Down to Earth 16-30 Sept 2019 - Kigali Amendment and Amazon Rainforest Part 2 (Download PDF)


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9. The Supreme Court, The NGT and the Karnataka High court’s recent grants and permissions: To complete the construction of the Rohtang Highway Tunnel, the Supreme Court (SC) has granted permission to divert 2.2 hectares of forestland in Himachal Pradesh to Paras Stone crusher to supply the raw material required. The SC has asked the Delhi government to furnish all the necessary documents and the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region to submit a report on how many three-wheelers should be permitted in the city. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to conduct an environment audit within three months through the National Institute of Oceanography to access the environment impact of ship breaking. The state government of Karnataka has been asked by its High court to check all 1,020 emission testing centres for any irregularities adding that the centres “play a very important role” in curbing pollution.

9. Pavements not for parking

  • The Delhi Government has been instructed by the Supreme Court to notify the much-awaited Draft Rules of the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places 2019 by September 30.
  • The proper parking policy will result in less pollution, fewer crimes and a more safe and secure life.
  • The municipal corporations have also been directed by the Supreme Court to ensure that pavements, especially in residential areas, are not used for parking.
  • The Supreme Court has also directed that permissions for any structures should be granted after a “proper assessment of the parking needs for the next 25 years and requisite parking facilities are available.

10. Fortified Food Items to be provided under government schemes

  • An annual market of over Rs. 3,000 crore to just five multinational companies will be ensured by the Centre’s Decision to provide only fortified food items.
  • The rice being provided to India’s poor categorized under five government schemes, including the public distribution system and mid-day meals, will soon be fortified with micronutrients such as vitamin B12, iron and folic acid, to help fight malnutrition.
  • As per the National Family Health Survey statistics, 2015 - 16 38 per cent children under five years are stunted and 36 per cent are underweight.
  • The rice fortification scheme will be implemented in 15 districts of 15 states on a pilot basis from this Kharif season.
  • The Preparation of fortified rice starts with collecting broken rice grains, which otherwise have no market value.
  • Fortifying wheat flour also requires a blender that costs about Rs. 1.5 lakh.
  • Fortified rice and wheat require special packaging to retain the potency.
  • Manufacturing fortified milk, oil or salt is easier since it just requires adding pre-mix to the food item.
  • Rice is the fifth food item that the government is promoting with fortification—salt, edible oil, milk and wheat being the others.
  • FSSAI has created a Food Fortification Resource Centre in New Delhi to advise and provide technical support to the regulatory body in collaboration with non-profits like Tata Trusts, path, World Food Programme and World Bank.

11. Building Dams to control Floods

  • Due to floods, drought-prone district of Karnataka lost 71 human lives this year.
  • Between Aug 1 and 7, Belagavi, geographically a dry district, received 652 per cent above normal rainfall, which is the maximum compared to other regions of the state.
  • Hidkal dam were releasing only 68.8 cubic metres per second (cumecs- 1 Cubic Meter per Second) to the Ghataprabha river despite all the dams in the district brimming.
  • Ditto Malaprabha dam, also in Belagavi district. Compared to just 446 cumecs outflow till August 7, operators suddenly started releasing 2,295 cumecs on August 8.
  • In Belavi, At least 11 houses collapsed and more than 5,000 were partially damaged in it331 affected villages.
  • Lack of coordination among the officials at the reservoir and those in the basin area is one of the major causes of flood disaster in the region.
  • An assessment of the floods in Karnataka and Maharashtra this year by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) shows that had the dams started releasing water from July 25 leaving 40 - 45 per cent of the dam empty—excessive rains would not have wreaked havoc.
  • The IMD Pune has started issuing forecast on the expected volume of water in 101 river basins.
  • Though dams induce a sense of security, they leave behind a long trail of destruction.
  • The Punjab government has decided to canalize all its rivers for a permanent solution to floods.
  • An analysis of dam failures till 2010 by the Jal Shakti Ministry’s Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project shows that in 44.44 per cent cases, failures have occurred in the first five years of construction. Failures in dams between 50 and 100 years were 16.67 per cent, and in over 100 years old it was 5.56 per cent.
  • The Dam Safety bill 2019 (Passed in the Lok Sabha but could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha) provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of dams. It will penalize owners if the dams are poorly managed.
  • One of the major drawbacks of the bill is that it neither talks about dam management nor about flood control.

12. Smoke Tracking

  • The CEMS, or Continuous Emission Monitoring System, is a set of equipment that monitors and sends emission data to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and to the respective state pollution control boards every 15 minutes.
  • Repeat offenders are paid visits by an inspection team of the pollution control board and action is taken as per its report.
  • Continuous Emission Monitoring System is automated, it can be of great use in India where resources are meagre and infrastructure is weak.
  • 17 categories of highly polluting industries, such as distilleries, tanneries, oil refineries, sugar mills and cement plants were asked by the CPCB in Feb 2014 to install CEMS.
  • As of now 4,251 industries across the country have installed the system.
  • On of the biggest challenges for the success of CEMS in India is poor data quality.
  • CEMS is still new in India, but efforts are on to bring emissions monitoring at par with global standards.

13. Industrial Pollution

  • Lack of skilled manpower or technical knowledge to tackle industrial pollution.
  • Lack of awareness regarding the correct installation of the machines and equipment to check pollution level.
  • There is need to implement CEMS (CEMS is a cooperation of leading business schools and universities with multinational companies and NGOs).
  • In India, industries use equipment that have foreign certification. Equipment that are not certified must undergo performance tests during installation.
  • The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change setup the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research National Physical Laboratory (CSIRNPL) as the verification and certifying agency on Aug 22,2019.
  • The Indian System not only will reduce the equipment cost but also enhance the data credibility from indigenous equipment.
  • CPCB should operate on a time bound action plan manner a clear vision towards adopting a compliance monitoring tool.

14. Hill District of Nilgiris Became open Defecation Free

  • The Hill District of Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu became open defecation free in 2018 after a lot of constant effort.
  • Nilgiris is known for its tea and coffee plantations and its traditional agricultural practices have died.
  • By the excessive use of the chemical fertilisers, the entire district’s population has been affected very badly.
  • The two major setbacks for farm production are eight months of water crisis every year along with high cost of chemical fertilisers.
  • Sustainable Replacement for chemical fertilisers is required.
  • Around 72 percent of the households had no access to toilets in 2009.
  • As many as 0.1 million rural women were brought under self-help groups (SHGs).
  • The demand of co-compost is growing.
  • The cost of ready co-compost is R5 per kg and now each centre is producing one tonne of co-compost per day.
  • Co-Compost has a positive effect on vegetable growth and soil productivity.
  • Co-compost is economically more preferable as compared to the chemical fertilisers that are available at Rs40/kg.
  • The total expenditure projected for co-compost with 0.40 ha (1 acre) of land comes around Rs. 30,000 including the transportation cost.

15. Amazon Fires

  • Since January 2019 more than 200,000 fires have been alight across the Amazon.
  • Amazon is also known as the lungs of the Earth ecosystem.
  • A large area of wildlife has been destroyed by the forest fires apart from the last forest refuges of indigenous tribes that have been threatened.
  • The Amazon forests have affected southern swath in Brazil that controls 60 per cent of the rainforest.
  • As many as 44,000 troops and military aircrafts along the six affected states have been deployed by the government.
  • The Government also announced a 60-day ban on the use of fire for land clearing.
  • Brazil’s space research centre, the Institute Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), detected 4,000 new forest fires over the next 48 hours.
  • Human activities being deliberate or accidental in nature are mostly responsible for such forest fires as they set the undergrowth and scrub vegetation ablaze to make space for agriculture, pastures and other developments.
  • Brazil has committed to achieve zero illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030 to meet its climate goals.
  • The local farmers along the Amazon organised a large scale slash and burn operations on Au 10,2019 as “Day of Fire”. They not only cleared land for agriculture, but also burned intact areas of rainforest.

16. Ozone War

  • The cooling industry—refrigeration, air-conditioning and insulation first created the hole in the ozone layer and now they are heating up the planet.
  • The major greenhouse gas emitters are the Hydrofluorocarbons (hfcs) and electricity used to run cooling devices.
  • To address the issue the Montreal Protocol, the only universally adopted treaty, expanded its scope and ambition in 2016 by introducing the Kigali Amendment. It stemmed out of the guilt that its success in removing ozone-depleting chemicals from our cooling devices has filled the atmosphere with highly potent GHGs.
  • The Kigali Amendment will not just be a fight to protect the ozone layer, but will also be leveraged to fight climate change though technically complicated.
  • The agreement recognised the linkages between the transition in refrigerants and energy efficiency of air-conditioners (ACs).
  • It aims to improve energy efficiency because the world will need more mechanical cooling as the climate gets hotter, electricity generation to keep the ACs running is a critical climate concern.
  • As per the International Energy Agency, the cooling accounts for 10 percent of all global electricity consumption.
  • The Kigali Amendment came into force in January 2019—81 nations having ratified it till date. India, China and the US are not on the list though.
  • The cooling demands of India is expected to grow by eight times in the next 20 years.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) —a 20-year-roadmap to address cooling requirements in building, cold chain, transport and refrigeration sectors—in March 2019.
  • The India Cooling Action Plan aims to reduce cooling demand by up to 25 per cent, refrigerant demand by 25 - 30 percent and cooling energy requirements by up to 40 per cent by 2038.

17. Artificial Intelligence Concern

  • AI is the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition and even decision making.
  • The World Intellectual Property Organization has revealed that Machine Learning is the dominant AI technique, found in 40 per cent of all the AI-related patents.
  • The boom in the recent years has fuelled numerous concerns about its implications and consequences.
  • Out of the total 22,000 PhD educated researchers worldwide working on AI, less than 50 are focused seriously on AI in India.
  • Creation of Artificial Intelligence require huge cost due to the involvement of complex machines.
  • Unlike humans, artificial intelligence cannot be improved with experience.

18. Conservation Post-Privatization

  • There has been a significant growth in the Indian Economy from US $266 billion in 1991 to US $2.3 trillion in 2019.
  • It has been noted that the ecosystem in India is changing due to the demands of our economy.
  • In India, the Forest Rights Act, 2006 legalizes traditional land rights of indigenous communities is also a classic example of climate injustice.
  • The Conservation in the New Economy also makes it clear on how not to stray away from the idea of justice when dealing with a rapidly changing planet.
  • The management programmes including the role of The National Aquifer Mapping is significant to counter the depleting Groundwater levels across India.
  • India consumes nearly a quarter of global groundwater which is more than USA and China combined.
  • As per the Central Ground Water Board of the 6,881 blocks/talukas assessed in the country, 17 per cent are overexploited. The exploited states include Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh to low potential hard rock aquifers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra.
  • The economic and social consequences of groundwater overexploitation has led to mounting economic burden on farmers. This has also resulted in relentless construction of deeper new wells, increased energy, cost to lift water, enhanced water, salinity and spread of geogenic, contaminants—arsenic, fluoride, salinity—and ingress of seawater, in freshwater aquifers in coastal areas.
  • The National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM) was launched in 2012, with CGWB as the executing body.
  • The four stages of activities in NAQUIM are Collection, compilation and analysis of existing data. Based on the data requirement protocol, data gaps are identified. The required data is then generated in data gap areas/domains through an array of scientific investigations, Integration of data, developing lithologic models and configuring aquifers, various supply and demand side interventions are worked out and recommended to sustainably use groundwater.

19. PM-KUSUM Scheme

  • KUSUM is actually an irrigation scheme with solar as a source of energy.
  • The scheme includes installation of 1.75 million off-grid and 1 million on-grid solar pumps as well as 10,000 MW of solar capacity in rural areas through decentralized ground mounted plants of 0.5 MW to 2 MW capacity.
  • At present million irrigation pumps are estimated to be operating.
  • The Scheme makes buying pumps extremely affordable for medium-sized and large farmers.
  • The scheme is expected to increase farmer’s income thereby reducing the agriculture power subsidy in states.
  • Nearly 90 per cent of India’s total groundwater is used to irrigate 70 per cent of the country’s total irrigated land.
  • States are today shelling out around R50,000 crore every year as electricity subsidy for agriculture.
  • As per the World Bank, 60 % of the aquifers in India will be in a critical state by 2032.
  • The KUSUM scheme has neither considered the promotion of efficient irrigation, nor has it considered measures to reduce groundwater exploitation in its design.
  • The states who are willing to take strong measures to improve irrigation efficiency and control groundwater exploitation, the KUSUM scheme should be extended to those states only.
  • The micro-irrigation must be mandated for solar pump beneficiaries.
  • The scheme needs to be implemented with full support for low water-intensive crops in water-scarce regions.
  • For rural electrification, Off-grid solar pumps must be used being developed on the community-based model. This will maximize utilisation and reduce water wastage.
  • Solarisation of rural feeders should be the preferred solution.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 30, 2019


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