Current News - PIB News - Ecology & Environment

India to Co-sponsor Marine Protected Areas

India has extended support for protecting the Antarctic environment and for co-sponsoring the proposal of the European Union for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) at a high-level ministerial meeting conducted on 30 September 2021.

  • The two proposed MPAs are essential to regulate illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
  • India urged the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) member countries to ensure that India remains associated with the formulation, adaptation and implementation mechanisms of these MPAs in future.
  • This is the first time India is considering co-sponsoring an MPA proposal at the CCAMLR and getting aligned with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA, which are also proactively considering supporting the MPA proposals.
  • India's decision to consider extending support and co-sponsoring the MPA proposals is driven by conservation and sustainable utilization principles and adhering to the global cooperation frameworks (such as Sustainable Development Goals, UN Decade of Oceans, Convention on Biodiversity, etc.) to which India is a signatory.

CCAMLR

  • CCAMLR is an international treaty to manage Antarctic fisheries to preserve species diversity and stability of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem. CCAMLR came into force in April 1982. India has been a permanent member of the CCAMLR since 1986. Work pertaining to the CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its attached office, the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

MPA

  • An MPA is a marine protected area that provides protection for all or part of its natural resources. Certain activities within an MPA are limited or prohibited to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring, or fisheries management objectives.

Chacha Chaudhary: Mascot of Namami Gange Programme

  • The iconic Indian superhero - Chacha Chaudhary has been declared as the mascot of the Namami Gange Programme.
  • The decision was taken during the 37th Executive Committee meeting of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, NMCG.
  • NMCG has tied-up with Diamond Toons to develop and distribute comics, e-comics and animated videos.
  • Initially, the comics will be launched in Hindi, English and Bengali.
  • The content will be designed with the objective of bringing about behavioral change amongst children towards Ganga and other rivers.

‘Wetlands of India’ Portal

  • On 2nd October 2021, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a web portal – ‘Wetlands of India Portal’.
  • The portal is a single point access to all information relating to wetlands.
  • Importantly, a dashboard for each State and UT has been developed to access the portal and populate it with information of wetlands in their administration.
  • Registered citizens can opt to take the pledge to become ‘wetland mitra’ and indicate their State/UT and areas of interest.
  • The portal has been developed under a Technical Cooperation project “Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection” (Wetlands Project) of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
  • The project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Two more Indian Beaches got International ‘Blue Flag’ Certification

  • Two more Indian beaches - Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Puducherry were accorded Blue Flag Certification.
  • Now India has 10 ‘Blue Flag’ certified beaches – 8 such were certified last year.
  • Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark (FEE) which accords the globally recognized eco-label - Blue Flag certification, has also given re-certification for 8 nominated beaches Shivrajpur-Gujarat, Ghoghla-Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri-Karnataka, Kappad-Kerala, Rushikonda- Andhra Pradesh, Golden-Odisha and Radhanagar- Andaman and Nicobar, which were awarded the Blue Flag certificate last year.
  • FEE Denmark conducts regular monitoring & audits for strict compliance of the 33 criteria at all times. A waving “Blue Flag” is an indication of 100% compliance to these 33 stringent criteria and sound health of the beach.

Initiatives of the MoEF&CC towards “Sustainable Development” of the Coastal Regions of India

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in its pursuit of “Sustainable Development” of the coastal regions of Indiaembarked upon a highly acclaimed & flagship program Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) which is one of the initiatives under Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approachthat the MoEF&CC has undertaken for the sustainable development of coastalregions of India,with aprime objectiveto protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems throughholistic management of the resources.
  • This was aimed for achieving the globally recognized and the coveted International eco-label "Blue Flag”, accorded by International Jury comprising of members from IUCN, UNWTO, UNEP, UNESCO, etc.
  • The objective of BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations.

Teeth of a New Species of Hybodont Shark of Jurassic Age discovered from Jaisalmer

In a rare discovery, teeth of new species of hybodont shark of Jurassic age have been reported for the first time from Jaisalmer by a team of officers from the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Western Region, Jaipur.

  • Hybodont sharks have been reported for the first time from the Jurassic rocks (approximately, between 160 and 168 million-years-old) of the Jaisalmer region of Rajasthan.
  • Hybodonts, an extinct group of sharks, was a dominant group of fishes in both marine and fluvial environments during the Triassic and early Jurassic time. However, hybodont sharks started to decline in marine environments from the Middle Jurassic onwards until they formed a relatively minor component of open-marine shark assemblages. Hybodonts finally became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous time 65 million years ago.
  • The newly discovered crushing teeth from Jaisalmer represent a new species named by the research team as Strophodus jaisalmerensis.
  • The genus Strophodus has been identified for the first time from the Indian subcontinent and is only the third such record from Asia, the other two being from Japan and Thailand.

‘SUJALAM’ Campaign for making more ODF Plus Villages

On 25th August 2021, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has launched ‘SUJALAM’, a ‘100 days campaign’ as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations to create more and more ODF Plus villages by undertaking waste water management at village level particularly through creation of 1 million Soak-pits and also other greywater management activities.

  • The effort of campaign would be directed towards achieving the ODF plus status for villages across the country in an accelerated manner in a short time.
  • The campaign will not only build desired infrastructure i.e. soak pit for management of greywater in villages but will also aid in sustainable management of water bodies.
  • The disposal of waste water and clogging of water bodies in the villages or on the outskirts of the villages remain one of the major problems.
  • The Campaign would help in management of the wastewater and in turn would help to revive the water bodies.
  • Furthermore, the campaign would boost the momentum of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II activities through community participation and it will increase awareness about ODF-plus activities - hence ensuring long term maintenance and sustainability of built infrastructure.

Cabinet approves Ratification of Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

On 18th August 2021, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer for phase down of Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) by India, adopted by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on October, 2016 at 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol held at Kigali, Rwanda.

Benefits

  • HFC phasedown is expected to prevent the greenhouse gas emissions, helping prevent climate change and would benefit the people.
  • The industry producing and consuming Hydrofluorocarbons will be phasing out Hydrofluorocarbons as per the agreed schedule under and transition to non-HFC and low global warming potential technologies.

Implementation Strategy and Targets

  • National strategy for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons as per the applicable phase down schedule for India will be developed after required consultation with all the industry stakeholders by 2023.
  • Amendments to the existing legislation framework, the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules to allow appropriate control of the production and consumption of Hydrofluorocarbons to ensure compliance with the Kigali Amendment will be done by mid-2024

Major Impact

  • Hydrofluorocarbons’ phasedown is expected to prevent the emission of up to 105 million tonne of carbondioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
  • Implementation of HFC phase down under the Kigali Amendment through the adoption of low-global warming potential and energy-efficient technologies will achieve energy efficiency gains and carbon dioxide emissions reduction - a "climate co-benefit".

Kigali Amendment

  • Under the Kigali Amendment; Parties to the Montreal Protocol will phase down production and consumption of Hydrofluorocarbons, commonly known as HFCs.
  • Hydrofluorocarbons were introduced as non-ozone depleting alternative to chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) such as R-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) such as R-21. While HFCs do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, they have high global warming potential ranging from 12 to 14,000, which have adverse impact on climate.
  • Recognizing the growth in use of HFCs, especially in Refrigeration and Air-conditioning sector the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, reached agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) held in October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances and approved a timeline for their gradual reduction by 80-85 per cent by the late 2040s.

Kigali Amendment & India

  • India will complete its phase down of HFCs in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 80% in 2047.

About Montreal Protocol

  • The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international environmental treaty for protection of the Ozone Layer by phasing out the production and consumption of man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS).

Montreal Protocol & India

  • India became a Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on 19 June 1992 and since then has ratified the amendments to the Montreal Protocol.
  • After the present approval of the Cabinet, India will be ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons.
  • India has successfully met the phase out targets of all the Ozone Depleting Substances as per the Montreal Protocol Schedule.

Steps taken by Govt. to protect Ground Water and Environment from Chemical Fertilizers

  • Soil Health Card Scheme: It is implemented to provide soil test based information on nutrient status to farmers along with recommendations on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and fertility. Financial assistance is provided under Soil Health Card (SHC) for imparting farmer’s trainings and field demonstrations on balanced use of fertilizers.
  • 4Rs Approach: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is recommending soil test based balanced and integrated nutrient management through conjunctive use of both inorganic and organic sources (manure, bio-fertilizers etc.) of plant nutrients with 4Rs approach i.e right quantity, right time, right mode and right type of fertilizer for judicious use of chemical fertilizers to prevent deterioration of soil health and contamination of groundwater. In addition, split application and placement of fertilizers, use of slow releasing N-fertilizers and nitrification inhibitors, growing leguminous crops and use of Resource Conservation Technologies (RCTs) are also advocated.
  • Awareness & Education: Government is focusing on creating awareness and educating the farmers about organic farming practices (including use organic sources of plants nutrients) under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development of North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) schemes. Awareness generation programs/workshop on various aspects of ground water including preventing ground water pollution and safe use of contaminated water are being conducted by Central Ground Water Board periodically.

India: World Leader in the Energy Transition

The Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, Shri RK Singh addressed the conference of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on “Aatmairbhar Bharat - Self Reliance for Renewable Energy Manufacturing”. He stated that India had emerged as world leader in the Energy Transition.

Achievements

  • India had one of the fastest rates of growth of Renewable Energy capacity in the world.
  • India has pledged in COP-21 in Paris that by 2030; 40% of its power generation capacity will be from non-fossil fuel sources andhad already reached at 38.5% and if the capacity under installation is added, it comes to 48.5%.
  • India will continue to be a world leader in the coming years as well and as it has set a target of 450 GW of Renewable Energy capacity by 2030.
  • India had achieved universal access by connecting every village and every hamlet under Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana Scheme and connecting every household under Saubhagya Scheme.
  • It was the fastest and the largest expansion of access in the world.This had also resulted in the demand for electricity going up rapidly.
  • India has already touched 200 GW of demand even when the effects of COVID-19 was still there. The demand had crossed what it was during pre-COVID time and it is expected that electricity demand will continue to rise.This gives us the space for adding more Renewable Energy capacity.

Issues: Dumping

  • Some countries had been dumping solar cells and modules at very low price and harming our local industry.To prevent dumping it has been decided to impose customs duty on imported cells and modules so as to provide protection to Indian Industry from dumping.
  • The mechanism of ALMM (Approved List of Models and Manufacturers) will also provide protection to Indian Industries.

Other Initiatives: Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia

  • India will also emerge as a leader in Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia.
  • India proposes to green industry sectors to replace Grey Hydrogen (drawn from imported natural gas) with Green Hydrogen and for this it will come out with a Green Hydrogen Purchase Obligation for different sectors like petroleum and fertilizer. This will also provide huge demand for domestically manufactured solar and wind equipments as well as storage.
  • Green ammonia is made with hydrogen that comes from water electrolysis powered by alternative energy.

Support to Industries

  • Government proposes to come out with Rules and Regulations providing for easier Open Access for those industries which want to become green i.e. which want to rely on green energy for their functioning.Industry will be able to either set up green energy manufacturing capacity itself or through a developer and draw power from it through open access.The surcharge on open access will also be rationalized so as to ensure that open access is not saddled with unfair levies.

Seasonality of Flow in Rivers Projected to Increase in Future

According to a study, snow and glaciers are melting rapidly in the Himalayan range due to climate change, altering water supplies in the rivers like Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra in the Himalaya-Karakoram (HK) ranges.

  • The research led by Dr Mohd. Farooq Azam, assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Indore gathered the results from more than 250 scholarly research papers to arrive at a more accurate understanding —something approaching a consensus— of the links between climatic warming, precipitation change and glacier shrinkage.
  • The study shows that glacier and snow melt are important components of HK rivers with greater hydrological importance for the Indus than Ganga and Brahmaputra basins.
  • The HK region in South Asia, often called the water tower of Asia or the Third Pole is one of the most heavily glacierized mountain regions on Earth. Understanding the response of HK rivers to climate change is crucial for almost 1 billion people who partly depend on these water resources.
  • Total river runoff, glacier melt, and seasonality of flow in these rivers are projected to increase until the 2050s, with some exceptions and large uncertainties, according to a study “Glacio-hydrology of the Himalaya-Karakoram” published in the journal ‘SCIENCE’
  • “The Himalayan river basins cover an area of 2.75 million km2 and have the largest irrigated area of 577,000 km2, and the world’s largest installed hydropower capacity of 26,432 MW. The melting glaciers fulfils the water requirements of more than a billion people of the region who will be affected when much of the glacier ice mass melts throughout this century and gradually stops supplying the required amount of water,” said Dr Azam.
  • He added “region-wide, the total impact on each year’s water supply varies. Glacier meltwater, and climate change impacts on glaciers, are more crucial for the Indus basin in comparison to the Ganga and Brahmaputra basins which are predominantly fed by monsoon rains and are affected mainly due to the changing rainfall patterns.”
  • Smriti Srivastava, a PhD student of Dr. Azam and co-author of the study said “projected trends in river runoff volume and seasonality over the 21st century are consistent across a range of climate change scenarios. Total river runoff, glacier melt, and seasonality of flow are projected to increase until the 2050s, and then decrease, with some exceptions and large uncertainties.”

Recommendations

  • Policymakers need to assess the current status and potential future changes of rivers for sustainable water resource management for agriculture, hydropower, drinking, sanitation, and hazard situations.
  • A tiered approach to address the identified gaps: Tier-1 includes an expanded observation network that places fully automatic weather stations on selected glaciers.
  • They also suggest developing comparison projects to examine glacier area and volumes, glacier dynamics, permafrost thaw, and snow and ice sublimation.
  • Meanwhile, Tier-2 recommendations implement the knowledge of these studies in detailed models of glacier hydrology to reduce the uncertainty in projections of future change.
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