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12 Aug, 2022

35 Min Read

Mid-day Meal Scheme

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government Schemes & Programmes

Mid-day Meal Scheme

There is recent proof that children who receive eggs as part of midday meals have a considerable boost in their growth, according to a study commissioned by the Karnataka government.

Image source - Inshitsonindia

About the recent study

While the request to include additional districts in the scope of the mid-day meal or PM Poshan program is still pending, eggs are now supplied under this program in seven Karnataka districts.

More than 4,500 children in two districts were included.


  • When compared to their counterparts who weren't offered eggs, girls in Class 8 gained up to 71% more weight.
  • According to the study, the introduction of eggs and, to a lesser extent, bananas led to improvements in children's Body Mass Index (BMI), which affected both boys and girls equally.

History of the scheme

The current iteration of the program dates back to 1995 and was renamed PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM Poshan in 2021.

Centralized initiative

  • On August 15 of that year, it was introduced as a centrally sponsored program in 2,408 blocks for pupils up to Class 5 and then extended to Class 8 in 2007.

Metropolitan Corporation of Madras

  • The former Madras Municipal Corporation took the initial step in providing meals for kids in the 1920s.

India after independence

  • Tamil Nadu was once more the innovator in India after Independence.
  • Kerala is the country's second state to offer school lunches.

The scale of the scheme

2013 National Food Security Act

  • According to the National Food Security Act of 2013, the program includes 11.80 crore children in Classes 1 through 8 (between the ages of 6 and 14) who attend 11.20 lakh government and government-aided schools as well as those administered by local organizations like the municipal corporations in Delhi (NFSA).

Finances allocated

  • The Center has set out Rs. 10,233 crores for the program in the Budget for 2022–2023; states are anticipated to invest Rs. 6,277 crores.

Legal entitlement of all school-going children

  • Through the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, and the Supreme Court's decision in People's Union of Civil Liberties v. Union of India and Others, it is not simply a plan; it is a right granted to all school-going children in primary and upper primary schools (2001).


  • Preventing hunger in the classroom, boosting enrollment, attendance, and socialization, addressing malnutrition, and empowering women via work.


  • Includes all public and private schools, madrasas, and mastabas that are funded by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Impact of the scheme

  • Children whose mothers had access to free school lunches had lower rates of stunting.
  • Stunting is characterized by low height for age, chronic dietary malnutrition, and recurrent illnesses.
  • Stunting typically starts before the age of two, and its effects are mostly permanent.
  • In places where the mid-program was put into place in 2005, the frequency of stunting was much lower.

Benefits that cross generations:

  • In comparison to girls who did not have access to the free lunches offered at government schools, their offspring had a higher ratio of height to age.
  • In India, more than one in three kids are stunted, or too short for their age, which is a sign of ongoing malnutrition.
  • Increasing early children's nutrition has been a common strategy in the fight against stunting, but nutritionists have long claimed that maternal

Issues associated with the scheme

  • A committee looking at National Education Policy 2020 claimed that serving meat and eggs at noon meals could result in lifestyle issues.
  • Many students who are vegetarians may be excluded from the serving of eggs.
  • Variations in supplemental nutrition: For instance, only 13 states and three UTs now offer eggs and bananas to vegetarians.
  • Cost concerns: Some states, like Arunachal Pradesh, perceive it to be expensive.
  • Dietary decisions: Due to regional variances, religious conservatism, and caste rigidities, dietary decisions are a hotly debated topic in India.
  • Reach is prioritized over food quantity or quality.
  • Health: There are numerous unreported instances of students reporting diarrhoea and other illnesses after eating this lunch. Due to their concerns about safety, parents and kids have chosen not to eat during these midday meals.
  • Corrupt actions being committed: In addition to finding financial mismanagement by the Education Ministry, the CAG's performance audit report on Mid-Day Meal also found that states had diverted cash totalling Rs 123.29 crore intended for the program.
  • Casteism still exists and is a bad example to follow. The Dalit and students from the backward classes are often forced to sit apart from the other students, and in other states, there have been reports of incidences where food was allegedly thrown at the Dalit students.
  • Implementation is flawed: Whether it's the meal menu or calorie consumption, proper rules are not always followed.

Way Forward

  • Alternative: To address these concerns, many states now offer fruits in place of eggs.
  • Years before such girls and young women become mothers, improvements in maternal height and education and nutrition must be made to ensure a healthy workforce in India.

Also, Read - Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

Source: The Indian Express

Ethanol Plants

GS-III : Economic Issues Energy

Ethanol Plants

The Indian government declared on World Biofuel Day 2022, 10 August, that a second generation (2G) ethanol facility would be built at the Indian Oil Corporation's refinery in Haryana.

Image Source - Regreen excel

This ethanol plant will provide more money and green fuel while also assisting in the reduction of air pollution in the Delhi and NCR areas.

About Ethanol Plant

  • By using around 2 lakh tonnes of rice straw (parali) annually to produce roughly 3 crore liters of ethanol, it will support India's waste-to-wealth initiatives.
  • In addition to paddy straw, this plant will also use trash from sugarcane and maize to make ethanol.
  • The project will create indirect jobs in the supply chain for the cutting, handling, and storage of rice straw in addition to direct employment for those involved in the operation of the factory.
  • There will be no liquid discharge from the project.
  • Through a decrease in rice straw burning, the project will help cut greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 3 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions yearly, which is roughly comparable to replacing nearly 63,000 cars on the country's roads each year.

Other Initiatives regarding Biofuels

  • The Ethanol Blending Program aims to decrease the nation's reliance on crude oil imports, reduce carbon emissions, and increase farmer incomes.
  • The 20% ethanol blend in gasoline (commonly known as E20) goal has been moved up by the Indian government from 2030 to 2025.
  • India has already surpassed its goal of blending 10% ethanol into gasoline, with ethanol production rising to 400 crore liters.

The 2018 National Biofuels Policy:

  • By 2030, 20% ethanol blend is the suggested goal under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Program.
  • TVS Apache two-wheelers are made to run on E80 or 100% ethanol as part of the E-100 Pilot Project (E100).

Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana, 2019:

  • The program seeks to advance R&D in the 2G ethanol market and develop an ecosystem for launching commercial solutions.

Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO)

  • This program, which was started by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), will allow for the collection and conversion of wasted cooking oil into biodiesel.

Ethanol Blending

It is one of the main biofuels and is created either naturally by yeast fermenting carbohydrates or through petrochemical processes like ethylene hydration.

Blending Objective:

  • The 20% ethanol blend in gasoline (commonly known as E20) goal has been moved up by the Indian government from 2030 to 2025.
  • In India right now, 8.5% percent ethanol is added to gasoline.

Objectives of Ethanol Blending:

Energy Security:

  • Using ethanol more frequently can lower the cost of importing oil. In 2020–21, India's net import expense was $551 billion.
  • The E20 initiative has the potential to save the nation USD 4 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) annually.

Farmer incentives:

  • Oil corporations buy ethanol from farmers, which helps sugarcane farmers.
  • In addition, the government intends to promote the manufacture of ethanol from non-food feedstock as well as from crops that conserve water, such as maize.

Reduces Emission:

  • Use of gasoline-containing ethanol reduces emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

However, acetaldehyde emissions and other uncontrolled carbonyl emissions were higher with E10 and E20 than with regular gasoline. These emissions were, however, considerably less.

World Biofuel Day


  • It is observed on August 10 each year.
  • It is seen to increase understanding of the significance of using non-fossil fuels in place of traditional fossil fuels.


  • Sir Rudolf Diesel gets honored on this day.
  • He created the diesel engine and was the first to foresee the prospect of replacing fossil fuels with vegetable oil.

Way Forward

Ethanol From Wastes:

  • If India decides to refocus on ethanol produced from trash, it has a great chance to become a global leader in sustainable biofuels policy.
  • Since these wastes are currently frequently burned, which contributes to smog, doing so would have significant positive effects on both the climate and air quality.

Prioritize Food Production Over Fuel Crops:

  • Due to our declining groundwater resources, limited arable land, unpredictable monsoons, and declining crop yields as a result of climate change, food production must be given priority over fuel crops.

Alternative Mechanism:

  • To fulfill the primary objective of reducing emissions, alternative mechanisms such as increased adoption of electric vehicles, the installation of additional renewable generation capacity to enable zero-emission recharging, etc., must be assessed.

What Is Ethanol?

It is one of the main biofuels and is created either naturally by yeast fermenting carbohydrates or through petrochemical processes like ethylene hydration.

It is an alternative fuel made in the United States, mostly from corn. Additionally, cellulosic feedstocks like crop byproducts and wood are used to make it.

Using ethanol as fuel

Because of its potential environmental benefits and long-term financial advantages over fossil fuels, ethanol has received a lot of interest as a fuel for internal combustion engines, either alone or in combination with other fuels.

Any concentration of ethanol, all the way up to pure ethanol, can be mixed with gasoline (E100).

Also, Read - Declining Mangrove Cover: NASA STUDY

Source: The Economic Times

Declining Mangrove Cover: NASA STUDY

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Vegetation

Declining Mangrove Cover: NASA STUDY

NASA recently brought attention to the disappearance of mangroves on Katchal Island, which is a part of India's Nicobar archipelago.

Image Source - NASA.gov

Findings Of NASA

Mangrove loss:

  • The study revealed how much of the world's mangroves have disappeared during the last two decades.
  • On August 8, 2022, the NASA Earth Observatory displayed a satellite-shot map of the island. The mapping highlighted the tidal wetland loss from 1999 to 2019.

Earthquake impact

  • The Andaman earthquake in December 2004 had a significant impact on the islands, causing up to 3 meters (10 feet) of land to collapse.
  • As a result of this, numerous mangrove habitats were drowned, and in other places, the extent of mangroves was reduced by more than 90%.

Tidal marshes:

  • Between 1999 and 2019, 4,000 square kilometres of tidal wetlands were gone.
  • Among the three types of tidal wetlands, mangroves showed the highest ratio of loss to gain. The other two were marshes and tidal flats.
  • Between 1999 and 2019, mangroves are thought to have lost 3,700 square kilometres.
  • Globally, tidal wetlands are declining, yet increases of 2,100 square kilometres and losses of 2,300 square kilometres show how dynamic these systems are.
  • Tidal wetlands in Africa had the highest loss-to-gain ratio outside of Asia. The countries that suffered the most were Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Nigeria.

Causes of wetland change:

  • Anthropogenic activities
  • Sea level rise,
  • Shoreline erosion,
  • Storms,
  • Altered sediment flow and
  • Subsidence.

About Mangroves

  • A mangrove is a tiny tree or shrub that grows along coasts and establishes itself in saline sediments, frequently beneath the water.
  • The family Rhizophoraceae, Acanthaceae, Lythraceae, Combretaceae, and Arecaceae all contain flowering trees, including mangroves.
  • A mangrove tree's bottom trunk and its extensive root system are partially submerged in the sea, but its upper trunk, along with its branches and foliage, is entirely above the waterline.
  • Many species (like banyan trees) have roots that diverge from stems and branches and penetrate the soil at a distance from the main stem.


Can Sustain Environment with Salt:

  • Mangroves are unique in that they can endure extremely unfavourable conditions, such as high salinity and low oxygen levels.
  • Mangrove trees have intricate salt filtering systems and intricate root systems to withstand exposure to saltwater and wave action.
  • In the saline and brackish water they live in, the roots filter out 90% of the salt that comes into touch with them. Mangrove species that have glands in their leaves can exude salt.

Low oxygen:

  • For respiration, any plant's underground tissue needs oxygen. But in a mangrove environment, there is little to no oxygen in the soil.
  • As a result, the mangrove root system takes in oxygen from the surrounding air.
  • Mangroves develop unique roots termed pneumatophores, or breathing roots, for this purpose.
  • The underground tissues of these roots can receive oxygen because of their many apertures.
  • Mangroves, like plants in the desert, store fresh water in their large, succulent leaves. The leaves' waxy layer seals in the water and reduces evaporation.

Mangroves are viviparous:

  • Their seeds germinate while still attached to the parent tree. Once germinated, the seedling grows into a propagule.
  • The mature propagule then drops into the water and gets transported to a different spot, eventually taking root in a solid ground

Distribution of Mangroves

  • The tropical and subtropical regions of the world include more than 118 nations and territories where mangroves can be found.
  • The region with the most mangroves is Asia, which is followed by Africa, North and Central America, Oceania, and South America. Only 15 countries contain almost 75% of the world's mangrove forests.

In India

  • Mangrove forests in India can be found in the deltas of the Ganges, Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Cauvery rivers.
  • Kerala's backwaters are covered in a dense mangrove forest.
  • The largest mangrove area in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Sundarbans in West Bengal. It stretches from Bangladesh's Baleswar River to West Bengal's Hooghly River.
  • The second-largest mangrove forest in India is located in Odisha, in the Bhitarkanika mangrove system.
  • Mangrove trees cover a huge area of water in Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu. Numerous aquatic bird species call it home.

Importance of Mangroves

Acts as shield

  • Mangrove forests provide a natural barrier against sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surge.
  • Their complex root system helps to stabilize the beach and lessen coastal erosion caused by storm surges. They act as speed-breakers to slow the tides along with the tree trunks.

Filters Water:

  • Mangrove thickets protect the quality of the water by filtering contaminants and capturing sediments that come from the land.


  • They serve as a habitat provider for a wide variety of terrestrial organisms.
  • Lizards, snakes, and bird nests can all find shelter in their branches. Mangroves serve as the sole breeding, spawning, and hatching grounds for numerous species of fish and shellfish that are found in coastal and offshore waters.

Climate Change

  • Mangroves are also climate change powerhouses. When it comes to carbon storage, mangroves are formidable forces.
  • Studies show that mangroves can store more carbon in the peat soil beneath than other types of trees. They keep this carbon in storage for ages.

Sources of Income:

  • The mangroves are a major source of income for many people who live in and around them.
  • The trees provide wood for building and burning.
  • Local fishermen may catch a variety of fish, crabs, and shellfish thanks to the ecology. Also supported by the ecology is tourism.

Major Threats

  • Mangroves are most at risk from coastal development, which includes erecting shrimp farms, hotels, and other buildings.
  • To make place for agricultural land and habitations, mangrove forests are destroyed.
  • Mangrove trees are used for animal fodder, charcoal production, firewood, and construction materials. Overharvesting has occurred in several regions of the world, which is no longer sustainable.
  • Other dangers to mangrove ecosystems include overfishing, pollution, and increasing sea levels.
  • At least one-third of all mangrove forests, according to scientists, have vanished in recent years.

Way forward

The coastal environment depends critically on the mangroves for their survival and preservation.

Proper planting drives must be made in order to make up for the plants that are harmed as a result of various anthropogenic and natural activities.

Also, Read - the SMILE-75 Initiative

Source: The Hindustan Times

Amendments to Biodiversity Bill, 2021

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Amendments to Biodiversity Bill, 2021

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021 was recently the subject of an investigation by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which recently submitted its recommendations.

Image Source - Journals of India

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change submitted various revisions, which the JPC has accepted (MoEFCC).

Biodiversity Act, 2002

  • To ensure the preservation of biological variety, sustainable use of its elements, and fair and equal distribution of the benefits resulting from the use of biological resources and traditional knowledge, the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA), was adopted.


  • According to the Act, no individual or group may acquire any biological resource present in India for use in study or commerce without first receiving consent from the National Biodiversity Authority.
  • A three-tiered framework was envisioned by the act to control access to biological resources:
  • The Office of National Biodiversity (NBA)
  • State Boards for Biodiversity (SBBs)
  • The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) (at the local level)
  • All offences covered by the statute are defined as cognizable and non-bailable.

Amendments Made in Biodiversity Bill 2021

Boosting the Indian Medical System:

  • It aims to support the "Indian system of medicine" and to speed up the research, patent application, and transfer processes while utilizing the biological resources that are present in India.
  • It aims to enable local communities to use resources, especially those with therapeutic value, like seeds.
  • With this bill, farmers are urged to cultivate more therapeutic plants.
  • Without undermining the goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, these goals must be met.

Decriminalizing Several Provisions:

Allowing Foreign Investments:

  • This also permits foreign funding for biodiversity research. However, it will be necessary to make this investment through Indian businesses engaged in biodiversity research.
  • For overseas organizations, National Biodiversity Authority clearance is required.

Exempting AYUSH Practitioners:

  • The Bill aims to exempt individuals accessing codified traditional knowledge, registered AYUSH medical practitioners, and others from having to notify state biodiversity boards in advance of using biological resources for specific reasons.

Major concerns Raised Against the Proposed Amendments

  • Concerns were voiced that the bill prioritized commercial trade and intellectual property over the act's primary goal of safeguarding biological resources.
  • The threat of Bio-piracy: "Bio-piracy" would be made possible by exempting AYUSH practitioners from notifying state biodiversity bodies in advance.
  • Exploiting naturally occurring genetic or biochemical material for commercial purposes is known as biopiracy.
  • Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) are being marginalized: The proposed modifications give state biodiversity boards the ability to represent BMCs when deciding how benefits will be shared.
  • The BDA 2002 stipulates that before making any decisions on the use of biological resources, national and state biodiversity boards must consult the BMCs (formed by each municipal body).
  • Local Communities Are Ignored: The law also exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the Act's coverage. However, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between farmed and wild plants.
  • Large corporations could be able to avoid the Act's access and benefit-sharing requirements for prior approval or for sharing the benefit with local communities by using this clause.

Recommendations Made by the Committee:

Conserving Biological Resources:

  • The JPC advised that the draught law's biodiversity management committees and indigenous communities be given authority by defining benefit claimants as biological resource conservers.

Promoting Indian medicine

  • By encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants, you can ease the burden on wild medicinal plants that are used in indigenous medicine.
  • It is important to promote the Indian system of medicine by identifying and codifying traditional knowledge.
  • Promoting indigenous research and Indian businesses by facilitating the expedited processing of patent applications, the transfer of research results, and the use of India's biological resources without violating the goals of the International Convention on Biological Diversity.

Under Promote Sustainable Use:

  • To design national plans for conservation, promotion, and sustainable use of biological resources in conjunction with state governments, the JPC advised biodiversity management committees.

Legal Offense:

  • The committee has further advised that because the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 is a civil offence, any violation should result in civil penalties and a proportionate fine structure to prevent offenders from evading justice.

Inflows of FDI

  • Additionally, it is necessary to define foreign companies in the accordbyanies Act and establish a protocol for the use of biological resources from India in order for more foreign investments in the chain of biological resources, including research, patenting, and commercial exploitation, without compromising national interest.

Also, Read - Butterfly Mine

Source: PIB

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