Looking beyond the climatic and environmental change related devastations
To make destruction the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. Hence, it is necessary to take note of positive developments in and around us. In the face of some of the worst climate and environment changes witnessed in the form natural disasters, 2017 has in some sense managed to make way for encouraging environmental developments, especially in India. Looking back at the good news from the atmosphere of Indian environment, here are a few note-worthy developments
Leaders in climate actions
India is showing bold leadership by aggressively moving ahead with climate action and clean energy programmes that will protect people from climate harm and boost its economy. India’s targets under the Paris Agreement are focused on clean energy expansion. With an early goal of 100 gigawatts of installed solar energy by 2022, solar prices in India are dropping at a rapid clip. By May of 2017, India has had solar power generation capacity of 9 GW, became the world’s fourth-largest producer of wind energy, and announced plans to cancel 14 GW of coal plants – to not only meet but exceed its Paris climate agreement targets.
India has been ranked 14 out of 56 nations and the EU in Climate Change Performance Index 2018 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These impressive accomplishments point to India’s decisive leadership on climate change.
The number of Protected Areas in India has increased from a total of 689 in 2013 to 764 in 2017. Protected Areas are those in which human occupation or at least the exploitation of resources is limited.
According to the latest figures (July, 2017) provided by National Wildlife Database Cell, Wildlife Institute of India, the total area under the 764 Protected Areas is 162024.69 sq km, which is 4.93 per cent coverage of the entire country. In this, 103 National Parks have an area of 40500.13 sq km, 543 Wildlife Sanctuaries have 118917.71 sq km, 45 Community Reserves have 59.66 sq km, and 73 Conservation Reserves have 2547.19 sq km.
India recognizes the serious nature and significant scale of the energy-related challenges facing the country and the world. Thus India became one of the first few countries to join Mission Innovation. MI is an international effort constituting a group of 23 countries to catalyze technologies for clean energy and co-leading three Challenges – Smart Grid, Off Grid Access and Sustainable Biofuels.India, along with other member countries, has agreed to double its investments in a span of 5 years on the development of clean energy technologies over the base investments of 2015.
Home to 27,312 Elephants
With 60 per cent of the Asian elephant population, India is home to a total of 27,312 free-ranging megaherbivores, pegs a preliminary result from the first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population Estimation released in August on the occasion of World Elephant Day. According to the report, elephants are present in over 22 states and a Union Territory (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). Karnataka has the maximum 6,049 free-ranging or wild elephant population. Following closely is Assam at 5,719, Kerala 3,054, Tamil Nadu 2,761, Odisha 1,976, Uttarakhand 1,839 and Arunachal Pradesh with 1,614 wild elephants. Andaman and Nicobar, where a few animals were rehabilitated, now have 19 free-ranging elephants spread over 133 sq km. The report asserted that traces were also found in Manipur and Mizoram that might have nine and seven wild elephants, respectively. A new Elephant Reserve, Dandeli ER, has been created and the area of Mysore ER has been expanded.
Cities that Segregate
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has launched a forum of 20 cities that have adopted or are willing to adopt waste segregation and management practices. Urban local bodies from different parts of the country, including three from Delhi, have pledged to achieve the target of 100 per cent segregation of waste at the source by October of 2019 and fulfil the vision of Clean India. Hence, the Forum of Cities that Segregate was launched by the CSE to lend impetus to the campaign for waste segregation at source.
The idea is to hand hold these cities’ municipal bodies and guide them towards waste segregation and management.
CITES’ certificate for India
India has been awarded the Certificate of Commendation for its exemplary enforcement action in its regional and global effort to combat illegal wildlife trade. The award has been presented to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) under the Environment Ministry for its efforts in conducting and coordinating a species specific wildlife enforcement operation, code-named “Operation Save Kurma”. During the Operation Save Kurma conducted from December 15, 2016, to January 30, 2017, approximately 16,000 live turtles/tortoises were seized and released back into the wild. The 55 suspects involved in the illegal trade were also arrested.
WCCB worked in close collaboration with regional law enforcement agencies, including West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department, State Police and Forest Department, the Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police, Karnataka Forest and Police departments and Maharashtra and Rajasthan Forest Departments.
In a bold step, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that there can be no landfill sites or garbage dumping within half-a-kilometre radius of the Ganga between Haridwar in Uttarakhand and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. The bench also announced a penalty of Rs 50,000 on anyone dumping waste near the river. The green panel said all area within 100 metres of the river should be declared “no development zone”. The NGT had also in April directed 13 polluting industries situated along the tributary or major drain of the holy Ganga river to be shut down. In December of last year, the tribunal had imposed a ban on the use of plastic from Gomukh to Haridwar along the river.
A Greener Northeast
Northeastern Frontier Railway (NFR) will plant over 10 lakh trees in its area of jurisdiction in the financial year 2017-18. Officials said during the last financial year, 6.94 lakh trees were planted by the NFR, while in 2015-16, it was 5.22 lakh. The NFR has tied up with the Assam Forest Department to take the initiative forward. All divisions of NFR will take part in the plantation drives to be carried out in railway land.
Besides block plantations, the project envisages the plantation of trees on both sides of the railway tracks. Similar agreements for joint plantation drives will also be signed with the Forest departments of Bihar and West Bengal.
India vs rich nations
Following the 11th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Buenos Aires, India has objected to some rich countries using an influential forum called the ‘Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organisation’ to indirectly push certain ‘non-trade’ issues like labour and environment standards as well as gender equality into the global trade body’s negotiation agenda.
India pointed out the double standards of these countries for coming in the way of progressive treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as the linkage between the TRIPS Agreement and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity for protecting traditional knowledge and folklore.
Standardising air quality
In a good move, the Centre has decided to soon initiate the process for standardisation of equipment, data and all other parameters required to measure the purity of air. The Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, admitted that many experts had told him that the standards in use for measuring PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels of pollution etc, were far more than the actual standards. The environment minister has said the initiation of standardising equipment, data and other parameters to judge air quality was a “very important thing” for him. He has further ensured that this process will be initiated at the earliest. The minister will have a meeting of experts from Science and Technology ministry, environment ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved