Environment Current Affairs 2018
Latest Environment Current Affairs 2017 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2017 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2017
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The Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The programme aims to tackle the challenge of increasing pollution in the cities and towns.
Features of the Programme
The important features of the programme are:
- It is a five-year action plan with a tentative target of 20-30% reduction in concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 by 2024, with 2017 as the base year.
- The plan covers 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
Cities are considered as Non-attainment cities, if they were consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Cities included under the list of Non-attainment cities Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
- The centre plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India under the programme.
- Studies would be conducted across 102 non-attainment cities to ascertain pollution sources and the extent of their contribution.
- The Apex committee in the Ministry of Environment would periodically review the progress of these components on the basis of appropriate indicators, which will be evolved.
- Each city would be asked to develop its own action plan for implementation based on sources of pollution.
- A three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards are proposed under the plan.
- State-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries are proposed part of the plan.
- The plan document is not binding on the states since the document is not a legal document.
The Environmentalists criticised the plan for not making it legally binding. The Environmentalists demand a more stringent action to ensure the safety and well being of millions of lives risk because of the continuously growing air pollution crisis.
A five-year study by researchers Sangita Mitra (National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai) and Mahua Roy Chowdhury, (a marine biologist from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal) has been published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa.
The research has found that raising water salinity level is threatening the habitat of Gangetic river dolphins.
Findings of the Study
The study was conducted in the lower stretch of river Hooghly, covering 97 km stretch of the western, central and eastern Sundarbans in India between 2013 and 2016 in different seasons. The study area was demarcated for boat-based and land-based surveys based on interaction with local fishing communities. Researchers also measured the salinity level of the water during the different points in the survey. The findings of the Survey are:
- No sighting record for Gangetic dolphin in waterways wherever the salinity level crosses 10 parts per trillion (ppt).
- The increase in salinity in the eastern and central region of Sundarbans has affected the habitat of the Gangetic Dolphin.
- The increase in the salinity was due to hydrological changes such as reduction in freshwater flow, reduced discharge from barrages, runoff from adjacent agricultural lands and river water abstraction for irrigation.
- The increasing salinity was conducive for marine cetaceans like Indo-Pacific hump-backed and Irrawaddy dolphins as these species can thrive in saline waters.
- The other major threats to the dolphin habitats are excessive fishing, use of vulnerable fishing gears, noise from motorized boats and lack of awareness among local communities.
Gangetic Dolphins are the only surviving freshwater dolphin in India. Gangetic Dolphins are found in the river systems of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Karnaphuli- Sangu in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The IUCN status of the Gangetic Dolphin is Endangered. Gangetic Dolphin is the National Aquatic Animal of India.