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Geography & Environment

Lack of Political Will• Despite notifications over four years, ~56,000 square km of ESA could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones (as per Gadgil & Kasturirangan committees) for polluting activities and deforestation, and large-scale deforestation, mining, and construction are continuing unabated, hurting the ecology of the Western Ghats. Insensitivity towards ecology is increasing vulnerability to floods and landslides.
River Pollution• While Bellandur lake has recorded multiple fires caused by chemicals and trapped hydrocarbons in its severely-polluted waters, this is the first time the 450-acre Varthur lake has caught fire.
Water pollution• Almost 16,000 desalination plants worldwide produce bigger-than-expected flows of highly salty waste water and toxic chemicals that are damaging the environment, a U.N.-backed study said.
• Brine, water comprising about 5% salt, often includes toxins such as chlorine and copper used in desalination. By contrast, global sea water is about 3.5% salt.
• Brine can cut levels of oxygen in seawater near desalination plants with “profound impacts” on shellfish, crabs and other creatures on the seabed.
Air Pollution• Centre has launched National Clean Air Program (NCAP) to reduce PM pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities (identified as hotspots of pollution) by 2024. It will provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
• In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India. (WHO)
Plastic Pollution• India won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution” resolve declared on World Environment Day last year, under which it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. So far, 22 States and UTs have joined the fight, announcing a ban on single-use plastics such as carry bags, cups, plates, cutlery, straws and thermocol products.
Waste Management• The world’s first e-waste microfactory went live in April 2018 on the campus of University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney in Australia. The factory can convert waste into quality finished products. The project was started 10 years ago by Mumbai-born Professor Veena Sahajwalla.
Threat to Biodiversity• Almost two years after RJ govt. proposed setting up of captive breeding centres for the Great Indian Bustards to boost their wild population, the wildlife activists here have called for enforcement of recovery plan for the country’s most critically endangered bird. The GIB’s last remnant wild population of about 50 in Jaisalmer district accounts for 95% of its total world population.
• Many of the first batch of Olive Ridley Turtles that chose the Andhra coast for the annual breeding season have died before they reached the destination, after being trapped in fishing nets. Absence of Turtle Excluder Device in fishing operations is killing them.
Wildlife crime• Jyoti Randhawa’s arrest has brought focus on the vulnerable wildlife. GPS-enabled M-Stripe, which stands for Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status, allows patrol teams to keep a better tab on suspicious activity.