Category: Environmental impact assessment

Madras HC quashes Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s Notice

Why in News?

  • The Madras High Court has recently quashed a show cause notice issued by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to Isha Foundation on November 19, 2021, with respect to launching prosecution for having constructed several buildings at Velliangiri hills between 2006 and 2014 without obtaining prior environmental clearance.

Environmental Clearance:

  • Environmental Clearance is conducted to assess the impact of the planned project on the environment and people and to try to reduce the impact of the same. 
  • Currently in our country the environmental clearance process is carried out for 39 types of projects. 
  • In India the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act for effective disposal of cases regarding environmental protection and forest conservation.
  • The tribunal was set up to control emissions and maintains the optimum level. 

How Environmental Clearance is done?

  • Environmental clearance is granted by the ministry of environment, and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006.
  • This notification details the process for granting EC.
  • It includes the structure of the EIA report, process of appraisal, and the conditions and safeguards that a company has to implement, including what the environment management plan should be.
  • The appraisal is carried out by the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs), which largely comprise of ‘professionals and experts’. The appraisal procedure clearly states, ‘in case the project or activity is recommended for grant of EC, then the minutes shall clearly list out the specific environmental safeguards and conditions.
  • EIA Notification 2006 was issued under the sub-rule (3) of Rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. This rule gives powers to the central government to impose certain restrictions and prohibitions on the location of an industry, or the carrying out of processes and operations in an area, based on their potential environmental impacts.
  • EIA Draft Rules 2020 was released last year which is still under review due to the proposed sensitive laws.

What are the drawbacks?

  • EC process in India involves a lot of paperwork with nothing to show on the ground.
  • Almost every project is cleared by EACs which consist of people not accountable to anyone.
  • There is hardly any post-clearance monitoring. Hence, non-compliance of the safeguards and conditions is rampant.
  • Projects are granted EC after they have already come up.
  • Primary goal of the EC process is to ensure that projects are located and constructed in such a manner that they have the least possible impact on the environment. Unfortunately, the governments could not uphold this focus
  • The present clearance process with its sequential hurdles either forces a project proponent to give up the venture, as was reportedly the case with major road projects of late, or burdens the project with time and cost overruns.

Way Forward:

These are few Recommendations given by the CAG:

  • EC letters should clearly mention cost of activities under the Environmental Management Plan along with the timelines for their implementation.
  • The capital and revenue expenditure amount to be spent on CSR cost should be distinctly specified in the EC letter.
  • EC conditions should be more specific for the area to be developed under green belt and species is to be planted in consultation with forest/agriculture department along with post EC third party evaluation.
  • While prescribing the conditions of environment clearance, the details about installation of monitoring stations and frequency of monitoring of various environment parameters in respect of air, surface water, ground water, noise, etc. should be clearly mentioned.
  • It also said that the conditions of environment clearance should be compatible with the nature and type of project in order to avoid non-uniformity in similar kinds of projects.

PRINCIPLES OF STRICT LIABILITY AND ABSOLUTE LIABILITY

Why in News?

  • The National Green Tribunal’s order in the Visakhapatnam gas tragedy found LG Polymers prima facie liable under the 19th century English law, Principle of “strict liability”, which was made redundant in India by the Supreme Court in 1986.

About National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010)for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
  • The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
  • The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
  • There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
  • Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
  • The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.
  • While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.

What is Strict Liability Principle?

  • Under the “strict liability principle”, a party is not liable and need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes his premises by accident or by an “act of God’” among other circumstances.
  • The strict liability, evolved in an 1868 English case called Rylands versus Fletcher, provided companies with several exemptions from assuming liability.
  • In the Visakhapatnam gas tragedy, even though the NGT directed the company to deposit an initial amount of ₹50 crore and formed a fact-finding committee, its use of the term “strict liability” has been questioned. Lawyers say the term “absolute liability” should have been used instead.

What is Absolute Liability Principle?

  • The Supreme Court, while deciding the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi in 1986, found strict liability woefully inadequate to protect citizens’ rights in an industrialised economy like India and replaced it with the ‘absolute liability principle’.
  • Under the absolute liability principle, the apex court held that a company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption.
  • It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence. The court said a hazardous enterprise has an “absolute non-delegable duty to the community”.
  • The principle of absolute liability is part of Article 21 (right to life).

Now what is the Implication on Vizag Gas Leakage?

  • The National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 has wholeheartedly adopted ‘absolute liability’. Section 17 mandates that the Tribunal should apply the ‘no fault principle’ even if the disaster caused are an accident.
  • The NGT statute Recognises only absolute or non-fault liability. That is, a hazardous enterprise is liable even if the disaster is an accident and not caused by the negligence of the company. The Act of 2010 fully incorporated the principle of 1986 Oleum gas leak Judgment.

TOXIC AIR: THE PRICE OF FOSSIL FUELS

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Greenpeace Southeast Asia has released a report titled ‘Toxic Air: The Price of Fossil Fuels’.

Key Findings:

  • It provides a global assessment of the health impact of air pollution from fossil fuels in 2018 and a first-of-its-kind estimate of the associated economic cost.
  • It is limited to the following pollutants, fine particulate matter(PM 2.5), ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and only that pollution which is emitted by fossil fuel combustion (coal, oil and gas).
  • Health Impacts of Air Pollution:The exposure to an air pollutant or combination of air pollutants, increased incidence of diseases including Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer, lower respiratory infections, type II diabetes, etc.
  • Economic Cost of Air Pollution: The burning of fossil fuels costs an estimated 3.3% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), equivalent to US $8 billion per day and 12,000 premature deaths every day.China, the US and India bear the highest economic cost of soaring pollution, at an estimated $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion (5.4% of the India’s GDP) a year, respectively.
  • Impacts ofParticulate Matter (5):It leads to the greatest health impact and the greatest financial cost of the three pollutants (PM2.5, O3, NO2). Globally, air pollution is estimated to cause 4.5 million premature deaths each year, which includes 3 million deaths attributable globally to PM2.5.
  • Pollution from PM2.5 costs 2.5% of the global GDP whereas pollution from O3 and NO, each costs equivalent to 0.4% of global GDP.
  • Ozone (O3)formed at near-ground level is an air pollutant that causes smog. Ozone pollution causes acute human health problems, including chest pain, throat irritation and inflammation of the airways. It also adversely affects vegetation and crops.
  • Nitrogen oxides:When fossil fuels are burned in air, nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2, collectively referred to as NOx) are created from molecular nitrogen in the air and in the fuel that is being burned. NOx pollution, along with sulphur dioxide, which is also produced when fossil fuels are burned, reacts with water to form acid rain, snow and fog, and with other substances to form particulate matter.

India’s Findings:

  • One of the principal pollutants in northern Indian cities including DelhiisPM2.5.
  • In India there are 9,81,000 preterm births and 2 million preterm births globally due to PM2.5.
  • Approximately 3,50,000 new cases of child asthma in India to nitrogen dioxide. As a result of this, over 1.28 million more children in India live with asthma, which is linked to fossil fuel pollution.
  • The exposure to fossil fuels also leads to a loss of around 490 million workdays.

Way Forward:

  • Creating a sustainable transport system by setting a phase-out date for diesel and petrol cars, while implementing various urban transport measures, such as restricting cars’ access into certain neighbourhoods or districts, promoting car-free days, etc.
  • The phase-out of fossil fuels and switch to renewable forms of energy is beneficial both for reducing air pollution and mitigating anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.
  • India needs to increase its spending on the health sector. It is to be noted that India spends around 1.28% of the GDP on health while air pollution from burning fossil fuels costs an estimated 5.4% of India’s GDP.
  • The central government has allocated only Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector in the Union Budget 2020-21.
  • The coal fired power plants in India have repeatedly missed the emission deadline set by the Union Environment Ministry. Strict action should be taken against non-compliance of thermal power plants.

GREEN INDIA MISSION

Why in News?

  • According to the Economic Survey 2019-20 released on January 2020, a sum of Rs 343.08 crore has been released under the Green India Mission (GIM) for undertaking afforestation activities over an area of 126,916.32 hectare (ha) in 13 states.
  • Between 2015-16 and 2018-19, the area brought under afforestation by GIM plantation activities stood at 87,113.86 ha, according to the data presented by Union Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • For afforestation to be achieved over an area of 126,916.32 ha in 2019-20, as the Economic Survey states, plantation activity under GIM would have to increase by around 45 per cent of where it stood in July 2019.

Green India Mission (GIM):

  • National Mission for a Green India or GIM is one of the eight Missions outlined under India’s action plan for addressing the challenge of climate change -the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • GIM was launched in February 2014, is aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and Mitigation Measures.

Objectives:

  • To increase green cover in India to the extent of five million hectares (mha) and improve the quality of existing green cover on another 5 mha.
  • To improve eco-system services like carbon sequestration, hydrological services and biodiversity and provisioning services like fuel, fodder, and timber and non-timber forest produces.
  • To increase forest-based livelihood income for about three million households.
  • Eco-restoration of degraded open forests, Restoration of Grasslands, Restoration of Wetlands, Eco-restoration/afforestation of scrub, shifting cultivation areas, cold deserts, mangroves, ravines and abandoned mining areas etc.

Concerns and Challenges:

  • The Lok Sabha Committee on Estimates’ 30threport, ‘Performance of the National Action Plan on Climate Change’ pertaining to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, released in December 2018 found fund shortage, leading to GIM missing its targets.
  • The scheme is proposed for 10 years with an outlay of Rs 60,000 crore. During 2017-18, Rs 47.8 crore has been allocated for the scheme which is grossly insufficient as the committed liability for 2015-16 and 2016-17 is Rs 89.53 crore which is much more than the budget allocated.
  • The afforestation done under the mission was only aimed at increasing tree count without considering the soil and weather conditions.
  • Trees like eucalyptus were planted which make environmental problems worse rather than solving them.
  • Planting of unsuitable trees may cause drought, and prevent biodiversity in the regions.
  • Plantations only have value in terms of timber. The other ecological services provided by a forest like prevention of soil erosion, promoting biodiversity, providing livelihood etc. are not there at all.
  • In most of the plantations, there is no resident wildlife.

GRAM SABHAS OPPOSES INDIA’S NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY PROGRAMME

Why in News?

  • Gram Sabhas in different parts of Tamil Nadu have passed resolutions against the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) and Hydrocarbon Exploration.

About Gram Sabha:

  • The term Gram Sabhais defined in the Constitution under Article 243(b).
  • It is the primary and permanent body of the Panchayati Raj system.
  • The power to annul a decision of the Gram Sabharests with the Gram Sabha only.
  • Persons, those who are above 18 years, living in the village whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level can become a member of Gram Sabha.
  • The constitution empowered the State Legislaturesto define the powers and functions of the Gram Sabhas through laws passed by them.

About INO:

  • The INO is aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover to conduct basic research on the neutrino.
  • The INO will study atmospheric neutrinos only. Solar neutrinos have much lower energy than the detector can detect.
  • The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is the nodal institution. The observatory is to be built jointly with the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology.
  • It is not a weapons laboratory and will have no strategic or defence applications.
  • INO is being constructed in the Bodi West Hills (Theni district) of Tamil Nadu.
  • The site is near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and is close to the Mathikettan Shola National Park.
  • Vaigai River passes through the Theni district.

How the Project Started?

  • Environmental clearance was given after going through the geotechnical investigation report on studies carried out for INO set aside the concerns related to radioactivity or leaching of water, besides having the impact of blasting on inhabitation in the vicinity.
  • According to the geotechnical investigation report the operation of INO will have no release of radioactive or toxic substances.
  • Earlier in 2019, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has upheld the environmental clearance granted in March 2018 to the project.
  • However, the project could not be implemented until the approval of the National Board of Wildlife is also Received.

Who issues Environmental Clearance?

  • Environmental Clearance is conducted to assess the impact of the planned project on the environment and people and to try to reduce the impact of the same.
  • Currently in our country the environmental clearance process is carried out for 39 types of projects.
  • Environmental clearance is granted by the Ministry of Environment, and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006.
  • This notification details the process for granting EC.
  • It includes the structure of the EIA report, process of appraisal, and the conditions and safeguards that a company has to implement, including what the environment management plan should be.
  • The appraisal is carried out by the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs), which largely comprise of ‘professionals and experts’.
  • EIA Notification 2006 was issued under the sub-rule (3) of Rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. This rule gives powers to the central government to impose certain restrictions and prohibitions on the location of an industry, or the carrying out of processes and operations in an area, based on their potential Environmental Impacts.

Why the Project is Opposed?

  • The project may have harmful effects on the fertility of the land in the region and adversely affect the agricultural community, farm labourers and others dependent on the profession.
  • Further, it can result in the migration of farm labourers.
  • Massive scale of construction underground and controlled blasts, the vibrations from the explosions can badly affect the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.
  • Other concerns voiced range from radiation, structural damage to the mountain to the emission of hazardous chemicals.

Way Forward:

  • EC letters should clearly mention cost of activities under the Environmental Management Plan along with the timelines for their Implementation.
  • The capital and revenue expenditure amount to be spent on corporate environmental responsibility (CSR) cost should be distinctly specified in the EC letter.
  • EC conditions should be more specific for the area to be developed under green belt and species is to be planted in consultation with forest/agriculture department along with post EC third party evaluation.
  • While prescribing the conditions of environment clearance, the details about installation of monitoring stations and frequency of monitoring of various environment parameters in respect of air, surface water, ground water, noise, etc. should be clearly mentioned.
  • It also said that the conditions of environment clearance should be compatible with the nature and type of project in order to avoid non-uniformity in similar kinds of projects.

CARBON DISCLOSURE PROJECT REPORT 2019

Why in News?

  • The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2019 report was recently published.

Carbon Disclosure Project:

  • CDP is published by the Global Reporting Initiative.
  • It is aimed at measuring the carbon reduction activities undertaken by Different Companies and firms operating in various countries across the Globe.
  • The report surveys corporate commitments to science-based targets (SBT) and evaluates the climate change risk that they are exposed to.

India’s Performance:

  • India secured the 5thspot on the project report.
  • India is the First Developing Economy with a maximum number of companies committing to the science-based targets.
  • The CDP Report 2019 said that a total of 58 companies shared details about the environment-related activities undertaken by them in this year.
  • The report also claims that over 98 percent of top Indian companies have formed some type or committee or group within its organization to drive and address climate-related issues.
  • The report also showcased the changing mind-set of India Inc with nearly all major companies setting up some form of oversight to evaluate climate risk.

Global Scenario:

  • The US topped the annual CDP report with 135 companies disclosing their climate-related activities, followed by Japan in the second position with 83 companies and the UK in the third position with 78 countries.
  • While France was placed fourth with 51 companies disclosing their details, India was placed fifth with 38 companies committing to the science-based Targets.
  • In 2018, India had only 25 companies committing to the SBTs.
  • India is followed by Germany and Sweden with 30 and 27 companies respectively, while Switzerland and Spain had 23 and 22 companies respectively.
  • Netherlands was listed 10thon the list with 18 companies committing to SBT initiatives

EXEMPTIONS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCES

Why in News?

  • The Environment Ministry has recently issued a notification to exempt oil and gas firms from seeking environmental clearance for on-shore and offshore Drilling Explorations.

Background Info:

  • Onshore drilling refers to drilling deep holes under the earth’s surface whereas offshore drilling relates to drilling underneath the seabed.Previously, exploratory surveys required the highest level of environmental scrutiny and were classified under category ‘A’ projects.
  • The category ‘A’ project needs to prepare an EIA plan and is scrutinised by a Centrally-constituted committee of experts.
  • The project would also be subject to a public hearing involving the locals of the proposed Project Site.

Key Points of the Recent Notification:

  • The notification has demoted exploratory projects to the category of ‘B2’ from category ‘A’ in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
  • Category B projects are appraised at the state leveland they are classified into two types.

1. Category B1 projects (Mandatorily requires EIA).
2. Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).

  • However, the development of an offshore or onshore drilling site as a hydrocarbon block will continue to be classified as a “category A”.
  • This notification is a part of a process of ‘decentralisation’ by the Centre as it seeks to delegate more regulatory actions to State and local units.

Concerns with the Recent Move:

  • The exploratory drilling process is an ecologically-intensive exercise that involves digging multiple wells and conducting seismic surveys offshore. Thus exemptions may cause loss of Biodiversity.
  • The offshore drilling operations can possibly affect fish, lead to a build-up of heavy water contaminants, disorient whales and sea life.
  • The risk of oil spills threatens the coastal as well as terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Thus exempting the projects which has Possible Environmental concerns further Aggravates the Issue.

GREEN CLEARANCES WAIVED FOR ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE OIL EXPLORATION

Why in News?

  • The Environment Ministry has exempted oil and Gas Firms, looking to conduct exploratory drilling, from seeking an Environmental Clearance.

Highlights:

  • Until now, even exploratory surveys have required the highest level of environmental Scrutiny, called category ‘A’, that needed project proponents to prepare an environment Impact Assessment (EIA) plan, have it scrutinised by a Centrally constituted committee of experts and subject the proposal to a public hearing involving the local residents of the proposed project site.
  • The clearance is for both on-shore and offshore drilling explorations and the process is an ecologically-intensive exercise that involves digging multiple wells and conducting seismic surveys offshore. Even category A projects are frequently exempted if they are offshore. The new amendments demote exploratory projects to the category of ‘B2’.
  • This means it will be conducted by the States concerned and will not require an EIA. The move is part of a larger process of ‘decentralisation’ by the Centre in that it seeks to farm more regulatory actions to State and local units.
  • Developing an offshore or onshore drilling site as a hydrocarbon block will however continue to merit a “category A” treatment. Environmentalists argue that offshore drilling operations can possibly effect fish, lead to a build-up of heavy water contaminants, disorient whales and sea life that rely on sonar for navigation and exacerbate the risk of oil spills.  The government in 2019 relaxed rules that incentivises companies conducting oil exploration surveys in less-explored oil fields to keep a greater share of revenue if they chance upon viable hydrocarbon blocks. This has led to a rise in interest in oil and gas exploration with the Cauvery basin registering a boost in activity.

SWACHH SURVEKSHAN SURVEY

Context:

  • Recently, the Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs has published the results of the Swachh Survekshan survey.

 About Swachh Survekshan Survey:

  • First launched in July 2017 it is a ranking exercise taken up by the Government of India to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner.
  • The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.
  • The survey fosters a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, towards creating cleaner cities and towns.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development takes up the Swachh Survekshan in urban areas and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in rural areas.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) has been commissioned the responsibility of carrying out the assessment.

What are the Concerns?

  • Infrastructural Bottlenecks:One of the main components of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is the Solid Waste Management (SWM) which requires huge investment in the setting up of Sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  • However, most of the urban local bodies have failed to effectively manage their garbage which is evident in the rising mountain of garbage at the Ghazipur landfill in Delhi.
  • Hence, there is a need to provide extended funding to the states for creating the necessary infrastructure for the management of the wastes.
  • Absence of Integrated outlook:Most of the Urban Local bodies work in silos and adopt a narrow outlook towards the improvement of cleanliness and sanitation.
  • They have failed to realize that Swachh Bharat cannot be successful unless there is an integrated outlook which takes into account all the holistic view of housing, sanitation, water-supply, waste management and transport.
  • Lack of Emphasis on Circular Economy: Across the world, there has been growing emphasis on the circular economy to reduce the human footprint and improve the natural environment.
  • Under the circular economy, maximum emphasis is on 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Going forward, the Survey must give highest weightage to this dimension for the ranking of the cities.
  • This would foster competitive spirit among the cities for adoption of the circular economy in their policies.

SWACHH 2020 LEAGUE TABLE

Context:

  • Indore, Jamshedpur are recently declared as the cleanest on Swachh 2020 table.

About Swachh Bharat (Urban):

  • Its aim is to attain 100% open Defecation Free status and 100% Solid Waste Management in all Urban local bodies.
  • It is implemented by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
  • It states that the urban areas of 35 state and union territories of Urban India achieved ODF status.

About Swachh Survekshan (Survey)

  • It is conducted by MoHUA every year since 2016.
  • Last year it focused on Sustainability and now it currently focusses on continuous monitoring, sustainable Outcomes and Institutionalizing Swachhata (which means cleanliness).

About Swachh Survekshan 2020:

  • It is an annual survey conducted on Jan 4-31, 2020.
  • Swachh Survekshan league 2020 is a part of Swachh Survekshan. Its weightage is 25% in Swachh Survekshan 2020.

About Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP):

  • For the first time, the civic body has got the Open Defection free (ODF) tag, which provide impetus to the BBMP.
  • It has taken steps to treat leachate, introduced biometric attendance for all pourakamikas, appointed marshals to check indiscriminate dumping of waste, besides providing handled machines to levy spot fines.
  • It also took steps to set up a state-of-the-art smart control room for solid waste management.

About the Key findings of Swachh Survekshan League 2020:

  • It is been conducted in a league format for the first time, were split into three quarters that is April to June, June to September and October to December.
  • Among cities with population between 1 lakh and 10 lakh, Jamshedpur in Jharkhand got the top rank in both quarters. New Delhi fell from second position in the first quarter to sixth position in the second quarter.
  • It is mainly focused on service level progress of Solid Waste Management.
  • It includes categoriessuch as
    • Transportation and collection
    • Processing and Disposal
    • Sustainable sanitation
    • Capacity Building
  • It is calorized as cities with population greater than 1 lakh and population lesser than 1 lakh.
  • It also provides ranking for Contonment Boards, which is cooperate body under the Contonment act, 2006.
  • Indore and Jamshedpur have topped the cleanliness charts for two consecutive quarters among cities with over 10 lakh population with 1 lakh to 10 lakh population.
  • The result of Swachh Survekshan 2020 is announced by the MoHUA.
  • A national level survey of cleanliness of cities will begin from January 4, leading to the final Swachh Survekshan 2020 ranking.
  • Kolkata remained at the bottom of the ranking of 49 major cities across both quarters as West Bengal did not participate in the national wide exercise.

LOCUSTS

Why in News?

  • Recently, Gujarat and Pakistan are under attack by Hopper.

About

  • It is known as tiddis locally and have wreaked havoc on standing crops, which includes castor, cumin, jatropha and cotton, and fodder grass.
  • The state administration has an alert from the UN Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on a massive attack in South Asia.
  • The Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) had noticed swarms and predicted their trajectory across the international border.
  • The state government along with the central teams has launched huge pesticide-spraying operation to kill the insects. They are currently using a pesticide ‘Malathion’.
  • According to LWO, Locust flying in from Pakistan Sindh province and spreading in villages in Rajasthan and Gujarat where south western monsoon had prolonged this time.
  • Originally, the locusts emerged from Sudan and Eritrea on Africa’s Red Sea Coast and travelled through Saudi Arabia and Iran to enter Pakistan, where they invaded the Sindh Province and from there they moved into Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Both the countries are also consistently sharing inputs, including satellite data, via Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to counter and restrict the movement of locusts.

Locusts in India:

  • It is mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.
  • It is generally seen during the months of June and July as the insects are active from summer to the rainy season, which spread in approximately over 10 square kilometre area.
  • It has a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively long distance up to 150 km per day.
  • There are Four species viz. Desert locust(Schistocerca gregaria), Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), Bombay Locust (Nomadacris succincta) and Tree locust (Anacridium sp.) are found in India.

Threats caused by Locust:

  • Locust adults can eat their own weight every day, which is about two grams of fresh vegetation per day.
  • Likewise, a very small swarm eats as much in one day as about 35,000 people, posing a devastating threat to crops and food security.
  • If not detected and controlled, the devastating plagues can develop that often take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring under control with severe consequences on food security and livelihoods.

Control measures for Locust:

  • Destroying egg masses laid by Invading Swarms,
  • Digging trenches to trap nymphs,
  • Using hopper dozers (wheeled screens that cause locusts to fall into troughs containing water and kerosene),
  • Using insecticidal baits, and applying insecticides to both swarms and breeding grounds from Aircraft.

Locust Warning Organization (LWO):

  • Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Incursion of exotic locust swarms into India is prevented through organization of suitable control operation. LWO keeps itself abreast with the prevailing locust situation at National and International level through monthly Desert Locust Bulletins of FAO.
  • Its Objectives Include:
    • To monitor, forewarn and control locust in Scheduled Desert Area (SDA) being International obligation and commitment.
    • To conduct research on locust and grasshoppers.
    • Liaison and coordination with National and International Organizations.
  • Human resource development through training and demonstration for staff of Locust Warning Organization (LWO), State officials, BSF personnel and Farmers.
  • To maintain control potential to combat locust emergency by organizing locust control campaign.

Food and Agricultural Organization:

  • It was created In Quebec City, Canada, by the first session of the newly created United Nations.
  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to Defeat Hunger.
  • It is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.

GREEN WINDOW FOR GREEN ENERGY FINANCE

Why in News?

  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is planning to set up a dedicated “Green Window to serve the unserved segments of Renewable Energy.”

Highlights:

  • The IREDA Green Window would provide a significant boost to the Renewable Energy Market.
  • This is a new financing approach to boost investment in clean energy.
  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), the country’s premier public finance institution, is considering an allocation of $20 million in seed funding to set up its pioneering “Green Window” aimed toward catalysing private investment and expanding the Indian clean energy market.
  • A green window is a financing approach designed to leverage limited government funds to attract private capital to achieve climate and clean energy goals. The IREDA Green Window builds on the globally successful green bank model.

Green Windows:

  • Green windows, like green banks, are public entities created to work with the private sector to increase investment in green energy and bring clean energy financing into the mainstream.
  • They are innovative and new tools that have been successful in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States.
  • India is one of the top three nations leading global renewable energy growth.
  • As of October 2019, India’s installed renewable capacity has already met about half of its 2022 target of 175 GW. Achieving the 175 GW goal would increase green energy access for millions of Indians and, additionally, could create up to 1 million job opportunities for over 300,000 workers in the country by 2022.

IREDA:

  • IREDA is India’s leading financial institution dedicated to clean energy expansion.
  • Since its founding under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in 1987, IREDA has financed the largest share of renewable energy projects in India.
  • It is a Mini-Ratna (Category 1) enterprise.
  • It was established as a non-banking financial institution engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation.
  • Its motto is: “Energy for Ever”.

U.S., SAUDI AT BOTTOM OF CLIMATE CLASS: REPORT

Why in News?

  • The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are among major polluters showing “hardly any signs” of reducing their Greenhouse Gas Production.

About CCPI:

  • The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI)is an instrument covering 58 countries and supposed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
  • Its aim is to encourage political and social pressure on those countries which have, up to now, failed to take ambitious actions on climate protection as well as to highlight countries with best-practice climate policies.
  • The ranking results are defined by a country’s aggregated performance on 14 indicators within the four categories “GHG Emissions”, “Renewable Energy” and “Energy Use”, as well as on “Climate Policy.”
  • The 2020 Climate Change Performance Index, prepared by a group of think tanks comprising the New Climate Institute, the Climate Action Network and Germanwatch.
  • On the basis of standardized criteria, the index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are, together, responsible for more than 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • 80% of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level.
  • 20% of the index results are built upon national and international climate policy assessments by more than 200 experts from the respective countries.

Report’s Findings:

  • It found the U.S. ranks last, followed by Saudi Arabia and Australia, although several countries did report falls in emissions last year, largely due to an industry-wide fade out of coal.
  • While climate performance varied greatly — even within the EU, with Sweden leading the way — the report found that none of the countries surveyed were currently on a path compatible with the Paris climate goals.
  • The 2015 accord saw nations agree to work towards limiting global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • S. President Donald Trump says he plans to withdraw from the global plan to reduce emissions.
  • China, the world’s largest single emitter, was found to have taken “medium action” due to its high investment in renewable.
  • India, for the first time, ranks among the top 10 in this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) presented on Tuesday at the COP25 climate summit here.
  • The current levels of per capita emissions and energy use in India, ranked 9th in the “high category”, are still comparatively low and, along with ambitious 2030 targets, result in high ratings for the green house gas emissions and energy use categories.

Approach towards Future:

  • However, despite an overall high rating for its Climate Policy performance, experts point out that the Indian government has yet to develop a roadmap for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies that would consequently reduce the country’s high dependence on coal.
  • However, the index warned that Beijing could slump to the bottom rungs if it follows through on its plan to continue building coal-fired power plants.
  • The index shows signs of a global turnaround in emissions, including declining coal consumption. However, several large countries are still trying to resist this trend – above all the USA.Delegates are gathered at the COP 25 in Madrid to devise ways of putting the Paris plan in action, but key sticking points remain over emissions trading schemes and how the fight against climate change is funded.
  • This science based assessment shows again that in particular the large climate polluters do hardly anything for the transformational shift we need.Nations need to implement “deep emissions reductions to curtail the run to potentially irreversible climate change”.

CARBON MARKET

Why in News?

  • Almost halfway through the climate conference in Madrid, one big thing it had to resolve — disagreements over setting up a new carbon market — remains contentious as Ever.

The Market Mechanism:

  • Under the Paris Agreement, every country has to take action to fight climate change. These actions need not necessarily be in the form of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which can constrain economic growth. India, for example, has said it would reduce its emissions per unit of GDP.
  • Only the developed countries have included absolute emission cuts in their action plans. Yet, there is scope for absolute emissions reductions in developing countries too.
  • For example, a brick kiln in India can upgrade its technology and reduce emissions. But because India does not need to make absolute reductions, there is no incentive to make this investment. It is to deal with situations like these that the carbon market mechanism is conceived. Markets can potentially deliver emissions reductions over and above what countries are doing on their own.
  • For example, if a developed country is unable to meet its reduction target, it can provide money or technology to the brick kiln in India, and then claim the reduction of emission as its own. Alternatively, the kiln can make the investment, and then offer on sale the emission reduction, called carbon credits. Another party, struggling to meet its own targets, can buy these credits and show these as their own.
  • Carbon markets also existed under the Kyoto Protocol, which is being replaced by the Paris Agreement next year. The market mechanisms being proposed under the Paris Agreement are conceptually not very different, but are supposed to have more effective checks and balances, and monitoring and verification processes.

How to set up a Market:

  • The provisions relating to setting up a new carbon market are described in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. These are enabling provisions that allow for two different approaches of carbon trading, more or less on the lines described earlier.
  • Article 6.2 enables bilateral arrangements for transfer of emissions reductions, while ensuring that they do not double-count the reductions. Article 6.4 talks about a wider carbon market in which reductions can be bought and sold by Anyone.
  • Article 6.8 provides for making ‘non-market approaches’ available to countries to achieve targets. It is not yet very clear what these approaches would constitute, but they could include any cooperative action, like collaboration on climate policy or common taxation, that are not Market-Based.

What is Contentious?

  • The main tussle is over two or three broad issues — what happens to carbon credits earned in the Kyoto regime but not yet sold, what constitutes double-counting, and transparency mechanisms to be put in place. Developing countries have several million unsold CERs (certified emission reductions), each referring to one tonne of carbon dioxide-equivalent emission reduced, from the Kyoto regime. Under the Kyoto Protocol, only developed countries had the obligation to reduce emissions.
  • In the initial phase, some of these were interested in buying CERs from projects in India or China, which were not obliged to make reductions.
  • In the last few years, several countries walked out of the Kyoto Protocol, and those that remained did not feel compelled to fulfil their targets. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2012-20) never came into force. As the demand for CERs crashed, countries like India were left with projects generating CERs with no one to buy them.
  • India has about 750 million unsold CERs and, along with other similarly placed countries, wants these credits to be valid in the new mechanism too.
  • Developed countries are opposing it on the ground that the rules and verification procedures under the Kyoto Protocol were not very robust; they want the new mechanism to start with a clean slate.
  • The second issue is that of double counting, or corresponding adjustment. The new mechanism envisages carbon credits as commodities that can be traded multiple times among countries or private parties. It is important to ensure that in this process, credits are not counted at more than one place; whoever sells carbon credits should not simultaneously count these as emissions it has reduced. The developing countries argue that the country that reduced emissions should be able to show it even after selling the credits, and that adjustments should be made only for subsequent transfers, if any.

Evaluation:

  • Carbon markets are not essential to the implementation of Paris Agreement.
  • But with the world doing far less than what is required to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change, the markets can be an important tool to close the action gap.

Fly Ash

Why in News?

  • The National Green Tribunal has sought a report from the authorities on the current status on disposal and management of fly ash.

Fly Ash:

  • Fly ash is a major source of PM 2.5 (fine, respirable pollution particles) in summer. It becomes airborne, and gets transported to a radius of 10 to 20 kms.
  • It can settle on water and other surfaces.
  • Fly ash contains heavy metals from coal, a large amount of PM 2.5 and black carbon (BC).
  • Fly ash, the end product of combustion during the process of power generation in the coal based thermal power plants, is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low-lying area development, etc.

World Population Prospects 2019: UN

  • According  to  the  World  Population  Prospects  2019,  India  Will  Become  the  Most Populous Nation by 2027.
  • The  2019  revision  of  the  World  Population  Prospects  is  the  twenty-sixth  edition  of  the United Nations population estimates and projections.
  • It  presents  population  estimates  from  1950  to  the  present  for  235  countries  or  areas, underpinned by analyses of historical demographic trends.
  • India’s population will touch 1.64 billion by 2050, while that of China would come down by 1.4 billion.

India’s Demographic dividend will peak by 2047:

  • Although absolute numbers in population is increasing in India, the rate of growth is declining. The rate of growth of population is highest in Sub- Saharan Africa.
  • Nigeria  is  expected  to  add  200  million  to  the  world  population  thereby  replacing  U.S  to become the third most populous country. In India the working age population is growing faster than other groups. Globally it’s the post working age population that is growing the fastest. This implies that India should invest more on education and health especially on young people.

Key Facts of the Report:

  • Confirms that the world’s population continues to grow, albeit at a slowing rate.
  • Highlights the unprecedented ageing of the world’s population.
  • Describes how international migration has become an important determinant of population growth and change in some parts of the world.
  • Confirms the ongoing global increase in longevity and the narrowing gap between rich and poor countries.

ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS OF A DIGITAL PLANET

Why in News:

  • Technology is a solution to the world’s environmental challenges, but also part of the problem. Industry executives are facing rising pressure to clean up their energy and resource-intensive business.

Details:

  • There are the server farms crunching mammoth amounts of data which require huge amounts of electricity both to run and to power air-conditioning which keeps the equipment from getting too hot.
  • Under the current global energy mix, the share of greenhouse gas emissions from information and communication technologies will rise from 2.5% in 2013 to 4% in 2020 the French think-tank Shift Project said in a recent report.
  • The Basel Action Network NGO estimates that the European Union exports some 350,000 tons of electronic and electrical waste (a category that also includes appliances like washing machines) to developing countries each year.
  • The race to extract the rare-earth metals essential for modern phones and other devices, leading to deforestation and water pollution, is also an environmental threat in Africa and Asia.

India, the third-highest contributor

  • India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017.
  • According to the study, there is 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use.
  • Representatives from more than 190 countries have begun discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, on ways to equitably cut carbon emissions.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992.
  • The objective of the treaty is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
  • In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The 2010 Cancún agreements state that future global warming should be limited to below
    2.0 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level.

Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:

  • Annex I countries: Industrialized countries and economies in transition
  • Annex II countries: Developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries.
  • Non – Annex I countries: Developing Countries.

Cyclone Fani’s Fury Creates Four New Mouths in Odisha’s Chilika Lake

Why in News:

  • The extremely severe cyclone, Fani, has created four new mouths in Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, connecting to Bay of Bengal.

Details:

  • Chilika lagoon had only two active mouths — the point where it meets the sea before Fani hit the Odisha coast on May
  • Four new mouths have opened due to wave energy with high tidal prism.

Salinity surge

  • While three new mouths have come up between the two functional mouths near Sanpatna and Arakhakuda, a smaller mouth has been noticed on the northern
  • a lot of sea water is entering Chilika Lake.
  • If sea water ingression goes up, fish migration will increase and the biodiversity will get richer. But its long-term impact is something we will have to keep a watch on,
  • Three of the four sectors are more or less marine The rise in salinity will lead to increase in productivity. Chilika Lake is a mixture of saline and fresh water
  • Increase in salinity will not have an impact on Irrawaddy dolphins as they can survive in salinity. Though nesting grounds at Panchakudi and Mangalajodi have been affected, they would be ready to host migratory birds by the time they arrive in Chilika Lake

DABHOL PROJECT

why in News?

  • The Supreme Court said it is quarter of a century too late to order a judicial inquiry into the
  • “serious infirmities” detected in the Enron-promoted Dabhol power project in Maharashtra.

Background:

  • US-based Enron and its associate Dabhol Power Corporation had set up the USD 3 billion 2,550-megawatt power project in Maharashtra in 1996 after signing the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Maharashtra state electricity board (MSEB) in 1993.
  • In 1997, the apex court had admitted the petition of the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) that had challenged a Bombay high court order upholding the PPA and issued a notice to the MSEB on the government’s role and its officials in signing of the PPA.
  • Enron had pulled out of the Dabhol power plant and went bankrupt. The plant was shut down in 2001.

Dabhol power plant:

  • The Dabhol Power Station is located near Anjanwel village in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. The power station was a built by the Dabhol Power Company (DPC), which was a joint venture of Enron, General Electric, Bechtel and Maharashtra Power Development Corporation.

CHIPKO MOVEMENT


Why in News:

People tie rakhis to trees on south Mumbai in protest against Coastal Road project.

What is Chipko movement:

  • Chipko movement was the uprising against the felling of trees and maintaining the ecological balance originated in Uttar Pradesh’s Chamoli district (now Uttarakhand) in 1973.
  • The name of the movement ‘chipko’ comes from the word ’embrace’, as the villagers
  • hugged the trees and encirled them to prevent being hacked.
  • It was a silent, non-violent protest condemning ecological destruction.
  • Sundarlal Bahuguna, a famous Gandhian, is said to have initiated this movement to guard the trees on the Himalayan slopes. Bahuguna is also known for coining the Chipko slogan ‘ecology is permanent economy’
  • The movement’s biggest triumph was making people aware of their rights to forests, and how grassroots activism can influence policy-making regarding ecology and shared natural resources.

New method to track groundwater

  • Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Savannah River National Laboratory have developed a low-cost method for real-time monitoring of pollutants using commonly available sensors.

About:

  • A Kalman filter-based framework to establish a real-time in situ monitoring system for groundwater contamination based on in situ measurable water quality variables, such as specific conductance (SC) and pH.
  • The developed method can estimate these contaminant concentrations based on in situ measurable variables.
  • The estimates remain reliable with less frequent or no direct measurements of the contaminant concentrations, while capturing the dynamics of short- and long-term contaminant concentration changes.
  • It allows continuous monitoring in situ using proxy measurements, so we can track plume movement in real time.
  • Analysis of the autonomous in situ data can be rapidly analysed remotely using machine learning methods.

Significances:

  • It can act as an early warning system – we can detect sudden changes in contaminant levels. These changes may indicate a need for more or less intervention in terms of the remediation strategy, ideally leading to improve as well as more cost-effective clean-up.
  • Another advantage over conventional approaches is that it can reduce the frequency of manual groundwater sampling and lab analysis, and thus reduce the monitoring cost.
  • This methodology can be used for both surface and underground water.
  • It can also potentially be used to track other metals, radionuclides, and organic compounds commonly found in groundwater, such as arsenic, chromium, and fuels.
  • The developed in situ monitoring methodology is expected to improve long-term groundwater monitoring by continuously confirming the contaminant plume’s stability and by providing an early warning system for unexpected changes in the plume’s migration.

Present System:

  • Conventional methods of monitoring involve taking water samples every year or every quarter and analysing them in the lab.
  • If there are anomalies or an extreme event, you could miss the changes that might increase contaminant concentrations or potential health risk.
  • Moreover long-term monitoring could be costly over time for large contaminations.
  • current long-term monitoring strategies do not consider how abrupt or gradual changes in weather, such as heavy rain events, might influence plume behaviours. This aspect is particularly important when considering persistent plumes, such as those associated with metal or radionuclide contamination.
  • Improved monitoring techniques are essential to protect public health and the ecology. People feel safe if it’s properly monitored. Our technique is a way to monitor such sustainable remediation effectively and cheaply.

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