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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MoEF recommends ‘in-principle’ approval for Uranium exploration

A Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC) panel has recommended for ‘in-principle’ permission for survey and exploration of Uranium in Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telangana. Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) under MoEFCC made recommendation at its meeting on 22 May 2019.

Background

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) had earlier sought permission from Environment Ministry to carry out survey and drilling of boreholes around for exploration of uranium in Amrabad and Udimalla (Mahaboobnagar district) region upto 76 km besides 7 km in the adjoining Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh, for use in nuclear power generation.

Initially FAC under Environment Ministry observed that there are certain deficiencies in proposal. However, considering the fact that proposal to establish Uranium deposits is of critical importance from national perspective, thus it recommended for in-principle approval to the Atomic body subject to submission of all required document/information in due format.

Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) Proposals

In its proposal AMD indicated that review of all areas of ongoing investigations and their assessment indicates that northern part of Cuddapah basin (second largest Proterozoic sedimentary basin in India) is the most promising and potential area in India for locating high grade, large tonnage uranium deposits.

The proposed forest land is one of the prime target for exploration of unconformity related U-deposits in the country.

Although in India, uranium deposit discovered till now was either of low grade or of low tonnage or of both low grade and low tonnage but keeping in view huge amount of electricity to be produced by nuclear route, economically feasible high grade deposits are to be found out expeditiously.

Criticism

Field Director, Project Tiger, after inspection of Amrabad region, confirmed presence of tigers in area based on pug marks and cattle kills, along with evidence of fauna like spotted deer, panther, sloth bear, wild boar, wild dog and sambar.

As per the report there are no existing roads in 3,800 hectares sought for exploration thus would make it difficult to transport drilling machinery.

Near Udumilla also, there was evidence of occasional visit by tigers at Nallavagu locality. Similar issues of transportation and tree felling will prevail at this location too. Noting that AMD proposes to dig a total of 4,000 bores, report noted that environmental impact of mining includes erosion, sink holes formation, biodiversity loss and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water and which could affect wildlife.

Way Ahead

Currently FAC has given only “in principle” permission to AMD while “full and necessary permissions” are required for the department to allow exploration activities in Tiger Reserve. As per FAC after receipt of in-principle approval, the complete proposal may be soon placed before the Competent Authority for approval.

Month:  Categories: Environment & Biodiversity

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Northeast Frontier Railway’s Plan Bee wins Best Innovation Award

A unique strategy adopted by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) called ‘Plan Bee’ to keep wild elephants away from train tracks has won the ‘Best Innovation Award’ in Indian Railways for the 2018-19 fiscal. The prize is awarded by Indian Railways and comprises of a citation and a cash award of Rs.3 lakh.

What is Plan Bee?

It is an amplifying system that imitates the buzz of a swarm of honey bees to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks.

Many studies suggest that elephants are scared of swarming bees thus this device was designed to generate amplified sound of honey bees audible from about 700-800 metres.

First such instrument was installed at a level crossing west of Guwahati in Assam on a track adjoining Rani Reserve Forest, an elephant habitat.

NFR now has 46 such devices installed at vulnerable points.

Significance: As per the study conducted Plan Bee device has been helpful in diverting herds of elephants, especially when trains approach and dashing becomes imminent. Also as per NFR officials, a mix of Plan Bee and other measures have helped them save 1,014 elephants from 2014 to June 2019.

Background

There are 29 earmarked elephant corridors with operating zone of Northeast Frontier Railway spread across north-eastern states of India and some parts of Bihar and West Bengal. Trains passing through are required to slow down at these corridors and adhere to speed specified on signs.

But in past elephants have ventured into path of trains even in non-corridor areas, often leading to accidents resulting in elephant deaths. NFR’s Rangiya Railway Division (one of the five railway divisions under NFR zone of Indian Railways) and Forest Department field officials have worked on certain deterrents and provide a solution to the problem.

But the desperation to find an ‘elephant repellent’ was triggered when 67 pachyderms were knocked down by trains from 2013 to June 2019. Most of these elephant deaths cases were reported from Assam and northern West Bengal.

Thus in a bid to tackle this problem, NFR came up with ‘Plan Bee’ in 2017 and installed devices at several level crossings in state to play sound of buzzing honey bees to drive away pachyderms.

Testing: A team then tested Honey Bee Buzz on a domestic elephant in north-eastern Assam’s Rangapara and 1st such instrument was installed at level crossing gate between Azara and Kamakhya stations under Rangiya Railway Division. Later, a 2nd test at tea estate under Rangiya Division proved successful on a herd of wild elephants.

Month:  Categories: Environment & Biodiversity

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