Environment & Ecology For IAS Main’s 2016-17
Environment & Ecology For IAS Main’s & PT 2016-17
Q.1 Discuss how community participation can improve biodiversity conservation and could also make sustainable and inclusive growth of the country.
Ans. The Periyar Tiger Reserve, in Kerala, bagged the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial award on Tuesday for encouraging local public participation in managing the reserve. There are 75 communities living around the reserve, including tribal people who are dependent on eco-development programmes, the reserve set up the Periyar Foundation in 2006 which was a model for other reserves in biodiversity conservation and community participation in managing natural resources. The community-based eco-tourism activities helped visitors and there were night scouting programmes with the help of expert trackers as well. Tourism was supplemented by pepper growing and marketing which was a value addition. Now self- help groups were involved in honey processing and other income-generating activities, Of the 75 eco development committees, 15 were tribal and each had about 150 to 200 members. There were 19 different eco-tourism programmes apart from village eco- development programmes like bee-keeping. The committees also played a major role during the Sabarimala pilgrimage which involved a 23-km trek in the dense forests. Small shops were set up along the way and people helped in regulating the pilgrims and in waste management, removing 40 to 50 tonnes each season.
This draws an example that how community participation can serve the purpose of sustainable development with achieving all the three goals, the troika of the sustainable development that is Economy, environment, and equity. As the local community of the forest area has much knowledge about their habitat, it can be used for the welfare, conservation and protection of the flora and fauna of the region. It covers all the three aspects of sustainable development, it helps in biodiversity conservation to bring environment safety, generates employment for the local community to bring an inclusive growth in the country, and also with the utilization of local communities knowledge it can bring economic benefits to the country. It is not a single example which shows the benefit of community participation but there are many as environment stewardship program of NPCIL and so on.
Therefore, such initiatives can be taken care of while policy making for the biodiversity conservation to achieve sustainable development.
Q.2 ‘Declaration of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs ahead of the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015 reaffirms that India fully recognizes its role in averting dangerous climate change’ while keeping consistency with the Principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ Elucidate.
Ans. India’s commitment to adopt low-carbon pathways for development is welcome reaffirmation that it fully recognizes its role in averting dangerous climate change. In the statement of climate goals and plans — formally called the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs — which has been submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, government has emphasized the expansion of clean technologies to generate power, greater energy efficiency in infrastructure, and a significant widening of forestry as key measures. There are several other actions that it will take in the areas of transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management in order to balance economic growth with carbon emissions.
With all this, India promises to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030, from 2005 levels, while not committing itself to any absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. What is significant is that the national plans given in the INDC, ahead of the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, depend on the “unencumbered availability of clean technologies and financial resource from around the world”. Such a position is consistent with the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ that guides climate negotiations.
Further, India has also mentioned some Expectations from Paris conference in the document submitted such as, a balanced agreement with all components -mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance and capacity building, finances from developed countries, provision of technology development, transfer and diffusion. This shows that India has kept balance between domestic initiatives and ensuring the achievement of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ in the international platform.
Therefore, declaration of intended contributions is a welcome step but India need to handle the upcoming Paris negotiations in favor of it as India is yet to develop its basic facilities and as it needs to fulfill its growing energy demands for the development process. It needs to negotiate for the development of the country as we are emerging economy and a lot of development is on our way.
Q.3 Discuss salient points of India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.
Ans. The Government has said that India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is balanced and comprehensive. This intended contribution shows that India is keen to attempt to work towards a low carbon emission pathway, while simultaneously endeavoring to meet all the developmental challenges that the country faces today. Salient points are-
• INDC include reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
• To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
• India has also decided to anchor a global solar alliance, INSPA (International Agency for Solar Policy & Application), of all countries located in between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Recent decisions of the Government represent a quantum jump in its aspirations and demonstrate unparalleled vision. India’s contribution represents utmost ambitious action in the current state of development. The INDC centre around India’s policies and programmes on promotion of clean energy, especially renewable energy, enhancement of energy efficiency, development of less carbon intensive and resilient urban centres, promotion of waste to wealth, safe, smart and sustainable green transportation network, abatement of pollution and India’s efforts to enhance carbon sink through creation of forest and tree cover.
It also captures citizens and private sector contribution to combating climate change. The INDC proposals are on the following: a. Sustainable Lifestyles b. Cleaner Economic Development c. Reduce Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) d. Increase the Share of Non Fossil Fuel Based Electricity e. Enhancing Carbon Sink (Forests) f. Adaptation g. Mobilizing Finance h. Technology Transfer and Capacity Building INDC outlines the post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement.
The INDC document is prepared with a view to taking forward the vision of a sustainable lifestyle and climate justice to protect the poor and vulnerable from adverse impacts of climate change. For India’s INDC, Government zeroed-in-on a set of contributions which are comprehensive, balanced, equitable and pragmatic and addresses all the elements including Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance, Technology Transfer, Capacity Building and Transparency in Action and Support. It also had some Expectations from Paris-
• A balanced agreement with all components -mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance and capacity building- consistent with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
• New, additional and predictable finances from developed and developing countries for mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building;
• Provision of technology development, transfer and diffusion;
• Paris Agreement must incorporate loss and damage and make operational Warsaw International Mechanism.
Q.4 ‘Besides affecting marine life, plastic that gets into the food chain has serious health implications for humans’. Elucidate and suggest some measure to tackle plastic waste.
Ans. A paper published recently in the journal Science has identified the top 20 countries that have dumped the most plastic waste into the oceans. At twelfth position, India is one of the worst performers. It has dumped up to 0.24 million tonnes of plastic into the ocean every year; the amount of mismanaged plastic waste per year is 0.6 million tonnes. In the case of China, the No. 1 polluter, the coastal population sends up to 3.53 million tonnes of plastic waste into the oceans each year. Besides the 11 Asian and South East Asian countries, the U.S.
figures in the list. It is a matter of concern that if there is one type of municipal solid waste that has become ubiquitous in India and most developing countries, and largely seen along the shores and waterways of many developed countries, it is plastic waste. Much of it is not recycled, and ends up in landfills or as litter on land, in waterways and the ocean. Other studies suggest that the surface of the water is not its final resting place. Alarmingly, an unknown quantity of degraded plastic in the form of particles enters the food chain.
Besides affecting marine life, plastic that gets into the food chain has serious health implications for humans. With the latest study estimating that the annual input into the oceans is set to double by 2025, there is an urgent need to tackle the problem. Recycling is the best available way to tackle the waste, though it is not the ideal solution. There can be two approaches which has to be adopted by the worst polluters-
• To reduce per capita plastic waste generation and
• Cut the amount of mismanaged waste by employing better waste management practices.
India dumps a huge quantity into the ocean although it generates a relatively small amount of this waste per person. The huge population offsets the advantage of low plastic consumption in the country. Cutting down on the use of plastic should begin as soon as possible, and the first thing to be targeted is the single-use plastic bag, but recently Indian Government, refused to ban the manufacture of Single use plastic bags.
Also, India hardly recycles plastic waste. Therefore, it shows that India has not worked at both the approaches mentioned above. Although there are some challenges but India needs to take some serious measures, in the short run, the least it could do to reduce consumption is to make such bags expensive, employing the same rationale that has been applied for tobacco products that are taxed heavily to reduce consumption. Alternatives such as Jute bags, paper bags recycling of plastic bags etc. should be worked upon. A better solid waste management is need of the hour.
Q.5 Discuss the role of Tourism in Environment Degradation and suggest how tourism itself can be used for environment protection.
Ans. The quality of the environment, both natural and man made is essential to tourism. However, tourism’s relationship with the environment is complex. It involves many activities that can have adverse environmental effects. The negative impact of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends. On the other hand, tourism has the potential to create beneficial effects of the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation.
It is a way to raise awareness of environmental values and it can serve as a tool to finance protection of natural areas and increase their economic importance. Negative impact of tourism occurs when the level of visitor use is greater than the environments ability to cope with this use within acceptable limits of change. Uncontrolled conventional tourism poses potential threats to many natural areas around the world. It can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss and increased pressure on endangered species. In the following way tourism can enhance environmental degradation-
• It can put pressure on natural resources resulting in its depletion.
• The tourism industry generally overuses water resource, for hotels, swimming pools etc, resulting in water shortages and degradation of water supplies.
• It can create great pressure on local resources like energy, food and other raw materials.
• It can result in land degradation due and land resources like minerals, fossil fuels, fertile soil, forests, wetlands and wild life through the increased construction of tourism and recreational facilities.
• It can pollution like, air emissions, noise, solid waste and littering, releases of sewage, oil and chemicals, even architectural and visual pollution.
• It can cause destruction and alteration of ecosystem.
• It can result into loss of biodiversity.
• It can contribute in the depletion of ozone layer and climate change. Besides these negative impacts there can be its positive impacts also if taken proper care itself it can protect and conserve environment in the following way-
• Tourism can contribute to the direct revenue of government through the entry fees, parking etc. which can be utilized for protection and management of environmentally sensitive areas.
• Tourism has the potential to increase public appreciation of the environment and to spread awareness of environmental problems when it brings people into closer contact with nature and the environment. This confrontation heightens awareness about the value of nature among the community and lead to environmentally conscious behavior and activities.
• Tourism can significantly contribute to environmental protection, conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources. Therefore, the solution here is Eco-tourism can be promoted so that its negative impacts could be mitigated and its positive benefits can be utilized.
Q.6 Discuss the increasing role of National Green Tribunal in protection of environment?
Ans. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been established under the NGT Act, 2010 on 18th October, 2010.The Tribunal has been established for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Law Commission in its 186th Report recognised the inadequacies of the existing appellate authorities constituted under various environmental laws and reviewed their position with a view to bring uniformity in their constitution and the scope of their jurisdiction.
The Law Commission undertook the study pursuant to the observations of the Supreme Court regarding the need for constitution of environmental courts. The Law Commission, in its said report, recommended for setting up of environmental courts in each State or for a group of States for exercising all powers of a civil court in its original jurisdiction and with appellate judicial powers against orders passed by the concerned authorities under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
The Law Commission’s Report was considered in the Ministry. In view of the growing environmental challenges, it was decided to set up a green tribunal as a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The NGT has given landmark decisions to protect the environment such as-
• Has ordered of CNG buses in Delhi.
• Has banned 10 year old vehicles in Delhi.
• Has imposed tax to citizens for yamuna cleaning.
• Has given landmark judgment to stop sand mining.
• Has stopped many construction works. And so on.
Therefore the increasing role of national green tribunal has done a lot in saving environment and it is doing a lot in making people also responsible and accountable towards the environment.
Q.7 “Pollution is killing us, emasculating our future generations; SAFAR is the package of preventive technologies for India”. Elucidate
Ans. “Sab ko saath lekar chale’ of the new government is not only a social and political slogan. It is also a pledge for keeping environmental considerations uppermost in mind. Scientists and technologists in the laboratories and institutions are deep into developing solutions for the industry-environment conflict” “Pollution is killing us, emasculating our future generations. SAFAR is the package of preventive technologies. Among other things, for the first time it has been revealed to ordinary citizens on a daily basis the level of ultraviolet radiation and carcinogenic mercury in the air that they breathe.
This will surely lead to greater awareness and the people will demand from their government the necessary corrective steps”. The Ministry of Earth Sciences is developing technologies to predict air quality at the micro level within a city. In centres like SAFAR which are to come up in other cities and large towns affected by air pollution, it will also be possible to give location-specific forecasts up to three days in advance along with associated advisories to help people take preventive steps. SAFAR would help citizens look up the air quality at a monitoring station near them, and decide what precautions to take based on it. There are possibilities for the future too. “SAFAR would give information of current air quality, future weather conditions, and alerts for extreme weather conditions and associated health advisories.
People will also get to know intensity of harmful solar radiation in terms of the Ultra Violet Index. Therefore, this is really very useful for all of us to plan our outdoor activities and crop management. I am sure that it will act as a helpful tool for disaster management unit and hospital administrators also.” Thus, SAFAR is the package of preventive technologies for India and its future.
Q.8 ‘Although India is a 4th largest green house gas emitter in the world, but in comparison to the first three, it is relatively a small emitter despite having a large population, it makes a strong case for India to negotiate in the upcoming Paris Conference’. Suggest some strategies to be adopted by India for reaching at a Global Climate Treaty without compromising its development?
Ans. India, which is the fourth largest emitter green house gas emitter in the world, has already committed itself to a reduction in intensity of carbon emissions by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level. But the U.S.-China agreement may put renewed pressure on India to do more and may also put pressure for binding responsibility Country-wise estimates for annual emission figures reveal two striking facts.
First, India may be the fourth largest emitter, but its emissions are less than a fourth of China, about a third of the U.S., and about half of the EU. Second, they are roughly equal to those of Russia and not a lot higher than those of Japan. Russia and Japan are also among the industrialized countries which went back on the commitments they made under the Kyoto Protocol. Yet, the U.S.-China agreement is expected to shift the focus to India and not to Russia and Japan. Nothing can be more wrong. India’s emissions, even if it grows robustly, are expected to be about 4,000-5,000 MMT by 2030 — still well below the emissions pledged either by the U.S. or China under the agreement.
In fact, they will continue to be so for a long time to come and perhaps forever as China’s greenhouse gas emissions have been estimated by the International Energy Agency to further rise by 20 per cent by 2030 from 2012 levels. India may be the fourth largest emitter, but it is a relatively small emitter despite having a large population. Its cumulative emissions have been low; its per capita emissions are less than many developed countries. Thus, there is absolutely no case for India to agree to cut its emissions at the high level at the 2015 summit in Paris. On the contrary, there is a strong case for it to press the three biggest emitters to do more as there is still a huge gap between what the three top emitters have pledged and what is required by science and their historical responsibilities (the cumulative emissions). It is irrelevant that India is the fourth largest emitter.
The fact is that India is still in its early stages of development and has a long way to go before its emissions stabilize. Therefore, India’s strategy for approaching the 2015 summit at which a global climate treaty is expected to be concluded, should be as such-
First, India should represent its self intended commitments as a bold step.
Second, India should insist that there should be no reference to its annual emissions reduction till it achieves stabilization as developed countries did and China proposes to do. Unlike China, India has a young population and it can grow till after 2050 when its urban transition and industrialization will be almost complete and its annual emissions will stabilize.
Third, India may propose to raise its share of renewable sources the same as China — in its total energy consumption by 2030. This seems achievable as India will have access to the same technologies as China. In its final report, the Planning Commission’s expert group on low carbon growth strategy had projected that the contribution of solar, wind, and biomass to electricity supply can realistically increase from the present 6 per cent to 18 per cent by 2030.
Q.9 ‘Natural disasters once regarded as unavoidable, or even as God’s wrath, can now be checked by intelligent human intervention’. Elucidate in the light of the recent Nepal earthquake.
Ans. Recent Nepal earthquake on 25th April this year has smashed Kathmandu and surrounding towns, shook and shattered many buildings in northern India, and killed thousands. All experts agree that the entire Himalayan region is earthquake-prone, since the Indian tectonic plate is moving northward under the Tibetan plate at around 5 cm a year. This creates enormous geological strains that lead inevitably to the ruptures and earth-settling that we call earthquakes. Kathmandu itself has experienced two major quakes in the last century. The Himalayan belt has experienced many more, of which the Assam quake of 1950 was the worst. Creating and implementing quake-proof building codes may sound like boring stuff.
But, ultimately, this is the only way quake damage can be minimized. Some environmentalists say wrong policies have encouraged human settlement and building in risk-prone areas, may be so. But the notion that every seismic area should be emptied of people is farcical. Japan is far more quake-prone than India and Nepal, but we cannot move all Japanese out of their country. Similarly, Indonesia, Chile, Alaska in the US and other areas are as quake-prone or more so than the Himalayan belt. We need to live with the reality that nature is a brutal killer through quakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and droughts. The solution is not to abandon settlements in risk-prone areas but to build structures that can withstand nature’s ravages.
This is possible. The richest lessons India and Nepal need to learn come from Japan. Among rich countries, the biggest recent quake was in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. Over 1,50,000 houses collapsed. Most old timbered houses fell, but so did many reinforced concrete structures. The gradual strengthening of Japan’s building codes has proven that withstanding nature’s ravages is possible. The buildings that have been built in Japan after 1980 are almost Zero risk buildings. That is proof positive that it is entirely possible to build safely in earthquake-prone areas. This does not mean that high standards will prevent all damage or deaths — some tragedies will always occur.
But natural disasters once regarded as unavoidable, or even as God’s wrath, can now be checked by intelligent human intervention. The lessons for India and Nepal are clear being located in earthquake prone area, that the damage can be minimized with building codes and quake-preparedness of the sort that Japan has pioneered, tailored to Indian conditions. India cannot become Japan overnight. But a start is must, especially when Japan will happily provide financial and technical assistance for such works to India, provided that India is serious.
Q.10 What are ‘Permeable Reactive Barrier’ (PRB) toilet? Explain its environmental benefits.
Ans. While thousands of toilets prop up across the country, there has been little attention given to an environmentally-friendly set up. The low-cost toilets being built rely entirely on a refuse-collection pit — a design that ends up leaching nitrates into the groundwater below. Researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have developed a permeable reactive barrier (PRB) toilet which uses a mixture of sand and bentonite clay. The clay regulates the flow of leachates by swelling when in contact with water. It is the mixture of sand (95 per cent) and bentonite clay (5 per cent) ensures a suitable anaerobic environment for de-nitrifying bacteria which convert nitrates into gaseous nitrogen compounds.
The seepage of untreated water into groundwater resulted in an average nitrate concentration of 148 mg per litre, which was more than three times greater than the permissible limit. When consumed in large quantities, nitrites can cause anaemia and can even react with amines to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. The researchers have taken the results into a “cost-effective” workable set-up: a top nearly 1 metre-thick gravel layer below the pit-base followed by a 32 cm-thick sand layer and a bottom 20 cm-thick layer of sand plus clay.
A perforated vent pipe allows gas bubbles to escape. “Bentonite is not easily available in rural areas or small towns. Instead, we can use a mixture of cow dung and sand (1:1 ratio) that can be equally effective. Therefore, it has many benefits as it is economically viable can be made at very low cost, specially will benefit rural people and poor people, environmentally viable as controls the leaching process, also reduces health diseases like anemia.
Q.11 ‘The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world, But it is vulnerable to climate change’. Discuss various impacts of climate change on it and suggest measures to prevent.
Ans. The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is the estuarine phase of the Ganges as well as Brahmaputra river systems. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, forming the seaward fringe of the delta. The typical littoral forests of Sundarbans comprises of a host of trees species adopted to the peculiar estuarine condition of high salinity, lack of soil erosion and daily inundation by high tides. The tidal forms and the mangrove vegetation in Sundarbans are responsible for dynamic eco-system vigorous nutrient cycling both terrestrial and aquatic. The whole eco-system is sensitive to change in salinity and the continuous cycle of erosion and deposition is affecting the plant continuously adjusting to the new conditions. The great fight goes on between nature and each individual here for survival, and survival for the fittest. The forest covers of 4,000 sq km are on Indian Side. It has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. Sundarbans was designated a Ramsar site on May21, 1992.The characteristic tree is the Sundari (Heritiera littoralis), from which the name of the tract has been derived. It yields a hard wood, used for building, and for making boats, furniture, etc. The physical development processes along the coast are influenced by a multitude of factors, comprising wave motions, micro and macro-tidal cycles and long shore currents typical to the coastal tract. The shore currents vary greatly along with the monsoon.
These are also affected by cyclonic action. Erosion and accretion through these forces maintains varying levels whilst the mangrove vegetation itself provides a remarkable stability to the entire system. During each monsoon season most of the Bengal Delta is submerged. The sediment of the lower delta plain is primarily adverted inland by monsoonal coastal setup and cyclonic events. People living in this area may face two of the greatest challenges in coming years- rising salinity and sea levels caused mostly by subsidence in the region and partly by climate change. The Bengal Basin is slowly tilting towards the east due to neo-tectonic movement, forcing greater freshwater input to the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
This might increase the salinity of the Indian Sundarbans. Intensive management in required to take care of the maintenance and improvement of the habitat through eco-conservation, eco-development, education, training and research. Strict control over the movement of the people, inside the tiger reserve, alternative income generation and awareness building among people are some other measures. Use of human-masks, electric human dummies etc. are believed to have contribution in controlling man-eating by tigers. Measures like erection of branches, net fencing at forest side and solar illumination at village side etc. could be helpful in conserving the flora and fauna of the eco-system.
Q.12 ‘National Air Quality Index (AQI) is a tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people’. Discuss.
Ans. National Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched to disseminate air quality information. The AQI has six categories of air quality, viz Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe with distinct colour scheme. Each of these categories is associated with likely health impacts. AQI considers eight pollutants (PM10, PM 2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed. Presently, air quality data for 10 cities are connected to AQI system which is available on the website of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Central Pollution Control Board. ‘The National Air Quality Index’ (AQI) in New Delhi, is launched as ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity. The formulation of the index was a continuation of the initiatives under Swachh Bharat Mission.
The index constituted part of the Government’s mission to introduce the culture of cleanliness. Institutional and infrastructural measures were being undertaken in order to ensure that the mandate of cleanliness was fulfilled across the country. As a part of the process, clean air would be a part of Peoples’ campaign to take up the issue in a mission mode. Air pollution has been a matter of environmental and health concerns, particularly in urban areas. Central Pollution Control Board along with State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country.
In addition, continuous monitoring systems that provide data on near real-time basis are also installed in a few cities. Traditionally, air quality status has been reported through voluminous data. Thus, it was important that information on air quality is put up in public domain in simple linguistic terms that is easily understood by a common person. Therefore, Air Quality Index (AQI) is one such tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people.
Q.13 India has shifted from ‘Carbon Subsidy’ to ‘Carbon Tax’. What could be the possible benefits of it?
Ans. Economic Survey 2014-15 acknowledges the green actions taken by India, including imposing significantly higher taxation of petroleum products and thereby reenergizing the renewable energy sector. India shifted from a carbon subsidization regime to one of significant carbon taxation regime, from a negative price to an implicit positive price on carbon emissions. India has cut subsidies and increased taxes on fossil fuels (petrol and diesel) turning a carbon subsidy regime into one of carbon taxation, by putting an effective price on emissions. This has significantly increased petrol and diesel price while serving as price signal to reduce fuel burnt and hence CO2 emissions. Calculating CO2 emission reductions from measures taken for petrol and diesel suggests that there will be a net reduction of 11 million tons of CO2 emissions in less than a year compared to the baseline or 0.6 percent India’s annual emissions. In addition, India has increased the coal cess from Rs. 50 per ton to Rs. 100 per ton, which is equivalent to a carbon tax of about US$ 1 per ton.
A higher tax on coal offsets the domestic externalities including health cost of coal for power generation. The Economic Survey points out that any rationalization of coal pricing must take account of the implications for power prices and hence access to energy for the poorest in India which is and must remain a fundamental objective of policy. Although these are welcome steps, but there is still a long way to go with potential large gains still to be reaped from reform of coal pricing and further reform of petroleum pricing policies. Broadly, the move to substantial carbon taxation combined with India’s ambitious solar power program suggests that India can make substantial contributions to the forthcoming Paris negotiations on climate change.
Q.14 ‘There is a protest among people against the visionary INO (India based neutrino observatory) project’. Give your comments justifying the worth of this project.
Ans. In a landmark move, the Government of India’s Union Cabinet recently approved the India-based Neutrino Observatory project. ”A pioneer in the field of neutrino science, India was a world leader in 1965. In the mid-1990s, with the closing of the Kolar Gold Fields which was the site of the experiments, experimental neutrino research in India came to a halt, and the INO is expected to revive the lost advantage,” The three types of neutrinos, which were initially thought to be mass-less are now believed to have a small mass.
This was shown by observations of neutrino oscillation, which is a phenomenon by which one type of neutrino transforms into another.There is a hierarchy among the masses of these three types of neutrino and the experiments at the INO will study this mass ordering using a magnetised iron calorimeter (ICAL). The ICAL is a massive detector which will be made of iron — 50,000 tonnes of it! The project will be housed in the 63 acres of land, about 2 km away from the settlement, in the Bodi West Hills about 100 km from Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
The need for such a massive detector and for drilling underground is that the neutrinos interact very weakly with the surroundings. We are all being washed by a stream of neutrinos every passing minute as they just pass through us without leaving a trace. Since they interact so weakly, detecting them over other interactions is impossible. We need to have a barrier of at least 1 km of earth to block out other radiation and particles, such as muons from cosmic rays. This is the reason scientists are now going underground.
They will construct a tunnel at a depth of 1,300 metres below the peak and which is 2 km by 7.5m by 7.5m. This will lead to a chamber that will house the detector. Questions have been raised as to whether this tunnel will harm the mountain, or about the ecological impact of the construction process, blasting of the rock, about the effect of the construction on distant dams and the impact of the development on the villagers, and this has created a concern for local community and environment activists, and thus they are protesting against the project. Their concerns are not negligible. Although there is a protest but as per scientists, this is exactly like making a 2-inch hole to insert a pipe through a 10-foot-high wall. It will not affect the stability of the hill, There will be hardly any disturbance after the construction period, a lot of precautions and proceed in a controlled manner will be taken.
Further, “This will be the largest experimental facility to come up in the country and students will get a chance to work with cutting edge technology and build sophisticated instruments. It will be a boon for students all over the country, especially Tamil Nadu”. Therefore it is justified to continue with the project but at the same time the concerns of the local people and environmentalist must be taken care of with efforts for as less as possible loss to the environment and local community.
Q.15 ‘Seven Billion Dream, One Planet consume with care’, Elaborate the deeply expressed message in this.
Ans. Emphasizing the need to alter consumption patterns in a manner that more and better can be done with less resources, government has exhorted people to make at least one change in their lives towards a more responsible resource consumption behavior, or practice. In a message on the occasion of World Environment Day, it was emphasized that every individual has a responsibility in contributing to protect the environment and reduce the rate of depletion of natural resources, as people could become agents of change, by being more conscious of the environmental consequences of their personal choices. By the year 2050, with an expected population of 9.6 billion, it is estimated that three planets would be needed to sustain the ways of living and consumption. Therefore, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet, Consume with care.” It was also urged to the industries and the society to adopt environmentally responsible practices such as the approach of three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. While less than 3% of the water in the world is drinkable, one out of seven persons in the world does not have access to drinkable water. Pointing out that dietary choices and habits affect environment, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, while almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion go hungry.
Food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total energy consumption and around 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions. We celebrate the World Environment Day, to raise awareness about the importance of a clean, green and healthy environment for human well-being and to encourage everyone for taking positive action in addressing challenging environmental issues. Celebrated each year on 5th June, the Day marks the opening of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. The theme this year, ‘Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet, Consume with Care’ is very topical and relevant, as it reminds us of the enormous impact that our personal choices and decisions in day-to-day lives as consumers, have on environment.
It also emphasises the responsibility each one of us has, in contributing to protecting the environment and reducing the rate of depletion of natural resources. Changes in natural resource base due to human activities have taken place more rapidly in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, causing continued deterioration of environment. As a result, many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion, or irreversible change. We simply cannot afford this, as we have but ‘Only one Earth.’ Ironically, this was the theme for the first World Environment Day 42 years ago in 1973. We still have some time to transform the challenges of limited and fast depleting resources into opportunities that will enhance the quality of life for all, without increasing environmental degradation and without compromising the resource needs of future generations. This, however, calls for altering our consumption patterns in a manner that we do more and better with less; less of water, less of energy, and less of all other resources. This was the deep message inside the theme.
Q.16 What is TEEB-India initiative. What are its focus areas? Explain.
Ans. It is to be noted that India is one of the recognized mega-diverse countries of the world. With an area of about 329 mha, India is 7th largest country in the world. India has wide range of ecosystems and habitats such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and deserts which in turn have contributed to immense biological diversity with large variation in species of plants, animals and microbes. With only 2.4% of world’s land area, India accounts for 7 to 8 % of the recorded plant and animal species of the world. If we talk about diversity in biodiversity of India, then “India has ten bio-geographic zones and also four global biodiversity hotspots. India is endowed with vast forest resources.
The total forest and tree cover of the country is estimated at 23.39% of the geographic area, of which forest cover accounts for 21.02% (69.09 mha)’. “The loss of biodiversity and the ecosystem services impacts us all, but in India the rural poor are the first to be adversely affected by these losses. Therefore, the economic value of nature’s contribution to the human well-being of both rural and urban communities, and the costs to these communities if we allow the continued degradation of this natural capital is essential if India is going to be able to sustain the human- wellbeing of its population moving forward.”
Therefore, The Government has launched The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB-India Initiative (TII) to highlight the economic consequences of the loss of biological diversity and the associated decline in ecosystem services. The Initiative focused on three ecosystems, namely-
• Inland wetlands and
• Coastal and marine ecosystems.
TII has been implemented under the Indo-German Biodiversity Programme. Under this initiative, India is well placed to lead the way in incorporating the value of nature into national, regional and local policy making. India soon will launch a scheme in three states , Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra and introduce a market based system for control of air pollution. India has introduced legal changes. For the first time in last December, the Ministry promulgated the rules for ecological functions. We created regulatory authority also.
The protection, preservation and regeneration of living beings will be central in biodiversity maintenance. Good Quality of forest cover will help primary stakeholder, i.e. people. Livelihood opportunities will be sustainable with this. Green India Mission will also contribute towards maintaining quantity of forests. The outcome of the pilot projects of TII will be fed into the sectoral synthesis for the three ecosystems. The overall study report will be released at the 21st session of the UNFCCC CoP being held in November-December, 2015 at Paris.
Q.17 ‘It is noted that e-waste, which is “most” toxic of all waste material, is increasing at an alarming rate in the country and its management and handling has become a “major” challenge’. Suggest some measures to handle the menace e-waste.
Ans. E-waste was the collective name for discarded electronic devices that entered the waste stream from various sources, “Changing fashion trends, advancement in technology, and end of a gadget’s ‘useful life’ among other things led to the creation of e-waste,” he said. Most of the e-wastes comprised potentially hazardous materials such as cadmium, lead, and mercury. Poor compliance with e-waste management and handling rules in the State is threatening human health and the environment. It noted that e-waste, which is “most” toxic of all waste material, is increasing at an alarming rate in the country and its management and handling has become a “major” challenge. A change would be possible only if the government put in place a strict enforcement mechanism and the right infrastructure to support e-waste management efforts.
Stating that e-waste management is a huge global problem, there were numerous reports indicating that e-wastes are being shipped to developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America from developed nations under the garb of “used goods” to pass on the hazards associated with it and to “avoid” the cost of legitimate recycling. Therefore, the creation of necessary legislative and enforcement mechanism to prevent the country from becoming one of the dumping grounds of e—waste for developed nations,” is necessary. Noting that the need to review existing legal framework is “self— evident”, that a necessary policy framework and legal architecture together with effective implementation machinery need to be put in place to meet the challenges of e—waste management.
“This should be done in a time—bound manner and in consultation with domain experts and other stakeholders. Further, It observed that given the reach of electrical and electronic equipment in remote and far flung areas of the country, the arrangements made for managing and handling e-waste are quite “inadequate”. Therefore, therefore the Government should take all necessary steps to strengthen and expand the network of authorized collection centres as well as registered recyclers and dismantlers in the country in a big way so as to ensure safe and scientific disposal of e—waste,” Apart from this, “A yawning gap exists between e-waste generated in India and its capacity to deal with it.
Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) is the main feature of E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 notified by the Ministry according to which the producer is responsible for its product once the consumer discards it,” but there is almost nothing done in this regard from the producers side. Some of producers have started exchange offer schemes, but these are hardly making any difference. Failure to recycle e-waste is also leading to shortages of rare earth minerals to make future generations of electronic equipment. Therefore the need of the hour is of a comprehensive and holistic approach taking into account all the possible ways of E-waste management. For this, Government needs necessary legislative and enforcement mechanism to prevent the country from becoming one of the dumping grounds of e—waste, authorized collection centres as well as registered recyclers and dismantlers in the country, and stricter laws for the enforcement of Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) to make producers responsible. Apart from this awareness among public is must to reduce the amount of waste generation.
Q.18 Discuss the role of Biotechnology in ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.
Ans. “Swacch Bharat” has been taken up as a serious research area in the country’s laboratories keeping in mind the reality that biotechnology offers immense scope to leapfrog several levels towards the objective of public hygiene and health. “Our biggest challenge is to convince the people that S&T is not only indispensable for achieving Swacch Bharat’s objectives, but it is also the cheapest route to it. How many people know that rapid advancements in research have brought down delivery costs?
We are at the threshold of a great era and scientists need to communicate this fact to the masses proactively,” It is to be noted that chemical toilets, solar-power fuelled flushing systems and conversion of municipal and even kitchen waste into biofuels are some of the thrust areas adopted in institutions under the mission. Seeing the legacy of decades of indifference to sanitation and public health it was realized that all the fruits of modern research into the area need to be marshaled.
For example, in the early days of conversion of municipal waste to fuel, there were problems faced with wet garbage which constitutes the most part of public dumps in India. But now, research to resolve this problem have begun to yield dividends.
“We have to keep in mind factors like water and energy conservation and limited spaces. It is indeed a matter of national pride that our scientists have accepted this challenge because the ‘Swachh Bharat’ dream has to depend on indigenous technology, not foreign implants. There are many institutions under the Ministry of Science and Technology which is actively pursuing the “Swacch Bharat” agenda.
Like, The ICT is India’s premier centre in the specialization of chemical technology; it is already generating and deploying innovations in the important field of bioenergy and biofuels and Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). “They are developing a technology which will make biofuels like biogas by treating solid waste at the community, village and small town levels. This is remarkable because not only will it lead to the decentralization of solid waste disposal but has the potential to develop a direct interface between rural people and cutting edge science,” Therefore, biotechnology is playing and has to play a large role in ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and also in the overall development of the country.
Q.19 ‘Recently released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that global mean sea level has risen’. What could be its impacts on India and what are the measures taken by India in this regard?
Ans. Recently released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that global mean sea level has raised by 190 mm over the period 1901-2010. That is about 60% higher than the best estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007 assessment report. The entire coastal region of India and its coastal small islands are in danger with this. They may submerge. The entire coastal habitation and infrastructure is vulnerable to its impacts. In general, it is expected that east coast of India will be more vulnerable than the west coast because of its low lying nature and hence the tendency of coastal flooding will rise if the sea level rises significantly.
Multi-hazards can be faced due to the coastal vulnerability arising from the Earthquake, Cyclones, Flood, Storm Surge and Tsunami etc. The on-shore infrastructure viz. houses, buildings, special economic zones (SEZs), ports, bridges, evacuation of habitants in low lying zones like Sundarbans, Mangrove forests, Coral islans, Bay Islands etc. and Industrial and Infrastructure Corridors are highly vulnerable to sea level rise. Future projections of sea level involve uncertainties which make it difficult to predict impacts with sufficient level of confidence. Government has carried out mapping and demarcating of multi-hazard coastal vulnerability for the entire coast of India.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is making efforts to implement an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Plan for India instead of uniform Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) framework. Accordingly, the Central Government has issued CRZ-2011 notification with a view to ensure livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities living in the coastal areas. The MoEF had launched an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project by establishing a Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), under this
(a) Demarcation of hazard line for mapping the entire coastline of the mainland of the country;
(b) A National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) has been established within the campus of Anna University, Chennai with its regional centres in each of the coastal States/Union territories to promote research and development in the area of coastal management including addressing issues of coastal communities. Multi-hazard approach that fully accounts for holistic coastal vulnerability arising from the Earthquake, Cyclones, Flood, Storm Surge and Tsunami etc.
is needed. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlines a strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of our development path.
Q.20 Explain the mechanism of the bio-toilets and its implications for saving environment.
Ans. Anaerobic bacteria – developed by DRDO and hence called ‘DRDO Bacteria’ – converts human waste into water and gas which is released through outlets. Water is subjected to chlorination and then discharged outside and the long-term impact will be a clean and environmental-friendly track that also facilitates a healthy working condition for those working on railway tracks. “Apart from being eco-friendly, workers find it easy to attend to coaches with bio-toilets as the under-frame tends to remain clean. However, there are minor issues related to the bio-toilets which pertain to behaviour of the passengers. “People tend to dispose newspapers, plastic water bottles, polythene bags and gutka pouches that clog bio-toilets. But a new design providing for manually operated lever to clear the non-biodegradable materials has been made and installed. A simple, low-cost technology for treating human waste – developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – can aid in putting an end to open defecation and manual scavenging in the country.
The bio-digester technology of DRDO has the potential to give a thrust to the ambitious Clean India campaign. A recent report “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, update 2014”, by WHO and UNICEF, estimates that about 597 million people in India resort to open defecation, the highest in the world. The target of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is to provide each household in India a toilet, both rural and urban, by 2019. The numbers alone are of lesser significance than the final disposal of human waste involved.
At present the DRDO’s technology is the best suited for Indian environment – both physical and social. The technology, which uses bacteria to treat waste, was originally developed to meet the sanitation requirements of soldiers serving in the high altitudes of Ladakh and Siachen. The system is built to operate from minus 20 degrees to plus 50 degrees and is highly customisable as per the requirements and local conditions. The best feature is that it totally does away with manual scavenging and is low on maintenance and installation cost. This is the best system of decentralised waste treatment which is made to withstand any geo-climatic conditions of the country. It is also made for stationary or mobile use, One major achievement has been its installation in the Railways, which are referred to as the “largest open defecation system in the world.
Q.21 What is Particulate matter? Discuss its impacts on environment and human health?
Ans. Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets floating in the air. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Particles come in a wide range of sizes. Particles less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. A recent study shows that a significant population of Indian subcontinent breathes air with much higher particulate matter that is lesser than 2.5 micrometre (PM2.5) in size than the limit set by the WHO. Outdoor air pollution as a whole, especially the particulate matter, has been declared as class-1 cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) in 2013 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO.
Besides, it causes other respiratory and heart diseases. The PM2.5 is particularly dangerous and can cause adverse health effects owing to its greater penetrability into the human respiratory system and eventual accumulation in human organs and blood. Rural women, children and elderly population are more prone to diseases caused by air pollution. Rural women, in particular, face a greater risk from indoor pollution — locally made mud stoves fuelled by solid biofuel emit a far greater amount of finer particulate matter. Air quality of any area depends on local emissions, long-range transport, local and regional weather patterns, and to some extent the topography of the region. Due to increased buoyancy and efficient ventilation in summer, pollution plumes rise effortlessly to the free atmosphere. This leads to a reduced level of surface level PM2.5 concentration in our breathing zone.
The problem gets aggravated during winter. Adverse conditions during winter help trapping of pollution leading to elevated level of surface PM concentration. Evidence is emerging that shows a strong positive relationship between increased pollution levels and occurrence of dense fog episodes. India has begun taking steps in the right direction. The National Air Quality index, introduced recently, has created greater awareness of air pollution amongst the people. Recently, plying of diesel vehicles older than 10 years has also been prohibited. But the situation demands more action in order to restore good air quality and clear visibility.
The economic gain due to avoidable loss of human life is too huge to be ignored. Technical intervention through efficient cooking stoves can significantly improve the lives of rural women. Improved power situation, especially in cold days, together with better handling of municipal waste and trash, can also help in achieving better air quality in the cities. Securing clean air, without compromising development, is achievable and sustainable. Environment protection is a challenge that has to be addressed more comprehensively.
Q.22 Discuss various reasons behind River distress in India. Suggest measures to reduce river distress.
Ans. Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialisation and urbanisation have exposed water resources, in general, and rivers, in particular, to various forms of degradation. The deterioration in the water quality impacts the people immediately. The rivers of India are in deep distress. Organic waste, sewage, industrial waste, trash, polythenes, cans, clothes, food and human dead bodies, run off from rural settlements, Rampant sand mining, stone quarrying in the catchment, the removal of forests, and conversion of land for agriculture, fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural fields, open defecation, dumping of animal carcasses, the planting of eucalyptus, the mining of groundwater and finally the lack of treatment of waste-water has killed the rivers. In some places they no longer flow at all or if they do, they do so as nullahs or sewage channels.
The matter is complicated by the presence of a large megalopolis close by and the urbanisation forces which buy up land far, far away. While ideally one would look for the creation of a river basin institution to understand, plan and manage land use and projects for regeneration of water, this seems miles away with a complete lack of imagination on the part of governance. Citizens meanwhile can become part of the solution through smaller steps. Harvesting rainwater and recharging aquifers is an immediate step. Treating and recycling waste- water at household, apartment and layout levels is another. Engaging with the protection and rejuvenation of the local tanks and making sure that they are clean is the next step.
Putting pressure on institutions to clean up their act and ensure that all domestic and industrial effluents are treated and only then released into the environment is another. A combination of individual action, citizen group action and putting pressure on institutions of governance responsible is the only way to save our rivers. The sooner we do it the better. That would be water wisdom.
Q.23 “Mahatma Gandhi had said cleanliness is next to Godliness, extending it, the idea behind ‘Swachh Bharat Swastha Bharat’ is cleanliness and Godliness add up to the biggest dividend –good health’. Elaborate.
Ans. “Mahatma Gandhi had said cleanliness is next to Godliness. And Swachh Bharat Mission extends this, by adding cleanliness and Godliness adds up to the biggest dividend – good health. Most of our common diseases find it impossible to thrive in clean surroundings. If we succeed in achieving this revolution, people’s expenditure on medical treatment will be considerably reduced, and so they can use their savings for better things. The image of the country has got eroded over the years because India had become synonymous with filthy cities, garbage pileups, unclean toilets and other ungainly sights which bred a host of communicable diseases. Now, every Indian feels aroused to do something to change this reality.
The Mission entailed freedom from open defecation, and solid and liquid waste management. Since open defecation is closely linked to diarrhoeal deaths, morbidity, poor education, malnutrition and poverty, the main focus of the programme in the first year has been accelerating efforts towards eradicating it. Towards this end, since the launch of Swachh Bharat, nearly 80 lakh toilets have been constructed. What is at the crux of the matter is, however, that the focus of the programme is not toilet construction but on behaviour change and community involvement in Sanitation as the preferred approach. Realising that the health benefits accrue only when the entire village becomes free from open defecation, the government has focussed on achievement of open defecation free (ODF) villages, besides increase in coverage.
There is a major focus on capacity building, given the criticality of skills required for change in age-old habits and mind-set. District is identified as the key unit of implementation, and District Collectors are being trained so that they can give the leadership to the programme. The government is also mandated to provide safe and potable drinking water to all the rural population. Though we have already achieved the millennium development goal, the issues related with the quality of drinking water in the rural areas still remain a concern. Innovative technology in the water and sanitation sectors always plays an important role. Massive awareness drive about the water and sanitation issues and challenges has been a key to the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission and providing potable drinking water through national rural drinking programme. The next chapter in Swachh Bharat Mission will unfold with the “Citizens Movement” to take the mission forward as a befitting tribute to the “Father of Nation” on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.
Q.24 What are the aims, objectives and provisions of the GREEN-HIGHWAY Project? How it can contribute to the sustainable development?
Ans. India has a total 46.99 lakh kms of road length and out of which over 96214 kms are National Highways, accounting 2% of total road length. The Highways carry about 40% of the traffic load. The Ministry has decided to develop all of existing National Highways and 40,000 kms of additional roads in the next few years as Green Highways. For Highway projects to be environmentally sustainable, it is necessary that the natural resources lost in the process of Highway construction are restored in one way or the other. This requires that ecological needs are taken into consideration from the stage of project planning and designing to its execution.
The Highways developed as green corridors not only sustain biodiversity and regenerate natural habitat but also benefit all stakeholders, from road users to local communities and spur eco-friendly economic growth and development. The vision is to develop eco-friendly National Highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, Private sector, institutions, government agencies and the Forest Department. The objective is to reduce the impacts of air pollution and dust as trees and shrubs along the Highways act as natural sink for air pollutants and arrest soilerosion at the embankment slopes. Plants along highway median strips and along the edges reduce the glare of oncoming vehicles which sometimes become cause of accidents.
The community involvement in tree plantation directly benefits local people by generating employment. The Panchayats, NGOs and other Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be involved in the process of planting and maintenance. The plant species selected will be region specific depending on local conditions such as rainfall, climate type of soil etc. For example at some places soil conditions may suit for plantation of Jamun or mango trees while at other places plants and grasses can be grown to derive biomass. Wherever possible, transplantation of existing trees will be given preference while widening the roads.
The policy aims at changing the whole process for the avenue plantation and landscape improvement. Earlier, the land needed for these activities was not considered during the Detailed Project report (DPR) stage. Now the new policy has recommended that the requirement of land for tree plantation should be included in the Land Acquisition Plans prepared by the DPR consultants. This move will help in pre-planning of the plantation activities and the space required for the same, so that there is a systematic plan before the construction of National Highways. One percent of the civil cost of the road projects will be for developing green corridors.
The new policy has given a new insight to the process of development. It gives answer to the question whether the development process is putting our environment and natural resources into danger. Such initiatives taken by the Government indicate that the process of development is not exclusive of environment protection. The development can be sustainable when systematic and conscious decisions are taken. It is the onus of the communities involved in the path of development that they also participate in the process of protection of nature. The Government can frame policies, provide standards, but success of projects depends on strong monitoring which is not possible without active community participation and community ownership. The policy when implemented in letter and spirit will result into India being a “Nation with Natural Highways”. It will address the issues that lie in the “road of development” and pave “a journey towards sustainable development”.
Q.25 Do you think that digital technology can help in River cleaning, under ‘Namami Gange’ project? Discuss the steps taken by government in this regard.
Ans. The Government has launched an ‘Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission’ – ‘Namami Gange’ in June, 2014, which approaches Ganga Rejuvenation based on learning lessons from the past, and by consolidating the existing ongoing efforts. Based on the lessons learnt, an integrated and comprehensive action plan for ‘Short-term’ (3 years), ‘Medium-term’ (5 years) and ‘Long-term’ (10 years and more) has been developed under ‘Namami Gange’. The projects and activities under this plan include pollution abatement measures for different sources of pollution and other policy initiatives.
The Government has started the ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA) for funding pollution abatement projects. The pollution can be reduced by proper monitoring and ctching and punishing the polluters on the spot. In this digital technology can help a lot, cameras can be used, satellites can be used and so on. Government has also taken various steps in this regard such as; a highly sophisticated digital system is going to be launched shortly to pin down habitual polluters by involving people in river front cities, an app, using state-of-the-art technology, has been developed with the help of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) to involve people who can now click pictures of polluters-mainly industry, habitual offenders and other source of pollution by their mobiles and upload same on the new app for action. The ambitious Namami Gange project will soon initiate action on the visual which through the satellite system is set to pin the location for swift and suitable action.
Once the picture of polluted stretch is uploaded, it could not be erased and would have comprehensive details like location, date and time. The GIS based system will replace monitoring on papers to digital platforms. the App would help in monitoring of work on the project too besides mega planning of further action plans. Besides this, plans are afoot to start surface cleaning of rivers and ghats in eight cities like Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sahib Ganj, Haridwar, Vrindavan, Mathura and Nabadwip.
Volunteers will be involved in the project besides massive usage of trash skimmer, aerators and several other machines. The Ganga, which is ironically also the world’s fifth most polluted river, now floats hopes of regaining its grandeur and sanctity by year 2020. But there is much more to it than spirituality or even religiousness. True, ‘Namami Gange’ seeks to clear the river of all the dirt and row in a string of projects to sustain its efficacy. Therefore, technology can be also used in many such ways like monitoring the actual work on the ground under the project.
Q.26 Discuss how Environment Stewardship Programme of NPCIL is A Passionate Programme: In Admiration of Nature? Do you think such kind of programmes can boost sustainable development?
Ans. The areas around the Indian nuclear power plants shelter a plethora of wildlife. As a responsible corporate citizen Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited NPCIL took decisive steps for the stewardship of this serene nature. In 2006, it set off a special initiative called Environment Stewardship Programme or ESP with its nature-loving employees as members. Nature clubs were established and programmes like bird monitoring and habitat management were kicked off. The members have been helping conserve the ecosystem. During work time, they are busy generating electricity inside the nuclear power plant, while many of their dawns and evenings are spent observing the behaviour of wildlife and habitats around their workplace.
ESP follows a three-fold approach to make things happen professionally: One, association with premier nature conservation institutions for technical know-how; two, imparting training to its members to keep them up to date on nature watch and conservation; and three, sensitizing the members of public to the importance of environment. With total support from the NPCIL management, the members have been performing a range of environment activities. From nature watch to public awareness campaigns, from butterfly surveys to bird marathons, from wetland studies to turtle conservation, from habitat improvement to environment protection, and from field observation to report publication are to name a few.
Therefore, this is an example that sustainable development is not impossible; even it’s a passionate goal. Every industry, small and large firms, communities and individuals can work in the same way along with their daily life activities they can contribute to the nature in their surroundings. This initiative shows that the passion for nature and willingness to take part in nature programmes are the only two requirements for sustainable development. The need of the hour is just to develop passion among people, make them aware of the importance environment safety.
Provide them with effective nature programmes, ensure community participation. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without community participation. Therefore, such initiatives should be highlighted and used as inspirational tool for the country to achieve sustainable development.
Q.27 What is FAME India scheme? What are its salient features and Focus areas? How it can contribute to environment protection?
Ans. The scheme, namely ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India – FAME India’ has been launched by the Department of Heavy Industry. This scheme offers incentives in the form of upfront reduced purchase price to the buyers of electric/hybrid vehicles (Green vehicles). Under this scheme, demand incentives shall be available to buyers in the form of upfront reduced purchase price. All types of vehicles like 2 wheelers, 3 wheelers, 4 wheelers, Light Commercial Vehicles, Buses and also retro fitment vehicles are covered under this scheme. Initially, this scheme is launched in select cities for the period of two years starting from 1st April 2015.
Salient Features of FAME India scheme which are :-
• This scheme would be covered throughout the country with the following four areas as a. Cities under “Smart Cities” initiatives. b. Major metro agglomerations – Delhi NCR, Greater Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai, Bengaluri, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad. c. All State and other Urban Agglomerations/Cities with 1 million+population (as per 2011 census) d. Cities of the North Eastern States It will cover all vehicle segments i.e. two, three and four wheelers, cars, LCVs, Buses etc and all forms of hybrid(Mild/Strong/Plug-in) and pure electric vehicles.
• The demand incentive will be availed by buyers upfront at the point of purchase and the same shall be got reimbursed by the manufacturers from DHI, on a monthly basis.
• On Technology Platform, one of the prime focus areas under the scheme is to develop indigenous technology and R&D capability to develop and manufacture the entire range of electric components and sub-systems necessary for hybrid and electric vehicles.
• On Public Charging Infra-structure to address issues of range anxiety amongst users of pure electric vehicles, a mix of slow and faster charging facilities needs to be created in different cities across India, on a scientific basis, taking into account population density of such vehicles and the local transportation pattern etc.
• Its environmental and other benefits are:
• Fuel Savings.
• There will also be reduction of pollution & greenhouse gas emissions.
• Local manufacturing of vehicles will lead to employment generation direct