Environment - Current Affairs for March, 2016

Environment Current Affairs for March, 2016

Month wise coverage of Environment Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.

Preparing Environment Current Affairs March, 2016

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  • Month & Year   
▼ USAID and ADB sign MoU for funding solar parks   [03-31-16]

US Agency for International Development and Asian Development Bank signed an MoU to provide USD 848 million funding for development of solar parks across India. USAID technical activities will help create investments for construction of transmission infrastructure for renewable energy deployment in western Rajasthan,” the release said.

  • The government has set a target of 175 Gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this 100 GW is to come from solar power.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has said that it plans to set up 25 solar parks with a total capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020.

▼ Great Barrier Reef experiencing worst mass bleaching event in history   [03-30-16]

Most pristine section of the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing the worst mass bleaching event in history
Only 4 of the reefs had no bleaching
Results are based on aerial surveys of more than 500 coral reefs.

  • Coral reefs are found from Cairns in Australia to Papua New Guinea
  • Some of the world’s largest coral reefs are found in Australia, Philippines, United States, Caribbean Basin, Red Sea, New Caledonia and Indian Ocean.
  • Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, like heightened sea temperatures cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called ‘zooxanthellae’.
  • The loss of these colourful algae causes the corals to turn white, and ‘bleach’.
  • Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to re-colonise them, otherwise the coral may die.

▼ Storm Katie hits UK, France causes devastation   [03-29-16]

Winds at the speed of 170 km per hour blew on Easter Monday as Storm Katie hit France and the UK. It left 2000 homes without power in Britain. British met service recorded 105 mph gusts of wind across southern England with 70 mph registered across the south.

▼ ABR gets UNESCO status   [03-29-16]

Agasthiarmalai Biosphere Reserve spanning the states of TN and Kerala is among 7 reserves added to the list in this year. This is a recognition of the conservation measures taken up. ABR is now among the reserves added to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves this year.

About the reserve

  • It has 4 wildlife sanctuaries and one tiger reserve
  • It has 2250 plant species
  • In TN, the reserve spans 1672 square km while it is 1828 square km in Kerala

▼ Director of school education bans tobacco and polythene in J&K schools   [03-28-16]

Director of school education in Kashmir has declared schools in the valley polythene free zones and directed officials to ensure ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of school.

▼ Sabarmati Riverfront to be developed into biodiversity park   [03-28-16]

A 10 ha space on the Sabarmati Riverfront near Vasna barrage will be developed as a biodiversity park. The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited is scouting for developers and INR 167 crore will be spent in developing the park. Park will have more than 15,000 trees and endangered species as well as other fauna.

▼ India to sign Paris climate agreement   [03-28-16]

On April 22nd, 2016, India will formally sign the Paris climate agreement adopted by over 190 nations in December 2015. Agreement will be open for signature at the UN HQ in NY from April 22 2016 to April 21, 2017. 80 to 100 countries will sign the agreement on the first day itself. Country’s environment, forest and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar will represent India in this capacity. Under A21 of the agreement adopted in Paris in 2015, following a marathon negotiation lasting 13 days, close to 55 countries counting for 55 percent of total GHG emissions will have to ratify the agreement before it enters into force. 3 countries-Fiji, Palau and Marshal Islands have completed their ratification process.

▼ Largest synchronised bird count event in the world GBBC held in India   [03-25-16]

The recently conducted Great Backyard Bird Count is the largest synchronised bird count event across the globe. More than 1100 people submitted over 7800 bird chuckles. India ranked number one in terms of number of species reported with 785 bird species. The country was third after US and Canada in the number of checklists submitted. Uttarakhand has the highest bird species recorded in any state. Commencing in the US in 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count was a pioneering citizen science project for data collection on birds. GBBC also matched the Uttarakhand Bird Festival to popularise birds among the public and showcase the state as an ideal birding destination.

▼ Centre has notified new e-waste management rules   [03-25-16]

Centre on Wednesday, 23rd March notified the new rules to dismantle and recycle electrical and electronic waste by expanding the rules and providing a penalty for violations. The new rule- e-Waste Management Rules 2016 has brought the management of waste of compact florescent lamps and other mercury lamps within its ambit. This also marks the first time the onus of collecting e-waste lies on the manufacturer or producer to ensure collection and disposal of e-waste in environmentally sound ways. India currently generates 1.7 MT of e-waste each year and can only recycle 1/4th of it. Under the new rules electrical and electronic item owners will attain incentive for handing the e-waste to retailers or dealers under the deposit refund scheme.

▼ To provide safe habitat, 100 meter radius declared around Abohar sanctuary   [03-25-16]

To provide a safe natural habitat for blackbucks and also check poaching, MoEF has declared the 100 metre radius around Asia’s largest open wildlife sanctuary in eco sensitive zone of Fazilka in the Abohar subdivision under the Climate Control Act 1986 and Climate Control Rules also passed in the same year. Fazilika deputy commissioner Isha Kalia indicated this would help administration to develop an open wildlife sanctuary as a habitat for neelgai, wild animals and blackbucks. Protected species in what is Asia’s largest open wildlife sanctuary spread over 188 square kilometres has faced the threat of poaching and attacks by stray dogs, apart from poor upkeep of water tanks in the summer. Sanctuary was established in the 1970s to protect wildlife in Punjab’s border belt. Blackbucks are protected by the Bishnoi community which resides in Fazilika. Cluster is home to over 3500 black bucks, blue bulls and other wildlife species.

▼ Government has notified stringent environment norms for electricity generators   [03-23-16]

GoI has notified new stringent environmental norms for electricity generators running on Liquified Petroleum Gas/Natural Gas. Diesel with LPG/NG and Petrol with LPG/NG. The aim is to reduce pollution and noise caused by these generators in cities and towns across the nation.

▼ Great Indian Bustard vanishes from Nashik region   [03-22-16]

According to forest officials, not even a single Great Indian Bustard has been spotted in the region since 2007. Officials said 3 GIBs were seen in the Ozar strip in the past year. In 2014, the forest department made an effort to conserve the bird, but no results were forthcoming after this. The bird was spotted in early 2000 in grassland regions of Viajapur, Ahmednagar, Sinnar and Ozar. 2011 GIB Census shows there are 150 such birds in the wild in Indian and Pakistan. From 11 states in the 1960s, the number of states this bird is found in fell to 6 by 2005. It is now said GIB exists in 5 states across the nation.

▼ Indian scientists identify 13 new species of sharks and rays    [03-21-16]

DNA bar coding of chimeras, sharks, rays and skates was being conducted in Indian waters by leading research institutes such as Central Marine Fishers Research Institute, Kochi. The scientists were documenting identification of chondrichthyans which are the target of fisherman and are close to over exploitation. India has 46471 tonnes of chondrichthyan fishing and despite the rich history of elasmobranch fishery, few studies have been carried out. Researchers found as many as 13 new species of sharks and rays. Peninsular and Marine Fish Genetic Resources Centre and National Research Collections Australia, Hobart, Tasmania partnered the research project. At the point of analysis, 528 specimens of 111 of these species and 34 families collected from the Indian EEZ were var coded. 5 species of sharks and 2 manta ray species have been included in the appendix of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for monitoring its international trade.

▼ 178 countries worldwide observe Earth Hour 2015   [03-21-16]

Millions of people in a record 178 nations switched off lights at 8:30 pm last night to mark Earth Hour, the world’s biggest demo to eliminate climate change from escalating out of control. Close to 366 landmarks across the world from the Sydney Opera House to the Elizabeth Tower, Salisbury Cathedral and Empire State Building and the Buckingham Palace observed the earth hour. Event organiser WWF also celebrated the event by sharing 60 things to do in the dark such as watching stars.

▼ Centre notifies new plastic waste management rules   [03-21-16]

Centre on 18th March notified a new set of plastic waste management rules for India, replacing the earlier rules made close to 5 years ago. The new rules more stringent than previous rules will be implemented across the nation within 6 months. As per the new rules, government has banned manufacturing of plastic bags below 50 microns as thinner bags are non disposable and pose a major risk to the environment. Moreover, responsibility of waste generator is being introduced for the first time. Under the fresh rules, plastic carry bags will be available only with street vendors and shop keepers who are preregistered with local bodies on payment of specific registration fee.

▼ Researchers discover new frog species called Pristimantis dorado   [03-21-16]

Scientists have discovered a new species of pale gold coloured frog within the cloud forests of the Colombian Andes. The name Pristimantis dorado means both the colour (dorado means “golden” in Spanish) and El Dorado, a mythical city of gold Spanish conquistadores in South America searched for. The new species was found at about 8700 feet elevation near Chingaza National Park close to 10 miles east of Colombia’c capital city Bogota. Colombia now has 800 species of amphibians second only to Brazil in complete diversity. The group to which the new species belongs Prismantis includes 465 recognised species, 205 of which are from Colombia. The new species is among the smaller of the group, as the largest species are around two inches in length.

▼ Carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 the same as 2014: IEA   [03-21-16]

In good news for the climate change scenario, data showed that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning did not rise in 2015. This marks the second year in the row when CO2 emissions form fossil fuels did not increase. Burning of fossil fuels constitutes 2/3rd of global CO2 emissions with the remaining associated with deforestation and agriculture. However, this does not mean that global warming has stopped. IEA in Paris pegged the 2015 value as 32.1 billion tonnes, the same as 2014.

▼ 5 Ganga river basin states launch massive plantation drive   [03-18-16]

5 Ganga river basin states- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and West Bengal will be launching a massive plantation drive as part of rejuvenation of the river. Scheme aims to help develop green path across the river to absorb water and prevent soil erosion. It will be implemented over 5 years in the first phase. Close to 40 different types of plants with high water retention capacity have been identified for this purpose under the Namami Gange programme.

▼ 720 water bodies identified under wetland category   [03-18-16]

This includes the Dhanauri wetland discovered by ornithological expert Anand Arya. Wetlands Conservation and Management Rules of 2010, passed under the Environment Protection Act have directed state governments to identify and list wetlands with MoEF.

▼ MP government declares Ratapani separate wildlife division   [03-17-16]

Facing pressure from the National Green Tribunal on the issue of notifying Ratapani sanctuary as a tiger reserve, Jabalpur has decided to go ahead with admin reforms for creating a separate Ratapani wildlife division. In principle approval in 2008 has already been given by National Tiger Conversation Authority to make Ratapani sanctuary a tiger reserve. Ratapani wildlife division will replace the Obedullaganj forest division. This will facilitate the management of wildlife in Ratapani sanctuary.

▼ IMD collaborates with ESSO to come out with temperature outlook covering 100 cities   [03-16-16]

Indian Meteorological Department has come out with a temperature outlook for the summer season and city as well as town wise heat forecasts, like it does for cyclones and rains. Summer temperature outlook with an early warning system for heatwaves and specific advisories will be valid for the April-June period. IMD in collaboration with Earth Systems Science Organisation will come out with the temperature outlook covering over 100 cities or towns. Death of 2300 persons due to heat wave across India last year is the reason for this advisory.

▼ Government signs Raptor MoU   [03-10-16]

Government has signed Raptor MoU which is a Memorandum of Understanding linked to the conservation of birds of prey in Eurasia and Africa. Raptor MoU extends coverage to 76 species of birds of prey from which 46 species including vultures, owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and kites occur in India. MoU has been signed on March 7, 2016. The MoU has been signed with the Convention on Conversation of Migratory Species or Bonn Convention under UNEP.

▼ S. Korean researchers develop unique biorefinery system   [03-9-16]

The system works to create non natural polymers from natural sources, allowing the creation of plastics in an eco-friendly way. Team from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology/KAIST developed metabolically engineered Escherichia coli strains to synthesise non-natural, biomedically important polymers including PLGA - previously considered impossible to obtain from bio-based materials. Renewable biomass that are non food can replace petrochemical raw materials. Biorefineries that transform non edible biomass into fuel, power, heat and chemicals have received considerable attention as sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

▼ Bombay House becomes first Indian heritage building to be awarded platinum rating   [03-9-16]

Bombay Group, TATA Group HQ in Mumbai is the first heritage building in India to be awarded platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council. Bombay House was built in 1923 by British architect George Wittet who also designed the Gateway of India and the Prince of Wales Museum. This rating has been given for implementation of measurable strategies and solutions in 5 categories- site and facility management, water efficiency, energy efficiency, health and comfort and innovation. Bombay House as an off site grid tied solar photovoltaic installation of 87.5 kwP, producing 1,43, 718 kwh electrical units annually.

▼ International team of researchers discover Sumatran orangutan community   [03-8-16]

A global team of researchers discovered 8000 Sumatran orangutans that were previously uncounted. This critically endangered species of large apes was found living in mountains and areas west of Lake Toba. The population of the Sumatran orangutan is now estimated at 14,600.
Both Indonesian and Malaysian species of Orangutans are critically endangered and scientists found that deforestation could lead to decline of the species by 4500 by 2030.

▼ New categorisation of industries associated with pollution load   [03-7-16]

Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, said, “The new category of White industries which is practically non-polluting will not require Environmental Clearance (EC) and Consent and will help in getting finance from lending institutions. The exercise of Re-categorization was being carried out for last one year.”

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has developed the criteria of categorization of industrial sectors based on the Pollution Index which is a function of the emissions (air pollutants), effluents (water pollutants), hazardous wastes generated and consumption of resources.
The following categories of industries have been identified :

  • Pollution Index score of 60 and above - Red category
  • Pollution Index score of 41 to 59 – Orange category
  • Pollution Index score of 21 to 40 – Green category
  • Pollution Index score incl.&upto 20 - White category

▼ Greenland’s snowy surface getting darker over past 2 decades: Scientists   [03-7-16]

Scientists have found that Greenland’s snowy surface has darkened over the past 2 decades, absorbing more heat from both the sun and rising snow melt. Study shows results are likely to persist with surface reflectivity/albedo lowering by as much as 10 percent towards the close of the century. Soot blowing from wildfires has been adding to the problem. Feedback loops created by melting itself have a profound effect on the snow covered surface as well. The darkening of the snowy surface has international implications as fresh melt water pouring into the ocean from Greenland raises the level of the sea and affects ocean ecology and circulation. This does not translate into a dirtier snowpack to darken it further. Snowpacks that look clean to the eyes can be more effective in absorbing solar radiation than a dirty one. What matters overall is the total amount of solar energy absorbed and this is the real cause behind the melting.

▼ Pantala dragonfly completes world’s longest journey   [03-4-16]

A type of dragonfly has taken the record for the longest travel in the world as it migrates from one content to another, according to Newark researchers from Rutgers University. Earlier, monarch butterflies migrating across N American were considered the longest migrating insects but the Pantala destroyed any migrating record of their’s. Its cousin Green Damer or Anax Junius is also a world traveller. Pantala (also known as Pantala lfavescens) is located in areas as far apart as Texas, Japan, Korea, India and South American.

▼ NTCA gives in principle approval for creation of 4 new tiger reserves   [03-2-16]

National Tiger Conservation Authority has provided in principle approval for creation of new tiger reserves in MP, Odisha, Chattisgarh and Assam, in the following areas:

- Madhya Pradesh- Ratanpani
- Odisha- Sunabeda
- Chhattisgarh- Guru Ghasidas
- Orang- Assam

State governments have also been advised to send proposals for declaring Suhelwa(Uttar Pradesh), Mhadei(Goa), Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel/ Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuaries/ Varushanadu Valley (Tamil Nadu), Dibang (Arunachal Pradesh) and Cauveri MM Hills (Karnataka) as tiger reserves. Assessment of status of tigers, co-predators and their prey in 2014 using a precise methodology has demonstrated country wise 30 percent increase in number of tiger with estimated range of 2226 as against 1706 in 2010. NTCA and WII have identified potential bottlenecks and obstacles as well as weak links due to the presence of poor forest cover and land use other than forest and geographical barriers.