ENVIRO ANNOTATIONS

Gurugram Forest Department ready with saplings to support 7.5 Lakh plantation drive

01.07.2020, Gurgaon: The Gurgaon Administration has decided to enhance greenery in the Cyber City during monsoon 2020. The Forest Department will provide free saplings and the plant distribution work is going to start from 7th July 2020. The city administration has asked interested people to contact the nurseries of the Forest Department, which will also create awareness among the people in Gurgaon district.

While sharing this information, District Deputy Commissioner, Amit Khatri said that saplings are readily available in all the 4 nurseries of the Forest Department in Gurgaon district. These nurseries are; behind the Forest Department office near Rajiv Chowk, Sector-52, Raipur and Helimandi. These plants include Neem, Papadi, Champa, Shonjan, Sheesham, Allanthas, Khairi, Ranj, Cirrus, Jamun, Amrud, Amla, Papita, Belpatra, Giloy, Hathifal, Gul Mohar, etc. After 7th July, any person can come to these nurseries and take a plant of his/her choice.

Shri Khatri informed that this time during the rainy season the Forest Department has a target of planting about 7.5 lakh saplings in the district. The drive may include plantation of a wide varieties of plants like trees that can offer shade, fruit bearing trees and trees with medicinal properties, which are ready in the nurseries. The District Deputy Commissioner emphasized that usually people spend money to buy plants like tulsi, giloy and amla with medicinal properties. In contrast, the Forest Department is providing these plants free of cost and people should take advantage of this opportunity. He said that the monsoon season is best time to plant saplings. Every citizen of Gurugram must plant at least two saplings as a contribution towards environment and should encourage their children to look after the plants. The DC said that people can plant saplings in different places and also in their gardens, not only in their homes but also in their surrounding areas like parks, societies etc.

Shri Amit Khatri emphasized that peoples’ participation is indispensable to create the district green Gurugram.

Delhi Waste to Energy plant has potential to carve out a greener & energy efficient future, says Dharmendra Pradhan

30.06.2020, New Delhi: Indian Oil, NTPC Ltd and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) signed an MoU, today, on Waste to Energy plant at Okhla, Delhi. The ceremony was witnessed by the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan; Shri RK Singh, Minister of State (I/c) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, and Shri Anil Baijal, Lt. Governor of Delhi. Secretary, Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Tarun Kapoor, Shri Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, IndianOil, Senior officials from the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, SDMC, NTPC Limited, and IndianOil were also present. As per the MoU, IndianOil, SDMC and NTPC shall come together to develop a demonstration Waste-to-energy Plant at Okhla landfill site in Delhi, using Gasification technology. This Plant shall process 17500 tons per annum of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) produced from combustible components of Municipal Waste to generate syngas which shall in turn be used to generate electricity.

Congratulating IndianOil, SDMC and NTPC for coming together, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said that management of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is a major issue in Delhi, and this Energy plant will open the path towards the solution. He expressed hope that this landmark project has the potential to carve out a greener and more energy efficient future for the Atmanirbhar Bharat as envisioned by the Prime Minister of India. Shri Pradhan said that there is an existing model of providing offtake guarantee, under the SATAT (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation) scheme for compressed biogas production plants. He said that the venture would succeed, as there are guarantees from two Maharatna companies. He called for quick expansion and replication of such pilot project in other places also. The Minister said that gas generation from waste will also help in cutting imports of petroleum products and saving precious foreign exchange. Shri Pradhan asked IOCL, NTPC to join hands with the Department of Science and Technology, to develop Hydrogen Fuel technology. India has large appetite for the energy, and development of Hydrogen technology can be done on the Commercial scale in the country.

Shri R.K.Singh said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi always talks about breaking silos and this is a good example of two ministries coming together, for a good public cause. The problem of Solid Municipal waste is rampant throughout the country, more so in Tier II and III cities. Large mounds of wastes are not only health hazards and environmental concerns, but also big eyesores. He said that the Ministry has taken a decision to support such plants, irrespective of the cost of the production of gas from them vis-à-vis other means. He said that technology being used in the Delhi plant, will not only result in less emission, but also provide usable residues.

Shri Anil Baijal said that solid waste management is a big challenge in the national capital. On the one hand, there is a legacy of big mounds of waste accumulated over several decades, while on the other hand, there is not enough space for the current waste. The city has the capacity to process only half of its waste. The commissioning of such plants will not only provide a clean and environment-friendly way to handle solid wastes, but also generate gas and manure.

The 'SATAT' scheme was launched on 1st October 2018, envisages to target production of 15 million tonnes of CBG per annum from 5,000 plants by the year 2023.

Validity of Draft EIA Notification 2020 extended by Delhi High Court

30.06.2020, New Delhi: Delhi High Court has extended the validity of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 till 11th August 2020. The Draft EIA Notification was published by the Government of India vide S.O. 1199(E) dated the 23rd March 2020 in the official gazette on 11th April 2020.

Vikrant Tongad, acclaimed Environment Conservationist and Founder of Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE) had approached Delhi High Court that resulted in this decision given by Delhi High Court.

“Nature’s beauty is an art of God. Let's feel the touch of God’s invisible hands in everything beautiful’ says Rig Veda. Citizens reject Draft EIA 2020 designed to relax environmental standards for business, said Vikrant Tongad in his stand for no dilution in EIA rules.

Earlier in the day, Former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), who is also the Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests requested the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar through a letter. In a tweet Shri Ramesh stated "It’s my final plea to NOT go ahead with the EIA 2020 Notification. Atleast, extend deadline for consultations & feedback as recommended by your own officials, unfortunately, over-ruled by you. "

Earlier also he had demanded that the extension of deadline for public comments on Draft EIA Notification 2020.

With this, any person interested in making any objections or suggestions on the proposals contained in the draft notification may forward the same in writing for consideration of the Central Government before 11th August 2020 to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110003, or send the same on the e-mail address: eia2020-moefcc@gov.in. However, MoEF&CC is expected to come out with necessary documents to inform the public.

Benzene Gas Leak in a Pharmaceutical Unit in Visakhapatnam

30.06.2020, New Delhi: According to PTI two people were killed and four others were taken ill after benzene gas leaked n the Sainor Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical company at Parawada near Visakhapatnam early on Tuesday morning, official sources said. It is said that the leak occurred when benzene gas was being pumped into a reactor.

Similar incident, widely known as Visakhapatnam gas leak, also referred to as the Vizag gas leak took place at the LG Polymers chemical plant in R. R. Venkatapuram village near Gopalapatnam on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam on early morning of 7 May 2020 that led to death of 11, and more than 1,000 people became sick after being exposed to the gas.

Keeping in mind the post COVID2019 scenario, on 8th May 2020, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued an advisory to all the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Union Territory Pollution Control Committees (UTPCCs) to ensure that a proper safety and hazard audit by all units, in their respective States/UTs, before resuming operations. The SPCBs/PCCs shall direct all the units that manufacture, store or import hazardous chemicals to resume their operations after COVID-19 lockdown, only after they have taken adequate and necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of any chemical leakage/ accident.

The advisory also said that all the SPCBs/UTPCCs shall also have to ensure that any unit involved in the Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemicals shall comply with the stipulated provisions of The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 without fail.

Frequent industrial accidents, in a particular state and a particular district has raised serious questions on the working of the Andhra Pradesh State Pollution Control Board. Other SPCBs and UTPCCs should also review the status safety and hazard audit by respective units under their jurisdiction.

Dredging Corporation of India to explore the possibilities of recycling of dredging material

24.06.2020, New Delhi: Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) Shri Mansukh Mandaviya today, chaired a video conference, for recycling of dredging material with officials of Ministry of Shipping, Dredging Corporation of India, Indian Port Association, Inland Waterways Authority of India, Chairpersons of Major Port Trusts and experts of the sector.

The Minister directed Dredging Corporation of India to explore the possibilities of recycling of dredging material on coastline as well as on riverine ports of India. He stressed on implementation of dredged material recycling in such a way that the dredging cost can also be reduced. Dredging is regular activity to maintain the course of waterway for safety and easiness of shipping traffic as well as discharge. He suggested private players to build a recycling model with cost effective logistics system to transport the dredging waste while keeping in the mind zero effect on environment.

Shri Mandaviya also added that Government of India is aiming sustainable development and by recycling the dredging waste into environment friendly commodities, it reinforces the vision of PM Shri Narendra Modi to turn ‘waste into wealth’ in the growth story of India.

Motor Vehicle Rules to defer BS-IV emission norms for construction equipment vehicles, tractors & harvesters

24.06.2020, New Delhi: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has invited suggestions and comments from all stake holders including general public on the proposed amendment in the Motor Vehicle Draft rules for deferment of BS-IV emission norms for construction equipment vehicles, tractors and harvesters. A Notification to this effect has been issued on the 19th instant, which can be seen at www.morth.gov.in.

In view of COVID-19 situation, as requested by the Ministry of Agriculture and construction equipment manufacturers with regard to an extension of time for implementing the next stage of emission norms, which are to be made applicable with effect from 1st October 2020, MoRTH has issued the draft notification GSR 393 (E) dated 19th June 2020.

The notification states “In the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, in rule 115-A, in sub-rule 9, in the third row and second column of Table 1, for the words, character and figures “1st October, 2020”,shall be substituted by the words, character and figure “1st April, 2021”.

The objections, suggestions or comments from any person with respect to the said draft rules may be sent to the Joint Secretary (MVL), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Transport Bhavan, Parliament Street, New Delhi-110001 (email: jspb-morth@gov.in) up to 18th of July 2020.

Decarbonising Transport project launched in India

24.06.2020, New Delhi: NITI Aayog and International Transport Forum (ITF) together launched the Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) project in India through a virtual programme on 24th June 2020. The ambitious five-year project will help India develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system through the development of modelling tools and policy scenarios.

Dr. Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General, ITF in his opening address ‘We are very pleased to launch this project with India, and excited that it is being so well received by our partner, NITI Aayog. This is a very important and promising undertaking that will provide practical support for the Indian government for making the right choices on the way to a low-CO2 transport system. Our collaboration on the “Decarbonizing Transport in India” project is also an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between India and the ITF.’

Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog in his address said that India has a huge and diverse transport sector, which caters to the needs of over a billion people. With the fourth-largest network in the world and the third-largest global aviation market, it presents a huge opportunity but also challenges in terms of emissions. The transport in India is the 3rd most greenhouse gas contributor. Out of the total carbon dioxide emissions in India, 13% come from the transport sector. These emissions have more than tripled since 1990. The increasing demand for mobility has contributed to air pollution, congestion, as well as the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. The Future of Mobility in India is shared, connected and autonomous. The DTEE project assumes even more significance today due to COVID-19, as we may witness a shift away from public transport in the coming years. Decarbonisation of transport sector could bring cleaner, healthier, and more affordable future to everyone.

Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) deliberated on short term, medium term and long term policies based on non-motorized transport such as pedestrian, and cycling; public transport with due consideration to social distancing; and use of technology to ensure safety. He informed that advisory has also been issued to promote pedestrianization of market places, especially in smart cities, which has been taken with a very positive spirit.

In an effort to justify the urgent need of policy changes in transport sector, Secretary, MoHUA said that population in India would grow by more than double in next 30 years. Vehicle registration growth rate in India is growing at a far higher rate of 11% as compared to the population growth of 2%. The availability of metro rail that provides transport service to ~ 85 lakh passengers, a day, has a significant meaning. He related it to a calculation based on 780 gm carbon is saved if a person travels 10 km by metro. Hence, he said, the mobility needs to be seen in a different way - for example, making cities more walkable, more cycling friendly.

Shri Priyank Bharti, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said “MoRTH is a huge advocate for fuel-efficient vehicles and the use of alternate fuels. We are hopeful that the DTEE project, which is the need of the hour, will pave the way for a clean and green future of mobility.”

The Decarbonizing Transport in India project will design a tailor-made transport emissions assessment framework for India. It will provide the government with a detailed understanding of current and future transport activity and the related CO2 emissions as a basis for their decision-making.

The ITF project team will work in close cooperation and coordination with India’s government agencies, local decision-makers, researchers, experts, and civil society organisations. Stakeholder workshops, training sessions, briefings for policymakers and mitigation action plans will support the development of policies beyond the duration of the project.

The India project is carried out in the wider context of the International Transport Forum’s Decarbonizing Transport initiative. It is part of the Decarbonizing Transport in Emerging Economies family of projects, which supports transport decarbonization across different world regions. India, Argentina, Azerbaijan and Morocco are current participants. DTEE is a collaboration between the ITF and the Wuppertal Institute, supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Baghjan Oilfield Closure Notice withdrawn by Assam Pollution Control Board

24.06.2020, New Delhi: The Assam Pollution Control Board (PCBA) has withdrawn the Closure Notice it served to Oil India Limited (OIL) on 19th June 2020, directing to close down all the production as well as Drilling operations of all installations of Baghjan Oilfield. There was a major blowout taken place on 27th May 2020, and since then the place has become the sight of a disaster. According to media reports Chairman, PCBA, Y Suryanarayana has confirmed the withdrawal of closure notice. “We withdrew the closure notice on the basis of an affidavit submitted by OIL. Today they applied for Consent to operate (CTE) and paid fees also,” said the Chairman, PCBA.

As per OIL, Environmental Impact Assessment work is being carried out by NABET accredited consultant, ERM India Pvt. Ltd. Sample collection for air quality, water quality, noise level is underway at Baghjan side, Doba Gaon, Dorji Gaon, Guijan side of Lesenga Gaon and Bebejia. Samples collected for ecological survey, viz. vegetation survey, fish survey, avifaunal survey, collection of vegetation and soil. According to OIL, the study will be continued till one week beyond the date of capping the well successfully.

The Energy Research Institute (TERI) is carrying a study on Air quality and Noise level, for which data of air quality and noise level are being constantly recorded and monitored at the Analyzers installed by TERI at various locations. Sample collection for particulate matters and others are being carried out for analysis by TERI. Initial cleaning job as a part of bio remedial process is going on in affected areas. It has been informed that TERI is arranging Drone fly camera for aerial photography and videography of affected areas and survey will be carried out depending on weather condition.

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) – North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST), Jorhat and National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad have been recording for geophysical monitoring of tremors is in progress from all stations. Analysis of data will be carried out in Jorhat and Hyderabad.

According to OIL, there are 17 oil wells and five gas wells in the Baghjan oil field, which generates 1,200 kilolitres of crude oil per day and 1.5 to 2 million metric standard cubic metres per day of gas. OIL supplies crude oil to several refineries including Digboi refineries in Assam, it also supplies gas to various power companies and fertiliser companies and > 400 tea estates.

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MoEF&CC brings out "Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility" guideline document for Plastic Waste Management

23.06.2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has come out with a guideline document "Uniform Framework for Extended Producers Responsibility" (Under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016). The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 was notified by MoEF&CC on 18th March 2016. The Rules mandate the waste generators to take steps to minimize plastic waste generation, not to litter the plastic waste, ensure segregated storage of waste at source and handover segregated waste to local bodies or agencies authorised by the local bodies. The rules also mandate several provisions including the provision of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR).

MoEF&CC constituted a committee to evaluate mechanism for the implementation of the provisions of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 especially with respect to EPR. The final draft guideline document on uniform framework on EPR has been prepared which details flow of plastic waste, audit and certification based funding mechanisms and various models for a uniform framework for EPR. The MoEF&CC has sought comments from Indian public, which may be sent through email to ad.raju@nic.in and/or gupta.dharmendra@gov.in on or before 31st July, 2020.

Compressed Bio-Gas plant at Namakkal jointly inaugurated by Dharmendra Pradhan & Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

23.06.2020, New Delhi: A compressed bio-gas (CBG) plant at Namakkal in Tamil Nadu and five CBG stations for automobiles were remotely inaugurated jointly by Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri Edappadi K. Palaniswami. The CBG plant is a joint venture of Indian Oil Corporation with Oiltanking GmbH of Germany,

CBG is produced from bio-mass sources like agricultural residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid & liquid waste, etc., through anaerobic digestion. With calorific value and other properties similar to CNG, CBG can be substituted as a green renewable fuel in transportation, industrial and commercial sectors.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan expressed happiness that the Oil & Gas Marketing Companies, including IndianOil and HPCL, have already awarded 13 Letters of Intent in Tamil Nadu State for production and supply of 30 thousand metric tonners per annum (TMTPA) of CBG. The estimated investment in these plants is likely to be about Rs. 450 crore and the plants are expected to generate direct employment of about 200 and indirect employment across the value chain - from collection of waste/bio-mass and plant operation to sale of CBG and bio-manure.

The Union Minister said that the total CBG potential in Tamil Nadu from existing waste and biomass sources is estimated to be about 2.4 MMTPA. The Minister disclosed that the Govt. of India is in the process of including CBG under Priority Sector Lending to ensure ease of financing in setting up CBG plants. The Central Financial Assistance or subsidy for setting up CBG plants has been extended to the year 2020-21 to promote new projects.

The state-of-the-art plant at Namakkal is among the first to take off under the Govt. of India's SATAT scheme (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation), and will produce CBG for supply to vehicles in the Salem-Namakkal region of Tamil Nadu, besides offering a green fuel alternative to local industries.

Shri Pradhan expressed hope that the Namakkal plant of IOT shall function as a model plant which shall be replicated across India. He said that harnessing the full potential of bio-fuels to generate alternative energy in various forms, whether it is CBG, ethanol, 2G-ethanol or bio-diesel, will go a long way in achieving Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi's vision of reducing dependence on crude oil imports while ensuring energy security for the nation.

Large scale use of CBG shall enable India achieve its climate change goals as per the Paris Agreement of 2015. The initiative is also in alignment with the other schemes of the Government of India like Swachh Bharat, Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India, Shri Pradan added .

The Union Minister further said, "Bio-manure, an important by-product of CBG plants, is in process of being included in the Fertilizer Control Order 1985. This will make it easier to market and provide an opportunity for organic farming across the country as the 5,000 CBG plants envisaged are expected to produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure per year."

The 'SATAT' scheme was launched on 1st October 2018, envisages to target production of 15 million tonnes of CBG per annum from 5,000 plants by the year 2023.

Nebulous Data supplied to NGT in UP Slaughter House case?

23.06.2020, New Delhi:

The Order dated 18th December 2019 issued by the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi on the Original Application No. 1033/2019 with Caveat No. 28/2019 in the case of Mohd. Rashid Thakur Vs. M/s. International Agro Foods. Pvt. Ltd. & Ors., has detailed about the grievance stating red water is coming in the taps and the tubewells adversely affecting the source of drinking water and the environment. In support of the claims the applicant had also annexed photographs, apart from other documents. The order has also cited another reference of O.A. No. 467/2019, Aasim v. M/s International Agro Foods & Ors. vide order dated 04.09.2019, in light of the report dated 28.06.2019, furnished by Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to the effect that norms are broadly met and the deficiencies were rectified. However, the NGT required a current factual status in the matter from a joint committee of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the UPPCB.

The UPPCB has submitted the joint inspection report dated 2nd March 2020, which is available on the NGT website. The joint inspection report has provided various details including products and production capacity, water consumption and source, status of approvals and consent, installation of OCEMS, basic details of effluent treatment plant (ETP), air pollution sources and control measures, ETP sludge generation and disposal, test results of treated and untreated effluent, groundwater of the surroundings, observations and conclusions.

Though the report gives data about various components of ETP, it does not provide a copy of hydraulic flow diagram of the same. Many SPCBs and UTPCCs demand hydraulic flow diagram of ETP at the time of Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate, because such diagram offers a better understanding of the system. At one point the report has given reference of chemical dosing tanks and reaction tanks. However, in the observation, it has mentioned that the unit uses food grade coagulant and polyelectrolyte. But it does not give any detail about the chemicals and reactions. Therefore, nature of ETP sludge as stated to be organic, needs to be supported by a test report, with focus on heavy metals concentration and faecal coliform, as well as the chemicals used in the ETP for reaction, coagulation. Furthermore, the CPCB publication, Solid Waste Management in Slaughter House, 2004 does not specify direct use of ETP sludge as manure. Hence, it is necessary to review this point of selling ETP sludge as manure without composting. Composting of ETP sludge should be a prerequisite before the industry sells it as manure.

The joint inspection report also contains statement of the industry without any reference of their own verifications. For example, whether there is a trail of documentary evidences regarding the industry’s claim about selling ETP sludge as manure, and also remarks from those who have procured and utilized the sludge.

The treated wastewater characteristics given in the joint inspection report shows one time test results of grab samples. The results from this one-time report shows the treated effluent characteristics are quite on the higher side, though within limit. The results depict that reduction in BOD is nearly 86%, while that in COD is 53%, and Oil & Grease reduction was about 74%. The BOD: COD ratio indicates presence of some inorganic contents. In such a situation, allowing selling of sludge as manure without further treatment and testing is a concern. Also, a presentation of historical test results vis-à-vis current status with remarks on whether there was any incidence of pollution level exceeding the standards could have given a better understanding of the industry’s performance.

The report also states that the treated wastewater is being utilized in multiple purposes, such as water greenbelt, sprinkling on roads and highways, and so on. It is, however, not declared whether the UPPCB has given Consent to the industry for transportation and disposal on highway and road construction sites. Considering the COVID 2019 pandemic and zoonotic diseases, whether this is a good practice, especially, when more than one complaints being lodged at NGT against the same unit.

The oil & grease content of the treated wastewater was reported to be 6 mg/L, which means at the maximum of consent limit, the total oil and grease pollution load could be 4.5 kg/day, 1350 kg/ year, considering 300 days of industry operations. This value may increase on the basis of normal >330 days of industry operation. Regular land disposal of effluent bearing such a concentration of oil & grease may cause impact on the soil and groundwater environment. Hence, needs a review.

It is rightly said in conclusion of the joint inspect report that the unit shall install digital flow meter on the pipe line, through which the effluent is being conveyed for irrigation purpose and maintain logbook. It could further be deliberated on installation of two digital flow meters on the conveying pipe line, one at the beginning and other at the end point of the pipe where it is finally taken out for watering of greenbelt. The flow meters should also be connected to the OCEMS.

Another concluding remarks regarding calibration of OCEMS seems to be unattainable, unless the joint inspection committee provides a reference of list of calibration service providers or calibration methods to be adopted, if such documents and are available, as in case of the CPCB guidelines of reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation purposes.

If the NGT order is relooked, the grievance is about the colour of the tube well water. The joint inspection report has given test results of 7 different groundwater samples. Below the table containing those results, it is stated that “No colour was observed in any samples collected and monitored values of groundwater have been found to be complying with the notified/prescribed standards”. At this inflection point the data gathered from the joint inspection report seems to be nebulous. As the report has cited standards of IS 10500, where the test parameter colour is expressed in Hazen unit, which requires to be carried out scientifically and not just mentioned as colourless. Similarly, the test parameter odour also should have been mentioned as agreeable based on a scientific test method, as specified in the IS 10500, and not just odourless. Similarly, the data given against parameter Hard, which is ostensibly, Total Hardness, Calcium Hardness, and Magnesium Hardness also does not give confidence on technical grounds. The number of test parameters chosen are also not sufficient, if IS 10500 is taken into account. Data on other important parameters like Sulphate, as given under the Table No. 2, General Parameters Concerning Substances Undesirable in Excessive Amounts should have been studied along with the bacteriological parameters like coliform are missing. Besides, measurement of DO, BOD, and COD could have added value to the report. Therefore, the statement of joint committee report regarding groundwater related compliance seems to be not adequately technically, and scientifically justified; on the basis of which the Tribunal has to take a decision. So is the crux of the grievance.

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Govt. in Gurugram gets ready to go greener with 7 Lakh more saplings

23.06.2020, Gurugram: Gurugram Deputy Commissioner, Amit Khatri said that there is a target to plant 7 lakh saplings in the district during the forthcoming monsoon. About 5 lakh saplings out of the total target shall be planted by the Panchayats and voluntary organizations.

The Forest Department has completed its preparations to enhance the natural beauty of the district during the monsoon. The plantation campaign shall start from July and to continue till August. The Deputy Commissioner informed that Gram Panchayats, and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) would play a vital role in the plantation drive.

He informed that school children are also going to be encouraged to plant saplings under the plantation drive in the district, and that school students studying in class VI to XII shall be a part of the campaign. An incentive of Rs. 50 shall be given to students who take care of the plants planted by them. This could increase an attachment of the child with the plants and bring motivation for environmental protection. Various types of saplings to be planted during monsoon may include Tulsi, Giloy, Neem, Amrud, Sheesham, Banyan, Jamun, Champa, Gulmohar, Arjun, Papadi, Peepal, Ashoka etc.

Due to Covid 2019, social distancing norms must be maintained, said Shri Khatri. He also said that a clean environment is very important to live a healthy life. And it is our moral duty to protect our environment and keep it healthy. Every national has an important role in environmental protection, which in turn would ensure a bright future and clean environment to the coming generations.

Study of super-massive black-hole can offer clue to emission mechanism

22.06.2020, New Delhi: According to the Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, 17 scientists from 9 countries in Europe and Asia including researchers from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India; took 2263 image frames and observed the changes in a very high energy gamma-ray emitting blazar ‘1ES 0806+524’ using seven optical telescopes in Europe and Asia. The work was carried out during 153 nights.

A blazar is a feeding super-massive black-hole (SMBH) in the heart of a distant galaxy that produces a high-energy jet viewed face-on from Earth. Blazars are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe with a jet composed of ionized matter traveling at nearly the speed of light directed very nearly towards an observer.

Dr. Ashwani Pandey, guided by Dr. Alok C. Gupta from ARIES in their study published in the Astrophysical Journal, has provided the most extensive observations of this blazar, thereby chalking out the detailed optical properties of the blazar. The team studied in great details 1ES 0806+524’ flux, color, and spectral index variations within a day and long timescales of the blazer and explained the mechanism behind the variations.

They explained the large flares as the result of propagation of a shock in the relativistic jet that accelerates electrons to high energies followed by subsequent cooling. According to the study, the small amplitude changes can be understood to arise from small variations in the viewing angle, and hence in the Doppler factor, caused by either wiggling or helical jets or the motion of the most intense emitting region on a roughly helical trajectory within the jet. Variations on intra-day timescales can be explained by the turbulence expected in a relativistic plasma jet according to the study.

In this age of multi-wavelength (MW) time-domain astronomy in which the transient astronomical sources are of great interest due to their rapid change in flux and polarization. Simultaneous MW observation of a particular transient source on an extended period of time is important for understanding the emission mechanism in different electromagnetic (EM) bands. Blazars are among one of the most favourite astronomical transient objects because they emit radiation in the complete EM spectrum, and their flux and polarization are highly variable.

NMCG deliberated Nature Based Solutions for Sustaining Agribusiness

19.06.2020, New Delhi: A webinar on 'Agriscapes for Future - Integration of Nature Based Solutions for Sustaining Agribusiness' was organised on 18th June 2020. Director General National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Sh. Rajiv Ranjan Mishra initiated the discussion by talking about the pollution caused by agricultural activities and the various initiatives of the Namami Gange programme to combat this form of pollution. Shri Mishra said "The focus of Namami Gange Mission is multi-fold, with the likes of river basin management, aviral and nirmal Ganga, conservation of biodiversity and other concerns."

He also emphasized on the ecological benefits that are visible in these times need to be sustained through participation and cooperation amongst the government and citizens of the country.

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Alka Bhargava spoke about the initiatives of the Ministry on sustaining the agri-business in the country in the time of COVID-19.

Operations Manager - ITC's Social Investments, Sh. V. Vijay Vardhan, deliberated on ITC's initiatives of in supporting agriculture through financial and developmental measures, working in tandem with the Government policies.

Chief Economist - WRI, Dr. Madhu Verma, highlighted on the economic implications and policies of sustainable agriculture.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is an implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council) vide notification no. S.O. 3187(E) dt. 7th October 2016 under EPA 1986. NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. Thus the newly created structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation.

Desertification and Drought Day Deliberation

18.06.2020, New Delhi: Desertification and Drought Day – until this year known as The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – is observed every year on 17th June 2020 to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels. As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.

To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day, running under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact. Food, feed and fibre must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unstainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Political leaders are assessing their next moves as the world slowly emerges from a global pandemic. It is widely accepted that returning to normal is not viable in view of the unmatched social, economic and environmental implications of the COVID19 pandemic. Normal got us here in the first place. But the decisions taken in the coming months will lock in development pathways for decades to come. Is it time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with nature? Can entering into a social contract for nature help us to build back better? This high-level panel brings together some of the world's most influential political leaders in the environmental field to debate what the post-COVID19 recovery strategy might look like. What needs to happen immediately and in the long term. Engagement will be framed in the context of four key questions.

Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ibrahim Thiaw said “If we keep producing and consuming as usual, we will eat into the planet’s capacity to sustain life until there is nothing left but scraps. We all need to make better choices about what we eat and what we wear to help protect and restore the land.”

On this occasion a high level panel session was organized on the topic: Is it Time for a Social Contract for Nature? The panelists were Ms. Marieme Bekaye, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mauritania; Chair of Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative; Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, United Arab Emirates; Mr. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation and Industry, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Mr. Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, India and President of the UNCCD COP14 Bureau; and Mr. Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Babul Supriyo orated that one day of environment day, desertification day or earth day won’t suffice the actual need. People have to understand and take their responsibility towards Mother Earth. Citing the example of ozone hole the Indian minister said that despite so much of environmental concerns, the nature is recovering itself. He also mentioned that India is amongst the few nations in the world, where the forest coverage has increased by about 2%.

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TERI, CSIR-NEIST & ERM conducting Environmental Studies in the surrounding of Baghjan Gas well Blowout & Fire Site

17.06.2020, New Delhi: Oil India Limited (OIL) has assigned the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study to a NABET accredited consultant, ERM India Pvt. Ltd. ERM India has to carry out the Environment and Ecological survey within the vicinity of the Baghjan Oil Field in Tinsukia district of Assam, including Dibru-Saikhowa National Park & Maguri–Motapung Beel. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that NABET Accredited consultants are required to carry out EIA for Environmental Clearance of a project. On the contrary, this project needs a special study. OIL has also stated earlier that CSIR –National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur and Wild Life Institute of India, Dehradun were approached to conduct a detailed impact assessment studies. OIL has engaged The Energy Research Institute (TERI) for bio-remediation for impact of blowout on environment and site assessment was carried out jointly by TERI & OIL. Preliminary assessment by TERI team is in progress at site carrying out bioremediation of sludge in OIL’s installations using a technology developed in-house by R&D Department of OIL.

Alongside, it was reported that regular monitoring of Air quality, Water quality, Noise level and presence of Gas with lower explosive limit is being carried out by OIL at wellsite.

Study using seismological technique on tremor report from the neighboring areas is being conducted by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research – North East Institute of Science & Technology, Jorhat facilitated by Govt. of Assam. Arrangements are being made for seismologists to come to site with requisite equipment. Preliminary assessment on vegetation impact survey on plants & tea garden was conducted by Assam Agricultural University. They have been further requested to start post fire damage assessment study to assess the damage to the crops, trees, plants, and vegetation in surrounding area of Baghjan.

The Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan has taken several rounds of meetings. Earlier on 12th June 2020, Senior officials of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas along with the CMDs of OIL and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the Crisis Management Team and other experts held detailed discussions with senior officials of the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US specialists on oil & gas disaster control and containment of the Blowout and Fire in the gas well of OIL at Baghjan, Tinsukia District of Assam. The foreign experts from Singapore also attended the meeting. The US side shared their experience in dealing with similar gas blowout incidents in the US. The Indian side elaborated the entire spectrum of ongoing efforts at Baghjan to contain the fire and also preparations for capping the Well, including from the perspective of preventing spread of fire, water management system, removal of debris, use of modern technologies including drones and eventual remediation process to cap the well.

A fire broke out at the Baghjan Oil Field on Tuesday, where a major blowout took place on 27th May 2020. This came days after the OIL warned that gas was still leaking “uncontrollably” out of the plant and said the company was adopting measures to avert a blaze. The incident occurred at well number five of the plant and no immediate casualties were reported. Images taken at the site of the blaze showed dark clouds of smoke billowing from the plant and engulfing the premises. The incident has triggered panic among the residents of the Baghjan village, where the gas-producing well is located.

In the wake of bandhs and blockades due to the accident a cumulative production loss since 27th May 2020 6132 MT Crude oil, 7.97 MMSCM of natural gas. Though, OIL’s statement has only deliberated on the reason of bandhs and blockades, it has culminated from the fatal accident. The OIL statements does not include any trace of the name of M/s John Energy Pvt. Ltd., the company that was operating at the time accident.

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With nearly 10 crore palm trees in India plans Organic products

17.06.2020, New Delhi: Two unique projects to produce "Neera" and "Palmgur" rolled out by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). The project that aims at promoting Neera as a substitute to soft drinks while also creating self-employment to Adivasis and traditional trappers was launched on Tuesday at Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, a state with more than 50 lakh palm trees. It is envisaged that both the projects have huge potential to create employment in India.

It is stated that KVIC distributed tool kits for extraction of Neera and making palmgur to 200 local artisans who were given 7 days training by KVIC. A tool kit worth Rs 15,000 comprises food grade stainless steel items including perforated moulds, canteen burners and other equipment like knives, rope and axes for extraction of Neera. The initiative will provide direct employment to 400 local traditional trappers.

Neera, extracted from the palm trees before sunrise, is a nutrient-rich health drink consumed in many Indian states. However, due to lack of institutionalized market technique, the commercial production and large scale marketing of Neera has not commenced yet. The project has been rolled out on the initiative of Union Minister of MSME, Shri Nitin Gadkari who is also exploring the feasibility of engaging some big players of the state to start using Neera as soft drinks to make it commercially useful.

There are approximately 10 crore palm trees across the country. Further, a wide range of products like candies, milk chocolates, palm cola, ice-cream and traditional sweets can be produced from Neera if properly marketed. At present palmgur Neera worth Rs 500 crore is traded in the country. The turnover is likely to increase manifold with commercial production of Neera.

The KVIC has prepared a detailed project report on production of Neera and Palmgur (jaggery). It is proposed to start standardized collection, processing and packing of Neera under controlled conditions so as to prevent it from fermentation. The processed Neera, through cold chain, is intended to reach the B2C supply chain.

“On the lines of coconut water, we are working to promote Neera as a substitute to the soft drinks available in the market. Neera is organic and rich in nutrients and thus a complete health drink. With increasing the production and marketing of Neera, we are trying to establish it as a key vertical of India’s village industry,” KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Saxena said, while distributing tool kits to the artisans via video-conference.

Shri Saxena said the production of Neera has high potential in terms of sale as well as creation of self-employment. “Palm industry can be a major employment generator in India. It is aligned with Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s call of self-reliance and vocal for local,” Saxena said.

At the same time, Neera has high export potential as it is also consumed in countries like Sri Lanka, Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. India has an abundance of palm fields in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that can make India a leading producer of Neera globally.

Dharmendra Pradhan speaks on "Fostering Domestic Steel Usage in Oil & Gas Sector"

16.06.2020, New Delhi: Addressing the Webinar on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat: Fostering Domestic Steel Usage in Oil & Gas Sector’ at New Delhi today, Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan said that Steel and Oil & gas sectors have close linkage, and it is time to take it to a new pedestal. The Union Minister stressed on enhancing domestic steel usage in the country and reducing import dependence for meeting oil & gas sector’s steel requirements.

Shri Pradhan said that Indian steel sector can strive to be a major player at the global stage, only after it fulfills all the domestic requirements. “Domestic players should rise to the occasion so that cost does not escalate in our efforts to promote localization of supply chain”.

On the oil and gas sector, the Minister said that it has seen tremendous transformation over last six years on the back of pro-investment policies. The sector is undergoing tremendous growth, be it in refineries, pipelines, gas terminals, storage capacity, gas cylinders, retail outlets, and all these require large amount of steel. Oil and gas sector is one of the largest end users of steel pipes and tubes, with pipeline being the major mode of transport for petroleum, oil and lubricant products. Expansion of city gas distribution network to cover 70% of our population, refining capacity augmentation, plan to setup 10,000 CNG stations, E&P activities -all will drive steel demand in the sector.

Urging all the organizations in the oil and gas to procure domestic steel rather than importing them, Shri Pradhan said that the domestic steel manufacturers have all the capabilities to cater to the future requirements for steel in the sector. Meeting steel demand domestically and reducing import dependence will significantly enhance employment opportunities in the sector and would also give boost to growth of MSMEs in steel sector and lead them to produce more value-added products.

New advisory to for import and possession of exotic live species in India

11.06.2020, New Delhi: In order to streamline the process of import and possession of exotic live species in India, the Government of India has issued a new advisory. Exotic live species are animal or plant species moved from their original range also referred as location to a new one. These species are introduced to a new location most often by people. Many citizen of the country have kept CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) enlisted exotic animal species in their possession but there is no unified information system available of such stock of species at the State/Central level. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has decided to collect stock information from the holders of such species through voluntary disclosure in next six months.

The Govt.'s move comes as the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases. According to the advisory, the phrase “exotic live species” includes “animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” and “does not include species from the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972”. Some of the most sought after exotic species in India are Ball python, Scarlet Macaw, sea turtles, sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps), marmoset and grey African parrots.

The registration will be done for the stock of animals, new progeny, as well as for import and exchange. This will help in better management of the species and guide the holders about proper veterinary care, housing and other aspects of well-being of the species. The database of exotic animals will also help in control and management of zoonotic diseases on which guidance would be available from time to time to ensure safety of animals and humans.

The declarer would not be required to produce any documentation in relation to the exotic live species if the same has been declared within six months of the date of issue of the advisory. For any declaration made after 6 months, the declarer shall be required to comply with the documentation requirement under the extant laws and regulations.

Holders of such species have to visit the website www.parivesh.nic.in and fill up the requisite forms in order to complete the stock registration process.

It is envisaged that this initiative may help better management of the species and guide the holders about proper veterinary care, housing and other aspects of well-being of the species. The database of exotic animals may also help in control and management of zoonotic diseases on which guidance would be available from time to time to ensure safety of animals and humans. (For your comments & suggestions, please email to editor@enviroannotations.com)

Reducing Emissions by Sustainable Production: An opportunity for MSMEs to Clean Air Post COVID-19 Lockdown

10.06.2020, New Delhi: Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA), and Clean Air Asia (CAA) jointly organized a webinar on “Reducing Emissions by Sustainable Production: An opportunity for MSMEs to Clean Air Post COVID-19 Lockdown” on 10th June 2020. The COVID-19 lockdown has seen air pollution begin to dissipate and the emergence of cleaner air and blue skies in cities across India. To ensure that the temporary air quality gains that have been made in recent months become a longer-term reality there is a need to do away with the fossil fuels and shift to cleaner, greener, renewable sources of energy across the different sectors and with special focus on MSMEs through the adoption of sound policies and the switch to sustainable technologies. Sanjay Dube, CEO, International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC) deliberated on procurement and transition of resources in production activities such as reliable green power and energy.

Debajit Das, National Project Coordinator – UNIDO highlighted on the pathways towards revival of MSMEs post COVID-19. He also shared insightful views on various financial aspects that could help MSMEs to cope up with the post-pandemic challenges.

Utsav Sharma, Regional Officer, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Ghaziabad Region spoke on Government Regulations and Support System to Reduce Emission from MSMEs.

Anand Shukla, Senior Thematic Advisor, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) shared various practical experiences on how energy efficiency and productivity could be scaled to reduce in air pollution.

Prarthana Borah, India Director of Clean Air Asia moderated the programme. Owner, Technical Head, Head Engineering, Head ETP, Head Environment & Engineering or similar representatives from the respective organization are cordially invited to join the session to discuss the issues and explore pathways to sustainability in production activities of MSMEs.

Air and water pollution is directly proportional to operational efficiency and processes, which has a link to the knowledge and skill base of an industrial unit. An expert suggestion was to prepare a compendium of existing knowledge and skill, and constantly upgrade it. Some other noteworthy suggestions were; to create eco industrial networking, and inviting large industries to cluster of MSMEs.

Enviro Annotations suggested for a relook at the charges towards Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF). The charges could be reduced through segregation of waste having substantial calorific value that could be taken to a cement kiln, instead of disposal at TSDF site. Secondly, most of the MSMEs generate little quantity of hazardous wastes, such as ETP sludge. A temporary order that could allow an increased intermittent storage time so that hazardous wastes could be disposed by 180 days instead of 90 days. Similar extension could be considered for e-waste disposal too. This minor legal change could protect MSMEs from higher cost of operation as well as wilful deviation from legal compliance. (For your comments & suggestions, please email to editor@enviroannotations.com)

Union Minister of Jal Shakti expressed concerns over the tardy progress of Jal Jeevan Mission in Nagaland

09.06.2020, New Delhi: The Union Minister for the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Nagaland expressing his concerns over the tardy progress of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in the State. JJM was launched last year by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, which aims to improve the lives of rural people by providing safe drinking water to every rural household through household tap connections (FHTCs) by 2024. This decentralized, demand-driven, community-managed water supply schemes at village and habitation level is perceived to be a transformational programme in drinking water sector.

In his letter, Shri Shekhawat mentioned about the commitment of Union Government towards development of North East India. For Jal Jeevan Mission, funds are provided by Government of India based on the output in terms of household tap connections provided and the utilization of available funds. Against the target of providing tap connections to 75,000 households in the year 2019-20, only 2,000 tap connections were covered. Further, Nagaland was allocated Rs 56.49 Crore in 2019-20, out of which the State could only spend Rs 23.54 Crore. Informing the CM that the allocation for Nagaland has been increased from Rs. 56.49 Crore to Rs. 114.09 Crore in 2020-21 and with an opening balance of Rs. 32.95 Crore, Nagaland has an assured availability of Rs. 147.04 Crore of Central funds for JJM. With matching State share, the State will have Rs 163 Crore during 2020-21 for implementation of JJM. The Jal Shakti Minister stressed that providing potable water to every rural household is a national priority and the State should make efforts to accomplish the goal in time-bound manner.

While stressing on the need for proper planning to be done to achieve the goal of JJM within the timeframe with focus on retrofitting/ augmentation of existing water supply systems to provide FHTCs to remaining households, the Minister urged the CM to pay heed to take up works immediately in 1,334 villages in the State reported to have existing piped water supply schemes, so that the poor and marginalized section of the society will get tap connections at earliest. Priority is to be given to saturation of villages in aspirational districts, SC/ ST dominant villages/ habitations and villages covered under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

Shri Shekhawat asked for strengthening of existing drinking water sources for long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems. The planning should be done at village level and Village Action Plan (VAP) of every village is to be prepared by dovetailing all available resources by convergence of different programmes viz. MGNREGS, SBM, 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, CAMPA funds, Local Area Development Funds, etc.

He further stressed that local village community/ Gram Panchayats and or user groups need to be involved in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve drinking water security. In all villages, IEC campaign along with community mobilization needs to be taken up to make Jal Jeevan Mission truly a people’s movement.

In 2020-21, Nagaland has been allocated ₹ 125 Crore as 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs and 50% of this amount is mandatorily to be utilized for water supply & sanitation. Funds provided under Swachh Bharat Mission (G) are to be utilized for grey water treatment and reuse works.

In the wake of Covid–19 pandemic, it is important that people don’t crowd public stand-posts/public water sources. Nagaland CM has been requested to take up water supply works in all villages to provide household tap connections, which will help in practicing social distancing, and will additionally help locals/ migrants in getting employment and boost rural economy.

Minister of Jal Shakti assured Nagaland CM of his full support to make the State a ‘100% FHTC State’.

Highest ever provision for MGNREGS by Union Govt. with focus on water conservation, plantation, horticulture

08.06.2020, New Delhi: Setting sustained focus on taking up works related to water conservation and irrigation, plantation, horticulture and Individual Beneficiary works for livelihood promotion, the Government of India has stated to have a provision of Rs. 101,500 Crore under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the current Financial Year 2020-21. It is stated to be the highest ever provision of funds under the programme.

A sum of Rs. 31,493 crore has already been released in the FY 2020-21, which is more than 50% of the budget estimate of the current Financial Year. At the same time a total of 10 lakh works have been completed so far during the current Financial Year.

According to a press release, a total of 60.80 crore person days has been generated so far and work has been offered to 6.69 crore persons. Average number of persons to whom work offered in May 2020 has been 2.51 crore per day, which is 73% higher than the work offered in May last year, which was 1.45 crore persons per day.

60% of tiger deaths in India not attributable to poaching says NTCA in a clarification over Tiger Deaths

06.06.2020, New Delhi: Responding to various media reports on tiger conservation in the country, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has stated that due to efforts of the Government of India thorough the NTCA, the tiger has been taken from the brink to an assured path of recovery, which is evident in findings of the quadrennial All India Tiger Estimation conducted in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. These results have shown a healthy annual growth rate of tigers at 6%, which offsets natural losses and keeps tigers at the habitats carrying capacity level, in the Indian context. For the period 2012 to 2019, one can observe that the average tiger deaths per year in the country hover around 94, which is balanced by the annual recruitment as highlighted by this robust growth rate. In addition, the NTCA has taken several steps under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger to address poaching,which too,is significantly controlled as seen in the confirmed poaching and seizure cases.

The NTCA has stated to be maintaining the highest standards of transparency in so far as making tiger death statistics available to the citizen through its website as well as dedicated portal www.tigernet.nic.in that can be accessed by anyone. It is stated that the presentation of data over a long time frame spread across 8 years indicates an intent to imprint the gullible reader with large numbers which may cause undue alarm. Also, not adequately covered is the fact that 60 percent of tiger deaths in India are not attributable to poaching.

It is also pertinent to mention that the NTCA, through a dedicated Standard Operating Procedure, has a stringent protocol to ascribe cause to a tiger death, which is treated as unnatural, unless otherwise proved by the State concerned through submission of necropsy reports, histopathological and forensic assessments besides photographs and circumstantial evidences. It is only after a detailed analysis of these documents that cause is ascribed to a tiger death.

While it is appreciated that figures as available on the NTCA’s website and as provided in the RTI reply have been used in these reports, the manner in which it has been presented causes alarm and does not take into account the gamut of processes that go into dealing with tiger death in the country and the natural gains that have been made in tiger conservation,as a result of sustained technical and financial interventions by the Government of India under its Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger being steered by the NTCA.

Only 1.22% rural households in West Bengal have tap connection in their premises, MoJS asks to speed up Jal Jeevan Mission Implementation

06.06.2020, New Delhi: In continuation of various initiatives taken up to improve the lives of people of this country, ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ (JJM) was launched by Government of India last year to provide every rural household in the country a Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) for supply of potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis. Following the true spirit of cooperative federalism, State Governments are implementing this flagship programme to realize the objectives of the Mission so as to ensure ‘ease of living’ of people in rural areas as well as reduce the ‘drudgery’ of women, especially girls.

Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has complimented the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh for taking steps to provide tap connections to all rural households by March, 2020. In his letter Shri Shekhawat thanked the Chief Minister for showing his commitment towards the ethos of the Mission. The Union Minister expressed optimism that Punjab will not only provide remaining households with tap connections, but potable water service delivery in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular & long-term basis will be ensured to all households as envisaged under the JJM, which is a life changing Mission that focuses on the key principles of ‘equity and inclusiveness’.

The Union Minister stressed that funds to the State is provided by Government of India based on output in terms of number of FHTCs provided and utilization of funds. Punjab could utilize only Rs. 73.27 Crore during 2019-20 against allocation and of Rs. 227.46 Crore The Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) has asked Punjab State Govt. to expedite the planning and implementation, in order to ensure that every household is provided with tap connections by March, 2022.

Since, potable water supply to water quality-affected habitations is a top priority under JJM and in the light of interim order of National Green Tribunal, Union Minister requested the CM to ensure piped water supply to all households in Arsenic and Fluoride affected habitations before December, 2020. In case, potable water piped connections cannot be ensured before December, 2020, as an interim measure potable water @ 8-10 lpcd for drinking and cooking purpose is to be provided by installing community water purification plants (CWPP).

West Bengal has 1.63 Crore rural households spread over 41,357 villages, out of which only 2 lakh households have a tap connection in their premises. In 2019-20, against a target of 32.24 lakh households to be given tap connections, West Bengal could provide only 4,720 household tap connections. According to MoJS, in 2019-20, Rs. 993.88 Crore of Central funds was released to the State, however only Rs 421.63 Crore was utilized and rest amount is lying unspent.

In 2020-21, the target fixed for providing tap connections is 64.43 lakh households including the shortfall of about 32.19 lakh from the previous year. This needs rigorous planning and robust implementation strategy to achieve the target. MoJS is seriously pushing as West Bengal is yet to present its Annual Action Plan (AAP) before the National Committee of the Ministry. According to MoJS, AAP is very important for timely implementation to achieve the goals of the mission, for which very intensive exercise was carried out.

India launches Urban Forest Scheme to enrich biodiversity

05.06.2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) organized a virtual celebration of the World Environment Day (WED). On this occasion, the Union Government announced implementation of the Nagar Van (Urban Forests) scheme. Under this scheme 200 Urban Forests shall be developed across the country in next five years. With a focus to revive the age old tradition of village forest in cities, the programme could invoke people's participation and collaboration between Forest Department, Municipal bodies, NGOs, Corporates and local citizens.

WED is celebrated on 5th June every year. MoEF&CC celebrates WED focusing on the theme declared by United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and organizes several events. This year’s theme is ‘Biodiversity’. In view of the prevalent situation due to COVID-19 pandemic the ministry held virtual celebrations of World Environment Day on this year’s theme with focus on Nagar Van (Urban Forests).

On this eve, a brochure on the best practices on Urban Forests and announcing the Nagar Van scheme was released by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar. After the release the Union Minister said that these forests would work as lungs of the cities and will primarily be on the forest land in the City or any other vacant land offered by local urban local bodies. Stressing on this year's theme i.e. "Time for Nature" with special focus on biodiversity, Shri Javadekar said “thumb rule is that if we protect nature, nature protects us” .

A film was played during the event, which displayed how the traditions and initiatives of Punaikars along with Forest Department and local body has converted 16.8 ha of a barren hill into green forests. Today, the forest is rich in biodiversity with 23 plant species, 29 bird species, 15 butterfly species, 10 reptiles and 3 mammal species. This Urban Forest project is now helping maintain ecological balance, serving both environmental and social needs. The Warje Urban Forest is now a role model for the rest of the country.

Deliberating on this year’s focus on Biodiversity the Shri Javadekar said ,“India has 8% of world's biodiversity, despite having many constraint like only 2.5% of the world's landmass, has to carry 16% of human as well as cattle population and having only 4% of fresh water sources; the mega biodiversity that we have is the result of Indian ethos, which is to be in sync with the nature.”

Emphasizing on the Indian culture, the Union Minister said that “India is probably the only country where trees are worshiped, where animals, birds and reptiles are worshiped, which demonstrates enormous respect the Indian society carries for the environment. We had a very important tradition of village forest since ages, now this new scheme of urban forest will fill up the gap because urban areas have Gardens but very rarely forests; With this activity of creating urban forest we will also create additional carbon sink, said Javadekar.

Union Minister of State for Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo was also present on the occasion. said that "We have a responsibility to protect and conserve biodiversity and wildlife for our generations to come. Small steps can lead to big changes. Let us live in harmony with Mother Nature and keep our beloved earth clean and green. "

The Union Minister of State also emphasized on Tree plantation and soil moisture conservation works as a core strategy for biodiversity conservation in the country. He emphasized on the need to address the problems of silting, soil degradation, and reduced water flow in the river basins. This could be better attained through a collective work by everyone.

Executive Director, United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification, (UNCCD), Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw and Executive Director United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), Ms. Inger Andersen also participated in the virtual event.

Mr. Thaw said that “Is it not time, that we realise that we need nature more than nature needs us, if at all. Is it not time, that we have the humility to rethink and redefine our relationship with nature. Perhaps, it is time for humanity to have a new social contract for nature.”

Stressing on this year’s theme, Ms. Andersen said that actions for nature means a lower risk of future pandemics, achieving the sustainable development goal, slowing climate change, healthier lives, better economies, being able to cherish that breath of fresh air or walk in the woods protecting life itself. In a post COVID world, we need to build back better, we need to protect the planet to protect ourselves.

Forest Minister, Government of Maharashtra, Shri Sanjay Rathod; newly appointed Secretary, MoEF&CC, Shri R P Gupta; DG Forest & Special Secretary, Shri Sanjay Kumar; Anand Deshpande of Persistent System and Dr. Vinita Apte, Director, TERRE Policy center, Pune also participated in the event and shared their words of wisdom. Chief Secretaries, CCFs from various states and officials from attached subordinate offices also participated in the celebration.

India is endowed with rich biodiversity having several species of animals and plants and hosts 4 of the 35 global bio-diversity hotspots containing several endemic species. However, increasing population, deforestation, urbanisation and industrialisation have put our natural resources under tremendous pressure causing loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is vital for survival of all life form on this planet and is a key to providing various ecological services. Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been considered confined to remote forest areas but with increasing urbanisation a need has arisen to safeguard and save biodiversity in urban areas also. Urban forest is the best way to bridge this gap. The MoEF&CC has therefore, appropriately adopted Nagar van as the theme of WED celebrations 2020 to promote and conserve biodiversity in urban landscapes.

On the occasion of WED, Prime MInister, Shri Narendra Modi shared his twitter message "we reiterate our pledge to preserve our planet’s rich biodiversity. Let us collectively do whatever possible to ensure the flora and fauna with whom we share the Earth thrive. May we leave an even better planet for the coming generations."

Central Government has taken a very serious note of elephant killing in Kerala: Prakash Javadekar

04.06.2020, New Delhi: The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Sh. Prakash Javadekar said today that "Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill.

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan also said today that an investigation is underway with focus on three suspects in the incident of killing of the pregnant elephant.

"An investigation is underway, focusing on three suspects. The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice," Vijayan tweeted.

The elephant had died on 27th May 2020. The hungry elephant, which was reported to be pregnant, tried to eat pineapple that was stuffed with crackers. The elephant was seen standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in the water for some relief from the pain after the explosive-filled fruit exploded in her mouth. The Forest officials said that it died standing in river Velliyar after it suffered an injury in its lower jaw.

Indian Navy curbs marine pollution & environmental footprint

04.06.2020, New Delhi: A responsible multi-dimensional force, the Indian Navy has embarked on reducing its environmental footprint through energy conservation, minimising marine pollution and use of alternative sources of energy. The ‘Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap’ (INECR) has been the guiding document and key enabler for progressively achieving this vision of the Indian Navy to add a Green Footprint to its Blue Water operations.

The World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, global warming and sustainable consumption. Indian Navy conducted the World Environment Day this year adhering to the lockdown measures in force. Educational awareness programs, lectures and webinars were conducted over electronic media in Naval stations in lieu of the otherwise regular outdoor activities.

With the aim of reducing pollution from engine exhausts, the Indian Navy collaborated with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) to revise the fuel specifications. The new specification surpasses international norms and includes reduced sulphur content which in the long run will reduce emissions levels as well as maintenance requirements onboard. Whilst recognising the significance of biodiversity, which incidentally is the theme for World Environment Day-2020, ample emphasis is being accorded within the Navy in protecting ocean ecology. Indian Navy has voluntarily implemented all six schedules of International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) regulations. All Naval ships have been fitted with MARPOL compliant pollution control equipment such as Oily Water Separators (OWS) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) for treating waste generated onboard. Further, to ensure upkeep of harbour waters, accelerated bioremediation technology has also been developed through Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), Mumbai.

In efforts to reduce carbon footprint, measures have been brought in force for a steady increase in utilisation of e-vehicles such as e-cycles, e-trolley and e-scooters. As a long term strategy, it is being planned to gradually reduce the usage of fossil-fuel based vehicles during working hours through use of e-vehicles or bicycles. To promote the same, units observe ‘No Vehicle Days’ regularly and the concept of a ‘Vehicle Free Base’ is also being introduced in some Naval establishments.

An ongoing area of focus within the Navy, is the reduction of overall power consumption through a progressive induction of energy efficient equipment. Substantial efforts have yielded a near-complete transition from conventional lighting to more energy efficient solid-state lighting. Other notable energy saving measures incorporated across Indian Navy establishments include use of capacitor banks to maintain high power factor, use of transparent acrylic sheet roofs to harness natural light, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) based electricity metering for effective monitoring, use of occupancy sensors, sky-pipes and turbo-ventilators in workshop floors, to name a few.

In line with emerging trends and Govt of India policy, efforts have also been made in the Navy to enhance the share of renewable energy. 24 MW of Solar Photo Voltaic projects are at various stages of implementation in the Navy’s shore establishments. In addition, individual units have also installed solar powered appliances which have progressively replaced conventional equipment.

All Naval units have adopted aggressive waste handling processes for collection, segregation and subsequent handling as per GoI Green norms. An Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility (ISWMF) is being setup at Naval station, Karwar, which includes a centralised waste segregation plant, Organic Waste Converter (OWC) for wet waste and a facility to handle dry/ unsegregated domestic waste. Green Initiatives of the Navy have also been augmented by afforestation and plantation drives. In the past one year, over 16,500 trees have been planted which would mitigate an estimated 330 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.

Community participation has played a major role in implementation of these initiatives. Successful institution of green measures in the Navy has been possible through a self-conscious Naval community, well-aware of the necessity of environment remediation and energy conservation. To foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment, various mass participation events such as mass ‘shramdan’, coastal cleanship drives etc are organized regularly. Further, a trophy introduced to recognise the unit adopting best green practices for the year, has proved useful in encouraging units to embrace Green initiatives.

Overall, Indian Navy has maintained a steadfast focus towards sustainable future while integrating energy efficiency and environment conservation within its operational and strategic roles.

Cabinet approves MoU between India & Bhutan on Cooperation in various areas of Environment

03.06.2020, New Delhi: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Republic of India and the Royal Government of Bhutan on Cooperation in the areas of Environment.

The MoU would enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation between the two countries in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions in each country. The MoU covers air, waste, chemical management, climate change, and any other areas jointly decided upon keeping the bilateral interests into account.

The MoU is expected to facilitate exchange of experiences, best practices and technical knowhow through both public and private sectors and shall contribute to sustainable development. The Memorandum of Understanding provides the possibility for joint projects in areas of mutual interest. However, no significant employment generation is envisaged.

This Memorandum of Understanding shall enter into force on the date of signature and shall continue to remain in force for a period of ten years. The Participants intend to encourage organizations, private companies, government institutions at all levels and research institutions on both sides to establish cooperation activities aimed at fulfilling the objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding. The Participants also intend to hold Joint Working Group / bilateral meetings to review and analyze the progress of activities and shall keep their respective Ministries/Agencies, duly informed of progress and achievements.

It is notable that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of the Government of the Republic of India and the National Environment Commission (NEC) of the Royal Government of Bhutan on 11th March, 2013. This MoU expired on 10th March, 2016. Noting the benefits of the earlier MoU, both sides have decided to continue cooperation and collaboration in the field of Environment.

Tata Steel recognised as 2019 Steel Sustainability Champions

03.06.2020, New Delhi: The World Steel Association has recognized Tata Steel Limited and Tata Steel Europe as 2019 Steel Sustainability Champions. Tata Steel has got the global recognition for the third year in a row. This coveted recognition acknowledges Tata Steel’s efforts at maintaining its leadership as a world-class steel producer that is fully committed to the principles of sustainability. The World Steel Association has recognised nine companies as Steel Sustainability Champions for their work in 2019. Now in its third year, the Steel Sustainability Champions Programme commends those steel companies that are most clearly demonstrating their commitment to sustainable development.

According to a press release by the company, Sanjiv Paul, Vice President (Safety, Health & Sustainability), Tata Steel, said: “We are honoured to be recognised by worldsteel as a Sustainability Champion for the third year in a row. Tata Steel’s commitment to maintaining its leadership in the global steel industry fully acknowledges the long-term value of adhering to its time-tested sustainability model. Such invaluable recognitions further strengthen our resolve to raise the bar in the coming years.”

The winning entries for the Sustainability Champions recognition are evaluated basis the data provided on sustainability indicators like material efficiency, environmental management systems, lost time injury frequency rate, employee training, investment in new processes and products, economic value distributed. In addition, the companies provide Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data to worldsteel’s data collection programme that covers more than 50% of the company’s crude steel production data and is less than 5 years old. The companies also commit to sign the worldsteel Sustainable Development Charter.

According to worldsteel, the annual sustainability champion recognition programme encourages steel companies to increase their efforts, set higher standards, and make continued progress towards achieving sustainability goals. The programme is also an effective vehicle to demonstrate stronger commitment and proactive engagement of the industry to sustainable development.

The World Steel Association (worldsteel) is one of the largest and most dynamic industry associations in the world, with members in every major steel-producing country. worldsteel represents steel producers, national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes. Members represent around 85% of global steel production.

Tree Plantation Campaign to mark World Environment Day 2020

03.06.2020, Gurugram: Dr. Shiv Singh Rawat (Bheen), an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi Alumni informed that a plantation campaign will be carried out on 5th June 2020 to mark the occasion of World Environment Day 2020. The campaign will be accomplished in collaboration with several institutions in different parts of India. Primarily, in collaboration with the US based non-profit organization 'One Tree Planted' and social enterprise 'Sustainable Green Initiative' (SGI), all over India, including Haryana. These organizations will start a tree plantation drive in collaboration with KBC Welfare Society.

500,000 fruit bearing trees shall be planted in many parts of India during the coming monsoon season. This plantation campaign will be carried out in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Maharashtra and West Bengal in the months of July and August.

Dr. Shiv Singh Rawat said that the planting of fruit bearing trees in the homes and fields of marginal farmers in fifteen villages in Palwal, Haryana, will be launched on 5th June 2020 through the 'Zoom App'. There is a target is to plant more than one lakh fruit bearing trees in Palwal distric during the rainy season. Plantation will also be done in Delhi-NCR and Ghaziabad. In the last few years, Dr. Rawat has planted more than one lakh fruit bearing saplings in 50 villages of Palwal district in collaboration with various organizations. Dr. Rawat has appealed to the farmers to participate in this campaign in a big way so that the environment can be saved by planting trees.

Govt. of India prioritized creation of assets for water conservation & irrigation: Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare

02.06.2020, New Delhi: Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar has said that "The Government has accorded priority on creation of individual assets and assets on water conservation/irrigation which would help agriculture sector. "

The 21st Meeting of the Central Employment Guarantee Council, constituted under Section 10 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), 2005 was held on 02.06.2020 under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar through Video-Conferencing.

He was addressing the participants of the 21st Meeting of the Central Employment Guarantee Council, constituted under Section 10 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), 2005 held on 02.06.2020. The meeting took place under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister through Video-Conferencing.

Minister of State for Rural Development, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, highlighted the good works done under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA by providing employment to rural people during these difficult days. She stressed on more irrigation and water conservation activities under the scheme so that the farmers get benefited.

Bihar plans 100% coverage of tap-to-every household during 2020-21

30.05.2020, New Delhi: The Bihar State Government has set an ambitious goal to provide tap connections to remaining 1.50 Crore households during 2020-21, which will attain 100% coverage of all 38 districts . The State Government is ready with a roadmap to achieve the target.

The state government presented their Jal Jeevan Mission Annual Action Plan before the Ministry of Jal Shakti for consideration and approval. Bihar Government is also giving special attention to providing 100% of Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) in Aspirational districts, quality-affected habitations and SC/ST villages. Because of abundance of ground water and surface water in Bihar, the State is making all efforts in this regard. Government of India has allocated Rs. 1832.66 Crore for this during 2020-21.

Availability of clean water is important during the scorching summer and COVID-19 pandemic. Washing hands and maintaining good hygiene needs clean water. Most of the rural population depend on stand posts or wells for water, due to which it becomes difficult to maintain social-distancing norms. The relevance of potable water in one’s household premise is a one-stop solution for the given problem. During this testing time of Covid-19 pandemic, such attempt to provide household tap connections in rural areas will surely improve the ease of living especially the women and girls reducing their drudgery and making them safe and leading a dignified life.

In recent years, the state has attained a considerable improvement in water availability, as compared to past. Still there is a huge scope of water resources management. Besides, ensuring tap connection to every household, Bihar has also been working on programmes like Jal Jeevan Hariyali. It emphasizes on water conservation. The state needs to focus on rainwater harvesting, grey-water management, and tackling over-extraction of groundwater.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) has been launched in partnership with States, to enable every household in villages to have a FHTC within the premises by 2024. It has been envisaged that each household will have potable water supply of 55 lpcd of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis. it’s the endeavor of the Government to bring improvement in the lives of rural people by making provision of assured services at their doorsteps.

To implement the mission, institutional arrangements at various levels have been made and State's PHE/ Rural Water Supply Departments are to play a critical role along with the local community. Gram Panchayat/ village water sanitation committee/ user committee are encouraged to plan, implement, manage, operate, and maintain its in-village water supply scheme. A sense of ownership has to be instilled in the village community as they are at the center of this mission. The community is also expected to play a big role in water quality surveillance.

Rural women and adolescent girls spend a lot of time and energy in getting water for day-to-day use. This results in a lack of participation of women in income generation opportunities, loss of school days for girls, and adverse health impacts. JJM is to play a significant role in bringing 'ease of living' for the rural community, especially women. Women must lead JJM in their villages to meet their needs and aspirations.

Tata Power’s Renewable Energy portfolio grows to 3883 MW in Q4 FY20

27.05.2020, New Delhi: India’s largest integrated power company, Tata Power, on 27th May 2020, announced that its renewable business capacity crossed 2,637 MW. This includes 932 MW of Wind power and 1705 MW of Solar power. With this, the company’s Renewable Energy portfolio that includes clean and green projects, stands at 3,883 MW, which is a 7% increase from the corresponding quarter last year. Further, the operating renewable portfolio of Tata Power has grown to 2,197 MW, comprising 551 MW wind and 1,646 MW solar respectively this year.

At present, Tata Power contributes about 36% of its capacity, in MW terms, through clean and green generation source, which is about 1% of India’s total installed capacity of 372 GW. It also plans to significantly transform the existing model of supply and usage of power with the advent of new technologies and climate change challenges.

“We, at Tata Power, have constantly strived to proliferate the company's renewable energy portfolio with each passing year. We successfully added a capacity of 312 MW to our TPREL portfolio last year and are in the process of adding another 700 MW. We aim to add a large amount of renewable energy capacity through wind, rooftop solar, solar panels and microgrids to our portfolio every year and scale up our existing portfolio in the next five years,” said Mr. Praveer Sinha, Managing Director & CEO, Tata Power.

Mr Ashish Khanna, President – Renewables, Tata Power said, “As the nation is gripped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to operate nearly 71 of our renewable project sites at optimum capacity owing to the rising power demands of the states. The announcement by the Government of India that must-run status of renewable energy projects and payments to renewable energy generators to be made on regular basis by the discoms is indeed a welcome move amid this crisis.”

MoRTH notifies Emission norms for L7 category for BS VI

25.05.2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued notification vide GSR No. 308 (E) dated 22nd May 2020 regarding the emission norms for L7 (Quadricycle) category for BS VI. These norms are applicable from the date of notification. This notification completes the process of BS VI for all L, M and N category vehicles in India. The emission norms are in line with EU with WMTC cycle. The procedure for testing is laid down in AIS 137-Part 9.

Vice President asks MoJS and NITI Aayog to study the feasibility of drinking water project for Udayagiri in Andhra Pradesh

25.05.2020, New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today held a meeting with Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Shri Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Drinking Water & Sanitation, and Shri U.P. Singh, Secretary, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation to discuss various possible ways in which drinking water and irrigation needs of the drought-prone Udayagiri area, Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh can be met.

In the recent past, the Vice President has been talking to people of Udayagiri constituency, from where Shri Venkaiah Naidu, now The Vice President of India was elected as MLA in 1978 for the first time. While enquiring about the general well-being, they informed the Vice President that ground water levels in the area have depleted considerably, most of the tanks/borewells have dried up and various water supply schemes are not serving the water needs to the fullest. They also informed the Vice President that this is the 7th consecutive year where there are no adequate rains. Most of them requested Shri Naidu to find out ways of getting water from Krishna basin or Somasila project.

According to a pres release, in today’s discussion with the Vice President, officials suggested that they would explore various options in consultation with the Government of Andhra Pradesh and see what might be the most feasible option.

The Vice President advised Secretary, Water Resources to discuss with Central Water Commission and find out about the technical feasibility. He also suggested that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and the various ongoing efforts of the State Government to mitigate the water crisis including through the Water Grid project could be studied.

After a preliminary assessment is made, the Vice President advised that a delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Jal Shakti as well as from NITI Aayog and Central Water Commission could visit the area and interact with the concerned stakeholders to understand the ground reality and suggest a way forward.

The Vice President also spoke to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and shared with him the feedback he had received from many of his acquaintances in Udayagiri about the acute drinking water situation in the area. He appraised him of his meeting with senior officials today morning and suggested that it would be good if the State Government and the Government of India could work together to find a sustainable solution to the problem. The Chief Minister responded positively and promised to work towards a solution.

"Turtles clean our water resources free of cost" says Union Minister Sh. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on World Turtle Day

23.05.2020, New Delhi: The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), along with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), its project partner in the ‘Biodiversity Conservation Initiative Phase II’, celebrated World Turtle Day today, through a Webinar. The programme was widely attended. Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG, Dr. Dhananjai Mohan, Director WII, school children, team members of NMCG and WII and Ganga Praharis from the five Ganga States and Ganga Prahari mentors participated in the online celebration.

On this occasion, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, “Biodiversity is an essential part of Indian Culture and in fact, understanding the importance of Turtles, they have been worshiped in our culture from time immemorial’. He added, “Turtles have been cleaning our water resources and they don’t charge us for doing that job. In order to conserve them and other wildlife, NMCG has taken up several initiatives including establishing conservation centers and creating public awareness about the subject.”

Information about the Ganga Quest quiz, the last date of which has been extended to 30th May 2020, was also shared with the participants in order to maximize the participation of people from different parts of the world. Shri Mishra said, ‘The Ganga Quest quiz is not only a very interesting competition but also a means to create awareness and associate people with the Ganga. I appeal to all those above the age of 10 years to take part in the Ganga Quest.’

On the occasion, winners of the World Turtle Day painting, slogan writing and essay competitions which were conducted using the online platform, were announced. Children from different parts of India and abroad participated in this online competition.

To mark the day, a Children’s story book on turtles, “Bin Vetanke Kare Safai” was released by Shri Shekhawat. This book covers facts about turtles in an interesting story-telling manner. Shri Shekhawat appreciated the innovatively written book that highlights the importance of turtles in maintaining the river ecosystem and appealed to all to contribute to conservation of turtles in our river systems.

The Webinar also saw a poster story on Interesting Facts on Turtles for Children being played. This poster story presents some interesting facts about the turtles and different threats to them.

A documentary on “Turtles of Ganga River Basin” was also showcased for the participants This documentary is made to make people aware about various type of turtles found in the Ganga River.

In his address, Shri Mishra appreciated the efforts of WII and Ganga Praharis for their active participation in making people aware about conservation of Biodiversity. He also appealed to all to come forward and join hands for the conservation of turtles and the biodiversity of the river Ganga. Dr Mohan talked about the significance of celebrating Turtle Day and the role of Ganga Praharis in their conservation.

Given that Biodiversity Conservation of the Ganga river basin is one of the pillars of the Namami Gange programme, the ‘International Day of Biological Diversity’ held yesterday, was celebrated with great enthusiasm by NMCG and WII through a Webinar themed ‘Our Solutions are in Nature’. In order to increase public consciousness about its conservation, Shri Mishra, Dr. Mohan, NMCG team as well as experts from various organisations and Ganga Praharis participated in the event.

Speaking during the celebrations, DG, NMCG said, “We have to make collective efforts to support the rejuvenation of river Ganga. This is possible by making efforts to create better understanding and awareness about the connection between biodiversity and our survival. The conservation efforts have to become a Jan Aandolan”. He added that the NMCG has received substantial success in cleaning the river. “However, in order to ensure the sustainability of water quality, all of us need to make a conscious effort,” he said.

During the event, Director, WII, Dr. Mohan appealed to the Ganga Praharis, other organisations working for the conservation of biodiversity and Media organisations to undertake public awareness initiative to further save the biodiversity of the rivers. “It is easy to say that the ‘solutions lie in nature’, but we have to reduce the negative impact of our activities on nature”.

Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi appreciated the success of Ganga Praharis to further the awareness of biodiversity conservation in villages. He said, “More than 41% amphibian, 31% Coral and 33% fish species are now extinct. We have to take up biodiversity conservation as a very serious subject”.

Ganga Praharis from different parts of the country connected to this programme shared their experience of training in organic farming by WII Dehra Dun and its positive financial and environmental consequences.

Union Environment Minister launched Five key initiatives on International Day of Biodiversity

22.05.2020, New Delhi: In a virtual celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar today launched five key initiatives towards conservation of biodiversity.

The year 2020 which is also the “SUPER YEAR FOR BIODIVERSITY”, as the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity with 20 global Aichi targets adopted in 2010 ends in 2020 and all the countries together are in the process of preparation of Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The Union Minster said that India, a mega biodiverse country, welcomes those countries who are interested in improving their bio diversity scenarios, and we are ready to share our experiences and best practices with them. The Environment minister laid emphasis on the need to limit our consumption and promote a sustainable lifestyle.

Stressing on this year’s theme Shri Javadekar stressed that “OUR SOLUTIONS ARE IN NATURE” and therefore, protecting our nature is very important especially in the present context of COVID 19 as it shields us from various catastrophe including zoonotic diseases.

On the occasion, the Union Environment Minister launched the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ‘Biodiversity Samrakshan Internship Programme which proposes to engage 20 students with postgraduate degrees for a period of one year through an open, transparent, online competitive process. The programme wishes to engage dynamic and creative students, who are willing to learn about natural resource management and biodiversity conservation and to support the projects of NBA in various State and Union Territories and to technically assist the State Biodiversity Boards/UTs Biodiversity Council in discharge of their mandates. an open, transparent, online competitive process.

The virtual event also saw the Launch of UNEP Campaign on Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Species: ‘Not all Animals Migrate by Choice’. Illegal trade in wildlife carries the risk of spreading dangerous pandemics. The campaign Not all Animals Migrate by Choice, launched by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, with UNEP, seeks to address these environmental challenges, to raise awareness, and to advocate solutions.

A Webinar Series on ‘Biodiversity Conservation and Biological Diversity Act, 2002’ was also launched along with the WWF Model Conference of Parties (MCoP), an initiative which involves the younger generation so they can usher in a new beginning and engage in conversations around impact of humanity’s footprint on biodiversity and also the importance of sustenance of biodiversity for our own survival. An awareness campaign supported by WWF to highlight the crucial role played by nature through its free ecological services provided for humankind was also launched during the course of the event.

POP ban in Idols delayed for a year

22.05.2020, New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar today announced that the decision to ban the use of plaster of Paris (POP) to make Ganesh idols has been delayed for a year. This has come as a big relief to lakhs of artisans, who have already invested in purchasing material and have prepared or are busy preparing for the upcoming Ganpati and the Durga puja festivals. This is also being seen as a step to ease livelihoods of lakhs or artisans severely impacted due to COVID-19 crisis.

It is notable that in pursuance to the directions of High Court of Mumbai in its order dated 22/07/2008, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has brought the revised “Guidelines for Idol Immersion”. The guideline dated 12th May 2020 has specified recommendations for idol makers, Pooja organizing committees, idol immersion in rivers, lakes, ponds, seas.

Crops & Vegetables in 5 Indian States threatened by Locust Swarm

22.05.2020, New Delhi: According to Spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Locust Swarm from Pakistan have entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh threatening major damage to standing cotton crops, and vegetables in India. Rajasthan is the worst affected State. During the current year, the swarm of locust have entered India prior to normal time of June and July. States are adopting various means for controlling the swarm of locust.

“A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, that is about two grams every day. 1 square kilometer size of swarm contains nearly 40 million locusts, which eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people. This is based on a person eating an average of 2.3 kg of food per day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),” the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation. Quantum of loss of food grains and cotton could be envisaged from this data.

States desirous of an expedited early notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area of Western Ghats

21.05.2020, New Delhi: The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar today interacted with Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, and State Government Officers of six states namely, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu through Video Conference (VC) to discuss issues pertaining to notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) of Western Ghats.

To conserve and protect the bio diversity of Western Ghats while allowing for sustainable and inclusive development of the region, a High Level Working Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. K. Kasturirangan was constituted by the Government of India. The Committee had recommended that identified geographical areas falling in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu may be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas. A draft notification was issued in October 2018 mentioning the areas to be notified in the ESA.

According to government sources states were of unanimous view that looking into the importance of Western Ghats, there is need to ensure protection of the western Ghats. However, the states expressed their views as regards activities and extent of area mentioned in the said notification. It was decided that state specific issues shall be further deliberated so as to arrive at a consensus on the issue. The states expressed their desire to expedite early notification while protecting interest of ecology and environment.

Later, in a tweet, the Union Minister mentioned that "Held a meeting, through VC, with Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and Forest Ministers of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat on proposed notification of Eco Sensitive area in Western Ghats. The interaction was fruitful as every state expressed its desire to expedite early notification while protecting interests of ecology & environment of Western Ghats."

Dairy Farms and Gaushalas to be covered under Consent Management

21.05.2020, New Delhi: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report dated 12.05.2020 submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with regard to O.A. No. 46 of 2018 suggests that dairy farms having animal population of 10 and above animals, and gaushalas should obtain Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) under Water Act, 1974 as well as Air Act, 1981 from the concerned State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and Union Territory Pollution Control Committee (UTPCC). The CPCB has also submitted a revised draft “Guidelines for Environmental Management of Dairy Farms and Gaushalas". The Central Board further suggests that the local bodies/ SPCBs/ PCCs/ Gram Panchayat in the States/UTs shall ensure that dairies and gaushalas operating should follow the guidelines.

The major environmental issues of dairy farms and gaushalas are discharges of dung and urinal wastewater. The poor handling of dung and wastewater causes odour problem also. A Bovine animal, on an average, weigh 400 kg and discharges 15-20 kg/day of dung and 15-20 litres/day of urine. Many dairy farms and gaushalas discharge the cattle dung along with wastewater into the drains, leading to obstruction, which ultimately reach to rivers and create water pollution. Also, these clogged drains become breeding ground for mosquitoes creating health hazards and odour nuisance. The dung produces many gases/compounds such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, methane, etc. which emitted into the atmosphere and responsible for odour issue.

The guideline deliberates on Solid Waste Management. The vaccines, vails, medicines, syringes, etc. used in dairies and gaushalas should be disposed as per the provisions of "Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016". The guideline has recommended solid waste disposal or utilisation methods such as composting or vermicomposting, Biogas or Compressed biogas (CBG) production though anaerobic digestion of solid wastes, and manufacture of dung wood to be used as fuel. It has deliberated on the process and standards for CBG.

Under the heading Wastewater Management, the guidelines suggest that dairies and gaushalas should take adequate and prudent steps to ensure the maximum water consumption of 150 litres/day/cattle towards drinking, bathing of cattle and other services including floor cleaning. The wastewater should be treated before disposal to attain required standards to be prescribed by SPCBs/PCCs. Wastewater should not percolate through ground and pollutes the groundwater. The flooring of the shed should be properly paved (impervious) with a wastewater collection system. However, the floor should not be slippery in order to ensure safety of animals.

In the six page guideline it is air quality management methods have been outlined. However, it does not specify any air quality standard or monitoring mechanism. Plantation of trees or green belt development has been suggested as a measure to provide a barrier against the spread of foul smell or noise originating from them.

The guideline has elaborated the siting criteria for the dairy farms and gaushalas.

More details available in the print version of Enviro Annotations Issue 21, Vol. 2, Year 2. dated 20.05.2020.

Nod to Coir Geo textiles for Rural Road Construction would boost Coir industry: Shri Nitin Gadkari

20.05.2020, New Delhi: Coir Geo textiles (CGT), a permeable fabric, natural, strong, highly durable, resistant to rots, moulds and moisture, free from any microbial attack, has finally been accepted as a good material for rural road construction. The material will be used for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) III says a communication from the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency under Union Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India.

Speaking about the development, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Road Transport & Highways, who has been behind the move to explore alternative usage of coir fibre, has said, "This is a very significant development as we have now been successful in deploying coir geo textile in road construction. The decision will give a big boost to the coir industry especially in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic."

As per the PMGSY new technology guidelines for road construction, 15% length in each batch of proposals, is to be constructed using new technologies. Out of this 5% roads are to be constructed using Indian Roads Congress (IRC) accredited technology. The IRC, an apex technical body of Highway Engineers in India, which frames Standards, Specifications and Guidelines for the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of roads and bridges in the country; has now accredited CGT for construction of rural roads.

As per these instructions, 5% length of the rural roads under PMGSY-III will be constructed using CGT. Accordingly 164 Kms of road will be constructed using CGT in Andhra Pradesh, 151 kms in Gujarat, 71 kms in Kerala , 328 kms in Maharashtra,470 kms in Odisha, 369 kms TN and 121 kms in Telengana. Thus 1674 km road will be constructed using CGT in 07 states for which there will be a requirement of One Crore Sq. mtrs of CGT, estimated cost of which would come to Rs.70 Crore.

The decision opens up a huge market potential for Coir Geo-textiles in the Country and will be a boon to the Covid-19 hit Coir Industry.

Utilisation of non-conventional material, like CGT, in construction of roads can provide cost effective and environment friendly solution for road by reducing the consumption of other conventional materials.

Supreme Court turns down LG Polymer's plea seeking relief from NGT order

19.05.2020, New Delhi: The Supreme Court today refused to stay the order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by which the South Korean company, LG Polymers was directed to deposit Rs. 50 crore as an initial amount towards the extent of the damage caused. The NGT order also directed for the formation of a five-member committee to assess the damage and conduct a probe into the Vizag gas leak.

While the South Korean company has deposited the initial amount of Rs 50 crore that was directed to be paid before the District Magistrate of Visakhapatnam, it has objected to the number of probe committees that have been formed. Approaching the Supreme Court against the order passed by the tribunal, LG Polymers told the Court that the incident took place on 7th May 2020, and as on date, as many as seven committees by different fora have been formed to look into the case.

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for LG Polymers, told the Court that the company does not intend to stall the proceedings and has discharged its obligation by depositing the initial amount ordered by the NGT. However, he asked, "How many committees should oversee this?"

Rohatgi submitted that the LG Polymers plant was closed, and the NGT-appointed Committee had visited the site three times, without any prior notice. He raised two legal issues with regard to the matter: 1. Whether NGT can order suo moto proceedings; 2. The substantive thing would be to have one Committee instead of seven committees.

The Bench comprising of three judges; Justice U. U. Lalit, Justice M. M. Shantanagoudar, and Justice Vineet Saran noted that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was the first to take suo motu cognizance of the leak after which it ordered for the formation of the committee. The Court opined that the matter may be left pending and the petitioner company may approach the NGT and "impress upon the NGT that a committee formed by a court of constitutional authority has been formed."

The Supreme Court refused to stay the order on the grounds that the NGT is already seized of the matter. Thus, with the liberty given to the petitioner to approach the NGT, the Supreme Court has kept the matter pending.

On 7th May 2020 at about 3 am a toxic chemical, styrene vapour, from a chemical plant of LG Polymers India Private Ltd. (LGPI), an arm of South Korea’s LG Chem, escaped from the plant in RR Venkatapuram village, Gopalapatnam Mandal in Visakhpatnam District. The leak that occurred claimed several lives and led to hospitalisation of hundreds of others, while also causing environmental damage.

On 7th May 2020, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed the state to take all necessary steps to mitigate the loss that may be caused due to this incident.

The next day, on 8th May 2020, the NGT also took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed the company to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore with the District Magistrate, Visakhapatnam.

Indian Scientist develops lightweight carbon foam that can replace lead-acid batteries

17.05.2020, New Delhi: Dr. Rajeev Kumar from CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Bhopal, is developing porous and non-toxic carbon materials which have the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries. It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.

The present grid-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by lithium-ion batteries, because of their higher energy density & specific power and long cycle life. However, there are some serious concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure. This necessitates the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density. As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options. However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.

Recently, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, who is a recipient of the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Faculty award, instituted by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India, along with his research group, has developed lightweight carbon foam with a density of less than 0.3 g/cc, high porosity of over 85%, good mechanical strength. His group has published about 16 papers on carbon foam in highly reputed Scientific Journals, since 2016 (after joining as inspire faculty). The foam is highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area, and have recently attracted a lot of attention owing to their potential applications in various field.

“Through this fellowship, we have developed carbon foam with improved properties. We strongly depend on the energy storage system, such as lead-acid batteries used in automobiles and households. The lightweight carbon foam can replace the lead-acid batteries, which are heavy, corrosive, and have poor thermal stability.“ explained Dr. Kumar.

The non-toxic carbon foam developed under the INSPIRE fellowship will also be useful in a cost-effective manner for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water. These carbon foams are easy to fabricate, affordable, and insoluble in water. The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available everywhere, and it's fabrication does not involve any costly equipment. Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.

A replacement to lead-acid battery could bring a huge positive impact on the environment.

Gujarat to adopt sensor-based rural drinking water delivery monitoring system under Jal Jeevan Mission

16.05.2020, New Delhi: Safe drinking water is becoming more and more important worldwide. Drinking water regulation can be improved by moving away from fixed, regular laboratory sampling to a risk assessment-based adaptation of sampling planning. The former approach is costly, because samples need to be taken, transported and analysed weekly to monthly across large parts of the drinking water network. It also has possibilities of as contamination events can often barely be detected, or not detected at all.

Research and development in the field of drinking Water distribution systems has made it possible to determine the contamination of drinking water. It is possible to adopt low cost water quality monitoring system using wireless sensor networks, which is capable of measuring physiochemical parameters of water quality. Based on the water contamination level in the distribution pipeline the drinking water quality is classified as acceptable/reject/desirable. When the contamination is detected, the sensing unit sends signals to close the solenoid valve inside the pipeline to prevent the flow of contaminated water supply and it intimates the consumers about drinking water quality through mobile app.

Gujarat is ready to implement sensor-based service delivery monitoring system in rural drinking water sector under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). The pilot is already underway in two districts of the state so as to monitor the functionality of water supply i.e. potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality being provided to every rural household on regularly on long-term basis.

Gujarat, primarily a water stressed state, has dealt the crisis with a very strategic approach so far. The state already has good community involvement in drinking water supply management, which kick-started in 2002 through Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO). Having strong foundation, the state recovers around 70% of annual O&M expenditure from the community in form of water service charges.

Out of 93.6 lakh rural households in Gujarat, 65 lakh, which is nearly 70% are already having household tap connections. The state plans to provide 11.15 lakh household tap connections in rural areas in 2020-21. The state has prepared plan taking into account the difficulty being faced in achieving the Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs). Remaining areas are having large cattle population, hilly terrain with low population density, coastal areas with high salinity, areas having low level of surface water resources & also including areas with perennial large water sources. Gujarat state has set the target year of 100% coverage by the year September, 2022.

The JJM announced by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi last year aims to provide tap water connections to 18 Crore rural households of the country by the year 2024. This ambitious scheme is benefitting all the states as the States/ UTs are working hard to ensure every rural household gets water tap connection.

National Endangered Species Day 2020 celebrated

15.05.2020, New Delhi: In ancient times, people were very close to forests and natural resources. Environmental factors used to strongly determine the lifestyle of people. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), India is a megadiverse country with only 2.4% of the world's land area, it accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals. The country’s diverse physical features and climatic conditions have resulted in a variety of ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grasslands, desert, coastal and marine ecosystems which harbour and sustain high biodiversity and contribute to human well-being. Four of 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots - The Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the North-East, and the Nicobar Islands; are found in India.

One of the greatest challenges India faces today is conservation of this incredibly rich natural heritage, while catering to needs of an ever-growing population. The Government of India has been taking measures to protect and conserve species vis-a-vis striking a balance between sustainable ecosystem management and livelihoods of people who depend on these biological resources. The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps); Dugong (Dugong dugon), also called as ‘Sea Cow’; Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica); Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus), the largest known fish species on the planet; Marine Turtles; Manipur’s Brow-antlered deer or Sangai (Rucervus eldii), Hilsa (Tenualosa lisha), the iconic fish of the Bengal Delta, Indian Vulture (Gyps Indicus) are some of the species on which the Govt. of India has been working to bring them from the brink of extinction.

National Endangered Species Day is observed on the 3rd Friday of May, which is 15th May in 2020. The main objective behind observing this day is to create awareness among the people for conservation of wildlife and endangered species prevailing in the world. On this eve Shri Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Information & Broadcasting; and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, shared a message that "On this National Endangered Species Day, everyone may support for all the wildlife conservation efforts. We have to come forward to solve environmental problems. The more we take care of all the species of the Earth, the better."

Haryana, J&K gears up to provide tap connections to all rural households by December, 2022

13.05.2020, New Delhi: Haryana and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is geared to provide tap water connection to all rural households by December, 2022. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is planning for 100% coverage of all 5,000 villages of 3 districts i.e. Gandharbal, Srinagar and Raisi. Haryana provided 1.05 lakh tap connections during 2019-20 under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). Now the State Government is planning 100% coverage by December, 2022, ahead of the national goal by 2024-25. By doing so, Haryana and UT of J&K will be among the leading states to accomplish the ambitious target of providing tap connection to each rural household.

On 12th May 2020, while presenting their action plan to the Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation for achieving the goal of every household with tap water supply under the JJM, Haryana State officials said there are 28.94 lakh households in the state, out of which 18.83 lakh are already provided with Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTCs). Out of the remaining 10.11 lakh households, Haryana plans to provide tap connections in 7 lakh households by 2020-21.

During the current year, State is planning for 100% coverage of 1 district and 2,898 villages out of total 6,987 villages. More emphasis has been given to cover rural households in drought prone areas and aspirational districts.

Another important target set by the state is to get NABL accreditation of 18 our of 44 water testing laboratories, during current year. The UT of J&K has planned to get 10 out of 98 labs accredited from the NABL during this year. Field Testing Kits will be provided at community level for testing of water quality for taking corrective measures.

Haryana State has planned to provide drinking water to all 35 quality-affected habitations. In every Gram Panchayat, GP or their sub-committee i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committees have been constituted for planning at village level. Village Action Plans have been carried out for villages, based on which the action plan has been finalized. Dashboard of Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has been recently launched by Chief Minister. It’s a dynamic platform, wherein the details of villages, tap connections, financial progress, etc. is monitored on real time basis.

The J&K UT Administration has planned to provide drinking water to all 4 quality-affected habitations. Stress is being given on constitution of Village Water & Sanitation Committees in villages to mobilize the community to inculcate the sense of ownership. Village Action Plans have been carried out for villages, based on which the action plan has been finalized.

Government of India is implementing the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ (JJM) in partnership with States to ensure every rural household in the country has FHTC for drinking water in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis at affordable service delivery charges leading to improvement in their living standards.

CPCB issues Revised Guidelines for Idol Immersion

13.05.2020, New Delhi: In pursuance to the directions of High Court of Mumbai in its order dated 22/07/2008, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has brought the revised “Guidelines for Idol Immersion”. The guideline dated 12th May 2020 has specified recommendations for idol makers, Pooja organizing committees, idol immersion in rivers, lakes, ponds, seas. The document has also set guidelines for idol immersion by households. The document has further specified the role and responsibilities of the Local and Urban Authorities as well as State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) in States and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) in Union Territories.

The guideline deliberates on use of natural, bio-degradable, eco-friendly raw materials without any toxic, inorganic raw materials. Craftsmen or artisans or manufacturer involved in making idols should be registered with the civic bodies. The guideline also states that while granting licenses or permits to the idol makers a list of permitted and non-permitted substances to be used for making/coloring/decorating idols may be provided to the Idol makers or craftsman or artisans.

Use of Single use plastic and thermocol materials shall not be permitted strictly in idol making. CPCB has also recommended the use of cleaned multi-use metallic or glass or plastic utensils, especially when such material is available from utensil banks. Only biodegradable plates or trencher made with broad dried leaves such as Areca/Banana/Banyan/Sal leaves, biodegradable paper cups/plates and earthen pots may be used in place of single use plastic and polystyrene (Thermocol) for prasad distribution and other purposes.

The CPCB has suggested that SPCB and UTPCC concerned should conduct water quality assessment of the water bodies, preferably in Class-I cities (having population more than one lac), at three stages; such as Pre-immersion, during immersion and post-immersion. During post-festival, samples should be collected preferably after 3rd, 5th and 7th and 9th day of the festival. The guideline provides details on how to determine sampling locations and number of samples. It has clearly specified the test parameters for assessment of water quality of the receiving body. The guideline states that detailed reports should be posted on the SPCBs/PCCs website in public domain and also shall be shared with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) and CPCB, within two months of completion of last sampling conducted for a particular festival. The SPCBs and PCCs are further advised to help ULBs and District Administration in preparing material for creating mass awareness purposes as well as to assess innovative approaches for eco-friendly idol making by the idol makers or craftsman or artisans. The document also annexed with a list of major types of natural dyes and their origin.

It is noteworthy that earlier in the matter of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) / W.P.(C) No. 1325/2003 in the matter of Janhit Manch Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Ors., Hon’ble High Court of Mumbai in its order dated 22/07/2008 stated that “We expect that the Central Govt. will consider laying down of guidelines for immersion of idols and would also consider related matters with regard to pollution of water bodies. Both the Union Government as well as the State Government shall consider it expeditiously because the time lost involving the pollution might prove dangerous for environment of the country in long run.”

Shri Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi is new Secretary of MNRE

11.05.2020, New Delhi: Shri Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, 1987 batch IAS, today, assumed charge as new Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. Shri Chaturvedi belongs to Jharkhand cadre. Prior to this appointment, Shri. Chaturvedi was serving as Additional Chief Secretary and Additional Secretary (Climate Change Department ) of the Ministry of Climate Change Department, Environment & Forest, Government of Jharkhand.

Visakhapatnam Gas Leak: NGT Penalizes 50 Crore to defaulting unit

09.05.2020, New Delhi: After taking into cognizance of the disastrous gas leakage from LG Polymers India in RR Venkatapuram village, Gopalapatnam Mandal in Visakhpatnam District, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) conductd a hearing on 8th May 2020. The hearing the Original Application No. 73/2020, based on the prima facie material regarding the extent of damage to life, public health and environment, the NGT has directed LG Polymers India Pvt. Ltd. to deposit an initial amount of Rs. 50Crore, towards the extent of the damage caused.

The order states that Styrene gas is a hazardous chemical as defined under Rule 2(e) read with Entry 583 of Schedule I to the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989. The Rules require on-site and off-site Emergency Plans to ensure prevention of damage. There appears to be failure to comply with the said Rules and other statutory provisions. Leakage of hazardous gas at such a scale adversely affecting public health and environment, clearly attracts the principle of ‘Strict Liability’ against the enterprise engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous industry. Such an entity is liable to restore the damage caused under the Environment Law, apart from other statutory liability. The statutory authorities responsible for authorizing and regulating such activities may also be accountable for their lapses, if any, in dealing with the matter. It is also necessary to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to prevent recurrence of such an incident. Without prejudice to any other proceedings, this Tribunal has to perform its statutory obligation of providing relief and compensation to the victims of “environmental damage”, as statutorily enacted, and restitution of damaged property and environment. With a view to deal with the issue, it is necessary to ascertain the facts relating to the extent of damage, extent of failure and consider remedial measures. The affected parties have to be given the opportunity of being heard.

NGT has also formed a 5-member Committee comprising Justice B. Seshasayana Reddy, Former Judge, Andhra University High Court; Prof. Ch V Rama Chandra Murthy, Former Vice Chancellor, Andhra University, Vizag; Professor Pulipati King, Head of Chemical Engineering Department, Andhra University,Vizag; Member Secretary, CPCB; Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology; and Head of NEERI. The committee may visit and inspect the site at the earliest and give its report before the next date, which is scheduled on 18.05.2020.

Notice period for draft EIA 2020 Notification extended till 30th June 2020.

09.05.2020, New Delhi: The Government of India published the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 vide S.O. 1199(E) dated the 23rd March, 2020 in the official gazette on 11th April 2020, for the information of the public likely to be affected thereby and for making any objections or suggestions on the proposal contained in the draft notification within sixty days from the date on which copies of the Gazette containing said draft notification were made available to the Public;

The Ministry is in receipt of several representations for extending the notice period expressing concern that the draft EIA Notification 2020 was published during the lockdown imposed due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, the Ministry after due consideration, deems it fit to extend the notice period up to 30th June, 2020;

Any person interested in making any objections or suggestions on the proposals contained in the draft notification may forward the same in writing for consideration of the Central Government before 30th June 2020 to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110003, or send the same on the e-mail address: eia2020-moefcc@gov.in.

Former Environment Minister, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), who is also the Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests has said that the extension of deadline for public comments on Draft EIA Notification 2020 while welcome is not sufficient. Shri Ramesh, in a twitter message has shared a letter addressed to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in which he has asked the Minister to refer the Draft Notification to the Standing Committee and consult with environmental groups. The former environment minister has also suggested the current minister to fulfill his dharma as minister responsible for protecting the environment.

Safety & Hazard Audit, a must before resuming operations of units: CPCB to SPCBs & UTPCCs

08.05.2020, New Delhi: In the wake of the tragic toxic gas leak in Visakhapatnam, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued advisory to all the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Union Territory Pollution Control Committees (UTPCCs). In a written communication, the CPCB Chairman, Shri R S Prasad has asked Chairpersons of all SPCBs & UTPCCs to ensure immediate compliance on six points.

CPCB has advised that SPCBs & UTPCCs should ensure that a proper safety and hazard audit by all units, in their respective States/UTs, before resuming operations. The SPCBs/PCCs shall direct all the units that manufacture, store or import hazardous chemicals to resume their operations after COVID-19 lockdown, only after they have taken adequate and necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of any chemical leakage/ accident.

The SPCBs/UTPCCs shall also ensure that the pollution control equipment, connectivity of the OCEMS with the CPCB/SPCB servers, effluent treatment plants including safety equipment and its machineries shall be kept in good operable conditions before resuming operation in present COVID-19 situation.

The SPCBs/UTPCCs have been advised to ensure that all the units shall take utmost care in handling hazardous chemical by using trained manpower, and also to ensure the safety of workers and residents in the vicinity.

CPCB has further advised SPCBs/UTPCCs to closely monitor the situation and ensure that the environmental norms are not violated by any unit.

All the SPCBs/UTPCCs shall also have to ensure that any unit involved in the Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemicals shall comply with the stipulated provisions of The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 without fail.

Visakhapatnam Gas Leak: Did APPCB issue Consent without EC?

08.05.2020, New Delhi: A fatal gas leak accident took place in the industrial unit LG Polymers India in RR Venkatapuram village, Gopalapatnam Mandal in Visakhpatnam District. A toxic Styrene gas leakage occurred in a chemical plant in the early hours on 7th May 2020 at 3 am. It affected the surrounding villages namely Narava, B.C Colony, Bapuji Nagar, Kampalapalem and Krishna Nagar. The gas, which is toxic in nature, may cause irritation to the skin, eyes and causes respiratory problems and other medical conditions, has reportedly killed at least 10 people and left several injured.

According to documentary evidences, the industrial unit did not have an environmental clearance for its plant for a substantial period of its operations between 1997 and 2019. In an affidavit submitted to the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), the company admitted that as of 10th May 2019, the unit did not have a “valid environmental clearance substantiating the produced quantity, issued by the competent authority for continuing operations”.

It also acknowledged that it had expanded the production at the plant “beyond the limit of environmental clearance or changed the product mix without obtaining prior environmental clearance as mandated under the EIA notification, 2006”. The company had then also undertaken that it would not “repeat any such violation in future”.

According to Ministry sources, the company’s proposal was delisted from the environmental clearance portal in November 2019 saying that “it seems that the PP (company) is not interested to continue the project”.

The Union Government immediately sent a team from CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) unit of NDRF from Pune, along with an expert team of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur to Vishakhapatnam to support the State Government in the management of the crisis on the ground, and also to take measures for resolving the short term as also long term medical impact of the leak.

While the investigations are underway to pinpoint reason of the accident, it seems apparent that during the shutdown of the plant due to Covid-19, styrene gas, which needs to be stored at a temperature below 17 degrees Centigrade, was not being stored at the appropriate temperature, causing pressure to build up in the storage chamber and that led to the valve to break, resulting in the gas leakage.

Nevertheless, this incidence has again raised question, whether the State Pollution Control Boards are diligently implementing the rules regulations pertaining to environmental protection?

Energy Efficiency Measures in India saved Rs. 89,122 crore in 2018-19

06.05.2020, New Delhi: Shri R. K. Singh, Union Minister of State (IC), Power and New & Renewable Energy & Minister of State, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, today on 6th May 2020, released a Report on “Impact of energy efficiency measures for the year 2018-19” through Video conference. While unveiling the e-book the Minister said, “We have pledged in COP-21 that we will bring down energy intensity of economy by 33 to 35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030. Now, with our energy efficiency initiatives we have already reduced the energy intensity of our economy by 20% compared to 2005 levels which is a very good performance indeed.”

The report depicts, implementation of various energy efficiency schemes have led to total electricity savings to the tune of 113.16 Billion Units in 2018-19, which is 9.39% of the net electricity consumption. Energy savings that includes electrical and thermal, achieved in the energy consuming sectors (i.e. Demand Side sectors) is to the tune of 16.54 million Tonne of Oil Equivalent (Mtoe), which is 2.84% of the net total energy consumption (approx. 581.60 Mtoe) in 2018-19.

The total energy savings achieved in 2018-19 is 23.73 Mtoe, which is 2.69% of the total primary energy supply (estimated to be 879.23 Mtoe in India) during 2018-19. This includes both Supply Side and Demand Side sectors of the economy. Overall estimated savings out of energy efficiency measures stands to be nearly Rs. 89,122 crore, as against previous year’s saving of Rs. 53,627 crore. India also attained reduction of 151.74 Million Tonnes of CO2 emissions, as against last year’s 108 MTCO2.

Tata Power Calls for Sustainable Living amidst Covid-19 pandemic

06.05.2020, New Delhi: As the entire nation is homebound, this year, Tata Power is focused on promoting resource and energy conservation from the comfort of one’s home. The company has announced the second edition of “#Switchoff2SwitchOn” in order to increase awareness, promote sustainable living and engage with a wider audience than the previous season. It is noteworthy that Tata Power has won “The Edison Award” for Social Innovation for its “Club Enerji #SwitchOff2SwitchOn” campaign under the Social Energy Solutions category,

Spread over three months, this social media led campaign has been rolled out with a teaser video and will be further promoted via a series of videos encapsulating the dire need for the millennials and Gen Z to recalibrate their actions to save natural resources and energy to create a sustainable future.

It is no secret that we, human beings, have taken our planet for granted, exploiting resources and depleting its biodiversity to feed our unsustainable ways. Looking at the different examples of the way in which nature has reclaimed her property, this pandemic also serves as a reminder to all of us about the need to step back, take a closer look at our development, change the way we are living and reconfigure our transportation to reduce our carbon emissions.

With children as the target audience, Club Enerji students will convey the core message of the campaign through a series of videos on tips and tricks to save energy and resources amid the lockdown, which will be promoted on the Club’s social media pages. In addition, it will be hosted on Tata Power’s Green Community page to encourage individuals across the globe to click on the ‘Thumbs up’ icon on the page as a sign of their support for this campaign.

Ms Shalini Singh, Chief-Corporate Communications & Sustainability, Tata Power said, “We, at Tata Power, have always been walking the talk. As an environmentally conscious organisation, it is our endeavour to create nationwide awareness about the importance of responsible energy consumption and conservation, through our initiatives. We are confident that this campaign will propel on the basis of the success of the campaign’s first season through continued promotion and sensitisation of, not just our offline customers, but also of a wider online audience.”

International webinar on the Use of waste Iron and Steel slag in Road Construction, organized by CSIR-Central Road Research Institute, New Delhi

Webinar also raised Rs. 115,000/- contribution to PM CARES Fund to fight COVID-19 as token of appreciation from participants

04.05.2020, New Delhi: Unfazed by the coronavirus pandemic that has been the focus of our anxiety today, the CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi to disseminate technological information organized a two-day international webinar on Utilization of Iron and Steel slag in road construction from 24th to 25th April 2020. CRRI is the India's leading road research institute under the aegis of CSIR working on several research projects to explore future of road construction in India using waste steel slag. In this webinar, international experts from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, besides the representatives of renowned steel companies Tata Steel, JSW Steel and Arcellor Mittal & Nippon Steel, shared knowledge and information about the use of steel slag as substitute of natural aggregate in road construction. A presentation on steel slag based Terra-surfacing technique of road maintenance and quick rehabilitation, given by Verma Industry, was also an attraction.

Iron and Steel Slag is one of the major solid waste products of steel making processes. Based on the type of furnace used for the conversion of iron to steel, steel slag is classified as Basic Oxygen Furnace (major type) commonly known as LD slag and Electric Arc Furnace slag. A huge quantity of steel slag is generated in India, majority of which, after metal recovery, ends as waste dump or as land fill material.

Highlighting the objectives of the webinar, Professor Satish Chandra, Director, CRRI, New Delhi, informed that steel slag is being used in road construction in many developed countries. The Central Road Research Institute is developing the necessary technology under a major research project sponsored by the Ministry of Steel, Govt. of India to use steel slag aggregates for road construction in India.

Dr. Satish Pandey, Senior Scientist of the Institute, and also Assistant Professor with Academy of Scientific and Industrial Research, besides heading the research projects, as well as the convenor of this international webinar; told that about 18.5 million tonnes of steel slag are produced every year as solid waste in Indian steel plants. This steel slag can be converted into road making aggregates to substitute natural aggregate for construction of bituminous and cement concrete roads. About two hundred participants from Indian and abroad participated in this international webinar, which was specially designed for Highway Engineers, Professionals, Policy Makers in Government and Private Sectors, Consultants, and Concessionaires.

Through this webinar, an amount of about Rs. 115,000 was also collected as token of appreciation on voluntary basis from participants and the entire amount was contributed to the Prime Minister's Care Fund, created for the rescue of Covid 19 in India.

At the end of the webinar Shri Manoj Shukla, Head of Flexible Pavement Dept., CRRI expressed the vote of thanks to participants and experts.

JSW Steel's Bhadra iron ore mine got EC to excavate 7.5 MTPA post enhancement

04.05.2020, New Delhi: The proposal by JSW Steel Limited for enhancement of Bhadra Iron Ore mine to attain a total excavation of 7.5 MTPA has been accorded environmental clearance (EC) on 4th May 2020 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The EC pertains to enhancement of Iron Ore mine from 1.25 MTPA to 1.50 MTPA and waste (over burden/inter burden) production of 6.0 MTPA, in the mine lease area of 130.53 hectare, located in Donimalai Reserved Forest, Ittanhalli Village, Sandur Mandal, Ballari District of Karnataka.

In the first specific condition, it is stated that the expansion shall be operational after submission of an undertaking through affidavit to the MoEF&CC within 15 days of receipt of the EC letter that the project will comply with all the prescribed conditions. There is also a related condition that the EC shall be operational after submission of approved R & R plans.

The EC also has specified a condition that the transportation of minerals through road will be allowed till 31st March 2021.

The 18 page EC bearing F. No. J-11015/15/2007-IA.II (M) dated 04.05.2020 also states that in case, immediate mining scheme envisages intersection of ground water table, the EC shall become operational only after receiving formal clearance from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA). The permission of intersection of ground water table shall essentially be based on detailed hydro-geological study of the area.

Validity of Battery Waste Management Draft Rules 2020 extended by 30 days

02.05.2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has brought proposal to amend the Battery Waste Management Rules 2020, vide S.O. 770(E) dated 20th February 2020. Earlier, the Batteries Management and Handling Rules were notified in 2001 and amended in 2010. This video deliberates on the roles and responsibilities of consumers and bulk consumers, specified in the rules.

The Ministry has issued a corrigendum duly signed by the Joint Secretary on 27th April 2020 that the expiry of the stated draft notification as mentioned in page 1, line 8 shall now become 90 days in place of 60 days. Any person interested in making any objection or suggestion on the proposals contained in the draft notification may do so in writing within the period through email to satyendra.kumar07@ips.gov.in. This ostensibly means one can send his/her comments to the government latest by 19th May 2020.

Subsequently, Gazette of India bearing S. O. 1407(E). dated 01.05.2020 was also issued.

Supreme Court declined to entertain matter under consideration of NGT

30.04.2020, New Delhi: Hon'ble Supreme Court today declined to entertain petition No. WP(C)No.472/20 filed by Ankit Gupta, a Law student on the basis that National Green Tribunal (NGT) already dealing with the similar matter.

A three-judge bench comprising Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice B.R. Gavai heard the petition seeking directions for proper handling and disposal of masks and other related Covid-19 waste that is being disposed of as household waste.

Learned Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that as far as Prayer A is concerned, a circular dated 27.04.2020 has already been issued by the Ministry of Health, which deals with the relief sought by the petitioner-in-person.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul inquired from the Petitioner that if the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was seized of the matter, then why was there a need to press for direction from the Supreme Court.

However, the Court observed as far as Prayer B is concerned, the issue is already being taken care of by the NGT and stated that, “We will leave it to the NGT to consider how the matter should be publicized.”

The petition stated that the absence of awareness regarding disposal of face masks by public and any guideline/ advisory by the Health Ministry for the handling of such bio-hazardous waste is what made the petitioner to file this PIL.

The court while disposing of the matter stated that we leave the matter for NGT’s consideration, and also stated that you cannot bring everything to the Supreme Court.

Famous Water Conservation Campaign “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” gears up for monsoon

29.04.2020, New Delhi: ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ - a campaign for water conservation and water security launched by the Union Jal Shakti Minister, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, on 1st July 2019 is all set to fight out the present health crisis. It is expected to give a boost to the rural economy through its various components. This year owing to the COVID-19 emergency, and availability of large labour force in rural areas, the Abhiyan has started gearing up for the impending monsoon.

In a first of its case a Joint Advisory has been issued from the Department of Rural Development, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Department of Land Resources, the Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation to all the Chief Secretaries of all States/ UTs, in context with the impending monsoon this year and the preparations to be done for water conservation and recharge which is of utmost importance for our country.

Inspired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s impetus on Jal Sanchay, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) is a time-bound, mission-mode water conservation campaign was launched and in 2019 it covered 256 water stressed districts across the country. JSA is a mass movement to bring all the stakeholders under one ambit of water conservation drive, and in its first year it had a nationwide impact. Under this Abhiyan more than 6.5 Crore people became part comprising of State Governments, Central Government, Civil Society Organisations, Panchayati Raj Institutions and Communities. More than 27 Lakh (2.7 million) traditional and other water bodies and tanks were renovated and around a crore water conservation & rainwater harvesting structures were created.

Encouraged by the response, a wider and more intensive strategy was planned for this year. But owing to the current health emergency, Central Government officials will not be deployed in Abhiyan this summer. In view of it, it will be ensured that all available resources be optimally deployed to catch the rain during the monsoon this year and preparatory activities are also well placed.

Ministry of Home Affairs have allowed to take up MNGREGS works/ drinking water & sanitation works during lockdown with priority to be given to irrigation and water conservation works. Central and State sector schemes in irrigation and water conservation sectors have also been allowed to be implemented with suitable dovetailing with MNREGS works. It will be further ensured that all works are undertaken with strict implementation of social distancing, use of face covers/ masks and other necessary precautions. Rejuvenation of traditional water bodies, removal of encroachments in the water bodies, desilting of lakes & ponds, construction/ strengthening of inlets/outlets, catchment area treatment can be taken up on priority. Similarly, rejuvenation of small rivers through community driven River Basin Management practices may also be initiated. Such activities would ensure water source sustainability in rural areas and would strengthen the ongoing Jal Jeevan Mission being implemented by Ministry of Jal Shakti. In addition to it the Village Action Plan (VAP) prepared by local community for Jal Jeevan Mission will provide a solid framework to the rural activities. Despite COVID-19 impact, an early start this year may result in more water conservation through rainwater harvesting.

Petersberg Climate Dialogue 2020: Environment technology should be open source, at affordable cost, deliberated Union Environment Minister

28.04.2020, New Delhi: The eleventh session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue witnessed India along with 30 other countries deliberating over ways and means to tackle the challenge of reinvigorating economies and societies after COVID-19, while enhancing collective resilience and catalysing climate action while also supporting in particular those most vulnerable. For the first time, the dialogue was held virtually in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 28th April 2020, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, who represented India in the Dialogue, said; as the World is unitedly engaged in finding a vaccine for novel Coronavirus, likewise we should have Climate Technology as open source which must be available at affordable cost.

Emphasizing on the issue of Climate finance, the Union Minister said the World now needs more. “We must plan for 1 trillion USD in grants to developing world immediately”, advocated the Union Minister.

Expressing solidarity with the world as it combats the COVID-19 pandemic Shri Javadekar highlighted how the pandemic has taught us that we can survive on less. India expressed solidarity with the world as it combats the Covid-19 pandemic and stress upon adopting more sustainable consumption patterns in line with the requirement of sustainable lifestyles, as was first mooted by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi during Paris Conference of Parties (COP), reiterated the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

He mentioned that India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) spanning a ten-year time frame are ambitious and are also compliant with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. The minister also spoke about the opportunity world has today to accelerate renewable energy deployment and creating new green jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.

The first virtual Climate Dialogue, was the eleventh session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue which has been hosted by Germany since 2010 to provide a forum for informal high-level political discussions, focusing both on international climate negotiations and the advancement of climate action. The virtual XI Petersberg Climate Dialogue was co-chaired by Germany and United Kingdom, the incoming Presidency of 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The dialogue saw participation from Ministers and representatives of about 30 countries.

This year’s dialogue came at a crucial juncture when countries are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, overcoming social and economic consequences of the pandemic while also preparing to move into the implementation phase of Paris Agreement under UNFCCC in post-2020 period. The key agenda of the dialogue was to discuss how we can jointly tackle the challenge of reinvigorating our economies and societies after COVID-19, while enhancing our resilience and catalyzing climate action while also supporting in particular those most vulnerable.

The Union Minister also participated in an Indo German bilateral meeting with Ms. Svenja Shulze, Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany. This bilateral meeting was held via video conference just before the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. It covered discussions on a range of issues covering climate change, conservation of biodiversity and technical cooperation with Germany in these areas. The situation in both countries arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovery efforts, were also discussed.

Death of White Tigress Kalpana was not due to COVID-19

24.04.2020, New Delhi: Kalpana, white tigress aged 13 years died suddenly at the capital's zoo. She fell ill on Tuesday, 21st April 2020, and died on 22nd April 2020, around 7:30 pm in the evening. Sources say that the same white tigress was quite active till Sunday.

Today, it is declared that Kalpana, white tigress died of acute renal failure and other complications related to old age. As such there were no symptoms or external conditions to suspect that her death is due to COVID-19. However, as per Central Zoo Authority advisory issued in this regard, samples had been collected after ensuring all bio-security measures and were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute. Later, IVRI has confirmed that Tigress Kalpana was found negative for COVID-19.

SPCBs & UTPCCs have to bridge the gap in Authorizing HCFs under the BMW Rules: NGT

23.04.2020, Delhi: The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) conducted the hearing against Original Application No. 72/2020 regarding remedial action to address the gaps in compliance of the BMW Rules, 2016, as applicable to the disposal of bio-medical waste arising out of handling of COVID-19 disease, so as to ensure protection of environment and public health, in view of potential of such infectious waste adversely affecting public health, concerned workers and professionals etc.

The ‘Guidelines for Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment/ Diagnosis/ Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients’ issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), last revised on 18.4.2020, were taken into perusal. The bench comprising of Hon'ble Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chair Person, Hon'ble Justice S. P. Wangdi, Judicial Mmber and Dr. Nagin Nanda, Expert Member; heard Dr. Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB. The NGT broadly reviewed on the need for revision of the laid down guidelines to address all concerns in the light of best practices and experience from time to time so that all aspects of scientific disposal of liquid and solid waste management are taken care of not only at institution level but also at individual levels, dealing with situations where adequate facilities (like incinerators) are not available, distinct colour guidelines for the bins etc., reviewing effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information by way of electronic manifest system from the handlers of such waste and its online reporting by the State PCBs/PCCs on daily basis by developing necessary software, creating awareness by special awareness programmers, organizing trainings in concerned Local Bodies, Health Departments, etc., providing workers handling COVID-19 waste with adequate protective gear, adequate coordination with media and other concerned regulatory authorities in the States and the Central Government.

At individual levels disposal of used PPEs, used bags, gloves, goggles, etc., should be taken care of so that the items do not straightaway get mixed with other municipal solid waste. Otherwise, these items could result in contamination of other solid wastes.

The NGT also observed that out of 2.7 lakh Health Care Facilities (HCFs) identified, only 1.1 lakh HCFs are given authorization under the BMW Management Rules, 2016 so far. The State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Union Territory Pollution Control Committees (UTPCCs) have to make serious efforts to bridge this gap to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste and to enforce rule of law.

The NGT also stated that the task of SPCBs/UTPCCs and the CPCB is part of essential health services for COVID-19. The CPCB was asked to convey this to all concerned.

World needs to act in one direction to combat Climate Change: Prakash Javadekar

23.04.2020, Delhi:

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that in the last almost 30 days, people have realized more of the importance of sustainable development. At the same time, he pointed out that there is no need to be too romantic about the blue skies, starlit nights, clean rivers, crisp air and abundant sightings of flora and fauna over the past one month of lockdown. “We have got this environment only because there are no vehicles plying, no industries working. This kind of environment is well known in villages. Now, cities are developed with growing population and needs. Moreover, under such conditions, perhaps we can sustain a population of 30 crore, not the 130 crore we have in India,'' said the minister, emphasizing that if the COVID-19-induced lockdowns around the world had shown anything, it was that people needed to live more sustainable lifestyles. Shri Javadekar deliberated that we must think it in a holistic manner. India takes the challenges is to make a sustainable development even in this situation, he added.

The Union Minister was speaking on a webinar "Impact of COVID-19 on Climate Action", organised by TERRE Policy Centre, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and MIT-WPU Faculty of Sustainability Studies, on the eve of Earth Day. This year marks the golden jubilee of the celebrations of Earth Day, an annual global event spearheaded by the Earth Day Network for environmental consciousness.

Highlighting Indian traditional ethos, practices, The Union Minister said that we perceive that extra consumption is a sin. Citing an example of the success of waste-to-energy plants in the developed nation, which does not work in India; the Minister pointed out Indian wastes does not contain protein or other values, because we don’t waste. Therefore, there is only waste in the waste and no food in the waste. Shri Javadekar said that it has become important right now for the global community to get back together towards building a sustainable world.

The Minister also pointed that India’s power consumption is 1,000 units per person annually, while in USA it stands to be 12,000 units per person every year. Similarly, India has 25 cars per 1,000 people, while the USA, and the western world has 400-600 per thousand people. More Consumption means more pollution. The developed countries have exported their pollution to China and other parts of the world, so that they get clean goods. Now they are blaming the same countries for pollution. But ironically the developed nations like US and Europe are to be blamed for this pollution. Unless consumption pattern and lifestyle are changed by the developed nations, sustainable development goals can’t be attained.

Shri Javadekar further pointed out that in 2009 the world agreed on two things. One, 100 billion USD a year to mitigate the climate change and for adaptation action. Now, after 11years, it has become more than 1 Trillion USD. The minister lamented that the biggest hurdle to Sustainable Development is broken promises. He further added that the developed world needs to contribute more, financially, to help the poor nations, and also provide technology solutions without factoring in massive profit margins.

However, India stands committed to achieve its NDCs, said Shri Javadekar. India has taken world's largest renewable 40% of energy mix from renewables, to create 2.5 billion of carbon equivalent, and achievement of 35% reduction in emission intensity.

The minister said that economies would be heavily impacted due to the pandemic, and, right now. “The new normal will be very different. But India will try to ensure the Paris Agreement is kept alive. We are on target. And now, the world, too must realise that COVID-19 has taught us a lesson on the need for sustainability'', said the Union Minister.

Shri Javadekar reminded Prime Minister's statement that "Inconvenient truths can be dealt by convenient actions" and also added to it that "Convenient Actions can only take place when the world works in one direction."

Tata Power launched ‘I Have the Power to Choose’ Campaign to celebrate 50th Earth Day

23.04.2020, Delhi: On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on 22nd April 2020, Tata Power has partnered with Earth Day Network to promote the theme of ‘Climate Action’ this year by launching the ‘I Have the Power to Choose’ campaign. In tune with the company’s existing ‘I Have the Power’ campaign, this particular one aims to sensitise its customers and employees across the country by promoting sustainable alternatives which help everyone to live a sustainable life, and giving them the – ‘#Power2Choose’.

The objective behind this partnership is to bring about change at an individual level and sensitise masses to act responsibly by making a small contribution towards reducing climate change. With this, the company intends to encourage individuals from all walks of life to take the ‘#Power2Choose’ pledge and bring about a positive change in their energy consumption habits, the company aims to mobilise and appeals all for a united transformative action for the planet.

The campaign will be promoted via TTL & BTL mediums amongst enlightened and evolved citizens. The ‘#Power2Choose’ pledge can be taken on the official website. This campaign will also run live across all the social media handles of Tata Power, where customers and employees can register themselves and to take this pledge.

Elated by this partnership, Ms Shalini Singh, Chief-Corporate Communications & Sustainability, Tata Power said, “As a sustainable and environmentally conscious organisation, it gives us great pleasure to join hands with the Earth Day Network. As like-minded organisations, we aim to help future generations to make informed choices and thereby works towards making our planet a healthy and better place to live in. We are confident that this campaign will make individuals realise that they have the ‘Power to protect’ the planet and will join us in bringing about a change in the eco-system.”

60 Machines deployed in Drive to Sanitise Entire Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

18.04.2020, Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sounded upbeat on Saturday, while informing about a slight decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state in the last three days. He expressed hopefulness that it would reduce further in the coming days. The Chief Minister said that on 17th April 2020, only 67 people were found positive for the novel virus, out of 2,274 samples tested. A few days earlier, the daily tally of infections ranged between 180 and 350. The chief minister also appealed to people living in containment areas to follow rules and don’t step out of their homes.

While addressing an online media briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, he said “We have created various containment zones in Delhi. Right now we have 71 containment zones in Delhi. In these containment zones, nobody can go inside or come outside. The government officials take care of all the needs of essential services for the people. We are restricting the entry and exit of these areas but my appeal to all those people within these containment zones should not visit each other’s house or come out of their own house. I am worried because people within some containment zones or not properly following the guidelines of social distance. In Jahangirpuri within a containment zone, 26 people related to one family have found to be positive. This means that they have not followed the orders of social distancing and visited each other’s houses. My appeal to all that you should not be in this illusion that you will not be affected by COVID-19 because the source of the virus is difficult to find out. This virus is above any religion, caste, gender and it can happen to anyone and everybody has the same kind of vulnerability towards Coronavirus infection.”

The Delhi Chief Minister also announced that “Today, we have decided that this scheme will be extended. Today we have decided that if any doctor, nurse, a sanitation worker of any hospital, lab technician contracts the infection and dies due to it, while attending to the patients of COVID-19, then Delhi govt will give a compensation of Rs 1 Crore to their family. There are other people too who are looking after Corona patients-Police, Civil Defence volunteers, teachers. If anyone contracts Coronavirus and dies due to it, while looking after Corona patients, then it will be extended to all such people. Their families will be given Rs 1 crore."

Shri Arvind Kejriwal said that 60 sanitisation machines are operating in Delhi and many areas are being sanitised. “The sanitisation drive is on and we will cover the entire city and if you want that sanitisation of your area is needed then you can approach the government and we will take care of it immediately,” he added.

NHPC's e-Reverse Auction for 2000 MW Grid Connected Solar PV Project

17.04.2020, Delhi: NHPC ((formerly known as National Hydroelectric Power Corp.), a CPSU under Union Ministry of Power successfully conducted the e-reverse Auction (ERA) on 16th April 2020 for the 2000 MW Grid Connected Solar PV Project to be set up anywhere in India. The auction was held in presence of Shri Abhay Kumar Singh, CMD, NHPC and Shri Y.K. Chaubey, Director (Technical).

Shri R. K. Singh, Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, said in a tweet, “Bid for setting up 2000 MW of solar generation capacity was finalized by NHPC, a CPSU under the Ministry of Power, at a competitive tariff of Rs. 2.55 / 2.56 per unit. During lockdown we kept our interaction with stakeholders alive throughvirtual platforms and also brought out new bids.”

The Union Minister further said in his tweet that this tariff is the result of several measures which we have undertaken during the past few months to enhance confidence of investors and to promote ease of doing business. We stand committed to minimizing the risk to investors.

The ERA was conducted amongst 7 bidders with aggregate capacity of 3140 MW. Against the total allocated capacity of 2000 MW, lowest e-RA tariff of Rs 2.55/unit to Rs 2.56/ unit was achieved against the initial quoted tariff of Rs 2.71/ unit to Rs 2.78/ unit. Inspite of complete lockdown in India due to Covid – 19, NHPC successfully completed the E-Reverse Auction.

Navjiwan Vihar Residents Strive to Face COVID-19 Challenges Through Stringent Norms

17.04.2020, Delhi: With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic spreading rampantly and its impacts upon human health, services and the economy intensifying day-by-day. Government of India has kept waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment. The safe management of household waste is critical during this emergency. Unbeknown to consequential chain, medical waste such as contaminated masks, gloves, used or expired medicines, and other items often get mixed with domestic garbage. This should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of separately. These should be separately stored from other household waste streams and collected by specialist municipality or waste management operators.

Dr. Ruby Makhija, Secretary, Navjiwan RWA, New Delhi says, “We did not want our essential services to crash. So we had moved our guards and garbage collectors in house from the very day of Janta Curfew on 22nd March 2020. Our residents strictly follow the guidelines. Thus, no part time maids, or staff are entering into the colony. Most of the residents had full time helps, some have made their part timers as full timers and the rest are managing themselves. Segregation of waste more or less is in place. We received mixed garbage from a couple of houses few days back. We circulated a message; Our compost pits are now full, so the wet waste waste will now being picked up by SSIL separately. The compost will be ready in a few days and then we will empty the pits and start the cycle afresh. Since all our garbage collectors are in-house, they will be helping us with the same. And, things fell on place.”

Dr. Makhija, who is also an Ophthalmologist by profession added, “Just before the crisis, we had launched our biomedical waste segregation but was still not in place. We have requested our residents to give it including disposable masks and gloves in a separate newspaper bag with a request to tear off the masks and gloves before disposal. Many houses have already started doing so. We will coordinate with ULB to have it picked separately. The video on how to make newspaper bags has been circulated among the residents. Navjiwan RWA insists its residents to use cloth masks, which are being stitched at a nominal rate of Rs. 25 to 30 per piece.”

Use cloth masks are better than disposable masks because of many reasons:

1. Reduced burden on waste management program

2. Incorrect disposal of disposable masks may be disastrous. Chances of this happening are quite high.

3. Cloth masks are economical

Same applies to gloves. Additionally, sometimes gloves give people, a pseudo feeling that we are safe now so we tend to become more lax with basic precautions. So, in some cases, it may do more harm than good.

We advise hand wash with soap and water. Gloves to be judiciously used only where indicated, added Dr. Ruby Makhija.

Reinforcing India’s Fight against COVID-19 MoEF&CC has amended EIA Notification 2006 pertaining to Bulk Drug Industries

15.04.2020, Delhi: Perceiving the gravity of COVID-19 with the right sense, earlier, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had issued Office Memorandum No. 19-21/2020-IA.III (Part) dated 11th March 2020 stating, “In order to ensure drug availability/ production to reduce the impact of the outbreak of Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) and to improve overall preparedness of drugs, the Ministry has directed that projects or activities in respect of Bulk Drugs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Bulk Drug Intermediates) shall be considered out of turn and clearances shall be issued expeditiously.”

Subsequently, to ramp up availability or production of various drugs, a notification dated 27th March 2020 has been issued by the MoEF&CC. The notification states that "All proposals for projects or activities in respect of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), received up to 30th September 2020, shall be appraised as Category B2 projects, provided that any subsequent amendment or expansion or change in product mix, after 30th September 2020, shall be considered as per the provisions in force at that time. All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category. Projects falling under Category B2 are exempted from requirement of collection of Base line data, EIA Studies and public consultation. The re-categorization of such proposals has been done to facilitate decentralization of appraisal to State Level so as to fast track the process. This step of the Government of India is with a view to help in increasing the availability of the important medicines/ drugs in the country within short span of time. The states have also been issued advisories to expeditiously process such proposals.

Further, to ensure expeditious disposal of the proposals within given time-line, Ministry has also advised states to use information technology e.g. video conference, considering the fact that in view of the prevailing situation on ground, appraisal of proposals may not be possible through physical meetings.

Within a period of about two weeks, more than 100 proposals have been received under this category, which are at different levels of decision making by the concerned regulatory authorities in the states.

Tata Power’s ‘Dhaaga’ supplied more than 120,000 Face Masks

15.04.2020, Delhi: With its 103 years track record of technology leadership, project execution excellence, world-class safety processes, customer care and driving green initiatives, Tata Power is well known for 'lighting up lives'. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic it is now extending support for protection of human lives. In the wake of rampant spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole India is facing significant challenges. The country was witnessing a shortage and restricted access to protective masks across the country during this lockdown period. Prompted by the need to cater to this demand amongst community members of Tata Power’s operational areas, women members of ‘Dhaaga’ initiative have created homemade cloth masks for the vulnerable and migrant population across various states of India. They have successfully supplied more than 120,000 face masks in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

Proud of this initiative of Dhaaga members, Ms Shalini Singh, Chief-Corporate Communications & Sustainability said, “The supply of these face masks by our Dhaaga members has been critical and timely in meeting the demand from a very vulnerable section of the local population in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Odisha, particularly the migrant population who were returning to the safety of their homes. We appreciate their efforts of supporting the community and wish that these skilled women entrepreneurs of Dhaaga will continue to do their bit during these challenging times.”

Dhaaga is a woman based micro-enterprise initiative in the thematic area of livelihood & skill building of Tata Power, which augments household income. Dhaaga women members from Pune’s Mulshi and Maval region, Trombay, Jamshedpur and Kalinganagar extended their support to the communities in need around their vicinity by distributing facemasks to the community members and migrant workforce in the area. Subsequently, Amazon also approached these enterprising women to supply cloth masks. Today the Dhaaga initiative touches lives of 1050 women across 8 states of the country; Delhi, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

These masks are made as per the government norms and supports the company’s Health Thrust Area under its CSR Initiatives. Tata Power has been facilitating various initiatives to address the need of the community in collaboration with the local district administration, stakeholders and NGO partners in the vicinity of its business operations spread across ten states of the country.

COVID-19 Impact: Govt. of India puts Wildlife Animal Habitats on High Alert

06.04.2020, Delhi:

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India to perform functions u/s 38-C of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; has been actively responding to the draconian COVID-19 emergency to ensure better upkeep and healthcare of wild animals.

In the wake of Bronx Zoo news on Tiger being infected, the CZA has issued precautionary measures to be taken by Zoos across India. It has advised all the Zoos in India to remain on highest alertness though monitoring and mapping all housed animals 24x7. According to NTCA, the tigers may be observed for symptoms consistent with COVID 19 such as respiratory signs of nasal discharge, coughing and laboured breathing through direct observation to the extent possible besides through camera trap images for visible symptoms. The advisory states that sick animals be isolated and quarantine. Mammals like carnivores especially cat, ferret and primates to be carefully monitored. Fortnightly samples of suspect cases to be sent to designated animal health institutes for testing of COVID-19. All bio-containment and safety measures shall be followed to handle the high risk pathogen as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.

Experts from ICMR, Cabinet Secretariat and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) convened meetings to review, initiate measures for critical preparedness, readiness and responsive action to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Animal Science Division of ICAR conveyed approval of three Animal Health Institutes to initiate COVID-19 testing at their respective Institutes:

1. National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

2. National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE), Hisar, Haryana.

3. Centre for Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic (CADRAD), Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly, UP.

The Zoo Keepers and Handlers have been advised not to be allowed in the vicinity without safety gear, preferably Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and all zoo personnel to strictly adhere to safety and disinfection protocol issued by the Government of India.

The zoos shall coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the Government responsible for public health response, and permit screening, testing, and surveillance and diagnostic samples, as and when required by the nodal agency.

The Wildlife Division of the MoEF&CC has expressed concern over the possibilities of spread of the virus amongst animals in National Parks, Sanctuaries, Tiger Reserves and also transmission of the virus from humans to animals and vice-versa. It has issued an advisory to all the States and Union Territories to take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus. It has called for reduced human wildlife interface, restricted the movement of people to National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves. It has further advised to constitute a Task Force or Rapid Action Force (RAF) with Field Managers, Veterinary Doctors, Front line staff, to manage the situation as quickly as possible.

An essential services for emergency treatment of animals and their safe release back to their natural habitats, needs to be set up, as and when required.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has also issued a six-point advisory, emphasizing need of diligence to be exercised while handling post mortem cases to record location, age and sex of the animal while collecting samples for Corona virus diagnosis in consultation with the State Veterinary officials while safeguarding oneself through appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). NTCA has stated "Being a notifiable disease, any positive case needs to be reported immediately to the NTCA for onward transmission to Authorities concerned."

Tata Group Leading Corporate Warrior Against COVID-19

06.04.2020, Delhi: It is well known that the Tata group, comprising of Tata Trusts and Tata Sons, has donated Rs. 1,500 Crore towards COVID-19 relief measures. It has further offered the Taj Hotel rooms for the medical professionals working on COVID-19 duty. According to sources, these rooms will be available across 7 Tata hotels namely Taj Mahal Palace, Taj Lands End, Taj Santacruz, The President, Ginger MIDC Andheri, Ginger Madgaon and Ginger Noida City Center.

On the other hand, Tata Steel is reaching out to the citizens of Jamshedpur through various initiatives to deal with the pandemic. Tata Steel Utilities and Infrastructure Services Limited (TSUISL) (formerly known as JUSCO), a Tata Steel subsidiary, is ensuring regular cleaning, fumigation and sanitisation, garbage collection and disposal in Jamshedpur. TSUISL is collecting around 248 tonnes per day of solid waste, out of which 55 tonnes is segregated waste. The Company has engaged over 1200 personnel (sanitisation, garbage collection, water and electrical supply, sweepers, call center agents etc.) to serve the citizens of Jamshedpur. According to a press release, a total of 110 areas in Jamshedpur has been covered through the sanitisation drive till 4th April 2020. The Company is also exploring the possibilities of using fire tenders to disinfect market places and big areas in Jamshedpur.

TSUISL is encouraging home composting and has developed a video communication to propagate this concept and to enable Jamshedpur citizens to make use of leftovers, waste and unwanted extras and turn them into fertile soil to boost the productivity of gardens and landscapes.

MoRTH advises States for Compliance with SC Order on BS-IV Vehicle Registration

01.04.2020, Delhi: The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has advised NIC to facilitate the States and Union Territories in limited registration of Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) -compliant vehicles all over India except Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) in compliance with Supreme Court directions contained in its order dated 27.3.2020.

The Supreme Court has allowed the sale of 10% of unsold BS IV compliant vehicles for 10 days, after the end of the 21-days countrywide lockdown. It is important to note that the Supreme Court has maintained the stay on sale and registration of such vehicles in Delhi and NCR.

Earlier, in a judgment dated 24.10.2018, the Apex Court in a case of M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India and others 2018 held that no BS-IV compliant vehicles should be permitted to be sold in India after 31.03.2020 (Deadline). The Judgment stated that all automobile manufacturers in India have to dispose of the vehicles which conform to BS-IV norms and have to adopt BS-VI norms, which provide improved, and eco-friendly technological changes, in manufacturing automobiles. Sold BS-IV vehicles have to be registered within 10 days of sale. BS IV vehicles brought before March 31 can be registered later too.

Accordingly, the registration of only BS-VI vehicles is permitted from today throughout India. As per the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) 700,000 two-wheelers, 15,000 passenger cars, and 12,000 commercial vehicles are unsold. Further, 105,000 two-wheelers, 2250 passenger cars, and 2000 commercial vehicles are sold but not registered in India.

Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) are the standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the emissions of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). In order to lessen the damage being caused to the environment from automobile use, in January 2016, the Government of India, announced to leapfrog to Bharat Stage (BS) VI standard of auto fuel from existing BS IV, skipping BS-V emissions norms. The norms will be applicable on Pan-India basis with effect from 1st April 2020.

MoEF&CC extends validity of ESA/ESZ draft notification

30.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has extended the period of validity of Draft Notification bearing S O No. 1127(E) dated 18th March 2020 relating to Ecologically Sensitive Zones, and Ecologically Sensitive Areas from 545 days to 725 days. The said notification was issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

The Ministry has also clarified that the validity of all existing draft notifications, relating to all Ecologically Sensitive Areas & Ecologically Sensitive Zones, pending, and valid as on the date of publication of the notification and subsequent draft notifications shall be 725 days.

However, the Ministry has yet to clarify its stand on the validity of several other draft notifications, such as the EIA Notification 2020, and Battery Waste Management Rules 2020.

Contribution to PM CARES Fund Qualifies CSR Expenditure

29.03.2020

The entire world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that has posed serious challenges for the health and economic security of millions of people. India too is not an exception. According to the Health Ministry sources, the latest (4.40 PM) number of coronavirus infected cases stood at 979. This has resulted in an emergency. Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ has been set up on 28.03.2020. Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust and its Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.

Soon after, Tata Trusts pledged Rs. 500 Crores, on different heads, to protect and empower all affected communities from the wrath of COVID-19. According to a press release issued by Tata Trust, Chairman, Shri Ratan N Tata’s has stated, "The current situation in India and across the world is of grave concern and needs immediate action. Tata Trusts and the Tata group’s companies have in the past risen to the needs of the nation. At this moment, the need of the hour is greater than any other time."

The statement further mentions, "In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the COVID-19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face."

Tata Sons has announced an additional Rs 1000 Crores support towards COVID-19 and related activities.

On the very day, it was also notified through an office memorandum bearing Ref. No. CSR-05/1/2020-CSR-MCA issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs that any contribution made to the PM CARES Fund shall qualify as CSR expenditure under the Companies Act 2013.

JSW Group committed Rs 100 Crores, while employees of Airport Authority of India have made an initial contribution of Rs. 20 Crores towards PM CARES Fund.

The Defence Minister, Sh. Rajnath Singh informed that all the personnel in military forces and Ministry of Defence, have pledged to contribute one day salary that stands to be Rs. 500 crores to the PM CARES Fund, for which the Union Home Minister, Sh. Amit Shah expressed his gratitude to all of them. All paramilitary forces personnel, on 29/03/2020 have contributed their one day salary, totaling Rs. 116 crores to the PM CARES Fund, for which the Union Home Minister, Sh. Amit Shah expressed his gratitude to all of them.

This fund will enable micro-donations as a result of which a large number of people will be able to contribute with smallest of denominations.

The newly launched PM CARES Fund has attracted criticisms on social media, Some are asking why a new fund when a Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund already exists? While, some are asking about why PM CARES Fund and not INDIA CARES Fund. However, this could be discussed later, once the emergency is overcome.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in his monthly programme "Mann Ki Baat", today, spoke entirely on the grim situation and persuaded people of India to maintain calm at this challenging time.

COVID2019 Impact: MoEF&CC amends EIA Notification 2006 relating to APIs

28.03.2020

A notification dated 27th March 2020 has been issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The notification states that "All proposals for projects or activities in respect of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), received up to 30th September 2020, shall be appraised as Category B2 projects, provided that any subsequent amendment or expansion or change in product mix, after 30th September 2020, shall be considered as per the provisions in force at that time.

Earlier, the Ministry had issued Office Memorandum No. 19-21/2020-IA.III (Part) dated 11th March 2020 stating, “In order to ensure drug availability/ production to reduce the impact of the outbreak of Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) and to improve overall preparedness of drugs, the Ministry has directed that projects or activities in respect of Bulk Drugs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Bulk Drug Intermediates) shall be considered out of turn and clearances shall be issued expeditiously.”

Regulation for Hydroxychloroquine

27.03.2020

Govt. directs that sale by retail of any preparation containing the drug Hydroxychloroquine shall be in accordance with the conditions for sale of drugs specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

MoEF&CC Extends Validity EC expiring between 15.03.2020 to 30.03.2020

27.03.2020, Delhi: In view of the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockout declared, Govt. of India & the National Disaster Management Authority, notwithstanding any condition imposed in the respective Prior Environment Clearance in respect of the validity period, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has extended the validity of Prior Environmental Clearances (EC) in respect of all category of projects or activities expiring between 15th March 2020 and 30th April 2020, till 30th June 2020; provided that such project or activity is permissible to be carried out as per other relevant extant laws & regulation during the period of such extension. The extension is subject to same terms and conditions of the previous Prior Environmental Clearance in order to ensure uninterrupted operations of such projects or activities. A copy of the letter bearing F.No. 22-25/2020-IA.III dated 25th March 2020 is available at https://parivesh.nic.in/

COVID-19 Restrictions Causing Impact in Zoos

24.03.2020, Delhi: The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has informed that zoos are facing severe hardship in getting getting supply of food, drinking water, upkeep and healthcare of wild animals as a consequence of Section-144 and Curfew imposed for the containment of COVID-19. The CZA has requested Chief Secretaries of all States and Administration of Union Territories to specify the activities of food and drinking water supply, upkeep and healthcare of captive animals housed in zoos under the "essential services" and exempt them from the restrictions under extant legal provisions.

Earlier on 23rd March 2020, the CZA had issued a circular, requesting all the Chief Wildlife Warden of States and Union Territories to ensure supply of food, drinking water, necessary healthcare to all captive animals housed in zoos.

The CZA is a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to perform functions u/s 38-C of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has issued a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administration of Union Territories. Read More

Union Govt writes to States/UTs to ensure continuity of Print & Electronic Media

24.03.2020, Delhi: The Union Government of India has written to all State Governments, and Union Territories, requesting them to ensure operational continuity of Print and Electronic Media. The letter, addressed to Chief Secretaries, highlights importance of robust and essential information dissemination networks viz TV Channels, News Agencies, Teleport Operators, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG), Direct to Home (DTH) and Highend-in-the Sky (HITS), Multi System Operators (MSOs), Cable Operators, Frequency Modulation (FM) radio and Community Radio Stations. The Union Government has stated that the proper functioning of these networks is required not only to create awareness among people but also to keep the nation updated of the latest status. The letter further stated that these networks played a pivotal role in ensuring avoidance of fake news and promotion of good practices.

Allocation for Delhi's Environment in Sisodia's Budget

24.03.2020, Delhi: Amidst the COVID-19 furor, Delhi Assembly passed the Annual Budget for the Financial Year 2020-21 proposed by the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Delhi Government, Sh. Manish Sisodia. According to the budget, the Per Capita Income of Delhi has been estimated at ₹389,143 during 2019-20 with an increase of 8.57 % over the per capita income of ₹358,430 in the previous fiscal.

One of the 10 Guarantees of Chief Minister, Sh. Arvind Kejriwal is to keep the air of Delhi clean and making Delhi green. The Delhi Govt. has set a goal to reduce the air pollution by 2/3rd in the next 5 years. Smog towers will be installed to control air pollution on a large scale under the "Pollution Control and Environment Management" scheme, for which an outlay of ₹30 crore has been made. Delhi Government has also approved the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy in 2019. It aims to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles in place of the old ones so that the emission of the transport sector is reduced thereby improving the air quality of Delhi.

To overcome the manpower scarcity that affects the implementation of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; a new scheme “Deployment of Marshals” in Environment Department with an outlay of ₹2 crore in 2020-21 will be introduced . On the line of achieving the target of planting 2 crore saplings in the next 5 years, it has been earmarked to plant 40 lakh saplings during 2020-21. This shall be attained by 22 green agencies.

Government is to provide neat and clean environment in each slum colonies and JJ clusters with street lights to remove the dark spots as well as augmentation and maintenance of existing street lights under the Scheme Environment Improvement of Urban Slums.

Stating that there is a need to carry out intensive campaigns all over Delhi to create awareness and public participation in the environment, the Dy. Chief Minister proposed a ₹20 crore allocation in the budget. "This is for segregation of waste at home, avoiding single use plastic, rooftop plantation, gifting plants instead of offering bouquets, use of public transportation and car pooling, cycling for short distance, using jute and cloth bags, preventing waste of paper, to celebrate in eco-friendly ways and holding conferences on environmental issues etc.", he added.

The Dy. Chief Minister said that in order to encourage citizens to contribute for environmental protection and preservation work, Green Citizen Awards will be instituted.

In the budget speech, it was also informed that in order to promote solar energy, the government has issued notification of Delhi Solar Energy Policy under which people / institutions producing solar energy will be encouraged. In most of the government buildings, schools, technical institutes and courts etc., the process of setting up solar plants is going on. As of January 2020, around 3589 solar power plants with an aggregated capacity of 161.898 MW had been installed in Delhi. Around 200 acres of land for the installation of solar power plant have been offered by the farmers under the “Mukhyamantri Kisan Aay Badhotary Yojna”.

It was informed that the government has started the work of upgrading and expanding existing hospitals and construction of new hospitals to increase the bed capacity from 10,000 beds to 26,000 beds. Delhi Finance Minister also informed that the Government of Delhi has worked in close coordination with the Government of India at every level to fight against COVID-2019 by providing adequate Quarantine facilities on a war footing to Indians arriving Delhi from all over the world. A provision of ₹ 50 crore has been made for Budget Estimate for FY 2020-21.

A new scheme “Behavioural Change for Safety of the Women” for awareness campaign to trigger behavior change in the society will be introduced in 2020-21.

CBWTFs plays a vital role as COVID-19 Warriors

Sanjaya K Mishra

23.03.2020, Delhi: Amidst the furor due to tragic news from Italy, US, and Spain, the Government of India is striving to contain the Corona Virus, and #COVID-19. The success of People's Curfew (Janta Curfew), a 14-hour home quarantine, called by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrates the resolve and restraint of the people of India to stand together to tackle the worldwide pandemic. Subsequently, the Centre and State governments have been working strategically to lock down selected areas. During the lock down period, it is advised that people must stay away from unnecessary movements out of home. Only those in the frontlines of the war against COVID-19 will continue working relentlessly.

One of these frontline warriors are the biomedical waste (BMW) collectors, who reach to various hospitals, quarantine centres, isolation wards and collect the infected wastes for appropriate disposal. Two such companies; namely, Biotic Waste Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Delhi and Biotic Waste Ltd., Gurgaon have been working with due responsibility in this emergency time. Biotic Waste Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Delhi has the credit of getting the first ever Environmental Clearance granted to a Common Bio-Medical Waste Facility, while the Biotic Waste Ltd., Gurgaon is the second one to get the same. Just few days back, the Chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region, Shri Bhure Lal (Retd. IAS), and a team including the acclaimed environmentalist Ms. Sunita Narain; had inspected the biomedical waste management facility and practices of the Gurgaon unit.

When asked about their preparedness for the COVID-19 wastes, Sh. Vikas Ghallot, Director of Boitic, a CBWTF said that they have made arrangements of dedicated separate vehicles for the collection of wastes from identified and informed isolation wards, quarantine centres, and hospitals. If the hospital can also inform them till it is not identified by the government. Further, they have assigned specially trained personnel for the work. The companies have allotted special protection suits and all personal protective equipment, including sanitizer and soap for hand wash to the personnel. Once the waste reaches their respective facilities in Delhi and Gurgaon, it is immediately taken for incineration. The vehicle is disinfected and fumigated before it leaves for the next round of collection. Special records are being maintained by both Delhi and Gurgaon facilities.

The Delhi Common Bio-medical Waste Facility is covering Quarantine Camps at Hotel Pride Plaza, Aerocity; Hotel IBIS, Aerocity; Hotel Holiday Inn, Aerocity; Hotel Red fox, Aerocity; Hotel Aloft, Aerocity; T3, Arrival Airport; Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia hospital; Ambedkar hospital; Babu Jajjiwan Ram Hospital; Nehru homeopathy hospital; Training School, Tughlakabad; Training School, Shakur Basti; RPF Barrack, Tughlakabad; Narela, near Bharat Mata school; and Chhattarpur Mandir Road, Mehrauli. In Gurgaon they are attending Quarantine Base Hospital at Manesar, Treatment wards at Medanta, Fortis Hospital, NSG Hospital Manesar, Columbia Asia Hospital, and General Hospital at Sector 10, Gurgaon.

Greenco Rating System in Indian Railways

18.03.2020

With the pressure emanating from resource scarcity and climate change, "Green" has become the new driver for organizations across the globe. Going Green is no longer a philanthropic afterthought for organizations. It has become a more forward thinking and responsible approach for companies to produce and deliver its goods and services. GreenCo Rating System developed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) provides guidance and leadership to organizations to tread the green path. It helps the organizations to evaluate "How Green is the Company". According to a press release based on information given by the Union Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 18th March 2020; the GreenCo Rating System has been acknowledged in India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document, submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, as a proactive voluntary action of Indian industry / private sector towards combating climate change.

As per the Minister’s statement, assessment and rating of major Workshops and Production Units of Indian Railways as Green Industrial Units started with ‘GreenCo’ certification in 2016-17. It helps the industrial units in identifying and implementing various possible measures in terms of energy conservation, material conservation, recycling, utilisation of renewable energy, Green House Gases (GHG) reduction, water conservation, solid and liquid waste management, green cover etc. Increasing focus in these areas helps Railways in resource conservation and reduction in intensity of environmental impact.

This system is beneficial for the environment as the GreenCo rating assesses the units on their environmental performance and thus aligns them to national priorities towards environment such as energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy, waste management, etc. Beside 46 workshops and other units, the GreenCo Rating System has been implemented in Modern Coach factory, Raebareli; Diesel Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala; Integral Coach Factory, Chennai; Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi; Rail Wheel Factory, Yelahanka; Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala; Rail Wheel Plant, Bela. Tweet Us

Govt. of India seeks comments on Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020

18.03.2020

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has issued a draft notification on the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020. The draft has proposal for substitution in rule 2, sub-rule (1) clause (c) deliberating the meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The clause (e), shall be substituted, as "CSR Policy" means a statement containing the approach and direction given by the board of a company, as per recommendations of its CSR Committee, for selection, implementation and monitoring of activities to be undertaken in areas or subjects specified in Schedule VII of the Act.”

It has proposed for substitution in rule 2, sub-rule (1) clause (f) meaning of International Organization. Further, after clause (f) a new clauses (g), (h) and (i) shall be inserted. (g) specifies "Net profit". "Net profit" means the net profit of a company as per its financial statement prepared in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Act, but shall not include the following, namely: - (i) any profit arising from any overseas branch or branches of the company, whether operated as a separate company or otherwise; and (ii) any dividend received from other companies in India, which are covered under and complying with the provisions of section 135 of the Act: Provided that net profit in respect of a financial year for which the relevant financial statements were prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, (1 of 1956) shall not be required to be re-calculated in accordance with the provisions of the Act: Provided further that in case of a foreign company covered under these rules, net profit means the net profit of such company as per profit and loss account prepared in terms of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 381 read with section 198 of the Act. The clause (h) defines “Ongoing Projects”, which means a multi-year project undertaken by a Company in fulfillment of its CSR obligation having timelines not exceeding three years excluding the financial year in which it was commenced, and shall also include such projects that were initially not approved as a multi-year project but whose duration has been extended beyond a year by the Board based on reasonable justification. In addition, the clause (i) “Public Authority” means ‘Public Authority’ as defined in sub-clause (h) of section (2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.”

Rule 4, shall be substituted, namely:- “CSR Implementation - (1) The Board shall ensure that the CSR activities are undertaken by the company itself or through: (a) a company established under section 8 of the Act, or (b) any entity established under an Act of Parliament or a State legislature. Provided that such company/entity, covered under clause (a) or (b), shall register itself with the central government for undertaking any CSR activity by filing the e-form CSR-1 with the Registrar along with a prescribed fee. Provided further that the provisions of this sub-rule shall not affect the CSR projects or programmes that were approved prior to the commencement of the Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020. (2) A company may also collaborate with other companies for undertaking projects or programmes or CSR activities in such a manner that the CSR committees of respective companies are in a position to report separately on such projects or programmes in accordance with these rules. (3) A company may engage international organizations for designing, monitoring and evaluation of the CSR projects or programmes as per its CSR policy as well as for capacity building of their own personnel for CSR. Provided that a company may also engage an international organization for implementation of a CSR project subject to prior approval of the central government. (4) Board of a company shall satisfy itself that the funds so disbursed have been utilized for the purpose and in the manner as approved by it and Chief financial Officer or the person responsible for financial management shall certify to the effect. (5) In case of ongoing projects, the Board of a company shall monitor the implementation of the project with reference to the approved timelines and year wise allocation and shall be competent to make modifications, if any, for smooth implementation of the project within the overall permissible time period. “

Under rule 5, sub-rule (2) shall be substituted with "The CSR Committee shall formulate and recommend to the Board, an annual action plan in pursuance of its CSR policy, which shall include the following: (a) the list of CSR projects or programmes that are approved to be undertaken in areas or subjects specified in Schedule VII of the Act; (b) the manner of execution of such projects or programmes as specified in sub-rule (1) of Rule 4; (c) the modalities of utilization of funds and implementation schedules for the projects or programmes; and (d) monitoring and reporting mechanism for the projects or programmes. (e) Details of need and impact assessment, if any, undertaken by the company.”

Rule 6 with heading CSR Policy shall be omitted.

Rule 7 shall be substituted, namely:- “CSR Expenditure: (1) The board shall ensure that the administrative overheads incurred in pursuance of sub-section (4) (b) of section 135 of the Act shall not exceed five percent of total CSR expenditure of the company for the financial year. Provided that a company undertaking impact assessment, in pursuance of sub-rule (3) of Rule 8, may incur administrative overheads not exceeding ten percent of total CSR expenditure for that financial year. (2) Any surplus arising out of the CSR projects or programmes or activities shall not form part of the business profit of a company and shall be ploughed back into the same project or shall be transferred to the Unspent CSR Account and spent in pursuance of CSR policy and action plan of the company. (3) The CSR amount may be spent by a company for creation or acquisition of assets which shall only be held by a company established under section 8 of the Act having charitable objects or a public authority. Provided that any asset created by a company prior to the commencement of Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020, shall within a period of One hundred and eighty days from such commencement comply with the requirement of this rule, which may be extended by a further period of not more than ninety days with the approval of the board based on reasonable justification. 4)Unspent balance, if any, towards fulfilment of CSR obligation at the time of commencement of these Rules shall be transferred within a period of thirty days from the end of Financial Year 2020-21 to special account viz., ‘Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Account’ opened by the company and such amount shall be spent by the company in pursuance of its obligation towards the Corporate Social Responsibility Policy within a period of three financial years from the date of such transfer, failing which, the company shall transfer the same to a Fund specified in Schedule VII, within a period of thirty days from the date of completion of the third financial year.”

Under rule 8, sub-rule (3) shall be inserted "A company having the obligation of spending average CSR amount of Rs 5 Crore or more in the three immediately preceding financial years in pursuance of sub section 5 of Section 135 of the Act, shall undertake impact assessment for their CSR projects or programmes, and shall disclose details of the same in its Annual Report on CSR.”

Rule 9, shall be substituted with “Display of CSR activities on its website: The Board of Directors of the company shall mandatorily disclose the composition of the CSR Committee, and CSR Policy and Projects approved by the Board on their website for public viewing, as per the particulars specified in the Annexure.”

After rule 9, newly Rule 10 shall be inserted "National Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Fund : (1) The Central Government shall establish a fund called the “National Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Fund” (herein after referred as “the Fund”) for the purposes of sub-section (5) and (6) of section 135 of the Act. The Fund shall be utilized for the purposes of undertaking CSR projects in the in areas or subjects specified in schedule VII of the Act. Provided that until such fund is created the unspent CSR amount in terms of provisions of sub-section (5) and (6) of section 135 of the Act shall be transferred by the company to any fund as specified in schedule VII of the Act. (2) The manner of administration, authority for administration of the Fund shall be in accordance with such guidelines as may be prescribed by the Central Government from time to time.”

An addition of the e-form CSR-1 is proposed to be inserted. The annexure detailing FORMAT FOR THE ANNUAL REPORT ON CSR ACTIVITIES TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BOARD'S REPORT also proposed a significant change.

The Government of India has solicited public comments on the draft Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020, which may be accessed at the web link. Comments, if any, may be submitted Online by end of business hours on 28th March 2020 positively.

National Water Mission launched “Catch the Rain” Campaign

18.03.2020

Last pre-monsoon was absorbed in election. This year, the National Water Mission #NWM, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (WR, RD & GR), Government of India has taken prompt step to make the nation ready to harvest rainwater, much before the rainy season. The Secretary, WR, RD & GR, Government of India, Shri U.P. Singh, on 13th March 2020, while addressing the inaugural session of the workshop on “Catch the Rain: Rain Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge Structures for Water Conservation” organized by the NWM in New Delhi, said there is a need to create mass awareness and involve the general public to give momentum to the campaign. He emphasized on the decentralization in rain water harvesting campaign. Deliberating on “Catch the Rain where it falls”, the Secretary stressed on making every possible efforts to ensure percolation of rainwater into the ground, irrespective of the catchments, be it the rooftop, airport or industry premises. This will augment the groundwater resources and also rejuvenate the rivers to flow. In this context he added that “One solution to pollution is dilution”.

Shri UP Singh said the priority government attaches to water conservation is evident from the fact that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in his first Mann ki Baat radio programme broadcast upon assuming office for the second term, was devoted to this theme. Underlining the importance of groundwater recharge, Shri UP Singh said while the five big dams in the country hold anywhere around 250 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) of water, the quantity of water stored in underground aquifers is about 400 BCM. Pointing out that the country still receives an average of more than 1,000 mm rainfall though its distribution is skewed, he said it is a matter of concern that only 8% of rainfall is harnessed while the rest is wasted as runoff.

Stressing on the need for Demand side Management of Water Resources, Shri UP Singh said even if we are able to save 10% water consumption in agriculture, it will make a big difference since agriculture comprises 85-89% of water usage in the country while about 5% usage is for drinking and domestic purposes. Calling for mass movement to rejuvenate water bodies, Shri UP Singh mentioned more than 500 traditional water bodies including wells have been revived in Udham Singh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh by utilizing MGNREGA resources and CSR funds.

Shri G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, NWM, said the campaign “Catch the Rain” has been initiated as a part of the “Har Kaam Desh ke Naam” initiative, and to nudge states and stakeholders to keep ready Rainwater Harvesting Structures before the onset of the monsoon. He informed that the Government is working to set up of district level rain centers, where anyone can avail information on rainwater harvesting techniques and expertise.

Shri Suneel Kumar Arora, Advisor, NWM delivered the welcome address, and Shri J. P. Singh, Deputy Secretary, NWM gave the Vote of Thanks. Tweet us

MCA sanctions to prosecute in 366 cases in violation of CSR provisions

17.03.2020

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has accorded sanction for the prosecution in violation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) provisions in 366 cases besides 121 applications for compounding have been made and 37 cases have been compounded. All CSR related offences are compoundable. Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur informed in Lok Sabha on 16th March 2020 , in a written reply to a question.

Shri Thakur further stated that whenever any violation of CSR provisions is reported, action against such non-compliant Companies are initiated as per provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 after due examination of records following due process of law. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a Board driven process and the Board of the company is empowered to plan, decide, execute and monitor the CSR activities of the company based on the recommendation of its CSR Committee.

The Schedule VII of the Act enlists the activities, which may be included by companies in their CSR policy. The entire CSR architecture is disclosure based and CSR mandated companies are required to file details of CSR initiatives annually in MCA21 registry. It was also informed that the High-Level Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (HLC-2018) submitted its report to the Government on 07.08.2019. The report is available on the Ministry’s website at www.mca.gov.in. The recommendations of HLC-2018 is under consideration of the Ministry.

CSR for companies has been mandated through Companies Act, 2013 that came into effect since 01.04.2014. Section 135 of the Act enumerates the provisions concerning CSR and the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 prescribes the rules for implementation. All these were notified on 27th February, 2014 and came into effect since 01.04.2014. The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019 amended section 135 dealing with Corporate Social Responsibility. The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019 received President's assent and was published in Official Gazette on 31st July, 2019.

Urban Environment Allocated 2.93% for GMDA Capital Expenditure Budget

17.03.2020

Haryana Chief Minister, Shri Manohar Lal Khattar chaired the 6th meeting of Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) in Gurugram.

While discussing development projects the Chief Minister was briefed on improvement of the road from Old Delhi Road to Atlas Channel. He was told that there is a plan to develop this road as model road by GMDA. The road development work will be done including a number aspects, such as; cycle tracks, pedestrian, greenery, rainwater drainage, and so on. The Chief Minister has directed the officials to hold a meeting with companies in this regard so that the companies can come forward to improve the road under CSR.

Gurugram Municipal Corporation Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh informed that the roads are being cleaned by the Municipal Corporation, for which it is facilitated with four sweeping machines. Soon, the fifth machine will be put to use. In addition, the Municipal Corporation is also in the process of procurement of a small and hand held vacuumizer machine.

It was also apprised in the meeting that the government has planned to set up STPs in villages Bajgheda and Dhankot of 2 KLD capacity, each. These will be installed by the STP Development and Panchayat Department. In addition, one 25 MLD capacity STP is planned for villages Kasan, Khoh, Baskusla, Basharia and village Dhaana and Manesar and Naharpur Kasan. Construction of STP in village Bajgheda and Dhankot is expected to be completed by 31st December 2020, while the STP in IMT Manesar is scheduled by 31st December 2022. This proposal was also approved in the meeting.

Earlier, on 16th March 2020 in which budget proposals for 2020-21 was approved. It was budgeted that during the Financial Year 2020-21 GMDA will spend Rs. 1608.83 Crore in various items, while an inflow of Rs. 1,173 Crore envisaged.

It was shown that Rs. 528.21 Crore would be spent on capital works by GMDA, out of which Rs. 338.26 Crore is allocated for development of infrastructure, Rs. 100.95 Crore kept for mobility management. The budgeted expenditure on urban environment was pegged at Rs. 15.50 Crore, while Rs. 73.50 Crore allocated for social infrastructure. In addition, Rs. 522.48 Crore has been allocated to spend on EDC based activities. Further, Rs. 595.30 Crore has been allocated to operation and maintenance expenses, out of which Rs. 250.53 Crore allotted for drinking water supply, sewerage and drainage.

Tata Power Club Enerji Sustainability Movement saved 298 Lakh Unit Power since 2007

16.03.2020

Tata Power as claimed to be India’s largest integrated power has initiated a sustainability drive "Club Enerji". The initiative has brought in 533 participating schools across India, which has reportedly saved 29.8 million units of power since 2007. Club Enerji started in the year 2007. At an average per capita consumption of around 1,200 units, the savings in power can be equated to the annual consumption for around 25,000 households in India. Tata Power’s Club Enerji by involving school children.

According to a press release, Tata Power Club Enerji is described as a ‘reverse parenting’ platform to propagate efficient usage of energy and to educate the society on climate change issues. Through this innovative platform that advocates the larger sustainability message to society through school children offers simple energy-saving and resource-conserving tips, that makes considerable difference in protecting the planet and strengthening India’s energy security. The release also states that during the current financial year, Tata Power which is also India’s largest integrated utility initiated four fresh campaigns including 'I have the Power', ILiveSimply, #SwitchOff2SwitchOn’ and 'I Can' to further the success of Club Enerji among the youth of India. These campaigns that were also promoted on popular social media platforms.

Ms. Shalini Singh, Chief-Corporate Communications & Sustainability, Tata Power, said, Tata Power Club Enerji is one of the most successful energy conservation programme that we have initiated. In many ways this program has now proven to be at least a decade ahead of what is now a powerful global movement – youth speaking the message of sustainability and climate change to power. As for its impact, we believe the numbers speak for themselves. Such a scale of success would not have been possible without the whole-hearted support of children, parents and teachers and thousands of our colleagues in Tata Power. In the coming months and years, we hope to scale this up to make it an even bigger national movement.”

Through the sustainability movement the members are guided through a 4-stage principle: Educate, Enhance, Engage, and Empower. Thus, the members are empowered in developing a self-sustained community that will take the cause forward. The programme concentrates on awareness generation by educating children on the importance of energy and resource conservation and moral & civic values. The primary sensitization includes three visits made to the same set of children to reinforce the message of energy & resource conservation. These interactive sessions through flash modules, presentation and competitions are undertaken to reinforce the content and assess the integration of thoughts into action.

School children are trained to understand the moral & civic values, interpretation of electricity bills, basic steps that will help curb wastage of power with the help of Energy Audits and Energy Calculators, how to reduce the use of fuel, water, manage waste & plant trees, optimum use of electrical gadgets/ devices at home and sharing the effective practices adopted & results within their immediate circle.

According to a communication, as part of this initiative to monitor the impact of the programme, Tata Power confers titles like Energy Champions on young students, who actively practice and propagate energy saving and resource conservation while practising moral and civic values. Active outreach members who help spread the energy conservation message are crowned as Energy Ambassadors. These young Energy Champions move ahead in spreading the cause by further sensitizing their friends, families, and neighbourhood, together with leading this movement of conservation of energy and moral and civic values, across the nation.

MoEF&CC brings out draft of EIA Notification 2020

11.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has brought out the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 notification. The notification will be applicable to whole of India including territorial waters.

The notification defines “Accredited Environment Impact Assessment Consultant Organization (ACO)” is an organization that is accredited with the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) of Quality Council of India (QCI) or any other agency, as may be notified by the Ministry from time to time.

The notification has provision for “District or Divisional Level Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC)”, which is a committee of experts constituted for the purpose of this notification, at district level or at divisional level, by the SEIAA or UTIAA in exercise of powers conferred under the section 23 of the Act, on the recommendation of the State Government or Union Territory administration, for environment appraisal of projects referred to it, and for making appropriate recommendations.

“Study area” has been described as the immediate surrounding area within an aerial distance of, 10 km around the boundary of the project falling under Category ‘A’ or 5 km around the boundary of the project falling under Category ‘B’, as the case may be.

According to the draft notification, “Violation” means cases where projects have either started the construction work or installation or excavation, whichever is earlier, on site or expanded the production and / or project area beyond the limit specified in the prior-EC without obtaining prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be. And, “Non-compliance” means non-compliance of terms and conditions prescribed in the Prior Environment Clearance or Prior Environment Permission to the project.

The new notification has deliberated on the compliance reporting system. Instead of six-monthly compliance reporting, only one annual report shall be mandatory. It shall be mandatory for the project proponent to submit compliance reports in respect of conditions stipulated in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, pertaining to previous financial year by 30th June, online through the designated portal. The yearly compliance report shall be submitted, each year, from the date of grant of prior-EC, till the project life, to the Regulatory Authority concerned. However, Regulatory Authority can seek such compliance reports at more frequent intervals, if deemed necessary.

In case of failure to submit yearly compliance reports in respect of the conditions stipulated in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, pertaining to previous financial year by 30th June, of the relevant financial year, a late fee of Rs. 500/- per day in case of Category ‘B2’ projects; Rs. 1000/- per day in case of Category ‘B1’ projects; and Rs. 2,500/- per day in case of Category ‘A’ projects shall be levied. If such non-submission of the compliance reports in respect of the stipulated conditions in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, conditions continue for a period of consecutive three years, the prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, shall be deemed to have been revoked without any notice in this regard. The latest compliance report shall also be displayed on the web site of the project proponent. The compliance monitoring of conditions prescribed in respect of prior-EC, for Category ‘B1’ and prior-EP for Category ‘B2’ projects, shall be carried out by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Union Territory Pollution Control Committee (UTPCC). The monitoring report shall be uploaded on the designated web portal within fifteen days from the date of inspection. Notwithstanding above provisions, to supplement the efforts of the Ministry for monitoring through Regional office of the Ministry, Regional Directorate of CPCB, SPCB or UTPCC, the Ministry may empanel government institutions of national repute for carrying out compliance monitoring of conditions of prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, of projects in a random manner. Section 23 of the proposed EIA 2020 notification deliberates on dealing with the cases of non-compliance. Section 23(6) spells that on conclusion of the proceeding, the Expert Committee shall make categorical recommendations to the project proponent for time bound action plan for compliance of the conditions of prior-EC conditions and the amount of the bank guarantee deposited as an assurance for the purpose of compliance with the SPCB or UTPCC, as the case may be. The bank guarantee will be released after successful implementation of the action plan and on the recommendations of the Regional office of the Ministry or Regional Directorate of CPCB in case of Category “A” projects; SPCB or UTPCC in case of the Category “B” projects.

Elevated roads and standalone flyovers or bridges >1,50,000 SQM of built-up area shall be appraised under B2 category of EIA projects. Section 26 details the list of exception of projects/cases shall not require prior-EC or prior-EP, which includes Country Liquor (e.g. based on Mahuwa flower, Cashew, etc.) units up to capacity of 10 kilo liter per day.

Validity of EC to projects except Mining, River Valley or Irrigation projects or Nuclear power projects shall be 10 years.

The MoEF&CC has down the procedure to bring such violation projects under the regulations in the interest of environment at the earliest point of time rather than leaving them unregulated and unchecked, which will be more damaging to the environment.

The notification further states that any person interested in making any objections or suggestions on the proposal contained in the draft notification may forward the same in writing for consideration of the Central Government within the period so specified to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110 003, or send it to the e-mail address at eia2020-moefcc@gov.in.

Manufacturers will be bound to provide Disposal Packets with Sanitary Pads from January 2021: Shri Prakash Javadekar

08.03.2020

On the special occasion of International Women’s day, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and M/o Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar said "We should address the waste pickers as ‘Swachhta Sevika’ from this as they are doing a great service to the nation. The Union Minister was interacting with female workers’ SWaCH Pune, a wholly-owned workers’ cooperative on the occasion of International Women’s day 2020. Though, SWaCH became formally operational from 2006, its history dates back to 1993. Door to door collection of waste is an important service offered by SWaCH to Pune’s citizens. SWaCH also offers other products, programmes and services through SWaCH Plus, which aims to involve citizens in recycling and sustainable living.

Shri Javadekar also said, “I celebrate my Diwali with waste-pickers to understand their work and problems, we all city dwellers want garbage shed for us, but not too close from our home. This mindset should change. I have decided to give funds from Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund for construction of 50 big and 50 small garbage sheds which are designed by SWaCH.”

“At the same time, we have observed that production and usage of sanitary napkins and diapers has greatly increased in the country, however they are still being discarded in a way which is harmful to waste-pickers. We will implement the rule that January 2021 onwards all sanitary pad manufacturers will have to compulsorily give degradable bags for disposal of each sanitary napkin. This rule is already in existence but is not being followed by the manufacturers", the Minister added.

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change further said that "We have to ensure that decentralized model wherein garbage by educational institutes and housing societies should be disposed at the premises itself. There is rule for compulsory picking of garbage and disposal for municipal towns, this rule will be made compulsory for all the habitations with more than 3000 population. With steps like these the dream of Swachh Bharat of Prime Minister Modi will be realized."

Shri Javadekar while commemorating International Women’s Day with Swachata Sevika’s said that, “The women have 4 important qualities namely consistency, compassion, courage and capacity for decision-making. I salute the Swachhta sevikas gathered here today who help in realizing the dream of Swachh, Swasth, Hit and Fit India.”

On this occasion, Smt. Laxmi Narayan, Founder of SWaCH said on this occasion that, “Garbage should be disposed off in decentralized way. The money spent on transport of garbage should be utilized in encouraging people to make garbage into compost at the source. It will be great help if the plant buying plastic waste is located in Pune, which shall create value and provide incentive for waste pickers and segregation.”

Smt. Rani Shivsaran, Swachhta Sevika representing 3500 Swachhata sevikas from the SWaCH group requested that a permanent separate shed for sorting of garbage at each ward will help greatly in this work. She further said initiatives like V-Collect (V for Victory) help in collecting items from homes which are lying unused and prove additional source of income for these Sevikas.

Solid waste management has been a major focus in recent years. Many cities are gearing up to work rigorously on Zero Waste to Landfill. Converting garbage into compost at source has started in some places. However, there is a need to push it further to channelize the appropriate characterization and use of compost. Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers have to play significant role ahead with regard to analysis of compost quality for betting use in agricultural and non-agricultural fields.

On-shore and Off-shore Oil and Gas Exploration Projects or Activities need EC from SEIAAs

07.03.2020

The Government of India has re-categorized the on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration projects or activities from Category ‘A’ to Category ‘B2’ vide notification number S.O. 236 (E) dated the 16th January 2020. Any Project Proponent will, in the present scheme of things, have to apply to State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Therefore, the final decision as to whether to allow any particular project in any particular region would continue to vest with the State Government. Further, such projects are also required to obtain Consent to Operate under the Air and Water Acts from State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees, as applicable. This information was given by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in the Lok Sabha, in a reply to questions raised by Sh. A. Ganeshamurthi, MP and Sh. Uttam Kumar Reddy Nalamada, MP.

Further, it was also stated that the Government has re-categorized the on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration projects or activities from Category ‘A’ to Category ‘B2’ on the following grounds:-

(1) Exploratory drilling is a temporary activity and will be completed in three to four months without having any permanent establishment or setup at the exploratory site.

(2) The exploratory wells are drilled only for appraisal without taking out any commercial production at this stage. It is in fact, a prospecting activity for ascertaining the presence of Hydrocarbons.

(3) Exploratory drilling involves a small piece of land admeasuring 110x110 sq.m. which has limited scope of waste generation along with minimal environmental impacts for a short span.

(4) There is no requirement of prior-environmental clearance even in case of exploration of coal and other major or minor minerals,.

(5) Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) shall still be required from the respective State Pollution Control Board or Union Territory Pollution control Committees, as the case may be, to ensure the environmental safeguards.

Total 18 number of onshore and offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling projects were given prior Environmental Clearances by the Government across the country during 2015-2019.

Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Industrial Sector

Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) means the reuse of treated wastewater in process or in domestic usages except in horticulture.

Chennai Metro sells 36 million liter per day (MLD) treated wastewater to 31 industrial establishments at Rs. 10.2 per kiloliter.

National Water Mission promotes Zero Discharge of Rainwater from the premises through “Catch the Rain Campaign”.

Sanjaya K.Mishra

After the success of “Sahi Fasal” campaign, the National Water Mission (NWM), Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, has started a series of national workshop on “Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Industrial Sector”. The first workshop was organized on 5th March 2020 at Scope Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. The aim of this campaign is to nudge Indian businesses to manage their water use, and the business-risks emanating from this dependency on water, in a more efficient and responsible manner; through review of current water usage pattern and identify opportunities to enhance water use efficiency. Many experts from coal based Thermal Power Plants, Pulp and Paper, and Textile participated in the workshop, which deliberated on the challenges and opportunities in managing water risks from industry perspectives; leveraging policies, legal, institutional and economic instruments to encourage water stewardship among businesses; evaluating extant multi-stakeholder initiatives; and sharing lessons and best practices from across the spectrum of stakeholders and geographies.

In his welcome address Shri G. Asok Kumar, Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NWM emphasized that as India is heading towards 5 Trillion economy, improved water efficiency in industries will become indispensable to avert any water insecurity in business and industrial production.

Shri U. P. Singh, Secretary, Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation (WRRD&GR), Ministry of Jal Shakti, described climate change as a new elephant in the room. He perorated that though, rainfall quantity has not changed, there is a change in the distribution of rainfall, which is an outcome of climate change. Shri Singh highlighted on Water Heritage sites in India and also Corporate Water Responsibility. Citing reference to data, 140 liter of freshwater requirement per cup of coffee, the Secretary, WRRD&GR said “Water quality and quantity are very much interlinked. Therefore, establishing water footprints in every product is significant.”

“National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency is going to be established by the Government of India, which would work on the line of Bureau of Energy Efficiency to grant star rating for various products”, he added.

Shri Singh also pointed out that in earlier times, there was no consideration of water for setting up industries. In contemporary situation, there is a huge public pressure for closure of industries. Several complaints are being received regarding reverse pumping by industrial establishments, and also excessive abstraction of groundwater leading to water stress situations. This has necessitated the industries to ponder upon their water policies and also come forward with Corporate Water Responsibility.

Shri Anshuman, Associate Director, Water Resources Division, The Energy Research Institute (TERI) in a presentation enlightened that the Thermal Power Plants have reduced from 4800 liter per Mega Watt (MW) to 3200 liter per MW through regular water audits. Citing an example of revenue generation from wastewater treatment, he said that Chennai Metro sells 36 million liter per day (MLD) treated wastewater to 31 industrial establishments at Rs. 10.2 per kiloliter. He further underlined that Water Policies must be established by all corporates and industries. 8 billion cubic meter (BCM) water could be saved if it is used efficiently in industries, he added.

Four presentations were made in the first plenary session with the theme Enhancing Water Use Efficiency: Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions, chaired by Shri J. P. Singh, Deputy Secretary, NWM. Shri B. P. Thapliyal, Director, Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute gave an insight on paper production in India vis-à-vis water management. Shri Thapliyal informed that in the wood based paper industries, which is only 19 in numbers, less than 50 cubic meter water is consumed per ton of paper, while agro-based paper mills, which is 37 in numbers, consume 50 to 60 cubic meter water is consumed per ton of paper. However, water consumption in recycled fiber based paper industry, which is maximum in number (445) stands to be nearly 15 – 25 cubic meter water per ton of paper. He also apprised that the challenge in water management is the cost of water is less as compared to the cost of treatment and recycling of wastewater.

Shri Jayant Joshi, Chief General Manager, Engineers India Limited presented case studies of water management in refineries. He deliberated that the capital cost as well as the operational cost towards treatment and recycling of wastewater in refineries is significantly high. The process also has a high carbon footprint, which needs to be considered from technical aspects for the environmental conservation.

UNIDO’s National Project Coordinator, Shri Debajit Das emphasized on the need of efficient use of water citing the reason that a 400% increase in water consumption envisaged in industrial sector. He deliberated on resource efficiency including water as a resource and also cleaner production. He spoke about the establishment of revolving fund to support the members in industrial parks.

Vice Chairman, Uttar Pradesh Leather Industries, Taj Alam spoke about the challenges, opportunities and solutions in the tannery industries. He presented a case study of a tannery unit that has been awarded by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as Asia’s best. He made a point that selection of right raw material and avoiding preservatives are key solutions in tannery industries.

Dr. Ramnath Sonawane, Secretary, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) apprised the participants about water usage pattern in Maharashtra state. He said 15% of water is used in domestic, 80% in agriculture and 5% in industry sector. The treated wastewater from domestic source could be utilized in agriculture to reduce fresh water use, he added. Dr. Sonwane stressed upon the need to motivate urban and rural local bodies to focus on actual treatment of wastewater and its utilization in order to bring significant change in water conservation.

The second plenary session with the theme Towards Zero Liquid Discharge in the industries – Reality Check was chaired by Shri Suneel Kumar Arora, Advisor (C&W), NWM. In the session, Dr. M. S. Parmar, Joint Director, National India Textile Research Association (NITRA) said that Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) is not properly defined till date. In his presentation, Dr. Parmar dealt with water consumption data specific to textile industries. To attain a specific colour shade, sometimes it is required to process, reprocess and continue reprocessing for hours and hours, which leads to extremely high volume of water consumption. Dr. Parmar suggested to opt lighter shades in textile, which is less water intensive. He gave an insight to various options available to attain reduction in water consumption in textile industries. Dr. Vivek Kumar, Prof. from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi in his talk mentioned the definition of ZLD as the reuse of treated wastewater in process or in domestic usages. He said that many distillery industries in India have attained ZLD in real terms. However, while describing the pros and cons of ZLD Dr. Vivek Kumar mentioned that a significant increase in carbon footprint is envisaged during the process of attaining ZLD in paper industries. Shri Yogesh Kumar Sharma, DGM, NTPC, Raipur made a presentation on water consumption and scope of water conservation in thermal power plants. He said water consumption increases with low plant load factor. Shri John Thomas, Technical Advisor, GIZ deliberated on challenges pertaining to ZLD. He highlighted that attaining ZLD in industries like pharmaceutical and food sectors is not feasible. Therefore, imposing condition of ZLD implementation should be seen from a practical angle.

Shri Tejdeep Singh, Scientist D, NWM chaired the third and final plenary session with the theme Stakeholders’ perspectives towards enhancing WVE in industries. In the session, Shri Makrand Barhanpurkar, Uni Head – Bhadrachalam, ITC Ltd. shared on how they have attained carbon positive for 14 consecutive years, water positive for 17 consecutive years and positive in solid waste recycling for 12 consecutive years. Dr. Arvind Kumar, President of India Water Foundation deliberated on circular principle of 3R to 12R. Shri M. A. Patil, Senior Director (Resource & Management), FICCI perorated on increasing productivity by taking various measures such as reducing water and energy bills, resource optimization and solid waste management, and so on. He detailed some key drivers for water efficiency in industries, through which many sectors are continuously minimizing water footprints. He also suggested for regular water and wastewater audits. Dr. Vikrant Tyagi, Project Coordinator, GIZ gave an insightful comparison of water policy prevailing in European Union, Italy, Spain and that in India with focus on Gujarat and Haryana. Dr. Tyagi highlighted that India is not having a Federal Water Policy that could guide the states. River management policies are also not available in India. He said that Italy covers 55 parameters in treated sewage, while India has just set limits for 7 parameters as per NGT Order dated 30th April 2019. Dr. Tyagi also gave weightage on water foot prints.

Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NWM, Shri G. Asok Kumar delivered closing remarks and extended vote of thanks. Expressing his satisfaction on the successful completion of the first workshop in the series, he said that the talks will be compiled and taken for necessary action. Shri Kumar mentioned that the policy makers as well as regulators must act with a practical approach. The Additional Secretary also said that “One important outcome of this workshop is water pricing. Water needs to be quantified by metering. Industry needs to be motivated to adopt measures towards efficient use of water.”

The Mission Director of NWM also highlighted that Gujarat has implemented a very strict water policy, by which they allow NOCs to industries, only when they have an industrial water policy. Therefore, groundwater level in Gujarat has not gone down much.

Before closing, he also informed about two important subjects. One was about the “Catch the Rain Campaign”. The campaign is focused to be ready with all rainwater harvesting structures within the month of May. This campaign will target not only the rooftop rainwater harvesting, but also rain on the ground. Especially, the huge open land area in the Indian Army, Defence, Airports and other institutions, an even industries will be earmarked to ensure Zero Discharge of Rainwater from the premises. Secondly, he also informed about the Water Talk, which is organized by the NWM on every third Friday of a month. It was informed that 12 water talks have been organized successfully. Many acclaimed speakers from policy makers to researchers to real heroes such as Padma Vibhushan Anil Prakash Joshi, Padmashri Popat Rao Pawar, and so on, have delivered valuable talks. The 13th Water Talk may be a special one, when the Union Minister for Jal Shakti may grace the occasion. The Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Water Mission called upon all the participants to spread the message regarding Catch the rain Campaign and Water Talk.

Conference on NEWMA Draft Bill chaired by Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

06.03.2020

The Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat presided over the Conference of Chief Ministers / Ministers of Water Resources of the North-Eastern Region on the Draft Bill in respect of proposed North East Water Management Authority (NEWMA), in New Delhi, today.

The Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura, Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Water Resources Ministers of NER States participated in the Conference. Secretary, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, Shri UP Singh, and other senior officers of concerned Central and State Governments also attended the deliberations.

It is noteworthy that a High Level Committee, under the chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, had recommended setting up a new entity i.e. North Eastern Water Management Authority (NEWMA) parallel to Brahmaputra Board for the proper management of water resources in North Eastern Region. The report of the expert committee for suggesting immediate measures for proper management of water resources in North Eastern India and the draft report of the High Level committee was circulated, during FY 2018-19, to the states for their views and suggestions.

Decline Trend in Elephant Deaths due to Train Accidents

06.03.2020

According to information received from States, death of India’s national heritage animal— the elephant, in train accidents has been showing a declining trend. As stated by Shri Babul Supriyo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, today, this is a result of concerted efforts taken by the Central and State Governments.

As per the Minister's statement, a number of preventing measures were taken by Zonal Railways in coordination with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have resulted in saving of elephants.

Earlier in an order dated 2.9.2014 in Writ Petition W.P. (C) No. 107 of 2013 Shakti Prasad Nayak Vs. Union of India & Ors. the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had stated that the depletion of the clan of the elephants has been a worrying feature of protection and sustenance of wildlife. There has been a constant uproar about the apathy shown to such accidents, which are avoidable in today's progressive technology. The Supreme Court had issued directions as to necessary steps be taken by the Railways all over the country to reduce the speed limit of running trains that are passing through dense forests. It was also directed that in case a speed limit is not followed/ appropriate action should be taken against the erring drivers and officials concerned. The Supreme Court direction also stated that the Indian Railways to take steps to discontinue the movement of goods trains at night between Siliguri and Alipurduar and divert fast moving and night trains through Siliguri -Falakata route.

It is noteworthy that according to the Elephant Census 2017, the population was pegged at 27, 312 across 23 states. This was a decrease by about 3,000, as compared to last census in 2012.

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the population of Asian elephants was about 41,410 to 52,345 and of that India alone accounts for nearly 60%.

No Special Scheme to Promote plantation in the Private Sector

06.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) does not implement any special scheme to promote plantation in the private sector. However, tree plantation, and afforestation in the country is taken up under various schemes of different Ministries of Government of India and State Plan/Non-plan schemes, and by NGOs, Civil Societies, Corporate bodies, etc. This information was given by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and M/o Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in a reply to a question raised by Shri Shankar Lalwani, Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha.

The statement laid in the house further states that as per information received from Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, a Sub-Mission on Agroforestry under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture is being implemented since 2016-17 to promote plantation on farmlands. The scheme is being implemented in 20 States and UTs. A restructured National Bamboo Mission (NBM) has also been launched in 2018-19 by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. The objective of the National Bamboo Mission includes increasing the area under bamboo plantation on non-forest government land and private lands to supplement farm income as well as availability of quality raw material for industries.

Promotion of plantation in private sector needs to be given thrust. The projects, which are accorded environmental clearance are specified with a condition that requires a specific area to be covered under tree and green cover. However, considering the pollution and land degradation issues, tree cover is more important than green cover. The condition of 33% tree cover needs to be implemented. There were several cases, where the proposal of project expansion, by lowering the greenbelt area were accepted by the MoEF&CC. One example is the grant of EC to expansion of “Group Housing” at SIEL Complex, Shivaji Marg, New Delhi-110015 DLF Homes Developers.

National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Oussudu Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu declared Eco Sensitive Zones

03.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) notifies an area with an extent varying from zero to 1.91 kilometers around the boundary of Oussudu Lake Birds Sanctuary in the State of Tamil Nadu as Eco-sensitive Zone. The Ministry has also notified zero to 2 kilometers around the boundary of National Chambal Sanctuary in the State of Madhya Pradesh as Eco-sensitive Zone.

Oussudu Lake, located is a large shallow wetland in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Situated at about 12 kilometers from Puducherry Town on the western side on Puducherry –Villupuram –Valuthavur main road, it is the most important fresh water lake. Much of the Ousteri bank along the Tamil Nadu side consists of rural settlements, the Pondicherry side of the lake is predominantly urban or suburban. The circumference of the lake is 7.275 kilometers and the total catchment area of lake is 15.54 square kilometers. It receives water mainly from Suthukeni check dam through Suthukeni canal and the run-off from the Lake basin. The Suthukeni check dam is constructed across the river Sankaraparani. The major water source for the Suthukeni dam is the excess water from Veedur dam, Viluppuram District of Tamil Nadu State.

The total area of the tank is 8.00 square kilometers, which is nearly 800 hectare; of which 3.90 square kilometers had been proposed by the Government of Puducherry as a Sanctuary and 3.31 square kilometers has been surveyed, proposed and then notified by the Government of Tamil Nadu as a Bird Sanctuary.

Oussudu lake is an example of degrading wetlands. Oussudu plays a vital role in recharging the ground water aquifers for Villupuram and Pondicherry, which is largely dependent on groundwater for its drinking water supply. It also protects the underground aquifers from sea water ingress. Ousteri Lake has been facing serious threats from multiple fronts such as reclamation, agriculture, siltation, weed invasion and poaching. The lake serves as an important corridor for the migratory birds, which move to Point Calimere during winter. Every year during the months of October to February large congregation of water birds can be seen in thousands in this swamp.

The area supports diverse flora rich in rare and endemic elements. It is a monsoonal lake and the northeast monsoons leave Ousteri lake flooded during the winter months and goes partially dry during summer months. The vegetation of the study area is very diverse, ranging from small herbs to very large trees including many aquatic plants. The lake though small contains diverse flora and fauna that includes nearly 480 plant species belonging to 317 genera and spreading over 92 families.

The National Chambal Sanctuary lies across Sheopur, Morena and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh with a length of 435 kilometers and area of 435 square kilometres. It is home of naturally living population of 75% of the critically endangered species of Gharial. The sanctuary also harbours national aquatic animal - the fresh water gangetic dolphins, nine species of fresh water turtles and more the 180 species of migratory birds.

After the publication of the notifications, no new polluting industries shall be permitted to be set up within the Eco-sensitive Zone. However, only non-polluting industries shall be allowed within Eco-sensitive Zone as per the classification of Industries in the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board in February, 2016, unless so specified in this notification, and in addition, the non-polluting cottage industries shall be promoted.

Tata Power Tops as India’s Most Respected Companies in Energy Sector

03.03.2020

Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power utility has emerged as one of India’s Most Respected Companies, according to the Annual survey for 2020 by Business World, one of India’s widely read business magazines. The company has been ranked 14th among all the companies surveyed across various sectors for the 2020 edition of BW Business world’s Most Respected Companies study by TechSci Research. The Company is also featured as number 1 in energy sector and number 3 in Infrastructure, power and heavy engineering.

Mr Praveer Sinha, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Power, said, “Tata Power’s journey as a leader in India’s energy sector has been truly transformational in nation building. What started as a hydropower company more than century ago is today one of India’s leading energy companies, a feat achieved by constantly reinventing itself to serve the needs of its customers and staying relevant to all stakeholders. Tata Power is also fast emerging as leader in the renewable energy sector covering the entire spectrum of application including rooftop solar solutions & solar microgrids and a growing national network of charging stations for electric vehicles.”

The study by TechSci Research mapped how employees and self – employed individuals in India perceive organisations. The exercise measured perception of 80+ companies across parameters such as effective growth plans, financial return, innovative products & services, trustworthy leadership, technological innovation, corporate social responsibility, women-friendly policies and work culture.

Tata Power is poised to become an energy solutions company, moving away from the narrow definition of a power developer or distributor. Currently Tata Power is offering the rooftop solar services in 70 cities. By 2020 end the service will be available in 100 cities. The plan for rural India is to set up microgrids with micro enterprises, initially in 200 villages and ultimately in 10,000 villages. The Company hopes to expand its distribution presence from 3 cities to 10-12 & have already won distribution circles of Odisha doubling its consumer base to 5 million consumers. According to a press release by the company, Tata Power is also teaming up with Tata Motors & other automakers to build charging stations for electric vehicles and hopes to grow the business from nine cities and 100 charging points currently to several folds.

Raghav Chadha is new Vice-Chairman of Delhi Jal Board

03.03.2020

Shri Raghav Chadha, the young and vibrant AAP Spokesperson and MLA from Rajinder Nagar Legislative Assembly constituency takes over as the new Vice Chairman of Delhi Jal Board (DJB). After resuming office, Shri Chadha said “I express my gratitude to my leader CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal for believing in me. Provision of 24x7 clean piped water to all households and a clean Yamuna are key priorities of the Kejriwal government, I will make every possible effort to make it a reality.”

The new Vice Chairman added that "The target for the DJB is to reduce discharge of sewer waste by 25% each year, with the objective of zero sewer waste discharge into the river moving ahead."

Emphasizing on the importance of groundwater rejuvenation, he said "Once Delhi was bestowed with approx. 1000 water bodies. Delhi government is working to restore the water bodies and determined to bring back the ecological balance. Pilot projects at Gogha Lake and Rajokri Lake has been commissioned which has become a prototype with regard to groundwater augmentation."

"DJB will ensure that improvement in per capita water availability," he added.

Our immediate priority is to prepare a Summer Action Plan to handle peak summer water demand. DJB would work on increasing the water supply in water deficient areas, improving efficiency and faster redressal of complaints, Chadha said.

The new Vice Chairman reviewed DJB's ongoing efforts in violence affected North-East Delhi and took stock of the water supply situation in the affected areas. He directed DJB Officials to ensure effective supply of safe drinking water to the people in the affected areas, including additional deployment of water tankers, wherever required. Shri Chadha also reaffirmed that the DJB will work round the clock in the service of the people.