Patna Current Affairs - 2019

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Bihar Government bans Tree-Felling

The Bihar Government recently announced ban on felling of trees in different cities of Bihar, citing increasing pollution as well as a fatal heatwave in the state as reason for the ban.

Key Highlights

Background: Bihar Government has taken this decision as most cities of Bihar are ranked in list of World’s most polluted cities which includes- Patna (7th position), Muzaffarpur (13th position), Gaya (18th position) and Bhagalpur. Also, currently Bihar does not have any Tree Protection Act active, due to which people who privately own a tree in state are cutting it indiscriminately.

Note: The current order against banning tree felling was passed under Forest Conservation Act (FCA),1980. This new scheme is valid only for State Government owned properties and not for people who privately own a tree.

Changes Announced:

With this new initiative Bihar Government has put a hold on tree harvesting for at least government held projects.

Now for undertaking any development project (like road or highway tenders) if anybody now wants to remove a tree would have to translocate/shift the project or the trees to some other place. Engineers have also been asked not to cut trees while building/expanding roads.

All permissions granted to cut trees for development works, have become null and void. Trees on private land, however, can be felled in the absence of a tree-protection Act in Bihar.

Reason:

The state government could also have taken this decision as a reaction to indiscriminate felling of big, old trees in Patna during last few years for construction of roads and buildings. According to official data, on Patna’s Bailey Road over 2200 trees have been chopped in last 2.5 years.

The state’s forest department also expressed its displeasure over filling roots of trees with concrete on roads in various towns for the sake of development.

Government Vision: Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar has repeatedly announced his government commitment to increase state green cover to 17%. As of date Bihar has been able to increase its green cover from 7% to 15% under the Green Mission.

What is Forest Conservation Act, 1980?

It is an Act of the Parliament of India that was enacted for providing a higher level of protection to forests and to regulate diversion of forest lands for non forestry purposes.

As per the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 Prior permission/approval of the Central Government is essential for De-reservation/ Diversion of forest land for for non-forestry purposes.

This is given on the condition that user agency will deposit required amount to undertake compensatory afforestation for mitigate negative impact of forest land diversion.

The act extends to whole of India except state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Indian Cities and Air Pollution

The Air Pollution levels at the Indian cities are at an alarming level. Various Reports have time and again tried to shed light on the quantum of the problem.

Air Pollution and Indian Cities

  • A Delhi based Environment Body claims that the Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, is ranked third on the WHO’s list of 15 most polluted cities and the situation is “deteriorating” as its MP has focused on beautification and infrastructure.
  • In the ‘Political Leaders Position and Action on Air Quality in India 2014-2019’ report, released by Climate Trends Delhi is ranked sixth on the list. The report states that there has been “laziness” on part of its elected caretakers in tackling air pollution in the city.
  • As per the World Health Organisation, (WHO) list of most polluted cities, 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world are in India of which four are in Uttar Pradesh.
  • WHO report states that the Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a rise in the number of people suffering from allergies and respiratory problems due to a “lot” of construction in the city.
  • Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh is the most polluted city in the world. Kanpur is ranked one on the list. Faridabad in Haryana has been ranked second and Varanasi has been ranked third.
  • Gaya and Patna in Bihar are fourth and fifth on the list.
  • Delhi has been ranked sixth and Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow is ranked seventh.
  • The report by climate trends claimed MPs of Lucknow and Kanpur — Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi respectively — have mostly been silent on the issue of air pollution in their respective constituencies.
  • Other cities in the WHO list of polluted cities are Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurugram, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur.

Air Quality Index

The Air Quality Index between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”, as per pollution control authorities.