Environment Current Affairs 2017

Government launches nationwide campaign Gaj Yatra to protect elephants

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has launched a nationwide campaign Gaj Yatra to protect elephants. It was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day observed on August 12.

The ministry also released the All India Census 2017 Report on elephants and Agreed Points of Action on Trans-Boundary Conservation of Elephants by India and Bangladesh.

Gaj Yatra Campaign

The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states across the country. It is 15 months campaign the will be led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The ‘Gaju’ mascot, which was released by the Ministry in 2012, will be helm of the campaign.

The campaign aims create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat. During the period of the campaign, artists and craftsmen will create life-size works on the theme of elephants in places along the route of the roadshow using local art and craft. Specially fabricated vehicles will be also deployed to display these on pre-determined routes with campaigners.

World Elephant Day

The World Elephant Day is observed every year on August 12 to support various stakeholders involved in supporting various conservation policies to protect elephants. It also seeks to support stakeholders involved in improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing captive elephants into sanctuaries.

The World Elephant Day was conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand. Now it is supported by over 65 wildlife organisations and many individuals in several countries across the globe.

Elephants

As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants across the globe. Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” and African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

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NGT bans use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in Delhi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns in the entire national capital Delhi.

It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found in possession of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns, which is the thickness of a human hair.

NGT order

NGT ordered Delhi government to seize entire stock of the banned plastic bags within a week. Besides, it asked Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Delhi Government to file an affidavit on steps taken to implement the ban. It also imposed an environment compensation of Rs. 10,000 on vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.

Plastic waste

Non-biodegradable plastic waste has been identified as one of the major source of environmental pollution as they don’t decay naturally. These bags have zero reusable value. Besides choking drains, water-bodies and adding to the load of the already-exhausted landfill sites, there are also cases of cattle eating and dying after choking on plastic bags.

According to plastic bag manufacturers, the market share of thin plastic bags (less than 50 microns) is not more than 25%. Mostly the banned bags are made by unregistered units which find many takers because of their cheaper products.

Most of the garbage bags used at homes are above 50 microns. Their use and manufacturing is already banned under the Plastic Management Handling Rules, 2016. The NGT in 2017 had banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.

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