Environment Current Affairs - 2020

M B Lal Committee

The recent massive fire at the Baghjan Oil field, Assam had caused serious environmental damages and led to migration of 1000s of people in the region. More than 1,610 families are now lodged in 4 relief camps.

The Government of India has taken several measures to address the issues of such oil field fires. In 2009. GoI constituted the M B Lal Committee following the fire accident at the IOCL terminal in Jaipur.

M B Lal Committee

The Committee had made 118 recommendations in regards to the safety guidelines to be followed by the oil companies while installing oil wells. According to the Ministry of Petroleum, 94% of recommendations made by the committee have been implemented.

Emergency Response Centres

The Emergency Response Centres were the major recommendation of the committee. The Centres were to handle major oil fires in the fastest ways as possible. It would take 3 to 4 years to construct an ERC. The ERCs were to be set up by 2014. However, the recommendation is still pending in several regions.

Fire Incidents

According to the information from the Oil Industry Safety Directorate, around eight accidents took place in oil and gas installations between April and June, 2020.

Annual Report of Environment Ministry

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the Annual Report 2019-20.

Highlights

The report says that around 11,467 hectares of forest lands have been diverted in 22 states in 2019. The diversion has been made under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The diversion was made for 932 non-forestry projects.

Of all the diversions made, one-third was for Odisha based projects. They were around 14 in number and 4,514 hectares of land was diverted. Odisha was followed by Telangana where the diversion was made for 11 projects diverting 2,055 hectares of land.

The maximum number of projects were in Haryana. However, the land diversion was comparatively less, 519 hectares.

Findings

The report also provided category wise details. The largest forest area land was diverted for mining projects and irrigation. The report observed that the ministry provided guidelines to help in relocation of villages. Whenever this was done, the legal-status of the land shall be changed to non-forest land under Forest Conservation Act.

Forest Villages

The report says that there was no conservation of forest villages in the year 2019. The forest villages were those that were set up by the Britishers to procure resources such as timber. Even today there are 2,500 forest villages in the country.