Protecting the Environment

PROTECTION OF BIODIVERSITY


Polyculture

The use of polycultures in agriculture, usually referred to as intercropping, is based on the traditional knowledge that carefully selected mixtures of crops are characterized by higher overall yields. It is a multitude of different crops grown on a given expanse of land, either through crop rotation or planting rows of different crops side-by-side. It uses nutrients, space, and energy in a balanced manner. It increases self-reliance, food security, and economic growth.

Monoculture

It is an agricultural practice that involves the cultivation or production of a single crop over a wide area for several consecutive years. It is utilized to a great extent in modern industrial agriculture, making it possible to obtain large harvests with minimal resources.

SCHEMES UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA


The Government of India provides assistance for promoting organic farming across the country through different schemes.

 

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana promotes cluster-based organic farming with PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) certification. The assistance of Rs. 50,000 per ha /3 years is provided out of which 62 percent (Rs. 31,000) is given as an incentive to a farmer towards organic inputs. 

This scheme supports: 

  • Cluster formation 
  • training, certification
  • marketing is supported 

Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)

The scheme promotes third-party certified organic farming of niche crops of the northeast region through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) with focus on exports. Farmers are given the assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare for three years for organic inputs including organic manure and bio-fertilisers among other inputs. Support for the formation of FPOs, capacity building, and post-harvest infrastructure up to Rs 2 crore are also provided in the scheme.

Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme (CISS) under Soil Health Management Scheme

Under this scheme, 100 percent assistance is provided to state government, government agencies for setting up of mechanised fruit and vegetable market waste, agro waste compost production units up to a maximum limit of Rs 190 lakh per unit (3000 Total Per Annum TPA capacity). Similarly, for individuals and private agencies assistance up to 33 percent of cost limit to Rs 63 lakh per unit as capital investment is provided.

MONOCULTURE

POLYCULTURE

  • Involves the cultivation or production of a single crop in a given area
  • Involves the cultivation of multiple or mixed crops in a given area.
  • Requires less labour. 
  • Requires more labour.
  • More susceptible to diseases and pests due to the involvement of only a single plant species, that can result in crop failure. 
  • Diverseness in the crops lessens the susceptibility to diseases and pests, thus, also reducing the risk of total crop failure.
  • Does not increase biodiversity as there is no variety.
  • Variety in crops increases local biodiversity, providing habitat to more species.
  • Lower yields obtained.
  • Higher yields obtained.
  • Causes soil degradation by depleting its nutrients and water content.
  • Enhances soil health.
  • Increases soil erosion.
  • Decreases soil erosion.
  • Causes the contamination of water.
  • Does not cause contamination of water, thus, there is clean water run-off.
  • Causes elimination of soil microorganisms.
  • Does not cause the elimination of soil microorganisms.
  • Paddy cultivation is an example of this type.
  • Mixed vegetable gardening is an example of this type.

PROTECTION OF WATER BODIES IN INDIA


A major part of India observes substantial rainfall barring a certain portion in its western part during the monsoon which lasts for nearly 5 months. The average rainfall in India is ~1170 mm/year with an uneven distribution. The desert areas of Rajasthan receive an average of only about 100 mm of rainfall per year. However, a major part of this country is blessed with moderate to heavy rainfall. The country also has a number of rivers, lakes and wetlands, which probably has played a role over the years to create a kind of complacence in the Indian psyche regarding the water security of the country. However, with the rapid growth of population, intensive cultivation practices, industrialization, urbanization, an increase in domestic use of water for various purposes has all played a significant role in changing this situation. In 2009, a report from the Govt. of India clearly indicated that per capita water availability has drastically been reduced to 1820 m3 per year in 2001 from 5177 m3 per year in 1951. 

There are many steps taken by the government to conserve water bodies:

  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti under the Indian government launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan in 2019. It is a nation-wide water conservation campaign that aims at encouraging citizen participation to promote water conservation at the grassroot level. Under the campaign, the government focuses on creation/ maintenance of water conservation and rainwater harvesting structures, renovation of various traditional water bodies tanks, reuse and recharge of bore wells, watershed development and intensive afforestation. 
  • The Jal Sanchay project was a water conservation initiative that was started in the Nalanda district of Bihar. The water conservation project focused on constructing check dams, and desilting and renovating the irrigation system and traditional water bodies. It also involved increasing awareness about traditional water conservation and rainwater harvesting techniques aimed at maintaining the water table levels. The project was also carried out with support from local farmers and through campaigns. In 2017, the project was selected for a national award for excellence under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGP).
  • National Water Policy (2012)  has been formulated by the Department of Water Resources, RD & GR, inter-alia advocates rainwater harvesting and conservation of water and highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through direct use of rainfall.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 crore scheme with World Bank funding, for sustainable management of ground water with community participation is being taken up in the identified over-exploited and water stressed areas fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. This scheme is expected to contribute significantly towards water and food security of the participating States.
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1974 to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water in the country. The Act was amended in 1988. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act was enacted in 1977, to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons operating and carrying on certain types of industrial activities. This cess is collected with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and the State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The Act was last amended in 2003.

 

PROTECTION OF WILDLIFE IN INDIA


Wildlife is defined under Section 2(37) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to include any animal, either aquatic or terrestrial, and vegetation that forms a part of any habitat. By virtue of the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is a fundamental duty of the citizens to protect wildlife and have compassion for living creatures according to Article 51A(g). Apart from this, Article 48A provides that it is also the duty of the State to protect, safeguard and work for the improvement of forests and wildlife of the country. In India, there are 70+ critically endangered animals while 300+ animals fall under the category of endangered. 

Animals falling under the category of critically endangered are those which have the highest risk as assigned by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List to wild species.

This calls for immediate actions and measures on the part of the Government to preserve the wildlife. It requires proper judicious control and a rational approach for protecting wildlife. Certain few steps are as follows:

  • The Central government has introduced the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) which among other things provides for creating protected areas that are meant for wildlife protection and also enlists the punishments and penalties to be imposed for hunting of specified fauna specified in the Schedules I to IV thereof in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in form of legal protection.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been established for preventing illegal trade and haunting of wildlife products including endangered species. They also ensure coordination among the officials and the State Governments for effective enforcement of the law.
  • The central government also empowered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in order to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders, identify illegal hunters and men involving in it under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • The enactment of the National Biological Diversity Act (NBA), 2002 was done in order to ensure the protection of threatened species and their habitats. Under Section 38 of the NBA, 2002 the species which are on the verge of extinction or likely to become extinct in near future as threatened species, are notified.

The Indian government has also taken up some important wildlife protection projects such as the Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Crocodile Conservation Project, UNDP Sea Turtle ProjectProject Rhinothe Great Indian Bustard, and many other eco-development projects. Some of which have been elaborated on below.

  • Project Tiger has been one of the wildly successful projects initiated in the year 1972. It has contributed to the entire ecosystem beyond just the conservation of tigers. It involves about 47 tiger reserves located in more than 17 regions which help in conducting and surveying the count of tigers, their hunting characteristics, and their habitat under the Tiger Task Force (TTF).
  • The Crocodile conservation project aims to establish sanctuaries to extend protection to the remaining population of the crocodiles and their habitat. It strives for bettering the management measures by involving local folks and promoting captive breeding. This venture of conserving the Indian Crocodiles is rather remarkable since it shows signs of restocking about 4000 gharial/Alligator, 1800 mugger/crocodile, and 1500 saltwater crocodiles.
  • UNDP Sea Turtle Project project was initiated and implemented by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun in November 1999 with the aim of conserving the Olive Ridley Turtles. This is a geographical location-specific project mainly for 10 coastal states of India to help map out the breeding sites, migratory routes, and the habitat along the coastline of the turtles. It has immensely contributed to developing guidelines for safeguarding their mortality rate.

PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT


Plastic waste management is an initiative to control the amount of plastic waste in the environment by adopting a circular economy and other environmental-friendly disposal solutions. It aims to ban plastic products from which affordable alternatives are available, encourage plastic production with circular materials, and establish high uptake of recycled plastics.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced the national framework for extended producer responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. Extended Producer Responsibility is an approach where the producer is mandated via policy for the treatment and/or disposal of plastic packaging waste. It is proved that assigning such responsibility could in principle provide incentives to prevent wastes at the source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals.

Key Highlights of extended producer responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging:

  • The EPR framework is broken up into three segments – each suited to small, medium or large businesses. The three models are officially called: the fee-based model, the Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) model, and the credit model. PROs are third-party entities that manage waste on behalf of manufacturers.”
  • The guidelines on extended producer responsibility coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, with effect from 1st July 2022, are important steps for reducing pollution caused due to littered plastic waste in the country which is in line and essential in order to meet the target to cut carbon emissions by 2030 with respect to the Paris Agreement.
  • The policy mandates to reuse rigid plastic packaging material and to reduce the use of fresh plastic material for packaging. Further, the new norms will increase the quality and standard as the guidelines allow for the sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates, carry forward and offset against the previous year EPR targets and obligations, thus formalizing the sector and developing a market scenario for better plastic waste management.
  • As per the new norms, small manufacturers have to contribute to a local body that recycles small amounts of plastics. Medium and large-scale manufacturers that do not have experience and expertise in recycling can hire Producer Responsibility Organizations (PRO’s), and during this period of transition to the new framework, these businesses can hire ‘Plastics For Change’ as a PRO.
  • The new norms will impose an ‘Environmental Compensation’ which shall be levied on the basis of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP). The same guidelines shall be laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The whole process of implementation of EPR norms including registration, filing of annual returns by producers, importers, and brand owners, and the registration of PROs as well will be administered through a customized centralized online portal developed by the Central Pollution Control Board. The certificate of registration and filing will also be done using the same portal.

These new guidelines will come into effect from 1st July 2022 onwards and will improve the condition of plastic waste management and hopefully reduce the amount of plastics utilized in the packaging of products.

PLASTIC WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES, 2021


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 on August 12, 2021.

The rules prohibit identified single-use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.  

The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of the following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July 2022:-

  • earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (Thermocol) for decoration;
  • plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.

In order to stop littering due to lightweight plastic carry bags, with effect from 30th September, 2021, the thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy-five microns and to one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December 2022. This will also allow the reuse of plastic carry due to increase in thickness.

 

TRANSPORT AND THE ENVIRONMENT


The issue of transportation and the environment is paradoxical since transportation conveys substantial socioeconomic benefits, but at the same time, transportation is impacting environmental systems. On one side, transportation activities support increasing mobility demands for passengers and freight, while on the other, transport activities are associated with environmental impacts. Further, environmental conditions impact transportation systems in terms of operating conditions and infrastructure requirements such as construction and maintenance.

  • Direct impacts: The immediate consequence of transport activities on the environment where the cause and effect relationship are generally clear and well understood. For instance, noise and carbon monoxide emissions are known to have direct harmful effects.
  • Indirect impacts: The secondary (or tertiary) effects of transport activities on environmental systems. They are often of a higher consequence than direct impacts, but the involved relationships are often misunderstood and more challenging to establish. For instance, particulates, which are mostly the outcome of incomplete combustion in an internal combustion engine, are indirectly linked with respiratory and cardiovascular problems since they contribute, among other factors, to such conditions.
  • Cumulative impacts: The additive, multiplicative or synergetic consequences of transport activities. They consider the varied effects of direct and indirect impacts on an ecosystem, which are often unpredictable. Climate change, with complex causes and consequences, is the cumulative impact of several natural and anthropogenic factors, in which transportation plays a role. 

A study on the ‘Health and Economic Impact of Air pollution in India’ estimates that 18 percent of all deaths and a loss of 1.4 percent of GDP in 2020 could be attributed to air pollution. In pollution hotspots like the capital of Delhi, transport is seen contributing between 13 – 18 percent during peak pollution months. This, despite the country’s fairly vehicle ownership and per capita transport emission rates. As the market develops, the need for stricter emission norms becomes all the more necessary. 

Café Norms

The Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency/ Economy (CAFÉ) norms were established in 2017 worldwide and aimed to bring down average corporate emissions. These apply to auto-manufacturers and are incentivised by either increasing fuel efficiency or reducing fuel consumption. Both help lower CO2 while also reducing the country’s fuel import dependence and its vehicular pollution. Under this norm, corporate average CO2 emissions are mandated to be less than 130 gm/km per phase I (till 2022) and less than 113 gm/ km per phase II (post-2022).

BS Norms

The first Bharat Stage (BS) norms came into effect in 2000 and have had multiple iterations since. These standards are set by the Central Pollution Control Board of India, and all vehicle manufacturers must mandatorily only sell vehicles that comply with these norms. With every new iteration, these standards aim at tighter regulations by reducing the permissible level of tailpipe pollutants. For example, BS-IV – introduced in 2017, allowed 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, while the new and updated BS-VI – applicable from 2020 allows only 10 ppm of sulphur. 

FOOD WASTAGE,  AN ISSUE IN INDIA


The food generated from India’s fields has such a high yield that according to the World Economic Forum, the country has already attained food self-sufficiency. Farm output in 2015 exceeded 270 million tons, well over the estimated 225 to 230 million tons of food needed to feed its population in a year, yet the country is struggling to feed its own.

The solution to the massive amounts of wastage is a combination of government policy, technology, and infrastructure improvements. Both the government and the private sector have been grappling with food wastage for years, but at the crux of the issue lies a fundamental problem of

  • Supply chain
  • Transport
  • Storage

Expansion of India’s road network is already underway with Bharatmala. The new road infrastructure will ease traffic congestion and allow shipments to move faster. A few years ago, India rolled out a new, simplified tax structure, the Goods and Services Tax, followed by the implementation of an e-way bill system which is designed to eliminate paperwork and shorten wait time at toll plazas. 

Another focus is to build a better network of cold chain facilities in the country. The Indian government has embarked on an ambitious Rs 6,000 crore project called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY), a national scheme to develop an integrated supply cold chain for agriculture products. The program aims to create an efficient supply chain from the farm gate to the retail outlet by creating an integrated cold chain and value addition infrastructure and expanding India’s food processing and preservation capacities.