UPSC Ecology And Environment Current Ecological Developments Notes - Current Ecological Developments

Notes - Current Ecological Developments

Category : UPSC


Current Ecological Developments



There have been several ecological developments in India and around the world. The ecological changes have profound impact on the flora and fauna of terrestrial and aquatic environments. Ecological balance is necessary for achieving sustainable environment. In this chapter, we will discuss the current ecological developments in India and around the world.

Ecological balance is a theory which highlights that natural conditions, including numbers of various animal and plant species, remain stable on their own through variations over time. The theory, also known as balance of nature, also holds that natural equilibrium can be changed significantly by new species entering an ecosystem, the disappearance of some species, man-made changes to the environment or natural disasters.

Ecological Imbalance in India is governed by the following factors:

(a) Conservation of Land and Soil

(b) Forest density

(c) Utilization of water resources

(d) Mining Practices

(e) Level of Industrial and Atmospheric Pollution,


Fig: An overview of the goals of ecological balance.


Costal Ecology

Blue Economy

Blue Economy refers to the integration of ocean economy development with the idea of social inclusion, environmental sustainability and innovative, dynamic business models. It is an approach wherein renewable and organic inputs are fed into sustainably designed systems to promote "blue growth". Such "blue growth" has solved the problems of resource scarcity and waste disposal, while ensuring sustainable development that enhances human welfare in an holistic manner. Blue Economy has also led to creating a healthy ocean environment, supporting higher productivity.

The concept of Blue Economy is introduced by entrepreneur Gunter Pauli. Bilateral and multilateral work, involving the environment, energy, defense and food production can be achieved with Blue Economy. The newly set up Blue Economy Strategic Thought Forum India, under the guidance of the National Maritime Foundation, has focuses on multiple ways in which the blue economy will influence human activities. The central principle of the blue economy is the idea of integrating nutrients and energy the way ecosystems do. Cascading energy and nutrients leads to sustainability by reducing or eliminating inputs, such as energy, and eliminating waste.


Coastal Area Conservation

The coastal environment is facing a number of pressures, arising out of the needs of people, and the multiple uses that coastal and marine areas can be put to. Coastal area in India has seen major developmental changes in recent years as given below:

  • There have been major changes in land-use along the coast after the implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules, particularly in Karnataka, Goa and Kerala. The rule proposes to remove the ban on reclamation of land in coastal areas for commercial or tourism activities even in ecologically-sensitive areas.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, notification was released in 1991 for regulation of activities in the coastal area by Ministry of Environment and Forests. These notification known as Coastal Regulation Zone Notification defined the Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ as coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line and a range of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwaters and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations is CRZ. According to Coastal Regulation Zone notifications, it is divided into 4 zones given below:

  1. CRZ I - It includes the ecologically sensitive areas, essential in maintaining ecosystem of the coast. These lie between the HTL and LTL. Only exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt is permitted.
  2. CRZ II - It form up to the shoreline of the coast.

Authorized structures are not allowed to be constructed in this zone.

  1. CRZ III - This form rural and urban localities. Only certain activities relating to agriculture and public utilities allowed here.
  2. CRZ IV - This includes the aquatic area up to the territorial limit (12 nautical miles). Fishing and allied activities permitted in this zone. Solid waste can be let off in this zone.
  • Agenda 21 has resulted in better living standards of the coastal population, ensuring reduction in the degradation of coastal area due to pollution, marine erosion, loss of resources and habitat destruction.

Agenda 21 requires new approaches to marine and coastal area management and development, at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels.


The following areas are highlighted under agenda 21:

  1. Integrating management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones.
  2. Protection of marine environment.
  3. Sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources of the high seas.
  4. Sustainable use of marine living resources under national jurisdiction.
  5. Addressing critical uncertainties for the management of the marine environment and climate change.
  6. Strengthening international, including regional, cooperation and coordination.
  7. Sustainable development of small islands.
  • Gahirmartha beach (Odisha) where mass nesting of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle takes place was given marine sanctuary status in 1997.
  • India has been identified as one of the 27 countries most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming related accelerated sea level rise (UNEP, 1989), which threatens coastal habitat due to human influence.


A case study on Bhitarkanika Mangroves, East coast of India

The study was carried out to classify the mangrove vegetation as well as erosion and accretion rate along coastal tract of Bhitarkanika, east coast of India using Landsat 7 and 8 satellite data from the year 1989 to 2013, The study led to the classification of mangroves into dense mangroves, sparse mangroves and mangroves scrub of mangrove environment. Erosion and accretion rate of Bhitarkanika coast, were identified through supervised classification technique. Result of classified image concluded that the changes of sparse mangroves were +2892.78 ha, dense mangroves -350.55 ha. and mangrove scrub +1792.35 ha. The rate of erosion was 35.6238 towards Gahirmatha beach and the deposition of 8,2134 near the Maipura river of Bhitarkanika ecosystem from 1989 to 2013.



Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System Extensive monitoring of marine pollution along the coastal waters was initiated at 76 locations and it has been shown that the disposal of untreated sewage from towns, cities and villages cause decrease of dissolved oxygen and increase of nitrate and pathogenic bacteria in the sea close to the shore. The data collected revealed that pollution problems are confined up to 1 km in the sea except at Mumbai where the pollution problem prevails up to 3 km in the sea. Model to predict the movement of oil during oil spills has been developed for the coasts of Mumbai and Chennai. Works to develop similar models for the coasts of Goa, Kerala and Visakhapatnam have been undertaken.


Marine Ecology


Ecological and environmental parameters play a primary role in the formation of fish biomass. Periodic changes in such natural phenomena as ocean currents, water temperature and oxygen layers affect the ecological and environmental balance. Ecological imbalances due to fishing in India are given below:

(a)        Ecological damage caused by inshore mechanized fishing in state like Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Orissa.

(b)        Indo-Norwegian Project leading to the development of mechanized fishing.

(c)        Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu fully exploiting their maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

(d)        Adverse impact on marine ecology due to introduction of exotic fish such as Brown Trout, Loch Leven Trout, Rainbow Trout.  


Harmful Algal Blooms

A number of harmful algal blooms have been found in various coastal waters of India such as Noctiluca bloom in Kochi, Noctiluca bloom in Goa, bloom of Gonyaulax in Manglore. Efforts are underway to monitor the spatial and temporal variations of blooms using Ocean Colour Monitor sensors available on board both Indian and foreign satellites.


Island Development Activities

Ornamental fish culture was established in 2009 at Kavaratti to commercialize in the Agatti Island of Lakshadweep. Other activities such as live-bait culture, pearl culture, biodiversity studies, etc. of Lakshadweep have been taken up.


Ecosystem Modelling: Under the programme on Ecosystem modelling, hydrodynamic modelling of Chilika and Kochi backwaters have been initiated. Field investigations for ecosystem modelling for Sundarbans have been started. Water quality criteria for copper, cadmium and mercury have been determined and are referred to the Central Pollution Control Board. Over 20 training programmes on hazard -mapping, satellite oceanography, and marine pollution have been conducted.



Fig: Ecological model showing the dependence of organisms on each other


Project Green Ports

Ministry of Shipping has started 'Project Green Ports' to make major ports across India cleaner and greener. It will have two verticals - one is 'Green Ports Initiatives' related to environmental issues and second is 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan'. Under 'Green Ports Initiatives', 12 initiatives will be implemented. Some of the initiatives focus on acquiring equipment required for monitoring environmental pollution, acquiring dust suppression system, setting up of waste water treatment plants, developing projects for producing renewable energy, completion of shortfalls of Oil Spill Response (OSR) facilities, prohibition of disposal of almost all kind of garbage at sea, improving the quality of harbour wastes etc. Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan initiative, few activities are identified promoting cleanliness at the port premises.




Oil Spills

The recent oil spill in Chennai occurred due to a collision between two ships, affecting marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities. The immediate impact of an oil slick is the mass death of fish and turtles and of birds. Tourism industry is severely affected by oil spills and oil pollution.


Oil Spill Prevention

  • Quality cannot be ignored when it comes to ships and oil tankers in marine waters. At present, steps have been taken to check if mechanical parts and equipment meet the quality parameters to be proven safe against any oil spill hazards. Extra attention is required while installing the pipes in tankers. Any probable leakage issue should be eliminated before it sets out on the sea.
  • Government in all countries is serious about treating oil pollution seriously and has come up with a suitable disaster management plan to deal with this problem. Local environmental agencies have made up their action plans towards the recovery of polluted water bodies. Plans need to be introduced to direct the restoration process and incorporate things like coral and plantation reconstruction, shoreline improvements and transport restrictions across water bodies.
  • Bioremediation is also considered for controlling oil spills. In bioremediation, bacteria are used to clean up oil spills in the marine environment. Bioremediation is a process that uses natural decomposers and plant enzymes to treat the contaminated water.
  • Regular skimmers are employed in marine water to monitor and control oil spills. Skimmers are boats that help scoop the spilled oil from the surface of the polluted water. This way immediate action is taken in case of accidents to avoid long-term damage in serious proportions.
  • The government should have a 24/7 emergency team ready for any marine accidents and oil spill incidents. An effective team will facilitate immediate clean-up of the mess that any such incidents might cause.
  • Several laws and regulations have been operational since long in most of the countries, but still oil pollution has been on the rise. The laws should be implemented on ground level and facilities should be checked regularly for proper maintenance and documentation of their procedures for discharge as well as loading. Also, mock drills should be mandatory for all vessels, so as to be prepared to clean up oil spills in emergency situations.
  • The oil spills in the water bodies can be cleaned up the chemical way. Using sorbents (big sponges which absorb oil) oil spills can be cleaned. Also, chemical dispersants effectively break down oil into its corresponding chemical constituents.
  • Physical methods can also be employed for cleaning oil spills. Vacuum trucks can suck up spilled oil from the beaches and the surface of water. Oil spills in beaches may also contaminate ocean water. So, shovels and road machinery can be used to clean up oil on the beach. Oil contaminated sand and gravel can be picked up and moved away, so that the waves hitting the shores do not pick up the oily residues to cause oil water pollution. Floating barriers called 'booms' can also be used to prevent oil pollution. This is usually done by planting a large boom around a leaking oil tanker to collect it before it causes massive water contamination.


Extinction of Dolphins from Ganges River: This vast area of Ganga has been altered by the construction of more than 50 dams and other irrigation-related projects, with severe consequences for the river dolphins. The population of the Ganges River Dolphin has declined to less than 1,800 from 6,000 in 1982 due to construction of dams and water pollution caused by pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial effluents.


Ganga Cleaning Campaign

Ganga is India's largest river basin. It occupies 26% of the country's landmass and supports 43% of its population. In 1986, the government of India launched the Ganga Action Plan (GAP). In August 2009, GAP was re-launched with a reconstituted National Ganga River Basin Authority. The objectives of the authority was to improve the water quality of the river to acceptable standards (defined as bathing water quality standards) by preventing pollutants reaching it by intercepting the sewage and treating it before discharge into the river. Recent initiatives such as 'River Development' and 'Ganga Rejuvenation' by the Minister of Water Resources, and the establishment of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, show a commitment to address some of the concerns with special attention given to pollution control. Under the Namami Gange Programme, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified 1,000 polluting industries that need to treat industrial effluents before releasing them into the river.

Clean Ganga Fund

  1. The Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) ensures funding of the following Ganga cleaning activities:
  2. Control of non-point pollution from agricultural runoff, human defecation, cattle wallowing, etc.
  3. Setting up of waste treatment and disposal plants along the river around the cities.
  4. Conservation of the biotic diversity of the river.
  5. Community based activities to reduce polluting human interface with the river.
  6. Development of public amenities including activities such as Ghat redevelopment.
  7. Research and Development projects and innovative projects for new technology and processes for cleaning the river.
  8. Independent oversight through intensive monitoring and real time reporting.


Wetland Ecology

A wetland is an area of land whose soil has high water content. Wetlands include swamps, marshes and bogs, among others. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, fresh water, shallow water or brackish water. These accounts for 18.4% of India's total geographical area. Wetlands are one of the most productive eco-system, comparable to tropical evergreen forests in the biosphere and play a significant role in the ecological sustainability of a region.

Montreux Record

It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.


Wetlands International

It is a global organisation that is responsible for sustaining and restoring wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity. It is an independent, not-for-profit, global organisation, supported by government and NGO membership from around the world.


Some wetlands of international importance

  • The Ramsar List is the world's largest network of protected areas.
  • There are over 2,200 Ramsar Sites around the world. They cover over 2.1 million square kilometres, an area larger than Mexico.
  • The world's first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 1974.
  • The world's largest Sites are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada; these Sites each cover over 60,000 square kilometres.
  • The countries with the most Ramsar Sites are the United Kingdom with 170 and Mexico with 142.
  • Bolivia has the largest area with 148,000 km2 under Ramsar protection


Development in Wetland Ecology

Recent developments in the wetland ecology are given below:

  • 115 wetlands in India have been identified by the government, which require urgent conservation and management interventions. The government prioritizes conservation of wetlands in the country so as to prevent their further degradation and ensuring their wise use for the benefit of local communities and overall conservation of biodiversity.
  • The list of Ramsar sites in India are one of the most threatened of all ecosystems and has an international importance. Largest Wetland of India includes Vembanad lake, Chilika lake, Kolleru lake and Loktak Lake. These Wetlands are home to many species of water birds as well as the animals.
  • Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools have been used in flood zonation mapping, in monitoring irrigation and cropping patterns, water quality analysis and modelling, change analyses and in mapping of surface water bodies and wetlands.
  • Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is used for separation of water bodies, as the wetland areas fall in lower NDVI zone.
  • Salt-resistant varieties of rice have been discovered that will allow growing rice in saline wetland areas.


Conservation of wetlands

Several steps have been taken to prevent wetland degradation as given below:

  • Separation of wetlands using latest technology, proper enforcement of laws and stringent punishments for violators.
  • Prevention of unsustainable aquaculture and cultivation of shellfish.
  • Treating industrial effluents and water from farm lands before discharging into wetlands.
  • Using wetlands on a sustainable basis by giving enough time for natural regeneration. Artificial regeneration for quick recovery.
  • Applying afforestation, weed control, preventing invasive species is the key to wetland conservation.
  • Implement preventive measures to stop the introduction of exotic invasive species like water hyacinth.
  • Soil conservation measures and afforestation. Preventing grazing in peripherals of wetlands.
  • Wildlife conservation, sustainable tourism, eco-tourism and sensitizing local populace.
  • Eutrophication abatement by processing nutrient rich discharge into the water body.
  • Involving local population in the conservation of wetlands.


Ecosystem at Peril

Encroachments, siltation in the canals and fishponds and drop in the quantity of sewage the wetlands received have impacted the ecology of East Kolkata Wetlands

How the System Works

Through an integrated canal network, partly-natural partly- manmade, the sewage reaches the fishponds, where wastewater gets treated by algae- bacteria symbiosis in a span of 21-28 days. Simultaneously, fishes grow profusely without requiring any food supplement any food supplement.



The treated water is then released m Kultigang, near the Sunderbans ecosystem, through a network of canals. Low cost pisciculture in the wetlands is the reason Kolkata gets fishes for cheap.

How it is threatened

Siltation of fishponds and canals have affected the basic hydrological functioning, while decrease in sewage quantity is affecting the livelihood of the people preserving it.

What is being done

Remsar senior advisor Law Young has recommended a thorough review of population increase, loss of area due to encroachment, socio-economic study of the fishing community, review of the map drawn in 1985 and clear demarcation of its boundaries.



Himalayan Ecology

The ecology of the Himalayas changes with climate, rainfall, altitude, and soils. The climate ranges from tropical at the base of the mountains to permanent ice and snow at the highest elevations. Recent ecological developments in the Himalayan region are given below:

  • Climate change in the Indian Himalayan region is monitored by National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE). The mission was launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) with a budget outlay of Rs.550 crore during the XII Five Year Plan period.
  • Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) has generated knowledge of climate change impacts on natural resources, ecosystem services, and the communities depending on them, contributing to policy and practice for enhanced adaptation.
  • The 3097 MW Etalin hydropower project has been deferred in Arunachal Pradesh as the hydropower project would affect biodiversity hotspots.
  • Several plant species have been grown in the Himalayas, including Himalayan Blue Poppy, Creeping Cotoneaster, Deodar Cedar.


Current steps to protect Himalayan ecosystem also include:

(a) balancing glaciers and associated hydrological cycles;

(b) predicting and managing natural hazards;

(c) biodiversity conservation and protection;

(d) wildlife conservation and protection;

(e) regulating science to help governance issues related to sustenance of the Himalayan ecosystem;

(f) assisting in restoration and rehabilitation process of Uttarakhand.


Western Ghat Ecology

Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world. The Western Ghats are home to thousands of animal species including at least 325 globally threatened species.


Madhav Gadgil Committe Report on Western Ghats

Gadgil Commission is named after its chairman Madhav Gadgil. The Commission was formally known as Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). The Commission submitted the report to the Government of India on 31 August 2011. The Gadgil Report highlights:

  1. The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) designated the entire hill range as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
  2. The panel, in its report, has classified the 142 taluks in the Western Ghats boundary into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
  3. ESZ-1 zone was given high priority and almost all developmental activities (mining, thermal power plants etc) were restricted in it.
  4. Gadgil report recommended that no new dams based on large-scale storage should be constructed in Ecologicall Sensitive Zone 1. Since both the Athirappilly of Kerala and Gundia of Karnataka hydel project sites fall in Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1, these projects should not be accorded environmental clearance.
  5. Gadgil Committee report reveals that the present system of governance of the environment should be changed. It asked for bottom to top approach (right from Gram sabhas) rather than a top to bonom approach. It also asked for decentralization and more powers to local authorities.
  6. The Commission recommended constitution of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA), as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.





Urban Ecology


  • Eco-friendly Construction

Building rating systems are a popular tool to bring momentum in achieving energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings. India has currently two rating systems namely, LEED and GRIHA. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System gives ratings of platinum, gold, silver, or "certified", based on green building attributes. The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy have adopted a national rating system- GRIHA, which was developed by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).


  • Eco-cities

In India, the concept of Eco cities was introduced in 2000 and starting 2001 six medium and small Eco-cities were planned by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in association with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and with technical assistance from German technical cooperation (GTZ). The focus of the project is pollution control, improvement of environmental quality, protection of environmental resources like rivers and lakes, improving sanitary conditions, improving the needed infrastructure and creating aesthetic environs in the chosen towns. The cities included Tirupathi, Vrindavan, Kottayam, Ujjain, Puri and Thanjavur.



  • Smart Cities

The Government of India has planned to develop 'Smart Cities' with an aim to maintain balance in urban ecology. Urban expansion has degraded and destroyed natural habitats across most Indian cities and small towns, transforming urban forests, lakes, and wetlands into polluted areas, and converting them into vast expanses of concrete construction. Smart Cities will ensure that urban development do not lead to negative ecological impact on the environment.


  • BS-IV vehicles

Automobile Emission Control: Recent Supreme Court ruling has asserted that auto manufacturers cannot sell BS-III vehicles from April 1, 2017 when BS -IV compliance comes into force. BS -IV vehicles are relatively less polluting than BS-III vehicles. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has proposed ban diesel vehicles that are at least 10 years old from plying in the national capital region (NCR) centred on Delhi. Vehicular pollution can be controlled if the exhaust outlets of all motor vehicles are installed on the top instead of near the base. BS-IV trucks are 80% cleaner than BS-III.




  • Green Airports

Cochin International Airport is the first green airport where 46,000 solar panels are installed. Vadodara's Harni Airport in Gujarat, is India's second green airport after Kochi. This new facility has rainwater harvesting systems and energy-saving cooling mechanisms that was designed and built by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).


  • Bio-toilets

The proposed bio-toilets in Indian railway is ecologically more efficient than conventional system of direct discharge toilets that leads to public health issues and environmental hazards.


  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change adopted new environment standard for Gensets running on LPG, natural gas (NG), diesel with LPG/NG and petrol with LPG/NG.


  • Kolkata will be the first to use biogas in buses. Biogas is a eco-friendly and cheap fuel and can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in some segments. The Government of West Bengal has also assured that if a commercial vehicle switches over to biogas, it will be exempted from the ceiling and will not be banned after 15 years.

Majuli, the world's biggest river island, is going to become India's first carbon neutral district. It is also now a biodiversity heritage site. It is formed by Brahmaputra river, in Assam. It is also first island district of the country.



Ecological Developments of the Mining Industry

The ecological impact of mining is monitored by National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development. Recent developments in the mining ecology are given below:

  • Revision of National Mineral Policy to ensure that ecological balance is maintained while mining.
  • Mining companies follow environment-friendly practices such as using appropriate technology, efficient use of energy, preservation of biological diversity.
  • The government has finally notified nearly 57,000 square km area in the Western Ghats region as ecologically sensitive area (ESA) where all kinds of mining activities, large constructions, thermal power plants and highly polluting industries would no longer be allowed. The 56,825 square km of land is spread over six states ofGujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kamataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


Forest Ecology

In 2002, India set up a National Forest Commission to review and assess India's policy and law, its effect on India's forests. Indian forests are home to a wide variety of animal and plant species which are vital to maintaining ecological balance. Indian forests have seen a lot of changes in recent as given below:


  • Chipko Movement stated in 1973 for forest conservation.
  • There is a drop in jhum cultivation, which included burning of forest to make area available for farming. India has added over 4 million hectares of forest cover, a 7% increase, between 1990 and 2010.
  • Afforestation and reforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest land covered under the National Mission with participation of Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) would result in adding another 18 mt of carbon by 2020.
  • There has been an increase in forest/tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares and improve quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands, with the help of National Mission for Green India (GIM).



Forest Carbon Partnership Facility

It is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and indigenous peoples focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (activities commonly referred to as REDD+).


Indian Forest Survey 2013

The highlights of the survey are given below:

1          The forest is classified as very dense forest, moderately dense forest, open forest, scrub and non-forest land.

  1. The raking of states based on forest density is given as Madhya Pradesh (First), Arunachal Pradesh (second), Chhattisgarh (third), Maharashtra (fourth) and Odisha (fifth).
  2. Main reasons for declined forest cover include biotic pressure, shortening of Jhum cycle, open caste mining and earthquake-induced landslides.


Clean Energy

Continuous efforts have been made in India and around the globe to promote clean energy that create a balance in ecology. Some developments in the clean energy sector are given below:

  • Renewable electricity targets India have been up scaled to grow from just under 43 GW in April 2016 to 175 GW by the year 2022, including 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from bio power and 5 GW from small hydro power.
  • The Government aims at achieving 40% cumulative electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
  • Several solar cities have come up in the Urban Sector for promoting solar water heating systems in homes, hotels, hospitals and industry; deployment of SPV systems/devices in urban areas for demonstration and awareness creation; establishment of 'Akshya Urja Shops', design of Solar Buildings and promoting urban and industrial waste/biomass to energy projects.
  • Rooftop solar market in India has grown at the rate of 90%. As of March 31, 2016, the total installed capacity of rooftop solar energy is 740 MW.
  • Ethanol has been increasingly used as a fuel for automobiles and regulations provide for the mandatory blending of 5% of ethanol with petrol (to be increased to 10%). The Government also plans to free the movement of ethanol across the country and eliminate local taxes thereby increasing its usage.


International Solar Alliance

It is an alliance of more than 120 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which come either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The alliance's primary objective is efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The launching of such an alliance in Paris shows the efforts of the global communities to mitigate climate change and to switch to a low-carbon growth path. India has pledged a target of installing 100GW by 2022 and reduction in emission intensity by 33-35% by 2030 to let solar energy reach to the most unconnected villages and communities and also towards creating a clean planet. India's pledge to the Paris Summit offered to bring 40% of its electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources (renewable, large hydro, and nuclear) by 2030.


Energy consumption and efficiency

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is an Indian government agency of, under the Ministry of Power created in March 2002 under the provisions of the nation's 2001 Energy Conservation Act. The agency's aim is to develop programmes which will increase the conservation and efficient use of energy in India. The government has proposed to make it mandatory for certain appliances in India to have ratings by the BEE starting in January 2010.


Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)

It was launched on 1 May 2015, replacing the "Bachat Lamp Yojana". The scheme reduced their electricity consumption by 55 billion (US$820 million). The scheme was announced as "Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP)" which focused on the use of bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs, tube lights and CFL bulbs as they efficient, long lasting and economical in their life cycle duration. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has introduced a new star rating methodology called Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) for air conditioners. This provides rating methodology factors in variance in higher temperature in India and rates air conditioners accordingly. Consumers can now purchase air conditioners with higher efficiency leading to lower electricity bills. Ratings based on ISEER have been introduced on a voluntary basis for Variable Speed (Inverter) Air Conditioners since June 2015 and proposed to be merged with fixed speed air conditioners in the mandatory regime from January 2018.


Figure 1. China and India account for about half of the world increase in energy use


Source EIA International Energy Outlook 2011


Scientists in Juelich, Germany, have developed the world?s largest artificial sun, called Synlight, for using it to develop climate-friendly fuels. The Synlight consists of 149 spotlights all together resembling a gigantic honeycomb. The lights, which are xenon short-arc lamps that's usually found in cinemas, simulate natural sunlight during a season that doesn't get much sunlight


Land Use and Soil Ecology

Land-use change has important implications for sustainable livelihood of local communities. Several initiatives has resulted in the change in the land use and soil ecology. These are as follows:

  • Geographic information system (GIS)-based landscape ecological planning for Western Ghats of India.
  • Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) is widely grown of soil and moisture conservation.
  • To check wind erosion, planting of trees in the opposite direction of the wind has been taken into consideration.


Wind Erosion: It is a serious environmental problem attracting me attention of many across the globe. It is a common phenomenon occuring mostly in flat, bare areas; dry, sandy soils: or anywhere the soil is loose, dry, and finely granulated.



  • Increasing use of cover crops, such as rye and wheat, to reduce soil erosion, limit nitrogen leaching, suppress weeds and increase soil organic matter.
  • Terrace cultivation is being encouraged in many places in India to prevent soil erosion. This is a method of growing crops on sides of hills or mountains by planting on graduated terraces built into the slope.





Preventing Desertification

Efforts have been made to prevent desertification in India by being a party to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Rajasthan accounts for the most desertified land, followed by Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir and Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Following steps have been taken to prevent desertification:

  1. Fixation of soil is done through the use of shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks. Windbreaks are made from trees and bushes and are used to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspiration. Some soils due to lack of water can become consolidated rather than porous. Some techniques such as tillage are then used to still allow the planting of crops.
  2. Contour trenching involves the digging deep trenches in the soil. The trenches are made parallel to the height lines of the landscape, preventing the water from flowing within the trenches and causing erosion. Stone walls are placed around the trenches to prevent the trenches from closing up again. The method was invented by Peter Westerveld.
  3. Enriching of the soil and restoration of its fertility is often done by plants. Of these, leguminous plants which extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, and food crops/trees as grains, barley, beans and dates are the most important. Sand fences can also be used to control drifting of soil and sand erosion.
  4. Different types of desert reclamation methodologies are used. An example for this is the salt-flats in the Rub' al Khali desert in Saudi-Arabia. These salt-flats are one of the most promising desert areas for seawater agriculture and could be revitalized without the use of freshwater or much energy.
  5. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is another technique that has produced successful results for desert reclamation. This simple and low-cost method has enabled farmers to regenerate some 30,000 square kilometers in Niger. The process involves enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots. The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation.


Ø  Every year, under the 'Operation Guerrilla Green' movement, a month-long ecologically important campaign/festival is held by Gond and Korku communities/tribes in Madhya Pradesh, where they plant saplings of fruit-bearing trees on government, forest, private or panchayat land.

Ø  Agronomical trial on paddy and wheat crops with Neem coated urea as source of Nitrogen has produced higher yield at research and farm level. Looking into the importance of Neem Coated urea and its acceptance by the farmers, Ministry of Agriculture included the Neem coated urea in Fertiliser Control Order (FCO).


Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of many different plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. It is achieved through narrow tubes that deliver water directly to the base of the plant. It preferred over surface irrigation for various reasons, often including concern about minimizing evaporation.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation:

  1. Fertilizer and nutrient loss is minimized due to reduced leaching.
  2. Recycled and portable water can be used.
  3. Soil erosion is lessened.
  4. Weed growth is minimized.




In the recent year, it has been found that there is a growing trend towards travel to eco-tourism destinations like National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Ecotourism deals with interaction with biotic components of the natural environments. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment. The Indian Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is forming new guidelines for responsible tourism in the country's 733 different wildlife sanctuaries and national parks which include alpine and flower valleys, bird habitats, and marine, reptile and coastal parks.



Ecotourism have the following characteristics

  1. Low-impact visitor behaviour.
  2. Sensitivity towards local cultures and biodiversity.
  3. Support for local conservation efforts.
  4. Sustainable benefits to local communities.
  5. Local participation in decision-making.
  6. Educational components for both the traveler and local communities.


Goals of Ecotourism

  1. Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures and volunteering.
  2. Personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable.
  3. On cultural artifacts from the locality.
  4. Travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.



Wildlife Conservation

World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) 2014 Living Planet Report has revealed that wildlife populations of vertebrate species such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, have declined by 52% over the last 40 years. Several initiatives have been taken to protect wild life as given below:

  • WWF-India, in partnership with the state forest departments, is conducting camera-trapping exercises and line-transect monitoring in all its tiger landscapes to monitor tigers.
  • The third Kanha-Pench Walk 2016 came ended in Khatiya village on the buffer of the kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The event is jointly organized by WWF-India and the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department to build awareness on the importance of conserving the Kanha-Pench corridor which connects two major tiger source populations in Central India.
  • Along with the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve staff, WWF-India launched a robust monitoring technique with the help of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) to study the behaviour of Greater One-Homed Rhinoceros.
  • The Centrally   Sponsored   Scheme   'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats' has been changed by including a new component namely 'Recovery of Endangered Species' and 16 species have been identified for recovery including Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugong, Edible Nest Swift let, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon's Courser.
  • Radio collars with Very High Frequency, Global Positioning System and Satellite uplink facilities, are used by the research institutions including Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, State Forest Departments and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to monitor the movement of lions, tigers, elephants, olive ridley turtles, and other wild animals to study their movements and their use pattern of the habitat.


Project Tiger

It was launched in April 1973 under the Wildlife Conservation Act to address the problem of shrinking tiger population in India. It aimed at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats and also to protect them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger's distribution in the country.


Operation Thunder Bird

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has the programme from January 30 to February 19, 2017 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. It is code-name of INTERPOL's (International Criminal Police Organization) multi-national and multi-species enforcement operation for wildlife protection.


Tiger Repository

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has India's first repository on tigers, under its new Tiger Cell. The repository consists of huge database on tiger conservation and population estimation which has been prepared with collaborated effort with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). India's first tiger cell was set up at the WII campus in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.


South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)

India is a member of South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). It aims at combating wildlife crime by strengthening its ties with the member countries for controlling the trans-boundary wildlife crimes through coordination, communication, collaboration, cooperation and capacity building in the region.


The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB): It is a study by environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev. It is an international initiative that focuses on global economic benefits of biodiversity. Its objective is to highlight the growing cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to allow practical actions. TEEB aims to assess, communicate and mainstream the urgency of actions through its five deliverables ? D0: science and economic foundations, policy costs and costs of inaction, D1: policy opportunities for national and international policy-makers, D2: decision support for local administrators, D3: business risks, opportunities and metrics and D4: citizen and consumer ownership.


Waste Disposal

  • Tirunelveli is first to achieve 100 % segregation of waste at source across households and establishments. It involved securing undertakings from each household to segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, campaigns though TV and local radio channels targeting housewives and roping in religious leaders and NGOs.
  • Coimbatore has planned to have a 50 metric ton bio gas plant that will generate electricity using food waste collected from hotels and restaurants.
  • Delhi has adopted scientific waste management plan which involves collection of waste from streets by auto tippers to fix compactor transfer station (FCTS) from where the waste, after compressing, is taken to the waste to energy plant.
  • A new colour code is implemented in hospitals of Visakhapatnam, for disposal of biomedical waste. Under this plan, blue cardboard bins are introduced to dispose certain kinds of hospital waste such as cytotoxins and broken glass.




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