Environment Current Affairs 2017

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NBWL gives nod to Ken-Betwa Inter-Linking of Rivers Project

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given its clearance for the Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers (ILR) project, paving the way to begin work for linking two rivers.

The clearance of NBWL was required since the project requires diversion of forest land from core area of Panna Tiger Reserve. However NBWL has set some conditions. They are

  • Integration of nearby sanctuaries including Ranipur and Rani Durgavati with the Panna Tiger Reserve to compensate loss of tiger habitat and complete ban of fresh mining lease in the area.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will take care of the landscape plan for the area with the help of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state forest departments.
Background

The Ken-Betwa ILR project had received clearance of the Union Cabinet in July 2014 but the work could not begin as the mandatory clearance from the NBWL got stuck due to objections raised from wildlife conservationists and environmentalists. Nearly 8,650 hectares of forest land including part of Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh will be submerged due to implementation of this project.  The conservationists and environmentalists have been mainly opposing the project, flagging its impact on tiger reserve and wildlife sanctuaries.

About Ken-Betwa ILR project

  • The Ken-Betwa ILR project aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken River to the Betwa basin throughken-betwa_link concrete canal to irrigate India’s worst drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
  • The project will benefit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in terms of meeting irrigation, drinking water and electricity needs of people across 6 districts in the two states.
  • The 221-km concrete canal will pass through Jhansi, Banda and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh and Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The project also had received green signal from the Supreme Court following the tripartite MoU involving UP, MP and Centre.
  • The apex court in February 2012 had directed Centre to implement this project in a time-bound manner and also had appointed a high-powered committee for its planning and implementation.

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China passes law to levy environment tax to fight pollution

China’s top legislature has passed Environment Tax to levy environment tax on polluters, especially on heavy industries. It will enter into force on January 1, 2018.

The law aims to improve taxpayers’ environmental awareness, force companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production.

Key Facts
  • Under the new law, companies will pay environment taxes ranging from 350 yuan ($60) to 11,200 yuan ($1870) per month for noise.
  • It set rates of 1.4 yuan on water pollutants, 1.2 yuan on stipulated quantities of air pollutants and a range of 5 to 1,000 yuan for each ton of solid waste.
  • It allows provincial-level governments to raise rates for air and water pollution by up to 10 times after approval by local legislatures.
  • Under it, lower rates can also be applicable if emissions are less than national standards. It only targets enterprises and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into environment.
  • Punishments for evasion or fraud have not been specified, but it says that offenders will be held liable in line with the law on administration of taxation and the environmental law.
  • Greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the major contributors to global warming, is not included in the levying list. 
Background

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), due to its heavy reliance on coal to provide electricity to its population of 1.37 billion (world’s largest). Since 1979, China has collected a “pollutant discharge fee” which not enforced by any law. In 2015, it collected 17.3 billion yuan (about 2.5 billion dollars) from some 280,000 businesses. However, it was found that some local governments were exploiting loopholes and exempting pollution enterprises.

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India’s first 2G Ethanol Bio-refinery to be set up in Punjab

The foundation stone of India’s first 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery was laid at Tarkhanwala village in Bathinda, Punjab.

 Central Government Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) is setting up this project at a cost of 600 crore Rupees.

Key Facts
  • HPCL’s bio-refinery will produce 100 kilolitres of ethanol per day i.e. 3.20 crore litres per annum from agricultural residues.
  • It will be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of Punjab. It will also produce about 30,000 tonnes of bio-fertiliser per annum to enhance soil nutrients.
  • It will also produce more than 1 lakh kilograms of Bio-CNG per annum which can cater to transport and clean cooking requirements.
  • It will generate employment for about 1,200-1,300 persons in the biomass supply chain. It will also generate an additional income of approximately 20 crore Rupees per annum for farmers through purchase of their agriculture residues.
  • The project will also significantly help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting.
Background

HPCL and other state-run oil firms are planning to set up 12 2G ethanol bio-refineries across 11 states at an estimated cost of 10,000 crore Rupees. These Bio-refineries will be significantly contributing towards the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol from current 5% by producing around 35-40 crore litres of ethanol annually. Read more

About 2nd generation ethanol

2nd generation ethanol is a fuel that can be manufactured from various types of biomass. Whereas 1st generation ethanol is made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology. In comparison, 2nd generation ethanol is made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, which makes it harder to extract the required fuel using conventional technology.

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