Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2018: Environment & Ecology- July 2018

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu

1. Area around Mudumali to be declared an eco-sensitive Zone: In a move that would prohibit construction and commercial mining activities and restrict hotels and resorts near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Thursday issued a draft notification declaring 438 sq. km. of area around the reserve as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). The reserve, comprising the wildlife sanctuary and the national park, extending over an area of 321 sq. km, was declared a core/critical tiger habitat in 2007. Besides the core/critical tiger habitat, 367 sq. km. is the buffer area in a total of 688 sq. km. reserve area. The reserve is a critical part of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve spread over 5,500 sq. km.

The area supports an ecologically sustainable habitat in the Western Ghats landscape for about 60-65 tigers, 600 to 800 Asian elephants and gaur apart from other animals of significance. This reserve harbours 227 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles. Once the eco-sensitive zone is declared around the reserve, commercial mining, setting up of industries causing pollution, establishment of major hydroelectric projects, use or production or processing of any hazardous substances, discharge of untreated effluents into natural water bodies or land area and setting up of new saw mills or brick kilns would be prohibited in the area.

The declaring of an eco-sensitive zone around the reserve would place some restrictions primarily on polluting industries. It doesn’t mean that agriculture activities in the area would be stopped. Also, resorts already present in the area would not be forced to stop functioning. Source: The Hindu

2. Dr Harsha Vardhan inaguarates most advanced system of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR): cience& Technology, Earth Sciences; Environment, Forest & Climate Change Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan unveiled a state-of-the-art Air Quality and Weather Forecast System– SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting)at ChandniChowkin Delhi today. The giant true colour LED display gives out real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding alongwith 72-hour advance forecast.

The system, first of its kind in the country, was developed indigenously in record time by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and operationalized by India Meteorological Department (IMD). Mission model project SAFAR is implemented in four cities of India – Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad as an operational service. Accordingto a preliminary economic assessment of the benefits of the system, if 5% of people suffering from air-pollution related diseases take advantage of the advisories and precautionsin Delhi alone, it would result in a saving of nearly Rs. 2,500 crores in terms of health-related cost benefit. The system will be an integral part of India’s first Air Quality Early Warning System operational in Delhi and will strengthen the existing air quality network of SAFAR, Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

SAFAR will accelerate public awareness and preparedness of air pollution and weather extremes. It will also lead to better understanding of linkages among emissions, weather, pollution and climate. It will monitor all weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. In addition to regular air quality parameters like PM2.5, PM10, Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, the system will also monitor the existence of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene. Besides health, SAFAR system would benefit cost savings to several other sectors like agriculture, aviation, infrastructure, disaster management skill, tourism and many others, which directly or indirectly get affected by air quality and weather. Source: PIB

3. NMCG organises “Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan” in Five Ganga Basin States: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is running “Ganga VriksharopanAbhiyan” in five main stem Ganga basin states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. In order to implement the afforestation project in a scientific manner, Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun was assigned the project to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the basis of which the State Forest Departments would carry out their plantation activities. In the DPR a riverscape covering an area of 83,946 km2 (1,13,751 hectare) has been delineated along the five main stem Ganga basin states for afforestation over a period of 5 years at a cost of Rs. 2293.73 crore.

Forests cause higher rainfall and raise water level in the rivers. Through their foliage, craggy bark and abundant leaf litter, trees and forests decrease the speed of water dispersion and favour slow but greater infiltration of rainwater to ensure smooth functioning of the hydrological cycle. Moreover, presence of healthy forest cover along the river provides self-cleaning ability to the river. Thus, afforestation and augmentation of existing forest along the Ganga holds the promise to strengthen the riparian ecosystem thereby contributing to the overarching cause of Ganga Rejuvenation. Source: PIB

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