Environment, GS-3, Uncategorized

Environment Digest – 10 April – 16 April 2016

[1] Massive efforts to conserve Olive Ridleys


Wildlife authorities have launched a massive exercise to conserve Olive Ridley turtles in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS),Andhra Pradesh.

What efforts have been done

  • Over ten thousand eggs had been collected by the end of March
  • Artificial nestings had been arranged in rookeries(a collection of nests) at Sangameswaram, lighthouse area, and Jinkapalem of Nagayalanka mandal as part of the in situ conservation method.
  • Documented collection of 4,259 eggs near the Sangameswaram nesting point, 3,847 eggs near the lighthouse, and 2,465 eggs near Jinkapalem.

OLIVE RIDLEY  is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

Nesting season

Nesting season ends by the end of March
First batch of hatchlings

45-60 is the incubation period after which they are released into the sea safely
Helping hand
Members of the Yanadi tribe are directly involved in the conservation bid. They have been given the task of collecting the eggs on the beach and maintaining the rookeries.

[2] Economic growth vs environmental sustainability


Economic growth should come first and then the environment sustainability

What the general idea is?

  • At its current stage of development, India should ignore environmental costs for the sake of meeting its development goals.
  • Less number of people indicate a preference for environmental protection over economic growth

Business first?

  • India ranks low in World bank’s Ease of doing Business, so government wants to improve them
  • High-powered committees comprising top bureaucrats and industry leaders are commissioned to write reports on streamlining and speeding up regulatory approvals, especially those related to the environment and forests.

India’s ranking on Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

  • Ranked us 155 out of 178 countries in 2014
  • On air quality, the survey ranked India 174 out of 178

What is EPI

  • The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state’s policies
  • The EPI was preceded by the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI). Both indexes were developed by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

What is Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis?

  • It is Hypothetical relationship between environment quality and economic development
  • Environmental quality comes only after basic needs such as food and housing are met. Focus should be growth rather than environment
  • Countries can clean the environment later when they can afford to do that and regulate pollution rules

How the EKV is invalid and its approach flawed

  • Not enough evidence which says reducing carbon dioxide levels drop as countries economic growth increases
  • How to much pollute to make things irreversible is not known


  • While planning projects careful ecological impact assessment should be done
  • Thorough discussions should take place to make the objectivity of the project transparent

[3] Pollution is not just about odd-even

Pollution has become a mainstream issue in India.

Recent events in the past few months

  • Measures taken by the Delhi government to curb pollution
  • The Agreement on Climate Change in Paris (COP21)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) reports on the alarming levels of air pollution in Indian cities.

Why it is a concern?

  • According to WHO, 13 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India.
  • Pollution levels in the most polluted city of Delhi as measured by particulate matter most harmful to respiration (PM2.5) are almost thrice that of Beijing and nearly 15 times more than that prescribed by WHO.

What is particulate matter?

  • Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.
  • Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.
  • Many manmade and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM.

Size matters

  • These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.
  • Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system.
  • Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks.
  • Particles with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers are referred to as “coarse.
  • Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

Sources of PM

  • Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes.
  • Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations, and dust from paved or unpaved roads.
  • Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor. These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes.


According to a study,  increase in PM2.5 by one microgram per cubic metre reduces life expectancy by three weeks, which implies that such alarming increases could chop off a significant portion of one’s healthy years.

How to tackle this menace?

  • First step of acknowledging the problem has been done.
  • Second step is to try to correctly frame the problem, which would mean getting good, timely information on the sources of pollution. But we do not have comprehensive source on Nationwide data on the sources of pollution.
  • Third step will be to have a coordinated action on the issue. But  currently, there is disjointed and localized action treating the symptoms rather than the disease.
  • Lastly, a solution which is more environment-friendly should be incentivized.

[4] Tiger population increased

Techniques used

photographics images

National assessment done by Ministry of Environment and Forests estimated 2,226 in 2014 than 1706 in 2010 well above 1411 in 2006

Steps humans should take

  • Not to encroach their core habitats for breeding populations
  • Ensure habitat connectivity for genetic exchange
  • Crackdown on poaching of both tigers and prey

Project tiger

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in 1972 by the Government of India The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats and also to protect them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger’s distribution in the country
  • 380 crore made available this year for improving conditions of tiger breeding in wildlife reserves in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal and Jharkhand

India is hosting the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation

  • Officials from 13 tiger-range countries converged here for discussions on tiger conservation
  • Cambodia has asked for Tigers who are now functionally extinct in the south asian country, a formal request will be sent later
  • Cambodia is trying to introduce Tigers into its eastern region
  • The Ministry from Cambodia has asked for 6 female and 2 male Tigers

India’s concerns about Cambodia

  • Key deer species who are source of food for the Tigers are absent from the eastern region of Cambodia
  • Poaching is an issue in Cambodia, in India alone 26 Tigers have been killed in the last 3 months

World Wildlife Fund for Nature(WWF)

  • Has hailed the initiatives as a success story for stepping up conservations for Tigers
  • Also said Tigers from Nepal and India are best suited for the Cambodia’s dry forests

[5] Water-starved India looks West to revive its rivers


Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) entered into various agreement with international countries

Agreement with German International Cooperation (GIZ)

  • To clean Ganga
  • Germany will contribute Rs.22.2 crore
  • Provide technical consultancy to deal with industrial effluents in Uttarakhand before they enter the river

Government’s initiative to clean Ganga

  • Namami Ganga – a 30,00 crore programme to clean Ganga and restore its flows by 2020
  • 52 sewage treatment and effluent plants will be developed
  • Skimmer at 11 places to muck out of the river system

With UK

Help in reviving aquatic life at the head of Ganga
With Israel

Water purification and filtration technologies will be used to polluted water resources
Indian companies already use desalination technologies sourced from Israel

What is Namami Gange

An Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called “Namami Gange”, developments of Ghats and beautification of River Fronts at Kedarnath, Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi.

Aims of the programme
(i) Ensuring sustainable municipal sewage management
(ii) Managing sewage from Rural Areas
(iii) Managing Industrial discharge
(iv) Enforcing River Regulatory Zones on Ganga Banks
(v) Ensuring ecological rejuvenation by conservation of aquatic life and biodiversity
(vi) Promotion of Tourism and Shipping in a rational and sustainable manner
(vii) Knowledge Management on Ganga through Ganga Knowledge Centre

[6] Water levels in 91 major reservoirs alarmingly low


Water levels are very low in the country’s major reservoirs

Who publishes the data

Central Water Commission which comes under the Ministry of Water Resources releases a weekly data of the live storage of the 91 reservoirs of the country

What is Live storage

  • Active or live storage is the portion of the reservoir that can be used for flood control, power production, navigation and downstream releases.
  • Dead or inactive storage refers to water in a reservoir that cannot be drained by gravity through a dam’s outlet works, spillway or power plant intake and can only be pumped out. Dead storage allows sediments to settle, which improves water quality and also creates an area for fish during low levels.

What is the current Live Storage

  • Report released on april 13, 2016, the live storage is 35.839 BCM( billion cubic meters) of the 91 reservoirs of the country
  • It was 157.799 BCM in 2015
  • The western and southern are most affected
  • 27 reservoirs in Maharashtra and Gujarat in western regions have only 18% of the live storage left, it was 36% last year.
  • 31 reservoirs in the southern region has only 15% left of the live storage capacity, it is the worst hit region
  • The central and eastern regions have more than 30% of the live storage
  • 3 reservoirs in Maharashtra and 1 in Andhra and Telangana are with no water left in their reservoir

Reason for depletion

Two years of very less rainfall has resulted in the low reservoir volume

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