Environment of India: India has some of the world’s most biodiverse ecozones desert, high mountains, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, swamplands, plains, grasslands, areas surrounding rivers and an island archipelago. It hosts three biodiverse hotspots: the Western Ghats, the Himalayas and the Indo-Burma region.
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- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) is the nodal agency in the central government for overseeing the implementation of India’s environment and forest policies.
- The Ministry is also the nodal agency for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMD) and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
- Botanical Survey of India (BSI), established in 1890, is the apex research organization under Ministry of Environment for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country.
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), since its inception in 1916, is a premier research institution under the Ministry undertaking survey, exploration and research on the rich faunal diversity of the country. Headquarters are at Kolkata.
- Forest Survey of India (FSI), established in 1981 as a national level organization under the Ministry, is engaged in the assessment of the country’s forest resources.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
- NGT was set up in 2010 under the NGT Act, 2010, as a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multidisciplinary issues.
- The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- The Tribunal is mandated to make an endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing.
- NGT has five places of sitting, i.e, the Principal Bench in Delhi and Zonal Benches in Pune, Kolkata, Bhopal and Chennai. Apart from this the Tribunal holds three circuit Benches at Shimla, Shillong and Jodhpur.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
- India enacted the Biological Diversity (BD) Act in 2002 to give effect to the provision of this Convention. India also prepared a National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) in 2008, and an Addendum to NBAP in 2014 with 20 national targets on biodiversity.
- The Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS) adopted under the aegis of CBD in 2010, is aimed at fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.
- Cartagena Biosafety Protocol (CPB) was adopted in 2000 under the aegis of the CBD to ensure safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs). India is a party to the Protocol.
- The idea of ‘Biosphere Reserves’ was initiated by UNESCO in 1973-74 under its Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme launched in 1970.
- There are 18 designated Biosphere Reserves (BRs) in India. Out of 18 Biosphere Reserves, 11 Biosphere Reserves have been included in the world Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO. The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve became the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India that has been included in the UNESCO designated WNBR.
- There is a Wildlife Division of the Ministry with Project Elephant Division as one of its sub-division.
- In addition, there are three autonomous bodies: Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for wildlife research and training; Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for conservation and zoo management and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- The National Zoological Park in the Capital is also a part of the Wildlife wing.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established under the Ministry, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country. The Bureau has its headquarters in New Delhi. It was constituted in 2007.
- The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) with its headquarters in New Delhi was established in 1992 under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to oversee the functioning of zoos in the country.
- Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government of India in 1991-92 as a centrally sponsored scheme to protect elephants, their habitat and corridors.
National Tiger Conservation Authority / Project Tiger
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body under this Ministry constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Project Tiger was launched in 1973 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for conserving the tiger. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50, spread out in 18 of the tiger range states.
- Under the Project, India has the distinction of having the maximum number of tigers in the world – 2,967 – to be precise, as per the results of the 4th cycle of All India Tiger Estimation.
- International Tiger’s Day is held every year on 29th July.
- At the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010, It was decided to double tiger population by 2022.
- General Animal Welfare covers the welfare of individual animals, mainly domesticated, as also wild animals in captivity, through Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
- AWBI is a statutory body established with headquarters at Chennai.
- The Board is providing free, on the spot veterinary treatment to sick and injured animals belonging to poor people through its Mobile Animal Clinic (MAC) programme.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), is a planning tool to integrate environmental concerns into the developmental process from the initial stage of planning.
- It was first used in India as early as 1978 with river valley projects and the practices were formally codified for the first time in the EIA Notification, 1994.
CONTROL OF POLLUTION
- Abatement of air pollution is undertaken under various provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Environment (Protection) Act, (EPA) 1986 which prescribes the mechanism and authorities for handling the issue.
- Particulate Matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5) concentrations are the major concern. PM10 are inhalable coarse particles, which are particles with a diameter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (μm) and PM 2.5 are fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less.
- The government is executing a nation-wide programme of ambient air quality monitoring known as National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP).
- Steps taken to reduce vehicular pollution include introduction of cleaner/alternate fuels like gaseous fuel (CNG, LPG, etc.) ethanol blending, universalization of BS-IV by 2017; leapfrogging from BS-IV to BS-VI fuel standards by 1st April, 2020 etc.
- National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched in 2015 starting with 14 cities and then extended to 71 Cities in 17 States. A Graded Response Action Plan for control of air pollution in Delhi and NCR region has been notified. Government launched a campaign called ‘Harit Diwali and Swasth Diwali’ in 2017.
- As a follow-up of Section 5.2.8 (IV) of National Environmental Policy (NEP)-2006, ambient noise has been included as a regular parameter for monitoring in specified urban areas.
- Protocol for National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network Programme has been prepared.
Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs)
- A centrally sponsored scheme has been undertaken by the Government for enabling small scale industries (SSI) to set up new and upgrade the existing CETPs to cover all the states in the country.
- Wastewater treatment and water conservation are the prime objectives of the CETP.
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE MANAGEMENT
- In order to ensure chemical safety, the Ministry notified two sets of Rules under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 viz.,
- The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, (MSIHC), 1989.
- The Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness, and Response) Rules (EPPR), 1996.
- Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 were notified under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The Rules provides for establishment of Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for disposal of hazardous wastes.
- India is party to the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous waste and its disposal.
- Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016: The ambit of the Rules has been expanded by including ‘Other-Waste’.
- The e-waste rules apply to e-waste generated from IT and telecommunication equipment and consumer electrical and electronics namely television sets (including LCD & LED), refrigerators, washing machines and air-conditioners.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
- Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016: The segregation of waste at source has been mandated. Responsibilities of generators have been fixed for segregation of waste in to three streams, wet, dry and domestic hazardous wastes.
- Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: The Rules provide for (i)increase in minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns, and (ii)first time cover and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 microns for plastic sheetsbeing used for packaging and wrapping commodities to facilitate collection andrecycle of plastic waste.
- Construction & Demolition Waste Management, 2016: Under the rules every waste generator has been made responsible for collection, segregation of concrete, soil and others and storage of construction and demolition waste generated separately.
- Fly Ash Utilization: Ministry issued notification on fly ash Utilization to protect prevent dumping of fly ash from thermal power stations on land and to promote utilization of ash in the manufacture of building materials and construction activity.
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 in Basel, Switzerland.
- The Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade came into force in 2004.
- The Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs.
- At the Conference held in 2013 in Minamata and Kumamoto, Japan, the “Minamata Convention on Mercury”, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
- In 2006, over 190 countries including India acceded to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), an international policy framework to foster sound management of chemicals.
NATIONAL RIVER CONSERVATION PLAN
- The river conservation programme was initiated with the launching of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985.
- The Ganga Action Plan was expanded to cover other rivers under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) in 1995.
CONSERVATION OF LAKES
- To control degradation and conserve wetlands, the National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) was initiated in 1987.
- As a commitment for conserving potential wetlands, India became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention in 1982. At present there are 37 Ramsar sites in India.
- Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance for the conservation of global biological diversity.
- With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares.
- Central Wetland Regulatory Authority (CWRA) has been constituted under the Wetlands Rules, 2010. 25 wetlands spread over 14 states have already been notified under these Rules.
- Each year, World Wetland Day is celebrated on 2nd February.
- In order to promote afforestation, the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board (NAEB) was set up in 1992.
- National Afforestation Programme (NAP), launched in 2000-02, is a major afforestation scheme of the NAEB.
- Eco-Development Forces (EDF) Scheme was established in the 1980s as a scheme being implemented through ‘MINISTRY OF DEFENCE’ for ecological restoration of terrains.
- The National Mission for a Green India (GIM), one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) aims at enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover.
- The Scheme “National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS)” of the Ministry is a part of an umbrella scheme of the erstwhile Planning Commission-Planning Committee-National Natural Resources Management System (PC-NNRMS) and is in operation since, 1985.
- Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, (ICFRE) is the apex body in the national forestry research system.
- Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy was constituted in 1987 by upgrading and renaming the erstwhile Indian Forest College, established in 1938. The Academy imparts professional training to the Indian Forest Services (IFS) Probationers.
- Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was established in 1986 in Dehradun as an autonomous institute of the Ministry.
- National Green Corps (NGC) were formulated in 2001-02. Under NGC programme, 86765 Ecoclubs were supported.
- Under the National Environmental Awareness Campaign (NEAC) launched in 1986. In this campaign, nominal financial assistance is provided to NGOs, schools, colleges, research institutes etc. for conducting awareness raising and action orient Nature Camping Programme it is hoped that every child who goes through middle school (classes VI-VIII) to get at least one opportunity for a 2-3 day camping experience during these years.
- Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is a hands-on international environmental science and education programme. Indian Environmental Society, Delhi is an implementing agency for Globe in India.
- Eight national missions in the area of solar energy, enchanced energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, sustainable habitat, water, Himalayan ecosystem, Green India and strategic knowledge for climate change form the core of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is a central sector scheme under implementation in the 12th Five-Year Plan with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as National Implementing Entity (NIE).
- The ministry is implementing ‘Climate Change Action Programme’ since 2014, with an objective to create and strengthen the scientific and analytical capacity for assessment of climate change.
- India ratified the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC in 2016.
- India is a party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, 1985 and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 1987.
- Implementation of Montreal Protocol has led to phase-out of production and consumption of several major Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) such as CFCs, CTC and Halons globally from 2010.
UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION
- India became a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 1994.
- National Water Policy 2012; National Policy for Farmers, 2007; National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA)-2007 have enabling provisions for addressing problems of land degradation and desertification.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
- India is a member of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and provides annual financial contribution of USD 100,000 to UNEP Environment Fund.
- India is a founder member of Global Environment Facility (GEF). Set up in 1991, GEF is the designated multilateral funding mechanism of 183 countries to provide incremental finance for addressing global environmental benefits.