Environment Current Affairs 2019 - Current Affairs Today

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  • SC set aside NGTs decision to reopen Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi

    3 days ago
    The Supreme Court on 18th February set aside the National Green Tribunal (NGT) decision to reopen the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi. The plant had been ordered to be closed down by the Tamil Nadu government due to environmental pollution. The tribunal, in its December 15 order, directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass fresh orders of renewal of consent and issue an authorization to Vedanta Limited to handle hazardous substances. A Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman concluded that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal by the plant's owner, Vedanta, against the shutdown. The Tamil Nadu State contended that Vedanta had not been complying with pollution norms, and the situation had severely deteriorated since 1996.

    NBWL approved the 99.82 percent projects in forests

    14 February 2019
    India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry, cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny. Only five projects were rejected since August 2014.  2017 analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment analysis said that from 2009-2013, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) recommended 260 of the 328 that came into its purview or about 80% of the projects. It had deferred nearly 243 projects after 2013. The environment ministry has delegated all powers of the NBWL to a compliant Standing Committee which regularly meets and clears projects in Protected Areas with little due diligence.

    JSW Steel gets LoI for BPSL

    13 February 2019
    JSW Steel has received the Letter of Intent (LoI) from the resolution professional of Bhushan Power & Steel Limited (BPSL), taking the country's largest steelmaker a step closer towards the acquisition of the insolvent company.  The development comes more than a week after the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on February 4, turned down Tata Steel’s request to consider its bid as the ‘most legitimate’ one for BPSL. It confirms the resolution plan will be submitted to the National Company Law Tribunal after the company's approval. JSW Steel topped Tata Steel’s offer of Rs.17,000 crore with Rs.19,650 crore bid.

    Study says that Climate change threatens underwater forests

    10 February 2019
    A study says Climate change could lead to a decline of underwater kelp forests by impacting their microbiome. Ocean warming can change microbes on the kelp surface, leading to disease and potentially putting fisheries at risk. Blistering and bleaching of the kelp’s surface impact their ability to photosynthesize.

    EDMC signed MoU with NTPC for waste management

    8 February 2019
    The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for the disposal and management of solid waste in its jurisdiction. The NTPC will be setting up an integrated waste management plant which will have a capacity to process 2,000 MT of garbage. The plant will have a waste to energy component to generate electricity as well as composting of waste to generate CNG.
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    MoEF approved bullet train via flamingo and Sanjay Gandhi national park

    6 February 2019
    A committee, chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, approved wildlife clearance to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad fast bullet train corridor that encroaches upon a Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the home to leopards, in Mumbai. The proposal involves diversion of 3.2756 ha of forestland from the Thane Creek Flamingo Wildlife Sanctuary and 97.5189 ha of land close to the boundary of the forest’s protected area. The project for one of India’s first ‘bullet trains’ was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad in September 2017. It is expected to be ready by 2022. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: ♦ The Ministry is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country ♦ Formed: 1985 ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi, India ♦ Minister: Dr. Harsh Vardhan

    Hyderabad acquired ODF plus plus status

    31 January 2019
    Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) has been conferred ODF++ (Open Defecation Free Plus Plus) status by the Swachh Bharat Mission in the run-up to the Swachh Survekshan rankings.  Swachh Bharat Mission:  ♦ Launched on: October 2014 ♦ Launched by: Prime Minister Narendra Modi  ♦ Aim: To eliminate open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets ♦ During the period of 2014 to 2019, it aimed to clean up the streets, roads, and infrastructure of India's cities, towns, and rural areas  

    Greenpace reported 139 polluted cities not on clean air plan

    30 January 2019
    Greenpeace reported that there are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre's National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). Airpocalypse III, as the Greenpeace report is titled, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.  The NCAP was launched by the government earlier this month and is an Rs.300 crore initiative to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was formally unveiled is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.

    NGT imposed Rs.10 crore each on State governments

    30 January 2019
    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the State governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi to submit a performance guarantee of Rs.10 crore each within a month as it was dissatisfied with the Yamuna cleaning project. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the state governments to furnish a performance guarantee with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure there was no further lapse in this regard. The fine was imposed as the NGT was dissatisfied over the cleaning of the Yamuna. National Green Tribunal (NGT): ♦ Chairperson: Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ♦ NGT is to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.

    IMD announced cold waves in Himachal Pradesh

    28 January 2019
    India Meteorological Department said that the Cold wave conditions continue in Himachal Pradesh. The prominent tourist destinations have reduced to below freezing temperatures. The minimum temperature in Manali was minus 5 degrees Celsius, followed by minus 4.2 in Kufri, minus 1.5 in Dalhousie and minus 0.2 deg C in Shimla.  India Meteorological Department ♦ Formed on: 1875 ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi ♦ Functions under: Ministry of Earth Sciences ♦ Minister responsible: Harsh Vardhan ♦ Director General: K.J. Ramesh

    MoEF approved mini hydel project in ESZ

    28 January 2019
    The Forest Department has issued permission to expand Pioneer Power Corporation Ltd, a private company's mini-hydel project in the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandya district, Karnataka. The project was rejected twice by the State Board for Wildlife. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: ♦ Formed on: 1985 ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi ♦ Minister: Dr. Harsh Vardhan ♦ MoEF is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country ♦ Conservation and survey of the flora of India and fauna of India, forests and other wilderness areas

    SANH to study nitrogen pollution

    27 January 2019
    Eighteen research institutions in India are among a group of 50 institutions, called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH), in the United Kingdom and South Asia that have secured £20 million (about Rs. 200 crore) from the U.K. government to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.  While nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage, and biological waste, nitrogen is considered “reactive”, and it may be polluting and even exert a potent greenhouse gas (heat trapping) effect.  The SANH will study the impacts of the different forms of pollution to form a coherent picture of the nitrogen cycle. In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Maldives.

    Greenlands melting ice causes sea levels to rise

    24 January 2019
    Researchers warned that Greenland’s melting ice disappeared four times faster in 2013 than in 2003 and is noticeable across the Arctic island, not just on glaciers. Greenland’s melting ice causes sea levels to rise. The report said that 111 cubic kilometres of ice disappeared per year in 2003, 10 years later this figure had almost quadrupled to 428 cubic km.  The melting ice observed in the study is caused by rising land temperatures, and in part, the fact that the ice comes into contact with waters that are increasingly warmer. As the atmosphere’s temperature gradually rises, an acceleration of the ice melt can be immediately noticed.

    Two Rhinos from Kaziranga has been transferred to Manas

    24 January 2019
    Two Rhinos, One male, and other female, from Kaziranga national park has been moved to Manas National Park. The officials overseeing the translocation said that both the animals, who grew up together at Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) at Kaziranga, have been radio-collared so that their movement in the wild are monitored.  The augmentation of Rhinos were part of the initiative “Bring Back Manas’, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Manas National Park: ♦ Location: Assam ♦ Established on: 1990 ♦ It functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India ♦ It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site ♦ Listed as Endangered Wildlife Sanctuary by UNESCO in 1992-2011

    Environmentalist organization says plastic waste imports to India has gone up

    22 January 2019
    A Delhi-based environmentalist organization, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch (PDUSM) reported that in spite of a ban on the import of plastic waste into India, the influx of PET bottles has quadrupled from 2017 to 2018.  Indian firms are importing plastic scraps from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling and the imports of PET bottle scrap & flakes have increased from 12,000 tonnes in FY 16-17 to 48,000 tonnes in FY 17-18 growing at 290%. India has already imported 25,000 MT in the first 3 months of FY 18-19.  Government and industry estimates suggest that India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.

    ZSI says 19 species of amphibians are critically endangered and 33 species are endangered

    22 January 2019
    As per the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) update on Indian amphibians, 19 species being treated as critically endangered and 33 species as endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Since 2009, the scientists of the ZSI in collaboration with other institutes have been updating the Indian amphibian checklist periodically. In 2009, the total number of species listed was 284. In 2010 it was 311, in 2011 it was 314, in 2012 and 2013 it was 342, in 2015 it was 384 and in 2017 it was 405 species.

    CDA said Chilika lake possesses 20 percent of Indias seagrass

    20 January 2019
    Chilika Lake which is located in Odisha is claimed to have 20% of India’s seagrass distribution. The seagrass plays a vital role in oxygen production and absorption of carbon dioxide. It acts as a purifier in aquatic ecology. It should be noted that the seagrass area increases only when the water is clean. Seagrass will rejuvenate fishing ground by providing nursery habitat to important fish species. The Chilika Development Authority (CDA), the apex body for the Lake’s management, reported that the seagrass species such as Holodule uninervis, Holodule pinifolia, Halophila ovalis, Halophila ovata and Halophila beccarii were recorded during annual monitoring of the Chilika Lake. Seagrass distribution has been estimated over an area of 152 sq. km, an increase from 135 sq km.

    NGT directed MoEF to examine the effect of hookah on indoor air quality

    19 January 2019
    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) instructed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) to examine the effect of hookah on indoor air quality and formulate appropriate standards for the same.  This comes after a petition moved by BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa seeking a ban on hookahs in bars and restaurants in Delhi. A Bench headed by NGT judicial member Justice Raghuvendra S.Rathore gave the orders while hearing. The green Bench said the tribunal did not have jurisdiction over the matter as currently there are no regulations pertaining to monitoring indoor air quality. Referring to previous judgments by the Delhi High Court, the green tribunal said hookah is covered under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA) which is beyond the NGT jurisdiction.

    Centre has launched NCAP to combat air pollution

    12 January 2019
    The Centre has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM), pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was formally unveiled is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution. The World Health Organisation’s database on air pollution over the years has listed Tier I and Tier II Indian cities as some of the most polluted places in the world. In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India.

    BBMP plans to decentralize waste processing

    11 January 2019
    Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) plans to decentralize waste processing has been stalled with nearly all 13 bio-methanisation plants, five organic waste converters, and eight leaf cutter and shredder plants gathering dust over the past several months. Recently, the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Southern Regional Monitoring Committee suggested to the BBMP to decentralize processing of solid waste by setting up small-scale processing units. The civic body is now planning to revive the bio-methanisation plants, which were set up in different parts of the city between April 2014 and July 2015.

    Shenzhen becomes 2nd China city with 99% electric taxis

    9 January 2019
    Shenzhen city in southern China has announced 99% of the taxis operating in the city are now electric, becoming China's second and largest city to do so. Out of 21,689 taxis operational in the city, around 7,500 taxis were still gasoline-powered in 2018. Notably, the northern China city of Taiyuan has had only electric taxis since 2016. Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, is home to Huawei Technologies and a host of other Chinese technology companies.

    Airports Authority of India declares 16 airports 'single-use plastic free'

    9 January 2019
    Sixteen airports - Indore, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Trichy, Vijayawada, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Vadodara, Madurai, Raipur, Vizag, Pune, Kolkata and Varanasi - have been declared as single-use plastic free. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has also banned single-use plastic across 129 of its airports, from January 1. Single-use plastic items are used only once and then thrown in the trash. ♦ AAI Headquarters: New Delhi ♦ Founded: 1 April 1995

    Air quality remains poor in Mumbai

    6 January 2019
    Mumbai city’s air quality continued to be in the poor category, after being in the very poor category. Experts have said that the air quality index (AQI) will stay in the poor to very poor categories for around a month. This is the worst it has been since Diwali. India Meteorological Department forecast said that the city has been experiencing a minimum temperature was 15 degrees Celsius, although far from the season’s lowest of 12.4 degrees in December. Meanwhile, the maximum temperature was a warm 33.9 degrees Celsius. According to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) the city’s average AQI stood at 284 (PM 2.5). It falls under poor category. Air Quality Index (AQI): Air Quality is measured in terms of presence of particulate matter in the air. PM 2.5, or small particulates of dust that are 2.5 microns in size can penetrate deeper into lungs and enter the bloodstream. Similarly, PM 10 are slightly larger but coarser particles.

    Climate warming shows its impact on Oysters

    5 January 2019
    Climate change took a toll on French oyster farmers. Oyster farmer’s along France’s Emerald Coast said that the long drought in France took a heavy toll, leading to smaller harvests. Cold weather normally encourages a needed rest for oysters to mature. But this winter has so far been unusually warm and, paradoxically, too rainy. Rains may bring minerals that favour plankton growth, but they also mean the molluscs spend too much energy eating.  As winters get warmer and summers drier many Oyster growers worry there will soon be fewer of the molluscs to go around. In 2017, the roughly 4,500 oyster growers in France sold 1,00,000 tonnes. CNC national shellfish producer’s association reported that the Oyster farmers will see volumes down by 20 to 30% in 2019. It also said that Climate warming is starting to have an impact on Oysters.

    Mysuru aims for 7 star rating under the Swachh Bharat Mission

    4 January 2019
    The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) aims for a 7-star under the Swachh Bharat Mission 2019. Under this mission, the garbage-free cities will be awarded star ratings as per the revised protocols of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA). The new survey is launched across the country from 4th January 2019. MoHUA has set various parameters such as door-to-door garbage collection, waste disposal, scientific handling of landfills, disposal of construction and demolition debris, and segregation of waste at the source for the rankings. As per the vision enunciated under the Swachh Bharat Mission, 100% of waste generated in a city should be scientifically managed, and measures are taken for visible beautification of the city.

    Sweden ranked first in climate action CCPI

    3 January 2019
    Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) reported that Sweden has been named the first best performing country in the CCPI 2019 list. CCPI evaluates the climate protection performance of 60 countries, responsible for over 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Morocco has been named second. Morocco, the North African country significantly increased the share of renewables over the past five years and increased new renewable energy capacity. Lithuania is in the third position in CCPI 2019. The bottom five in the list are Saudi Arabia, U.S., Iran, South Korea, and Taiwan. With the connection of the world’s largest solar plant to the grid, Morocco is on track for achieving its target of 42% installed renewable energy capacities by 2020.

    Cabinet approved the submission of Indias second BUR to UNFCCC

    30 December 2018
    The Union Cabinet approved the submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). BUR has been prepared based on a range of studies conducted at the national level. The scope of BUR is to provide an update to India’s first BUR to UNFCCC.  The Five major components of Biennial Update Report (BUR): ♦ National Circumstances ♦ National Greenhouse Gas Inventory ♦ Mitigation Actions ♦ Finance ♦ Technology and Capacity Building Needs and Support Received Domestic Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) arrangement

    Kashmir touched minimum temperature of minus 7 degree Celsius

    28 December 2018
    The Meteorological Department said that the Kashmir Valley has touched the minimum temperature of minus 7° Celsius in Srinagar for the first time in 28 years. Several waterbodies, including the Dal Lake, were covered in sheaths of ice. Srinagar’s minimum temperature, which was five degrees below normal, plummeted to a record minus 7° Celsius for the first time since December 7, 1990, when it was minus 8.8° Celsius. The day temperature hovered around 8° Celsius. Meteorological Department: Established on: 1875 Type: Government agency Headquarters: New Delhi Ministers incharge: Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Earth Sciences Agency executive: K.J. Ramesh, Director General of Meteorology Parent department: Ministry of Earth Sciences

    GHMC is awarded the Best Capital City in the Swachh Survekshan 2018 rankings

    28 December 2018
    The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has been awarded Best Capital City in the Solid Waste Management in the Swachh Survekshan 2018 rankings. Swachh Survekshan was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). The Swachh Survekashan survey ranks cities on various sanitation parameters. The GHMC was also at the 27th place among 4,041 cities. The GHMC said that as a part of the Swachh Survekshan 2019, maintaining the timing of toilets, i.e., from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. and proper signage will be an important parameter. As a part of this, the GHMC has requested the Hyderabad Metro Rail to ensure that public toilets in all metro corridors are open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Study says Ganges River Dolphins dereases as the salinity increases

    28 December 2018
    A recent study covering 100 km of rivers and channels around the Sunderbans found that an increase in salinity in the water system has resulted in a decrease in population of the Ganges River Dolphins in the region. It also said that the national aquatic animal is no longer sighted in the central and eastern parts of the archipelago. The species are available only in the western part of Sunderbans, where the salinity is lower. Ganges River Dolphins has been classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List. The species was once found in tributaries of the Ganga in West Bengal. Researchers and experts said the sighting of the dolphin has dipped over the years in the 534-km stretch from Farakka Barrage to Sunderbans.

    Israel permits medical marijuana exports

    27 December 2018
    Israel’s Parliament approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana, allowing Israel to tap the lucrative global market. Israel will become the third country, after the Netherlands and Canada, to take its medical cannabis global. The Israeli Cabinet is yet to approve. This step is seen as a formality. iCAN, the Israeli medical cannabis company, said that the global industry will reach $33 billion in the next five years, as stigma fades and demand grows for the few countries certified to export. The law was approved on 25th December 2018, sending cannabis company shares rising by about 10%. The law was stalled for years over fears from security officials that medical marijuana would leak into the black market. To assuage concerns, the law empowers police to supervise licensing.

    Delhi records 2nd Highest Pollution Level in 2018

    25 December 2018
    While the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed the overall air quality index (AQI) at ‘severe’ level of 450, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) showed a higher level at 471. This is the second highest pollution level this year. The highest was recorded on November 8, a day after Diwali, when the AQI touched 571. An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under the 'moderate' category, 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', while that between 401 and 500 is 'severe'.

    Genetically Modified plant that cleans indoor air

    23 December 2018
    Researchers have Genetically Modified (GM) a common indoor plant, golden pothos or Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum), to remove pollutants inside the house.  It has been modified to produce a liver enzyme called cytochrome p450 2e1, which is taken from rabbits, that breaks down a wide range of pollutants. The researchers put the modified plant and normal pothos ivy in glass tubes and added either benzene or chloroform gas into each tube. They found that the concentration of either gas did not change for normal plants. However, for the modified plants, the concentration of chloroform dropped by 82%, and it was almost undetectable by day six.

    Blind amphibian is named after US President Donald Trump

    22 December 2018
    A newly-discovered blind amphibian from Panama is to be named after Donald Trump in recognition of the U.S. President’s stance on climate change. EnviroBuild, a U.K.-based sustainable building materials company, announced that it would be using Dermophis donaldtrumpi as the name for the amphibian with no legs and poor eyesight. The small creature is blind and has the ability to bury its head in the ground. Mr. Aidan Bell, the boss of the firm, said that these features of the amphibian match the U.S. leader’s opinion on climate change. Mr. Trump in June last year withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement, which commits countries to keeping a limit on rising global temperatures.

    Researchers found Global warming causes feminisation of turtles

    22 December 2018
    Researchers at the University of Exeter in the U.K. and the Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre in Portugal found that up to 93% of green turtle hatchlings could be female by 2100, as climate change causes “feminisation” of the species.  The figures are specific to the study site in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. The sex of turtle hatchlings is determined by temperature, and at present about 52% of hatching green turtles, one of seven species of sea turtle, are female. It has been found that in warmer temperatures predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios, 76-93% of hatchlings would be female.

    Ridleys gathered for mating in Berhampur, Odisha

    20 December 2018
    As part of their annual mating season, thousands of olive ridleys have assembled near the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast. The forest department has stepped up its patrol in the area to safeguard the turtles. Olive ridley sea turtle: ♦ Species: Lepidochelys olivacea ♦ The olive ridley sea turtle, also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world ♦ This species of sea turtle is found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans ♦ They can also be found in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean ♦ These turtles, along with the related Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs ♦ It falls under Vulnerable Category in the IUCN Red list

    WPSI reported that 460 leopards died in India this year

    19 December 2018
    Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) reported that 460 leopards died in India in 2018. It recorded the highest mortality rate of the particular big cat species across the country in the past four years. According to official records, the highest leopard mortality rate was recorded in Uttarakhand with 93 deaths. This is followed by Maharashtra (90), Rajasthan (46), Madhya Pradesh (37), Uttar Pradesh (27), Karnataka (24), and Himachal Pradesh (23) among others. In 2018 only, 29 leopards were killed by villagers and eight leopards considered to be man eaters were killed by the forest department workers.

    Dutch built 5 artificial islands in Markermeer to bring wildlife back

    17 December 2018
    A new artificial archipelago of five islets was created in Markermeer, one of Europe's largest freshwater lakes under an ambitious project. The five islets were built in two and a half years and have already served as a resting place for 30,000 swallows this year.   It has already attracted greylag goose, common tern, and several species of waders. Experts recently counted 127 kinds of plants, most of which have been brought in by windborne seeds. The project was initiated by Natuurmonumenten, a Dutch non-governmental organization working for the preservation of nature. The project cost around 60 million euros (USD 68 million).

    Scientists create bee vaccine to fight off microbial disease

    15 December 2018
    Researchers at Helsinki University in Finland have developed the world’s first vaccine to protect bees against disease to fight off severe microbial diseases that can be fatal for pollinator communities. This vaccine raises hopes for tackling the drastic decline in insect numbers which could cause a global food crisis. The treatment is administered to the queen bee via a sugar lump, similar to the way many children are given polio vaccines. The queen then passes the immunity to her offspring, spreading it through the bee community. Bees are vital for growing the world’s food as they help fertilize three out of four crops around the globe, by transferring pollen from male to female flowers. But in recent years bee populations around the world have been dying off from colony collapse disorder, a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or some combination of these factors.

    Migratory birds at Chilika faces flu threat

    14 December 2018
    The migratory birds at the Chilika lake, Odisha are facing a threat to their lives due to the detection of avian influenza virus. Some crows and chickens were found dead inside poultry farms in Krushnaprasad block last week. When sent for testing to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, it was found that the birds were tested positive for H5N1 virus. The State government has planned for a massive culling operation inside private poultry farms in the affected villages. The Puri district administration would cull birds within one km radius of the place where the carcasses were found. Besides, officers of the animal husbandry department have been asked to intensify surveillance in 10 km-radius area. It should be noted that around seven lakh migratory birds have arrived at the Chilika lake this year.

    NGT appointed committee to look into hazardous units in Sarita Vihar

    13 December 2018
    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) appointed a joint committee to look into a plea alleging operation of hazardous industries in south-east Delhi’s Sarita Vihar.  The instructions came after a plea moved by the Aali Vihar Vikas Manch, which alleged that hazardous dyeing units were operating in Bhim Colony, Aali Vihar, and Sarita Vihar.  A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel appointed a joint committee comprising representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of South-East district, to take action. The Bench made this decision as it observed at least 50 factories are causing air, water, and noise pollution in the area and also choking the water-flow systems. If the drains get choked, the water spills out onto the roads. The hazardous chemicals are highly affecting the water quality.

    Study says Bioplastics may not be a viable alternative to plastic

    10 December 2018
    Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany found that Bioplastics, often promoted as a climate-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics, may lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. But shifting to plant-based plastics could have less positive effects than expected. An increased consumption of bioplastics in the following years is likely to generate increased greenhouse gas emissions from cropland expansion on a global scale. Plastics cause fossil fuel depletion and climate change. It is estimated that by 2050, plastics could already be responsible for 15% of the global CO2 emissions. On the other hand, bioplastics are in principle climate-neutral since they are based on renewable raw materials such as maize, wheat, and sugarcane. These plants get the CO2 that they need from the air through their leaves. The study found that it takes a lot of time for the switch to bioplastics to pay off.

    COSEWIC warned that the polar bear are at the risk of disappearing

    9 December 2018
    Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) experts warned that the polar bear, Canada’s largest land predator, is at the risk of disappearing from its vast Arctic landscape. The reason has been cited as the melting Arctic sea ice makes hunting prey a challenge to the polar bear. However, the Inuit are cautiously optimistic the bears will adapt. In its latest assessment, COSEWIC incorporated both science and Inuit knowledge.

    China plans to increase green coverage rate to 30 percent

    7 December 2018
    China is planning to increase its green cover by building 20,000 national forest villages by 2020 in the country. As the country has been facing the problem of severe pollution, it has spent over $100 billion on trees and its total forest cover area is almost 22%. Liu Dongsheng, Deputy Director of China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration said that the country will continue to enhance the ecological environment in villages across the country. It also plans to bring the green coverage rate in rural areas to 30%.  

    TN government approved Rs.7.60 crore for clearing fallen trees

    7 December 2018
    The Tamil Nadu State government has approved Rs.7.60 crore for procuring heavy duty chainsaws, winch machines, shredders, and wood splitter machines to clear trees that were felled by Cyclone Gaja in delta districts. The government would be procuring 500 chainsaws and 20 winches, 20 wood splitters, 20 shredder-cum-pulverizers and 20 wood chipper machines with trolley and rent them to farmers at nominal rates or lent to them to clear their farmlands. The proposal is to pulverize leaves and small branches and convert them into organic manure, drag trunks out of fields and place them on the boundary so that they can be chopped later. Used the wood chipper machine, the trunks can be pulverized.

    Researchers found that the CO2 levels has been increased

    6 December 2018
    Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project said that Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high of 37.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018. Among all the countries India is the third-highest contributor of CO2. India has projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017. Representatives from more than 190 countries have begun discussions at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland. The discussion is to set ways to equitably cut carbon emissions. Limiting global warming to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature increase this century to well below 2°C, would need carbon dioxide emissions to decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by about 2050.

    Researchers found Microplastics in all sea turtle species

    6 December 2018
    Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, London working with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories conducted tests on over 100 sea turtles, spanning 3 oceans and all 7 species. The test revealed microplastics in the guts of every single turtle. Synthetic particles were found, the most common being fibres, which can come from clothing, tyres and cigarette filters, and equipment such as ropes and nets. Out of the studied 102 turtles, more than 800 synthetic particles were found. As the researchers only tested part of each animal’s gut, the total number of particles is estimated to be about 20 times higher. It is not known how synthetic particles are ingested by turtles, but the likely sources are polluted seawater and sediments and eating via prey or plants.

    Electric vehicles launched at Nandi Hills

    5 December 2018
    Three electric vehicles have been launched at the hilltop of Nandi Hills, Karnataka. These electric vehicles are being maintained by a private company in association with the State government. It will take visitors on a 2 km tour of the historic sites as well as sight-seeing of flora and fauna of the area. Currently, the department runs four electric vehicles in Lalbagh Botanical gardens. The response has encouraged the department to attempt this in other tourist spots.

    IMD announced that winter will be warmer than normal this year

    5 December 2018
    India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that winter is likely to be warmer than average, with fewer ‘cold wave’ days between December and February. The forecast suggested that ‘above normal’ seasonal minimum temperatures (>0.5° C) are most likely over most of the subdivisions of the country.  However, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, sub-Himalayan West Bengal, and Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in central India, would most likely see ‘normal’ (between 0.5°C and -0.5°C) seasonal minimum temperatures prevailing. The forecast report was delivered by K.J. Ramesh, Director-General, IMD.

    NGT instructed Delhi government to pay a fine of Rs.25 crore

    4 December 2018
    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) instructed the Delhi government to deposit an environmental compensation of Rs.25 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for failing to curb air pollution in the Capital. A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said in case the State government failed to comply with the orders, a sum of Rs.10 crore per month will be levied. The tribunal further, said that a performance guarantee of Rs.25 crore has to be provided by the State government and in case of non-compliance of orders, the amount will be forfeited. The Chief Secretary has been directed to file a compliance affidavit by March 31, 2019.

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