Nature's Narrative Vol. 2(I)
News Snippets (Part I):
Indian Government's Green Initiative
Prime Minister N. Modi Being the Eco-Saviour
Addressing the nation on Independence Day, 15 August 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a series of plans to protect the environment and biodiversity. These ranged from saving Gangetic dolphins and Asiatic lions as carried out successfully by Project Tiger to making Ladakh carbon neutral and reducing pollution in 100 cities. He also spoke on renewable energy and the need to maintain a balance between development and the environment. This comes in the wake of environmentalists calling for refocused environmental strategies, especially after the pandemic. India’s efforts to tackle pandemic-related health and economic setbacks urgently needs to bring back environmental issues to the forefront in policy-making.
Railways Going Green
State pollution control boards (SPCB) / pollution control committees (PCC) must ensure the Indian Railways comply with environmental norms, including waste management, said a National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench August 18, 2020. Zonal / divisional railway authorities must submit a declaration on the matter to the concerned SPCBs / PCC, said the bench comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi. An expert committee of the CPCB categorised the railway stations into red, orange and green categories. The report gave an overview of the ‘Environmental Performance Assessment of Railway Stations’. The NGT accepted the CPCB’s recommendations and directed the railways to take further action in terms of the report. These assessments were conducted keeping the requirements of the Water Act, 1974, the Air Act, 1981 and the Environment Protection (EP) Act, 1986.
Economic Slowdown, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan Makes Compliance With Air Pollution Standards Difficult: Power Ministry
The Center is considering postponing the two-year deadline for thermal power plants to comply with air pollution mitigation requirements by 2022 due to the economic downturn linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties due to restrictions on imports from China in supply systems that help regulate the emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide ( SO2), officials said. Thermal power plants are one of the main sources of emissions from particulate matter ( PM) and SO2 which can damage the respiratory system. In December 2015 higher emission requirements for thermal power plants were notified for implementation by the end of 2017. Owing to opposition from the thermal power industry the deadline was extended to 2022 nationally. The Supreme Court ordered an extension, as well. In an order on a case concerning the introduction of the National Clean Air Program on 21 August, the National Green Tribunal said that 175 air quality monitoring stations must be completed within the next six months. It also instructed state pollution control boards to perform capacity carrying and source allocation studies using their fund for environmental compensation.
Solar Tariff in India Unlikely to Compete With Gulf: Report
The per unit cost of solar power in India, considered among the cheapest in the world, is unlikely to cost less than what it is in Gulf countries, according to an analysis by an energy think tank. This is primarily due to the lower cost of finance in the countries in the region along with factors such as cheaper land prices. India has for years being considered a favourable destination for solar projects and nearly 20 gigawatt of solar capacity is under installation currently.
According to the latest estimates, India has deployed about 87,000 MW of renewable energy capacity as of 2019, and has committed to achieving 450 GW of renewable energy capacity — a significant fraction of which is by solar — by 2030, according to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment.
Indian Forest Update
Historic Win for GIR
Project Lion will cover habitat development, technologies in lion management & address the issue of diseases among lions and its associated species through advanced world-class research and veterinary care. According to a report by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change earlier this year, there was a 29% increase in the population of the Asiatic lions that live in Gujarat’s GIR forest, taking the number from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020. According to the 2018 census, India's wild tiger population has increased by more than 30 per cent in four years. The country now has 2,967 tigers, up from 2,226 in 2014, it said. Modi termed the increased figures a "historic achievement" and asserted that India was one of the biggest and safest habitats for tigers in the world.
CAMPA and its Initiatives
CAMPA is the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority. The Minister has directed 80% of CAMPA funds towards afforestation and plantation drives. The funds were used to pay salaries to forest officials and infrastructure acquisition. During the meeting the following initiatives of the Ministry were highlighted
Promoting Urban forestry under Nagar Van Scheme
Treatment of 13 major rivers
LIDAR based survey of degraded forest areas
National Transit Portal to facilitate movement of forest produce
On August 18, 2020, Union Minister Prakash Javedkar held a meeting with 24 state forest ministers. During the meeting, the minister announced that the CAMPA funds shall be used only for plantation drives and afforestation. Also, the forest-based devolution funds are to be increased from 7% to 10%.
Preksha, Sampda Bansal and Khyati Verma