Water Pollution Current Affairs - 2020

Dal Lake, J&K to be declared Eco-Sensitive Zone

The Jammu and Kashmir Government will set up a 10-member committee that will declare Dal Lake, an Eco-sensitive Zone. The decision is being taken based on the study conducted by the DCI-Dredging Corporation of India

Findings of DCI

  • The Encroachments and pollution has shrunk the lake from its original size of 22 square kilometers to about 10 square kilo meters (according to DCI-Dredging Corporation of India).
  • The capacity of the lake has shrunk to 40%
  • The water quality has deteriorated due to untreated sewage water and solid waste flowing into the lake
  • Clogging in the lake has diminished circulation and has led to extensive growth of water hyacinth that has emerged as a health hazard
  • Night Soil discharge from 800 to 900 houseboats is polluting the water body
  • The depth of the lake has reduced in many places due to the absence of desilting.

Eco-Sensitive Zones

The ESZs are called Ecologically Fragile Areas. A region or territory is notified as ESZ by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change. In General, the regions are around wild life sanctuaries, protected areas and National Parks.

ESZ Legislations

  • There is no provision in the Constitution that talks about ESZ. Besides, no laws speak about ESZ.
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 nowhere mentions the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
    • Section3(2)(V): The act says that the GoI can restrict areas where industrial operations shall not be carried out.
  • Environment (Protection) rules, 1986
    • Rule 5(1): It says that GoI can prohibit or restrict industries and other operations based on
      • Considerations of Biological Diversity
      • Maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants in the area is exceeded
      • Land Use is not environmentally compatible
      • Proximity to protected areas
    • According to the rules, the provisions can be changed by the committee set up by the Ministry of EFoCC.

Stable form of Plutonium discovered accidentally

Scientists led by Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf have found new compound of Plutonium unexpectedly in France. The team was actually trying to create plutonium dioxide nano particles using different precursors. In the process, the plutonium at its pentavalent state showed a peculiar behavior. The scientists then learnt that the strange behavior of Plutonium at its pentavalent state was because it was stable! The team confirmed its stability using Pu M4 edge technology.

The experiment was repeated after 3 months and the element showed the same behavior. The scientists thus confirmed that Plutonium exhibited stability properties at its pentavalent state.

Significance

  • The unstable radioactive dangerous plutonium that is predominantly used in nuclear applications are tricky to transport, store and dispose.
  • The scientists were in the process of creating Plutonium Dioxide as it is relatively stable as compared to other radioactive materials. It does not dissolve in water
  • The major drawback of Plutonium waste is that when dumped underground, they contaminate water table to a radius of 10 km.