News Crux Ecology & Environment

Glacier Retreat in Himalayas

On March 7th, 2023 scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) have published a report on the impact of debris cover on the loss of ice mass and terminus recession of glaciers in the Himalayas.

  • The report suggests that the thickness of supraglacial debris significantly affects the rate of ice mass loss in glaciers, and the presence of a thick debris cover can slow down the process of glacier retreat, as seen in the Pensilungpa Glacier with a thick debris cover.(Note: Supraglacial debris is the rock and sediment that accumulates on top of glaciers due to weathering and erosion processes).
  • On the other hand, glaciers with a thin debris cover are more vulnerable to surface lowering and mass loss, which can accelerate the rate of glacier retreat.
  • Debris cover impacts glacier dynamics and mass balance.
  • ‘Himalayan glaciers' retreat rates vary due to topography and climate.
  • Supraglacial debris thickness affects ice mass loss due to ablation.

Current News Indian Economy Banking & Finance

Prevention of Money Laundering Act Amended

The Indian Finance Ministry has made amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) rules on March 10, 2023.

  • More Disclosures for NGOs: The amendments require reporting entities such as banks, financial institutions, and intermediaries to provide more disclosures related to transactions involving NGOs.
  • This increased scrutiny is aimed at preventing money laundering and terrorist financing through NGOs.
  • Greater Clarity on Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs): The amendments define PEPs under the PMLA in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • This will help reporting entities to better identify and monitor PEPs, who are considered higher risk individuals due to their potential involvement in corrupt activities.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence: Reporting entities will be required to undertake enhanced due diligence measures for customers who are PEPs, or for transactions involving high-risk countries or activities.
  • This will help to identify and mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • Increased Compliance Costs: The amendments may result in increased compliance costs for reporting entities, as they will need to invest in new systems and processes to comply with the enhanced requirements.
  • This may also impact NGOs, who may face additional reporting requirements and scrutiny from reporting entities.

The new clause in the PMLA compliance rules defines PEPs as individuals who have been “entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, including the heads of States or Governments, senior politicians, senior government or judicial or military officers, senior executives of state-owned corporations and important political party officials”

Current News Ecology & Environment

NITI Aayog’s Task Force Report

On March 10, 2023, NITI Aayog released Task Force Report, titled“Production and Promotion of Organic and Bio fertilisers with Special Focus on Improving Economic Viability of Gaushalas”, to suggest measures for making gaushalas economically viable.

  • Area under organic farming: The current area under organic farming in India is estimated to be 38.09 lakh hectares.
  • Regulation: Organic and biofertilisers in India are regulated under the Fertiliser (Inorganic, Organic or Mixed) (Control) Order (FCO), 1985, by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • Approved fertilisers: Currently, 11 biofertilisers and 10 organic fertilisers are approved for use in India under FCO.
  • Government target: The Government of India aims to bring an additional 10 lakh hectares under organic farming in the next 3 years, which will require the use of biofertilisers and other organic inputs.
  • Significance of the report: It is expected to further the waste to wealth initiative by promoting sustainable agriculture practices and organic farming through the use of cow dung and urine-based agri-inputs.
  • By improving the economic viability of gaushalas and addressing the problem of stray and abandoned cattle, the report aims to create a win-win situation for both farmers and gaushalas.