CANCUN Summit: World Climate Summit (WCS) in Cancun, Mexico, which kicked-off officially on November 29th, 2010 is said to be the beginning of a new, open and collaborative global 10-year framework dedicated to helping governments, businesses and financiers accelerate solutions to climate change.
1. Global Warming: Given the urgency of the problem of global warming, a gradual climate policy is still not enough. Yet the UN climate negotiations this time proved to be surprisingly robust and resolute. They produced a modest deal that, for the first time, commits all the major economies to reducing emissions, but not enough to meet their promise of keeping the global temperature rise to 2°C. However, governments failed to reach agreement on how far overall global emissions should be cut.
2. Deforestation: Formal backing was given for the UN's deforestation scheme, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation), under which rich countries pay poorer nations for not to chop down forests and so lock away carbon emissions.
3. Kyoto Protocol: Decisions on the future of the Kyoto protocol, the current international treaty binding rich countries to cut emissions, were effectively deferred until South Africa summit in 2011.
4. Copenhagen Accord: Cancun summit has not dealt in with any new accord; rather it has tried to conclude the objectives decided at COP 15. The Green Climate Fund, including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, and technology development and transfer were the chief issues at Copenhagen. The proposals for a mandatory cut in carbon emission were proposed under Copenhagen accord. Also, the deal at Cancun has given substance to the notion of an inspection regime, which was raised at Copenhagen.
5. Cop 17: The 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) will be held in the city of Durban, South Africa.
6. Green Climate Fund: During climate talks in Cancun, delegates from developed countries agreed to set up a Green Climate Fund. Developed countries agreed in Copenhagen to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 to developing countries to mitigate the climate change. The Fund will be governed by a board of 25 people. The U.N. will manage the Fund, instead of the World Bank. However, the World Bank will be the interim trustee of the Fund for the first three years after its launch; it will then be subject to a review.
7. Climate Technology Centre and Networking: The idea of transferring knowledge of clean technology between countries was backed at Cancun. A technology executive committee and a climate technology centre and network are to be set up.
Vedanta Mining Project in Orissa's Niyamgiri Hills Rejected: Vedanta has been criticised by human rights and activist groups, including Survival International and Amnesty International, due to their operations in Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa that are said to threaten the lives of the Dongria Kondh that populate this region. The Niyamgiri hills are also claimed to be an important wildlife habitat in Eastern Ghats of India as per a report by the Wildlife Institute of India.
The Union Environment Ministry in August 2010 rejected earlier clearances granted to a joint venture led by the Vedanta Group company Sterlite Industries for mining bauxite from Niyamgiri hills. The Ministry stated that there has been violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Environment Protection Act, 1966 and Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
1. Habitat Loss: Mining operations of the intensity proposed in this project spread over more than 7 square km would severely disturb this important wildlife habitat. The value of Niyamgiri hill forests as an important elephant habitat is well recognized; therefore this habitat has been included within the South Orissa Elephant Reserve. Mining on the scale proposed in this habitat would severely disturb elephant habitats, and threaten the important task of elephant conservation in south Orissa. That mining causes severe disturbance to elephant habitats has already been demonstrated in Keonjhar district.
2. Deforestation: As many as 1,21,337 trees will have to be cut in case the mining lease is granted. Of these trees approximately 40 per cent would be in the mining lease area while the remaining 60 per cent would have to be removed to construct the access road and other mine related planned activities. Given that more than 1.21 lakh trees have to be felled; and since the number of shrubs and large herbs in a rich tropical forest are at least thrice the number of trees, it can be reasonably concluded that more than 3.63 lakh shrubs and ground level flora would also be cleared under the project.
3. Tribal Rights: Mining, if permitted, will directly affect a substantial section (almost 20 per cent of their entire population in this world) of the Dongaria Kondh community. An impact on such a significant fraction of the population of the community will have repercussions on the community's very survival, the overall viability of this group and its biological and social reproduction. The mining operations will destroy significant tracts of forest lands. Since the Dongaria and Kutia Kondh are heavily dependent on forest produce for their livelihood, this forest cover loss will cause a significant decline in their economic well-being.
4. Forest Rights Act: As per the Preamble of the FR Act, forest dwellers are 'integral to the very survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem. Therefore, in law, forests now include forest dwellers and are not limited to trees and wildlife. Since the MoEF is charged with the responsibility of implementing the Forest Conservation Act, it has to ensure that both forests and forest dwellers are protected. As far as forest rights are concerned, the Forest Rights Act is a special law and therefore the authorities specified under it override those recognized by the Forest Conservation Act, a more general law. Section 5(c) has authorized the Gram Sabhas to ensure that their habitat is preserved from any form of destructive practices affecting their cultural and natural heritage. MoEF, as the authority under the Forest Conservation Act, cannot override the statutory authority under the Forest Rights Act, viz. the Gram Sabhas. MoEF would in fact be guilty of violating the FR Act, if it ignores the wishes of the Gram Sabhas.
5. Environment Protection Act (EPA): The Company Vedanta Alumina Limited has already proceeded with construction activity for its enormous expansion project that would increase its capacity six fold from 1 Mtpa to 6 Mtpa without obtaining environmental clearance as per provisions of EIA Notification, 2006 under the EPA. This amounts to a serious violation of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act. This expansion, its extensive scale and advanced nature, is in complete violation of the EPA and is an expression of the contempt with which this company treats the laws of the land.
World Economic Forum's Report on Green Investing 2010 :
The World Economic Forum stated that moving to a low-carbon energy infrastructure will require global annual investment of around US$ 500 billion per annum, if the increase in global average temperatures is to be restricted to 2°C.
This report provides an update on the status of investment in clean energy and how the sector has survived the financial crisis. It also provides a critical overview of the various public and private sector financing mechanisms at the national, state and local level that could help unleash further necessary investment. The World Economic Forum's release "Green Investing 2010: Policy Mechanisms to Bridge the Financing Gap" is part of the Green Investing project.
1. Clean Energy: World Economic Forum reveals that investment in clean energy has held up better than expected during the financial crisis and resulting recession, but a considerable gap still exists between current levels of investment and what is needed to begin reducing the world's carbon emissions. This year's report, therefore, looks in more detail at ten promising clean energy sectors. The first eight are power generating technologies, the last two produce liquid biofuels. These leading sectors are summarized below:
1. Onshore wind
2. Offshore wind
3. Solar photovoltaic power
4. Solar thermal electricity generation
6. Municipal solid waste-to-energy
7. Geothermal power
8. Small-scale hydro
9. Sugar-based first-generation biofuel
10. Cellulosic, algal and other second-generation biofuels
2. Cap and trade system: A cap and trade system is a market-based approach to controlling pollution that allows corporations or national governments to trade emission allowances under an overall cap, or limit, on those emissions. Each large-scale emitter, or company, will have a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas that it can emit. The firm must have an "emission permit" for every ton of carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere. These permits set an enforceable limit, or cap, on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that the company is allowed to emit.
It will be relatively cheaper or easier for some companies to reduce their emissions below their required limit than others. These more efficient companies, who emit less than their allowance, can sell their extra permits to companies that are not able to make reductions easily. This creates a trading system that guarantees a set level of overall reductions, while rewarding the most efficient companies and ensuring that the cap can be met at the lowest possible cost to the economy.
3. Low Carbon Economy: The World Economic Forum stated that moving to a low-carbon energy infrastructure will require global annual investment of around US$ 500 billion per annum, if the increase in global average temperatures is to be restricted to 2°C.
4. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) / Green Certificates: A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a regulation that requires the increased production of energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. Other common names for the same concept are Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) at the United States federal level and Renewable Obligation in the UK.
The RPS mechanism generally places an obligation on electricity supply companies to produce a specified fraction of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Certified renewable energy generators earn certificates for every unit of electricity they produce and can sell these along with their electricity to supply companies. The supply companies then pass the certificates to some form of regulatory body to demonstrate their compliance with their regulatory obligations.
The aim of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) is to accelerate the integration of renewable energy by requiring electricity supply companies to source a specific percentage of their power from renewable sources. Currently, many RPS regimes are voluntary rather than mandatory.
Asia Pacific Forests and Forestry to 2020 (Report): This report states that with only 0.2 hectares of forest per person, the Asia-Pacific region is, per capita, the least forested region in the world.
1. Deforestation: In addition to China, forest area has increased in India, Bhutan, Fiji, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. At the aggregate level, forest area in the Asia-Pacific region will increase or stabilize largely on account of the significant increase in afforestation and reforestation in China, India and Vietnam.
2. People Participation: The report hails India for its afforestation programmes and states that the forest policies have shifted radically from regulatory to participatory management.
UNEP Report on e-waste (Recycling from e-waste to Resources): A report issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at a meeting of Basel Convention in Bali, Indonesia indicates that hazardous waste from electronic products is growing exponentially in developing countries, sometimes by as much as 500 per cent. The report, Recycling - From E-Waste to Resources, used data from 11 representative developing countries to estimate current and future e-waste generation which includes old and dilapidated desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions. The United Nations called for new recycling technologies and regulations to safeguard both public health and the environment.
This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting up of large, efficient facilities in China. China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector. In addition to curbing health problems, boosting developing country e-waste recycling rates can have the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals, including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium [transparent conductive layers in LCD glass], -- by acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity.
The report recommends countries establish e-waste management centres of excellence, building on existing organizations working in the area of recycling and waste management. Existing bodies include those supported by the United Nations including more than 40 National Cleaner Production Centres established by the UN Industrial and Development Organization and the regional centres established under the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
INDIA WILL HOST 2012 'RIO + 20' SUMMIT ON CBD: The eleventh Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held in October 2012 in New Delhi. This would mark the twentieth anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit and will be called 'Rio + 20' CBD Conference. The hosting of this COP shows not only India's role as a major mega-diverse country, but also its commitment to playing a global leadership role in biodiversity conservation.
1. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the key agreements adopted during the historic Earth Summit held in Rio De Janeiro in 1992.This is the first comprehensive global agreement which addresses all aspects relating to biodiversity. The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
2. Biopiracy: Regarding India's Actions to Combat Biopiracy the statement released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests explains at the national level, India has been taking a number of proactive measures related to biodiversity conservation. India was one of the first few countries in the world to enact a national legislation, called the Biological Diversity Act in 2002, which contains provisions for access and benefit sharing. A National Biodiversity Authority has also been set up in Chennai.
3. Data Base: Most importantly, India has created a database of traditional knowledge - called the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) - managed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The TKDL is a computerized database of documented information available in published texts of Indian systems of medicine. The objective of the TKDL is to make documented information easily accessible to patent examiners to prevent grant of patents on non-original inventions.
Recovery Programme for Great Indian Bustard: Forest Ministry has short listed 15 species, including Great Indian Bustard and other Bustards for initiating their recovery programme. Financial provision of Rs.10 crore for such recovery programmes have been made in the existing Centrally Sponsored Scheme - 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats'. In addition, financial assistances to the extent of Rs.39.58 lakhs has been provided during the current year for conservation of Great Indian Bustard in Rajasthan.
1. Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats: During the Eleventh Five Year Plan the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of 'Assistance for Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries' was modified and renamed as 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats and new components were added. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats' has following components:
(i). Support to Protected Areas (National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves).
(ii). Protection of Wildlife outside Protected Areas.
(iii). Recovery Programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.
In addition, there are two other Centrally Sponsored Schemes viz. 'Project Tiger' and 'Project Elephant' which are being continued during the 11th Five year Plan. The total allocation for these schemes during Eleventh Five Year Plan is Rs. 800.00 crores, Rs. 615.00 crores and Rs. 82 crores respectively.
Climate Change Mission: India has launched climate change mission to improve the energy efficiency to prevent Green House Gas emission. National Action Plan on Climate Change includes a National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency. The National Mission is being institutionalized by the Ministry of Power through the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change has approved the Mission comprising of four initiatives, namely, Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT), markettransformation for energy efficiency (MTEE), energy efficiency financing platform (EEFP) and framework for energy efficient economic development (FEEED).
This Mission will create regulatory and policy regime to foster the energy efficiency market. As a result of implementation of this Mission over the next five years, it is estimated that by 2015, about 23 million tons of oil-equivalent of fuel savings - in coal, gas, and petroleum products, will be achieved every year along with an expected avoided capacity addition of 19,598 MW. The consequential carbon dioxide emission reduction is estimated to be around 98.55 million tons per annum from 2014/15 through deployment of appropriate technologies for both adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gases emissions.
Eight National Missions Launched as part of NAPCC: Solar Energy, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic knowledge for Climate Change which include assessment of the impact of climate change and actions needed to address climate change are the concerned fields in which National missions have been launched under National Action Plan on Climate Change.
1. National Solar Mission: The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, also known as simply National Solar Mission, is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India's energy security challenge. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change.
The Mission will adopt a 3-phase approach, spanning the remaining period of the 11th Plan and first year of the 12th Plan (up to 2012-13) as Phase 1, the remaining 4 years of the 12th Plan (2013-17) as Phase 2 and the 13th Plan (2017-22) as Phase 3. At the end of each plan, and mid-term during the 12th and 13th Plans, there will be an evaluation of progress, review of capacity and targets for subsequent phases, based on emerging cost and technology trends, both domestic and global. The aim would be to protect Government from subsidy exposure in case expected cost reduction does not materialize or is more rapid than expected.
The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. The immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country both at a centralized and decentralized level. The first phase (up to 2013) will focus on capturing of the low hanging options in solar thermal; on promoting off-grid systems to serve populations without access to commercial energy and modest capacity addition in grid-based systems. In the second phase, after taking into account the experience of the initial years, capacity will be aggressively ramped up to create conditions for up scaled and competitive solar energy penetration in the country.
2. National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency: NMEEE is an Indian government initiative proposed to address national problems of inefficient energy use. It is one of eight proposals created by India's National Action Plan for Climate Change and is based on the Energy Conservation Act of 2001.
The initiative outlines several actions needed, which include:
(i). perform, achieve and trade.
(ii). market transformation for energy efficiency.
(iii). financing of energy efficiency.
(iv). power sector technology strategy.
(v). strengthening of state designated agencies.
(vi). strengthening of Bureau of Energy Efficiency.
(vii). awareness programmes.
3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: The national mission on sustainable habitat is one of the eight missions under national climate change action plan and aims to make cities sustainable through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, management of solid waste & shift to public transport. The National Mission for Sustainable Habitat which is a component of the National Action Plan for Climate Change will broadly cover the following aspects: Extension of the energy conservation building code - which addresses the design of new and large commercial buildings to optimize their energy demand; Better urban planning and modal shift to public transport - make long term transport plans to facilitate the growth of medium and small cities in such a way that ensures efficient and convenient public transport; Recycling of material and urban waste management - special areas of focus will be development of technology for producing power from waste.
The National Mission will include a major R&D programme, focusing on bio-chemical conversion, waste water use, sewage utilization and recycling options wherever possible.
4. National Water Mission: The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change approved the National Water Mission focusing on making water conservation a peoples' movement in the country.
The main objective of the National Water Mission is "conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management".
The five identified goals of the Mission are:
(a) comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of impact of climate change on water resource;
(b) promotion of citizen and state action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation;
(c) focused attention to over-exploited areas;
(d) increasing water use efficiency by 20%, and
(e) promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.
5. National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system: National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-System cleared by PM's Council on Climate Change is the fourth mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change focuses on evolving suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan glacier and mountain eco-system.
This mission aims to understand the complex processes affecting the Himalayan Eco system and evolve suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan glacier and mountain eco-system.
The mission attempts to address some important issues concerning :
a) Himalayan Glaciers and the associated hydrological consequences,
b) Biodiversity conservation and protection,
c) Wild life conservation and protection,
d) Traditional knowledge societies and their livelihood and
e) Planning for sustaining of the Himalayan Ecosystem.
6. National Mission for Green India: The mission, which is one of the eight under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, aims at increasing green house gas removal by India's forests to 6.35 per cent of the country's total emissions by 2020.
The National Mission for a Green India, as one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), recognizes that climate change phenomena will seriously affect and alter the distribution, type and quality of natural biological resources of the country and the associated livelihoods of the people. Mission for a Green India (henceforth referred to as Mission) acknowledges the influences that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration though climate mitigation, food security, water security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest dependent communities.
GIM puts "greening" in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Greening is meant to enhance ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems), hydrological services and biodiversity; as well as other provisioning services such as fuel, fodder, small timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs).
The Mission aims at responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures, which would help: enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems; adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate; and adaptation of forest-dependent communities.
The objectives of the Mission are:
a) Increased forest/tree cover on 5 m ha of forest/non-forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 m ha (a total of 10 m ha).
b) Improved ecosystem services including biodiversity, hydrological services and carbon sequestration as a result of treatment of 10 m ha.
c) Increased forest-based livelihood income of about 3 million households living in and around the forests.
d) Enhanced annual CO2 sequestration by 50 to 60 million tonnes in the year 2020.
7. National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
NAPCC has identified the following focus areas :
(i). Dry land Agriculture
(ii). Risk Management
(iii). Access to Information
(iv). Use of Bio- technology
In addition, DAC (Department of Agriculture and Cooperation) & DARE (Department of Agricultural Research And Education), are also mandated for the Promoting Data Access covering
(i). Soil Profile
(ii). Area under Cultivation
(iii). Production and Yield and
(iv). Cost of Cultivation
8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling, and increased international collaboration.
It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.
Inclusion of Vembanad lake into National Wetland Conservation: Vembanad lake has been included in the National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Centre will provide 100 per cent financial assistance to undertake various conservation activities for which the State Government has to submit a long-term Management Action Plan (MAP).
The shrinkage of Vembanad Lake to 37 per cent (13,224 ha) of its original area of 36,329 ha as a result of land reclamation, has been the most important environmental consequence of various human interventions. The water carrying capacity of the system has been reduced to an abysmal 0.6 cubic kilometer from 2.4 cubic kilometer.
Vembanad Lake, along with the adjacent wetland over the eastern and southern sides, forms Kuttanadu, the rice bowl of Kerala and the largest wetland system in the western coast. Five rivers originating in the Western Ghats drain into this lake. Every year, tonnes of insecticides, weedicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers reach this wetland.
Ramsar Convention: The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran for conservation and wise use of wetlands. The agreement was signed on February 2, 1971 and came into force from December 21, 1975. It is one of the oldest specific conventions that deal not only with the conservation of the wetlands but also its wise use. There are at present 158 contracting parties for this convention. About 1831 wetlands of international importance have been listed as Ramsar sites. To undertake immediate remedial measures against pollution or ecological degradation, wetlands are included under Montraux Record.
In India, the convention on wetlands came into force on February 1st 1982. Initially three lakes namely Chilka (Orissa), Loktak (Manipur) and Keoladeo lakes (Rajasthan) were included in the Montreux Record for remedial measures and monitoring. Later on Chilka was removed, as the Government had claimed an improvement in the ecology.
Forest Academy in Kerala: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has signed an Externally Aided Project titled "Capacity Development for Forest Management & Training of Personnel" with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The aim of the project is to improve the infrastructure of the existing training institutes of the States meant for training of front line forest personnel, the course modules as well as teaching methodologies. The Project is to be implemented initially in ten States and Kerala is one amongst the participating States. A proposal for establishment of Kerala Forest Academy has been received. The main objective of the proposed academy is to act as an institute for the training needs of the Kerala Forest Department. The Consent letter from the Government of Kerala has been received.
UNIDO signs $ 14 million GEF-Funded Project for phase-out of PCB pollutants in India: The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) have signed a US $ 14.5 million project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with the Government of India for the phase-out of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the country. PCBs are among the polluting chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and are found in electrical equipments, additives for paints and lubricants, plastics, etc.
CCEA NOD for Rs. 1156 crore Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project: The CCEA approved a Rs.1156 crore World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project. This project is to be implemented over the next five years by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The World Bank's contribution as soft loan/IDA credit is around Rs. 897 crore (78%). This ICZM project assumes special significance in the context of climate change since one of the definitive findings of the IPCC relates to the increase in mean sea level as a result of global warming.
Jaitapur Project: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has come out in defence of the controversial nuclear plant project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The Ministry has defended the environment clearance to the plant while dubbing the decision as a difficult one. The decision was taken while balancing strategic, economic, global diplomacy and environmental concerns.
Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a new proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra India. It will be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating once completed. On December 6, 2010 an agreement was signed for the construction of first set of two third-generation reactors Evolutionary Pressurized Reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
French nuclear engineering firm Areva S.A. and Indian state-owned nuclear operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed this multi billion valued agreement of about $9.3 billion. This is a general framework agreement along with agreement on 'Protection of Confidentiality of Technical Data and Information Relating to Nuclear Power Corporation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy' was also signed.
1. Earthquake Prone Site: According to the Earthquake hazard zoning of India, Jaitapur comes under Seismic Zone III. This zone is called the moderate Risk Zone. Post Chernobyl disaster and Three Mile Island accident, Environmentalists and citizens of the area are questioning about safety as in 2007 largest nuclear generating station in the world Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan at the Ongawa Nuclear Power Plant was closed for five months following an earthquake.
2. Radiation Effects: Effects of nuclear radiation seen in Rawatbhata, has raised further questions on effects of radiation on health of people staying near nuclear power plants. The rise in deformities seen in Rawatbhata is alarming. It is not clear where the nuclear waste emanating from the site will be dumped. The plant is estimated to generate 300 tonnes of waste each year. EPR waste will have about four times as much radioactive Bromine, Iodine, Caesium, etc, compared to ordinary Pressurized water reactor.
3. Fisheries: Since the plant will use the sea water for steam generation and then release hot water in the Arabian sea, fishermen in villages around are predicting destruction of fisheries in the nearby sea. Media articles also highlight the possible human and fisheries cost of this project.
4. Tata Institute of Social Sciences Report: Social impact assessment review of the project is conducted by Jamshedji Tata centre for disaster management of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). According to this report, Government of India is not fully transparent with its own citizens. The government is hiding facts about huge negative impact on the social and environmental development of the Konkan region in general and government also manipulating notification of the area from high severity earthquake zone to moderate seismic severity zone.
5. Public Hearing: A public hearing on the Environmental impact assessment (EIA) Report, prepared by NEERI was conducted by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, on behalf of Ministry of Environment and Forests on 16 April 2010, at the plant site. The public hearing became controversial as the EIA report was not delivered for study to 3 of the 4 Gram panchayat (local village bodies) a month in advance.
6. Land Acquisition: NPCIL has been holding negotiations with farmers since 2005 at Jaitapur in Konkan to acquire 938 hectares for setting up a 10,000 MW nuclear park with the help of reactors from France's Areva. NPCIL has managed to acquire tracts of land, but some local residents are not willing to part with their land, even as others seek higher compensation.
7. Corporate social responsibility: Nuclear Power Corporation of India has adopted a corporate social responsibility policy, by which 1.5 to 2 per cent of the net profit from Jaitapur plant would be spent in that area only. Development projects will be decided by local people and NPC will provide the funds to ensure development of these areas.
India and China Signed Agreement on Cooperation on Addressing Climate Change: India and China have signed an Agreement on Cooperation on addressing climate change that covers, inter-alia, cooperation in observation and monitoring of climate change and undertaking mutually cooperative activities and programmes, as appropriate. The Agreement covers the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean energy technologies, sustainable agriculture and afforestation. This Agreement seeks to enhance cooperation with China, promoting mutual understanding and coordination on international issues relating to climate change and cooperation in the area of research development and diffusion of technologies.
National River Regulation Authority: The Central Government has constituted the Yamuna River Development Authority under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Delhi. The role of the Authority is to commission studies on different aspects of the development of the river, viz. hydrology, ecology, environmental pollution, sustainable use of the river front, etc. to feed into the policy frame work; to develop a policy framework and prepare an integrated plan addressing issues of both quantity in terms of river flow and quality of Yamuna River; to develop an operational plan for implementation of the river action plan; effect inter-sectoral coordination and suggest design for a statutory framework.
Earlier in pursuance to the directions of the Supreme Court based on the news item "And Quiet Flows the Maily Yamuna", an Integrated Action Plan was prepared by the High Powered Committee under the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development to address the pollution of river Yamuna. The integrated action plan so prepared is under implementation with a number of agencies identified towards its implementation.
No ban on tourism in Tiger Reserves (MOEF for Ecologically Sustainable tourism) : There is no proposal to ban tourism in Tiger Reserves of India. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is working on detailed guidelines for promoting eco tourism, i.e. tourism that is ecologically sustainable and is in line with the carrying capacity of the particular reserve. The Ministry of Environment and Forests believes that tourism is essential and that the revenues from tourism must flow back directly into the management of each of the tiger reserves so that local communities can benefit. The advantages of tourism should be felt by these local communities who should be encouraged to develop a stake in the protection of these tiger reserves. This policy of ploughing back is already in place in most reserves and it will be in place in all 'Project Tiger' reserves very soon.
Cold Desert as the 16th Biosphere Reserve : Sixteen Biosphere Reserves have been designated in the country. They are : Nilgiri (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka), Nanda Devi (Uttarakhand), Nokrek (Meghalaya), Manas and Dibru-Saikhowa(Assam), Sunderban (west Bengal), Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu), Great Nicobar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Simlipal (Orissa), Dihang-Debang (Arunachal Pradesh), Kangchendzonga (Sikkim), Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh), Achanakmar-Amarkantak (Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh), Agasthyamalai (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), Kutch (Gujarat) and Cold Desert (Himachal Pradesh).
National Institute for Climate and Environment Studies: Department of Space (DOS) has proposed to set up a new Institute called "National Institute for Climate and Environment Studies (NICES)" with the involvement of Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The institute will initially be located and nucleated at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), Gadanki near Tirupati, which is an autonomous laboratory involved in monitoring the Earth's atmosphere, and functions under DOS. There is no time frame for setting up this institute. Mandate of the Institute includes, inter alia, monitoring and measuring the impact of global warming on the Himalayan Glaciers and long term studies on the impacts of climate change.
Elephant as National Heritage Animal: The Environment Ministry declared the elephant a national heritage animal in order to step up measures for its protection. The ministry issued a notification in this regard after the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) approved the proposal.
The Elephant Task Force in its report had recommended the special status to elephants, saying the move will help in protecting the jumbos. The report by the 12-member committee also called for setting up of a statutory agency National Elephant Conservation Authority (NECA) on the lines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with a substantial enhancement in the budgetary outlay.
There are about 25,000 elephants in the country with about 3,500 in captivity. India is home to 60 per cent of elephants in Asia. India started Project Elephant in 1992 to provide financial and technical support to the elephant range states in India for the protection of jumbos, their habitat and corridors and address issues of human-animal conflict. The Environment Ministry also welcomed the suggestion to organize an International Elephant Conference in 2011.
National Green Tribunal Launched: Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta took Charge of the Tribunal. The National Green Tribunal is exclusively dedicated to environmental issues. This Body, established by an Act of Parliament (being the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010) will have circuit benches across the country to try all matters related to and arising out of environmental issues. The Tribunal which shall also consist of members, who are experts in the field of environmental and related sciences, has been empowered to issue directions for the compensation and restitution of damage caused from actions of environmental negligence. In doing so, 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.
National Environment Appellate Authority: The Parliament has enacted the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010.This has come into force on 18th October, 2010. As per the provisions of the NGT Act, 2010, the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) established under the NEAA Act, 1997 stands dissolved and the cases pending before the NEAA stand transferred to the NGT.
Centre for Biodiversity Policy and Law -Cebpol at Chennai: The objectives of CEBPOL are to develop professional expertise in the complex and still-evolving policy and legal issues relating to biodiversity, including on access and benefit sharing, inter alia through research, development and training; and to provide advice and expertise to the Government on these matters. The Centre is also expected to contribute to strengthening the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act. The Government of Norway has offered to provide technical and institutional collaboration for the CEBPOL.
International Conference on Environmental Research in Mauritius: The Third International Congress of Environmental Research (ICER-10) was organized jointly by Journal of Environmental Research and Development (JERAD), Bhopal and the University of Mauritius on September 16-18, 2010 at the University of Mauritius. The theme of the Conference was Energy, Environment and Development.
The main objectives of the Conference were to :
i. Enhance the knowledge in the field of Environmental Research and Development.
ii. Form study groups for mapping vulnerable areas in different countries which are prone to natural disasters.
iii. Present and discuss research papers in various fields of Environment for the betterment of the society.
Seshachalam Hill Ranges as Biosphere Reserve: The hill ranges spread in parts of Chittoor and Cuddapah districts of Andhra Pradesh have been designated as Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve in Andhra Pradesh on 20th September, 2010. The decision is based on the proposal submitted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. This biosphere reserve will cover an area of 4755.997 Km2.
Lavasa Issue: The Lavasa Lake City project near Pune has violated the green laws and no construction activity can be carried out at the project site as per the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Ministry banned the construction on account of environment degradation.
Even as it termed the construction at Lavasa Hill City as 'unauthorised' and 'environmentally damaging,' the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) said it is willing to consider the project on certain terms and conditions. These include a hefty penalty and the creation of an environment restoration fund. The Environment Ministry said on its Web site it could consider approving the project because of investments already made, third party rights, employment generated and steps taken to set up a comprehensive hill station development.
EURO-III & EURO-IV: India announced that it had completely switched over to the cleaner Euro-III and Euro-IV petrol and diesel. When Euro-IV grade fuel was launched in April, 2011 petrol prices were increased by Rs. 0.50 a litre and diesel by Rs. 0.26 a litre. For introduction of Euro-III grade, petrol prices have been raised by Rs. 0.26 per litre and diesel by Rs. 0.21 a litre in phases as the fuels were introduced throughout the country.
National Biofuel Policy: National Bio-fuel Policy, however, assures that bio-fuel programme would not compete with food security and fertile farm lands would not be diverted for plantation of bio-fuel crops. The policy draft also deals with a number of issues like minimum support prices (MSPs) for bio-fuel crops, subsidies for growers of bio-fuel crops, marketing of oil-bearing seeds, subsidies and fiscal concessions for the bio-fuel industry, R&D, mandatory blending of auto-fuel with bio-fuel, quality norms, testing and certification of bio-fuels.
The Policy aims at mainstreaming of biofuels and, therefore, envisions a central role for it in the energy and transportation sectors of the country in coming decades. The Policy will bring about accelerated development and promotion of the cultivation, production and use of biofuels to increasingly substitute petrol and diesel for transport and be used in stationary and other applications, while contributing to energy security, climate change mitigation, apart from creating new employment opportunities and leading to environmentally sustainable development.
Oil Spill: An oil spill is a release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term often refers to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. Oil spills include releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, and heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily white substance refuse or waste oil.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster or the Macondo blowout) was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed for three months in 2010. The impact of the spill still continues even after the well was capped. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.
The 2010 Mumbai oil spill occurred after the Panama-flagged MV MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia 3 collided off the coast of India near Mumbai on 7 August 2010. MSC Chitra, which was outbound from South Mumbai's Nava Sheva port, collided with the inbound Khalijia-III, which caused about 200 cargo containers from MSC Chitra to be thrown into the Arabian Sea. Khalijia-III was apparently involved with another mishap on 18 July 2010.
Biodiversity summit, Nagoya: 2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity. At the 2010, 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October in Nagoya Japan, the Nagoya Protocol was adopted. On 22 December 2010, the UN declared the period from 2011 to 2020 as the UN-Decade on Biodiversity.
United Nations member states agreed in Japan to set significant new goals to reverse the extinction of plant and animal species. As part of the accord, they also agreed that rich and poor nations would share profits from pharmaceutical or other products derived from genetic material.
The agreement, known as the Nagoya Protocol, sets a goal of cutting the current extinction rate by half or more by 2020. The new targets include increasing the amount of protected land to 17 per cent, from the current figure of about 12.5 per cent, and protected oceans to 10 per cent, from less than 1 per cent. The protocol also includes commitments of financing, still somewhat murky, from richer countries to help poorer nations reach these goals.
Project Crocodile: Crocodile hunting was banned in India in 1972, but by that time all three species found in the country (the gharial, Gavialis gangeticus; the saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus; and the mugger or marsh crocodile, C. palustris) were on the verge of extinction (Bustard, 1974). Ironically, it was the gharial, which is completely harmless to man and of relatively low value in terms of its hide, which was most endangered. Stabilization of river banks and dam construction had greatly reduced the gharial's natural environment of free-flowing rivers. In 1973, it was estimated that fewer than 100 individuals of Gharial continued to survive in the wild in India. While larger numbers of saltwater crocodiles and muggers were known to exist, they were not enough to avoid the total extinction of the species in the short-term future.
First priority was therefore given to ensuring continuity of the species. With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the Government of India launched a Crocodile Breeding and Conservation Project, initially in Orissa in the year 1975. The project was initiated under the guidance of Dr. H R Bustard. The scheme was subsequently extended to Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andamans, Assam, Bihar, and Nagaland. Once the site was selected, FAO assisted the government wildlife workers to design and construct special rearing stations. FAO also helped to train local villagers in the collection of gharial eggs from the wild. This was especially important since improper collection could have resulted in the destruction of the last remaining gharial nesting sites.
Crocodile Sanctuary: The Central Government is to set up a crocodile sanctuary spread over 1600 sq km near Chambal River. A Gharial protection authority would also be set up in UP, MP and Rajasthan.
Tiger summit 2010, Petersburg : Another significant new initiative was formalized during the Forum with the signing of a letter of understanding among 5 international organizations: the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Customs Organization, and the World Bank to create the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). ICCWC members will work collaboratively and with countries to strengthen enforcement of national and international laws against trade and trafficking in wildlife, including tigers.
Introduction of Carbon Trading : The National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) and Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. (MCX) have introduced future trading of Carbon Credits.