Ganga Utsav 2020
The 2020 Ganga Utsav, celebrating the glory of the National River Ganga, has recently begun. On the 4th of November 2008, the Ganga was declared the National River of India.
The festival is celebrated every year by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
National Mission for Clean Ganga
- NMCG is the National Ganga Council implementation wing, established in 2016, which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NRGBA).
- The three-day festival aims to promote the involvement of stakeholders and ensure public involvement.
Through storytelling, folklore, dialogues with eminent personalities, quizzes, showing traditional art forms, dance and music performances by renowned artists, photo galleries and exhibitions and much more, it celebrates the mystical and cultural river Ganga.
➤ Programmes Held During the Festival:
- The Ganga Task Force (GTF) carried out an afforestation drive with cadets from the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and a youth educational tour.
- The GTF is an ex-service battalion unit deployed in the Ganga Services with the Ministry of Defence's approval for a four-year period up to December 2020.
- Under the Public Participation component of the Namami Gange Programme, the Cabinet approved it, and the first battalion was raised in March 2016.
- Mini Ganga Quest is designed to raise awareness of environmental issues among young people and students and explain their conservation role.
Mini Ganga Quest
- Ganga Quest is a bilingual pan-Indian quiz to increase public participation and promote youth in the Namami Gange program.
- Suggestion on the innovative ways in which Namami Gange can engage in activities throughout the year.
- In 2014, Namami Gange Programme was launched to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation, and rejuvenation of Ganga.
➤ Government Initiatives on River Ganga
- Ganga Action Plan: It was the first River Action Plan adopted in 1985 by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change to improve water quality through domestic sewage interception, diversion and treatment.
- An extension to this plan, which aims to clean the Ganga River under Phase 2 of the Ganga Action Plan, is the National River Conservation Plan.
- National River Ganga Basin Authority: It was formed by India's Government in the year 2009 under Section-3 of the Environment Protection Act 1986.
- Clean Ganga Fund: In 2014, it was formed for cleaning up of the Ganga, setting up of waste treatment plants and conservation of biotic diversity of the river.
- Bhuvan-Ganga Web App: It ensures the public's involvement in the monitoring of pollution entering the river Ganga.
- Waste Disposal Ban: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibited the disposal of any waste in the Ganga in 2017.
Exotic Animals Rescued
Recently, 6 blue or hyacinth macaws and two capuchin monkeys have been released in the Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden in Guwahati.
Earlier, there had been a large consignment of exotic animals confiscated by the Revenue Intelligence Directorate in the same region, (DRI).
➤ Illegal Wildlife Trade-Related Provisions
- Under Section 111 of the Customs Act, 1962, read in conjunction with the Convention on International Trade's provisions in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Foreign Trade Policy (Import-Export Policy) of India, illegal exotic animals are confiscated.
- Sections 48 and 49 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 also prohibit trade or trade in wild animals, articles or trophies containing animals.
- Against the background of Covid-19, the possibility of the spread of zoonotic diseases due to smuggling in such exotic species is increasingly becoming a global concern.
- After the smuggling of narcotics, counterfeit goods and human trafficking, the illegal wildlife trade was ranked the 4th largest transnational organized crime worldwide.
- Due to their proximity to Bangladesh and Myanmar's borders, and to Thailand, West Bengal and northeast India are vulnerable to cross-border smuggling of wildlife.
- Apart from foreign currency's illegal movement, many international organisations involved in wildlife crime use the Indo-Bangladesh Border for various other illegal activities, such as drug smuggling, commercial goods, and even gun-running.
- Scientific Name: Anodorhyn- chus hyacinthinus.
- Native to central and eastern South America, it is a parrot.
- It is longer than any other parrot species with a length of about one meter and is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species.
- Threat: The loss of habitat and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade has suffered a heavy toll on their wild population.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
- CITES Appendix I.
- Genus: Cebus
- Capuchin Monkeys, also called sapajou, is a common Central and South American primate found in tropical forests from Nicaragua to Paraguay.
- They are named for their "caps" of hair, which resemble Capuchin monks' cowls.
- Protection Status:
IUCN Red List: Least concerned.
Declaring ESA Unconstitutional
The Supreme Court (SC) recently moved a Kerala-based farmers' NGO to declare the draft notification on the Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) unconstitutional.
It sought direction from the government not to implement the reports on the conservation of the Western Ghats by the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees.
- The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also known as the Gadgil Committee, and the High-Level Working Group of the Kasturirangan Committee were established to conserve and protect the biodiversity of the Western Ghats, while at the same time enabling the region's sustainable and inclusive development.
- They recommended that the ESA be declared as identified geographical areas falling within the six states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
- In 2018, a draft notification concerning the same was issued specifying the areas to be notified in the ESA.
➤ Ecologically Sensitive Areas
- Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are located within 10 km of Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas.
- ESAs are reported under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 by the MoEFCC.
- Objective: To regulate certain activities in the vicinity of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in order to minimize the adverse effects on the fragile ecosystem of protected areas.
- Red sectors (highly polluting industries) should be strictly prohibited.
- Exclusion from the scope of ESAs of inhabited regions and plantations makes it a pro-farmer approach.
➤ Issues underlined by the petition
- The draft notification would declare 123 agricultural villages in Kerala to be ESA, converting the region's semi-urban villages into forests without roads and facilities. It will affect 22 lakh people and will cripple Kerala's economy.
- The Centre incorrectly branded individuals residing in the Western Ghats region as "destroyers of the biodiversity and agents of ecological damage."
- Also, it suggested that ESA be restricted to reserved forests and protected areas in Kerala.
➤ Gadgil Committee
- It recommended that all Western Ghats be declared ESA with only limited development permission in graded zones. O The Western Ghats were classified into ESA 1, 2 and 3, of which ESA-1 is a high priority zone in which almost all development activities (mining, thermal power plants, etc.) were to be limited. The Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA) was also recommended to be established as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (MoEFCC) with powers under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It was criticized for being more environmentally friendly and not in harmony with the realities of the earth.
➤ Kasturirangan Committee
- In contrast to the Gadgil report system, the aim was to balance development and environmental protection. The major recommendations of the Committee were:
- Instead of the Western Ghats' total area, only 37% of the total area to be transferred under the ESA is required.
- A complete prohibition on ESA mining, quarrying and sand mining.
- No thermal power projects should be permitted, and hydropower projects should only be permitted after a detailed study.
Panna Biosphere Reserve
The Panna Biosphere Reserve (PBR) has recently been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (WNBR).
Panna Biosphere Reserve
- The PBR, after Pachmarhi and Amarkantak, is the third in Madhya Pradesh to be included in the list.
- The Fuvahmulahand Addu Atoll in the Maldives has also been included in the WNBR alongside the PBR.
- Founded in 1981, PBR is located in the Madhya Pradesh districts of Panna and Chhatarpur, around 540 km. Sq. Q. It is situated in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh, in the Vindhya Mountain Range.
- The Ken River (one of the Yamuna River's least polluted tributaries) flows through the reserve and the interconnecting project for the Ken-Betwa river will also be located there.
- The region is also famous for the mining of diamonds from Panna.
Conservation and Reconnaissance
- 1994: Project Tiger Reserve was designated as India's 22nd tiger reserve by the Panna National Park.
- 2011: Notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change as a Biosphere Reserve (MoEFCC ).
- 2018: It witnessed a remarkable turnaround in the tiger population by 2018 by significantly increasing their numbers from zero estimated a decade ago.
- Madhya Pradesh, followed by Karnataka and Uttarakhand, has the highest number of tigers in the country.
- 2020: included in the Man and Biosphere Programme by UNESCO (MAB).
- Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are representative parts of or combinations of, natural and cultural landscapes that extend over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems and representative examples of biogeographic zones/provinces.
- In 1974, UNESCO launched the idea of a biosphere reserve under the MAB with the aim of obtaining international cooperation for the conservation of the biosphere.
New Species in Andaman
A new genus of treefrog from the Andaman Islands, the Striped Bubble-nest frog, has recently been reported by a group of scientists.
Striped Bubble-nest frog
Biological Name : Rohanixalus vittatus
- The Striped Bubble-nest frog belongs to the Rhacophoridae genus of the Old World family of treefrogs.
- This is the first report from the Andaman Islands of a tree frog species.
- Bodily Attributes: Small and thin body (2-3 cm long). O A pair of lateral lines of a contrasting colour on any side of the body, either. The upper body is scattered with minute brown speckles.
- Light green-coloured eggs set in nests of arboreal bubbles.
There are several unique behavioural traits in the genus:
- Maternal egg attendance:
- The female (mother) takes care of the egg clutches until she hatches and helps to release the tadpoles into the water.
- The female sits over the eggs during the first three days after egg laying and produces a gelatinous secretion with which she glazes (covers) the egg mass by moving her legs clockwise. This behaviour provides the eggs laid on exposed leaf surfaces with the necessary moisture and protects them against insect predation.
- Attendance of Community Eggs:
- Arboreal means living in trees or related trees or they are also referred to as Asian Glass Frog or see-through frog.
- While most glass frogs' general background colouration is mainly lime green, some family members have translucent abdominal skin (allowing light to pass through). The internal viscera, including the liver, heart, and gastrointestinal tract, are visible through this translucent skin, hence the common name.
- Many egg clutches (over 50) on a single leaf or plant at different developmental stages. In a behaviour known as 'community' egg attendance, multiple women typically attend such clutches.
- Frequent male-male fighting to mate with a woman involves pushing, kicking and dislodging.
Typhoon Goni has recently made landfall in the eastern Philippines.
The Philippines is accustomed to heavy storms - it is an average of twenty storms and typhoons hit a year.
Goni - known in the Philippines as Rolly - is the most powerful storm to hit the country since more than 6,000 people were killed by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Typhoon Goni was actually the strongest typhoon in the world in 2020.
- The Philippines was hit by Typhoon Molave last week.
- The Pacific Ocean is gaining strength from another storm, Atsani, as it approaches the Philippines.
- A strong "tropical cyclone" is a regionally specific name for the typhoon.
- In the northwestern Pacific Ocean, tropical cyclones are known as 'typhoons,' hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean, Willy-willies in northwestern Australia and Tropical Cyclones in the Indian Ocean region.
- A tropical cyclone is a generic term that meteorologists use to describe a rotating, organized cloud and thunderstorm system that originates in tropical or subtropical waters and has a low-level, closed circulation.
- Tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere rotate counterclockwise.
- The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale measures these points.
Earthquake Concentrations in Dharchula Region
At the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), scientists recently discovered large concentrations of earthquakes of micro and moderate magnitude in the Dharchula region and adjacent Kumaon Himalaya areas.
- Under the Department, WIHG is an autonomous institute Government of India, Science and Technology (DST).
- The main concentration is in an area around 45 km from the new Kailash Mansarovar road, connecting Dharchula in Uttarakhand to Lipu Lekh on the border with China.
- Despite the Himalayas being one of the most tectonically and seismically active regions in the country, the region is known as the Central Seismic Gap (CSG) region.
A gap is a term used to denote an area with little activity in tectonics.
- Scientists began to research and map the region precisely in order to find out the reason behind it.
- The occurrence of earthquakes that are crowded (closely located and often felt). With the Ministry of Earth Sciences' support, they set up a seismological network of 15 broadband seismological stations along the Kali River valley to examine the subsurface configuration in the Kumaon Himalaya region.
Earthquakes in India
- Due to the presence of tectonically active young fold mountains, the Himalayas, India is one of the highly earthquake-affected countries.
- India has been split into four seismic zones (II, III, IV, and V) on the basis of scientific inputs relating to seismicity, past earthquakes and regional tectonics.
New Ramsar Sites
Ramsar sites, a conservation status conferred by the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, have recently been declared the Meteor lake at Lonar in Buldhana district of Maharashtra the Soor Sarovar at Agra.
- Kabartal Wetland (Bihar) and Asan Conservation Reserve (Uttrakhand) were also named as Ramsar sites earlier this year.
- The total number of Ramsar sites in India, with recent inclusions, is 41, the highest in South Asia.
➤ Lake Lonar
- Lonar Lake, situated in the volcanic basalt rock of the Deccan Plateau, was created 35,000 to 50,000 years ago by the impact of a meteor. The lake is part of the Lonar Wildlife Sanctuary that falls under the Melghat Tiger Reserve's unified control (MTR).
- It is also known as the Lonar Crater and is a National Geo-heritage Monument that has been declared. Geo-heritage refers to the geological characteristics that are inherently or culturally significant or can be used for education to provide insight into the evolution of the earth or history of earth science.
- It is the second Maharashtra Ramsar site, after Bird Sanctuary of Nandur Madhmeshwar in Nashik district.
- The lake's water is highly saline and alkaline, containing anaerobes, cyanobacteria, and phytoplankton as special microorganisms.
➤ Lake Soor Sarovar
It is also known as Keetham Lake, located within the Bird Sanctuary of Soor Sarovar, declared in 1991 as a bird sanctuary.
Soor Sarovar Bird SanctuaryLocation
- This lake is located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, alongside the Yamuna river.
- The Soor Sarovar bird sanctuary covers an area of 7.97 sq km.
- Today, it is home to more than 165 migratory and resident bird species. A bear rescue centre for rescued dancing bears is also available.
➤ Ramsar Site
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
- It entered into force about India on 1 February 1982. As Ramsar sites, those wetlands of international importance are declared.
- The Convention's mission is "to conserve and use all wetlands in a wise manner through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development worldwide."
➤ The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where, as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference, changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
➤ Two of India's wetlands are currently on record in Montreux:
- Keoladeo (Rajasthan) National Park and Loktak Lake (Manipur).
- The record was placed on Chilika Lake (Odisha) but was later removed from it.
Anakkayam Small Hydro Electric Project
Different green collectives and environmental groups have recently been organizations have gathered to demonstrate against Kerala's Anakkayam Small Hydro Electric Project.
The project site is located near the Athirapally Hydel Electric Project.
➤ On the Project
- It will appear in the Parambikulam buffer zone, Tiger Reserve (PTR), and build a 5,617-km - within the forest's long tunnel.
- It will be necessary to clean out about 20 hectares of forest land and cut about 1900 large trees and a larger number of small trees.
- As seen in the massive landslide followed by minor landslides at the project site in 2018, the area is ecologically fragile. The implications will extend to the loss of precious species of flora and fauna.
- Without obtaining permission from the local Kadar tribe, which holds the right to Community Forest Resources (CFR) under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, approval was granted.
- The hydel project site is within the 400 sq km of forest land given as CFR to the Kadar tribe, responsible for protecting and preserving the habitat.
UNESCO Global Geoparks
A Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) geopark consisting of Erra Matti Dibbalu (red dunes), natural rock formations, Borra Caves and volcanic ash deposits are being recognized by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Erra Matti Dibbalu (red dunes)
- While there are 161 Global Geoparks of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) spread over 44 countries, India still has one of its own.
- These are single, unified geographical areas where, with a holistic concept of protection, education, sustainable development, sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed.
- These provide international recognition for sites that promote the importance and significance of actively engaging with local communities to protect the Earth's geodiversity. Geo-tourism activities such as excursions, nature trails, guided tours, hiking and academic meetings support the Geoparks.
These are managed by an entity having a legal existence recognized following national legislation. O The status of the UNESCO Global Geopark does not imply restrictions on any economic activity within it, provided that such activity complies with indigenous, local, regional and/or national laws
➤ Designation Period:
The designation shall be given for a period of four years after which
the functioning and quality of each geopark during the revalidation process is thoroughly re-examined.
➤ Other designations for UNESCO sites
- These concentrate on harmonized biological and cultural diversity management.
- India has 12 biosphere reserves under the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) out of 18 notified biosphere reserves, and the Panna Biosphere Reserve is the latest to be included.
World Heritage Sites
- These encourage the preservation of natural and cultural sites of exceptional universal value.
- India has 38 sites of world heritage, including 30 cultural estates, 7 natural estates and 1 mixed site. Jaipur town, Rajasthan, is the latest one to be included.
For the first time in India, Willow Warbler was observed at Vellayani-Punchakkari paddy fields, Kerala.
- These paddy fields are a birding hotspot on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram and are known to host more than 213 resident and migratory species of birds.
- Scientific Name: Phyl- loscopus trochilus.
- In northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic, they breed. The Palearctic ecozone is one of the 8 ecozones on Earth.
- It covers Asia north of the Himalayas, with parts of Western Asia and most of the Sahara in East Asia and Africa.
Migration: In early winter, they migrate to sub-Saharan Africa.
- It is one of the longest migrating birds in the world.
- The bird weighs around 10 grams and helps to fly long distances with its long wing feathers.
- Because of the small size and change in plumage twice a year, warblers are generally difficult to identify. They are also the hardest groups of birds to recognize for their striking resemblance to each other in the field.
Threats: As a result of human population expansion, the species is affected by drought conditions in its wintering quarters and habitat alterations.
IUCN Red List: Least Concern.
The tropical cyclone Nivar has recently made landfall along the shore of Tamil Nadu-Puducherry.
- Landfall refers to the phenomenon of the outside wall of a cyclone moving over and beyond the coastline.
➤ Nivar cyclone
- It is the fourth cyclone that took shape this year in the North Indian Ocean region. The first three cyclones were Cyclone Gati, which landed in Somalia.
- According to WMO guidelines, the names of cyclones are supposed to be given by countries in every region.
- After cyclone Gaja in 2018, Nivar will be the second cyclone to hit Tamil Nadu in two years.
- The storm was named Cyclone Nivar, based on World Meteorological Organization guidelines (WMO). From the list of names given by Iran, Nivara was selected.
- The North Indian Ocean region includes tropical cyclones forming over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
- Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen are the 13 members of the region.
- A total of 169 cyclones have been named this year by these countries, with 13 names from each country.
- With a wind speed of 100-110 km per hour, it has weakened from a very severe cyclonic storm to a severe cyclonic storm.