Environment Current Affairs 2017 - Current Affairs Today

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  • Delhi gets 18 more monitoring stations to keep tab on air quality

    The number of stations monitoring air quality in the Delhi city increased to 35 from the existing 17, with two more stations scheduled to be added to the network by next week. Air pollution data till now was being recorded by four stations run by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, eight by the Indian Meteorological Department and five by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

    Mumbai received its first batch of four battery operated eco friendly BEST buses

    The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has procured six eco-friendly, battery-operated buses at a cost of Rs.10 crore. The step is aimed at reducing air and noise pollution in Mumbai. The buses take three hours to get fully charged and can cover about 300 kilometres on a full charge.

    Biodiversity-rich Uninhabited Parali I island of Lakshadweep vanished

    R M Hidayathulla in his research work stated that "Parali I" island, part of Bangaram atoll, which was 0.032 sq. km in 1968 has been vanished, during 1968-2003 period due to coastal erosion. Hidayathulla was awarded PhD in July 2017 by Calicut University in Kerala for his work "Studies on Coastal Erosion in Selected Uninhabited Islands of Lakshadweep Archipelago with Special Reference to Biodiversity Conservation." Also, Erosion was higher in the other islands, such as: Parali II – 80 % Thinnakara – 14.38 % Parali III – 11.42 % Bangaram – 9.968

    Earthquake of magnitude 8 struck southern Mexico

    Magnitude 8 powerful earthquake hit offshore 120 kilometres southwest of the town of Tres Picos in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico. US Geological Survey (USGS) issued a tsunami warning.

    Now India is one among top 5 countries using dirty wastewater for Agriculture, leads to serious health risks

    In the World Level, India and four other countries - China, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran - account for the most agricultural land irrigated by dirty wastewater. Major Impact: This wastewater usage leads to serious health problems to millions of lives.

    Madhya Pradesh sets Guinness World Record by planting 6 crore Saplings in 12 hours

    Madhya Pradesh sets new Guinness World Record by planting over six crore saplings in 24 districts of Narmada basin in just 12 hours.  Madhya Pradesh Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched the plantation drive at Amarkantak of Anooppur district. Previously, Uttar Pradesh holds the record of planting five crore saplings in 24-hours.

    Goldman Environmental Prize for Prafulla Samantra

    Social activist Prafulla Samantra was announced one of six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, in San Francisco, Monday. The other five person are Uros Macerl (Slovenia), Mark Lopez (United States), Rodrigo Tot (Guatemala), Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo (Democratic Republic of Congo) , Wendy Bowman (Australia) The winners will be awarded the prize  at the San Francisco Opera House, followed by a ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on April 26.  

    Clean Ganga - 26 projects worth Rs 2,154.28 cr approved for Namami Gange project

    The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved 26 projects worth Rs 2,154.28 crore under the Centre’s ‘Namami Gange’ programme, aiming to reduce the river’s pollution load. As part of the projects, the NMCG will set up sewage treatment plants (STPs) and develop sewage network in four Ganga basin states: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Delhi. It will create sewage treatment capacity of 188 million litres daily (MLD), setting up 13 new STPs in the states. The NMCG will rehabilitate three existing STPs of 596 MLD-capacity in Delhi, Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh). Five STPs of 30 MLD-capacity will be upgraded in Uttarakhand. In addition to this, the authority has decided to create sewage network of 145.05 kms in length through five projects in Delhi, Haridwar and Bihar’s Patna.

    Government Officially Launches BS-IV Grade Fuel Across India after BS-III ban

    Following the Supreme Court's ruling to ban the sale of BS-III compliant vehicles in the country, the Government of India has now launched Bharat stage (BS) -IV grade fuel across the nation. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, formally launched BS-IV grade transportation fuels from Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 1st of April 2017. Aim of Bharat stage (BS) -IV :- It sets target of ushering in BS-VI fuel by April 2020 by skipping BS-V fuel. All state-run oil marketing companies will provide BS-IV-compliant fuel at their 53,500 retail fuel stations across the country. BS-IV fuels:- BS-IV fuels contain far less sulphur than BS-III fuel. Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions. The BS-IV complaint vehicles release less pollutants Carbon Mono-oxide (CO), Hydrocarbon (HC), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) compared to BS III complaint vehicles. About Bharat stage emission standards:- 1) BS emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Union Government to regulate output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and spark ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles. 2) The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change (MoEFCC). 3) The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. 4) Since then, various stages Bharat Stage compatible fuel and ungraded and modified vehicles were introduced throughout the country. 5) Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, Higher the Bharat Stage goes lesser it emits pollutants. BS-I, BS-II and BS-III stages were launched in 2000, 2005 and 2010 respectively. 6) The harmful emissions that are identified for regulations in different Bharat Stages (BS) are carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM).

    Kanha Tiger Reserve becomes first in India to get mascot 'Bhoorsingh the Barasingha'

    The Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh has become the first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot, which has been named Bhoorsingh the Barasingha.  The Barasingha or swamp deer is the state animal of Madhya Pradesh. Bhoorsingh was chosen among four variations by the Madhya Pradesh forest department. Kanha Tiger Reserve, also called Kanha National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh, state in the heart of India.It was established in 1955.

    Hydrocarbon project in Neduvasal - Govt signs contract

    The Government of India signed a contract for the Discovered Small Fields (DSF) Bid 2016 with GEM Laboratories for extracting Hydrocarbons at Neduvasal, a village in Pudukkottai district, in Tamil Nadu. The contract was one of the many signed for 31 areas under the DSF Bid Round 2016. The estimated total revenue would be approximately Rs 46,400 crore, of which royalty collection and Government's revenue share is expected to be around Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 9,300 crore, respectively. It is also estimated that employment for about 37,500 persons would be generated through these fields.

    El Salvador - first country to ban all metal mining

    El Salvador, Central America’s smallest nation, has become the first country in the world to ban metals mining nationwide following a long-running dispute with a Canadian-Australian company over an environmentally questioned gold project. The bill was passed by 69 votes. Robin Broad, a professor of development at the American University in Washington and supporter of the ban, said only 43 ballots were needed for it to pass. The law also bans the use of toxic cyanide and mercury for mining. More than 90% of El Salvador’s surface waters are estimated to be polluted by toxic chemicals, heavy metals and waste matter. About El Salvador:- Country in Central America Capital : San Salvador Currency : United States Dollar President : Salvador Sanchez Ceren

    Cyclone Debbie Strikes Australia’s Coastline

    A powerful cyclone came ashore on Australia’s northeastern coast, the most intense storm to strike the country in several years. Cyclone Debbie made landfall on the Queensland coast south of the town of Bowen, which lies about 300 miles southeast of Cairns. The storm hit land with winds in excess of 120 mph. Cyclone Debbie made landfall in an area that's home to nearly 100,000 people, including the towns of Mackay and Bowen. Australia:- Capital : Canberra Currency : Australian dollar Prime Minister :  Malcolm Turnbull

    India and Bavaria - Co-Operation in Water Sector

    Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti suggested the formation of a joint group to identify areas of co-operation in water sector. This was stated after her talks with Bavaria’s Minister of Environment and Consumer Protection Ulrike Scharf. Bavaria, a Free State in Germany, has a rich experience of successfully cleaning the River Danube in Germany and India may benefit from their experience.

    ESI mobile clinics launched in AP, Telangana

    The Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) launched Mobile Clinic Services for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Launched by: Bandaru Dattatreya, Union minister of state for labour and employment, by flagging off 'Jan Suraksha Ambulances'. It is for the first time in India that the ESIC Mobile Clinic Services are launched in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

    World’s largest dinosaur footprint discovered in Australia

    A team of scientists has found some of the world's largest dinosaur footprints in northwestern Australia, measuring nearly 5 feet 9 inches in length. The footprints, which belonged to a long-necked herbivore called a sauropod, were found by a team of palaeontologists from The University of Queensland and James Cook University.

    100% literacy, liquor prohibition - Telangana claims

    Gangadevipalli, a small village in Warangal district of Telangana, which has 360 households with a total population of around 1,400, has many achievements to boast about, as indicated by a board at the village gram panchayat office -- 100 % liquor prohibition, 100% house tax collection, 100% literacy, 100% school-going children, 100 % construction of toilets, 100% in small savings etc. All streetlights are solar-powered with photo-voltaic systems. There are closed circuit cameras at strategic locations, which are monitored from the gram panchayat office round-the-clock. Gangadevipalli also has Any Time Water (ATM) machine, which dispenses 20 litres of drinking water for just Re 1.

    Bengaluru gets India's first vertical garden

    First vertical garden of India has setup at the Hosur Road Electronics City Flyover in Bengaluru to control the pollution level of the city.It will also act as a soundproofing barrier The garden is an initiative of SayTrees which is an NGO having ordinary citizens as its members who are determined to protect nature. The vertical garden is designed in such a way that a pillar of the flyover is covered with the garden flaunting lovely saplings that are organic and refreshing. The garden has an automatic drip irrigation system allowing the plants to get 100 milliliters of water on a daily basis. iv. The world’s first vertical gardens were set up in China .   

    Night parrot sighting confirmed in Western Australia for first time in 100 years

    A group of birdwatchers in March 2017 spotted an Australian night parrot, once thought to be extinct, for the first time in 100 years. The bird was spotted photographed in Western Australia. It is the first verified sighting of the bird in the region. The discovery of the bird was made by a group of four friends from Broome. The group travelled to a habitat in the outback of Western Australia that they identified as a potential spotting place for the parrot via detailed aerial maps. They spent a night camping out at the spot, listening out for the distinctive calls of the parrot. One member from the group managed to take a photograph of the parrot. The last recorded sighting of the parrot in Western Australia was in the Pilbara in 1912. Night Parrot : The night parrot is a small parrot endemic to the continent of Australia.It is well known as being one of the most elusive and mysterious birds in the world. There were no known sightings of the bird between 1912 and 1979, which led to a speculation that it was extinct.Since 1979, the bird’s sightings have been extremely rare. The bird's population size is still unknown. However, it is estimated to be somewhere around 50 to 249 mature individuals.The first photographic and video evidence of the bird was publicly confirmed in July 2013. In August 2015, the capture of a live individual was announced on Australian media.

    NGT suspends Green nod for Neutrino project

    The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO). It has asked the project proponent to make a fresh application. NGT suspended the EC after petitioner submitted that the INO project was just 4.5 km away from Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district (Kerala) and one kilometre from Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and falls under category ‘A’ project in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  The Union Environment Ministry had categorised INO project as a Category ‘B’ project, for which an EIA is not necessary. But, as per EIA Notification, 2006, any project specified in category ‘B’ will be treated as category A, if it is located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of protected areas notified under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and inter-State boundaries. INO is a category ‘A’ project, which meant EIA study has to be done by an accredited agency. Since the project was near a national park, INO needs to get a clearance from the National Board for Wildlife. It also needs to get necessary clearance from the Kerala government as well. India-Based Neutrino Observatory (INO)  : It country’s most ambitious basic science project proposed to come up in Bodi west hills of Theni district of Tamil Nadu.  It aims at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter. Its mandate is to conduct basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.  It is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST), with DAE acting as the nodal agency.  The observatory will be located underground in order to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation.  It will comprise a complex of caverns which will house detector which is 130 metres long, 26 metres wide and 30 metre high.  

    Recycling waste water would ease global water shortages: United Nations

    The United Nations (UN) on the occasion of the World Water Day, 22 March 2017, published a report that stated that wastewater is a key to solving global water crisis. The report stated that recycling the world's waste water, almost all of which goes untreated, would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment. Highlights of the report : The report highlighted the fact that people have been using fresh water faster than nature can replace it. This contributed to hunger, disease, conflict and migration in some regions. Two-thirds of human population currently live in zones that experience water scarcity at least one month a year. The report states that half of those people live in China and India. On current trends, the United Nations Environment Programme predicts that water demand, for industry, energy and an extra billion people, will increase by 50 per cent by 2030. Global warming has already deepened droughts in many areas. The earth will continue to heat up over the course of the century, even under optimistic scenarios. Waste water, runoff from agriculture, industry and expanding cities contribute to the problem. The problem is deeper in poor countries where very little, if any, waste water is treated or recycled. High-income nations treat about 70 per cent of the waste water they generate. The figure drops to 38 per cent for upper middle-income countries. In low-income nations, only 8 per cent of industrial and municipal waste water undergoes treatment of any kind. More than 800000 people die every year because of contaminated drinking water, and not being able to properly wash their hands. Water-related diseases claim nearly 3.5 million lives annually in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The figure is more than the global death toll from AIDS and car crashes combined. Chemicals and nutrients from factories and farms lead to dead-zones in rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and seep into aquifers. The report concludes that policy initiatives must shift focus to removing contaminants from waste water flows, reusing water, and recovering useful by-products to reduce pollution at the source.  

    World’s Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In India

    Scientists from Swedish Museum of Natural History have found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh One type is thread-like, the other one consists of fleshy colonies.This algae is 1.6 billionyears old which will be the oldest evidence of plant-like life found on the Earth. The Indian fossils are 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found The earliest traces of life on Earth are at least 3.5 billion years old. These single-celled organisms, unlike eukaryotes, lack nuclei and other organelles. Large multicellular eukaryotic organisms became common much later, about 600 million years ago, near the transition to the Phanerozoic Era, the “time of visible life” This research was published in the open access journal PLOS Biology on on 14 March, 2017

    Mass coral bleaching occurring in Great Barrier Reef for second year

    Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s eastern coast is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching.  This is for the first time Great Barrier Reef has bleached two years in sequence. Earlier in March and April 2016, 2,300-km reef suffered had its most severe bleaching on record due to warming sea temperatures.  Coral Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site.  But now more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which earlier had escaped widespread severe bleaching. The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching is resulting in decrease in stress tolerance of these corals, which means that they may not fully recover. Great Barrier Reef  : It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

    Four States come together for elephant census

    For the first time in India, four states Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have decided to conduct a synchronised elephant census in May 2017.  These four together have the maximum number of human-elephant conflict-prone regions in India. This decision was taken by senior Forest Department officials of the four States during a regional workshop.  These states will conduct the census based on an identical set of rules using the direct and indirect counting methods The direct counting method is based on sighting of elephants while the indirect method uses the elephant ‘dung decay’ formula, in which the analysis of dung is used to estimate the population. The indirect method has already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  Direct method can be used alone because it is not possible to cover entire area during the census As per the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants while Jharkhand has 700, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had approximately 275 and 130 elephants, respectively.  

    Union Government launched Stage II of India’s HCFC Phase Out Management Plan

    The Union Government launched the Stage II of India’s HCFC Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP) for the 2017-23 period. The plan was launched by the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge) Anil Madhav Dave in March 2017 in New Delhi. Features of HPMP II : It seeks to phase out the use of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and harmful ozone-depleting substances (ODS). It also promotes the usage of non-ozone depleting and low global warming potential technologies. Under the HPMP-II, India secured USD 44.1 million from the Multilateral Fund for Implementation of Montreal Protocol of the United Nations for phasing out 8,190 MT of HCFC consumption from 2017 to 2023. The plan will cover more than 400 enterprises, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the foam manufacturing sector. And, 6 large air-conditioning manufacturing enterprises will be supported for conversion to non-HCFC technologies from HCFCs. The plan will promote energy efficiency, adoption of green building norms and cold chain development with non-HCFC alternatives. The plan gives adequate attention to synergize the Refrigeration and Servicing (RAC) servicing sector trainings under the Skill India Mission. As per the plan, nearly 16,000 service technicians will be trained under HPMP-II. The plan is expected to result in net direct CO2-equivalent emission reductions of about 8.5 million metric tonnes annually from 2023. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion including HCFCs. Under the Montreal Protocol, various initiatives to phase out Hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs) were taken up with an aim to complete phase out by 2030 of these chemicals. At present, HCFCs are used in various sectors like refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) and polyurethane foam manufacturing. As a signatory to the Montreal Protocol, The HPMP Stage-I has been already implemented in the country, which has successfully met all the ODS phase-out targets.

    World’s oldest fossils discovered in Quebec, Canada

    Scientists have claimed that they have discovered oldest fossils on Earth in rocks from Quebec, Canada. Carbon dating techniques suggest that these rocks are at least 3.8 billion years old and might even be 4.3 billion years old. The fossils are tiny and consist of tubes and filaments up to half a millimetre in length and around half the width of a human hair.  The fossils are thought to be the remains of bacteria that lived on iron and dwelt around hydrothermal vent systems i.e. mineral rich hot springs on the seafloor. They’re made of haematite, a type of iron oxide (known as rust). Some of the filaments are branched, some resemble loose coils and others appear to be joined to knobs of haematite.  These structures were found to contain graphite as well as the minerals apatite and carbonate which are basically associated with biological matter. Iron—oxide granules was also found and in other sections of the rocks, structures such as carbonate rosettes were discovered which might have formed as biological matter broke down.  The rocks in which the fossils were found are metamorphic i.e. they have experienced high temperatures and pressures since they were formed. The size and arrangement of the haematite structures indicates that these microbes were breathing oxygen at a time when oxygen is thought to have been scarce. This discovery supports the idea that life emerged from hot, seafloor vents shortly after planet Earth formed. Thus, provides strong evidence that the first life on Earth and formed around nutrient-rich hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. It is one of leading theories to show signs of how life spawned on Earth, as opposed to other theories such as panspermia, which suggests that life was deposited by asteroid or other rocky body that crashed into Earth.

    Environmental pollution kills 1.7 million children each year: WHO

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 6 March 2017 announced that more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. The revelations were made by the agency in its two new reports, titled Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment and Don't pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children's health. The WHO went on to state that indoor and outdoor air pollution, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, second-hand smoke and inadequate hygiene take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years.  Highlights : Diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia are the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years. The reports state that these causes are preventable access to safe water and clean cooking fuels. Infants and pre-schoolers have an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, when they are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke. Every year, 570000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke. Each year, 270000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity. These conditions can be easily prevented through sanitation, hygiene in health facilities, access to clean water and reducing air pollution. Malaria is responsible for 200000 deaths of children under 5 years annually. These deaths could be prevented through environmental actions, like reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage. Every year, 361000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. 200000 children under 5 years die each year from unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls and drowning.

    45% of country's bird species in Himachal Pradesh: Great Backyard Bird Count

    The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2017 report, which is under preparation, claims that nearly 45 per cent of the 1263 species available in India are found in Himachal Pradesh. The state forest department of Himachal Pradesh was one of the participants of the four-day long event. Himachal Forest Department has been participating in the eBird event the since 2013. Highlights  : As per available eBird data, in total 564 bird species were reported from Himachal Pradesh. •These 564 species is nearly 45 per cent of the 1263 species found in whole country. •Till date, 2833 bird check lists have been uploaded to e-Bird from all districts of Himachal Pradesh with highest number of 453 bird species reported from the Kangra district only. • The data was contributed by nearly 50 bird watchers including staff of the Himachal Forest Department and volunteers. Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2017 event : Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project that was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. The event is annually organised for four days in the month of February. It is organised to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. GBBC 2017 engaged bird watchers from the general public in the counting of birds. The event/initiative that ran from 17 February to 20 February 2017 was headed by SK Sharma, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Wildlife. The event was coordinated by the bird count India partnership, a coming-together of a number of Indian groups and organisation that are interested in birds, nature and conservation. A detailed report is in preparation and will be published shortly. eBird is a website for recording and maintaining the bird sighting data and is based at the Cornell University s Laboratory of Ornithology. The next GBBC will be conducted from 16 February to 19 February 2018.

    WCCB’s Operation Thunderbird and Operation Save Kurma for fight against wildlife crime

    Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has successfully coordinated Operation Thunder Bird from January 30 to February 19, 2017 in its fight to end poaching of India’s wildlife animals. It also had convened Operation Save Kurma, a species specific operation on turtles between 15 December 2016 and 30 January 2017.  Operation Thunderbird: It is code-name of INTERPOL’s (International Criminal Police Organization) multi-national and multi-species enforcement operation for wildlife protection. It has resulted in huge seizures of 2, 524 Live species of scheduled animals, 9 wild animal carcasses, 19.2 kg elephant ivory, 1 tiger skin, 1 organ pipe coral, 1 jar snake venom, 8 leopard skins and 1 Indian Mujtac skin. The operation brought about a unanimous approach by the state enforcement agencies in the fight against wildlife crime in the country. It had received overwhelming response from the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Operation Save Kurma: It was species specific operation on turtles. Under it total of 15,739 live turtles were recovered from 45 suspects, having inter-state linkages. It helped the enforcement agencies to focus on the existing trade routes and major trade hubs in the country, which will be continued in future.

    Three Forest Research Institutes develop High-Yielding Varieties of Plant Species

    Three institutes of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun have developed 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species. These three institutes are Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun Tropical Forest Research Institute (TFRI), Jabalpur and Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore. ICFRE’s Variety Releasing Committee (VRC) has granted approval for the release of these varieties of plant species. These developed varieties had gone through stringent long field trials and testing before release. FRI, Dehradun: It has developed 10 improved varieties of Melia dubia (popularly known as Dreake or Malabar Neem) and 3 clones of Eucalyptus tereticornis, the timber of which is in high demand in the industry. The HYV cultivars of Melia have high productivity per unit area, with an average of 34.57 cubic metre per hectare per annum (cm/h/a). It is a desirable characteristic for plywood industry. The HYV varieties of Eucalyptus have average recorded productivity as 19.44 (cm/h/a), against the present productivity 5-7 (cm/h/a). They are also resistant to wall gasp and pink disease. IFGTB, Coimbatore: It has developed five inter-specific hybrids of Casuarina equisetifolia X Casuarina junghuhniana for timber use. TFRI, Jabalpur: It has developed two varieties of medicinal plant Rauvolfia serpentina. Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)  : Dehradun based ICFRE was established as an autonomous organisation under Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). It carries out the holistic research on forestry species, transfer technologies developed to the states and other user agencies and imparts forestry education. There are 9 research institutes and 4 advanced centres under ICFRE to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions. They actively engaged in improvement of plantation tree species to improve, quality, yield and productivity to meet the demand for domestic consumption by industries.

    IMD predicts above normal temperature in 2017 summer

    India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted above normal temperature in most parts of the country during 2017 summer season. The predictions were given by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. The maximum temperatures in March to May 2017 are likely to be warmer by more than 1°C in north, northwest and parts of central India. In other parts, maximum temperature will be between 0.5 to 1°C more than the normal. Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana will see warmer temperatures along with hill states J&K and Himachal Pradesh.  The warmer summer forecast is in line with a generally warmer trend over previous months as the year 2016 was the warmest year in a century. The forecast shows a 47% probability of summer temperatures being above normal.  It also mentions that there will increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves across the country. Minimum temperature in the season will also be higher by over a degree celcius in northern plains along with northwest India. Peninsular, northeastern and west central parts of the country will also experience minimum temperatures higher by 0.5°C to 1°C than normal.  The rise in temperature can be attributed to increasing trends in the greenhouse gases and the warming of the sea surface temperatures over the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans.  El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to be in a neutral condition during summer months, thus unlikely to influence the temperatures in India.

    BBC banned for five years from filming in Tiger reserves

    The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in last week of February 2017 banned British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from filming in all Indian tiger reserves for five years. It also imposed a ban on BBC’s journalist Justin Rowlatt for the same period.  As per a report published in a national daily, the ban was imposed on the network after BBC via a documentary, One World: Killing for Conservation, questioned India’s aggressive policy and protection measures to protect endangered rhinos at Kaziranga national park in Assam. Issuing the ban on the network, NTCA directed all chief wildlife wardens of all tiger range states of India as well as field directors of tiger reserves to disallow filming permission to BBC for five years. NTCA that governs all tiger reserves of India. The documentary shot by Justin Rowlatt came into criticism from the union environment ministry for being wrong. Through the documentary, Rowlatt claimed that forest guards in Kaziranga were given powers to shoot and kill anyone they think was a threat to rhinos. Through the documentary, the maker of the documentary said, this shoot-at-sight policy led to the killing of some 23 people by forest guards. The documentary was aired on 11 February 2017. Later on 14 February 2017, the NTCA issued a notice to BBC against airing the programme without any approval. It also threatened the network to cancel all future permits to BBC, if it fails to remove the documentary from different online portals with immediate effect. NTCA via a memorandum issued on 27 February 2017 said BBC had failed to submit the documentary to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Ministry of External Affairs for mandatory previewing. It would have helped the ministries to remove the deviations and achieve a balanced and accurate exposition of the theme.

    Two new critically endangered plant species spotted in Eravikulam National Park

    Two new critically endangered balsams (impatiens) plant species were spotted on the peripheries of the Eravikulam National Park in Kerala. It is a major breakthrough in eco-conservation. Impatiens plants are also called jewel weeds. They are seen in pristine forests where moisture content and relative humidity are high. The new species of balsams (impatiens) Impatiens Mankulamensis and Impatiens panduranganii were discovered from the shola forests on the periphery of the park and Mankulam forests. Impatiens panduranganii was first noticed in 2015 during a research on impatiens in the Pettimudi area. It is similar to Impatiens travancorica. These plants normally bear flowers in the rainy (Monsoon) season of July to October. Their flowers are white in colour with a pink border. They have been ncluded in the critically endangered category of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

    World’s First International Zip Line Created to Connect Spain And Portugal

     In a first of its kind development of a cross-border zip line in the world, a an international zip line named as Limite Zero has been created to connect Spain and Portugal. The 2,362-foot-long zipline will connect Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Andalucia, Spain, to Alcoutim, in Algarve, Portugal whose time zone is an hour behind than that of Spain. The zipline crosses Guadiana River at 50 feet above sea level to connect the villages in two countries which are separated by the 150 metres wide river. The project undertaken by Englishman David Jarman will enable the thrill seekers to reach the place in less than a minute with a speed of about 50kmph by flying through the air plus without the need for a passport.

    Shoot-at-sight order issued in Corbett Tiger Reserve to curb poaching

    The Government of Uttarakhand on 21 February 2017 issued a shoot-at-sight order in the Corbett Tiger Reserve to curb poaching of tigers. The order was issued by the State Chief Secretary in view of the increased incidences of poaching from the southern border of the tiger reserve. Corbett Tiger Reserve ; Jim Corbett National Park, which is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, is located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett is considered as India's oldest and most prestigious national park. The prestigious Project Tiger was first launched in this area in 1973. With an extent of 520 square kilometers, its whole area comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and large lakes. It is among the few tiger reserves in India that allows overnight stays in the lap of a national park. Nature watch and wildlife viewing in the park is done in an open four wheeler jeep and on elephant back. Dhikala, situated at the border of the extensive patil dun valley, is the most popular destination in the tiger reserve because of its superb location and sheer abundance of wildlife. Some of the important safari zones in the  tiger reserve are Bijrani Safari Zone, Jhirna Safari Zone and Dhikala Zone.  

    Scientists discover four new miniature frog species in Western Ghats

    Scientists have discovered four new species of miniature night frogs no bigger than a human thumbnail in Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot. These species were discovered among the seven new ‘Night Frogs’ by a team of researchers from the University of Delhi and Kerala Forest Department. Four new species of miniature night frogs are (i) Athirappilly Night Frog: It was discovered close to the Athirappilly waterfalls. (ii) Sabarimala Night Frog: It was discovered near the Sabarimala hill shrine.  (iii) The Radcliffe’s Night frog and (iv) Kadalar Night Frog: They were reported from plantation areas. Night Frogs belong to the Nyctibatrachus genus, endemic to the Western Ghats. They make a distinctive chirping sound comparable to that of a cricket. These tiny amphibians are present in abundance in the region but were overlooked in the past because of their extremely small size, secretive habitats and insect-like calls.  They were confirmed as the new species with the help of integrated taxonomic approach that included DNA studies, detailed bioacoustics and morphological comparisons.  Threats: Over 32% of the frog species in the Western Ghats are threatened with extinction. Out of the seven new species, 5 face considerable anthropogenic extinction threats and require immediate conservation. Ancient Group:  Night Frogs represent an ancient group of frogs that diversified on the Indian landmass approximately 70 to 80 million years ago.  Total Nyctibatrachus species: This discovery has taken the total number of known Nyctibatrachus species to 35, of which 20% are less than 18 mm in size (i.e. they are diminutive).  As many as 103 new amphibian species were discovered from biodiversity rich Western Ghats region between 2006 and 2015.

    Barren Island, India’s only live volcano, active again

    Barren Island, India's only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, recently started spewing smoke and lava again. The announcement was made by researchers at Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). The volcano is erupting in small episodes of five to 10 minutes. The researchers observed only ash clouds during the day. However after sundown, red lava foundations spew from the crater into the atmosphere. Researchers from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and NIO have sampled sediments and water in the vicinity and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material representing proximal volcanic ejecta. With the help of these samples, researchers can decipher the nature of present and past volcanic activity in the region.  Barren Island :  Barren Island is an island located in the Andaman Sea.It is the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. It lies about 138 km northeast of the territory's capital, Port Blair.The first eruption of the volcano was recorded in the year 1787. Since 1787, the volcano has erupted more than ten times. Further eruptions were recorded in 1789, 1795, 1803–1804, 1852. After nearly one and half century of dormancy, the island had another eruption in 1991 that lasted six months and caused major damage. The volcano again erupted in 1994–1995 and 2005–2007, the latter considered to be linked to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.  

    Sea ice extent in Antarctica hits an all-time low

    The sea ice in Antarctica has shrunk to its lowest recorded level in the last four decades, according to the data collected by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). The data reveals that the sea ice on the frozen continent covered an area of just 2.26 million square kilometres on 14 February 2017, which is even lower than the previously recorded lowest mark that was taken in 1997. Highlights : While the sea ice in the Arctic region has shown a relatively steady decline in its level over the past three decades as a result of rise in global temperature, the sea ice in the southern hemisphere has been more erratic and unpredictable when it comes to its extent.  In 2012, the ice extent in Antarctic Sea actually hit a record monthly high. Scientists’ attributed its growth to melting ice shelves. Following this, further evidence was accumulated on ice melt in the Southern Hemisphere including aerial views of cracks on western Antarctic ice. However, the data recorded on 14 February reveals an all-time low mark for Antarctica’s sea ice extent, which even surpasses the record lows seen around the same time in 1997. According to researchers, the sea ice is likely to decrease even further as it generally melts to its lowest level of the year by the end of February when it is the summer of the southern hemisphere. Commenting on the development Mark Serreze, Director of NSIDC, stated that the new numbers are preliminary and still need to be confirmed. However, he added that unless something out of the ordinary happens, they are looking at an all-time low record of sea ice cover in Antarctica. In fact, the NSIDC had reported at the end of last year that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice had hit record monthly lows in November 2016. The current data is just yet another indicator of global warming, which inevitably leads to the concern of rise in sea level and other climatic impacts.

    India’s air pollution is world’s deadliest compared to China: Study

    According to a new study of global air pollution India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world. The report was issued jointly by Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health effects of air pollution, and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle based population health research centre. The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles PM2.5, has stabilised globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India. About 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year in India which has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015 period.  Global Scenario: The air pollution in recent times has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the United States and Europe.  US and Europe: Environmental regulations in US and actions taken by European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate matter (PM) pollution from industrialisation since 1990. US has experienced a reduction of about 27% in the average annual exposure to fine PM and there has been smaller declines in Europe. that reduced emissions from industrialisation Particulate Matters are fine particles, less than fraction of the width of a human hair. These particles are released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, industry, as well as from natural sources like dust.  They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure and worsening cardiac disease, in addition also causing severe respiratory problems, like pneumonia and asthma.

    New bird species Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush found in Nepal

    Nepal has recorded a new species of bird from upper Dolpa, the largest district of the mid-western development region. Discovery of a single individual of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush ( Monticola saxitilis ) was made public at a press recently, Xinhua news agency reported. Rock thrushes are medium-sized songbirds, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous and fall under the genus of chats. The bird was seen and photographed in May near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park of Dolpa. The Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush is considered an autumn passage migrant in Pakistan and India.

    181 Irrawaddy dolphins counted in Odisha census

    According to new census carried out by the Odisha State Forest and Environment department in 2016, as many as 181 Irrawaddy dolphins have been sighted in the state.  This marks a significant drop from 2015 survey which had recorded 450 dolphins. The 2016 dolphin census in Odisha reported Humpback dolphins (34), bottlenose dolphins (31) and five pantropical spotted dolphins. The Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 in 2016. About 55 dolphins were sighted this year in Bhitarakanika, compared to 58 spotted in 2015.  In the Bhadrak Wildlife Sanctuary jurisdiction, only five Irrawady dolphins were sighted. Endangered Irrawaddies are found in three places, humpback and bottlenose dolphins are not distributed uniformly in the State. According to state Forest department, sighting of dolphins depended on the weather condition of the day the census was carried out. Migration of dolphins also continuously takes place in waters close to the coast. Irrawaddy Dolphin is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries in South and Southeast Asia.  It is slaty blue to slaty gray throughout, with the underparts slightly paler. It is identified by a bulging forehead, a short beak. It has established subpopulations in freshwater rivers, including the Ganges and the Mekong, as well as the Irrawaddy River from which it takes its name. Its habitat range extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines. They do not appear to venture off shore.

    New species of songbird found

    Researchers exploring the Western Ghats have found two new endemic genera and a new species of songbird. Undertaken by V.V Robin, C K Vishnudas, Sushma Reddy, Frank E. Rheindt, Pooja Gupta, Daniel M.Hooper and Uma Ramakrishnan, the research was published in the latest issue of BMC Evolutionary Biology. Highlights : The research team has designated two new genera, the Western Ghats shortwings as Sholicola and the laughing thrushes as Montecincla. While Sholicola are closely related to the flycatchers, the Montecincla are closely related to babblers. The Sholicola are confined to Agasthyar Malai mountain ranges. Montecincla genera include species such as Montecincla jerdoni, Montecincla fairbanki and Montecincla cachinnans. Montecincla meridionalis belongs to Montecincla genus.Sholicola major and Sholicola albiventris belong to Sholicola genus. Though many people had noted the difference in feather patterns of these birds across populations in different mountain tops, they were still bracketed under a single species. It was the genetic data that proved otherwise.

    IMD to Set up Weather Stations in 660 Districts by 2019

    The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has decided to set up weather stations in 660 districts of the country, a plan which will be further taken up to the blocks level. In the first phase, the IMD plans to set up the system in 130 districts which have already been shortlisted. The IMD has also tied up with the Ministry of Agriculture to use the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in the districts, to use them as weather forecasting observatories. Every centre in a district will cost nearly Rs 10 lakh for salary and upkeep of infrastructure. Apart from it, the IMD will also spend Rs 3-4 lakh for setting up automatic weather stations which can measure temperature, wind velocity humidity and rains. The IMD will also start giving state-specific weather forecasts from this year. It currently gives region-specific weather forecasts namely for the southern peninsula, north-west, central and northeast regions during monsoons.

    Karnataka set to celebrate Kambala festival

    The Indian state of Karnataka is all set to celebrate the Kambala festival. Kambala is an annual buffalo race held traditionally under the patronage of local landlords and households in the state. The buffalo race in Karnataka takes place annually between November and March. The places where the festival takes place are Baradi Beedu, Kolatta, Majalu, Bolantur, Kamalakettu, Puttur and Uppinagadi. The two-day celebration starts with a display of the participating buffaloes with their respective farmers. During the festival, when the fields are wet, the buffaloes are made to race on the tracks, guided by the farmer. Each team consists of two buffaloes and a farmer who controls the buffaloes. Two teams are made to race down two mushy paddy fields to conclude on the fastest team. The winner of the race is awarded with a coconut and other gifts. Kambala festival : The origin of the Kambala can be traced back to more than a thousand years. During the early days of the festival, it was known as Karaga celebrations. It is believed that the festival was started by the Hoysala Kings. According to beliefs, the Kings started the festival to see if the buffaloes could be trained and used during wartime. The Kings were amazed to see the speed of the buffaloes and started racing them against one another. This, gradually, led into a sport for the royals. As per another belief, the origin of the festival lies in the farming community of Karnataka. The belief states that the celebrations are dedicated to Lord Kadri Manjunatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It was celebrated to please the Gods for a good harvest. The festival has been criticised by animal lovers and various lawsuits were filed by animal welfare organizations for banning the sport. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ordered a ban on Kambala and Jallikattu.  There has been a request to remove the ban on Kambala, following a government order to remove the ban on Jallikattu in January 2017.

    2016 was the hottest year ever recorded: WMO

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in January 2017 announced that the year 2016 was recorded as the hottest year ever. As per a consolidated analysis by WMO, the globally averaged temperature in 2016 was about 1.1 degree Celsius higher than the pre-industrial period. The WMO used data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. The UN weather agency also drew on reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and the Copernicus Climate Change Service. Highlights : The year 2016 saw long-term indicators of human-caused climate change reaching new heights. Carbon dioxide and methane concentrations surged to new records. Greenland glacier melt started early and fast in the year 2016, which is one of the contributors to sea level rise. Arctic sea ice was recorded lowest at the start of the melt season in March 2016 and at the height of the normal refreezing period in October 2016 and November 2016. The continual loss of sea ice is making the weather, climate and ocean circulation patterns go haywire in other parts of the world. Record ocean heat contributed to widespread coral reef bleaching, including in the Great Barrier Reef.  

    Union Cabinet approves ratification of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol

    The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 24 January 2017 gave its approval to ratify the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs). The 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012. As of now, 75 countries have ratified the 2nd Commitment Period. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change : The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty. It was negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.The treaty was entered into force on 21 March 1994. The objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Kyoto Protocol : The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty, which extends the 1992 UNFCCC. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997. It entered into force on 16 February 2005. At present, there are 192 parties to the Protocol. Canada withdrew from the protocol effective December 2012. It implements the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to "a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Its first commitment period started in 2008 and commenced in 2012. At Doha in 2012, the amendments to Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period were successfully adopted for the period 2013-2020. For the measures to be taken after the commencement of the second commitment period, negotiations were held in the framework of the yearly UNFCCC Climate Change Conferences. The negotiations resulted in the 2015 adoption of the Paris Agreement. It is a separate instrument under the UNFCCC rather than an amendment of the Kyoto protocol.  

    2016 was India’s warmest year ever recorded: India Meteorological Department

    India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the third week of January 2017 announced that 2016 was India’s warmest year ever recorded since the documenting of meteorological records began in 1901. The announcement was made in IMD’s Statement on Climate of India during 2016. Highlights of the statement : During 2016, the average annual mean surface temperature in India was +0.91 degree Celsius above the average recorded between 1961 and 1990. During the year, the weather conditions in India were in line with warmer than normal climate observed globally. Before 2016, the warmest year on record was recorded in 2009 when annual mean temperature was +0.77 degree Celsius above average.2016 was warmer than 2015 by 0.240 Celsius.India averaged seasonal mean temperatures during the winter season (January and February) and the pre-monsoon season (March to May) mainly accounted for the above normal annual temperature for 2016. The 2016 annual rainfall over the country as a whole was 91 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA) value for the period 1951-2000. The annual rainfall deficiency was mainly due to the significantly below average rainfall during the winter and northeast monsoon seasons. India Meteorological Department : The India Meteorological Department is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Indian Government. It is the main agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica.It is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It forecasts, named and distributes warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

    Environment Ministry notifies Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR

    The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified the Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR Delhi region. In this regard, MoEFCC amended laws and formally tasked a Supreme Court-appointed panel with implementing a graded action plan for pollution control. Graded Response Action Plan defines the measures to taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the Based on the air quality the grades have been classified as Emergency, Severe, Very Poor and Moderate poor. It will be enforced by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). Under this plan eemergency measures will be automatically enforced in NCR if level of PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm/m3) and PM10 levels stay above 500 (µgm/m3)for two consecutive days.  The plan recommends measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities to combat air pollution. During ‘very poor’ air quality, it recommends banning diesel generators and parking fee increased by three to four times.  It also lists a number of other measures such as closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and intensifying public transport services and increasing the frequency of mechanised cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads. The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and was submitted to the Supreme Court in December 2016. The court had accepted the plan and asked the Union Government to notify it. Particulate Matter (PM): They are tiny particles of dust which can cause very serious respiratory disorders and even damage the lungs.

    New species of gibbon discovered in China

    A group of scientists recently discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests. The animal has been studied for some time. However, a completed genetic and physical comparison with other gibbons confirmed it to be a new species. The study was published on 10 January 2017 in the American Journal of Primatology. The new species is named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon. It is named so because the Chinese characters (Hoolock tianxing) of its scientific name mean Heaven's movement, and also the discoverers of the species are Star Wars fans. It is estimated that around 200 Skywalker gibbons live in China and also potentially in neighbouring Myanmar. The scientists go on to state that the species should already be classified as endangered. Fragmentation and habitat loss is also putting the gibbons at risk of extinction. The researchers stated that the all hoolock gibbons have white eyebrows and some have white beards; however, the Chinese primates' markings differed in appearance.Their songs also had an unusual ring. Gibbons : Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae.The family is split into four genera and 17 species. Gibbons are found in tropical and subtropical rainforests from eastern Bangladesh and northeast India to southern China and Indonesia. In certain anatomical details, the gibbons superficially more closely resemble monkeys than great apes do. However, gibbons are tailless like all apes. Gibbons' fur coloration varies from dark to light brown shades depending on species and sex. However, a completely white gibbon is extremely rare. They are social animals. However, they are strongly territorial. They defend their boundaries with hearty visual and vocal displays.  

    New fault in Indian Ocean may trigger earthquakes in future: study

    According to scientists, a new plate boundary may be forming on the floor of the Indian Ocean in Wharton Basin as a result of the 2012 earthquake that shook the Andaman-Sumatra region.  The discovery was based on the study of seismic data recorded before, during and after the 2012 quakes and sea floor depth analysis by venturing into the ocean aboard a research vessel. Scientists created a high-resolution imagery of the sea floor by using data which unveiled deformations that had occurred on the Indo-Australian Plate. It showed that the plate had broken along a 1,000 km fracture zone due to 2012 earthquakes, resulting in a new plate boundary and likely to be the site of future fault-slip earthquakes.  The analysis showed a new fault system had developed in the area off the coast of Sumatra that was involved in the 2012 earthquakes.  The new fault system can trigger more quakes in the future. Slip-strike earthquake occurs when two plates slide horizontally against one another. As a result, earthquake causes deformations that occur in plates distant from fault lines as pressure builds up across a plate.  These earthquakes can lead to inter-plate earthquakes and cause a plate to break, resulting in a new boundary and this in turn can lead to even more quakes. This similar scenario is believed to happened in 2012 when two earthquakes struck the Andaman-Sumatran regio (north-west part) of the Indian Ocean which was the largest inter-plate earthquakes ever recorded.

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