Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change Current Affairs - 2019

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Central Monitoring Committee to Prepare National Plan for Polluted Rivers

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches pollution free across the country. River pollution has caused a serious threat to the safety of water and environment.

Order of NGT

  • The committee would comprise representatives of NITI Aayog; secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment; the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Central Pollution Control Board chairman.
  • The Committee will also coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors.
  • Chief Secretaries of states would be the nodal agency at the state level.
  • NGT directed the Ministry of Environment to consider a policy for giving environmental awards to outstanding persons (natural and juristic) and institutions or states and introducing “dis-incentives” for non-compliant states.
  • The Central Monitoring Committee may consider identifying experts, best practices and models for use of treated water, including plan to supply untreated sewage for a price or otherwise so that the concerned needy party can treat and utilise such water as is reportedly being done at Surat in Gujarat, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Bhilwada in Rajasthan or any other place.
  • Use of polluted water in irrigation is a threat to the health of human beings apart from the aquatic flora and fauna. Hence it is necessary to have a regular hygienic survey of the rivers particularly with reference to pathogenic organisms having an impact on human health directly or indirectly and It is necessary to note that biological health of the rivers is an important aspect.
  • There has to be a regular study of the Indian rivers with regard to biological health and its diversity.

The NGT has issued the order after taking note of the article “More river stretches are now critically polluted: CPCB” in the Hindu.

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Amendments to the Indian Forest Act 1927

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalised the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The amendments provide definitions to important terms that were missing from the law.

Features of the Amendments

  • The draft amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
  • Under the proposed amendment Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
  • The amendments shift the focus of the Indian Forest Act from laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it to conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
  • The amendment provides that if the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under Forest Rights Act will hamper conservation efforts, then the state may commute such rights by providing compensation to maintain the social organisation of the forest-dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers.
  • The amendment introduces a new category of forests namely production forests which will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.

The amendments have been proposed based on the inputs of a core committee Inspector General of Forests (Forest Policy) Noyal Thomas.

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