Assam Girl develops Biodegradable Yoga Mat

4th May 2021, New Delhi: Quantum of waste, especially, the disposable wastes, has posed an increasing challenge to the information age civilization. Equally coming new ideas, new products to reduce the wastes. In particular, a shift from non-biodegradable to biodegradable products. Recently, a six year young girl from the fishing community in Assam, has developed a biodegradable and compostable yoga mat from water hyacinth. It could turn this water plant from a nuisance to wealth.

The girls belong to the fishing community living in the fringe of the Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in south west of Guwahati city, recognised as a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) and a bird wildlife sanctuary. The lake has been a source of livelihood for 9 villages of the fishing community who shared this biome for centuries, but over the years suffered from excessive growth and accumulation of water hyacinth.

The innovation by the girls, whose families are directly dependent on the wetland for survival, could contribute significantly towards the environmental conservation and sustainability of Deepor Beel and also ensure local livelihood. The mat called ‘Moorhen Yoga Mat’ will soon be introduced to the world market as a unique product.

The intervention was triggered through an initiative by North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an autonomous body under Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India to involve the entire women community associated with a collective called ‘Simang’ meaning dream, led by the 6 girls to create wealth from water hyacinth plants.

Considering all aspects of water hyacinth’s properties and the functional requirements of a product like a mat, a hand-woven 100% biodegradable and 100 % compostable mat to be used for doing Yoga was ideated as a means to provide multiple ecological and social benefits. The mat developed through fiber processing and technological interventions could improve the aquatic ecosystem of the wetland through removal of water hyacinth, help sustainable production of utility products with community engagement and generate of livelihood for indigenous communities to become completely ‘Atamanirbhar’.

As the collection, drying and preparation of the water hyacinth before using it for weaving is the most important process, small interventions of technology were introduced like using ‘solar dryer’which reduced the drying time to about 3 days. It could also compensate for the loss in time due to heavy rains that take place very frequently in this part of the country over a six month long rainy season (May-October).

The women wove water hyacinth using traditional Assamese loom with the help of different combinations of techniques, materials and tools to develop a high quality, comfortable and thoroughly biodegradable and compostable Yoga Mat. It has resulted in engagement of 38 women from 3 fringe villages (Keotpara, Notun Basti and Borbori). Technology intervention could also increase the production rate.

“7WEAVES”, (a sister concern of the Simang Collectives) team provided expertise on natural dyeing from locally available natural materials of Loharghat Forest Range, Kamrup District enabling NECTAR to include naturally dyed cotton yarns from lac, onion skins, iron and jaggery, in various patterns for the mat. Various equipment of the loom was changed to adapt to the woven structure of the mat.

The ‘Moorhen Yoga mat’ named after Kam Sorai (Purple moorhen, a resident bird of Deepor Beel Wildlife sanctuary), comes in a cotton canvas cloth bag where no zip or metal closures are used. The bag has adjustable strap and closures effectively designed to be in sync with biodegradability. Sourced from PIB.

Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil

4th May 2021, New Delhi: In another significant move to make India self reliant in diesel fuel, biodiesel is produced from Used Cooking Oil (UCO).

On the eve of World Biofuel Day 10th August 2019, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, along with Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, had initiated the move for collection and conversion of UCO into Biodiesel and developing entrepreneurship opportunities,

Under this initiative, OMCs offer periodically incremental price guarantees for five years and extend off-take guarantees for ten years to prospective entrepreneurs. So far, IndianOil has also issued 23 LOIs for Biodiesel plants with a total capacity of 22.95 Cr Litres (557.57 TPD). Under this initiative, IndianOil has received 51KL of UCO-Biodiesel at its Tikrikalan terminal in Delhi as of 31st March 2021.

Speaking on the occasion, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, complimented the Oil industry on the stellar role played by them in keeping the fuel lines running despite the stiff challenges of the pandemic. He also lauded the OMCs for going beyond the usual business imperatives by extending support for medical oxygen supply to the nation in this crisis. Pradhan also appreciated IndianOil’s leadership role in smoothening the Liquid oxygen logistics in the country through various initiatives.

Regarding the first supply of UCO-based Biodiesel from IndianOil’s Tikrikalan Terminal, the Minister said, “This is a landmark in India’s pursuance of Biofuels and will have a positive impact on the environment. This initiative will garner substantial economic benefits for the nation by shoring up indigenous Biodiesel supply, reducing import dependence, and generating rural employment”. He appreciated the proactive role played by OMCs in this direction and shared that 30 LOIs have already been issued.

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel, similar to conventional or ‘fossil’ diesel. It can be produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, tallow and waste cooking oil. A significant advantage of Biodiesel is its carbon-neutrality, i.e. the oilseed absorbs the same amount of CO2 as is released when the fuel is combusted in a vehicle. Also, Biodiesel is rapidly biodegradable and completely non-toxic.

Asiatic Lions tested positive for SARS-CoV2, recovering

4th May 2021, New Delhi: Human only is not affected by the corona virus. Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo were also found to be affected. On the 24th April 2021 with an abundance of caution, Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad shared samples (as collected from nose, throat and respiratory tract under anaesthesia) with CCMB-LaCONES for eight Asiatic lions housed in the Zoo that had showed signs of respiratory distress. Based on detailed diagnostic tests and report as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on 4th May 2021, it has now been confirmed that eight Asiatic lions housed in NZP, Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus.

Further analyses of the samples have revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. The eight lions have been isolated and due care and necessary treatment has been provided. All the eight lions have responded well to the treatment and recovering. They are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all zoo staff and the zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid minimal external contact.

According to a release from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2 .

The monitoring and guidelines for prevention, sample collection, detection in suspected cases, and safety protocols for animal keepers etc have been suggested to zoos in consultation with scientific agencies and experts Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) Uttar Pradesh and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology – Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) Hyderabad. Such advisories are readily available in public domain http://cza.nic.in/news/en .

As part of next steps new guidelines for COVID precautions are being further developed in consultation with experts. Additional information shall be issued as warranted.

Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further.

April 2021 Air Quality Index

2nd May 2021, New Delhi: Air quality index (AQI) is used to communicate to the public how polluted the air. It is also used to forecast the air pollution level. Public health risks increase as the AQI rises. India has its own AQI, corresponding to the national ambient air quality standards with indication to the health impacts.

AQI for the month of April 2021, as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), shows that two cities were found in severe category on 3 different days. Sonipat in Haryana state, and Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh – both very close to Delhi. Sonipat registered the highest AQI of 421, while Baghpat quoted 412 and 401. Baghpat also quoted maximum AQI on 11 days of the month, out of which in 9 days the city’s AQI was very poor and 2 days severe, having the lowest AQI of 317. The primary pollutant causing higher AQI in Baghpat was PM10.

Singrauli quoted maximum AQI on 7 days of the month in the range of 265-375, while AQI was recorded as highest in Bhiwadi (275 - 338) on 5 days of the month.

The highest AQI was attributed to PM10 on 18 days, while it was on 11 days due to PM2.5 and one day because of NO2.

Lowest AQI value of the month was 24, which was observed in Ambala, Haryana. The daily minimum AQI was found in the range of 24 – 50. Puducherry registered the daily lowest AQI on 6 days, followed by Rupnagar 4 days of the month.

Among the four metro cities, the maximum AQI was found to be 312 in Delhi. It is interesting to note the AQI was maximum even when Delhi is under lockdown for more than a week. AQI in Delhi was found to be in the range of 125 – 312 with month’s average 202. 18 days in the month the AQI was below 200, while it was between 200 and 300 for 11 days. AQI was never less than 100 in Delhi during April 2021.

Among with 4 metro cities, the lowest AQI was 42 in Chennai.

AQI in Mumbai varied between 58 and 185, in Chennai it was in the range of 42 – 83, while in Kolkata AQI was in the range of 64 - 171.

Good News on Medical Oxygen Supply

Industries producing Medical Oxygen by Converting Nitrogen Plants

1st May 2021, New Delhi: A good news has come from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change regarding medical oxygen production from industrial establishment. Lately, medical oxygen shortage amidst COVID-19 pandemic is fury added to fury. Taking the grave situation in to account and to further augment availability of oxygen for medical purposes in the country, the Central Government had asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to identify the industries having spare nitrogen plants and explore the feasibility of converting of existing Nitrogen plants to produce oxygen. CPCB with the help of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) have identified such potential industries, wherein existing Nitrogen generation plants may be spared for production of oxygen. Consultation have been held with potential industrial units and experts

About 30 industries have been identified. In these industrial units efforts have started to modify nitrogen plants for the production of medical oxygen. Some of these plants can be shifted to nearby hospitals for supplying oxygen. In the case where shifting of nitrogen plant is not feasible, oxygen can be produced in the industry.

According to information shared by the MoEFCC, UPL Ltd. converted one 50 Nm3/hr capacity Nitrogen plant to produce oxygen using Zeolite Molecular Sieve, and installed it at L G Rotary Hospital, Vapi (Gujarat). This plant is producing 0.5 ton of oxygen per day and is operational since 27th April 2021. UPL Ltd. is also under process of conversion of three more plants. On conversion to oxygen plants, these plants will be installed at hospitals in Surat and Ankaleshwar.

In the existing nitrogen plants, replacing Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS) with Zeolite Molecular Sieve (ZMS) and few other changes such as installation of oxygen analyzer, change in control panel system, flow valves etc., oxygen for medical use can be produced. With the availability of ZMS, such modified plant can be set-up in 4-5 days while installation of new oxygen plant may take minimum 3-4 weeks.

Oxygen produced in on-site plants has to be compressed and filled in cylinders/special vessels using high pressure compressor for transporting to hospitals. Facilitation is being provided to these industries for completion of work at the earliest. This will help to give a fillip to the medical oxygen availability.

C. N. Pandey led EAC recommends Show Cause Notice to EIA Consultants

EAC observes several flaws in reports submitted by EIA consultants Ardra Consulting Services, GreenC India Consulting

29th April 2021, New Delhi: The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Industry Projects (Industry-1 Sector) constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) while appraising the application for expansion of a steel plant project by AMMAN-TRY Sponge & Power Pvt. Ltd. found several flaws in the EIA report. The EAC has recommended to issue Show Cause Notice to the Bhubaneshwar based EIA consultant, Ardra Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd.

In its observation, the EAC chaired by Dr. Chhavi Nath Pandey, has mentioned that the consultant has repeatedly submitted the EIA report on 29th January 2021 and 25th March 2021 with several deficiencies and no tangible efforts are made to improve upon the same.

Out of 10 observations made against the project during the 34th meeting of the Re-Constituted EAC held on 15th and 16th April 2021, one points that "Action taken report on the observations stated in the RO report dated 07/12/2020 has not been furnished".

Another significant issue raised by the EAC is about the non-availability of land for greenbelt area development as claimed in the report. The EAC has pointed that "Only 15% land is available for green belt development inside the plant premises. Additional land of 1.7078 ha is said to have been given by MIDC outside the plant does not belong to PP and MIDC has not provided any assurance to not to disturb this green belt or cut it whenever needed". This further leads to a question, whether the government land should be used for the creation of greenbelt, which is mandatorily required by an industry?

Among other observations, issues pertaining to inadequate stack/ chimney designing, air pollution modeling by the consultant reflected. It is also stated that most of the sections in Form 2 of the application was found to be not filled properly.

The EAC has recommended to reject the proposal of Neo Metaliks located in Gopalpur, Paschim Bardhman District, West Bengal and also to serve Show Cause Notice to the EIA consultant - Green C India Consulting Pvt. Ltd. It is stated that the consultant has repeatedly submitted the EIA report on 22nd October 2020 and 6th April 2021 with several deficiencies as enumerated above and no tangible efforts are made to improve upon the same.

Now, the action of MoEFCC and also NABET is important to watch in order to ensure appropriate EIA reporting.

World’s forests under threat from economic and environmental crises

27th April 2021, New Delhi: Progress in protecting the world’s forests—and the people who rely on them—is at risk due to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the escalating climate and biodiversity crises, according to a new report released today by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

According to the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, the world had been making progress in key areas, such as increasing the global forest area through afforestation and restoration. Many regions, in particular, Asia, Europe and Oceania, appear to be on track to reach one of the key targets of the Global Forest Goals - increasing forest area by three percent by 2030. However, these advances are being threatened by the overall worsening state of our natural environment, including land degradation, pests and invasive species, fires, storms, and droughts. Increasing rural poverty, unemployment and population growth, combined with greater competition for land with other sectors, including agriculture and urbanization, are also putting growing pressure on forests.

The report is being launched as countries begin meetings of the UN Forum on Forests today, which will review progress of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030 and its six Global Forest Goals that were created to strengthen the management of the world’s forests and improve the lives of people who depend on these vital ecosystems.

“Before the pandemic, many countries were working hard to reverse native forest loss and increase protected areas designated for biodiversity conservation,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the report’s foreword. “Some of those gains are now at risk with worrying trends of increased deforestation of primary tropical forests.”

Observing that millions of people have turned to forests for their most essential subsistence needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General urged all actors, including governments, the business community and civil society, “to take urgent action to halt deforestation, prevent forest degradation and restore forests.”

Some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income. While it is still too early to assess the impact of the pandemic on the world’s forests, there are indications that the pandemic is exacerbating challenges faced by countries in managing their forests. “Investing in forests is investing in our future,” says UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin. “We must strengthen our global efforts to protect and restore forests and support the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. Only then can we realize our shared vision for a more just, equitable and sustainable world.”

The report comes at a time when economic contraction and disruptions to global trade and local commerce are continuing to impact the global workforce. A recent study by the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat in UN DESA, found that the pandemic has left forest-dependent populations facing job loss, reduced income, diminished access to markets and information, and women and youth, in particular, are experiencing a contraction in seasonal employment.

Forest-dependent communities tend to be from marginalized and vulnerable groups, and many of them, including indigenous peoples, are finding themselves even further sidelined from socio economic safety nets. Indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as returning migrants and urban workers, are now being pushed deeper into the woods to seek food, fuel, shelter, and protection from the risks of COVID-19, placing additional stress on the ecosystems.

Recognizing the role of forests in post-pandemic responses and recovery, the Secretary-General emphasized that “In this Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, and as we prepare to launch the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, every effort must be made to ensure that sustainable forest management is fully integrated into both short-term crisis response and long-term green recovery strategies”.

The Global Forest Goals Report 2021 is the first evaluation of where the world stands in implementing the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, providing a snapshot of actions being taken for forests, while stressing that it is necessary to meet the 2030 deadline in the Plan.

Land of Highlanders on Blaze

27th April 2021, New Delhi: Mizoram, the “land of highlanders” is facing the wrath of a different calamity. Hills in south Mizoram have been witnessing a raging forest fire for well over two days now, and the menace has spread to Lunglei and Lawngtlai, two of the neighbouring districts. At the moment, personnel from Border Security Force and Assam Rifles along with state government’s firefighters and volunteers from local groups are working on the ground to bring the fire under control, according to a report in IE. Moreover, at the request of the state government, the Indian Air Force on Sunday evening deployed Bambi Buckets-equipped two Mi-17V5 helicopters to further aid the firefighting operations. Private water tankers have also voluntarily deployed their vehicles for fire-fighting.

The fire is said to have started in the forests near Lunglei town on Saturday early morning, and by the next day, it had impacted as many as 10 village council areas in the town, as well as three rural development blocks in Lawngtlai district.

Over 85% of Mizoram’s total area is covered by forests, making wildfires quite common, especially during the dry season. According to a report, natural causes of forest fires (e.g. lightning strikes) are rare. Forest fires are usually related to human activities, such as: jhum where highly inflammable bamboo flakes and kindling charcoal are blown to adjoining areas, setting dry grasses and leaf litter on fire; not clearing firebreaks around the jhum land before starting the burning; annual roadside clearing and burning (usually in February and March, the driest period of the year); burning of dry grasslands and forest floors by cattle grazers during the dry season to destroy unwanted vegetation and facilitate the growth of new shoots for grazing; burning of forest floors to improve visibility for hunting wild animals; careless prescribed burning and fire line layout and construction; charcoal-making in the forests; and cooking and camping by woodcutters and other forest users.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked to Mizoram Chief Minister, Zoramthanga and took stock of the situation arising due to forest fires in parts of the state.

This year, Nagaland, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh too have reported massive forest fires.

Rail Double-tracking in Goa seems iffy

27th April 2021, New Delhi: According to PTI, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee has recommended revocation of the permission granted by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for double-tracking the South-Western railway track which runs through Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary and the National Park at Mollem.

The double-tracking project has been strongly opposed by environmentalists who claim that it will threaten the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

The panel, in its 23rd April report, has stated that it did not find any justification for undertaking the rail double-tracking project which will destroy the fragile eco-system of the Western Ghats- an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot and also one of the most important wildlife corridors of the country.

Citing that the doubling project will only be marginally enhancing the capacity of the most inefficient section of the railway network passing through the ecologically sensitive and bio-diversity rich tiger reserve, two wildlife sanctuaries, and a national park; the committee has submitted a 110-page report recommending Supreme Court to consider revocation of the permission granted by the standing committee of the NBWL.

Several locals groups had raised objections over three linear projects, including double-tracking of the South Western Railway line, four-laning of a national highway and laying of a power transmission line by the Goa Tamnar Transmission Project Limited (GTTPL).

The projects were cleared by the NBWL's standing committee despite apprehensions that they would severely affect the bio-diversity of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the National Park at Mollem, both located on the Goa-Karnataka border.

The committee was formed following an application filed before the Supreme Court by the Goa Foundation NGO.

MoEFCC brings back CAQM through fresh Ordinance

26th April 2020, New Delhi: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has brought back the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas through a new Ordinance vide S.O. 1687(E) Dated 23rd April 2021.

Dr. M. M. Kutty, Ex-Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas will act as Full-time Chairperson, while Ramesh K. J., Ex-Director General, IMD will be the Full-time Technical Member. Arvind Kumar Nautiyal, Joint Secretary has been named as Full-time Member Secretary.

Ashish Dhawan, Air Pollution Action Group is a NGO Member. There are nine ex-officio members from MoEFCC, Central Pollution Control Board, National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, Secretaries from Govt. of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan. Alongside, the commission has also got five associate members from different ministries of the central government.

MoEFCC's E. K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Taxonomy for the year 2020

22.04.2021, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has invited applications from taxonomists with outstanding contribution in the field of Plant Taxonomy, Animal Taxonomy, and Microbial Taxonomy under the scheme of E. K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Taxonomy for the year 2020.

The three awards by MoEFCC will be known as ‘E. K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Plant Taxonomy’, ‘E. K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Animal Taxonomy’ and ‘E. K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Microbial Taxonomy’. Eash awar carries ₹500,000/= cash alongwith citation, scroll, and Medallion.

It is important note that earlier, there was only one award on Taxonomy covering all the three fields of Botany, Zoology, and study of Micro-organisms.

MoEFCC has set 31st May 2021 as the last date of receiving nominations. Detailed information about eligibility with application formats is available on the Ministry’s site moef.gov.in.

Earth Day 2021: Restore Our Earth

Pervez Ahmad

22.04.2021, New Delhi: The United Nations General Assembly designated 22nd April as International Mother Earth Day through a resolution adopted in 2009. However, the original roots go back to the 1970s when environmental protection was not yet a priority of the national political agendas.

The Day recognises the Earth and its ecosystems as humanity's common home and the need to protect her to enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity. The theme for 2021 is Restore our Earth.

On this eve, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the Leaders’ Summit on Climate at the invitation of President of U.S.A. Joseph R. Biden, being held virtually on 22-23 April 2021. Prime Minister will make his remarks in the Leaders’ Session 1 on 22 April 2021 from 5.30 to 7.30 pm IST on "Our Collective Sprint to 2030”.

Nearly 40 other world leaders are participating in the Summit. They will represent countries which are members of the Major Economies Forum (India is a member), and those vulnerable to climate change, among others. The Leaders will exchange views on climate change, enhancing climate actions, mobilising finance towards climate mitigation and adaptation, nature based solutions, climate security as well as technological innovations for clean energy.

The Leaders will also deliberate on how the world can align climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, while respecting national circumstances and sustainable development priorities.

The Summit is a part of a series of global meetings focusing on climate issues, being held in the run up to COP26 in November 2021.

All sessions will be live streamed and open to the media and public.

Jharkhand most vulnerable to climate

20.04.2021, New Delhi: Climate change is the global phenomenon and is a growing challenge to humanity and sustainable development. There is now enough evidence that the earth’s climate is changing, and it is adversely affecting both biophysical like mountains, rivers, forests, wetlands, etc., and also the socio-economic systems such as hill and coastal communities, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc. India ranks 5th in the Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index – 2019, out of 181 countries. This implies an extremely high exposure and vulnerability.

The National climate vulnerability assessment report released today has identified Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal as states highly vulnerable to climate change. These states, mostly in the eastern part of the country, require prioritization of adaptation interventions, the report pointed out.

The report titled ‘Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework’, which identifies the most vulnerable states and districts in India with respect to current climate risk and key drivers of vulnerability, was released by DST Secretary Professor Ashutosh Sharma.

Global Pact on Food Tech Regulation needs attention

New Delhi, 15th April 2021: Expressing serious concern over the lack of proper global regulation on technologies affecting the food system, India is considering suggesting to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to facilitate discussions on an international protocol or an agreement or a global authority on such technologies. “There are a lot of technological changes happening. In many cases, we do not have the right kind of regulation to ensure proper use of such technologies. Should we be asking the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to help prepare some global protocol on whatever technologies are coming? So, could we or should we have some kind of global agreement on these or should a global authority be advising on these,” Professor Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog, said. He was speaking at a webinar organised by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and NITI Aayog on ‘National Consultation on Issues Before the UN Food Systems Summit’.

The event was held in the backdrop of the UN announcing that a Food Systems Summit (FSS) will be held in September 2021 in conjunction with the UN General Assembly. This Summit has assumed wider significance in the context of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which exposed the fragilities in global food systems and their vulnerabilities to external shocks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to deliver his address during the summit. The 2021 FSS event has outlined five cross-cutting Action Tracks such as: Ensuring Access to Safe and Nutritious Food; Shift towards Healthy and Sustainable Consumption Patterns; Boosting Nature Positive Production at Sufficient Scale; Advancing Equitable Livelihoods; and Building Resilience to Vulnerabilities, Shocks and Stresses.

In his valedictory address, Shri Jayant Sinha, Member of Parliament and Chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance drew upon contemporary challenges of agriculture livelihoods, and the emerging transformative changes and new institutional mechanisms in India for value creation through modern food processing system, with equal emphasis on sustainable food ecosystem. He duly stressed on the importance of access to markets and investments in this sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, Director-General, RIS, said given the food security concerns of the developing world, India has volunteered for Action Track 4 (that is related to advancing equitable livelihoods). He said the Indian government, through its food security welfare scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, reached out to the masses including the migrant labour and ensured their food security during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts at the meeting spoke about the inequities being perpetrated in the global agriculture system with developed countries trying to formalise their first mover advantage in the World Trade Organization negotiations by not agreeing to reducing their trade distorting subsidies, and instead have not only brought in non-tariff barriers in the form of sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures but are also putting pressure on the developing countries to cut tariffs. Mr. Pawan Kumar Agarwal, Special Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, though trade issues were only a small subset of the UN food systems discussions, they should be now highlighted from the perspective of hunger, safety and livelihood. There is also a need to advance the work on revisiting global and regional arrangements of food safety so that they are looked at from the objectives of the UN FSS, he said. The webinar addressed various issues related to ‘livelihood security and impli cations for trade in agriculture’ and ‘equitable access to technology for sustainable food systems.’

Havells India: A Water Positive Co.

Sustainability Report Fails to impress without e-waste compliance data

One of the India’s largest Fast Moving Electrical Goods (FMEG) and consumer durables company, Havells India Limited (HIL) is imbued with a culture of innovation that steers its sustainability agenda. It was having 12 manufacturing plants as per 2017-18 report, and as per 2019-20 now 14 manufacturing facilities across India.

In his message, Anil Rai Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, has stated that the company has been a water positive company since FY 2015-16, which is especially significant, as most of Havells manufacturing units are in water-deficit regions. The company’s water recharge capacity increased from 187,802 Kilolitres (KL) during 2018-19, to approximately 200,762 KL in FY 2019-20.

During FY 2019-20, Havells planted more than 3.5 Lakhs trees, to balance and offset the paper and wood consumption. Havells stated to have been gradually moving to become a paper and wood negative Company and towards this ambition, we plan on developing 900 hectares of green cover by 2023.

At Havells total energy consumed during 2019-20 increased to 426,810.8 GJ from 355,887 GJ during 2017-18. Nearly 4.69% of total energy consumption was sourced from renewable sources. The report claims to have reduced 37% energy intensity during FY 2019-20 (with FY 2015-16 as the base year). It is also reported that more than 40 energy saving projects were undertaken resulting in energy savings of ~1317.1 Mwh and elimination of 1,080 MT of CO2 emissions.

The report also shows that Sulphur Dioxide emission was increased to 0.18 MT from 0.15 MT, and Oxides of Nitrogen was increased from 3.4 MT to 4.5 MT. There was no details of furnace oil earlier used.

The report states decline in direct GHG emissions from 7,339 to 6,886 mtCO2e, while the indirect GHG emissions increased from 68,859 to 69,275 mtCO2e. Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) emissions decreased from 23.6 to 16.8 Kg CFC equivalent and 429 Kg R-22 consumption to 335.9 Kg.

The report also depicts total water consumption to be 135260 KL, which was nearly 15% less than the previous year consumption. 78,500 KL of groundwater was utilized during the period of reporting, against 31,400 KL of water supplied by Municipal body and 28,000 KL water supplied from unknown source, which is ostensibly groundwater. It is however, not clear about the approval status of ground water abstraction. The Sustainability Report further shows that 59,100 KL treated sewage and 15,300 KL of treated effluent was recycled.

The report states that Havells has maintained a stringent waste management system for hazardous and non-hazardous waste generated in our premises. For the reporting year, ~9,544 MT of non-hazardous waste was recycled and 661 MT was reused that included, metal, rubber and plastic scrap, which was sold to authorised waste recyclers. All the hazardous waste generated in our manufacturing plants are stored and disposed according to the applicable regulatory laws and guidelines provided by State Pollution Control Board/Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. There were no significant spills reported in the current year. Total hazardous waste transported for the disposal was 203.3 MT.

The report also informs that about 93% of company’s non-hazardous waste is re-used and recycled of our total waste generated. Havells has completely replaced the use of thermocol with pulp trays in our cartons of fan motors. Pulp offers several benefits, including stable cost bases and excellent cushioning properties. Moreover, it is a sustainable product, fully recyclable, biodegradable and compliant with ISO 14000 series and European Green Dot Standards.

Havells, has reduced our consumption of R-22 gas by more than 50%. R-22 is being replaced with R-134 coolant gas and during the reporting year, 204 kg of R134a was consumed.

During FY 2019-20, Havells total environmental expenditure stood at ₹2.4 Crores.

The report may further provide details of e-waste management practices and clearly show the volume of electronic wastes generated and disposed. Also, the status of groundwater approvals, the process of which is now quite simplified by the government.

Indian Scientists find solution to sewer problems

14.04.2021, New Delhi: Oftentimes, new pipelines are being laid over the old system while the old pipelines are still functional.

The stench emanating from sewers could be an indicator of what’s taking place within the pipeline. It is not entirely the smell of generated waste such as faecal and industrial discharges flowing through it. Studies show, sometimes, the strongest, the most offensive smell is generated in the sewer itself from inorganic compounds produced in the sewer from natural biology. These odor-generating conditions are also the main cause behind corrosion leading to degradation and eventual failure of sewer pipelines.

Corrosion is a serious problem plaguing the sewer system all over the world as old pipelines are ignored and in a state of deterioration and collapse.

Indian Scientists with Saudi Arabia collaboration have developed an electronic nose with biodegradable polymer and monomer that can detect Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), a poisonous, corrosive, and flammable gas produced from swamps and sewers. Sulfate-reducing bacteria oxidize organic matter with sulfate in anaerobic conditions i.e. the absence of oxygen or nitrate and form sulfides. The production of hydrogen sulfide takes place at low flow velocity and temperatures above 15 to 20°C in gravity sewers.

Biological activity increases at high temperatures, increasing the consumption of oxygen and the production of sulfide.

H2S is the primary gas produced from the microbial breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, and this necessitates easy detection of its emission from sewers and swamps.

Scientists from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, in collaboration with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia, have developed an exceptionally sensitive and selective H2S Gas sensor developed by impersonating the neuron responsible for identification of airborne molecules or olfactory receptor neuron (ORN).

This development envisaged to create a major impact on groundwater, and soil environment, besides huge direct cost savings. (More in print version)

MoEFCC extends last date for Medini Puraskar 2020-21 Application

14.04.2021, New Delhi: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has extended the last date for application submission under its Medini Puraskar Yojana 2020-21.

The objective of Medini Puraskar Scheme is to encourage Indian authors to write books originally in Hindi on the subject Environment and related subjects such as . (i) Environment Protection; (ii) Pollution Control; (iii) Environmental Impact Assessment; (iv) Ecological Restoration and Development; (v) Forest Conservation; (vi) Forest Resources and Development; (vii) Protection of Wildlife; (viii) Biodiversity; (ix) Climate Change; (x) Conservation of Nature and Biosphere Reserve; (xi) Environment Education; and (xii) Nature & Environment related topics/subjects etc.

Original books published after 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2021 for the last three consecutive years and at least 100 printed pages of dimai size would be accepted for consideration for awards.

Cash awards to be given under the scheme are :- First prize Rs. 1,00,000/- (one) Second prize Rs. 75,000/- (one) Third prize Rs. 50,000/- (one) Consolation prize Rs. 25,000/- (one)

Any book which has received any award, subsidy or any financial assistance under any similar scheme, being operated by Government of India or any State Government or any organisation would not be eligible for consideration for the said award. Authors, whose books have already been awarded by the Ministry, would not be eligible for participating under the scheme for the next three years.

Any Indian author may send his/her entries, duly filled in the prescribed proforma, alongwith seven copies of his/her book, latest by 15th May, 2021 (revised date) to the Director (OL), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Room No.P227, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110003.

Detailed proforma can be had from website http://www.envfor.nic.in

Hydrogen Roundtable on 15th April

Amidst growing pressure on climate commitments, Hydrogen is gaining increasing importance as a source to bridge energy gaps and also as a standalone source to conventional fuels.

To discuss emerging hydrogen ecosystems and exploring opportunities for collaboration, cooperation and coalition, a virtual Hydrogen Roundtable is being organized on 15th April 2021 by the Energy Forum (TEF) and the Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry (FIPI), under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India. The Roundtable event titled “Hydrogen Economy- the Indian Dialogue-2021” can be accessed from www.futureenergyasia.com/hydrogen-economy, from 2 pm (IST) on 15th April 2021.

3000 participants expected.

5th Annual Apex India Awards and Conference on Health & Safety

09.04.2021, New Delhi: In a glittering event organized by Apex India Foundation at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi, many Corporate, Industry stalwarts and professionals were awarded for their outstanding contribution in the field of Occupational Safety and HR Excellence.

Eminent Defence Expert Major General (Retd.) P. K. Saighal graced the occasion as Guest of Honour. In his powerful address to distinguished delegates from corporate and industry across India, he pointed out that akin to the industry professionals, Indian Defence Officers, too handle acutely challenging situations with extreme care to protect national assets, as well as human and environment. He opined more interaction between industry and defence persons could strengthen industrial and social safety.

Lauding achievements of award recipients, Kuldeep Singh, President, Apex India Foundation said that in the current pandemic inflicted society, corporates and industries have exhibited phenomenal contribution to occupational safety, employee health, and inspiring HR practices is phenomenal. He said Apex India Foundation recognition could motivate many others to excel in their respective organizations and ultimately for a great nation.

Manoj Tiwari, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Guest of Honour for the event, shared a video message congratulating all the award winners. He also applauded Apex India’s initiatives, describing it as of hidden but high significance in nation building.

Ravikant Somani, Former EVP and Corporate Head – Occupational HSE, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., deliberated that Health, Safety and Wellbeing of workers is one of the most important pillars for any profitable and sustainable business. He called upon industries to switch towards influential leadership approach, which advocates regular and active involvement of senior leadership to influence the company’s policies in such a way that health, safety and wellbeing of workers is kept in the centre of every business decisions.

Emphasizing safety as an Integral part of manufacturing and production, Tusar Ranjan Pattnaik, Dabur India, said if everybody adopts safety as a way of life and practically demonstrate on the ground, injuries can be reduced to a great extent. It can further culminate a positive atmosphere within company employees, in addition to elevating their morale.

Ravinder Kumar Tyagi, Ex Country Head - EHS at Marathon Electric India Pvt. Ltd., enlightened on the Role of Petroleum and Safety Organization in various Industries in order to control and regulate storage and handling of Flammable Liquids viz. Diesel, Petroleum Products and Flammable Gases. He also shared insights of the New Labour Codes of India – Changes and impact on industry and non-industry businesses, which are constituted with the objective of simplifying Labour laws which is need of the hour.

Sanjaya K. Mishra, Editor of Environmental weekly newspaper, Enviro Annotations made a presentation on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Indian context. He deliberated on qualitative measurement of air pollutants, in which service buyer industry and corporates must look into aspects beyond laboratory accreditation to ensure value for money. He also called upon the industry and non-industry businesses to maintain better ambient air quality, as it greatly impacts the IAQ.

Industry giants from various sectors such as Automobile, Bank, Cement, Power, Petroleum, Petroleum & Refinery, FMCG, Metal & Mining, Paper, Pharmaceuticals, Fertilizer, Breweries, Construction, Cargo and Port etc. participated in the award programme. World class companies, like ONGC, NTPC, Ambuja, Ultratech Cement, BPCL, HPCL, Shapoorji, NLC India, Dabur India, Jindal Steel & Power, Godrej, Sree Jayajyothi Cement, Orient Cement, Kesoram Industries, BSES Power, NMDC, Nordex, JSW Cement, The Ramco Cement, Rohan Builders, Orient Electrics, Northern Coalfields, NTPC-SAIL Power, Welspun India, Oil India, Marai Overseas, Union Bank of India, Cipla Ltd., Vizag General Cargo Berth, Adani Enterprises, Shriram Rayons, Carlsberg India, Ashoka Concessions Ltd., JSW Paradip Terminal, Aravali Power Company are among the eminent ones, those bagged awards.

The award programme and conference received a high voltage response from various categories industries, despite C19 fear. With another glaring success and spirit, Apex India Foundation is now inviting nominations for "Apex India Environmental Excellence Awards 2020”. The foundation welcomes wide participation of Corporates, Industries, MSMEs, Hotels, Hospitals, Institutions, and Individuals who are doing remarkable works in the domain.

Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2021

No import of PVC pipes & fittings using lead or lead compounds as stabilizer

7th April 2021, New Delhi: Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India has brought two important notifications. G.S.R. 243(E) , called the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2021, which comes into force on the date of publication that is 31st March 2021 - pertains to Thermal Power Plant (TPP). The notification has provision for the formation of a task force shall be by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) comprising of representative from MoEFCC, Ministry of Power, Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and CPCB to categorise TPPs in three categories on the basis of their location to comply with the emission norms within the time limit.

TPPs within 10 km radius of National Capital Region or cities having more than a million population will be reckoned as Category A, while within 10 km radius of Critically Polluted Areas or Non-attainment cities (as defined by CPCB) to be categorized as Category B. In Category C will fall all other than those included in category A and B.

For Category A, the time line for compliance shall be up to 31" December 2022 irrespective of Retiring or Non-retiring units, while for the Category B, the time line for compliance shall be 31st December 2023 for non-retiring units and 31st December 2025 for retiring units. Compliance timeline for Category C, shall be 31st December 2024 for non-retiring units and 31st December 2025 for retiring units.

There will be Environmental Compensation Charges for Non-Compliant operation beyond the Timeline 0 to 180 days, 180 to 365 days and above 365 days. The rates based on per unit electricity generated has been notified for different categories.

Another one is G.S.R. 228(E) called the Lead Stabilizer in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipes and Fittings Rules, 2021, shall come into force six months after the date of publication that is 30th March 2021. This notification pertains to compliance with the limits of the lead extraction, as specified for the Indian Standards by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). According to the rules, the manufacturer shall obtain a licence from BIS within a period of six months from the date of publication of the rules (30th September 2021) in accordance with Scheme-I of Schedule-II of the Bureau of Indian Standards (Conformity Assessment) Regulations, 2018. Further, the manufacturers shall have to mark the "Standard Mark" on all the PVC pipes and fittings in accordance with the specification provided in the licence issued by the BIS.

The rules have the provision that manufacturers of PVC pipes and fittings shall be prohibited to use lead or lead compounds as stabilizer in manufacturing of such PVC pipes and fittings as provided in column.

Further, as per the rules, no importer of the PVC pipes and fittings shall be allowed to import such PVC pipes and fittings manufactured using lead or lead compounds as stabilizer for items specified in the Schedule after expiry of three months from the date of publication of these rules. Sale and import of the PVC Pipes and Fittings falling under category A, B and C in the Schedule shall be regulated through this notification, except export.

India's One Year of CMS COP Presidency

6th April 2021, New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has brought details of the actions undertaken during year 2020-21 with the help of the Scientific communities, Civil Society Organizations; as was promised during the COP at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The report "First year of CMS COP Presidency" mentions about the launch of ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan (2021-26)’ on 28th January 2021. It also deliberates on the release of the guidelines for managing marine megafauna stranding, viz., ‘The Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Management Guidelines’ which is the first of its kind in the country. The Guidelines have taken into account the global best practices in management of marine mega fauna stranding. This guideline is in sync with various decisions of CMS COP-13 pertaining to Cetacean conservation and reducing by-catch.

The report also lists “Eco-Friendly Measures to Mitigate Impacts of Linear Infrastructure on Wildlife” and Prime Minister's announcement of National Programme ‘Project Dolphin’ aimed to bring more focussed conservation of Dolphins (both riverine and marine) on the eve of 74th Independence Day celebrations on 15th August 2020.

For conservation of Elephants, including their safe natural migration across international borders, as well as to mitigate Human-Elephant Conflicts, India initiated a series of dialogues with the Government of Bangladesh on trans-boundary conservation of elephants which resulted in drafting a Protocol on Trans-boundary Elephant Conservation between Republic of Bangladesh and Republic of India. The Protocol was signed by both the countries on 17th December, 2020.

The report highlights Government of India signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Myanmar for cooperation on combating of timber trafficking and conservation of tigers and other wildlife. Actions initiated for the conservation of Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), a critically endangered bird, Vultures, Migratory Birds, and Snow Leopards are also listed in the report.

During this pandemic year, India has issued an Advisory for Voluntary Disclosure of Exotic Live Species, with the objectives of creating a unified information system of the stock of exotic live species at the State/Central level through voluntary disclosure and the use of that database towards controlling and management of zoonotic diseases, and for facilitating better management of the species and providing guidance to their holders for their proper care and well-being. This initiative is also in sync with CMS COP 13 Decision 13.16 to 13.19 in connection with international trade in Appenix –I listed migratory species. .

During the first year of CMS COP Presidency, India has developed its National Action Plan for conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway. In pursuance of UNEP/CMS/Resolution 12.11 (Rev. COP 13) on flyways and CMS COP 13 decision - 13.46, India has taken initiatives for creating a common platform for promoting research, capacity building and conservation initiatives and is finalizing a programme in association with the CMS Secretariat to build the capacity of CAF range countries for preparation of thier respective National Action Plans for conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) came into force in November 1983. India became a Party to the CMS in November 1983. The 13h Conference of Parties (COP) to the CMS was held in Gandinagar, Gujarat in February 2020.

Jal Jeevan Mission issues widely deliberated in last Parliament Session

5th April 2021, New Delhi: Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is being implemented in a partnership between Centre and State Govt. The programme kickstarted in August 2019 with an aim to provide tap water connection to every rural household off the country by 2024. In the recently concluded Budget Session of the Parliament, issues pertaining to Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), especially JJM got huge attention of MPs. Considering the important role of the Members of Parliament can play in the implementation of JJM, the MoJS has issued advisory to all the States and UTs, thereby considering suggestions from Members of Parliament as well as encouraging the MPs to discuss issues related to implementation of the Mission in District Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) meeting for time-bound completion of works.

In the eight sittings of the recently concluded Budget Session commenced on 4th February 2021 and lasted till 25th March 2021, 10 Starred Questions and 94 Unstarred Questions relating to JJM were asked by various Members of Parliament in both the Houses. Wide range of questions related to piped water supply in rural households in States/ UTs, implementation of JJM, provision of safe drinking water in water quality-affected areas, sustainability of drinking water sources, functionality of tap water connections, allocation of funds under JJM, etc. were asked. Union Minister of Jal Shakti has replied to the starred questions on the floor of both the Houses highlighting the progress of JJM.

According to National Jal Jeevan Mission, since the launch of JJM more than 4 crore households have been provided with Functional Household Tap water Connection (FHTC). More than 38% rural households are now connected with FHTC. Goa, Telengana and Andamans & Nicobar Islands have reportedly 100% FHTC. There are 58 districts in the country with 100% FHTC

In the month of March during break of the session, Parliamentary Standing Committee also scrutinized the performance of Jal Jeevan Mission. In its report tabled in the Parliament, the Standing Committee appreciated the effort being made under the mission and also gave a number of recommendations. The budget for Jal Jeevan Mission in 2021-22 has been increased to Rs. 50,011 Crore from Rs. 11,000 Crore in 2020-21. In addition, funds for water supply are also coming from 15th Finance Commission tied grants to RLB/ PRIs for water & sanitation, matching State share and externally aided projects. Thus in 2021-22, more than Rs. 1 lakh crore is planned to invested in the country on ensuring tap water supply to rural homes.

Green Heroes in Prime Minister's 75th Mann ki Baat

Javadekar urges States to aptly utilize FAME Fund

29.03.2021, New Delhi: Representatives of State Pollution Control Boards, Urban Local Bodies and Institutes of Repute signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 26th March 2021 for 132 identified cities for the implementation of city specific action plans under National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar was also present on the occasion. Javadekar said that concerted efforts are required by the State Governments and all concerned for improving air quality in the country towards realizing the vision of ‘Swatch Bharat, Swatch Vayu’ and exhorted all to work in mission mode.

"Today's initiative is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi of curbing air pollution by 20% in the next 4 years in over 100 cities… it is not an easy task but a tough challenge which we all need to achieve together." said the Union Environment Minister.

The Minister urged the States to quickly procure e-buses for public transport purpose sanctioned under the FAME Scheme. Regretting that despite allocation of funds for 6000 e-buses to different cities across the country only 600 buses have been procured and are operational, he said if any city fails to utilise the funds sanctioned for procurement of e-buses the allocation will go to other cities.

The city action plans have been prepared to control specific air pollution sources through multidimensional actions by brining several implementation agencies together. Expansion of ambient air quality network, source apportionment studies, public awareness, grievance redressal mechanism and sector specific action points are part of these action plans.

Clean Energy Transition Measures

25.03.2021, New Delhi: Government of India has set a target for installing 175 GW of Renewable Energy capacity (excluding large hydro) by the end of 2021-22. this includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from Biomass and 5 GW from Small Hydro.

In order to become self-reliant in power generation and achieving energy transition towards clean energy, Government has inter-alia taken several measures, which were outlined by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, New & Renewable Energy and the Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship R.K. Singh.

Phase-wise retirement of old polluting coal based power plants , and setting up of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to RE developers on a plug and play basis are two such measures among others, informed by the Minister in Lok Sabha today.

CSIR - CMERI develops products for better environment

25.03.2021, New Delhi: The CSIR- Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) has developed technology for Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Disposal System in modular form depending on the requirement of the end user. The different modules of technology transfer consists of separation of solid component from liquid waste utilizing screw based press, regenerative hot air drying system from hot flue gas of pyrolysis plant, briquetting machine, composting of separated solid. CSIR-CMERI has transferred five modules of technology to companies for utilization of solid component of liquid waste from sewage treatment plant/effluent treatment plant.

The Waste Management technology is expected to help in achieving decentralized decimation of solid wastes, and also in creating value-added end-products from abundantly available redundant stuffs such as dry leaves, dry grass etc. it is also claimed to be designed for scientific disposal of solid waste as per the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) 2016.

The Oxygen Enrichment Unit developed by CMERI, is a device, which concentrates the Oxygen from the air around us by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched air. The concentrated oxygen is delivered to the patient with breathing-related problems through oxygen mask or nasal cannula to improve oxygenation in the blood. The device may be used in Homes or Hospital type facilities for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), chronic hypoxemia and pulmonary edema. It may be used as an adjunct treatment for severe sleep apnea (in conjunction with a continuous positive airway pressure unit).

The technology is anticipated to be useful for the households due to the rise in pollution and at the hospitals for providing the enriched oxygen for the pulmonary diseases. It would also be equally effective for high altitude terrain soldiers for their contingency purposes due to its smooth portability.

In the context of the present pandemic, the Intelligent UVC LED Sterilizer Unit brings an extra protection. This is because hand washing and use of mask may not be enough if objects of regular usage like mobile, wallet or key chains are budding with germs. Inspite of our best preventive measures, it calls for one tainted object to make entry of infection inside the house. CSIR CMERI brings an intelligent, ultra-portable, safe UVC Led based disinfection technology, designed to sterilize germs, right to your doorstep for you and your dear ones to be safe at the touch of a button, either at home or while enjoying a long ride. The design facilitates wireless and sensor based operation with added features for safety of users. Deployment of this Sterilizer Unit at Schools and Industrial units would be vital for continuing their businesses during the resurgence of the pandemic.

Where to raise voice to protect waterbody in your area?

23.03.2021, New Delhi: Coincidentally, on the eve of World Water Day 2021, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed an Order pertaining to remove encroachments from a water body near HSIIDC, Village Sersa, Tehsil Rai, District Sonipat. Smt. Neelam, Sarpanch, in her Original Application No. 69/2021 has stated that the water body was earlier source of water for the village but in the course of time, sewage wastage is being diverted to the water body. Finally, the same has been trespassed for illegal constructions but no action has been taken.

The Principal Bench of NGT headed by Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that the matter of restoration of water bodies has been dealt with by the Tribunal vide order dated 18.11.2020 in O.A. No. 325/2015, Lt. Col. Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi v. UOI & Ors. Any individual grievances may be first raised before the appropriate Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM) or by moving the concerned District Magistrate, which may be looked into on merits.

In the Order pertaining to O.A. No. 325/2015 the NGT has directed all States and UTs to designate a nodal agency for restoration of water bodies, if no such agency exists. The designated nodal agency, under the oversight of the Chief Secretaries of the States, UTs should hold meeting before 31st January 2021 to take stock of the situation and plan further steps, including directions to District Authorities for further course of action up to Panchayat levels and to evolve further monitoring mechanism as well as Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM).

The designated nodal agency was also directed to submit periodical reports to the Central Pollution Control Committee (CPCB) and Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. First such report may be furnished by 28th February 2021.

Prime Minister addresses Nation on World Water Day 2021

22.03.2021, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan-II: Catch the Rain’ campaign on World Water Day 2021 via video conferencing. On this eve, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project, the first project of the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers, in the presence of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also interacted with sarpanches and ward panches in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said on International Water Day, a major step has also been taken for the Ken-Betwa Link Canal along with the introduction of the Catch The Rain campaign. He added this agreement is important to realize Atal ji's dream in the interest of millions of families of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. He opined that rapid development is impossible without water security and effective water management. He added that the vision of India's development and India's self-reliance, is dependent on our water sources and our Water Connectivity.

The challenge of the water crisis is increasing equally with India’s development said the Prime Minister. He said it is the responsibility of the present generation of the country to fulfill its responsibility for the generations to come. Highlighting programmes like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna, water campaign to every farm - Har Khet ko Paani, 'Per Drop More Crop' campaign, Sahi Fasal and NamamiGange Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission or Atal Bhujal Yojana, Prime Minister Modi asserted that the government has made water governance a priority in its policies and decisions in the last 6 years.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the better India manages rainwater, the lesser the country's dependence on groundwater. Therefore, success of campaigns like 'Catch the Rain' is very important. He noted that both urban and rural areas have been included in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan. He called upon to step up water conservation efforts in the days leading up to Monsoon. Emphasizing the importance of sarpanches and DMs/DCs, The Prime Minister said that the ‘Jal Shapath’ which is being organized all over the country should become everybody’s pledge and second nature. He said when our nature changes with respect to water, nature will also support us.

The Prime Minister noted that apart from rain water harvesting, the management of river water in our country has also been discussed for decades. To save the country from a water crisis, it is now necessary to work rapidly in this direction. He said the Ken-Betwa Link Project is also part of this vision. He lauded both the Government of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for making this project a reality.

The Prime Minister said just 1.5 years ago, just 3.5 crore out of 19 crore rural families in our country, got piped drinking water. He expressed happiness that after the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission, about 4 crore new families have piped drinking water connections in such a short time. He noted that public participation and local governance model are at the core of the Jal Jeevan Mission.

The Prime Minister remarked that for the first time after independence, a government is working so seriously with regard to water testing. He pointed out that rural sisters and daughters have been made stakeholders in this campaign of water testing. He said during the Corona period itself, about 4.5 lakh women were trained for water testing. Every village is getting at least 5 trained women for water testing. Better results are a certainty with increased participation of women in water governance, the Prime Minister concluded.

By 2030, India to cut emission intensity up to 35%

19.03.2021, New Delhi: As per the report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the average global temperature for 2015-2019 is currently estimated to be 1.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels. This was informed by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar in the Lok Sabha.

The Minister also said, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the surface air temperature over India has risen by about 0.7°C during 1901–2018 which is accompanied with an increase in atmospheric moisture content. The sea surface temperatures in the tropical Indian Ocean have also increased by about 1°C during 1951–2015. On an average, at present, the sea level along the Indian coast is estimated to be rising at about 1.7 mm/year.

Under the Paris Agreement, India has submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) outlining eight targets for 2021-2030, including (i) to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level, (ii) to achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030 with help of the transfer of technology and low-cost international finance, (iii) to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.The other targets pertain to sustainable lifestyles; climate friendly growth path; climate change adaptation; climate change finance; and capacity building and technology. These goals have to be achieved between 2021 and 2030.

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) provides an overarching framework for all climate actions. Implementation of the NAPCC and other measures has led to a reduction in emission intensity of GDP by about 24% between 2005 and 2016. 24.56% of geographic area in the country is under forest and tree cover and carbon sink in India’s forests is increasing. Cumulative electric installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources stands at 38.5%.India is on track to achieve its targets under the Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Programmes to Conserve Waterbodies in India

19.03.2021, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar has informed the Lok Sabha that rapid urbanization, developmental activities and anthropogenic pressures do stress water bodies. Though, works related to water resources development, and management are planned, funded, executed as well as maintained by the State Governments themselves as per their own resources and priorities; various departments in the Central Government and the State Governments are engaged in restoration, conservation and preservation of lakes and wetlands.

Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is currently implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) for conservation and management of identified wetlands, includes lakes in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State Governments. The scheme covers various activities such as interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater, shoreline protection, lake front development, in-situ cleaning i.e. desilting & deweeding, storm water management, bioremediation, catchment area treatment, lake beautification, survey & demarcation, biofencing, fisheries development, weed control, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation, community participation, etc. Under the NPCA scheme, the central assistance is based on the proposals received from the State Governments, conformity with the guidelines and budget availability.

The Union Minister informed that so far, MoEF&CC has sanctioned projects for conservation of 157 wetlands in the country and released an amount of about Rs. 1039.0 crore as central share.

He further said that in order to supplement the efforts of the State Governments, the Ministry of Jal Shakti provides technical and financial assistance to State Governments to encourage sustainable development and efficient management of water resources through various schemes and programmes such as Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI), Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies Schemes etc. under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) – Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP).

The RRR of Water Bodies scheme mainly aims at expanding cultivable area under assured irrigation by improvement and restoration of water bodies thereby increasing the tank storage capacity and revival of lost irrigation potential along with other objectives like improving water use efficiency, ground water recharge, increased availability of drinking water, improvement of catchment of tank commands etc. water bodies included under the scheme are encroachment free. It covers rural water bodies having minimum water spread area of 5.0 hectare and urban water bodies having water spread area from 2.0 hectare to 10.0 hectare.

Under the RRR of Water Bodies scheme, since 12th plan onwards, 2228 water bodies are covered with an estimated cost of Rs. 1914.86 crore. Central Assistance (CA) of Rs. 433.9 crore has been released to states up to March, 2020. Further, 1465 water bodies have been reported to be-completed up to March, 2020. Target irrigation potential restoration of these schemes is 1.89 L Ha and out of this, 1.319 L Ha is reported to be restored till March, 2020. In the current financial year, Rs. 35.79 crore has been released to RRR of water Bodies schemes till date.

“CDRI must embody the central promise of SDGs”: Prime Minister Modi

17.03.2021, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the opening ceremony of International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) through video conference. Terming the current situation unprecedented, the Prime Minister emphasized on how the once-in-a-hundred-year COVID-19 pandemic reminded the interdependence and interconnection of the world, countries irrespective of economic status and geographical location.

The Prime Minister cautioned that the lessons from the pandemic must not be forgotten. They apply to not only public health disasters but other disasters as well. He said, it will take sustained and concerted efforts to mitigate climate change.

Emphasizing on the dire need of cooperation for ensuring the resilience of the global system, the Prime Minister stressed that countries that are making large investments in infrastructure, such as India, must ensure that this is an investment in resilience, and not in risk. Many infrastructure systems- digital infrastructure, shipping lines, aviation networks- cover the entire world and the effect of disaster in one part of the world can quickly spread across the world.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the year 2021 is a particularly important year. We are approaching the mid-point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris agreement, and the Sendai Framework. The expectations from COP-26, to be hosted by the UK and Italy later this year, are high. This partnership on resilient infrastructure must play its important role in helping meet some of those expectations, he said.

The Prime Minister elaborated on key priority areas. First, CDRI must embody the central promise of the SDGs - "leave no one behind". This means putting concerns of the most vulnerable nations and communities first. Second, stock taking of the performance on key infrastructure sectors, such as; health and digital infrastructure that played a central role during the pandemic. Third, in our quest for resilience, no technological system should be considered too basic or too advanced. The CDRI must maximize the demonstration effect of the application of technology. And finally, the notion of "resilient infrastructure" must become a mass movement galvanizing the energies of not just the experts, and formal institutions.

Prime Ministers from Fiji, Italy, and United Kingdom were also present on the occasion.

Can tiny Bees protect Humans from elephants?

15.03.2021, New Delhi: Can the tiny honey bees protect giant human from another giant species on the earth - elephants? Yes. This is a reality in the forests of Karnataka.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), on Monday, launched a unique project of creating “bee-fences” to mitigate human – elephant conflicts in the country. The objective of Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant – Human Attacks using Bees) is to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honey bees and thus reducing loss of lives of both, humans as well as elephants. The pilot project was launched at four locations around village Chelur in Kodagu district of Karnataka on 15th March, 2021 by KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena. These spots are located on the periphery of Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve and prone to human-elephant conflicts. The total cost of the RE-HAB project is just Rs. 15 lakh.

Project RE-HAB is a sub-mission under KVIC’s National Honey Mission. While the Honey Mission is a programme to increase the bee population, honey production and beekeepers’ income by setting up apiaries, Project RE-HAB uses bee boxes as a fence to prevent the attack of elephants.

KVIC has set up 15-20 interspersed bee boxes at each of the four locationsin the passage ways of elephant-human conflict zones to block the entrance of elephants to human habitations. The boxes are connected with a string so that when elephants attempt to pass through, a tug or pull causes the bees to swarm the elephant herds and dissuade them from progressing further. Bee boxes have been placed on the ground as well as hung from the trees to block the passage of elephants. High resolution, night vision cameras have been installed at strategic points to record the impact of bees on elephants and their behavior in these zones.

KVIC Chairman Saxena called it a unique initiative and as a sustainable resolution to the human-elephant conflicts that are common in several parts of the country.

Nearly 500 people die every year due to elephant attacks in India. This is nearly 10 times more than the fatalities caused by big cats across the country. From 2015 to 2020, nearly 2500 people have lost their lives in elephant attacks. Out of this, nearly 170 human fatalities have been reported in Karnataka alone. On the contrary, nearly one-fifth of this number, i.e. around 500 elephants have also died in retaliation by humans in the last 5 years.

Earlier, Central Bee Research and Training Institute, Pune, which is a unit of KVIC, had conducted field trials of creating “bee-fences” in Maharashtra to mitigate elephant attacks. However, this is for the first time, KVIC has launched this project in totality. KVIC has roped in the College of Forestry under the University of Agriculture and Horticultural Sciences, Ponnampet, for impact assessment of the project. KVIC Chief Advisor (Strategy & Sustainable Development) Dr R Sudarshana and Dr CG Kushalappa, Dean of the College of Forestry, were present on the occasion.

Moradabad STP to curb pollution in the Ganges

15.03.2021, New Delhi: It may be another good news for Ganga worshippers. Today, a tripartite Concession Agreement was signed in New Delhi, between the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and M/s. GA Infra Private Limted-Lahoti Buildcon Limited for development of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for Moradabad on Hybrid Annuity PPP mode. The contract was awarded at a total cost of INR 99.68 Crores. Director General, NMCG, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra graced the occasion and representatives from UP Jal Nigam and the concessionaire were also present.

The project aims to eliminate flow of untreated sewage from Moradabad city into the River Ganga thereby reducing pollution load in the river. NMCG approved the project for construction of the 25 MLD STP, among other works such as developing Interception & Diversion (I&D) structures, I&D network laying, Sewage Pumping Stations including Operation and Maintenance for 15 years etc. for Sewerage Zone II of Moradabad. This project also aims to take care of the existing sewerage problems in the town and the resultant sewage pollution in the Ram Ganga. The lending for these projects is already offered by SBI Capital.

In order to address the pollution from Moradabad, a comprehensive sewerage network and 58 MLD STP Project for Moradabad sewerage zone 1 has already been completed. In addition to this project, NMCG has also approved the project for ‘Pollution Abatement Works for River Ram Ganga at Bareilly’ for construction of STP of 65 MLD which is presently under tender evaluation stage and is expected to be awarded soon.

Moradabad is situated on the banks of the Ram Ganga, a tributary of River Ganga. River Ramganga is a critical polluting tributary of river Ganga. Moradabad and Bareilly are the two major towns located along the river Ramganga.

MoEFCC issues Draft Notification on Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021

14th March 2021, New Delhi: Draft version of Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021 notified vide GSR 169 (E) dated 11th March 2021 in furtherance to Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The draft PWM Amendment Rules 2021 proposes expanding the applicability as in Rules 2(1) to brand-owners, plastic waste processor (recycler, co-processor, etc.).

Under Rule 3, 5 new definitions are proposed in the amendment rules.

  1. After (n), (na) Non-woven plastic bag-Non-woven plastic bag is made up of sheet or web structured fabric of entangled fibers or filaments (and by perforating films) bonded together by mechanical or thermal or chemical means. The Non-woven fabric is a flat or tufted porous sheet that is made directly from fibres, molten plastic or plastic films.

  2. After (q), (qa) Plastic Waste Processing - means any process by which plastic waste is handled for the purpose of reuse, recycling, co-processing or transformation into new products.

  3. After (v), (va) Single-use plastic item - is a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being dispose of or recycled. And, (vb) Thermoset plastic- is a plastic which becomes irreversibly rigid when heated, and hence cannot be remoulded into desired shape. And, (vc) Thermoplastic – is a plastic which softens on heating and can be moulded into desired shape.

Carry bag made of virgin or recycled plastic, shall not be less than 120 (previously 50) microns in thickness with effect from 30.9.2021.

Carry bags and commodities made from compostable plastics shall conform to the Indian Standard: IS 17088: 2008 titled as Specifications for Compostable Plastics, and/or commodities, as amended from time to time. The manufacturers or seller of compostable plastic carry bags and/or commodities shall obtain a certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board before marketing or selling.

A new clause shall be inserted in rule 4 (1) as (j) Each sheet of non-woven plastic carry bag shall not be less than 60 (GSM per square meter) or 240 microns in thickness with effect from 30.9.2021.

Under rule 4, two more sub-rules are proposed as follows:

(2) The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of following single-use plastic commodities shall be prohibited from 1st January, 2022: Ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration.

And (3) the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of following single-use plastic commodities shall be prohibited from 1st July, 2022: (i) single-use plastic (including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene) items: plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping/packing films around sweet boxes; invitation cards; and cigarette packets, plastic/PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers. (ii) the above provision shall not apply to commodities (including carry bags) made of compostable plastic material.

Rule 5(d) shall be read as "The inert from recycling or processing facilities of plastic waste shall be disposed of in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 or as amended from time to time".

Under the "Responsibility of local body" in rule 6, sub-rule (2), after clause (a), it is proposed to insert - (a1) Ensuring that provisions pertaining to restrictions/prohibition on single-use plastics are adhered to.

Under the "Responsibility of Gram Panchayat" in rule 7, sub-rule (1), after clause (a), fit is proposed to insert - (a1) Ensuring that provisions pertaining to restrictions/prohibition on single-use plastics are adhered to.

Under the "Responsibility of producers, Importers and Brand Owners" in Rule 9, under sub-rule (1) after the words, ―local body concerned, the words, ―as per guidelines issued from time to time under these Rules is inserted.

In rule 11, which deals with Marking and labelling sub-rule (1). Each plastic carry bag, plastic packaging and multilayered packaging shall have the following information printed in English namely:

a.name, registration number of the manufacturer/producer/ brand-owner and thickness in case of carry bag, plastic packaging used by the brand owner

b. name and registration number of the manufacturer in case of multilayered packaging (excluding multilayered packaging used for imported goods); and

c. name and certificate number of producer [Rule 4(h)] in case of carry bags made from compostable plastic

Under rule 12, which deals with Prescribed authority sub-rule (2) will be changed to "The concerned Secretary-in-charge of Urban Development of the State or a Union Territory shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of these rules relating to waste management by waste generator, restriction/prohibition on use of plastic carry bags, plastic sheets or like, covers made of plastic sheets and multilayered packaging".

Rule 12, sub-rule (2) will be read as " The concerned Gram Panchayat shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of these rules relating to waste management by the waste generator, restriction/prohibition on use of plastic carry bags, plastic sheets or like, covers made of plastic sheets and multilayered packaging in the rural area of the State or a Union Territory".

Shekhawat launches WQMIS under Jal Jeevan Mission

13th March 2021, New Delhi: Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat stated that ‘Har Ghar Jal’ is not just a one-time infrastructure creating programme. It will go a long way in building the capacity of the frontline workers, empowering women and creating employment in villages. The Union Minister stated this while chairing a webinar with all States and UTs Ministers in-charge of rural water supply. The webinar was to review progress made under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) - a flagship program of the Central Government for providing tap water connection in every rural household by 2024.

Shekhawat also released the ‘Drinking water quality testing, monitoring & surveillance’ framework and also launched the Water Quality Management Information System (WQMIS) of JJM. The WQMIS online portal & mobile app has a full automated data management related to water quality. (Click here to see the framework document)

The Union Budget 2021-22 has witnessed a quantum increase in the budgetary provision for Jal Jeevan Mission, from Rs 11,500 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 50,011 crore in 2021-22. Shekhawat rolled out the roadmap for more efficacious utilization of the nearly five-fold increased JJM’s Budget by States/UTs. Being the 3rd year, 2021-22 is a crucial year for the Mission. He said that this is the time to speed up implementation, strategically create systems and processes for proper operations and maintenance for assured water supply to every household on long-term basis.

Addressing the media after the webinar, Shekhawat said that since the announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission by the Prime Minister on 15th August, 2019, significant progress has been made across the country and so far, more than 3.77 Crore rural households have been provided with tap water connections. In total, more than 7 Crore rural families (36.5%) have now started getting clean water in their homes, i.e. more than 1/3rd of rural household are getting potable water through taps. The Minister further added that every family living in 52 districts, 670 Blocks, 42,100 Panchayats and 81,123 villages are getting assured tap water supply in their homes now.

The Union Minister explained how despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, necessary groundwork for effective and efficient implementation of the mission has been laid. As the whole country is slowing trying to return to normalcy, Jal Jeevan Mission is putting in untiring efforts for ‘provision of safe drinking water in rural areas’ by providing tap connections in rural households.

Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State for Jal Shakti in his address recalled the times when the women of his village in Haryana were subjected to struggles and pain, due to unavailability of potable water sources near homes. he said that he feels proud to be the part of this mission as it is bringing a huge change in the life of rural women & children of country.

Secretary DDWS, Pankaj Kumar; Additional Secretary & Mission Director- Bharat Lal, were also present in the virtual conference.

E3 Certifications for Brick manufacturing Sector

12.03.2021, New Delhi: "Energy Efficiency Enterprise (E3) Certifications Programme for Brick manufacturing Sector" was inaugurated by R K Singh, Minister of State (I/C) for Power and New & Renewable Energy and Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

On this occasion, R K Singh appreciated the responses received from the bricks manufacturing enterprises for availing this certificate. The bricks manufacturing enterprises have agreed to shift from conventional technologies to efficient technologies and product shift towards low density bricks with better thermal insulation.

E3 Certification envisaged to bring multiple benefits in terms of energy savings in brick manufacturing process and improved quality of bricks resulting in cost savings to builders as well as energy savings to occupiers of buildings due to better thermal comfort and improved insulation properties.

The Minister urged brick manufacturers to become E-3 capable in next 2-3 years. The Union government is extending support to these industries for this transition which will not just help in reducing energy emissions but will also benefit them by cost reduction.

India is the second largest producer of bricks in the world. Brick sector contributes nearly 0.7% to the country's GDP, while it employs over 1 crore workers. This sector has a strong influence on other economic sectors such as transportation and construction. At the same time, brick manufacturing industry consumes about 45-50 million tonnes of coal equivalent annually, amounting to 5-15% of the total energy consumption in the country. After steel industry, the brick sector has the second largest potential for energy efficiency amongst the Indian industrial sector. Energy saving of 7 Million Tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) per year and CO, savings of about 25 Million Tonnes by 2030 are estimated through adoption of E3 Certification by 7500 Bricks manufacturing units. E3 Certification Scheme seeks to accelerate brick sector modernization, using market incentives to create customer demand to fulfil the vision for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

By availingE3 Certification, the brick units shall shift towards adoption of more efficient technologies for making energy efficient bricks. Such bricks will be useful in complying the requirements of Energy Conservation Buildings Code (ECBC). It is proposed to nudge the agencies/departments in the public sector like CPWD, NBCC, State Public Works Department Railways and Urban local bodies, etc., to create demand for energy efficient/hollow bricks. Besides, Bureau of Energy Efficiency under their awareness generation programme towards building energy efficiency shall also hold consultations with various stakeholders in this sector like builders architects etc. in order to sensitise them about the benefits of energy efficient bricks. The E3 Certificate will be awarded to those enterprises whose specific energy consumption will be 25% lower than the national baseline. The enterprises can qualifyfor E3 through adoption of energy efficient brick manufacturing process and technology and Production of lower density bricks (hollow, perforated or porous bricks).The adoption of the E3 Certification is currently voluntary for the Brick industry. Energy-efficient transformation in brick manufacturing is expected to create an enabling policy environment for promoting manufacturing and utilization of energy efficient Bricks, technologies and practices in India’s construction sector. This will push towards phasing out of inefficient technology in Brick production and enhance awareness and access of energy efficient bricks and technology.

Green Crematoria to reduce air pollution

12.03.2021, New Delhi: Delhi has about 56 traditional cremation grounds where Hindus cremate bodies by burning massive piles (300-400 kg) of firewood) in the open, billowing out clouds of black smoke into the sky. It also generates large quantities of ash which flows into the Yamuna.

To address the high localized toxic emissions from crematoria, CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has developed a technology knowhow to mitigate air pollution from Open Pyre Green Crematoria.

Inaugurating four pyres of the Green Crematoria at Delhi’s Nigam Bodh Ghat Crematorium, today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, called for a comprehensive plan for institutionalised ‘Green Good Deed’ at the venue. He said with such green initiatives, a lot can be achieved in improving the air pollution index in the National Capital and scientists from CSIR-NEERI can play a major role in that. He informed that the Central Government has already been working for improving the air quality index in 120 cities across the country.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted, “Air Pollution has become a grave problem in India with more than 120+ cities falling under non-attainment category as per the National Green Tribunal”. He pointed out, “In the recently announced General Budget 2021, a lot of emphasis has been given to allocate resource to mitigate the growing ambient air pollution related problem in India”.

Delhi has about 56 traditional cremation grounds where Hindus cremate bodies by burning massive piles of firewood in the open, billowing out clouds of black smoke into the sky. The technology installed at VIP Pyre 3,4,5,6 comprises Fume collection and handling, Processing/cleaning, Utilities and Waste Handling systems. The system is designed with an efficient scrubbing system offering reduced emission of smoke, oil/greases, hydrocarbons, and particulates etc., with ease of recycle and disposal of scrubbed liquid and solids.

The Minister pointed out, “Such technology helps to reposition our existing heritage by adopting clear methods for achieving our national and global commitments towards the environment”. He said, “The present emission control system with slight design modifications, can be extended to LPG/CNG and Diesel crematoria to future reduce the emission from these systems”.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Such innovation can also be applied to mitigate dispersed air pollution emitted from unorganized and informal industrial sectors like bakeries, namkeen making, or application areas, where wood is being utilized as a primary source of energy”. He said, “The system like these should be proliferated, under programmes like NCAP, Swachh and Swasth Bharat Initiatives, across the country to reduce the dispersed emissions generated from crematoria thereby impacting the environment and societal health, at large”.

Gadkari says, Govt. committed promotion of RE in especially in MSMEs

12.03.2021, New Delhi: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari has again reiterated government focus on expanding renewable energy utilization in MSMEs. While addressing a webinar on “Atmanirbhar Bharat” – “Opportunities in Solar & MSME”, organised by Indian People’s Forum in the United Arab Emirates, the Minister said “the Government is committed to promote renewable energy resources in the country, especially in the MSME sector”.

He said that the MSMEs with good track record are now being encouraged for capital market. He also said that there is a huge opportunity for investment in scrapping policy. He said India has tremendous potential and capacity for electricity generation. He said that the solar power rate in India is Rs.2.40 per unit and commercial rate of power is Rs.11 per unit and the cheap power generated through solar energy can be used for automobiles and other developmental works. He exuded confidence that within five years, India will be top manufacturing hub for automobile in the world. He said, by making solar energy available, we will create big market for electric vehicles.

The Minister invited investors abroad to invest in Indian MSMEs and expressed hope that this will provide a number of opportunities to MSME sector to become the world’s largest manufacturing hub. Terming MSME sector as the backbone of the Indian economy, Sh. Gadkari said that the sector contributes around 30% in the country’s GDP and provides employment to over 10 crore people.

The event was aimed at providing a platform for MSMEs to showcase their strength, highlight their business opportunities, and to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge. Indian renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world. India is at fifth position in solar and fourth in renewable power installed capacity. The Government has set an ambitious target for renewable energy and in particular, solar power generation, for this decade. The target for renewable energy installation is 450 GW by year 2030.

LPG coverage reaches 99%

11.03.2021, New Delhi: LPG is considered to be a cleaner fuel. It reduces consumption of wood that ensures trees and forest protection. Driven by the vigorous thrust of the Government on making accessible the clean energy to all Indians, LPG has emerged as the preferred kitchen partner for almost every Indian. According to a release from IndianOil, the LPG penetration in India has improved from 55% in 2014 to more than 99% as on 10 March 2021.

The oil & gas industry, under the aegis of MoP&NG, has provided 8 crore LPG connections to Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) beneficiaries at pan-India level with government expenditure of Rs. 12,800 Crores. LPG consumption has improved amongst PMUY customers. A surge of 23.2% in LPG consumption was noted in the initial quarter of this fiscal, which was attributed to the three free LPG refills given to the PMUY beneficiaries.

It is notable that the improvement in the overall LPG consumption has continued for the three-month period December, 2020 to February, 2021 and has registered a growth of 7.3% for all domestic LPG customers that includes both PMUY and non-PMUY. LPG consumption amongst PMUY customers registered a growth of 19.5%, from 8,45,310 MT in the comparable period in the last fiscal to 10,10,054 MT in the current fiscal for the said three-month period. Compared year-on-year, the overall domestic LPG sales have registered a handsome growth of 10.3% during the current fiscal (till Feb'21).

It is noteworthy to mention that we have near universal LPG penetration in India with coverage of more than 99%. This is a sign of positive behavioural change towards better health and cleaner environment. This widespread acceptance of LPG as the preferred kitchen fuel of almost every Indian showcases the surging popularity of LPG as the primary kitchen fuel as compared to other traditional fuels such as firewood. Research has shown that those exposed to air pollution are more susceptible to COVID-19, therefore doing everything to maintain LPG use among the poor is actually a direct health measure.

Beyond the significant health benefits and cost savings, the use of LPG by PMUY beneficiaries has led to saving of enormous amount of time among large sections of the population. The time thus saved from the drudgery of collecting firewood is being used by the beneficiaries to find gainful employment and contribute to a growing economy. The financial savings on account of LPG as fuel, in addition to other benefits such as better health and time saved, make it an enduring choice of every Indian.

Similipal Biosphere Fire under Control

05.03.2021, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar has said that the fire at Similipal forests is now under control. No loss of life has been reported due to the incident.

A massive wildfire broke out in Simlipal National Park in Odisha. It raged the biosphere for about a week, and now reported to be under control.

The Director General of National Tiger Conservation Authority, S.P. Yadav, told IANS that all the forest fires are recorded as the ground fire in the deciduous Sal forest of Simlipal Tiger Reserve. He further said that the forest fire season in Simlipal Tiger Reserve usually starts in February and continues till May.

Simlipal, a National Park and Tiger Reserve covering 2,750 sq km area, is situated in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. The harbours unique melanistic tigers, rare and endemic orchids, 1,352 species of plants, 55 species of mammals, 361 species of birds, 62 species of reptiles and 21 species of amphibians. Similipal comes under the Deccan Peninsular Biographic zone, Chhotangpur Province, in the Mahanadian region. The forest is a predominantly moist-mixed deciduous forest with tropical semi-evergreen patches in areas with suitable microclimatic conditions and sporadic patches of dry, deciduous forest and grassland.

On 2nd March 2021, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had directed the officials concerned to take immediate steps to control the wildfire. He had issued directions in response to a tweet by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the issue.

Javadekar has stated "The Similipal forests are invaluable, not just for India but for the entire world. I appreciate the efforts of forest officials to contain the fire". He has sought a report on the forest fire from the concerned authorities.

Construction & Encroachment matters reverberate in NGT

Tribunal’s Order on Air Pollution, remarkable for ambient and human health HSPCB Gurgaon failing to curb air pollution issues in area bordering Delhi

New Delhi: During January 2021, the National green Tribunal (NGT) considered a total of 100 applications on several issues. A maximum number of cases pertains to Uttar Pradesh. Further, the Tribunal dealt with maximum 15% cases related to Construction & Encroachment matters, followed by 9% issues each pertaining to Rivers and Sewage & effluents; 6% on Plastic waste disposal; 5% each on Garbage disposal, air pollution, industry and mining; 4% on Bio-medical waste disposal; 3% each on coastal, ground water, hazardous waste disposal, and tree & forest; 2% of issues concerning each to Industrial cluster, mortality and slaughter house; 1% issues on agriculture, brick kiln, district environmental plan, e-waste disposal , eco-sensitive areas, fly ash disposal, Lakes, ponds & wetlands and SEZ.

One of the most important issues addressed by the Tribunal in air pollution matters is the unscientific manner in which loading and unloading of cement is being undertaken causing air pollution in and around the areas of Rani Bagh, Shakurbasti, Raja Park, Punjabi Bagh, Srinagar and Madipur near Shakurbasti Railway Station, Delhi. The NGT constituted an independent Expert Committee, to study the problem area in terms of ambient air quality, carrying capacity, health impact on the inhabitants and the workers involved in the process and suggest remedial measures and the remedial measures suggested by the DPCC may be adopted by the CRWC and the Railway Administration. NGT Orders in this matter has a wider impact in terms of not only controlling air pollution, but also ameliorating human health, especially the workers handling cement. Though the matter pertains to Delhi, it needs to be implemented throughout the country, by the companies as well as the Pollution Control Bodies.

Matters on air pollution has come down, despite the fact that it has been causing growing distress. Wide range of cases exist in public life in and around Delhi, and other parts of the country. An unorganized industrial area, Daulatabad Road Industrial Area, located merely within 5 km from Delhi border, in the district of Gurugram, the erstwhile Gurgaon, hubs a number of small scale industrial units causing rampant air pollution. Often, the PM10 concentration goes above 1000 µg/m3, which is 10 times higher than the prescribed limits. However, there is no substantial data available. Some nearby residents were compelled to reach out to the local State Pollution Control Board office in Gurugram, North Regional Office with copies to various levels of authorities. To one complaint, the HSPCB deputed a non-technical person in order to review the matter. A nearby resident, Mani Bhushan Shukla, an IT Professional says, the problem has increased after the visit of HSPCB representative.

MoEFCC's New Handbook on Chemicals and Hazardous Waste Management and Handling in India

01.03.2021, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has come out with a new publication - "The Handbook on Chemicals and Hazardous Waste Management and Handling in India". The publication is an outcome of the research works by the Centre for Environmental Law, Education, Research and Advocacy (CEERA), National Law School of India University, Bengaluru.

Containing six chapters, the Handbook endeavours to give a broad overview of the legislative and regulatory framework governing the chemical sector in India. It is designed to serve as a ready reckoner for stakeholders working in the field of chemicals and hazardous waste, such as members and officers of the Pollution Control Boards, allied institutions of the MoEFCC, other regulatory authorities, officials and employees of hazardous waste management companies and chemical industries, importers and exporters of chemicals and wastes.

Though it is priced Rs. 500/-, the entire soft copy of the handbook is available on the Ministry's website.

"Water" mostly used word in PM's 21st MKB

by Sanjaya K. Mishra

01.03.2021, New Delhi: Oftentimes, water and environment has got importance in various speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Water was taken 34 times by Prime Minister Modi, in his 21st Episode of Mann Ki Baat 2.0. Water as a single word was there 28 times in the address. He said that there must not be a single day in India, when there is no festival connected with water in some corner of the country or the other. The Prime Minister described water as life; faith too and the flow of development as well. He mentioned "In a way, water is more important than PARAS, the philosopher’s stone. It is said that with the touch of a PARAS, iron gets turned into gold. Similarly, the touch of water is necessary for life; imperative for development."

He opined that one reason to associate the month of Magha with water – after this, winters come to an end and summers start knocking. Hence, for the conservation of water, we should begin efforts right away. A few days later, just on the 22nd of the month of March, it’s World Water Day.

In his address, the Prime Minister quoted the name of Aaradhya from Uttar Pradesh in the context of significance of water. He also quoted the name, Sujit of North Dinajpur who described water as Nature's collective gift, hence a collective responsibility for its saving.

The Prime Minister shared the example of Thiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu, where, local people have been running a campaign for the conservation of their wells. These people are rejuvenating public wells in their vicinity that had been lying unused for years. The endeavour of Babita Rajput of village Agrotha in Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh also got place in the Prime Minister's address. Babita Rajput mobilized women of her village and built a canal to bring water to a dying lake, close to her village. Through this canal, rainwater started flowing directly into the lake. Now this lake remains filled with water.

Works by Jagdish Kuniyal of Bageshwar, Uttarakhand also shared by the Prime Minister. He orated how Jagdish Kuniyal solved water crisis by planting thousands of trees over the entire area, along with his fellow villagers and today, the dried up water source at the place is filled to the brim once again.

With these examples, Prime Minister Modi reminded collective responsibilities of People of India with regard to water. He stressed on a 100 day campaign for the sake of cleaning up water sources and conserving rainwater during May - June, when rain starts in most parts of India. He also enlightened on ‘CATCH THE RAIN, WHERE IT FALLS, WHEN IT FALLS’ programme initiated by the National Water Mission, Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Mayur, a passionate bird watcher and a nature lover from Gurgaon, Haryana was also named in the Prime Ministers' February MKB. Modi also informed that Kaziranga National Park & ​​Tiger Reserve Authority has been carrying out its Annual Waterfowls Census for some time. This Census reveals the population of water birds and also about their favorite Habitat. Just two-three weeks ago, the survey was conducted again. He stated that the number of water birds has increased by about 175% compared to last year. A total of 112 Species of Birds have been sighted in Kaziranga National Park during this Census. And of these, 58 species happen to be winter migrants from different parts of the world including Europe, Central Asia and East Asia. The most important reason for this is that here, there is better water conservation along with very little human interference. However, in some cases, positive human interference is also very important.

Citing example of wealth creation from agricultural waste, the Prime Minister said Murugesan from Madurai made a machine to make ropes from waste of banana, which could solve the issues of environment and filth too, vis-a-vis increasing additional income for the farmers. He also mentioned about Urugen Futsog of Ladakh, who is growing about 20 crops organically, that too in a cyclic way, that is, he utilises the waste of one crop as manure for the other crop.

Prime Minister Modi highlighted about The Hayagriva Madheb Temple at Hajo, the Nagashankar Temple at Sonitpur and the Ugratara Temple at Guwahati having many ponds in their surroundings, which save near extinct species of turtles. Assam is home to the highest number of species of turtles. The ponds of theses temples can become excellent sites for their conservation and breeding and training about them, he added.

Drain clean up project inaugurated

Yamuna Pollution to go down

27.02.2021, New Delhi: The Waste to Wealth Mission of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF), launched a pilot technology today to clean the Gaunchi Drain at Sanjay Colony, Faridabad. The Gaunchi Drain is a key arterial drainage system in Faridabad. Gaunchi is amongst the 11 most polluted drains of Haryana that together release 1002 million litres of polluted water in the Yamuna every day. Cleaning the drain will go a long way in reducing the waste burden in the river.

The project has deployed a Research Initiative For Scientific Enhancement (RISE) machine from DESMI EnviRo-CLEAN A/S, a Danish company that specialises in cleaning water bodies. The machine will collect and remove up to 300 Kgs of floating waste and debris from the drain daily. The Waste to Wealth Mission and MCF will jointly monitor and operate this machine and build the evidence to scale up such projects in other water bodies across India. The project will also explore technologies to treat and utilise the waste removed from the drain.

Announcing the project, Prof K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India stated, “the Hon’ble Prime Minister strongly advocates local technological approaches that are supported by global science. To solve the country’s waste challenges there is a need for applying innovative technologies that are customised to Indian conditions. Efforts towards making India free of plastic pollution is a driving force for all of us. The PM’s Science Technology and Innovation Council (PMSTIAC) is committed to steering this major science-led mission to tackle India’s waste challenges. This Faridabad pilot is a strong step towards developing and demonstrating solutions that can clean India’s polluted urban drainage systems and water ways. We are pleased to implement this partnership with the State of Haryana and look forward to working closely with the state officials to augment this effort and also to realise the CM’s commitment towards developing model integrated waste management clusters.”

The Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Krishan Pal Gurjar said “The Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is fulfilling Gandhi’s dream of a clean India through the Swacch Bharat Mission. The Haryana Government and Faridabad Administration are committed to the goals of the mission. The Gaunchi Drain project that has been launched today is a timely step in this direction. I would like to specially thank the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the GoI for their support in setting up this pilot. This project will play a pivotal role in cleaning the drain. For this to be a sustainable solution, the local communities should get involved with the project and work with the local authorities in maximizing the impact of the pilot. I again congratulate the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad on this pilot and encourage them to expand partnership with the Waste to Wealth Mission and deploy more innovative technologies to make Faridabad a model waste management cluster in line with CM’s vision”.

NGT Order dealing with Dera Bassi

27.02.2021, New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given its final judgement on a group of matters relates to remedial action against violation of environmental norms by several industries in Dera Bassi, Punjab. The units were adversely affecting the environment and the public health on account of release of hazardous effluents in the drain, resulting in water, air and soil pollution. Karnail Singh & Ors. versus Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) & Ors., OA 33/2013, was registered with NGT on transfer of a Writ Petition on the file of the Punjab and Haryana High Court being CWP No. 18052/2011, in which eight industries were parties. The applicant sought preventive action and restoration of water and air by the factories near Dhabi nala in Dera Bassi. Wait for justice is finally over with this 25th February NGT Order.

The Order is based on two reports filed by the joint Committee of CPCB and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and two reports by the Monitoring Committee headed by Justice Jasbir Singh, apart from other pertinent reports. Besides addressing OA No. 33/2013, the NGT Order also resolves matters pertaining to I.A. No. 326/2020, OA No. 101/2020 and 164/2020.

It is stated that the Committee broadly found existence of air and water pollution in the area and also examined the emissions and discharge by individual industrial units. The Jasbir Singh Committee has recommended action of maintaining vigilance and conducting further investigation about the level of air and water pollution. Ten industries have been highlighted with specific recommendations. The polluting companies have been into manufacturing of chemicals, pesticides, steel products, automobile parts, electroplated components, and distilleries, and pharmaceuticals.

While dealing with the matter, the Committee found requirement of further relevant data and information for the purpose of Comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) of Dera Bassi area, emissions characterization of VOC, SO2, Hydrocarbons, as per applicability, and so on.

Apart from individual industry-wise recommendations given by Justice Jasbir Singh the overall recommendations of the Monitoring Committee states that the Joint Committee may conduct comprehensive monitoring of ambient air and calculate air quality index of Dera Bassi area along with risks associated. The said air quality index data of the area may be provided within 2 months. At least, 4 ambient air quality stations may be installed at different locations to monitor the ambient air quality. In order to calculate air quality index of Dera Bassi area, ambient air quality of the area needs to be analyzed continuously for at least 21 days in winter and summer seasons.

The recommendation states stack emission samples of the industries located in Dera Bassi area within the radius of 2 Km from the residential colonies may be analyzed by reputed third party agency. It also deliberates on the need to carry out surprise inspections or raids on the industries located in the catchment area of Haibatpura Drain and Dhabi Drain by PPCB. The Board shall identify the villages having significant flow or discharge with high concentration BOD and COD. The department of Rural Development & Panchayat has been directed to provide treatment facilities to treat the wastewater of the villages in time bound manner so that water quality of the drains may be improved.

PPCB has to conduct ground water and soil quality monitoring within one month. Groundwater quality monitoring to be done at 5 different locations for all the parameters as mentioned in IS 10500: 2012 including Faecal Coliform, while soil samples are to be tested from plantation areas and agriculture fields, where, the effluent of the industries is utilized for the parameters organic, inorganic and heavy metals.

NGT order also deliberates on detailed survey of area along the drains to check as to whether there is any illegal disposal of hazardous waste by the industries.

All the rice husk consuming industries shall have to create effective storage system with high walls and covering sheds for the storage of rice husk ash generated by them. PPCB to prescribe Standard Operating Procedure for the safe and environmentally sound management and handling of rice husk ash. The order however, allows the rice husk ash dumping in low lying area in layered manner with mechanism of spreading of one layer of rice husk ash followed by layer of soil and its full compaction and again second layer of rice husk ash and thereafter a layer of soil and so on. It also has a mention of motivating the brick kiln owners to use rice husk ash in their brick kilns for the manufacturing of bricks.

Further, three industries including Nectar Lifesciences Unit-I and Unit – II, and Rajasthan Liquors Ltd. (Distillery Division), at Haripur Village have been asked to jointly get R & D studies from a reputed institute for best use of rice husk ash for its usage in other sectors or recovery of useful constituents.

Adopt RTS: Gadkari to MSMEs

27.02.2021, New Delhi: Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and the Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari has invited MSMEs to avail concessional debt finance to install rooftop solar for business efficiency. Addressing a programme promoting awareness about rooftop solar (RTS) among MSMEs on Friday, the Minister said, Rooftop Solar offers an excellent value proposition to MSMEs as it brings down electricity cost, which on an average, is up to Rs. 8/= per unit and nearly 1/5th of operations cost. Hence, by switching to solar MSMEs could attain cost competitiveness.

He further informed that the Ministry is working with the World Bank on a credit guarantee program to make financing accessible to unrated MSMEs. Considering the rates of solar power from large utility power plants have come down to a record Rs. 1.99 per kWh, MSMEs must leverage this opportunity to bring down their energy expenses.

Highlighting the importance of creating an awareness and large-scale adoption of rooftop solar for MSMEs, B. B. Swain, Secretary, said, "MSMEs need low-cost power to optimise production costs, recover COVID pandemic inflicted losses and remain competitive both in national and international markets. The procurement of low-cost solar power and generating solar power as prosumers from rooftop solar are two timely and beneficial options for MSMEs. The Ministry is geared up to facilitate measures to empower the MSMEs to become one of the top priorities for a resilient India.”

It was also deliberated that use of solar energy by MSMEs could further help to decarbonise power consumption in a sustainable manner, besides pushing green economy.

It is noteworthy that the World Bank launched the ‘Solar Rooftop Financing Program’ in 2016, which is being implemented by the State Bank of India (SBI). With a view to addressing the issues on the debt side and to give a fillip to the sector, SBI has availed a $625 million line of credit from World Bank specifically, for financing RTS projects across the country through its identified branches. A countrywide customized financial product has been developed by SBI which covers 75% of the project financing requirement along with other favourable terms such as repayment period, moratorium, and security.

Among G-20 nations, India only on track to meet climate change mitigation commitments: Prakash Javadekar at UNSC

24.02.2021, New Delhi: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held an Open Debate on "Addressing climate-related risks to international peace and security" on Tuesday. Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson chaired the digital meeting that included participants such as French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden’s Chief Climate Envoy, John Kerry, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar and many other leaders from various other countries. Attendees focused on climate change risks.

Representing India, Prakash Javadekar stressed that the idea of climate action should not be to move the climate ambition goal post to 2050 and it is important for countries to fulfill their pre-2020 commitments.

The Union Minister said that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement negotiated under the Framework are the central mechanisms for climate action in a nationally determined manner based on certain fundamental agreed principles, the foremost amongst which is “Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities”

Citing the 2019 IPCC Special Report “Climate Change and Land” which says that extreme weather and climate or slow-onset events may lead to increased displacement, disrupted food chains, threatened livelihoods, and could contribute to exacerbated stresses for conflict, Javadekar put forward the point that even the best science available claims that Climate Change only exacerbates conflict and is not a reason for conflict and does not threaten peace and security and therefore it is important, said the Minister, to ensure that no parallel tracks for climate negotiations are created brushing aside the fundamentally agreed principles.

“While climate change does not directly or inherently cause violent conflict, its interaction with other social, political and economic factors can, nonetheless, exacerbate drivers of conflict and fragility and have negative impacts on peace, stability and security; and therefore it is for precisely this reason that developing country’s’ Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement included information on adaptation activities, and the need for finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency.”, said the Union Environment Minister.

Javadekar again reiterated that the commitment by developed countries to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action in developing countries has not been realized and also stated that there is an urgent need to promote and support the meaningful participation of women and marginalized groups in national-level climate change policy and planning processes.

On India’s Climate Actions Javadekar stated that India is the only country on track among the G20 nations to meet its climate change mitigation commitments. We are not only meeting our Paris Agreement targets but will also exceed them. The Minister highlighted the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure (CDRI), the two initiatives by India that have been launched to addressing challenges of climate change and adaptation.

Commenting on post COVID-19 recovery, Prakash Javadekar highlighted that India believes that there is a significant opportunity for countries to integrate low-carbon development in their COVID-19 rescue and recovery measures and long-term mitigation strategies that are scheduled to be announced for the reconvened 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in 2021.

The United Kingdom is holding the Presidency of the UNSC for the month of February 2021 and one of their Presidency events is organizing the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on "Addressing climate-related risks to international peace and security".

Jal Jeevan Mission Special Campaign extended till 31st March, 2021

20.02.2021, New Delhi: The Union Government has extended the special campaign under Jal Jeevan Mission to provide potable piped water in schools, anganwadi centres (AWC), and Ashramshalas till 31st March 2021. According to a statement, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has stated that the 100-day special campaign has received a very good response from the States and Union Territories (UTs) with several States reporting 100% saturation in all schools and AWCs. Some States and UTs have indicated that they need some more time to complete the task and sustain the efforts being undertaken for the noble mission. Considering the good response and the need to sustain the efforts, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has extended the campaign till 31st March, 2021.

During the 100 days period, States like Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have reported provision of tap water in all schools and AWCs, and Punjab has reported provision of piped water supply in all schools. Concerted efforts are being made to make provision of potable piped water supply to anganwadi centres (AWCs), schools and ashramshalas under the campaign. So far, 1.82 lakh grey water management structure, 1.42 lakh rain water harvesting structures have been constructed in schools and anganwadi centres. In total so far, 5.21 lakh schools & 4.71 lakh anganwadi centres have been provided with piped water supply. Further, around 8.24 lakh assets in these schools and anganwadi centres have also been geo-tagged.

Acknowledging the need of ‘potable piped water’ to children as they are more susceptible to water-borne diseases and need for repeated hand washing to prevent CoVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi exhorted launching of ‘100 days campaign’ on 2nd October, 2020 on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti to ensure piped safe water in schools, ashramshalas and anganwadi centres across the country. He also appealed to the States to make best use of this campaign to ensure provision of potable piped water supply in these public institutions for drinking and cooking of mid-day meals, for handwashing and use in toilets.

Under the guidance and visionary leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, with the noble endeavor of providing clean and safe drinking water to children across the nation, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had launched a special mission mode campaign on 2nd October, 2020 to provide potable piped water supply in all Schools, Anganwadi Centres and Ashramshalas across the nation which has now been extended till 31st March, 2021 to ensure that no School, AWC or Ashramshala is left without a tap connection.

NGT asks for creation of District, State & National Level Data Grids

Bill Gates shows 51 Billion to Zero is the only way to sustainability

17.02.2021, New Delhi: American business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist, Bill Gates has come out with a book, "How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have And The Breakthroughs We Need ". Global media, FORTUNE cites that the “how to” part is anything but easy. But the clarity of Gates’s plan—and the reason for absolute urgency—may well turn millions of readers into overnight activists.

In an excerpt of the book is made available at Gates Notes, Bill Gates writes, "I came to focus on climate change in an indirect way—through the problem of energy poverty". He has shared while traveling to carious parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, he could see darkness and thought, Where are all the lights I’d see if this were New York, Paris, or Beijing?

Gradually, he learned that about a billion people didn’t have reliable access to electricity and that half of them lived in sub-Saharan Africa. He further shares how he understood the connection of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to climate change. How GHGs escalate temperature. And finally he describes it is enough to deliver cheap, reliable energy for the poor - it has to be clean.

Gates emphasized, setting a goal to only reduce our emissions—but not eliminate them—won’t do it. He wants you to know two numbers: 51 billion and Zero. The former is the number of tons of greenhouse gases typically added to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. The latter is the number of tons we need to get to by 2050 in order to avert a climate crisis. Why zero? The First Chapter of his book explains more about why we need to get to zero, about how rising temperatures will affect people around the world.

Getting zero is obviously not a cakewalk. The book suggests a way forward, a series of steps we can take to give ourselves the best chance to avoid a climate disaster. It has four more parts. In chapter 2 he has described on considering the challenges we’re up against. In chapter 3, he has discussed on cutting some of the confusing statistics, and shared questions about climate change for deep deliberations. Subscribe to read more

One Crore Vehicle will go for Scrapping, initially: Nitin Gadkari

Scrapping to bring cheaper Al, Cu, Rubber, Steel and other products

11.02.2021, New Delhi: Under the new vehicle scrapping policy, initially, one crore vehicles will go for scrapping. This could result in the availability of cheaper aluminium, copper, rubber, steel and other products. This was stated by Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs, Nitin Gadkari, in his address to a meeting on developing indigenous fuel cells in the field of electric vehicles. In his address on 10th February 2021, the Minister further said, the scrapping will have the potential to reduce the price of battery components.

Gadkari indicated towards the growing pace of the automobile industry, which is set to reach Rs. 10 lakh crore from current turnover of Rs 4.5 lakh crore. Informing that with nearly 81% of Li-ion battery components available locally, India stands a very good chance for value addition at lower costs, and resultant employment generation at large scales.

Nitin Gadkari has called for adopting an integrated approach for developing indigenous fuel cells in the field of electric vehicles. He said, India today stands at the cusp of becoming a world leader in this field. The Minister urged scientists, academia, and industry to harness hydrogen-based energy, it is a cost effective and easily available mode in the country. He indicated the lowering costs of solar power in India, which can help energise other modes of fuels.

He said the next generation batteries will not only minimise vehicular pollution in India but make India a global supplier of EVs.

NITI Ayog CEO, Amitabh Kant stressed upon concentrating on lithium-ion alternative batteries and supported the idea of mining companies exploring opportunities abroad for acquiring assets in this regard. He said NITI Ayog has collaborated with four IITs including Guwahati and Delhi for research in aluminium-ion batteries.

Prime Minister inaugurates World Sustainable Development Summit 2021

10.02.2021, New Delhi: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 via video conferencing on 10th February 2021. The theme of the Summit is ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’.

Addressing the event, the Prime Minister congratulated TERI for sustaining this momentum and said that Global platforms like this are important for our present and future. He said that two things will define how the progress journey of humanity will unfold in the times to come. First is the health of our people. Second is the health of our planet, both are inter-linked.

Encouraging the youngsters to take charge, Prime Minister said that conventional approaches can’t fix the problems pertaining to the planet’s health as the scale of the challenge is very high. He said it is time to think out of the box and work towards sustainable development.

The Prime Minister emphasized on climate justice for fighting against climate change. Climate justice is inspired by a vision of trusteeship- where growth comes with greater compassion to the poorest. Climate justice also means giving the developing countries enough space to grow. When each and every one of us understands our individual and/ collective duties, climate justice will be achieved.

On this eve Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change emphasized on how India leading the world in climate change action and is fulfilling its climate commitments and targets well before time. For further readings subscribe

Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti briefs media on budgetary allocations, latest initiatives and future goals, strategies

08.02.2021, New Delhi: The Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (DoWR, RD & GR) and Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti, Pankaj Kumar chaired a press briefing here today. Additional Secretary, Bharat Lal in-charge of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Additional Secretary in charge of SBM-G, Arun Baroka and Additional Secretary, DoWR, RD & GR Debashree Mukherjee and other senior officials also attended the briefing.

In his inaugural address, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) discussed the Budget allocation made in Union Budget 2021-22 and shared information on latest initiatives, progress & achievements on the ongoing projects undertaken by the two departments i.e. DoWR, RD & GR and DDWS and the roadmap for future achievements. Thereafter, Additional Secretaries made detailed presentations on behalf of their respective responsibilities.

The budget outlay for the DoWR, RD & GR has been increased to ₹ 9,022 crore in FY 2021-22 from ₹7,262 crore (RE) in FY 2020-21. In addition, ₹ 5,130 crores is to be provided through EBR route for critical irrigation projects.

In FY 2021-22, an amount of ₹ 330 crores has been kept Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL). The programme was launched in December 2019 with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management.

Under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) additional irrigation potential of 34.63 lakh hectare created through 99 prioritized projects and 7 phases, using surface water. Its main features include Central Assistance (CA) and State Share through NABARD under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF).

Har Khet Ko Paani (HKKP) scheme focuses on Command Area Development (CAD), Repair, Renovation & Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) schemes, and Ground Water Development.

With success of Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G) Phase-1 in achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) India in 2019, Phase-2 of the SBM (G) was launched in early 2020. It aims at ODF Plus and hence focuses on ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) focusing on comprehensive cleanliness in villages. SLWM focuses on key initiatives like Plastic Waste Management through collection, storage at Material Recovery Facilities for further processing, Gobardhan scheme for managing organic waste into resources like compost and Biogas, Grey Water Management and Faecal Sludge Management.

The budgetary allocation for SBMG in the present FY stands at ₹ 9994.10 crore. Further, 15th Finance Commission grants to Rural Local Bodies for sanitation is ₹ 13,470 crore for FY 2021-22.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), another important flagship programme of DDWS aims to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024. Safe access to potable water in household premises under JJM will improve the lives of rural people especially removing ‘drudgery’ of women and girls. Launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 15th August, 2019, JJM has reached over 3.41 crore families living in rural areas with tap water connection in their homes increasing the coverage of rural households with tap water connections from 17% in the launch year to more than 1/3rd (34.63%) i.e. 6.64 Crore rural families presently, improving their quality of life and enhancing their 'ease of living'.

JJM has launched a nationwide 100 day campaign on 2nd October 2020 to provide assured tap water supply to every anganwadi centre, residential tribal school (ashramshala) and schools aiming to reduce vulnerability of children from water-borne diseases and prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign has received a great response and so far, more than 5.14 lakh schools and 4.62 lakh anganwadi centres have started getting potable piped water supply. Appreciating the progress made so far, this campaign has been extended up to 31st March 2021. Also, efforts are being made to ensure safe drinking water to all quality-affected villages especially Arsenic and Fluoride affected rural habitations under JJM. The budgetary allocation for JJM has increased significantly to approx. ₹ 50,011 crore in the FY 2021-22 along with 15th Finance Commission tied grants of ₹ 36,022 crore, available to PRIs for ‘water and sanitation’ in 2021–22.

For sustaining the JJM, Village Water Sanitation Committee/ Pani Samiti are being constituted for planning, designing, implementing and operating & maintaining in-village water supply system. Key Resource Centres (KRCs) will be constituted to impart training to the local people for regular operation & maintenance of water supply systems, to ensure water quality through field test kits (FTKs), to reorient Public Health Engineers and village level functionaries for public utilities.

Sensor based IoT solutions are being developed/will be developed to measure and monitor water supply in villages. To ensure tap water quality, labs to be NABL accredited for getting water samples tested at nominal rates. Smart Portable Device are being developed with the help of Commerce and Industry for water testing at village level or even at households.

Yamuna River Issues surfaced in Lok Sabha Question Hour

04.02.2021, New Delhi: Monitoring of River Yamuna was carried out during April, 2020 within Delhi stretch by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at 3 monitoring locations viz. Palla, Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/S to assess the impact of lockdown on water quality.

Water Quality of River Yamuna within the Delhi stretch at Palla, was complying with respect to Primary water quality criteria for bathing viz. pH, Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), whereas, the water quality at Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla Up Stream (U/S) was not complying with respect to Primary water quality criteria for bathing in terms of DO and BOD. The assessment of water quality of river Yamuna in April 2020 during lockdown period, as compared to pre-lockdown period i.e. March, 2020, at Palla, improvement in terms of BOD was observed and at locations Nizamuddin bridge and Okhla U/S, improvement in terms of both DO and BOD was observed.

The improvement in water quality could be attributed to the release of fresh water from Wazirabad Barrage and availability of dilution in river Yamuna; stoppage of industrial effluent discharge (about 35.9 MLD) due to lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic; good penetration of solar radiation in water body due to washing out of bottom sediments; settleable and colloidal form of pollutants in river Yamuna due to discharge of fresh water from Wazirabad barrage; and absence of human activities such as throwing of garbage, bathing, washing of clothes etc. due to lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic.

Lower Yamuna Division, Central Water Commission (CWC) monitors the hydrological observations including cross-section of river Yamuna in Agra (Poiyaghat Station). As per available data, no significant change in the Yamuna river bed has been observed in last 5 years.

U.P. Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) monitors the water quality of river Yamuna in Agra city at 5 places including upstream (U/S) of Agra city (Kailash Ghat) and downstream (D/S) of Agra city (Near Taj). As per latest water quality report of December 2020, BOD of river Yamuna at U/S is 12 mg/lit and at D/S is 16.8 mg/lit.

Further, Water Quality of Yamuna River is being regularly monitored at Poiyaghat Station. Agra under Lower Yamuna Division, Central Water Commission. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has sanctioned a project “Agra Sewerage Scheme (I&D works) and construction of 10 Decentralized STPs” for creation of additional 178.60 MLD STP capacity at the estimated cost of Rs. 842.25 crore to cater to the sewage treatment demand till the year 2035.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Jal Shakti & Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Rattan Lal Kataria in Lok Sabha today.

India implements framework for Ecosystem Accounting

New Delhi: India is a diverse country with abundance of natural resources with different ecosystem prevailing with them. To combat environmental degradation and stimulate sustainability, India is implementing a new national statistical framework that measures the services that natural ecosystems provide. This reflects a global shift away from treating natural resources as free and unlimited, to measuring and valuing nature’s contribution to our economies.

The System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) provides policy makers and decision-makers with information that accounts for the value nature contributes to our economies. India is one of 90 countries that have successfully adopted the system including the new framework for SEEA - Ecosystem Accounting.

Ecosystem assets are measured in terms of their extent, conditions and flows of ecosystem services. At the national level, ecosystem accounting area covers all terrestrial, fresh water and marine ecosystems with boundary set by country’s border with other countries and its exclusive economic zone.

India’s efforts, led by the Indian Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation were supported by the European Union funded project “Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services” (NCAVES), which is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Statistics Division and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). NCAVES was launched in 2017.

The three major crises facing our planet: the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution and waste crisis, are fueled by decades of unsustainable production, consumption and disposal of waste. Quantifying and valuing the contribution natural assets – known as natural capital – can help countries track over-exploitation and invest in protecting and restoring ecosystems.

India’s implementation of the framework is timely in light of the upcoming launch of The Economics of Biodiversity: the Dasgupta Review in February 2021. Led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, the independent global review could pave the way for a new approach to valuing biodiversity and its implications for policy and natural capital finance.

India’s progress on the new framework was highlighted during the NCAVES forum, held in January 20201, organized by the Government of India, the United Nations and the European Union. The NCAVES initiative has also advanced natural capital accounting globally, particularly, in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

At the forum, UN Chief Economist Elliott Harris remarked that the new framework is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: “We need an integrated information system that covers all pillars of sustainability - economic, social and environmental. The SEEA allows us to measure these interconnections.”

Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, highlighted how the Government of India is guiding the country on the path of sustainable development and looks forward to developing a comprehensive view of the natural resources and ecosystems.

Stefan Schweinfest, Director, United Nations Statistics Division has stated that “India has shown us that it does not take decades to break down information silos and that the System of Environmental Economic Accounting can be implemented in a short period of time”.

India gets its First Wetland Conservation & Management Center

02.02.2021, New Delhi: On the occasion of the World Wetland Day and as a part of its commitment towards conservation, restoration and management of India’s wetlands, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo announced the establishment of a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM), as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai, an institution under the Ministry. The event was attended virtually by NCSCM, State Wetland Authorities and the knowledge partners of the Wetland Division.

Speaking at the launch the Minister of State for Environment highlighted the importance of wetlands in providing various ecosystem services. “The dedicated Centre which is launched today would address specific research needs and knowledge gaps and will aid in the application of integrated approaches for conservation, management and wise use of the wetlands.” said the Minister.

India has nearly 4.6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares and has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares. The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, celebrated annually as World Wetlands Day.

The Centre will help in building partnership and networks with relevant national and international agencies. WCM would serve as a knowledge hub and enable exchange between State/ UT Wetland Authorities, wetland users, managers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. The Centre would also assist the national and State/ UT Governments in the design and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks, management planning, monitoring and targeted research for its conservation.

The Minister also released publications relating to Faunal Diversity of all the Ramsar sites in the country and a brochure on Designation of Ramsar sites.

Six pillars of Budget 2021, lay a strong foundation for a Resurgent and AtmaNirbhar Bharat: Rattan Lal Kataria

01.02.2021, New Delhi: Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Rattan Lal Kataria has lauded the Budget 2021 tabled in the Parliament. Speaking to the journalists, he termed the budget as Symbolic of hopes and aspirations of AtmaNirbhar Bharat. He termed the Budget as one capturing the pulse of the Nation. The Minister added that “ The six pillars namely - Health, Physical & Financial capital & Infrastructure, Inclusive Development, Human Capital, Innovation and R&D, Governance seeks to lay a strong foundation for a resilient and resurgent India. It aims to position India as a global leader in the Post COVID world order.”

Kataria welcomed the announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) which shall cover 4,378 Urban local bodies across the nation. It aims at covering 2.86 Crore Households with an outlay of 2.87 lac crores. He mentioned that the Jal Jeevan Mission has made an unprecedented progress in the very first year of its launch, by providing piped water connections to more than 3 Crore rural households as against 3.23 Cr connections provided to rural households till 2019 - since Independence. The mission provides preference to SCs/STs habitats and has ensured ‘ease of living’ and ‘ dignity of life’ to these households.

The Minister also welcomed the whopping increase of over 130% in the budgetary outlay for health sector as compared to last year. The Budget proposes an increased allocation of 2.23 lac crore as against .94 lac crore in the year 2020-21. It includes an outlay of 35,000 Crore for COViD vaccine for FY 2021-22. Emphasis shall be laid on strengthening existing healthcare institutes at primary,secondary and tertiary level and on setting up new institutes. For this purpose, Government made an announcement on launching a new PM AtmaNirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana with an outlay of 64,180 Crore. Government seeks to beef up health facilities at major entry ports both at sea as well as land. Setting up of integrated public health labs in all districts and 4 new National level virology centres at different regions to prepare the country to tackle any such pandemic in future. He termed these measures as visionary that shall transform the country’s health sector in near future.

With respect to the agriculture sector, Kataria highlighted that the Government has computed MSP at 1.5 times of the cost of production across all commodities. Drawing a sharp contrast to the total payments made to the farmers on account of procurement, he informed that for wheat, a payment of 33,874 Crore was made to farmers for FY 2013-14, however, Rs 62,802 Crores were paid in FY 2019-20 which increased to Rs 75,060 Crores in 2020-21. For paddy, where Government paid Rs 63,928 Crores to farmers in FY 2013-14, a sum of Rs 1,41,930 Crores were paid in FY 19-20 and Rs 1,72,750 Crores for FY 2020-2021. He termed that the present Government is, and shall always remain pro-farmers.

The Minister summed up by saying that a fine balance has been maintained between expenditure on social sector as well as capital expenditure.

All except some East Indian States bettered the Bare Necessities Index

30.01.2021, New Delhi: Apart from eastern states like Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Tripura, all other parts in India have bettered in the Bare Necessities Index (BNI). The BNI in the Economic Survey 2020-21, summarises 26 indicators on five dimensions viz., water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities. The BNI has been created for all States for 2012 and 2018 using data from two NSO rounds viz., 69th and 76th on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India.

India creating Social Stock Exchange to fund social objectives

29.01.2021, New Delhi: The Economic Survey for the FY 2020-21, presented in Parliament today by Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, lays emphasis on the Sustainable Development approach and asks for achieving equity not just across nations and within the nations but also across and within the generations, thereby countering the iniquitous impact of COVID-19 pandemic too.

It is notable that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development that integrates the social, economic and environmental dimensions, comprises of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

India and the SDGs: The Survey states that India has taken several proactive steps to mainstream the SDGs into the policies, schemes and programmes of the Government. It mentions about (1) the Voluntary National Review (VNR) presented to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development provides for review and follow-up of the SDGs through continuous engagement and feedback. This process also provides an avenue for active participation of private sector as seen in the Corporate Social Responsibility spending.

It also talks about Localisation of SDGs, whereby, the States and UTs have created discrete institutional structures for implementation of SDGs in their own specific contexts. Few states have also created nodal mechanisms within every department and at the district levels to make coordination, convergence and data management more precise and predictable.

Climate Change: The Economic Survey shows that India has been taking several proactive climate actions to fulfill its obligations as per the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and equity. It mentions some of the prominent government initiatives on mitigation and adaptation actions such as India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change and implementation of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicle in India (FAME India) scheme.

The year 2020 was supposed to be the year by which developed country Parties were to fulfill the goal of jointly mobilizing US$ 100 billion a year for climate finance, an essential component of the commitments made by the developed countries, which has remained elusive. The postponement of COP26 to 2021 also gives less time for negotiations and other evidence-based work to inform the post-2025 goal. But it is clear that issue of achieving consensus on the definition of climate finance, transparency mechanism, common time frames and a long-term climate finance will continue to remain top priority in COP 26.

The Economic Survey highlights few steps taken by Indian for sustainable financing, such as - National Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Financing, was finalized in 2015, RBI included lending to social infrastructure and small renewable energy projects within the priority sector targets, Voluntary Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility were issued in 2009 to mainstream the concept of business responsibility and a Committee was constituted to review and update the Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) formats for listed as well as unlisted companies.

It is also stated that India is moving in the direction of creating a Social Stock Exchange (SSE), under the regulatory ambit of SEBI for raising capital by Social Enterprises working for the realization of a social welfare objective.

The Survey mentions India being the second largest green bond market among the emerging markets after China. In 2017, to give push to Green Bonds issuances in India, SEBI issued guidelines on green bonds including listing of green bonds on the Indian stock exchanges. As of 24th December, 2020, eight ESG mutual funds have been launched in India.

The report further states, apart from national level initiatives, India has taken successful initiatives at the international stage to foster the sustainable model of development and have disaster resilient infrastructure at the disposal of citizens. International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) are two burning examples of India's has international initiatives. ISA recently launched two new initiatives – a ‘World Solar Bank’ and ‘One Sun One World One Grid Initiative’ - of global import to bring about solar energy revolution globally. The ISA Secretariat has recently launched a ‘Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action’ comprising of global public and private corporates. It has also organized First World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) in September 2020 with an objective of showcasing to Member Countries the state of the art and next-generation solar technologies.

CDRI functions as an inclusive multi-stakeholder platform led and managed by national governments, where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster resilience of infrastructure. CDRI is working on enhancing the resilience of power and transport sector and also plans on expanding its membership to include countries from all the continents and at varied level of development and risk.

2021: Year of Indo-French alliance towards a Greener Planet

28.01.2021, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar and the French Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili launched the Indo-French Year of the Environment in New Delhi today. The aim is to strengthen Indo-French cooperation in sustainable development, increase the effectiveness of actions in favor of global environment protection and give them greater visibility.

Welcoming Barbara Pompili on her maiden visit to India, Prakash Javadekar emphasised on the significance of India-France alliance in working towards climate change. He stated “We are the two main pillars of the International Solar Alliance launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. This revolutionary step has changed into a successful experiment. This partnership towards global environment protection will set an example for the rest of the world to work more effectively and efficiently towards sustainable development.

“India has made significant progress towards climate change action & has already achieved 26% of reduction of emission intensity. As of 2020 the renewable capacity in India stands at 90 GW which includes 36 GW of solar energy & 38 GW of wind energy. “, informed Javadekar.

He further added that India looks forward to strengthen the Indo-French cooperation in sustainable development, increase the effectiveness of actions in favor of the global environment protection and give them greater visibility.

French Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili reiterated the importance of the Indo-French partnership towards climate change and environment protection and said that through this partnership, France and India look forward to setting an example for the rest of the world. “India can motivate many many countries in the field of sustainable development”, said the French Minister.

The Indo-French Year of the Environment over the period 2021-22 would be based on five main themes: environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity conservation, sustainable urban development, and the development of renewable energies and energy efficiency. It is also a platform for engaging in discussions on critical areas of collaboration relating to environment and allied areas.

From the French side, it will be held under the aegis of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs with the support of the Embassy of France in Delhi and its partners. From the Indian side, it will be coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) along with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and other concerned Ministries/Departments/Organisations. A joint screening committee will also be set up to finalise the calendar of the events for the Indo-French Year of the Environment.

Prior to the launch, a bilateral Meeting was also held between the French delegation and their Indian counterpart at the Environment Ministry wherein both the sides deliberated on issues relating to climate change, bio-diversity, blue economy, international solar alliance, cooperation in the field of single-use plastic etc.

CSIR - CMERI product treats wastewater for reuse in agriculture

24.01.2021, New Delhi: Agriculture in India, consumes maximum of water. Use of aptly treated wastewater in agriculture could be a solution to meet the water demand. CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur unveiled the first-ever Wastewater Treatment Technology Model by which the treated wastewater could be used for irrigation and farming purposes. Prof. (Dr.) Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI inaugurated the ‘Aqua Rejuv’.

During his inaugural speech Prof. Hirani said that he wanted the solution for the society from Carbon Dioxide, frequent blockage of the drainage system and the discharge of sewage water through application of basic sciences. He also referred to different studies where it has been outlined that the COVID virus have the potential to survive up to 34 days in the sewage water. Keeping in mind these societal aspects, he envisioned this technology following the norms of the National Green Tribunal which is the statutory body for handling the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues in our country.

Aqua Rejuvenation Plant (ARP) is an Integrated Wastewater Rejuvenation Model that has Six-Stage purification profile for comprehensive treatment of wastewater, based upon diverse purification parameters. The ARP can treat approx. 24,000 litres of wastewater that will be sufficient for almost 4 acres of agricultural land (barring seasonal variations in water requirements). The used filtration media have been specially developed to handle Indian Sewage Water Parameters and based upon Geographical Variations they may be modified. The filter media is said to be possible to source locally, so as to ensure that there would not be any stress in the Supply Chain for scaled-up Manufacturing of ARP. The system has dual benefit as while the treated water is being used for irrigation purpose, the filtered sludge generated is also utilized as manure / fertilizer. The bio char prepared from dry leaves falling in autumn season is also used for mixing in soil as it reduces the water requirement for irrigation thus saving precious water. The Institute was earlier also using alternate technologies like sprinkle system and others for reduced water requirement for such purpose.

The treated water which is now being used for irrigation can be used even for drinking purpose also when little more time is given for settling.

Prof. Hirani urged the different stake holders of the Society, Civic bodies, Governmental authorities, NGOs to come forward and work with the scientific community.

CAQM setting up a state-of-art support system to ameliorate Delhi air quality

Top Technical Institutions play pivotal roles

22.01.2021, New Delhi: The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and adjoining areas, is in the process of setting up a Decision Support System (DSS). The system will be facilitated with a web, GIS, and multi-model based operational and planning decision support tool.

This tool is going to help in capturing both the static and dynamic features of the emissions from various sources. It will have an integrated framework to handle both primary and secondary pollutants using a chemical transport model. The system will also be able to handle the source specific interventions with the framework to estimate benefits of interventions and focus on presenting results in a comprehensive, yet simple and user-friendly format for different users.

CAQM has entrusted the task to expert groups from reputed knowledge institutions of the country such as - Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi; Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune; The Energy Research Institute (TERI), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi; National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune. IMD Delhi and IIM Pune will take care of the chemistry component. TERI has the role of development and upgradation of fine resolution emission inventory in Delhi and NCR. IIT Delhi and NEERI will play a role in forecasting air quality by using various models and will work as a bridge between various groups. C-DAC, Pune will integrate the physical, chemical, and engineering components at a common platform and further disseminate group output in a simple form.

The sources covered will include industries, transport, power plants, residential, Diesel Generator sets, road dust, agricultural burning, refuse burning, dust emanating from construction and demolition works, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, landfill etc. For instance, municipalities, industrial associations, industrial development authorities etc. would be the stake holders for identifying interventions related to waste burning, industrial source pollution, respectively.

Upon identification of feasible interventions, the artificial intelligence based expert system which has a hierarchical data base of simulated scenarios, potentially assessing the impact of the identified feasible intervention which would be implemented by the regulatory organization such as CPCB and state PCBs. The on-field implementation is monitored by credible citizen watch groups and professional NGOs independently. Finally, air quality data collected in the vicinity of the area where intervention is implemented will be analysed to understand the real-world benefits of such intervention.

Hyundai supports IIT Delhi in research on new-age mobility

22.01.2021, New Delhi: Hyundai Motor India Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Hyundai Motor India, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) - IIT Delhi and donated a KONA Electric for NVH and battery technology research for students of IIT Delhi to study alternate energy powered vehicles and emerging technologies to innovate new-age mobility solutions.

The MoU was exchanged between Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director IIT Delhi, Dr. Anil Wali MD, FITT - IIT Delhi, and S S Kim, MD & CEO, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. at IIT Campus, New Delhi.

CART, (formerly known as ITMMEC) has been established in May 2019 with a vision to promote interdisciplinary research in Electric Vehicles (EV) and related areas such as energy storage and tribology & associated interdisciplinary fields.

NITI Aayog brings India Innovation Index 2020

Unlike Global Innovation Index, India Innovation Index 2020 does not give a separate environmental performance index.”

20.01.2021, New Delhi: NITI Aayog, along with the Institute for Competitiveness, today released the second edition of the India Innovation Index (III). The III 2020 report examines the innovation capabilities and performance of the states and union territories. The first edition of the index was launched in October 2019. In III 2020, the framework is updated to include globally considered parameters for measuring innovation, such as the percentage of GDP spent on research and development, while keeping them specific to the Indian economy.

The report broadly consists of four thematic sections—the first talks about innovation and its ability to drive economic growth; the crucial role it plays in not only facilitating the country’s recovery but also sustaining competitiveness during these times. The third section of III 2020 provides learnings and recommendations at the national and state level for policymakers to ponder on.

In the Major States category, Karnataka continued to occupy the top position, while Maharashtra leapfrogged Tamil Nadu to reach second place. Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab completed the top ten in that order. Karnataka’s rank is attributable to its substantive number of venture capital deals, registered geographical indicators, and information and communications technology exports. Karnataka’s high Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow has also enhanced the innovation capabilities of the state. Four southern states—Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Kerala—occupied the top five spots under the ‘Major States’ category this year.

Overall, Delhi retained its first rank, while Chandigarh made a big leap since 2019 and landed in second place this year. Delhi tops ranking in Innovation, Performance, and Work Output. Under the ‘North-Eastern/Hill States’ category, Himachal Pradesh moved up from the second position to emerge as the top ranker this year, while 2019’s top performer (in this category), Sikkim, slipped down to the fourth position.

The innovation inputs were measured through five enabler parameters and the output through two performance parameters. While ‘Human Capital’, ‘Investment’, ‘Knowledge Workers’, ‘Business Environment’, ‘Safety and Legal Environment’ were identified as enabler parameters; ‘Knowledge Output’ and ‘Knowledge Diffusion’ were chosen as the performance parameters.

India breaking into the top 50 nations of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020, with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) declaring India as one of the leading innovation achievers of 2019-20 in the central and southern Asian region. Unlike GII 2020, III 2020 does not give a separate environmental performance index. However, in terms of expenditure on Science, Technology and Environment Arunachal lead with the best case followed by Manipur and Mizoram.

Integrated Waste to Energy Facilities at Ranikhera in Narela

20.01.2021, New Delhi: In a major initiative, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for development of integrated waste-to-energy facilities at NDMC's landfill site at Ranikhera in Narela, New Delhi. The MoU was signed on January 19, 2021 in the august presence of Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan; Lt. Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal; Mayor, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Jai Prakash; Secretary, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Tarun Kapoor; Commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Gyanesh Bharti; and Chairman, Indian Oil, S M Vaidya.

IndianOil shall facilitate NDMC for identification of a concessionaire for setting up of an Integrated Waste to Energy Plant at Ranikhera in Narela. The plant would process Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and organic waste of NDMC for producing Compressed Biogas (CBG), recycling plastics, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for producing plastic or syngas and its downstream products. plastics recycling, etc.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan said that Commissioning of this landmark project will also help in generating energy in various forms and in reducing dependence on crude imports as well as in achieving other national objectives. "Petroleum and Natural gas Ministry is committed to establish more such plants in Delhi for a sustainable future. The signing of this MoU is in line with Hon'ble Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi's vision of carving a greener and energy-efficient future for India and also towards achieving self-reliance in energy by adopting innovative green solutions."

Appreciating IndianOil and North DMC for coming together for setting up the project, he called for a quick expansion and replication of such pilot projects across India. The Union Minister said that such CBG Plants in the capital will not only solve the problem of solid waste in the national capital but also help in reducing the pollution and our oil dependence. He called for putting up more such plants to take care of solid waste in other areas of Delhi, including in New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment. He assured 100% offtake of gas produced from such plants by Oil PSUs.

Pradhan said that the Government will enable connecting the gas produced from such plants with the PNG, CNG pipelines. He said we should find an end to end solution in a time bound and transparent manner so that 14000 to 15000 tonnes of solid waste produced in the city every day is disposed of in a safe and healthy manner. He also assured that PSUs will provide the technological help, wherever required. The Minister called for expediting the process so that the results can be seen in next couple of years. Shri Pradhan said that the Central Government is already working with Haryana to take care of the Agri wastes which will help not only reducing the pollution but also ensure additional income to the farmers for their residues.

Anil Baijal, Lt. Governor of Delhi mentioned about the benefits of the project for the people of National Capital. He went on to add that the city has the capacity to process only half of its waste and the commissioning of waste-to-energy Plants will not only provide a clean & environment-friendly way to handle solid wastes, but also generate energy, CBG, city compost, etc.

Tarun Kapoor, Secretary, MoP&NG in his address mentioned that it is important to manage MSW in a scientific manner and convert it into energy. This shall fulfil the energy needs of India as well as mitigate the waste and related landfill emission problem. He said that 15 of the 5000 plants envisaged under the SATAT scheme have become operational, and there is a good demand of the gas produced in such plants due to its high quality.

S M Vaidya, Chairman, IndianOil during his address stressed on the problem of waste management in Delhi. He informed that the proposed Plant shall provide a sustainable and replicable solution for waste management. Setting up of an MSW-to-energy plant shall provide multiple benefits and is also in alignment with Government initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India. It shall also provide an impetus to creation of jobs across the value chain, from collection of waste to sale of energy.

The integrated plant will process approx. 2500 million tonne of municipal solid waste collected by NDMC, recycle plastics and produce compressed bio-gas CBG, ethanol, syngas and other value-added downstream products.

MoJS supported Prototypes Development for “Smart Water Supply Measurement and Monitoring System” in progress

13.01.2021, New Delhi: ICT Grand Challenge, for development of a ‘Smart water supply measurement and monitoring system’ was launched on 15th September 2020, by the National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM), Ministry of Jal Shakti in partnership with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.

Total 218 applications were received, from various sectors like LLP Companies, Indian Tech start-ups, Individuals etc. A Jury comprising of experts from academia, industry, Jal Jeevan Mission, C-DAC, STPI, COEs, MeitY, etc. came out with the results, which was announced on 20th November 2020. 10 applicants were selected for ideation to prototype stage and each are being supported with Rs. 7.50 Lakhs.

Currently, the prototypes are being developed which are going to be evaluated during the last week of January, 2021 by the jury. A water test bed is set up in C-DAC Bangalore Electronics City Campus for these evaluations. Best four techno-economically viable prototypes shall be selected for product development and each team will receive Rs. 25 Lakh to build their solution as per the need of the user agency.

This would be followed by field trial, testing & deployment and demonstration at about 25 locations across the country as identified by NJJM. Based on evaluation, one winner and two runner-ups will be selected and supported by 50 Lakh (winner) and 20 Lakh each (runner-ups). The grand challenge is being carried out with funding support from MeitY and National Jal Jeevan Mission.

Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024. Announced by Prime Minister on 15th August 2019, the Mission so far has provided 3.13 crore household tap connections in rural areas.

Union Environment Minister releases Report on Management Effectiveness Evaluation of 146 National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries

12.01.2021, New Delhi: There are 238,563 terrestrial and inland water protected areas recorded in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), covering almost 7% of the global ocean and terrestrial protected areas covering just under 15% of global land and spread in 245 countries and territories. At present, India has a network of 903 Protected Areas in the country covering about 5% of the total geographic area of the country. Improving the management of protected areas has become a priority globally. Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) has emerged as a key instrument for Protected Area and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar today released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Country. In order to assess the efficacy of Protected Areas, evaluation of management effectiveness is needed.

Speaking at the event the Union Minister said that what other countries could not achieve, India has achieved and today has a thriving biodiversity. “70% of the global tiger population, 70% of asiatic lions and more than 60% of leopards population in India is a certificate of India's thriving biodiversity ,as these big cats sit at the top of food chain and their growing numbers shows the well being of the whole ecosystem.”, said Javadekar.

The Minister also announced that from this year onwards 10 best National Parks, 5 coastal and Marine parks and top five Zoos in the country will be ranked and awarded every year.

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AQI improves in Lucknow, deteriorates in Delhi & most NCR cities

07.01.2021, New Delhi: Delhi AQI further deteriorated on 7th January 2021. The 24-hour average AQI in Delhi, as reported this evening by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was found to be 255, which falls under "poor" category, as against 226 and 140 on the previous days.

In the adjoining city Gurgaon, the AQI jumped to 204 from 175 and 83 in previous two days; while in Faridabad it was 240 from 203, Greater Noida 288 from 239, Noida 236 from 200, and Ghaziabad 294 from 234. Thus, air quality in the entire NCR, except Sonepat and Bahadurgarh was in poor category. Sonepat with AQI 131 and Bahadurgarh with 181 fall in moderate category.

128 cities were monitored during the last 24 hours as against 130 stations in the previous day. None out of 128 cities fell in severe category. Maximum AQI was found to be 336 in Vapi, where PM2.5 was a primary air pollutant. Lucknow found to be in moderate category with 173, where the AQI got improved from 361.

Out of 128 cities monitored, 19% were found with "Good" category of AQI, while 23% in "Satisfactory", 30% "Moderate", 21% "Poor" and 7% in "Very poor" category.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe".

The predominant surface wind is likely to be coming from North East and North West direction of Delhi with wind speed up to 5-8 kmph, partly cloudy sky, moderate to dense fog in the morning and possibility of very light rain/drizzle towards night on 8th January. .

Predicted maximum mixing depth over Delhi is likely to be around 450 m on 8th January and 550 m on January. Ventilation index is likely to be nearly 2500 m2/s during the period. It is noteworthy that ventilation index lower than 6000 m2/s with average wind speed less than 10 kmph is unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.

145 Laboratories participate in Analytical Quality Control Programme initiated by CPCB

07.01.2021, New Delhi: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi has organized the 33rd Analytical Quality Control (AQC) exercise for trace metal parameters for Environmental Laboratories of Central and State Pollution Control Boards, Pollution Control Committees, and EPA Recognized Private Labs. The exercise aims a continuous monitor of the accuracy and reliability of the analytical data generated by these laboratories, to help to improve the infrastructure of laboratories and the quality of data.

The AQC exercise will help evaluate the performance of participating laboratories in terms of analytical activities, the robustness of instruments used for sample analysis and the expertise of manpower engaged in the laboratory. It will also help to ensure the reliability of the analyzed data, for an informed and conclusive decision for the prevention and control of pollution.

145 laboratories including all the Central and State Board laboratories, Pollution Control Committees and EPA approved laboratories are participating in the 33rd AQC program. The exercise is being conducted with in-house expertise and following the international norms with utmost care.

The laboratories would analyse AQC samples, and communicate the test results on or before the due date. The performance of each laboratory would be evaluated based on scores and the scorecards would be sent by the end of 31st March 2021.

The metals included in the 33rd AQC exercise are Total Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Total Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni), Lead (Pb) and Zinc (Zn) for the assessment of pollution in air and water.

CPCB should also initiate AQC programmes on Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the range of <3 ppm, which may be useful for river quality monitoring.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Management across the country: Govt. approves Advisory

06.01.2021, New Delhi: Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is an increasingly common phenomenon in many parts of India. Killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala by using explosives in food items, in June last year is one of the recent happening. According to reports, conflict with wild animals, mostly elephants and tigers, has killed more than 1,100 people across India between 2014 and 2017.

The Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife (SC-NBWL) in its 60th meeting held on 05th January has approved the advisory for management of HWC in the country. The advisory makes important prescriptions for the States/ Union Territories for dealing with Human-Wildlife conflict situations and seeks expedited inter-departmental coordinated and effective actions.

The advisory envisages empowering gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the section 11 (1) (b) of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.Utilising add-on coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna for crop compensation against crop damage due to HWC and augmenting fodder and water sources within the forest areas are some key steps envisaged to reduce HWC. Payment of a portion of ex-gratia as interim relief within 24 hours of the incident to the victim/family.

The advisory also envisages prescribing inter-departmental committees at local/state level, adoption of early warning systems, creation of barriers, dedicated circle wise Control Rooms with toll free hotline numbers which could be operated on 24X7 basis, Identification of hotspots and formulation and implementation of special plans for improved stall-fed farm animal etc.

Some of the other important approvals took place during the meeting are, inclusion of Caracal, a medium size wild cat found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, into the list of critically endangered species for taking up conservation efforts with financial support under Centrally sponsored Scheme-Development of Wildlife Habitat. Now, there are 22 wildlife species under recovery programme for critically endangered species.

During the meeting, the Standing Committee also recommended the construction of causeway across Jampannavagu to Muthapur of Govindaraopet and between Jampannavagu to Motlagudem in Mulugu District of Telengana with certain mitigation measures. It also recommended the proposal for Tinaighat-Castlerock-Caranzol Railway doubling of South Western Railways, Karnataka with certain mitigation measures as advised by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

The other decisions taken at the meeting are construction of a bridge and canal with an aim to augment the water supply and irrigation facilities in villages Madharwa, Thakurapur, Jamdhara and Sugaon in Balrampur District of Uttar Pradesh under the National SaryuNaharPariyojna with certain mitigation measures and the construction of Integrated Bus Terminus cum Commercial complex in Vashi, Navi Mumbai in Thane district with certain mitigation measures. The redeveloped facility will pave way for 17 bus bays and approximately 3,300 bus trips shall be operational, which will greatly benefit in transportation of people in and around Mumbai.

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is constituted by the Central Government under Section 5 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA). The Standing Committee of NBWL considers proposals after a series of levels of scrutiny and have recommendations of the State Chief Wildlife Warden, State Government and the State Board for Wildlife. During the meetings of SC-NBWL, the views of the expert members are taken into consideration before arriving at decisions.

Earnings apart, Construction Projects pay hefty Penalty for non-compliance of C&D Waste Rules

05.01.2021, New Delhi: On the wake of air pollution in Delhi and NCR, a number of measures were taken to abate dust and related air pollution. Construction and Demolition (C&D) wastes are considered to be one of the biggest sources of air pollution. According to the directions issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management for Delhi NCR and adjoining areas, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh along with the Delhi Pollution Control Committee constituted 227 special teams and launched inspection drives in the premises, processes and transportation of materials related to C&D activities in the NCR.

These teams carried out surprise checks and inspections at more than 3000 sites from 24.12.2020 to 31.12.2020, out of which about 386 sites were found to be non-compliant with the various C&D Waste Management Rules, pertinent Guidelines and dust mitigation measures stipulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as well as the CPCB. Therefore, the teams penalized the non-compliant project sites. Thus, a staggering amount of nearly Rs. 1.59 Crore was collected as environment compensation against the defaulting agencies besides orders for stoppage of work at 12 locations.

Compliance with respect to transportation of materials related to C&D activities was also seen by the inspecting teams. About 325 vehicles, not in conformance with guidelines related to transportation of C&D materials, were levied environment compensation charges of approximately Rs. 1.17 crore.

Such fortnightly drives are planned to be continued to enforce compliance of the C&D waste management rules and related guidelines to abate dust pollution from C&D sector, which contributes significantly to poor air quality in the region.

The noncompliance is not new. In October 2020, Delhi Govt. carried out several surprise inspections and found a number of sites as non-compliers with C&D Waste Management Rules 2016. According to a report, between 1st November to 11th November 2020, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram also had collected penalties of Rs. 2.67 lakh from 55 defaulters for dumping C&D waste illegally.

It is important to cite here that the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 were notified on 29th March 2016 vide GSR 371(E). Earlier, the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 had also defined "demolition and construction waste” as wastes from building materials debris and rubble resulting from construction, re-modelling, repair and demolition operation. Thus, even after 20 years, the value of C&D waste is not understood. Non-compliance still rampant.

On the contrary, C&D wastes can become an invaluable source of building material. There is a need to recycle, reuse and substitute naturally sourced building materials such as sand due to age old controversies over sand mining in India.

Joint action to curb Ammoniacal Nitrogen in River Yamuna

05.01.2021, New Delhi: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) convened a meeting on 4th January 2020 with the officials of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Irrigation & Water Resources Department, Haryana and Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi, to discuss the recurring issue of increase in Ammoniacal Nitrogen in the River Yamuna and short and long term remedial actions required.

The long deliberations on the issue identified and agreed that possible reasons could be discharge of untreated sewage from upstream towns in Haryana, discharge from industrial units, Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), illegal discharge of sewage from unsewered colonies in outer Delhi and also many other construction projects in the NCR through tankers, lean flow in the River Yamuna and anaerobic decomposition of accumulated sludge on the river bed.​

A study group comprising DJB, HSPCB, DPCC, Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Haryana, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi has been constituted. The group will review uniform monitoring protocol and requirement of strengthening monitoring mechanism, analyse past data and carry out field survey to identify critical hotspots as well as period of high anomia levels. It has also been asked to suggest short and long term measures for sustained solutions, and submit its report within a month.

Also, it was agreed to constitute a Joint Surveillance Squad comprising DJB, DPCC, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi, HSPCB and Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Haryana.

Prime Minister lays Foundation Stone of National Environmental Standards Laboratory

04.01.2021, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today, laid the Foundation Stone of National Environmental Standards Laboratory through a video conference. He also dedicated National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya Pranali to the Nation.

Delivering the inaugural address at the National Metrology Conclave 2021, organised by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi, on its 75th foundation day, the Prime Minister said that India is moving towards a leading position in the field of environment. Still, India is dependent on others for technology and tools for measuring air quality and emission. This achievement will lead to self-reliance in the field and will lead to creation of more effective and cheaper tools for pollution control. This will also enhance India’s share in the global market for technologies related to air quality and emission technology. The Prime Minister said that India has achieved this by the continuous efforts of the scientists.

Anil Jauhri, Ex-CEO, QCI - NABCB said, "The lab is expected to serve for calibration of pollution control measuring equipment and continuous emission monitoring system. Given importance of precise and real time environmental measurements it is an excellent initiative."

This lab would also test pollution control measuring equipment. Any certification scheme should be accredited to facilitate international acceptance. It is anticipated that the Testing and Certification shall be based on International Standards so that our monitoring system is at par with world's best and can be exported too, added Anil Jauhri.

The theme of the conclave is ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.

Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Principal Scientific Advisor Dr. Vijay Raghwan were present on the occasion.

Jal Jeevan Mission connects 3.23 Crore households with Tap Water

01.01.2021, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) on 15th August, 2019 in his Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort. The Mission aims to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household by 2024. Since then JJM is under implementation in partnership with the State governments with an aim to provide potable water. As on 15th August 2019, out of 18.93 Crore rural households, only 3.23 Crore, about 17% had tap water connections.

JJM has provided 3 Crore tap water connections since inception. Further, 26 districts, 457 Blocks, 34,919 Panchayats and 65,627 villages have become 'Har Ghar Jal' meaning every family living in these rural areas is getting assured tap water supply in their homes and 'no one is left behind'.

Goa, having 263,013 households, the first State in the country to provide 100% FHTCs and became 'Har Ghar Jal' State. While, Telengana has covered more than 98% households with FHTC, out of a staggering 5,434,001 households in the state. It is important to note that Telengana had 69.7% households with tap water supply before the Mission. Puducherry has attained 87.3% out of 114,908 households, Haryana has covered nearly 83% out of 3,103,122. West Bengal has registered the least progress with 4.46% out of 16,325,859 households.

Consumption of contaminated water has adverse impact on our health, especially children. In this backdrop, upgradation of water quality testing laboratories and its accreditation from NABL have been taken up. There are about 2,300 water quality testing laboratories with States/ UTs and these have been opened up to general public, so that they can get their water samples tested at a nominal cost. Also, emphasis is given to empowering local village community to keep surveillance on quality of water supply and/ or source through regular testing using Field Test Kits (FTKs). A grand challenge is going on in partnership with the DPIIT to develop ‘portable domestic water quality testing devices’.

Under Jal Jeevan Mission, Village Action Plans (VAPs) for five years, co-terminus with the 15th Finance Commission are prepared so that fund available to PRIs can be gainfully utilized by GPs for assured water supply delivery to homes. These VAPs are aggregated at district level to formulate the District Action Plans (DAPs), which are consolidated at State level to formulate the State Action Plan (SAP). SAP covers projects like regional water supply schemes, bulk water supply and distribution projects, etc. to ensure drinking water security in the State.

CPCB asks SPCBs/DPCC to be vigilant as AQI envisaged to worsen

Public may raise complaint through SAMEER App

31.12.2020, New Delhi: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been consistently reviewing air quality and meteorological scenario in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR). Based on forecast received from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the air ventilation conditions are likely to slow down in Delhi, which may lead to poor dispersion of air pollutants. Thus, AQI is predicted to be in Very Poor category for coming days.

In view of the worsening air quality and likely increase in activities during New Year eve celebrations, CPCB had issued an order on 23rd December 2020 directing Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) in NCR states namely, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to ensure (1) Closure of Hot mix plants and stone crushers all the time till 2nd January 2021 (2) Frequency of mechanized cleaning of roads and water sprinkling be increased particularly on the road stretches with high dust generation potential (3) guidelines/standard operating procedures (SOPs0 for dust mitigation at construction sites are strictly adhered to. In case of violations, strict action should be taken against the violators like imposition of penalty/ temporary stoppage of construction activities and (4) Compliance of Orders of Hon’ble Courts and National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding banning of sale and use of firecrackers.

As per NGT Order dated 15th October 2019, in the matter of Utkarsh Panwar Vs. Central Pollution Control Board, all brick kilns in NCR are already closed.

CPCB has deployed 50 teams for field inspections in Delhi –NCR, with special emphasis on hotspots, since 15th October 2020, to assess the ground level scenario and ensure enforcement of mitigation measures for control of air pollution in Delhi-NCR. These teams have been visiting pollution hotspots and other areas in Delhi NCR region and reporting the violations of various guidelines/norms by posting these on the SAMEER App.

DPCC, SPCBs of NCR states and various central and state agencies have been asked to take effective steps immediately that would help in controlling pollution.

CPCB urges public to provide feedback on polluting activities through SAMEER App which can be downloaded from Google Play and App store for android and IOS respectively.

NGT Orders 2020 addresses far more issues than Air & Water pollution

31.12.2020, New Delhi: Over a decade, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), often referred as the Green Court of India, has become the ultimate address of people of India seeking environmental justice. Even in the COVID inflicted pandemic year, the Tribunal, as of November 2020, dealt with 5073 matters. NGT disposed 2372 cases leaving 2701 matters for consideration, with 943 lying undecided at the Principal Bench at New Delhi.

With growing number of cases, NGT reduced the lengthy judicial process and adopted practices of getting factual ground reports from the concerned Stakeholders. The Tribunal relies on scientific approach, factual reports and technical inputs from local authorities and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The process involved getting consolidated status report through CPCB. Factual field reports were sought by constituting Joint Committees which involved sample collections and scientific interpretations. The directions passed in individual matters have been towards restoration of environment and executing waste management infrastructure projects. Execution of projects reflects governance attitude and commitments of the Departments.

Looking at some key orders of 2020, it shows a diversified range of thorny cases were addressed by the Tribunal. The subject of appeals include air pollution due to fire crackers in Covid-19 situation, road dust, toxic pollutants in air, air quality management, industrial accident resulting fatalities and injuries, inadequate solid and liquid waste management facilities in group housing societies, siting of projects and environmental clearance (EC), Requirement of EC to Lift Irrigation Schemes, Prohibiting operation of Brick Kilns considering having no carrying capacity, Preventing Flood Plain Zones, Non-utilisation of Environment Relief Fund, Waste management arising out of Covid-19 treatment, Ship Breaking to be in unison with environmental needs, Care for Birds – Non-Renewable Energy Projects to take Mitigation measures, River Sand Mining - a bothering issue, District Environment Plan - Constitutional Provisions, Water Management, groundwater, Saving the dying rivers and 351 polluted river stretches and many matters on individual rivers, Restoration of Water Bodies, Coastal Pollution, Trade and Sewage effluent treatment and utilisation of treated effluents, Industrial waste water and Sewage Treatment, Utilisation of treated Sewage, Swachh Bharat and Hazardous and Other Wastes, Plastic Waste Menace, Resources, Restitution and Institutions.

Industrial Accident resulting fatalities and injuries in the case of Blast in Plastic recycling industry in Malda, West Bengal; Spent wash digester collapse causing spillages in a Distillery in Mohel Taluka, Solapur district, Maharashtra; Vishaka Solvent; Sainor Life Sciences; Boiler Blast in Neveili Lignite Corporation; Yashasvi Rasayani; Spy Agro; Indian Oil Corporation; and most importantly LG Polymers India. The Tribunal took cognisance of gas leak incidents in Andhra Pradesh as also the fire in Assam's Baghjan oil well and observed that such disasters occurred on account of mishandling of operations, lack of skilled supervision and unprepared system to deal eventualities.

NGT has pushed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for non-utilisation of over Rs. 800 crore meant towards Environment Relief Fund for victims of accidents in the process of handling hazardous substances and directed that compensation needs to be provided to them on urgent basis through District Collectors.

Holding that public oriented schemes do require environment clearance, the NGT passed direction on such requirement for Purushothapatanam Lift Irrigation Scheme, Andhra Pradesh, which involved lifting of water from river Godavari.

Noting that air pollution kills millions of people every year, NGT directed brick kilns, which emit particulate matters, to adopt the environment friendly zig-zag technology. It got an assessment done through CPCB by finding out ambient air quality and carrying capacity.

The NGT also took note that the COVID-19 related biomedical waste in the country is about 101 tonnes per day, and said that segregation of this waste from others is a must to avoid further contamination adversely affecting public health.

The Tribunal dealt with the issue of protecting endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB), which has been facing fatalities on account transmission lines and directed that bird diverters be installed and transmission lines may be put underground.

The NGT said rivers in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka were being unscrupulously exploited for sand mining without any regard for the environment and ordered that such projects be executed with due caution in accordance with mining plan.

On the issue of ground water extraction, the NGT said that water withdrawal cannot be at the cost of the environment and ignoring intra and inter-generational, sustainable development principles.

As the country went into the lockdown, the Tribunal, headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress and lackadaisical approach of authorities and government agencies on key issues relating to public health and hygiene and emphasized on recovering compensation from polluters.

CASFOS Dehradun trained Teachers on Conservation Education

31.12.2020, New Delhi: Central Academy for State Forest Service (CASFOS), Dehradun, under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, conducted a Two-days specialised training on “Conservation Education” for in-service Teachers including teachers in-charge of Eco clubs.

Chief Guest at the Inaugural session Padmashri Karthikeya Sarabhai, Director Centre of Environment Education asked the teachers to strengthen the linkage between the Forest department and Eco clubs to make the Environment Conservation efforts effective and efficient. He also appealed the teachers to inculcate environmental conservation ideas to the forthcoming generation of India.

Conservation education is the process of helping human beings clarify and improve their personal values concerning their environment. The training programme from 28th to 29th December 2020 included topics like Overview of Environmental Issues in India, Conservation issues and Challenges in India, Nature Education with a case study of Gujarat, Wildlife amidst Humans, Domestic Solid Waste management, Green Schools Programme and Green Auditing. The programme also offered a wide range of experience sharing opportunity.

Kunal Satyarthi, IFS, Principal, CASFOS; Abhilash Damodaran, IFS, Lecturer, CASFOS, Dehradun; Ranjitha Menon, Programme Director, Environment Education, Centre for Science & Environment; S. Karthikeyan, Naturalist, JLR, Karnataka; deliberated on the aforesaid topics with fascinating notes from their enormous experiences. More than 1600 participants from 18 States across India participated in this training virtual programme.

4th Meeting of the India-Sri Lanka JWG on Fisheries discussed on preservation of marine environment

30.12.2020, New Delhi: The Fourth Meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries was held on Wednesday through virtual mode. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Secretary, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. The other members of the Indian delegation included senior representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Tamil Nadu, Government of Puducherry, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.

The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Ms. R.M.I. Rathnayake, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The meeting covered the entire gamut of issues related to fishermen and fishing boats which have been on the agenda of bilateral discussions between India and Sri Lanka for many years. Secretary, Fisheries, Government of India, highlighted that the Indian side remains committed to working constructively with the Sri Lankan side to address all issues related to fishermen and their livelihoods in a humanitarian manner and in line with past understandings.

Referring to the recent apprehension of 40 fishermen and 6 boats by Sri Lanka Navy, the leader of the Indian delegation called on the Sri Lankan side to ensure their early release and till such time, to provide necessary facilitation including consular access and necessary assistance. The Indian side also reiterated the need for releasing all fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody in line with the commitment given by Sri Lankan President during his state visit to India in November 2019.

The two sides also exchanged views on the status of cooperation between Navy & Coast Guard of both countries in patrolling, existing hotline between the Coast Guards and related operational matters, cooperation in preservation of marine environment as well as the schedule for the fifth meeting of the JWG. The Indian side conveyed its sincere determination to work in a constructive spirit with the Sri Lankan side for convening an early meeting of the Fisheries Ministers on both sides.

Both sides agreed that the convening of the JWG on virtual medium to tide over the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic reflected the common desire to utilize the existing bilateral mechanisms and work constructively to address all issues pertaining to fishermen.

Secretary, Fisheries, Government of India, highlighted the initiatives being taken by India under the new Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana and other schemes of Government of India and governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to diversify and reduce fishing pressure in the Palk Bay. He also informed of initiatives taken for diversification into deep-sea fishing especially by fishermen of Palk Bay area, infrastructure created to facilitate deep-sea fishing, promotion of alternative livelihood through seaweed cultivation, mariculture and varieties of aquaculture activities.

It may be recalled that the First Meeting of the Joint Working Group was held on 31 December 2016 in New Delhi. The Second Joint Working Group was held in Colombo on 7 April 2017 while the Third Meeting was held in New Delhi on 13 October 2017.

Minister of State for Jal Shakti joins Brahamputra Aamantran Abhiyaan at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh

30.12.2020, New Delhi: The Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment, Rattan Lal Kataria participated on Wednesday in the Brahmaputra Amantran Abhiyan - a river rafting expedition and a public outreach programme organized by the Brahmaputra Board at Passighat, Arunachal Pradesh. The Month long Campaign titled as “Living with the rivers” is aimed at sensitizing people towards the river Brahmaputra, which is the major river that enters India at Arunachal Pradesh and flows through Assam before entering Bangladesh where it merges with river Ganga and drains into Bay of Bengal.

Speaking at the event, Kataria apprised the IIT Guwahati students, Members of NDRF, and other participants; about the efforts of Ministry of Jal Shakti, which is working relentlessly towards solving water related issues through integrated approach. He informed that Brahmaputra Amantran Abhiyan was chalked out after an astounding response to the Ganga Amantran Abhiyan conceptualized and executed by the Ministry in the year 2019. He also informed the participants about the quality work being carried out under the Namami Gange Programme.

The Minister emphasized upon the inextricable link between rivers and human civilisation. He added that historically, all human societies have originated and flourished alongside rivers as it is the major source of Life on this planet. However, owing to the increase in the population and subsequent Urbanization, there is an increased pressure on our river systems. They are also facing the acute problem of pollution as effluents/waste from the settlements are flushed into the rivers without any treatment. He requested all the participants to take a pledge to free our rivers from pollution and work towards their clean and continuous flow. He stressed upon the concept of “River synchronized development” so as to ensure that river conservation and development go hand in hand and complement each other. Awards were distributed to students for participating in the awareness generation programme and various other competitions organized by the Brahmaputra Board.

International Blue Flag hoisted at 8 beaches across India

29.12.2020, New Delhi: It was a proud moment for India as Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar virtually hoisted the International Blue Flags on 28th December 2020

in 8 beaches across the country. These beaches of India, spread across five states and two union territories, were awarded the International Blue Flag Certification on 6th October 2020, when an International Jury comprising of member organizations UNEP, UNWTO, UNESCO, IUCN, ILS, FEE etc. announced the award at Copenhagen, Denmark. Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by "Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark" based on 33 stringent criteria.

The beaches that have been awarded the ‘BLUE FLAG” are Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (AP), Golden (Puri-Odisha) and Radhanagar (A&N Islands).

On the eve, the union Minister said that neat and clean beaches are an indicator that the coastal environment is in good health and the Blue Flag Certification is a global recognition of India's conservation and sustainable development efforts.

In October, India has also been awarded a 3rd Prize by the International Jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions.

India is now in the league of 50 "BLUE FLAG” countries and we take pride in this honour to our Nation, planning to take this journey forward to 100 such beaches in the country in the next five years.

India began its humble journey in 2018 for development of pilot beaches (one each in coastal states/UTs) and presented the first set of 08 beaches for the certification for the ensuing tourist season 2020.

During the event, the Environment Minister also informed that hundred more such beaches will be made Blue Flag in coming 3-4 years and highlighted that cleaning beaches needs to be a made a “Peoples Movement” not only for its aesthetic value and tourism prospects, but more importantly towards reducing the menace of marine litter and making coastal environment sustainable.

The objective of the BEAMS (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) program is to abate pollution in coastal waters & beaches, promote sustainable development of beach amenities/ facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources and encourage local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, safety and security for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment norms & regulations. This program promotes beach tourism and recreation in absolute harmony with nature; and is unique in that sense.

India gets 42nd Ramsar Site, as Startsapuk Tso and Tso Kar connected lakes complex in Ladakh gets recognition of international importance

24.12.2020, New Delhi: Year 2020 has listed one more wetland from India on “Ramsar Sites”. India's 42nd Ramsar Site is the high-altitude wetland complex, found at more than 4,500 metres above sea level in the Nyoma Block, Leh District, Changthang region of Union Territory of Ladakh.

The complex includes two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso and the larger hypersaline Tso Kar; it presents a notable example of two such lakes existing in close proximity. The name Tso Kar refers to the white salt efflorescence on the margins of the lake caused by the evaporation of the saline waters. The local climate is arid, and glacial meltwater is the primary water source for the lakes.

The site tagged with No. 2443 sprawls in an area of 9577 hac. The lakes and in particular the presence of fresh water attract biodiversity in a biologically sparse region. Inhabiting the Site are numerous threatened species including the endangered saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger), and the vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia). The Site also acts as an important stopover ground for migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and is one of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis).

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar has stated "Happy to share that high-altitude wetland complex in Changthang region of Ladakh is recognized as wetland of international importance. The complex is a notable example of two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso & the hypersaline Tso Kar."

In November 2020, two sites - Sur Sarovar, commonly known as Keetham Lake, Agra, Uttar Pradesh and Lonar Lake in Maharashtra State were added to Ramsar list.

Earlier, in January 2020, 10 wetlands in India were recognised by the Ramsar Convention as sites of international importance.

Wetlands have a significant role in the ecosystem. Wetlands provide food, water, fibre, and help in groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. Wetlands are reckoned as the major source of water and considered to be the key source of freshwater.

In the Wetland Rules, 2017, wetland has been defined as an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.

The Ramsar Convention signed on February 2, 1971, is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by member countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance. The international treaty, also known as the Convention on Wetlands, was for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed. Over 170 countries are party to the Ramsar Convention and over 2,000 designated sites covering over 20 crore hectares have been recognised under it.

Apex India Green Leaf & CSR Awards 2019 distributed in a Glittering Hybrid Event

23.12.2020, New Delhi: On 22nd December 2020, Apex India Foundation honoured the Corporate, Organizations, and Professionals who have performed extraordinarily in the field of Environment, Corporate Social responsibility (CSR), Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Eco-innovation, Plant Efficiency, Afforestation, and Water Conservation; with Apex India Green Leaf and CSR Excellence Awards 2019, in a glittering function in the Le Meridien, New Delhi.

Acclaimed Defence Expert, Major General (Retd.) P. K. Saighal graced the occasion as Guest of Honour. In his address, the former army man expressed concerns about the degrading environment, as many activities are taking place, which are unsustainable for the environment and society. Deliberating on the need of environmental management and sustainable development, former Major General said that Apex India Foundation is doing a magnificent work by inspiring the doers, for which he congratulated Kuldeep Singh, President of the Foundation.

Renowned Human Rights Activist Smt. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Guest of Honour of the event, lauded Apex India’s initiatives for motivating corporates and industries for their significant achievements in the field of environmental management and CSR. In a uniquely hybrid event, which was part physical and mostly digital event, she made a point before the corporates, industries and government that they should consider spending 3% of CSR funds for the upliftment of transgenders, which will ensure true equality to every individual of a progressive India.

Industry giants from various sectors such as Automobile, Cement, Thermal Power, Petroleum Exploration, Petroleum & Refinery, FMCG, Metal & Mining, Paper, Fertilizer, Breweries, Construction, and Textile etc. participated in the award programme. World class companies, like ONGC Hazia Plant, Reliance Industries, Tata Steel, NMDC, BPCL, HPCL, NTPC, Shapoorji, NLC India, Dabur India Limited Sahibabd unit bagged Platinum Award for Environment Excellence.

The award programme received a huge response from various categories industries, despite 2019 being a COVID pandemic year. The jury selected 102 winners from more than 150 applications. Many top order organizations from different industry segments won Awards in the Apex India Green Leaf and CSR Excellence Category.

In individual category, R. K. Tyagi, former EHS Country Head for India, Middle East, South Africa and Europe Operations, Regal Beloit Corporation – USA, got awarded with “Apex India Green Leaf Lifetime Achievement Award of the Year 2019”. His service to Corporates in the field of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability spanned through a period of over 4 decades. On receiving the most coveted award, he expressed thankfulness to Apex India Foundation for such a valued acknowledgement of his work. He further added that there are very few award programs in India to recognize works in the field of environment. Therefore, Apex India’s award programme has immense value that distinguishes individuals, industries and corporates, who are doing remarkable works in the field of environment and also encourages others to follow.

On the occasion, Minister of State, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Rattan Lal Kataria, congratulated Apex India Foundation, and all the winners for their perseverance and hard work. In a written statement, the Minister stated that I look forward to see the remarkable works carried out by all the winners in their respective fields.

A conference on Sustainable Environment Management & CSR was also organized on the side line. S K Mishra, notable environmentalist and Editor, Enviro Annotations delivered a talk on Plastic Waste Management with reference to a holistic Indian Scenario.

With a glaring success and spirit, now Apex India Foundation is inviting nomination for "Apex India Green Leaf Awards 2020”, “Apex India CSR Awards 2020”, and “Apex India Occupational Health & Safety Awards 2020”. The foundation welcomes wide participation of Corporates, Industries, MSMEs, Hotels, Hospitals, Institutions, and Individuals who are doing remarkable works in the field of Environment, CSR and Occupation Health & Safety.

$500 Million loan from World Bank for Green, Resilient and Safe Highways in India

22.12.2020, New Delhi: The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a USD 500 million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The project will also enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in mainstreaming safety and green technologies.

The Green National Highways Corridors Project will support MoRTH construct 783 km of highways in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial byproducts, and other bioengineering solutions. The project will help reduce GHG emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways. Globally, transport sector is the 3rd major contributor of CO2 emissions.

Dr C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance stated that the Government of India is committed to environmentally sustainable development in its infrastructure projects. This project will set new standards in the construction of safe motorable roads. The selected stretches in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh will also help improve connectivity and promote economic development.

The agreement was signed by Dr Mohapatra on behalf of the Government of India and Ms SumilaGulyani, Acting Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.

The ultimate objective of transport infrastructure is to provide seamless connectivity and reduce logistics costs. The Government of India has launched many investment programs in road sector infrastructure to strengthen and improve logistics performance. This project will also support analytics to map the freight volume and movement pattern on the National Highway network, identify constraints, and provide innovative logistics solutions.

The National Highways of India carry about 40 percent of road traffic. However, several sections of these highways have inadequate capacity, weak drainage structures and black spots prone to accidents. The project will strengthen and widen existing structures; construct new pavements, drainage facilities and bypasses; improve junctions; and introduce road safety features. It is imperative that the infrastructure investments are climate resilient. To this effect disaster risk assessment of about 5,000 km of the National Highway network will also be undertaken under the project along with support to ministry for mainstreaming climate resilience aspects in project design and implementation.

The $500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of five years.

Delhi Industries have to switch to PNG fuel, directed Air Quality Commission

Delhi Pollution Control Committee directed to identify the industries using unapproved fuels and take stringent penal action in case of non-compliance.

22.12.2020, New Delhi: The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas reviewed the progress of switching over of Industries operating in Delhi to Piped Natural Gas with the Government of NCT of Delhi, GAIL and Indraprastha Gas Limited.

About 1644 of Industrial Units spread across 50 industrial areas in Delhi had been identified to switch over to Piped Natural Gas (PNG). Though sizeable number of Industries are using PNG, the Commission stressed the need to switch over to PNG by all identified Industries in Delhi considering the fact that industrial sector is one of the major contributors to air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region. Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) and Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) were impressed upon to complete the pipeline network, metering and associated infrastructure.

M/s IGL, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Government of NCT of Delhi were also asked to work in close coordination with the industrial units so as to target completion of infrastructure works and complete switch over to PNG, by all the identified industrial units in Delhi, by 31st January, 2021. DPCC was also directed to inspect and identify the industries using unapproved fuels and to take stringent penal action in case of non-compliances.

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural gas emits 50-60% less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) when combusted. Natural Gas is safer as it catches fire only when it forms a 5-15% mixture with air whereas LPG catches fire when it forms 2% or above mixture with air. Natural gas is lighter than air. Therefore, in case of a leak, it just rises and disperses into thin air given adequate ventilation.

Indian Youth to drive "Catch the Rain Where it falls, When it falls" Campaign

22.12.2020, New Delhi: Government of India has been encouraging for maximum harvesting of rainwater, which stands around <10%. The Prime Minister himself wrote letters to Sarpanches. It brought some good results. In March 2020, National Water Mission (NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti launched the campaign "Catch the Rain Where it falls, When it falls" just before COVID-19 inflicted lockdown.

On Tuesday, the NWM in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports has launched the “Jal shakti Abhiyan - II: Catch the Rain” Awareness Generation Campaign. The campaign was launched jointly by Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Minister of State (Independent Charge), Youth Affairs & Sports and Minister of State, Minority Affairs, Kiren Rijiju in presence of Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice & Empowerment, Rattan Lal Kataria. The launch event was attended by large number of participants on digital platforms including field functionaries of NYKS in all the districts of the country.

Success stories of rainwater harvesting has proved to be a tide turner in Jakhni village, Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh; Dewas in Madhya Pradesh; Heware bazar in Maharashtra; and many other places.

The Union Jal Shakti Minister emphasized on the need to focus on water conservation and rainwater harvesting while Rijiju stressed on the importance of involving the youngsters in the revolutionary campaign. Kataria said that the Union Government accords the highest priority to the issue of water conservation and the need of the hour is to adopt an integrated approach towards water management. The Ministers collectively unveiled the posters and IEC material promoting Catch the Rain campaign.

As a preparatory phase of JSA-II, the Ministry has involved Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan (NYKS) for undertaking ‘Catch the Rain’ awareness campaign to cover 623 districts. The awareness generation phase of campaign will run from mid-December 2020 to March 2021. NYKS will undertake this awareness building campaign through various IEC activities which will include conducting education & motivational programs, mass awareness campaigns, environment building including wall writing, banners & e-posters, knowledge competitions, demonstration activities like theme-based nukkad nataks & skits, branding & popularize the campaign by logos & printed IEC materials etc. During this period, the NYKS teams will also meet district administration, line departments and water agencies, hold meetings with Pradhans, local influencers and volunteers to further the cause and also prepare plans for the water conservation to be taken up in the next phase of the campaign.

Rain Water Harvesting Structures are to be based on the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata to store rain water as rains falling in the 4-5 months of monsoon are the only source of water for most parts of the country. Drives to make water harvesting pits, rooftop RWHS and check dams; removal of encroachments and de-silting of tanks to increase their storage capacity; removal of obstructions in the channels which bring water to them from the catchment areas; repairs to traditional water harvesting structures like step-wells and using defunct bore-wells and old wells to put the water back to aquifers etc, are some of the activities suggested to be taken up with peoples’ active participation under this campaign. The collaboration with NYKS is a step to engage people at the grassroots through effective campaigning & IEC activities for implementation of the campaign.

Leopards population in India stands to be 12,852

60% growth from 2014-2018

21.12.2020, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar released the Status Report of Leopards in New Delhi, today. He said that increase in Tiger, Lion and Leopards numbers over the last few years is a testimony to the conservation efforts and of the fledgling wildlife & biodiversity of the country.

India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted 2014. More than 60% increase in population has been recorded. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.

Speaking on the occasion, Javadekar remarked that monitoring of the tiger in India has clearly shown its umbrella role in the ecosystem, which has shed light on other charismatic species like the Leopard.

India's world record tiger survey also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found home to 12,852 (12,172-13,535) leopards. They occur in prey rich protected areas as well as multi-use forests. A total of 5,240 adult individual leopards were identified in a total of 51,337 leopard photographs using pattern recognition software. Statistical analysis estimates the leopard population at - 12,800 leopards within the tiger's range.

The leopard was estimated across forested habitats in tiger range areas of the country but other leopard occupied areas such as non-forested habitats (coffee and tea plantations and other land uses from where leopards are known to occur), higher elevations in the Himalayas, arid landscapes and majority of North East landscape were not sampled and, therefore, the population estimation should be considered as minimum number of leopards in each of the landscapes.

Tiger has not only served as an umbrella species but even its monitoring has helped evaluate the status of other species, like the leopard. The National Tiger Conservation Authority-Wildlife Institute of India (NTCA-WII) shall be reporting on several other species shortly.

20th Water Talk: Community Participation is the Foundation to Sustainable Water Solutions

19.12.2020, New Delhi: 20th Water Talk, the monthly seminar series on water was conducted by the National Water Mission (NWM) on Friday 18th December 2020. Apoorva Oza, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) was the guest speaker, who delivered a talk on various aspects of participatory water management, and shared various field experiences.

In his presentation, Oza described how participatory community approach brought paradigm shift from drought prone to a water rich Junagadh and nearby areas in Saurashtra, Gujarat. The hilly tribal area in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh was facing acute problems of high migration due to poverty. Despite receiving a rainfall of 1100 - 3000 mm of rainfall the area was having access to low irrigation. An integrated approach of water harvesting through a large number of check dams, boribunds and lifting devices through community participation proved to be a game changer. It resulted in reduction of migration, income increased by 30% - 50%, reduced GHG emissions, ameliorated food and nutrition status.

He also deliberated on how participatory irrigation management increased area under irrigation up to 80% , income by 250% and reduced migration by 100%. Quoting the example of Chakhazi village in Bihar, where irrigation failed due to lack of reliable electricity supply, in spite of availability of adequate water, Oza pointed out that solar irrigation empowers the poor. The villagers stated to have saved up to Rs. 12 Lakh per year out of diesel purchase cost. The irrigation cost was also brought down by about 70%.

The Water Talk also emphasized on the water quality testing aspect, which can reduce medical expenses and increase productivity. In his presentation, Apoorva Oza highlighted that identifying and maintaining source of drinking water is of utmost importance. He described the probabilities of contamination between source to mouth, which necessitates testing of drinking water quality. Water quality testing is also the essence of Jal Jeevan Mission. He further elaborated with a case study of a village in Bihar that could have saved between Rs. 1.5 Lakh to Rs. 3.5 lakh per year from health related costings by setting up of affordable water testing facility.

The talk also deliberated on balancing the supply side and demand side. Micro irrigation, water budgeting, recycling of treated wastewater could be vital in this. Water being connected to energy, agriculture and soil; community participation is the foundation to sustainable solutions.

Additional Secretary and Mission Director, NWM, G. Asok Kumar highlighted about the Water Talks, and various activities by NWM. He informed that IIT Kanpur is developing a low cost, highly efficient and easy to handle water testing kit. He also shared an example of Nizamabad district, where cleanliness was ensured by constructing 1.5 lakh toilets and creating clean sources for drinking water, maintaining them. This ultimately resulted in reduction of diarrhea from 5000 to 150 cases in a year.

Water Talk is a monthly seminar series on water is conducted on the 3rd Friday. It has become a platform of knowledge transfer and problem solving. It attracts many vibrant people of various age groups from different walks of life to participate in the event and actively share various ideas towards sustainable water management in India. Please share your view

Under Jal Jeevan Mission 100% households of Ganderbal and Srinagar Districts in UT of J&K connected with FHTC

17.12.2020, New Delhi: In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir every household in Ganderbal and Srinagar districts has got tap Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) and every family is getting potable piped water in their homes. The UT is planning 100% coverage by 2022 to accomplish the ambitious target of providing tap water connection to every rural household of J&K. This kind of work in these difficult terrains speak volumes of the commitment of the people and Govt. to provide basic facilities in rural areas. Out of 18.17 lakh rural households in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, 8.66 lakh (48%) are provided with tap water connections. Jammu & Kashmir plans to provide tap connections in 2.32 lakh households during 2020-21.

Out of 20 districts under the UT of J&K, 5 more districts have covered more than 50% households: Poonch (71%), Pulwama (64%), Baramulla (56%), Reasi and Shopian around 54%. The lowest coverage is nearly 35% in Rajouri district.

Union Government’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission, being implemented in partnership with States, aims to provide tap water connections to every rural household of the country by 2024. The objective of the mission is to ensure every household in every village/ habitation gets a functional tap connection and ‘none is left behind’. With the undivided focus of the Union Government to provide basic amenities in remote areas, aspirational districts, border areas, etc., this mission strives for provision of the basic amenity of safe drinking water in every rural household.

Since the soul of this decentralized and demand-driven programme is community participation, focus is on the planning of the water supply schemes in the village to its operation and maintenance. Every village is taken up as a unit and Village Action Plan (VAP) for five years is being prepared for each village by participation of local community with mandatory components viz. strengthening of local drinking water sources; in-village water supply infrastructure to provide tap water connections; grey water treatment and reuse; and operation & maintenance of water supply systems so as every family gets assured supply of potable water on regular and long-term basis. Village action plans for all 6,877 villages in the UT have been prepared.

In all villages, IEC campaign along with community mobilization are being taken up to make Jal Jeevan Mission, truly a people’s movement. Out of 98 water testing laboratories, the UT plans NABL accreditation of 20 labs during current year. Field Testing Kits will be provided at community level for testing of water quality for taking corrective measures.

In less than a year, actual implementation of the mission that started on 25th December, 2019, despite Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown as well as restrictions, about 2.80 Crore households in the country have been provided with tap water connections. With this, as of now 6.03 Crore households (32%) of the country are getting tap water supply into their homes. Every year, more than 3 Crore households are to be given tap water connections. This is the speed and scale on which Jal Jeevan mission is being implemented.

So far, one State i.e. Goa, 18 districts including difficult areas of Srinagar and Ganderbal in Jammu & Kashmir and Lahaul & Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and more than 423 Blocks, 33 thousand Gram Panchayats, and 60 thousand villages have achieved 100% household coverage. This shows the commitment to all-inclusive development and no one is left out.

NGT expresses hope that all Authorities will act to comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 for Protection of Environment and Public Health

17.12.2020, New Delhi: While hearing on the Original Application No. 606/2018 regarding Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues on 14th December 2020, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed that States directed to file quarterly compliance reports with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). CPCB further has been directed to prepare a consolidated report every six months before this Tribunal. First such report may be filed by 30th June 2021.

The Principal Bench of NGT headed by Hon’ble Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson NGT has also directed that the compensation in terms of earlier order be recovered and credited to a separate account with the Environment Department of the States/UTs to be used for restoration of environment in the concerned States/UTs. The deposit, instead of being made with the CPCB, may now be made to the said account.

The NGT has further directed that while by order dated 16th January 2019 and further orders passed, the Chief Secretaries were directed to give a consolidated report on the subject of waste management as well as remedial action for rejuvenation of 351 polluted river stretches, 122 non-attainment cities, 100 polluted industrial clusters, sand mining, etc., henceforth the present matter will primarily deal with the issues of solid waste management only, other issues being subject matter of separate proceedings.

In the Order, the NGT has noted that in terms of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, the statutory authorities for various actions have been specified under different rules, and categorically deliberated the followings:

Under Rule 5, a Central Monitoring Committee (CMC) is to be constituted headed by the Secretary, MoEF&CC with representation from Ministries of Urban Development, Rural Development, Chemicals and Fertilizers, Agriculture, CPCB, State PCBs/PCCs, Urban and Rural Development Departments, Urban Local Bodies and Towns from the of the States, FICCI, CII and subject experts. The CMC is to meet once in a year.

The Ministry of Urban Development has to coordinate with the States/UTs under Rule 6 for periodic review and formulation of National Policy and strategies and taking other measures.

Under Rule 7, the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers have to provide market development assistance for compost and promote marketing of such compost.

Under Rule 8, Ministry of Agriculture has to evolve mechanism for utilization of compost. The rule also deals with the characterization of compost quality.

Under Rule 9, Ministry of Power has to decide compulsory purchase and tariff issues.

Under Rule 10, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources has to facilitate infrastructure creation and provide for subsidy.

Under Rule 11, the concerned Secretaries of Urban Development have to prepare State Policy and Management strategies and the Town Planning Department has to ensure setting up waste processing and disposal facilities and take other enumerated actions.

Under Rule 12, the District Magistrates have to identify suitable lands and review performance of local bodies.

Under Rule 13, the Secretaries of Panchayats have also to perform similar duties.

Under Rule 14, CPCB is to coordinate with State Pollution Control Boards and Union Territory Pollution Control Committees to formulate standards of ground water, ambient air quality, noise, etc.

Under rule 15, local authorities have to prepare solid waste management plans, collection of waste and coordination with the other stakeholders for enumerated steps.

Under Rule 16, the SPCBs/PCCs have to enforce the rules and monitor compliances.

Under Rule 17, there are duties of private bodies, including the manufacturers to be monitored by the State Bodies.

Rule 22 provides timelines for various steps. Last timeline of 5 years from the Rules expires on 7th April 2021.

Under Rules 24, there is a provision for audit and submitting of annual report.

The Principal Bench of NGT has stated that since there has been large scale non-compliances of the said rules, all the concerned authorities need to review the progress and perform their responsibility in accordance with law. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has to finally monitor compliance, as already mentioned. The NGT Bench has expressed hope that all the authorities will now take necessary steps for meaningful compliances for protection of environment and public health.

“World needs to come together to meet challenges in water sector”: Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

17.12.2020, New Delhi: The 5th India Water Impact Summit, organized by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga) ended on Wednesday. In the concluding session of the 5th India Water Impact Summit, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti said that the world needs to come together to meet the challenges of the water sector in the same way as the

world has united in fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic. The focal point of discussion on the last day of summit today was "River Conservation Synchronised Navigation and Flood Management". Equating the summit as “VaicharikKumbh”, the minister pointed out that the conference resulted in greater interaction between investors and stakeholders in the water sector to promote international cooperation between India and many foreign countries for water and river management. He said, “We have learnt a lot from national and international experiences and it is our promise that we will try to bring these learnings and concepts into practice. There is political will and determination like never before, backed by support from academic and self-help organisations.”

The Union Minister said that India is striving to reduce our dependence on groundwater. He deliberated on the Atal BhujalYojna, a pioneering initiative to map and recharge aquifers and conserve ground water in collaboration with the World Bank. He said “The scheme would promote panchayat-centric groundwater management and behavioural change with the main emphasis on demand side management”. Minister of State, Jal Shakti Ministry, Ratan Lal Katariya was also present at the Summit.

Appreciating the impactful momentum created by the NamamiGange mission, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs shared that NMCG and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) have developed a first of its kind strategic framework for managing urban river areas in the Ganga River Basin called the ‘Urban River Management Plan’.

Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Ayog stressed on changing the attitude of pollute now and rejuvenate later. He illustrated how conservation and development can go hand in hand and how attempts to involve people in this process is yielding positive results.

Water Resource Minister of Bihar, Vijay Kumar Choudhry, emphasized that flood management is an extremely relevant topic for Bihar because of its geography.

U. P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, stated that in the last four years the focus of this Mission has evolved from just cleaning Ganga to rejuvenating her. “Now the Mission is far more holistic which includes not only pollution abatement but also considers e-flow, biodiversity, community participation and small river rejuvenation” he said.

The confluence joined by over 3000 intellectuals, researchers, water & environment experts and policy makers from across the world to explore new technologies in water security and rejuvenation of local water bodies in the country.

The Potential Role of Hydrogen in India – Harnessing the Hype

“We see hydrogen as our next big sunrise sector” - Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, Niti Aayog

16.12.2020, New Delhi: At a time, when most of the world is deliberating on various aspects to achieve net zero emissions, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) organized a digital event The Potential Role of Hydrogen in India – Harnessing the Hype, on Wednesday. The demand for hydrogen in India can grow five-fold by 2050. Further, by 2030, the costs of "green hydrogen" from renewables will fall more than 50% and start to compete with hydrogen from fossil fuels.

These were the findings of a report launched by TERI in the event. The report, titled "The Potential Role of Hydrogen in India", was created under TERI's Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) India programme.

"This is a first-of-its-kind, cross-sector assessment of how hydrogen technologies can support the transition to a zero-carbon energy system in India," said Will Hall, Fellow, TERI, and one of the report authors.

The report says that hydrogen needs to be targeted in sectors where direct electrification is not possible. These are heavy-duty, long-distance transport sectors, some industry sectors, and long-term seasonal storage in the power sector.

In transport, battery electric vehicles (BEV) will become competitive across all segments, except for very long-distance, heavy-duty transport, which could be fuelled by hydrogen.

Hydrogen is expected to compete with fossil fuels in certain industrial applications by 2030. For example, ammonia produced from green hydrogen will be competitive with the current incumbent technology of ammonia produced from fossil fuel-based hydrogen.

In the power sector, hydrogen could provide an important source of seasonal storage for variable renewables like solar and wind energy. Large amounts of seasonal storage will become necessary only when the share of wind and solar in total generation reaches very high levels (60-80%). Further, green hydrogen production could require around 1000 TWh of renewables-based electricity by 2050, placing further pressure on power system decarbonisation.

Launching the report, Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, Niti Aayog, said "In Government of India, we see hydrogen as our next big sunrise sector and a transition to the hydrogen economy as the way forward for India. I therefore hope that some of my optimism about the sector will prevail in combination with a coordinated policy thrust from us."

He added that improvement in technology and fall in cost of hydrogen will happen sooner than estimated.

Dr Kumar also suggested adding electrolysers to produce hydrogen in the list of industries that are to receive the production linked fiscal incentives recently announced by the government for economic recovery.

Emphasizing on the need to look at hydrogen growth in India from the point of view of demand, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said, "The falling cost of hydrogen will drive its uptake, with initial scale-up being driven by collaborations between progressive public and private players… India has an opportunity to grow an economically competitive low carbon hydrogen sector that can spur job growth reduce energy imports, whilst drastically reducing emissions."

On the occasion, Lord Adair Turner, Co-Chair, ETC said, "The costs of making green hydrogen from electrolysis are falling fast, with $2 per kg production costs likely to be achieved before 2030. So, it is essential to identify what role hydrogen could play in India, and how Indian industry can seize the economic opportunities arising."

He added that it is important to see a hydrogen economy not just as a way to decarbonise economies but also as an opportunity for creating new value-added businesses and employment.

The launch was followed by a panel discussion with DMR Panda, General Manager (Hydrogen), NTPC Limited; Gerd Deusser, CEO, Siemens India; Dr Saurabh Kundu, Chief, Process Research, Tata Steel; Timur Guel, Head (Energy Technology Policy Division), International Energy Agency (IEA); and Richard Boocock, Senior Vice President and Special Advisor to the Chairman at Air Products.

India and Norway to work deeply in water, environment and climate change

US willing to partner with India to accelerate Innovative Tech & Solutions Market

15.12.2020, New Delhi: Experts from India and abroad have been sharing insights on conservation and development in the India Water Impact Summit. From artificial intelligence to state-of-the-art infrastructure development approaches, foreign companies and organizations are aiming to partner with India to accelerate innovative technologies and solutions market.

On 4th day of the summit, experts from Norway joined their Indian counterparts to discuss ‘Arth Ganga – River Conservation Synchronised Development’.

In a session on Sludge management, Dr. B. Bala Bhaskar, Ambassador of India to Norway said, “We need to take advantage of best practices of Norway in India and see how they can be adapted to local needs.” He extended his support to NMCG and cGanga. Ms. Karina Asbjørnsen, Norwegian Diplomat in India stated that Norway intends to work extensively with India especially in prevention of climate change and conservation of environment. “Our mandate to work with India is loud and clear. We are looking forward to deeper engagement.” she added. Mr. Ole Henaes, Head of Innovation Norway, expressed keen interest in working in India and informed that they have opened a centre in Delhi.

In a key development Dr. Ola Stedje, Research Scientist, announced that his company has signed an MoU for development of sludge management framework in India jointly by The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and cGanga. This will be a major breakthrough for both the organisations.

Highlighting peculiar problems in India, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, U. P. Singh, said that India does not have shortage of water but we need to improve water management and explained several initiatives in waste water management and need to develop further business modules by cGanga Norwegian Counterpart. Director General NMCG, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, promised to arrange a detailed interaction between Norwegian technology companies and Indian business leaders in water sector to explore joint projects to take advantage of Norwegian technology.

Day – 4 also had discussions revolving around “River Conservation Synchronised Agriculture”. Additional Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Alka Bhargav, while explaining effect of agricultural practices on health of local water bodies said, “It is essential that traditional wisdom and modern science work together to have river development synchronised agriculture.” She also briefed how the farmer’s bargaining power has increased with the formation of Farmer Producers Organisations. Neelam Patel, Sr. Adviser (agriculture), NITI Ayog, emphasized the need of informing, communicating and training farmers about agroecological practices and promoting Farmer Producers Organisation. Also spoke about leveraging digital technologies and promoting agri-tousim. Agri-tourism can play an instrumental role in making people especially children value farmers and their hard work.

Stating that agriculture is one of the main activities for which water is extracted from the rivers, Director General, NMCG said, “We are working with farmers to educate them about water use efficiency.” He also shared that in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, NMCG is also trying to promote organic farming, natural farming and zero budget farming. Organic farming has been scaled up multi-fold this year with Uttarakhand having 50,000 Ha. under organic farming from 1000 Ha earlier and Uttar Pradesh is having more than 35,000 Ha integrated organic farming projects.

Earlier, on the 3rd day of the summit, in a session on Digital Water, Dr. Ravi Kota, Minister Economic – Embassy of India, Washington said, “United States can be great allies to building India’s Digital foundation for the water sector.” Xavier Chauvet De Beauchene, Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development said that the bank is very proud of all the work done in India. “Who would have thought 5 years ago that 550 million people will stop defecating in the open in India.” He added that there is a massive shift in the Indian Government’s approach from focusing only on infrastructure development to working with people and bringing about behaviour change.

He also emphasized on the importance of data. “The problem cannot be solved if it is not understood and quantified.” India has taken many endeavours in this direction also. There are many tasks at the work-in-progress stage but it’s a very good start, he observed. Mr. Ben Grumble, Secretary, Environment, Maryland stressed upon the need of nations to learn from each other’s experience. He said that “equity” of water is very essential and shared the success story of the US Clean Water Act. Interestingly, India too has launched ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ with the goal of equal distribution of water to all. Usha Rao Monari, Senior Advisor at Blackstone Infrastructure Group and Board presenting the case of the Thames river cleaning up said that a good mix of policy and finance lead to effective cleaning of the river. It is noteworthy that the Namami Gange Mission has the advantage of these two factors – policy and finance.

Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG said, “we are glad that our efforts are being recognised by the international fraternity now.” He attributes the success of the Namami Gange Mission to his team, volunteers, academicians and many self-help organisations who are working continuously towards the cause of cleaning Ganga and her tributaries under the vision of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the guidance of the union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

India Water Impact 2020 is a five-day long summit, hosting experts and academicians from all over the world to discuss and debate issues related to water conservation, water security and river rejuvenation. The event is co-organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga and Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies.

Tata Steel among top five companies in the steel industry in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) Corporate Sustainability Assessment 2020

14.12.2020, New Delhi: Tata Steel has ranked amongst the top 5 steel companies in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) Corporate Sustainability Assessment 2020. The results of the Assessment were declared by S&P Global in the second week of November 2020. The Company has stated to have retained its position in the DJSI Emerging Markets (EM) Index for the 9th year in a row. Tata Steel is one of the 11 companies from India and one amongst only two steel companies from Emerging Markets that have made it to the EM Index (comprising 100 companies).

Sanjiv Paul, Vice President (Safety, Health & Sustainability), Tata Steel, said: “We are proud to be a part of DJSI Emerging Markets Index 2020. Our consistent performance over the years is testimony to the fact that sustainable business practices are core to Tata Steel’s vision and overall strategy. The Company’s business philosophy has always been underpinned by imbibing responsibility towards planet Earth in our operations, ensuring the health and safety of people at our workplaces, balancing economic prosperity and generating social benefits for the community. This recognition reaffirms our commitment to a sustainable tomorrow.”

Tata Steel Limited has been participating in the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) since 2012 and has been a member of DJSI Emerging Markets Index for nine consecutive years.

The DJSI Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) is an annual evaluation of companies’ sustainability practices since 1999. Each year over 7300 companies around the world are assessed on Economic/Governance, Environmental and Social dimensions focusing on criteria that are both industry-specific and financially material.

India has reduced emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

UN Environment's Emission gap report shows India ranked at no. 7 on the basis of per capita emissions, though it is 4th highest emitter.

12.12.2020, New Delhi: Today. on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as the most ambitious step in our fight against Climate Change, the Prime Minister said "As we are looking to set our sights even higher, we must also not lose sight of the past. We must not only revise our ambitions, but also review our achievements against targets already set. Only then can our voices be credible for future generations."

The Prime Minister informed the world leaders that India is not only on track to achieve its Paris Agreement targets, but to exceed them beyond expectations. He said "We have reduced our emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels. Our solar capacity has grown from 2.63 Giga Watts in 2014 to 36 Giga Watts in 2020. Our renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world. It will reach 175 GigaWatts before 2022. And, we have an even more ambitious target now - 450 GigaWatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030."

Prime Minister Modi also enlightened the on India's successful expansion of forest cover and safeguarding its biodiversity.

He emphasized India's pioneering two major initiatives on world stage; (1) The International Solar Alliance, and (2) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

The Indian Premier said "In 2047, India will celebrate 100 years as a modern, independent nation. To all my fellow residents of this planet, I make a solemn pledge today. Centennial India will not only meet its own targets, but will also exceed your expectations."

It is noteworthy that the Emissions Gap Report 2020 published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) depicts that though it is among the top 6 emitters of absolute GHG emissions, India ranked at no. 7 on the basis of per capita emissions.

India's absolute GHG emissions (excluding LUC emissions) is about 5 times less than that of China, the No. 1 emitter of the World.

Emissions gap is described as the difference between the greenhouse gas emission levels consistent with a specific probability of limiting the mean global temperature rise to below 2°C or 1.5°C in 2100 above pre-industrial levels and the GHG emission levels consistent with the global effect of the NDCs, assuming full implementation from 2020.

Air Pollution a serious problem and Government committed towards fighting it: Prakash Javadekar Though Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai have similar population load and similar industrial and vehicular pollution levels, but AQI in Delhi has shot up to over 300 in the last few days while in Chennai it is only 29, in Mumbai it is 140 and in Bangalore it is 45. The Minister said that this is due to the meteorological factors which we must appreciate and therefore when the wind speed and meteorology is unfavourable we must make more efforts to better air quality.

Ministry of Jal Shakti invites entries for National Water Awards-2020

10.12.2020, New Delhi: The ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) has invited entries for the 3rd National Water Awards. In order to encourage and recognize individuals and organizations who are doing exemplary works in the field of water resources conservation and management, the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, MoJS has invited entries in 11 categories: (1) Best State, (2) Best District (2 Awards each in five zones; total 10 Awards), (3) Best Village Panchayat (3 Awards each in five zones; total 15 Awards), (4) Best Urban Local Body, (5) Best Media (Print and Electronic), (6) Best School, (7) Best Institution/RWA/Religious Organization for Campus Usage, (8) Best Industry, (9) Best NGO, (10) Best Water User Association and (11) Best Industry for CSR Activities. In the category of Best District and Best Village Panchayats, the Ministry has separate awards for North, South, East, West and North-East.

A total of 52 Awards will be given under 11 categories. Apart from Best State and Best District Awards, cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh, Rs. 1.5 lakh and Rs. 1 lakh for Ist, IInd and IIIrd prize winners respectively will be given for all remaining 9 categories

The objective of these Awards is to encourage all stakeholders, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Gram Panchayats, Urban Local Bodies, Water User Associations, Institutions, Corporate Sector, Individuals etc. for adopting innovative practices of ground water augmentation by rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge, promoting water use efficiency, recycling & reuse of water. It is also aimed to create awareness through people's participation in the focus areas which are expected to result in sustainable water resources management.

The entries may be submitted latest by 10th February 2021. Applications to be sent either through MyGov platform or via email to Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) at nationalwaterawards@gmail.com. It is categorically stated that only online applications will be considered.

Vice President expressed concerns over marine and freshwater pollution emanating from disposal of plastics, other residual waste and industrial chemicals

09.12.2020, New Delhi: While addressing the scientists and staff at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in Visakhapatnam this week, the Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that from the pristine waters of the Himalayas to a long coastline of over 8000 kms, India is blessed with vast aquatic resources. “These waters are endowed with a diversity of fish fauna that has been supporting the livelihoods of millions of people for many generations”, he added.

Noting that India ranks second in the world in total fish production, he said that there still is a lot of potential to be harnessed in both inland and marine fisheries. Observing that with the growing population and the increasing demand for animal protein, the domestic requirement of fish is estimated to increase significantly, Shri Naidu called for bridging the gap in demand and supply of the annual fish production in India.

During his deliberation, the Vice President expressed concerns over the increasing frequency of extreme weather events caused by climate change. He said the impact of climate change mostly felt by the seas and oceans through sea-level rise, ocean warming, and ocean acidification, which further harms marine life and the human lives.

Expressing concerns over the pollution of marine and freshwater, the Vice President said that discarded plastics, other residual waste and industrial chemicals eventually find their way into our water bodies with devastating consequences for aquatic life and the habitats they depend on.

The Vice President emphasized on stainable management of resources and mitigation of the damage caused by climate change, which are linked to fisheries.

Air Pollution a serious problem and Government committed towards fighting it: Prakash Javadekar

08.12.2020, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar yesterday said that the Central Government has been taking all steps possible to combat air pollution in Delhi and North India and is working towards deploying all possible technological interventions towards that.

Speaking at the 4th Roundtable Consultation on 'Clearing the Air – Driving central and state-level actions’ jointly hosted by TERI and Air Quality Asia, an international air quality advocacy group, the Environment Minister stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put a firm resolve to improve the air quality of 100 cities in next 5 years. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change through its National Clean Air Programme, which is a city specific plan is working in that direction with a target to achieve 20 to 30 % reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024.

Speaking on the peculiar nature of Air Pollution in Northern India especially Delhi-NCR the minister said that the crisis of air pollution can be attributed to primary factors like industrial emissions, vehicular emissions, dust from construction and demolition sites, stubble burning for around 50-60 days in a year, biomass burning and poor legacy waste management.

Speaking on the role of meteorology and geography Javadekar said that though Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai have similar population load and similar industrial and vehicular pollution levels, but Air quality index(AQI) in Delhi has shot up to over 300 in the last few days while in Chennai it is only 29, in Mumbai it is 140 and in Bangalore it is 45. The Minister said that this is due to the meteorological factors which we must appreciate and therefore when the wind speed and meteorology is unfavourable we must make more efforts to better air quality.

The Minister highlighted a host of initiatives including scientific and technological interventions taken by Central government to mitigate the menace of Air Pollution in last few years.

CPCB asks Delhi & States concerned for effective Sewage Treatment to counter high Ammonia concentration

07.12.2020, New Delhi: The Yamuna is the most important tributary of the Ganga and a river of great importance to millions of people who depend on it as a source of drinking water and irrigation. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) monitors water quality of River Yamuna and drains discharging into the River. Recently, CPCB observed froth formation and increase in ammonia levels in river Yamuna because of discharge of untreated sewage, non-operation of existing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), improper functioning of Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) installed by the industries and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) located on the banks of river Yamuna.

According to a report available on the Rejuvenation of the River Yamuna site The primary reason behind the formation of the toxic foam was high phosphate content in the wastewater because of detergents used in dyeing industries, dhobi ghats and households. These detergents and other organic matter gets deposited in the riverbed when the river is flowing normally. When more water is released upstream, it falls from a height on reaching the Okhla Barrage, leading to turbulence and churning which causes froth.

Another reason, which is not considered to be a major one, for the frothing is the release of certain gases when a specific kind of bacteria become active in anaerobic conditions -- when there is no or little oxygen is available.

Monitoring of 22 drains carried out recently, indicated that 14 drains (Sonia Vihar, Najafgarh, Shastri Park, Shahdara, etc.) are found untapped ,discharging sewage. While 5 drains are 100% tapped and no flow at downward of interception observed, 2 drains were found tapped but overflow into river Yamuna was observed. One drain (drain no. 14) has no flow at all. Due to partially/untreated discharge of sewage and industrial effluent containing phosphorus, many times, foaming also is observed.

CPCB, taking cognizance of this, issued directions to Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to submit time bound action plan to ensure compliance to norms by STPs and that no untreated sewage is discharged to these drains.

The Final Report of the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC) appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Vide order dated 29th June 2020 also depicts that DJB has raised the issue of intermittent pollution, including high levels of Ammonical Nitrogen in the river at Wazirabad causing disruption in drinking water supply to Delhi. To identify source of high Ammonical Nitrogen, YMC also ordered a Committee of CPCB and NEERI scientists to inspect and submit a report on the sources of such pollution. Based on the report of the Committee, directions were issued to CPCB and HSPCB to take action against the distillery M/s RSL Distillery identified by the Committee. The report further states that CPCB was also directed to ensure that all the STPs and ETPs of Grossly Polluting Industries in Haryana are connected online to the CPCB server and effective monitoring done to locate the point sources of pollution in the river, well in advance. The YMC report also states that Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) volunteered to take over the proper maintenance of monitoring systems, and also installed a new station at Palla for the purpose of advance alert on the quality of water at Palla particularly when the Ammonical Nitrogen level rises abnormally high to affect drinking water quality at Wazirabad.

Improper operation of the Common Effluent Treatment Plans (CETPs) in Delhi is also a major issue in the matter pf Yamuna pollution. Hence, CPCB has directed DPCC to take action against non-complying CETPs and industrial units. Similar directions have also been issued to Haryana State Pollution Control Board and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board.

In view of the importance of the issues, reminders have been issued on 6th December 2020 to concerned agencies to submit action taken report by 15th December 2020.

There are many industrial units, business establishments and institutions, where online continuous environmental monitoring system is still not installed. Wherever installed, not all are measuring Ammonia or Ammoniacal Nitrogen as a test parameter. many of the laboratories, duly accredited by NABL and also recognized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) are not seriously reporting on all applicable parameters as ordered by the NGT and some SPCBs.

National Jal Jeevan Mission team visits West Bengal & Jharkhand to expedite realization of ‘Har Ghar Jal’

04.12.2020, New Delhi: A team of 4 members from the National Jal Jeevan Mission is visiting West Bengal from 2nd to 4th December, 2020 and Jharkhand from 2nd to 5th December, 2020 to provide technical assistance to the State to realize the goal of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ under the flagship programme Jal Jeevan Mission as well as identify different issues and challenges and to document good practices.

The current coverage of Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) in West Bengal State, which has 16,325,859 households stands at 3.39% only, which is the lowest in India. Jharkhand has covered FHTC for ~10% from its total 54,08,690 households.

West Bengal has planned to provide 100% tap connections to all the households in the State by 2023-24. The team from National Jal Jeevan Mission is visiting the State to see the implementation in the field and extend technical assistance to expedite the implementation with a focus on prudent investment. The team along with PHED officials visited three schemes of Howrah district. The Uttar Pirpur scheme is 100% FHTC with focus on sustainability by creating rainwater harvesting through convergence with 15th Finance commission funds. In Balichak Scheme key parameters of Jal Jeevan Mission were discussed with the Gram Panchayat. The GP is in process of preparing the VAP and the work of providing FHTC is expected to begin soon. In Khosalpur village, the work is ongoing for providing FHTC and the work is expected to be completed during this month.

During 2020-21, fund allocation to West Bengal has increased to Rs. 1,610.76 Crore. With an opening balance of Rs. 1,146.58 Crore, the State has an assured availability of Rs. 2,760.76 Crore of Central share funds. Therefore, during 2020-21, along with State share, about Rs. 5,770 Crore is available under Jal Jeevan Mission to provide household tap connections in West Bengal. NJJM has stated that additional funds too can be provided based on the progress of implementation in form of performance incentive under JJM. Further, West Bengal has received Rs. 4,412 Crore as 15th Finance Commission Grants to Panchayati Raj Institutions, 50% of which will mandatorily be spent on water and sanitation. The state has to convergence various programmes like MGNREGS fund, Swaccha Bharat Mission (Gramin) Fund, JJM, SBM (G), 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, District Mineral Development Fund, CAMPA, CSR Fund, Local Area Development Fund, etc. at village level and Village Action Plan (VAP) of every village is to be prepared for 5 years co-terminus with the 15th Finance Commission by dovetailing all such funds for carrying out water conservation activities to strengthen water source leading to drinking water security.

In 2020-21, the Central Government has allocated Rs. 572.23 Crore to the State of Jharkhand. Further, 15th Finance Commission has also allocated Rs. 1,689 Crore to the State, 50% of which will be spent mandatorily by Panchayati Raj Institutions on provision of safe water and improved sanitation.

Central Govt’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission is under implementation in partnership with States to provide functional household tap water connection to every rural household of the country by 2024. It envisage to supply potable water of 55 litres per person per day to every rural household on regular and long-term basis. Jharkhand State is planning 100% household coverage by 2023-24. Under Jal Jeevan Mission, provision of functional tap connections providing water in adequate quantity, of prescribed quality on a sustainable and long-term basis is to be achieved through community participation and involvement in implementation of water supply schemes.

For Paris Agreement Implementation, Government constitutes a High-level Ministerial Committee

02.12.2020, New Delhi: In furtherance to the launch of “India Climate Change Knowledge Portal”, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has constituted a high-level inter-ministerial Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris Agreement (AIPA) under the Chairmanship of Secretary, MoEFCC.

The purpose of AIPA is to generate a coordinated response on climate change matters that ensures India is on track towards meeting its obligations under the Paris Agreement including its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

The 17 members committee will have senior officials from 14 ministries, who will serve as Members to AIPA and will oversee the progress in implementation of India’s NDC and receive periodic information updates to monitor, review and revisit climate goals to fulfil the requirements of the Paris Agreement.

According to S.O. 4259(E) dated 27th November 2020, another key function of AIPA would be to operate as a National Authority to regulate carbon markets in India under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, formulate guidelines for consideration of projects or activities under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, issue guidelines on carbon pricing, market mechanism, and other similar instruments that have a bearing on climate change and NDCs. It will take note of the contributions of the private sector as well as multi-/bi-lateral agencies in the field of climate change and provide guidance for aligning their climate actions with national priorities.

AIPA is empowered to invite officials and experts from the Government, financial institutions, universities, academic institutions, consultancy organisations, non-Governmental organisations, civil society, legal profession, industry and commerce, as it may deem necessary for technical and professional inputs and may co-opt other members depending upon need. It has also got power to interact with concerned authorities, institutions, individual stakeholders for matters relating to climate change and to take up any environmental or sustainable development issues pertaining to climate change as may be referred to it by the Central Government.

The year 2021 would mark the beginning of implementation of the Paris Agreement and constitution of AIPA is central to strengthening the national systems and institutional arrangements for implementation and monitoring of climate actions. It will also ensure that India maintains its climate leadership as one the few countries in the world whose climate actions are consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Earlier, on 27th November 2020, the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar launched the “India Climate Change Knowledge Portal”. The portal will be a “single point Information resource” which provides information on the different climate initiatives taken by various Line Ministries enabling users to access updated status on these initiatives.

In the virtual event, Javadekar mentioned that India has practically achieved its Pre-2020 Climate Action targets and said though historically India is not responsible for emissions, it is leading the world on Climate Action.

Validity of EC expiring in F.Y. 2020-21 has been extended by MoEF&CC

02.12.2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, vide S.O. 4254(E) dated 27th November 2020 has extended the validity of environmental clearances expiring in the Financial Year 2020-21 till the 31st March 2021 or six months from the date of expiry, whichever is later.

The order states in view of the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockdowns, MoEF&CC has received a number of requests for extension of the validity of prior environmental clearances beyond the maximum period allowed in the said Notification, as the COVID19 pandemic has not yet come to an end.

The order reads “Notwithstanding anything contained in this notification, the validity of prior environmental clearances granted under the provisions of this notification in respect of the projects or activities whose validity is expiring in the Financial Year 2020-2021 shall deemed to be extended till the 31st March, 2021 or six months from the date of expiry of validity, whichever is later. Such extension is subject to same terms and conditions of the prior environmental clearance in the respective clearance letters, to ensure uninterrupted operations of such projects or activities which have been stalled due to the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockdowns (total or partial) declared for its control”.

Many industries and industry professionals have welcome the government’s move.

Voluntary participation of industries, crucial towards low carbon industries transition: Prakash Javadekar

01.12.2020, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar has said, people and industries are key drivers in our efforts towards mitigating the climate change.

While speaking at at the high level segment of the Industry transition leadership summit, organised by Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), the Union Environment Minister pointed out that industry contributes directly around 30% of the global CO2 emissions, and transition of hard to abate industries towards low carbon pathways is key to combat climate change.

He informed that CO2 emissions have been cut down by top industries in the country voluntarily without any diktat and also renewable energy consumption is being actively promoted in the country by several companies.

"This is the way forward and we need to encourage voluntary participation of the industries towards cutting down carbon emissions.", added the Environment Minister.

Speaking on the issue of finance Javadekar said, funds should be mobilised at a larger scale and use of technology has to be there to deal with climate change issue.

He said affordable technologies and research studies need to be shared with developing countries so that they can work in the direction of saving environment.

Javadekar also reminded other countries not to forget that every Climate Action has a cost and if we consider Climate Change as a disaster, then nobody should profit from this disaster. The Minister said that this will be tantamount to a kind of double taxation on the poor of the developing countries, which is not Climate Justice.

Addressing the summit, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabelle Levin said, India and Sweden have to work together to deal with climate change issue. She said, best practices and experiences need to be shared to cut down carbon emissions. The Swedish Deputy Prime Minister also pitched for mobilising the finances to deal with carbon emissions and said, the Government of Sweden is committed to work in this direction.

LeadIT is launched by India and Sweden along with the World Economic Forum with the support of Stockholm Environment Institute in 2019 during the United Nations Secretary General Climate Action Summit. Currently, the Group has membership of 13 countries and 15 companies, including Dalmia Cement, Mahindra Group and SpiceJet from India, committed towards low carbon industry transition.

LeadIT organised the virtual industry transition leadership summit to build momentum to accelerate the process of industry transition as the world marks the five years of the Paris Agreement. The event highlighted making a business case for industry transition for catalysing demand and acceleration of diffusion and scale-up technology for industry transition.

The virtual event was attended by heads of global companies like Scania, FLSmidth, LKAB, LafargeHolcim, SSAB, Vattenfall, as well as Indian companies like Dalmia and Mahindra Group. The event also witnessed the participation of global think tanks and Ministers/representatives of countries like the UK, Luxembourg, EU and Germany.

NVVN's Green Hackathon aims to find greener solutions for growing air pollution concerns

01.12.2020, New Delhi: NVVN (NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of NTPC Ltd., in partnership with EESL organises technology challenge "Green Charcoal Hackathon". The event aims to leverage the innovative Indian mind to bridge the technology gap, especially to clean the air by eliminating farm fire, producing renewable energy out of the agro residue, to promote local entrepreneurship, and to increase the income of the farmers.

Speaking on the occasion, R K Singh, Union Minister of State(I/C) for Power and New & RE said, “The Hackathon displays the spirit of innovation, which pervades NTPC. Any organisation has to have this spirit of innovation to grow and prosper or otherwise, it would fade away. I am sure that the NTPC management has told all young engineers that innovation and new ideas are encouraged.”

He added, “This Hackathon is also innovation in the pursuit of reducing our carbon footprint. From that point of view, all competitors in the Hackathon should keep in mind that the process of converting this (agro residue) to charcoal should not lead to emissions. Another key thing is the commercial model, which will depend on the cost of both the machine and charcoal production. I am sure we will come out with a machine which is economical. I am happy to see the orientation of NTPC towards reducing carbon foot print.”

Ashish Upadhyay, Additional Secretary of Power said, “The NTPC Group needs to focus on integrated and smart solutions to manage a carbon-neutral economy”.

Gurdeep Singh, CMD NTPC Ltd, said that Power plants are the biggest consumers of coal. He informed that typically a 1000 MW plant consumes about 5 million tonnes of coal annually. India's total coal-based power generation capacity is about 2 lakh MW, which theoretically can consume approximately 1000 million tonnes of coal annually. He elaborated that replacing 10% of total coal consumption with green charcoal will amount to 100 million tonnes of this fuel which will require approximately 160 million tonne of agro residue and municipal waste (considering 60% yield). This could produce approx. 20,000 MW of renewable power and generate 50,000 crore per year of revenue”.

The increasing air pollution due to the burning of stubble and agro residue by local farmers has become a major concern for the country. As a result, NVVN is looking for technologies to convert the agricultural waste to a form that can be used in the power plants in form of the Green Charcoal Hackathon. One such option is torrefaction which converts the agro residue to green charcoal.

The technology to produce torrefied fuel using agro residue biomass is not easily accessible to small entrepreneurs due to the higher cost of imported machines, lack of sufficient manufacturers. The technology to produce torrefied fuel using agro residue biomass once developed in India will be made accessible to small entrepreneurs.

To encourage the participants, there was a provision for cash prizes worth up to INR 24 Lakhs in three Categories, namely: (a) Category – I, Technology for Production of 100 kg per day of Torrefied Biomass Pellets (b) Category – II, Technology for Production of 1000 kg per day of Torrefied Biomass Pellets, and (c) Category – III, Technology for Production of 10 Tonnes per day of Torrefied Biomass Pellets.

Prime Minister shared unique example of ‘waste to wealth’ exhibited by Haryana's Virendra Yadav who made a whopping Rs. 2.5 Crore by trading the troubling Stubble

29.11.2020, New Delhi: Environment has always been an integral part of deliberation in Prime Minister Modi's Mann Ki Baat programmes. In the 18th Episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat 2.0’ he reminded the commencement of the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Dr. Salim Ali, from 12th November 2020. The Prime Minister said "Dr. Salim has done illustrious work in the field of bird watching – the avian world. This has also attracted bird watchers of the world towards India. I have always been an ardent admirer of people who are fond of bird watching. With utmost patience, for hours together from morn to dusk, they can do bird watching, enjoying the scenic beauty of nature; they also keep passing on the knowledge gained to us. In India too, many bird watching societies are active. You too should connect yourselves with this subject. Amid the hectic routine of my life, recently in Kevadia, I also got a memorable opportunity to spend time with birds. Time spent among birds will bond you closer to nature, it will also inspire you towards the environment."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned about the stubble management efforts of Virendra Yadav, a farmer entrepreneur, who has returned from Australia and now lives in Kaithal, Haryana. He described how Virendra Yadav bought a Straw Baler machine to make bundles of straw, with financial assistance from the Agricultural department, and further sold to agro energy plants and paper mills. The stubble traded amount was a staggering Rs. 2.5 Crores. Virendra Yadav has earned a profit of approximately Rs. 50 Lakh from this way.

The Prime Minister described this as a unique example of ‘waste to wealth’. He said "To the youth, especially the lakhs of students who are studying agriculture, it is my request that they visit villages in their vicinity and talk to the farmers and make them aware about innovations in farming and the recent agricultural reforms. This way, you will become stakeholders in major reforms underway in the country."