Environmental Bodies and Organisation

ENVIRONMENTAL BODIES and ORGANISATION

To prepare for ENVIRONMENT  for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Environmental Bodies and Organisation.  Here we will study Environmental Bodies and Organisation in details. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-II.). Environmental Bodies and Organisation terms are important from Environmental perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.

  • India’s consciousness to protect the environment and to restore it, exists since the early days of civilisation. The vedic and post-vedic history bears testimony to this.
  • However, Environmental Management in the post independent era because of high priority to economic growth, environment receded to a less important place.
  • It is only in 1972 steps were initiated with the formation of the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination(NCEPC) that gradually evolved as a separate department of environment and reached the full-fledged stage of Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1985.
  • Initially the Constitution of India did not contain any provision towards the promotion/protection of environment.
  • However, the 42nd amendment of the constitution in 1977 added some important clauses that entrusted the government the responsibility of providing a clean and well-protected environment.

 

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government, for planning, promoting, coordinating and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country.
  • The main activities undertaken by the ministry include conservation and survey of the flora and fauna of India, forests and other wilderness areas; prevention and control of pollution; afforestation and reducing land degradation.
  • It is responsible for the administration of the national parks of India.
  • The main tools utilized for this include surveys, environmental impact assessment, control of pollution, regeneration programmes, support to organizations, research to find solutions and training to augment the requisite manpower, collection and dissemination of environmental information and creation of environmental awareness among all sectors of the country’s population.
  • The Ministry is also the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

 

CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD (CPCB):
  • It is statutory organisation under ministry of environment and forests and climate change.
  • It is established in 1974 under Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
  • It is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • It has its head office in New Delhi.
  • It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFC.
  • Its board is led by its Chairperson appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet of the Government of India.

 

Powers and Functions of CPCB:

  • Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning prevention and control of water and air pollution and improvement of the quality of air.
  • Plan and execute nation-wide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution:
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the State Board and resolve disputes among them;
  • Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigation and research relating to problems of water and air pollution, and for their prevention, control or abatement;
  • Plan and organise training of persons engaged in programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Organise through mass media, a comprehensive mass awareness programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;

 

NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL:
  • National Green Tribunal has been established in the year 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary 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’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • NGT draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • India is the third country in world to have such court hence it’s called special court.
  • Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) works under the act of (NGT).

 

GENESIS:

  • There lie many reasons behind the setting up of this tribunal. After India’s move with Carbon credits, such tribunal may play a vital role in ensuring the control of emissions and maintaining the desired levels.
  • This is the first body of its kind that is required by its parent statute to apply the “polluter pays” principle and the principle of sustainable development.

 

STRUCTURE:

  • Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.
  • Each bench of the NGT will comprise at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
  • Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal.
  • It has regional benches in
  • Pune (West),
  • Bhopal (Central),
  • Chennai (South) and
  • Kolkata (East).
  • The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include:
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • Specific and substantial issues related to these laws cannot be raised before the NGT.
  • NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.

 

Question

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 was enacted in consonance with which of the following provisions of the Constitution of India?

  1. Right to healthy environment, construed as a part of Right to life under Article 21.
  2. Provision of grants for raising the level of administration in the Scheduled Areas for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes under Article 275(1).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

 

Article 275(1) deals with the grants to the states.

  1. The funds are released to the State Governments against specific projects for the welfare of
  2. Scheduled Tribes and strengthening of administration of tribal areas.

Here Option 2 is correct but NGT ACT IS NOT enacted in consonance with Article 275(1). Hence option 2 in this question is wrong.

 

How is the National Green Tribunal (NGT) different from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)?

  1. The NGT has been established by an Act whereas the CPCB has been created by an executive order of the Government.
  2. The NGT provides environmental justice and helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts whereas the CPCB promotes cleanliness of streams and wells, and aims to improve the quality of air in the country.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B

 

ANIMAL WELFARE BOARD OF INDIA:
  • Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.
  • Established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 the Animal Welfare Board of India was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known humanitarian.
  • AIM: To prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals, in terms of the provision of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.

 

FUNCTIONS:

  • To keep the law in force in India for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals under constant study.
  • To advise the government on the amendments to be undertaken in any such law from time to time.
  • To advise the Central Government on the making of rules under the Act with a view to preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals particularly during transportation.
  • One of the most important functions of the Board is to provide financial assistance to the recognised Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs).
  • To take all such steps as the Board may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, whenever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering.
  • To encourage by the grant of financial assistance or otherwise, establishment of Pinjarapoles, rescue homes, animals shelters, sanctuaries.
  • To co-operate with, and co-ordinate the work of, associations or bodies established for the purpose of preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals or for the protection of animals and birds.
  • To give financial and other assistance to Animal Welfare Organisations functioning in any local area or to encourage the formation of Animal Welfare Organisations in any local area which shall work under the general supervision and guidance of the Board.
  • To impart education in relation to the humane treatment of animals and to encourage the formation of public opinion against the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and for the promotion of animal welfare by means of lectures, books, posters, cinematographic exhibitions and the like.
  • Board grants recognition to the newly started Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs). For this purpose, the Board has framed certain guidelines according to which the AWO has to submit the registration certificate under the Societies Registration Act (or) Trust Act.
  • Board provides financial assistance to AWOs under various schemes
  • Regular Grant,
  • Cattle Rescue Grant,
  • Provision of Shelter House for looking after the Animals,
  • Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme,
  • Provision of Ambulance for the animals in distress and
  • Natural Calamity grant.

 

Question:

Consider the following statements:

  1.  Animal Welfare Board of India is established under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  2.  National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body.
  3.  National Ganga River Basin Authority is chaired by the Prime Minister.

Which of the statements given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 2 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: B

 

NATIONAL BOARD FOR WILDLIFE:
  • National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is constituted under Wildlife protection act 1972.
  • National Board may, at its discretion, constitute a Standing Committee.
  • The NBWL Standing Committee chaired by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests is duty bound to ensure compliance of the mandate’s statutory processes prescribed by the WLPA in letter and spirit.
  • The Standing Committee shall consist of the:
  • Vice-Chairperson (Union Minister in charge of Forests and Wildlife)
  • The Member Secretary and not more than ten members to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson from amongst the members of the National Board.
  • The WLPA mandates that without the approval/recommendation of the NBWL, construction of tourist lodges, alteration of the boundaries of PAs, destruction or diversion of wildlife habitat and de-notification of Tiger Reserves, cannot be done.
  • One of the most important provisions of the WLPA is that no person can destroy wildlife or divert the habitat of any wild animal without a permit and no such permit can be granted unless it is considered necessary for improvement and better management of wildlife therein. Government projects also come within the ambit of this provision.
  • It is therefore mandatory for the Standing Committee to adjudicate every such proposal strictly in conformity with the act.
  • Every decision must be backed by clear reason(s), in writing, as to how the project or the decision to approve it ensures improvement and better management of wildlife therein.
  • However, a careful perusal of most of the decisions of the Standing Committee posted on the website of the Ministry of Environment & Forests does not disclose any details on how compliance of Section 29 or Section 35(6) of the WLPA has been ensured.

 

NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY AUTHORITY:
  • National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established by the Central Government in 2003 to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002).
  • The NBA is a Statutory Body and it performs facilitative, regulatory and advisory functions for the Government of India on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.
  • Advising the State Governments in the selection of areas of biodiversity importance as heritage sites and measures for the management of such heritage sites.
  • The NBA considers requests by granting approval or otherwise for undertaking any activity referred to in Sections 3,4 and 6 of the Act.
  • The State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) focus on advising the State Governments, subject to any guidelines issued by the Central Government, on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources;
  • The SBBs also regulate, by granting of approvals or otherwise upon requests for commercial utilization or bio-survey and bio-utilization of any biological resource by the Indians.
  • The local level Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) are responsible for promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity including preservation of habitats, conservation of land races, folk varieties and cultivars, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals and microorganisms and chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity.
  • The NBA has its headquarters in Chennai.
  • Since its establishment, NBA has supported creation of SBBs in 28 States, UT’s and facilitated establishment of around 2,53,040 BMCs.

 

STATE BIODIVERSITY BOARDS:

  • State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) are to be established under Section 22(2) of the Act.
  • So far 29 States have established the SBBs.
  • COMPOSITION: The Board shall consist of the following members, namely:—
  • Chairperson who shall be an eminent person having adequate knowledge and experience in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and in matters relating to equitable sharing of benefits, to be appointed by the State Government;
  • Ex-Officio members of not more than five to be appointed by the State Government to represent the concerned Departments of the State Government;
  • Members not more than five to be appointed from amongst experts in matters relating to conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.
  • Functions of state biodiversity board:
  • To advise the State Government, subject to any guidelines issued by the Central Government, on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of biological resources;
  • To regulate by granting of approvals or otherwise requests for commercial utilisation or bio-survey and bio-utilisation of any biological resource by Indians;
  • To perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act or as may be prescribed by the State Government.

 

WILDLIFE CRIME CONTROL BUREAU (WCCB):
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • The Bureau has its headquarter in New Delhi and five regional offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Jabalpur.
  • Functions of WCCB:
  • Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals.
  • To establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank;
  • Co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act;
  • To assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control.
  • Capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes.
  • To advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws.
  • It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.

 

WILDLIFE TRUST OF INDIA:
  • Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is a leading Indian nature conservation organisation committed to the service of nature.
  • It was formed in November 1998 in response to the rapidly deteriorating condition of wildlife in India.
  • WTI is a registered charity in India (under Section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961).
  • It is a non-profit organisation.
  • Headquarter: NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh
  • Its mission is to conserve wildlife and its habitat and to work for the welfare of individual wild animals, in partnership with communities and governments. WTI’s team of 150 dedicated professionals work towards achieving its vision of a secure natural heritage of India, in six priority landscapes, knit holistically together by nine key strategies or Big Ideas.
  • VISION: A secure natural heritage of India.
  • MISSION: To conserve wildlife and its habitat and to work for the welfare of individual wild animals, in partnership with communities and governments.
  • MOTTO: In Service of Nature.

 

CENTRAL ZOO AUTHORITY:
  • GENESIS: The Indian Board for Wildlife re-constituted its Zoo Wing as ‘the Expert Group on Zoos’ at its 9th session held on 18th November, 1972 at New Delhi to make detailed study for setting up and maintenance of zoos in the country.
  • The report recommended setting up of a central agency (Zoo Grants Commission), and to give effect to this recommendation, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended through an amendment Act in the year 1991.
  • Accordingly, the Central Zoo Authority was established as a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment & Forests by the Government of India in the year 1992.
  • The Authority consists of a Chairman, ten members and a Member Secretary.

 

FUNCTIONS OF CENTRAL ZOO AUTHORITY:

The Authority has been assigned following functions under Section 38 (C) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:

  1.  To specify the minimum standards for housing, upkeep and veterinary care of the animals kept in zoos;
  2.  To evaluate and assess the functioning of the zoos with respect to the prescribed standards or norms;
  3.  To recognize or derecognize zoos;
  4.   To identify endangered species of wild animals for purposes of captive breeding and assigning responsibility in this regard to a zoo;
  5.   To coordinate the acquisition, exchange and loaning of animals for breeding purpose;
  6.   To ensure maintenance of studbooks of endangered species of wild animals bred in captivity;
  7.  To identify priorities and themes with regard to display of captive animals in zoos;
  8.  To coordinate training of zoo personnel in India and outside India;
  9.  To coordinate research in captive breeding and educational programmes for the purposes of zoos;
  10.  To provide technical and other assistance to zoos for their proper management and development on scientific lines;
  11.  To perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to zoos.

 

OBJECTIVES:

  • The main objective of this Authority is to complement and strengthen the national effort in conservation of the rich biodiversity of the country, particularly the fauna as per the National Zoo Policy, 1998.
  • Other objectives of this Authority include- enforcing minimum standards and norms for upkeep and healthcare of animals in Indian zoos and to control mushrooming of unplanned and ill-conceived zoos.
  • For the overall management of the animals housed in the Indian zoos, standards and norms for appropriate housing, upkeep, health care, diet etc. has been laid down under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992 which was further amended in the year 2009 and 2013.
  • Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the Authority for its operation. The Authority evaluates the zoos with reference to the parameters prescribed under the Rules and grants recognition, accordingly.
  • The Authority’s role is more of a facilitator than a regulator.
  • It therefore, provides technical and financial assistance to such zoos which have the potential to attain the desired standard in animal management.
  • Apart from the primary function of grant of recognition, the Central Zoo Authority also regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category listed under Schedule- I and II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 among zoos.
  • Exchange of animals between Indian and foreign zoos is also approved by the Authority before the requisite clearances under EXIM Policy and the CITES permits are issued by the competent authority.
  • The Authority also coordinates and implements programmes on capacity building of zoo personnel, planned conservation breeding programmes and ex-situ research including biotechnological intervention for conservation of species for complementing in-situ conservation efforts in the country.

 

ZOOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA:
  • ESTABLISHED: 1st July, 1916
  • AIM: To promote survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of various aspects of exceptionally rich life of the erstwhile ´British Indian Empire´.
  • GENESIS: The survey has its genesis in the establishment of the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum at Calcutta in 1875 

BACKGROUND:

  • India is recognized as one of the seventeen mega diversity countries of the world with four biodiversity hot spots -Western Ghats / Sri Lanka, Indo Burma, Himalayas and Sundaland.
  • Also the status of the higher group of animals especially those in the Schedules need to be studied before their habitats get disappeared.
  • Scientists in ZSI are engaged in exploring, naming, describing, classifying and documenting animals from all over India. But a lot more needs to be done to understand and investigate the faunal diversity of India in the light of the objectives of the Convention of Biological Diversity for scientific use and equitable sharing of the benefits of animal resources of the country.

 

IN-SITU CONSERVATION

  • Biodiversity can be conserved by the protection of undisturbed areas, representing the variety of natural ecosystems. It means, many species yet unknown to science can be protected, and will be available for assessment for their possible utilization in future.
  • ZSI provides information and vital data for the in-situ conservation of various species in different ecosystems, both within and outside the protected areas.
  • ZSI undertakes Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with special reference to ecology and wildlife.

 

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of ZSI are classified as follows:

Primary Objectives

  • Exploration, Survey, Inventorying and Monitoring of faunal diversity in various States, Ecosystems and Protected areas of India.
  • Taxonomic studies of all faunal components collected.
  • Periodic review of the Status of Threatened and Endemic species.
  • Preparation of Red Data Book, Fauna of India and Fauna of States.
  • Bio-ecological studies on selected important communities/species.
  • Preparation of databases for the recorded species of the country.
  • Maintenance & Development of National Zoological Collections.
  • Training, Capacity Building and Human Resource Development.
  • Faunal Identification, Advisory services and Library Services.
  • Publication of results including Fauna of India and Fauna of States.

Secondary Objectives

  • Environmental Impact Studies.
  • Maintenance and Development of Museum at Headquarters and Regional Stations.
  • Development of ENVIS and CITES Centers.
  • Research Fellowship, Associateship and Emeritus Scientist Programmes.
  • Collaborative research programmes on Biodiversity with other Organizations.
  • GIS and Remote Sensing studies for animal diversity as well as for selected threatened species.
  • Chromosomal Mapping and DNA finger printing.

 

INDIA STATE FOREST REPORT 2019

 

  • ISFR 2019 is the 16th biennial assessment report (once every two years) of FSI.
  • India State of Forest Report (ISFR) is prepared by Forest Survey of India (Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change) about the forest resources of India.
  • The release of the biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR) published by Forest Survey of India (FSI) is one of the most awaited events in India.

 

  • There has been an increase of over 5000 sq km of forest and tree cover as compared to the previous assessment of ISFR 2017.

 

FOREST AND TREE COVER IN INDIA:

FOREST COVER:

  • Forest Cover (In terms of area): Madhya Pradesh> Arunachal Pradesh> Chhattisgarh> Odisha> Maharashtra.
  • Forest Cover (In terms of Percentage): Mizoram (85.4%)> Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%)> Meghalaya (76.33%)- Increase in Forest Cover
  • The country’s forest cover includes all patches of land with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and more than 1 hectare in area, irrespective of land use, ownership and species of trees.
  • The total forest cover of the country is 7,12,249 sq km which is 21.67% of the geographical area of the country.
  • The top five states to have shown an increase in forest cover include Karnataka (1,025 sq km) > Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) > Kerala (823 sq km) > J&K (371 sq km) > Himachal Pradesh (334 sq km).
  • Decline of Forest Cover in North Eastern Region
  • Total forest cover in the North Eastern region is 1,70,541 sq km, which is 65.05% of its geographical area.
  • There has been a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45%) in the region. Except Assam and Tripura, all the States in the region show decrease in forest cover.

 

Forests Cover in Tribal Districts

  • The total forest cover in the tribal districts is 4,22,351 sq km, which is 37.54% of the geographical area of these districts.
  • There has been a decrease of 741 sq km of forest cover within the Recorded Forest Area/ Green Wash (RFA/GW) in the tribal districts and an increase of 1,922 sq km outside.
  • There has been a decline in tree cover inside forests due to tribal populations getting “land titles” (patta) and there has been a rise in trees outside the forest area due to an increase in tree plantation and afforestation activities.

 

TREE COVER:

  • Tree cover comprises of tree patches of size less than 1 hectare occurring outside the recorded forest area.
  • The tree cover of the country is estimated as 95,027 sq km which is 2.89% of the geographical area.
  • Maharashtra has had the highest increase in tree cover and a large part of that is due to horticulture.
  • In comparison to 2017, the 2019 survey has found an increase of 5,188 sq km in total forest and tree cover in the country.
  • Tree and forest cover together made up 24.56% (8,07,276 sq km) of India’s area. In the last assessment it was 24.39%.
  • The nation’s tree and forest cover has largely hovered from 21-25% and is short of the National Forest Policy, 1988, which envisages 33% to be under such cover.
  • Mangrove cover in the country has increased by 54 sq km (1.10%) as compared to the previous assessment.

 

Carbon Stock:

  • The total carbon stock of the country was estimated at 7124 million tons, which is an increase of 42.6 million tons from the last assessment.
  • It implies that India is on the right track to achieve its Paris Agreement commitment of 2.5 -3 billion carbon sinks.

 

Forest Produce:

  • Dependence of fuelwood on forests is the highest in the State of Maharashtra, whereas, for fodder, small timber and bamboo, dependence is highest in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The analysis reveals that 21.40% of the forest cover of the country is highly to extremely fire prone.

 

Bamboo Cover:

  • There is an increase of 3,229 sq km in the bamboo bearing area as compared to the estimate of ISFR 2017.

 

NATIONAL  LAKE CONSERVATION PLAN (NLCP)
  • Acknowledging the importance of Lake, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the NLCP a Centrally Sponsored Scheme exclusively to restore the water quality and ecology of lakes in different States and UT
  • The objective of the scheme is to restore and conserve the urban and semi-urban lakes of the country degraded due to waste water discharge into the lake and other unique freshwater ecosystems, through an integrated ecosystem approach.
  • Note- In 2013 the Government of India merged National Lake Conservation Plan with National Wetland Conservation Plan into a new scheme called National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystem (NPCA)

 

National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)
  • National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) has started the Mission Clean Ganga with a changed and comprehensive approach to champion the challenges posed to Ganga through four different sectors, namely, of wastewater management, solid waste management, industrial pollution and river front development. 
  • NGRBA was constituted in February 20, 2009 under Enviornment protection Act, 1986 with the objectives of
  1.  Ensuring effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management
  2. Maintaining environmental flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development..

 

NGRBA functions include

  • Development of a Ganga River Basin Management Plan,
  • Regulation of activities aimed at prevention, control and abatement of pollution.
  • To maintain water quality
  • To take measures relevant to the river ecology in the Ganga basin states.
  • It is mandated to ensure the maintenance of minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga
  • Take necessary measure for planning, financing and execution of programmes including that of – 

 

    1. Augmentation of Sewerage Infrastructure
    2. Catchment Area Treatment
    3. Protection of Flood Plains
    4. Creating Public Awareness

 

Note- The Government of India in September 2016, has ordered the formation of new body named National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) to replace the existing National Ganga River Basin Authority for overall responsibility of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of Ganga River Basin.

 

Question :

  • Which of the following are the key features of ‘National Ganga River Basin Authority’ (NGRBA)?
  1.  River basin is the unit of planning and management.
  2.  It spearheads the river conservation efforts at the national level.
  3.  One of the Chief Ministers of the States through which the Ganga flows becomes the Chairman of NGRBA on rotation basis.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: A

 

Joint Forest Management

  • Joint forest managementis concept of developing relationships between fringe forest groups and forest department on the basis of mutual trust and jointly defined roles and responsibilities for forest protection and development.
  • The concept was introduced by Government of India through the National Forest Policy of 1988.
  • The communities are required to organize forest protection committees, village forest committees, village forest conservation and development societies, etc.
  • Each of these bodies has an executive committee that manages its day-to-day affairs.

 

Social Forestry

  • Social forestry refers to the management of forests for the benefits of local communities.
  • It includes aspects such as forest management, forest protection, and afforestation of deforested lands with the objective of improving the rural, environmental, and social development.

 

The National Commission on Agriculture has classified the social forestry into 3 categories

  • Urban Forestry: It involve raising and management of Tree on Public and Private Land around Urban Centre
  • Farm Forestry: Under Farm Forestry farmer grow trees for commercial and non-commercial purpose on their farm land.
  • Rural Forestry: The Rural Forestry is further divided into Agro-Forestry and Community Forestry
  • Agro-Forestry- It involves raising of tree and growing of agriculture crops on same land
  • Community Forestry– It involves the raising of tree on public land such as roadside, pasture land.

 

Benefits of social forestry include:

  • Fuel, fodder, timber, supplementary food and income from surplus forest products and tree derived resources for rural people.
  • Reclamation of waste lands and degraded lands along with soil conservation and green cover.
  • Protection of agricultural fields from winds and dust storms.
  • Check desertification.

 

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Introduction

  • UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making.
  • EIA help both environmental and economic benefits to be achieved, such as reduced cost and time of project implementation and design, avoided treatment/clean-up costs and impacts of laws and regulations.

The important aspects of EIA are:

  • Risk assessment,
  • Environmental management and
  • post product monitoring.
  • EIA provides a cost effective method to eliminate or minimize the adverse impact of development projects.

 

Objective of Environmental Impact Assessment  Immediate Objectives

  • To understand the possible impacts (negative and positive) of a developmental project on environment
  • To ensure that the public would be given early and sufficient opportunity in the decision-making procedure and helping the developer to design a more publically acceptable project .
  • To assess the potential loss or damage to the biodiversity, the natural habitat and the cultural heritage sites.
  • To propose mitigation plan to minimize the negative impacts through appropriate measures
  • To design the proposal in environment friendly manner
  • To facilitate the decision-making process and setting of the terms and conditions for implementing the project and post-project monitoring

 

Long-Term Objectives

  • By effective environmental impact assessment procedures, it is possible to escape from the irreversible and irrevocable damage to the environment and hence, the long-term safeguards to conserve the biodiversity and its habitat.
  • It increases the social dimension of the project proposals involving the sentiments, the health and safety of the people and development of the community.
  • The economic prosperity would be achieved by the development projects implemented in the systematic way as per the guidelines issued based on the EIA.
  • Thus, EIA acts as an instrument for sustainable development.

 

EIA PROCEDURAL STAGES

  • Identification– The project’s potential impacts, zone of impacts, mitigation possibilities and need for monitoring.
  • Screening- The project plan is screened for scale of investment, location and type of development and if the project needs statutory clearance.
  • Scoping Alternative- For every project, possible alternatives should be identified, and environmental attributes compared. Alternatives should cover both project location and process technologies.
  • Impact Prediction- Positive and negative, reversible and irreversible and temporary and permanent impacts need to be predicted which presupposes a good understanding of the project by the assessment agency.
  • Mitigation- The EIA report should include the actions and steps for preventing, minimizing or by passing the impacts or else the level of compensation for probable environmental damage or loss.
  • Reporting- The project authority have to furnish the Detail Project Report(DPR), Environment Impact Statement(EIS).
  • Public Hearing- On completion of the EIA report, public and environmental groups living close to project site may be informed and consulted.
  • Review- Once the final report is prepared, it may be reviewed based on comment and input from stake holder.
  • Decision Making- Impact Assessment Authority along with the experts consult the project-in-charge along with consultant to take the final decision, keeping in mind EIA
  • Monitoring- The various phases of implementation of the project are monitored.

 

BENEFITS OF EIA

  • A EIA facilitates informed decision-making by providing clear, systematic and unbiased analysis of the effect and consequences of proposed projects.
  • EIA provides for screening out and early withdrawal of environmentally unsound proposal; hence, it saves the time and cost of the project.
  • It assists in the selection of alternative designs with modification to reduce negative environmental impacts and selects the best practicable and most environmentally friendly options.
  • EIA predicts major adverse impacts and identifies mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate major impacts of the proposed project.
  • EIA creates awareness and promotes the understanding about the project to the affected communities and individuals.
  • It influences the decision-making process and the development of terms and conditions without affecting the interests of all stakeholders and also the environment and related rules.
  • It also lowers the conflicts between the project and the local community by sharing and involving the people in decision making.

 

History of EIA in India

  • EIA was introduced in India in 1978, with respect to river valley projects.
  • Later the EIA legislation was enhanced to include other developmental sections since 1941.
  • EIA is now mandatory for some categories of projects, and these projects get Environmental Clearance (EC) only after the EIA requirement are fulfilled.
  • Till 1994, environmental clearance from the Central Government was an administrative decision and lacked legislative support.
  • On 27 January 1994, the then Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, promulgated an EIA notification making Environmental Clearance (EC) mandatory for expansion or modernisation of any activity or for setting up new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified new EIA legislation in September 2006.
  • The notification makes it mandatory for various projectssuch as mining, thermal power plants, river valley, infrastructure (road, highway, ports, harbours and airports) and industries including very small electroplating or foundry units to get environment clearance.
  • However, unlike the EIA Notification of 1994, the new legislation has put the onus of clearing projects on the state governmentdepending on the size/capacity of the project.
  • Environmental clearance from the Central Government is required for developmental projects broadly categorized under the following industrial sectors

 

    1. Mining
    2. Thermal power plants
    3. River valley
    4. Infrastructure (road, highway, ports, harbours and airports)
    5. Industries including very small electroplating or foundry units

 

  • some activities permissible under the Coastal Regulation Zone Act, 1991 also require similar clearance,
  • Donor agencies operating in India (like the World Bank and the ADB) have a different set of requirements for giving environmental clearance to projects that are funded by them.
  • EIA appraises the environmental health and social implications of planned developmental projects.
  • It thus links environment with development. The goal of EIA is to ensure environmentally safe and sustainable development.

 

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

  • SEA is a proactive and comprehensive process which identifies and evaluates the significant environmental and sustainability implications of particular plans, programmes and policies to ensure that they are fully considered and addressed at the earliest stages of decision making.
  • SEAs can recommend changes within the proposed plans or programmes, improvements in coordination between relevant agencies, new cross-sectoral interventions and suggestions for EIAs of future projects and improve their quality.
  • SEA typically involves the setting of an overarching environmental vision and objectives for a particular geographic region and activities within that region.
  • From a global perspective, SEA for all components of the environment, including the marine environment, is still at an early stage of implementation, with the 2003 Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Kiev Protocol) being the principal international instrument on this process and the EU Directive on SEA being a key regional example of its implementation in policy.

Tools for predicting environmental and socio-economic effects

  • Modelling or forecasting of direct environmental effects
  • Matrices and network analysis
  • Participatory or consultative techniques
  • Geographical information systems as a tool to analyse, organise and present information Tools for ensuring full stakeholder engagement
  • Stakeholder analysis to identify those affected and involved in the policy, plan or programme decision
  • Consultation surveys
  • Consensus building processes Tools for analysing and comparing options
  • Scenario analysis and multi-criteria analysis
  • Risk analysis or assessment
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Opinion surveys to identify priorities

 

ENVIRONMENT ACTION PLAN
  • The Indian government formulated an Environment action programme (EAP) in January 1994. The main objective of this programme is to strengthen environment impact assessment (EIA) of various projects through an organized system of natural resources accounting and environmental statistics.

The environment action programme focuses on the following areas:

  • Conservation of biodiversity including forests, marine life and mountain ecosystems.
  • Conservation of soil and moisture and ensuring that water resources do not get polluted
  • Control of industrial pollution and waste,
  • Access to clean technologies
  • Tackling urban environmental issues
  • Strengthening environmental education, training, awareness and resources management
  • Alternative energy plan.
  • The Programme envisaged in EAP co-ordinate with the thrust areas identified in the
  • Agenda 21 adopted at the Earth Summit in June 1992.

 

DRAWBACKS IN INDIAN EIA SYSTEM

  1. Loopholes in EIA: While the adoption of EIA procedures is considered an important milestone in the field of good governance in environment in India, there are many loopholes in the EIA procedures.
  • The role played by various stakeholders is evidently inadequate and faulty.
  • The strengthening of the EIA procedures is considered necessary as there are many gaps when it comes to implementing things on the ground.
  • It has become a common practice to fudge data or furnish data without adequate field study
  1. Dilution through amendments: It is to be noted that since 1994, the EIA has been amended 14 times not so much to make it more stringent but only to make it lax
  2. Corruption and bribery: Some EIA scams occurred because of the preparation of the ElAs by passing the procedures and committing mistakes deliberately and willfully with vested interests.
  • As a result, sometimes, environmentally unsafe projects are also being permitted.
  1. Violation of procedures and quality of EIA reports: The EIA reports sometimes are prepared without undergoing proper procedure, creating great debacles socially as well as legally
  2. Availability of reliable environmental database: Sometimes, the availability of environmental database is insufficient and ElA prepared with such data may be not up to the mark,
  3. Technical manpower: The technical manpower, who are engaged in the process EIA are sometimes not up to the mark and subsequently, the ElA also are of low quality.
  • EIA reports prepared by the so called “experts” have a chance of misrepresentation of environmental impacts of the project.

 

Key Amendment to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 and its criticism

  1. Creation of an ex-post-facto clearance route
    • It applies to ongoing or completed project for which an EIA clearance wasnever sought or granted, and the construction of the project took place regardless.[violating the norms]
    • This also means that any environmental damage caused by the project is likely to be waived off as the violations get legitimised i.e. the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure, with some minor fines for the violations
  • Where such ex-post-facto clearances were being granted previously, the courts cracked down on them as illegal.
  • Therefore, what could not be ratified will now find itself notified.

 

  1. Diluted Public Consultation Process
    • The draft 2020 notification shortens the time period from 30 days to 20 days for the public to furnish responses on the project.
    • For project-affected people, who are frequently forest dwellers or otherwise do not have access to information and technology, this will make it harder to put forth representations.
    • Public hearings without informed citizenry would not be meaningful and hence the whole EIA process would lack credibility.

 

  1.  Monitoring requirements have been reduced.
    • Monitoring requirements have been slackened.
    • The draft EIA notificationhalves the frequency of reporting requirements from every six months to once a year.
    • It also extends the validity period for approvalsin critical sectors such as mining.

 

  1. Scope of the EIA regime is set to shrink
    • Through the draft notification, the central government gets the power to categorise projects as “strategic.”
    • Once a project is considered as strategic, the draft notification states that no information related to such projects shall be placed in the public domain.
    • While defense and national security installationswere always understandably exempt, a vague new category of projects “involving other strategic considerations” will also now be free from public consultation requirements.

 

Consequences of diluting EIA process

  • Against democratic norms:For affected communities, where shifts in the local environment can threaten livelihoods, flood a valley or destroy a forest, public consultation is a referendum on existential threats

 

5.Increases vulnerability to disasters:

    • Oil India Limited’s oil wells in the Tinsukia district, Assam went up in flames this month; It is situated only a few kilometres away from protected forest.
    • Recent processes for expansion and modification apparently took place without fresh environmental clearance.
    • There was a deadly gas leak at LG Polymers’ Visakhapatnam plant, the plant had been operating without a valid environmental clearance for decades

 

Draft EIA Notification, 2020

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has made an amendment to EIA Notification 2006.
  • All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category.
  • Projects falling under Category B2 are exempted from requirement of collection of Base line data, EIA Studies and public consultation.
  • The re-categorization of such proposals has been done to facilitate decentralization of appraisal to State Level so as to fast track the process.
  • This step will help in increasing the availability of the important medicines/ drugs in the country within short span of time.
  • This amendment is applicable to all proposals received up to 30th September 2020.
  • The states have also been issued advisories to expeditiously process such proposals.
  • Further, to ensure expeditious disposal of the proposals within given time-line, Ministry has also advised states to use information technologyg. video conference, considering the fact that in view of the prevailing situation on ground, appraisal of proposals may not be possible through physical meetings.

 

Issues involved

  • It proposes to reduce the period of public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days, and reduces from 30 to 20 days the time provided for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
  • This can pose a problem to those affected people who do not have access to information and technology and those that are not aware of the process itself.
  • It allows the central government to declare some areas as “economically sensitive areas” without a public hearing or environmental clearance, and several “red” and “orange”-classified toxic industries could now operate as close as 0-5 km from a Protected Area.
  • The government also gets to decide on the “strategic” tag for any projects for which no information on such projects shall be placed in the public domain. This may lead to summary clearance for any project deemed strategic without having to explain why.
  • Projects that have commenced operations – by way of construction, installation, excavation, production, etc – without obtaining necessary clearances can be legalised after payment of a penalty.
  • Post facto clearance is the violation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence and is contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development.
  • Exemptions: The new draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation and prior clearance

For example, linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways including roads that cut through forests and dredging of major rivers, will be exempt from prior clearance.

  • The latest draft EIA notification does away with the need to carry out studies covering all seasons in a year. This will lead to less reliable data and projections for pollutants and will mask the full environmental impact of a project.
  • The notification allows project proponents to engage private consultants for preparing the EIA reports propelling a situation where expertise and

Technicalities would be adopted to obscure the process and make it difficult to understand.

 

Way forward

  • Various provisions of Draft EIA aimed at facilitating the government’s doctrine of “ease of doing business”.
  • Though the Environmental regulation must balance damage to the environment with sustainable development and possible benefits. Government must incorporate the concerns of all stakeholder before finalizing the regulation.

 

 

UPSC Previous Year Questions

  1. 1. Environmental Impact Assessment studies are increasingly undertaken before a project is cleared by the Government. Discuss the environmental impacts of coal-fired thermal plants located at coal pitheads. (2014)
  2. “In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development.”

Discuss (2017)

 

3 With reference to India, consider the following Central Acts:

  1.  Import and Export (Control) Act, 1947
  2.  Mining and Mineral Development   Regulation) Act, 1957
  3.  Customs Act, 1962
  4.  Indian Forest Act, 1927

Which of the above Acts have relevance to/bearing on the biodiversity conservation in the country?

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2, 3 and 4 only
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 4
  4. None of the above Acts

Answer: C

 

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