Current Affairs Environment November 2
Post on 24-Sep-2015
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CURRENT AFFAIRS: November (1st
Western Ghats face major conservation concerns: IUCN
The IUCN World Heritage Outlook report, released at the ongoing World Park Congress at Sydney, had
assessed 228 World Heritage sites for natural values.
While none of the seven Indian sites qualified to be included in the good category, the Great Himalayan
National Park, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks and Keoladeo National Parks were
assessed as good with some concerns.
There were no Indian sites in the critical category. World Heritage Sites such as the Western Ghats,
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park and Sundarbans are facing significant conservation
concerns, according to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessment.
Assessing the threats faced by the sites, the IUCN experts observed that there was extraordinary
pressure on biodiversity remains in the Western Ghats, given the tremendous population pressure both
within and surrounding the property.
The MadhavGadgil report on Western Ghats
Gadgil report divided Western Ghats spreading over an area of 1,64,280 square km across six states into
three ecologically sensitive zones and recommended large scale measures to control environmental
degradation in the ecologically sensitive area.
It recommended that no clearance be given to dams in some parts of Western Ghats and for Goa it
called for an indefinite moratorium on clearances for mining.
For Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, it said that no new coal based thermal power
plants should be allowed.
MadhavGadgil report faced huge opposition. MoEF had been facing intense pressure from state governments
which wanted to carry out developmental activities in their areas. State governments were complaining that if
Gadgil committee report is adopted it would mean end to all development activities.
Why was Dr K Kasturirangan report preferred?
As an alternative to Gadgil report, the Kasturirangan report came out.
The basic reason behind Kasturirangan panel being preferred was that his report diluted the Western
Ghat report of MadhavGadgil.
In simple term, the move meant a go ahead to mining, dam or other activities that were outside the,
only 37% area Environmentally Sensitive Area as recognised by the Kasturirangan report.
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The present claims of IUCN Heritage outlook report that Western Ghats face major environmental concern raises
a question mark on the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report and emphasise the validity of
TSR Subramanian Committee Submits its Report
The TSR Subramanian Committee which was constituted to review the processes, laws and Acts of the Ministry
submitted its report to the Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The recommendations of the Report are aimed at improving Ministrys efforts to avoid undue delays, duplicity
among the ministries and ensure transparency in clearances and implementation of the projects.
Why was the Committee constituted?
The committee was constituted to
Assess the status of implementation of each of the Acts of the ministry as per its objectives;
Examine and take into account various court orders and judicial pronouncements relating to these Acts.
Recommend specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current
requirements to meet objectives; and
Draft proposed amendments in each of the above Acts to give effect to the proposed recommendations.
Migratory birds, mammals and fish get new UN protection
UN Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS):
UNCMS is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
It provides a legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures and a global
platform for the conservation of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States
through which migratory animals pass i.e. the Range States.
It aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species threatened with extinction, conserving
or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors
that might endanger them, throughout their range or migratory route.
Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action
among the Range States of many of these species.
CMS acts as a framework Convention. The agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called
Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to
the requirements of particular regions.
Recently in News
Polar bears, whales, sharks and gazelles were among 31 new species granted new protection status by
the UN conservation body.
A record 21 species of shark, ray and sawfish were added to the list. The polar bear, which is found in the
Arctic, and the widely-distributed Cuviers beaked whale made the list too. Also newly protected are the
red-fronted gazelle, common in Africa, and the great bustard, found in Europe and Asia.
More than 900 experts from 120 countries met for the six-day meeting, approving all but one proposed
species to be included on the protected wildlife list.
The African lion did not make the final cut because there was not enough information from the countries
on where it lives.
Karnataka has mangrove patches, a study finds
The Forest Survey of India missed recording mangroves patches as they were not large.
Scientists analyzed a set of satellite imagery to discover mangrove, an unlikely ecological wealth on
Karnatakas coast that successive forest surveys of India had completely missed out.
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In fact, the State has a sizeable stretch of mangrove forests, 300 hectares of mangrove forest in Karnataka,
spread over three coastal districts, a vibrant saline-water ecosystem generally associated with Indias east
At the confluence of four rivers Aghanashini, Gangavali, Sharavati and Venkatapura and the Arabian
Sea is a long stretch of dense and tall mangrove vegetation with a high number of mangrove plant
species locally known as Kandla or Sundari.
Sunderbans Island shrinks by half
In 40 years the island has lost half of its landmass to the rising sea (Bay of Bengal) level is an ominous sign
for things to come in the ecologically fragile region.
The research work also points out migration of people from the inhabited island, in spite of existing growth
rate within the same administrative area.
Environmental degradation leads to loss of livelihood. Climate change further accentuates economic
insecurity. As a result migration is taken as an adaptive measure as the islanders dont have any alternate
The ecological Significance of the Mangroves
Its impact-reducing potential was best evident along the east coast after tsunami struck India in
Mangroves support livelihood, essentially aquaculture, they supply medicinal plants, and fuel wood and
construction materials. And in terms of ecological services, they stabilise shorelines, are nurseries for
fish breeding and filter heavy metals.
They provide fishing grounds, provide habitat for wildlife and helps in management of coastal and deltaic
India tight-lipped on the issue of hydrofluorocarbons
The UNconference on green house gases
A key UN conference was held, where nations debated whether to set up a contact group for
discussing the proposed amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the harmful
As nations debated pro and cons of the issue, India neither supported nor opposed it and instead merely
read out a joint-bilateral statement on HFCs signed by Prime Minister NarendraModi and U.S. President
Barack Obama during their White House summit on September 30.
As the debate is still on, a breakthrough on the issue of HFCs is highly unlikely as oil producing gulf countries
participating in a key UN conference here continued their strong opposition to the U.S.-led nations proposal
to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down the harmful greenhouse gas.
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Montreal Protocol is a UN treaty signed in 1987 to ban ozone-depleting substances like chloroflurocarbons
(CFCs) and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs), which were used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
The reasons behind the recent debate
HFCs were brought into replace the ozone-depleting substances but it was proved later that the ozone
friendly gas has a potent warming effect.
Oil producing Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposed to setting up a contact group on the
issue, arguing that the Montreal Protocol does not have the mandate to deal with the greenhouse gas.
During the past six conferences, it was India which had led the Gulf States to block the use of the Montreal
Protocol to phase out HFCs.
The change in Indian stand comes in the wake of a joint Indo-US statement on HFCs this year under which
both the nations had agreed to discuss the harmful greenhouse gas under the Montreal Protocol, while
The Gulf countries continued to argue that there were no alternatives to HFCs.
PMs climate change council recast
The council has Ministers for External Affairs, Finance, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Agriculture,
Science and Technology, and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Cabinet
Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, who is the convener, and J.M.
Mauskar, formerly with the Environment Ministry.
It is an 18-member council with Prime Minister as its Chairperson. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and
Climate Change will assist the PMO in facilitating the work of the council
What are the functions of the council?
The council will coordinate the action plan and advise the government on proactive measures that can
be taken by India to deal with the challenge of climate change.
It will facilitate inter-ministerial coordination and guide policy in relevant areas.
The council will evolve a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change at the national level,
provide oversight for formulation of action plans in the area of assessment, adaptation and mitigation of
climate change and periodically monitor key policy decisions.
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High Court upholds fragile land Act
The court held that the State had the legislative competence to enact the Kerala forest(vesting and
management of ecologically fragile land) Act and the provisions of the Act did not violate Article 14 and
19 (equality before law and fundamental right respectively) of the Constitution.
The court said that non-payment of compensation for the fragile land taken over under Section 3 of the
Act could not be held to be violative of Article 300(A) of the Constitution.
South Africa mulls legalising rhino horn trade
South Africa faces a seventh straight yearly increase in rhino poaching. A panel of experts is studying an
unusual proposal for battling the problem: legalizing the trade in rhino horn.
They argues that this would pull the rug out from under crime syndicates by forcing down the price of
rhino horn and removing the incentive to poach, all while providing cash to plough back into
But the idea of legalising the trade has divided the conservation world.
There is also criticism that the pro-trade lobby is promoting an argument from which it stands to benefit:
in 2010, government and private owners were estimated to have more than 15 tonnes of rhino horn
stockpiled, about a third of it belonging to the state.
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