States Current Affairs – 2017

Assam Government launches SaCReD initiative to make Majuli carbon neutral island

Assam Government launched Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development (SaCReD) Initiative to develop Majuli, the world’s largest river island, as the country’s first carbon neutral district.

It was launched by state Chief Minister Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on the occasion of International Day of Forests (observed on March 21).

Key facts
  • SaCReD Initiative will also ensure that infrastructure in Majuli has less carbon. It aims to battle climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The will also aim to make the Majul island a biodiversity heritage site (BHS), first in the state in order to preserve its rich heritage and legacy.
  • State Government also launched registry in Majuli to record and analyse the climate impact of all proposed projects in the district.
  • Forests are Lives campaign was also launched to underline the importance of Assam’s rich forest and biodiversity. It urges people to take a pledge to conserve its biodiversity to make the state pollution free.

About Majuli Island 

  • Majuli island is fluvial riverine island is formed in the Brahmaputra river system. It is the world’s largest mid river delta (island) system. Majuli mapIt is also India’s first river island.
  • It is surrounded by Subanisri River in the North, main Brahmaputra River on the South and kherkatia Suli, split channel of Brahmaputra River in northeast.
  • Majuli island is mostly inhabited by Mishing tribal people. It has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture initiated by saint-reformer Srimanta Sankardeva in 15th century.
  • It had some 65 satras (monasteries adhering) to Vaishnavism. Large numbers of them were relocated to mainland after being washed away. Some surviving satras are Garamurh, Dakhinpat, Kamalabari, Auniati and Bengenaati.
  • Majuli island is a rich environmental hotspot harbouring. It is home of many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds.
  • Due to erosion of river-bank of the island it has shrunk from about 1250 sq km in 1891 to about 515 sq km.

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1.04 crore people hit by arsenic contamination in Bengal: Report

According to recent report tabled in the Lok Sabha, West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. State’s 83 blocks in eight districts have ground water affected by arsenic contamination.

Despite the State government’s efforts to curb the Arsenic menace, there is still a lot to be done. So far, state government was able to provide safe drinking water to 52% of the arsenic-affected areas in Bengal.

Key Facts
  • The total number of arsenic-affected people in the country is about 1.48 crore (as of March 2017).
  • West Bengal has topped the list with more than 1.04 crore arsenic-affected persons.
  • Bihar is second with 16.88 lakh persons, with Assam is third with 14.48 lakh victims.
  • According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is .01 m/ litre.
  • However, in India the permissible limit in drinking water was only recently been revised from .05 mg/litre to .01 mg/litre.
  • West Bengal government recently had initiated a project to provide safe drinking water to more than six lakh people in the arsenic-affected blocks.
  • However, there is slow progress in setting up water treatment plants since the technology for removal of arsenic is new and expensive.

About Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is a natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
  • The most important action in affected communities is the prevention of further exposure to arsenic by providing them of a safe water supply.
  • It is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tubewells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels .

Arsenic contamination

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