Environment Current Affairs

NHAI approves pilot project for developing greenbelts along National highways

National Highways Authorities of India (NHAI) has approved a pilot project for undertaking scientific studies on designing greenbelts along national highways.

Proposal in this regard was submitted by Nagpur based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Key facts

  • The pilot project will be implemented on a 5 km stretch on NH-7 (Varanasi to Kanyakumari) between Jam and Hinganghat in Nagpur region.
  • Around 20,000 scientifically chosen species of trees are proposed to be planted on both sides of this stretch in multiple rows at an estimated cost of 11 crore 80 lakh rupees.
  • The project will run for five years’ time span. During this period various experiments will be conducted in NEERI laboratory to record the impact of greenbelt development.
  • Work activities have been delineated considering two major factors such as Highway requirement and objectives along with Plant characteristics to fit in the site requirement.
  • Highway requirement and objectives includes traffic frequency, available space, soil type, water availability, climatic conditions and anthropogenic interference
  • Plant characteristics to fit in the site requirement would depend on height, canopy cover, air pollution Tolerance Index and sociability of selected species of trees.
  • Besides developing greenbelt, the project will also assist in developing relevant research infrastructure that may be used for similar studies in future.


Northeast India’s first elephant hospital established at Kaziranga National Park

Northeast India’s first exclusive hospital for elephants has been established at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

The hospital was set up at Mark Shand Memorial Learning Centre in Kaziranga National Park. It was inaugurated by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild who is founding patron of the UK-based charity Elephant Family.

About Kaziranga National Park

  • It is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam and is circumscribed by the Brahmaputra River.
  • It was designated with National Park status in 1968 and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 for its unique natural environment.
  • The park hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species.
  • It is also home to large breeding populations of tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
  • Kaziranga is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.


NGT bans age-old agricultural practice of straw burning in Northern States

National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned age-old agricultural practice of straw burning in pollution-ravaged New Delhi and 4 northern western states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Ruling in this regard was given by NGT Bench headed by Chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar by keeping in view the serious issue of burning of agriculture waste (straw) which contributes towards global warming and the environmental pollution.

NGT has directed

  • Respective governments of Delhi and four northern to keep check the bi-annual menace of straw burning.
  • Imposition of 2,500 to 15,000 rupees fine on farmers indulged in straw burning.
  • District magistrates should form a committee to carry out awareness programmes for farmers and villagers in order to educate them about the ill-effects of straw burning.

It has clearly mentioned that if the directions of NGT in this regard are not complied with, the Chief Secretaries concerned states would be held liable.

Straw Burning Menace

  • Straw Burning is age-old agricultural practice followed by farmers biannually by setting fire to their fields to clear the land of residue (Straw) of one harvest and sow the next.
  • It is mainly carried in Northern western states in the month of November to save time under the rice-wheat crop rotation and to make the land more fertile and kill pests.


  • The menace of straw burning is making the atmosphere in national capital Delhi more blinding and suffocating as smoke from it moves towards the city.
  • The open field burning emits Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon monoxide (CO) and Nitrous Oxide (NO) along with particulate matter.

Thus open burning of agriculture remains is considered as a serious issue contributing towards global warming and the environmental pollution. It is also principle cause of haze and air pollution putting life of people and children in danger.

Earlier, Union Government had proposed to provide incentives to farmers and promoting efficient farming practices with subsidies to stop this menace.

The best remedy to stop this menace is to set up bio-ethanol refineries in order to extract sustainable bio-fuel from agricultural residue with the help of private-public-partnership (PPP) and private model.