India year book provides details on the most authentic government initiatives and policies that can be directly asked in the IAS prelims exam.
Hence, it is important for IAS aspirants to cover the environment chapter of the India year book so as to better understand the latest government initiatives in conservation.
Central Pollution Control Board
• The Central Government constituted the Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
• The name of the Central Board was amended to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Water Amendment Act, 1988.
• The enactment of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which is umbrella legislation for the enforcement of measures for the protection of the environment and several notifications of rules under the Act, widened the scope of activities of the Central Board.
Auto Fuel Policy
• The Environment Ministry has decided to grant the recognition to the environmental laboratories subject to fulfilling the criteria which include such as that all environmental laboratories should have either ISO 17025 or ISO 9001 along with OHSAS 180001 certification before submission of application for consideration of recognition under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 duly authenticated by the State Pollution Control Board.
• The applicant is required to submit an undertaking that all activities of the laboratory in totality are being carried out as per ISO 17025 or ISO 9001 along with OHSAS 18001.
Scheme of Common Effluent Treatment Plants
• The concept of the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) arose in order to make a cooperative movement for pollution control.
• The main objective of the CETPs is to reduce the treatment cost to be borne by an individual member unit to a minimum while protecting the environment to a maximum.
• Wastewater treatment and water conservation are the prime objectives of the CETP.
• The concept of CETPs was envisaged to treat the effluent emanating from the clusters of compatible small-scale industries.
Control of Air Pollution
The National Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched in 2015.
• AQI is a tool loaded in the web portal of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for public information on the status of ambient air quality in selected cities.
• It considers eight Pollutants that are sulphur, dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, ozone, PM10, PM2.5 carbon monoxide and ammonia for short term norms.
• There are six AQI categories like good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, and severe.
• Each of these categories is decided based on ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts.
• The National AQI is a significant tool helping the country in decision supporting system as a part of e-Governance measures.
Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station
• The Ambient Air Quality monitors 8 parameters out of 12 as notified in NAAQS 2009 namely SO2, NO2, NH2, O3, CO1 Benzene, PM10 & PM23. The data is live on the website of CPCB.
Categorization of Industrial Sectors under Red, Orange, Green and White Category
The Working Group constituted for categorisation has developed the criteria of the pollution index.
Pollution Index= Function of (emissions, effluents, hazardous wastes generated, consumption of resources)
Accordingly, following criteria on ‘Range of Pollution Index’ for the purpose of categorization of industrial sectors is finalised. The newly introduced white category of industries pertains to those industrial sectors which are practically non-polluting.
Pollution Index Score
Score incl. and upto 20
White Category Industry
Score of 21 to 40
Green Category Industry
Score of 41 to 59
Orange Category Industry
Score of 60 and above
Red Category Industry
The salient features of the ‘Recategorization’ exercise are as follows:
Hazardous Substances Management
• The Hazardous Substances Management Division (HSMD) is the nodal point within the Ministry for the management of chemical emergencies and hazardous substances.
• The main objective of the programme is to promote the safe management and use of hazardous substances including hazardous chemicals and hazardous wastes, in order to avoid damage to health and the environment.
The Division is also the nodal point for the following International Conventions such as:
i. Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal.
ii. Rotterdam Convention regarding the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
iii. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
iv. A strategic approach to International Chemicals Management.
v. Minamata Convention on Mercury
The Ministry has notified two set of rules for ensuring chemical safety in the country. They are as follows:
i. The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (MSIHC) Rules, 1989.
ii. The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) (CAEPPR) Rules, 1996.
• These rules delineate the criteria for identification of Major Accident Hazard (MAH) unit.
• An off-site emergency plan for a district having MAH unit (s) is required to be in place so as to mitigate the impact of chemical accidents.
• A sub-scheme titled “Industrial Pocket wise Hazard Analysis” has been in operation since the Eighth Five Year Plan.
Hazardous Waste Management
As per information provided by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there are about 41,523 industries in the country generating about 7.90 million tonnes of hazardous waste annually.
Out of all the waste generated annually, the categorisation is as follow:
• Recyclable hazardous waste = 50.38 per cent
• Landfillable waste= 42.02 per cent
• Incinerable waste= 7.60 per cent
The Ministry has also initiated a project on GIS-Based National Hazardous Waste Information System. It is a web-based system, which has been developed to provide the status of hazardous waste management in the country.
At present, 38 Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) include 17 Integrated TSDF, 13 exclusive common secure landfills and 8 exclusive common incinerators are available in 10, 9 and 4 states/UT respectively.
The Ministry notified e-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 which apply to e-waste generated from IT and telecommunication equipment and consumer electrical and electronics.
• These rules empower the concerned state agencies to control, supervise and regulate relevant activities connected with e-waste management such as collection, segregation, dismantling and recycling.
• The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been enshrined in these rules.
• Accordingly, producers are required to set up collection systems and meet the cost involved in the environmentally sound management of e-waste generated from the ‘end of life’ of their own products.
• Besides, threshold limits, which are accepted globally, have been prescribed for six hazardous substances used in the manufacture of electrical and electronics components.
• Producers are expected to achieve the reduction in the use of the hazardous substances (RoHS) to the prescribed limit within a period of two years from the date of commencement of these rules.
• These rules are the main instrument to ensure environmentally sound management of e-waste.
Fly Ash Utilization
• The Indian coal has a high ash content of the order of 30-49 percent generating a large quantity of fly ash at coal based thermal power stations in the country.
• Fly ash is a matter of concern as it requires a large area of land for its disposal because of its potential of causing pollution of air and water.
• The Ministry issued a notification on fly ash utilisation in 1999 prescribing therein the targets for fly ash utilisation for coal/lignite power based thermal power stations with an aim to achieve 100 percent utilisation in a phased manner.
• The main objective is to prevent dumping of fly ash from thermal power stations on land and to promote utilisation of ash in the manufacture of building materials and construction activity.
• The fly ash utilisation in the country has been increased from 13.51 to 57.63 per cent in the year 2013-14. However, the utilisation has not reached 100 percent.
Conservation of Water Bodies
Two centrally sponsored schemes of water bodies conservations are:
i. National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and
ii. National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA)
National River Conservation Plan (NRCP)
The objective of NRCP is to improve the water quality of rivers which are major water sources in the country, through the implementation of pollution abatement works in various towns along identified polluted stretches of rivers.
The river conservation programme was initiated with the launching of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985. The Ganga Action Plan was expanded to cover other rivers under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) in the year 1995.
The pollution abatement works taken up under the NRCP include:
• Interception and diversion works of sewerage systems to capture raw sewage flowing into the rivers and diverting them for treatment
• Setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for treating the diverted sewage
• Construction of low-cost sanitation toilets to prevent open defecation on river banks
• Construction of electric crematoria and improved wood crematoria to conserve the use of wood
• Riverfront development works, such as improvement of bathing ghats
• Public participation and awareness and capacity building
Presently NRCP (excluding Ganga and its tributaries) has covered polluted stretches of 31 rivers in 75 towns spread over 14 states at a sanctioned cost of 4517.82 crores.
Table: Rivers covered under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP)
National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems
• The Environment Ministry has emerged two separate centrally sponsored schemes for the conservation of lakes and wetlands into one integrated scheme of the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA).
• The scheme aims at holistic conservation and restoration of lakes and wetlands for achieving the desired water quality enhancement.
• The scheme would contribute to the reduction of pollution loads in lakes and wise use of wetland resources and their services.
• NPCA is presently operational on cost sharing between Central and respective state governments.
Conservation of Lakes
So far under NLCP/NPCA, a total of 46 projects for conservation of 63 lakes have been sanctioned in 14 states for undertaking works like providing sewage system and sewage treatment plants, interception and diversion of sewage, desalting, catchment area treatment, storm water management.
Major projects under NLCP implementation includes:
• Dal lake in Jammu & Kashmir
• Mokokchung lakes in Nagaland (NE region)
• Shivpuri and Sindh Sagar lakes in Madhya Pradesh
• Annasagar, Pushkar and Pichola lakes in Rajasthan
• Ramgarh Tal and Laxmital in Uttar Pradesh
Conservation of Wetlands
Wetlands are a lifeline for a very large number of people and an important source of fresh water for mankind. Major problems of wetland include:
• Fragmentation of hydrological regimes
• Siltation from degraded catchments
• Spread of invasive species
• Over-harvesting of resources
The National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) was initiated in 1987 and financial assistance is being provided to the State governments for implementing action plans for the conservation and management of identified wetlands.
• India became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention in 1982 as a commitment to conserving potential wetlands.
• As per this convention, India is committed to international cooperation and to take national action for conservation and wise use of Wetlands.
• At present, there are 26 Ramsar sites in India.
• A regulatory mechanism was put in place through the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules in December 2010.
• The Ministry has initiated the process of revising the existing wetland rules to enable a greater role and ownership by state governments in the management of wetlands, particularly as water and land are state subjects.
• The state wetland authorities are envisaged to be entrusted the role of management and regulation of wetlands within their jurisdiction.
World Wetland Day
• Each year, World Wetland Day is celebrated on 2nd February for increasing awareness and spreading the need for conservation and wise use of wetlands all over the world.
• The stakeholders of the wetland were invited to participate in the celebration. Prize distribution was held for the various competitions held on the eve of WWD on various environmental themes.
Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun)
• Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was established in 1986 as an autonomous institute of the Ministry.
• The Institute is a premier research institution in the field of wildlife and protected area management in south and south East Asia.
• Its mandates are to generate quality information and knowledge products in wildlife science through research and mainstream it in capacity building programmes.