Air Quality Current Affairs - 2020

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Ministry of Coal forms Sustainable Development Cell

On December 15, 2019, the Coal Ministry announced that it is to establish “Sustainable Development Cell” (SDC) to promote environment friendly and sustainable coal mining. The main objective of the cell is to address environmental concerns that arise during closure of mines. The cell will mentor, advise, plan and monitor mitigation measures to provide better environment to the people residing near the mines.

Highlights

The cell will act as a nodal point to minimize the adverse impacts of mining. It will also formulate future policy framework focusing in environmental mitigation measures. The SDC will focus on sustainable mine tourism, mine water management, air quality and sustainable overburden management. The cell will also set up Mine Closure Fund.

Tasks of the cell

In India 2,550 square kilometres of land is under coal mines. The cell will help the mines locate land areas where afforestation can be done. It will advise the mines on air quality, noise management and emission. The cell will also suggest reuse and recycle of overburdened dumps in sustainable manner. It will help the mines to manage tourism and frame policies.

Mine Closure

The guidelines for mine closure was issued by the Ministry of Coal in 2012 and the idea was mooted in 2009. According to the guidelines, the mining authority will have to work on two plans namely concurrent mine closure plan and final mine closure plan. Under concurrent mine closure plan, there are activities that are to be done continuously during the entire period of mining operations. Under the final mine closure plan, the activities will start towards the end of the mine life.

Mine Closure Guidelines

The guidelines make it mandatory for the authority to mention the reason of closure such as lack of demand, exhaustion of minerals, uneconomic operations, etc. The authority should also include water quality management, air quality management, top soil management, management of coal rejects from washery, disposal of mining machinery, existing infrastructural facilities.

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Delhi’s air quality very poor: SAFAR

According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) national capital New Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category.

The average (24-hour rolling) of PM2.5 and PM10, suspended respirable pollutants, were recorded as 120.8 and 248 micrograms per cubic metre as against safe limits of 60 and 100.

The poor air quality may lead to respiratory problems, irritation to eyes and skin, blurring of vision and headache.

The major reasons for the poor air quality may due to the favourable cold weather conditions coupled with very light wind, vehicular pollution and farm fires in neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana.

What is System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)?

  • SAFAR was introduced by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time.
  • It was developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune along with India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
  • The main objective of SAFAR project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality.
  • The purpose awareness for general public is to take appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action for betterment of air quality and related health issues.

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