers state governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals and for purposes connected therewith. 
    • Section 23C of the Act  empowers state governments to frame rules to prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals and for purposes connected therewith. 
    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 which inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to the regulation of sand mining. 

Article Source

Myths of IAS – How to Prepare IAS ?

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, Index | Reports | SummitsTagged ,

Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021

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News: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation(MoSPI) is organising the Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021.

Facts:

  • NCAVES India Forum: It is being organized by MoSPI in collaboration with the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), European Union and UN Environment.
  • Objectives: The objectives of the National Forum would be:
    • To present India’s achievements in the domain of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA);
    • To prioritize the emerging opportunities for NCA in India;
    • To familiarize stakeholders with the work undertaken by the different international agencies in the area of NCA and
    • To provide a platform to selected Research Institutions to present their research conducted in the valuation of ecosystem services.

What is NCAVES Project?

  • The project has been launched by the United Nations Statistics Division, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the European Union.
  • Aim: To assist the five participating partner countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, to advance the knowledge agenda on environmental-economic accounting, in particular ecosystem accounting.
  • Funding and Duration: The project is funded by the European Union(EU) and will have a duration until the end of 2021.
  • Implementation of Project in India: In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre(NRSC).

Significance of NCAVES Project for India:

  • EnviStats India: The participation in the project has helped MOSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework and release environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis since 2018.
  • India-EVL Tool: The project has also helped India develop the India-EVL Tool which is essentially a look-up tool giving a snapshot of the values of various ecosystem services in the different States of the country based on about 80 studies conducted across the country.
    • An additional benefit of this tool is that it provides a critical view on the literature that is available and the applicability of estimates spatially across India according to bio-geographical areas.

Article Source

 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Environment, PUBLICTagged ,


EIA

EAC Recommends the Great Nicobar Development Plan for EIA Study

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Synopsis: The Environment Appraisal Committee has recommended the  Great Nicobar Development plan for grant of terms of reference for EIA studies. The committee also flagged a few critical concerns.

Introduction 

The Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) had raised serious concerns about NITI Aayog’s ambitious project for the Great Nicobar Development plan. However, the EAC has also recommended the plan for a term of reference (TOR) for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies. 

About the NITI Aayog’s Great Nicobar Development plan:

NITI Aayog developed a ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ plan. 

The plan proposal includes construction of the following,

  • An international container trans-shipment terminal,
  • A greenfield international airport,
  • A power plant and a township complex spread over 166 sq. km
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO) will be the nodal agency for the implementation of the Great Nicobar Development plan.

A Gurugram-based consulting agency, Aecom India Private Limited, prepared the ‘pre-feasibility report of the Great Nicobar Development plan for NITI Aayog. The report mentioned the implementation of the plan will require an estimated cost of ₹ 75,000 crores.

About the Environment Appraisal Committee:
  • A 15 member EAC headed by a marine biologist and former director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Deepak Apte was formed to study the pre-feasibility report.
  • Recently, the EAC made their decision and uploaded the documents on the MoEFCC’s Parivesh portal.
  • In that, it recommended the plan for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies.
  • Apart from that, the committee also raises few concerns with the plan.
What were the concerns of the committee?

The committee held two meetings one in March and the other in April. During that, it raises both technical and practical concerns. There was a delay in the discussion of the March meeting because of the incomplete submission of documents.

  1. The incomplete information includes the details of the township, information on seismic and tsunami risks, freshwater requirement details for projects and settlements, etc. Apart from that, the impact on the Giant Leatherback turtle was also incomplete.
    • After the completion of projects, the expectation are that nearly 6.5 lakh people will live on the island. The current population is only 8,500 on Great Nicobar. The current total population of the entire island chain is less than 4.5 lakh.
  2. The committee also pointed that there were no details of chopping off the trees. 130 sq. km. of the project area has some of the finest tropical forests in India. Hence, the numbers of chopped trees could run into millions.
  3. The committee asked for details of the corporate environment policy of the implementing agency. Similarly, the EAC also asks whether the company has an environmental policy, a prescribed standard operating procedure to deal with environmental and forest violations.
  4. AECOM’s pre-feasibility report has proposed 2022-23 for the start of work on the site. However, one year is not enough if the government and project proponents follow the EAC’s recommendations in letter and spirit. 
  5. Galathea Bay of Great Nicobar forms the centrepiece of the NITI Aayog proposal. The Plan aims to construct a port in Galathea Bay. But, this has a number of issues in the plan.
    • Firstly, ecological surveys have reported a number of new species, many restricted to just the Galathea region. These include the critically endangered Nicobar shrew, the Great Nicobar crake, the Nicobar frog etc. These are not mentioned in AECOM’s pre-feasibility report.
    • Secondly, the beaches at the mouth of the river Galathea in South Bay are among the most prominent nesting sites of Giant leatherback turtles.
    • Thirdly, the EAC highlighted that the site selection for the port had been done on technical and financial criteria. The environmental aspects were ignored.
    • Fourthly, so the EAC has asked for an independent evaluation for the aptness of the proposed port site with a specific focus on Leatherback Turtle.
  6. At present, the ANIIDCO is involved in activities such as tourism, trading and infrastructure development for tourism and fisheries. Its annual turnover for 2018-19 was ₹ 379 crore. But to manage the infrastructure project valued to cost ₹75,000 crore is way beyond its capacity.
Action points suggested by the Environment Appraisal Committee:

More than 100 specific points of action are listed out by the committee. The important ones include, 

  1. The need for an independent assessment of terrestrial and marine biodiversity
  2. A study on the impact of dredging, recovery and port operations, including oil spills.
  3. Analysis of risk-handling capabilities and a disaster management plan.
  4. Details of labour, labour camps and their requirements.
  5. The need for studies of alternative sites for the port with a focus on environmental and ecological impact
  6. Conducting a hydro-geological study to assess the impact on ground and surface water regimes. 

Source: The Hindu

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, CURRENT AFFAIRS, daily news, Daily News Updates, PUBLICTagged ,

Centre seeks to replace EIA rules, activists rise in protest

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  1. Central Government has released a draft rule which seeks to make changes in environmental approvals. The draft rules significantly dilute the process through which projects are granted environmental clearances.
  2. The existing Environment impact assessment(EIA) rules,2006 governs green clearance for all varieties of tasks such as mining, infrastructure, thermal, hydro, irrigation, and industries – across the country.
  3. The draft rules give local bodies such as municipalities, urban development authorities and district panchayats the authority to grant building permits for building or construction projects with a built-up area of more than 20,000 sq metres and less than 50,000 sq metres.
  4. The draft also offers clearance to diverse tasks such as twin carriageway tasks in border areas, growth of existing highways and growth of existing industrial tasks without an additional acquisition of land without environment appraisal.
  5. The draft rules also say that expansion of projects up to 50% of the existing capacity in various sectors will be exempted from any kind of public consultation. This covers the modernization of irrigation projects, roads and highways where no further acquisition of land is involved.
  6. However, environmental activists have protested against the draft. They said the draft should have addressed issues such as (a)miserable quality of EIA reports (b)compromised public hearings (c)rapid appraisal processes and (d)unhappy compliance monitoring.
  7. EIA is a process that studies all aspects of the environment and seeks to anticipate the impact (positive and/or negative) of a proposed project or development on the environment. EIA is mandatory under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.
Posted in PUBLICTagged

Amendments to EIA NOTIFICATION, 2006

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News: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has made an amendment to EIA Notification 2006 to fasten availability/production of various drugs against COVID-19.

Facts:

  • All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category.
  • Projects falling under Category B2 are exempted from the requirement of collection of Baseline data, EIA Studies, and public consultation.

Additional Facts:

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • EIA is a process that studies all aspects of the environment and seeks to anticipate the impact (positive and/or negative) of a proposed project or development on the environment.
  • EIA is mandatory under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.
  • Industrial Categorization:
    • Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of 60 and above – Red category
    • Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of 41 to 59 – Orange category
    • Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of 21 to 40 – Green category
    • Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score incl.& upto 20 – White category

Note: The Pollution Index PI is a number from 0 to 100. Higher value of PI denotes the high degree of pollution load from the industrial sector. The pharmaceutical industry lies in the Red category.

Posted in PUBLICTagged

How to Read Environment for UPSC?

Environment is part of UPSC IAS Prelims and Mains examination. In Prelims, it is part of General Studies (Paper I) and in Mains, it is part of General Studies Paper III. Every year around 15 to 20% questions are asked from this subject in Prelims and around 2-3 questions are asked in Mains. After 2013, when Prelims for Indian Forest Service got combined with the UPSC Civil Services, the weightage of Environment and Ecology has increased. So, it is very important for the students to prepare well Environment for UPSC.

In this article, we will discuss about How to Read Environment for UPSC. First of all, we will see the past 8 years’ trend of number of questions asked in UPSC Prelims from Environment and Ecology.

YearNumber of questions asked  
202017
201921
201813
201715
201610
201513
201431
201322
Overview of the syllabus of Environment and Ecology:
ExaminationSyllabus
UPSC Prelims- General Studies –Paper IGeneral issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – (do not require subject specialization)
UPSC Mains- General Studies -Paper IIITechnology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, EIA

Strategy to read Environment for UPSC: Before starting the preparation for Environment and Ecology, it is important for the students to keep in mind that this topic is not a separate topic. It is interlinked with other subjects like Geography, Science, Economy, Government Schemes, Current affairs (National and International). In this era of 21st century, when climate change and sustainable development have become important topics, it is important to pay attention to Environment for UPSC.

  • Start with the syllabus: It is important to start your preparation after going through the syllabus of Environment and Ecology. It will help students when they will read the topics from books, magazines and most importantly newspapers. It will help them to always remain in right track.
  • Selection of reading materials:For good knowledge and content, it is important to select your materials very specifically and revise them again and again rather than referring too many sources. Here we will discuss some important sources for Environment and Ecology:
    • Study material of good institutions and revise them multiple times.
    • Last 4 chapters of Class XII Biology NCERT textbook.
    • One Newspaper which one needs to ready daily to cover current affairs related to Environment and Ecology. It will help in both UPSC Prelims and Mains preparation.
    • One monthly current affairs magazine.
    • One can also refer Down to Earth magazine for enriching their content in Mains.
  • Reading the same sourcing multiple times:If you want to win the race and not fall behind others, then it is important that you read the same materials again and again. This is very important practice for a UPSC aspirants as the sources for UPSC preparation are never ending. So, one needs to stick to the same source to build their command over the subject.
  • Connect and update the static knowledge with the current affairs: If you will keep reading the same static source without updating it with current events, then your materials and notes will become outdated. So, co-relation is very important in this subject as most of the topics are current events based. For example, Ramsar Sites in India.
  • Make a list of important topics: Students need to make a note of important topics for the exam and should go through them multiple times. Some important topics are:
    • International Institutions
    • National and International initiatives
    • Biodiversity
    • Ecology
    • Protected Areas
    • Climate change and pollution
    • Sustainable development
  • Refer previous UPSC Papers: To get the proper idea about which kind of questions are asked in UPSC Prelims and Mains, Past Year UPSC papers are very useful. Through this, one can also analyze from which topic most of the questions are asked. And accordingly, one can continue to their preparation. It will also provide the basic understanding of the level of the UPSC Prelims and Mains exam.
  • Solve multiple MCQs and practice answer writing daily:It is important for the students to solve MCQs just after they complete one chapter. And after completing the whole syllabus, they should solve MCQs on a daily basis at least 20 MCQs. In case of Mains, one should start their answer writing practice after completing the whole UPSC Syllabus for Mains related to Environment and Ecology. Daily answer writing will enhance their writing capability and will also enrich their content. It will help them when they will write the answer finally in Mains exam.

Environment and Ecology is one of the most interesting and important subjects in UPSC syllabus. It has both static as well as dynamic linkage. Students should prepare it well.