Environment & Biodiversity Current Affairs - 2019
Latest Environment Current Affairs 2019 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2019 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2019.
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Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has selected 12 beaches across the country to compete for Blue Flag Certification. Environment Ministry embarked on Blue Flag project in December 2017.
12 Beaches Selected are: Bhogave (Maharashtra), Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Miramar (Goa), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Kappad (Kerala) and Eden (Puducherry).
These 12 beaches are being developed by Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), in accordance with Blue Flag standards. SICOM is an Environment Ministry’s body working for management of coastal areas.
About Blue Flag Programme
It is international recognition conferred on beaches and marinas that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety and equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
It is run by international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
It was first started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987.
Since 2001 it has been implemented in areas outside Europe when South Africa joined.
Criteria: There are almost 33 criteria that must be met by beaches and marinas to qualify for Blue Flag certification. It includes water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, first aid equipment, disabled- friendly and no access to pets in main areas of beach. Some of these criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.
Validation: If approved, beaches are given blue flag tag for a year and they must apply annually to continue meriting right to fly this flag at their locations.
Top countries: Spain (total blue flags: 684), France (492) and Turkey (458). Japan and South Korea are only countries from South/southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
Asia’s First: Chandrabhaga beach on Konark coast in Odisha was first in Asia to get Blue Flag certification (awarded in June 2019).
Tags: Blue Flag beaches • Blue Flag certification • Blue Flag Project • Chandrabhaga beach • Foundation for Environmental Education • Society for Integrated Coastal Management • Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change • Union Ministry of Environment
Taking serious note of alarming extinction of two Indian birds namely Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican, the Supreme Court of India has constituted a High Powered Committee to urgently frame and implement an Emergency Response Plan for protection of these species, considering the approaching monsoon and breeding season.
Both the birds are protected under Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972 but despite being accorded highest level of protection under national law, birds face threat of imminent extinction.
Apex court constituted 3 Member Panel comprising of-
- Deepak Apte-Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)
- Asad R Rahmani– former Director of BNHS and member of governing body of Wetlands International South Asia
- Dhananjai Mohan– Chief Conservator of Forests of Uttarakhand.
SC has also sought responses from Centre as well as concerned state governments where these two species of birds are prominently found.
Petition: A plea of wildlife activists contended that over last 50 years population of Great Indian Bustard has recorded a decline of more than 82%. It fell from an estimated 1260 in 1969, to 100-150 in 2018. Over the past few decades, the population of Lesser Florican (also known as likh or kharmore) has seen a sharp decline of 80%, from 3530 individuals recorded in 1999, to less than 700 in 2018.
Reasons given in plea: for threats faced by two endangered birds includes- Mortality by collision with infrastructure (particularly powerlines and wind turbines), hunting, depletion of grasslands, development of mines and human habitation in and around their habitats and ingestion of pesticides.
Emergency Response Plan: Under it, the wildlife activists have suggested certain steps that could be taken. Such as-
- Urgent dismantling and undergrounding of powerlines and wind turbines
- Immediate embargo on any upcoming wind, solar power projects, and powerlines in and around critical habitats
Other immediate steps includes-
- Installation of diverters on powerlines in semi-critical habitats of birds
- Urgent installation of predator-proof fencing in critical habitats to protect breeding grounds of both the species from invasive human activities as well as predators
- Implementation of dog population control program