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17 Jan, 2021

57 Min Read

Gujarat River Pollution

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Environmental Pollution

Gujarat River Pollution

  • The unchecked flow of untreated industrial effluent into rivers in Gujarat has led to increasing pollution in the Sabarmati, Mahisagar, Narmada, Vishwamitri and Bhadra.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the Sabarmati is among the most polluted rivers in the country.
  • Gujarat ranks fourth among the top five States with highly polluted rivers, with as many as 20 rivers in the critically polluted category.
  • Recently, a thick froth on the Mahisagar, along a stretch of several kilometres, raised serious concern, prompting the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to constitute a high-level committee to study the rising level of pollution in the river.
  • “Pollution in rivers has emerged as a major threat in the last few years because the lackadaisical approach of the authorities has emboldened the industries to discharge untreated effluents into flowing rivers,” said Vadodara-based environmental activist Rohit Prajapati.
  • He said that both treated and untreated effluent is released into the estuary of the Mahisagar and Gulf of Cambay, flouting the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • As per the official parameters, if the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which indicates organic pollutant load, is higher than 250 mg per litre, then it should not be released into the rivers.
  • “In most of the Gujarat rivers where the effluents are dumped into, the COD level is in the range of 700 to 1000 mg per litre. While Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level [indicating the health of a river] in perennial rivers like Mahisgar should be in the range of 6 to 8 mg per litre, it is actually below 2.9 mg per litre,” he added.
  • In December 2020, Mr. Prajapati and a few others wrote a letter to the State authorities providing evidence, including videos and photographs, of how toxic effluents were being dumped into the Mahisagar and other rivers by industries.
  • “The Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd, which runs a 55-km-long pipeline to discharge treated effluents into the deep sea, releases the effluents into the river.
  • The effluents are not getting discharged into the deep sea as required,” a former official of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board told The Hindu.
  • Now, the State government has proposed an Rs. 2,300 crore project for a deep sea effluent disposal pipeline to cater to nearly 4,500 industrial units. The project will serve four highly industrialised districts (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Kheda and Rajkot), which are the main sources of pollution.

Source: TH

Migratory birds in Harike wetland, Punjab

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Migratory birds in Harike wetland, Punjab

  • Winter migratory water birds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland, offering a delight for bird lovers.
  • Birds such as the Eurasian coot, greylag goose, bar-headed goose, gadwall and the northern shoveler are the prominent ones that could be sighted at Harike. Among other species, common pochard, spot-billed duck, little cormorant, pied avocet, great cormorant, ferruginous pochard and common teal have been spotted.
  • “On average, the number has been anywhere between 92,000 and 94,000 over the years. The average number has been stable,” Geetanjali Kanwar, Coordinator - Rivers, Wetlands and Water Policy, WWF-India, told The Hindu. But the number of some species, including northern lapwing, Pacific golden plover, black-bellied tern and cotton pygmy goose, has dwindled, she noted.


  • Wetlands are the lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or land is covered by shallow water.
  • Productivity of Estuaries > Swamp, Marshes, Wetlands > Coral Reefs > Equatorial & Tropical rainforests > Savannah.
  • Definition: Areas of marsh, fen, peatland/ water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with static or flowing water, fresh, backish or salt, including areas of marine water the "depth of which is < 6 m".
  • Waterlogged soil for at least 7 days, adapted plant life (hydrophytes) and hydric soils (not enough Oxygen) are the main characteristics of Wetlands.
  • It occupies 18.4% of the area of which 70% is under paddy.
  • Inland wetlands are more than Coastal Wetlands in India.
  • Natural wetlands in India range from high altitude wetlands in the Himalayas; to flood plains of the major river systems; saline and temporary wetlands of arid and semi arid regions; coastal wetlands like lagoons, backwaters, estuaries, mangroves, swamps and coral reefs.

There are 5 major wetland types are

  • Marine (coastal lagoons, rocky shores and coral reefs).
  • Estuarine (deltas, tidal marshes and mangrove swamps). Salt pans and Aquaculture also come under Wetlands.
  • Lacustrine (lakes even oxbow lakes, reservoir, tanks etc.)

Riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams).

  • Palustrine (marshes, swamps and bogs).

Functions of Wetlands:

  • They retain water during dry periods (keeping the water table high) and mitigate floods by trapping suspended solids and nutrients.
  • Habitat to flora, fauna and migratory birds; filtration of sediments; nutrient recycling; water purification; flood mitigation; maintenance of stream flow; ground water recharge; drinking water; buffer shorelines against erosion; tourism, recreation and cultural heritage; stabilisation of local climate; livelihood to local people etc.
  • Threats to Wetlands: Conversion for Agriculture; Overgrazing; Removal of sand from beds; Aquaculture; Habitat destruction and deforestation; Pollution; Domestic waste and agricultural run off; industrial effluents and climate change.

Difference from Lakes:

  • National Lake Conservation Program (NCLP) considers Lakes as standing water bodies having minimum water depth of 3 m. Wetlands have depth < 6 m.
  • Foodchain: Lakes have grazing pathway and Wetlands have detritus pathway.
  • Productivity and Biodiversity of Wetland > Lakes.
  • Lakes do not do waste treatment but Wetlands perform waste treatment function.
  • Lakes have thermal stratification but not Wetlands.
  • Dominant producer of Lake is phytoplankton but Wetlands have macrophytes.
  • Lakes are Oligotrophic while Wetlands are mostly Eutrophic.

Wetlands (Conservation and Mgt) Rules, 2010

  • It specifies activities harmful to Wetlands like industrialization, construction, dumping of untreated waste & reclamation + prohibit these activities in wetlands.
  • Central Wetland Regulatory Authority set up to implement rules. (Replaced in 2017 by National Wetland Committee).
  • Harvesting & dredging can be carried out with prior permission.

Wetland Rules, 2017

  • Wetlands are defined as an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water. It can be natural or artificial, permanent or temporary. It includes areas of marine water with the depth of maximum 6 m.
  • The rules apply to Ramsar Wetlands and those notified by Central, State Govts and UT administration.
  • Digital inventory of all wetlands: mandatory for State authorities. Wetland management given to States and UTs Authority. It is to be updated every 10 years.
  • Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) is replaced by National Wetland Committee, which has merely an advisory role. It is to be headed by MoEF Secretary. It will also recommend designation of Ramsar sites/ Wetlands of International importance.
  • It stipulates setting up State Wetlands Authority in each State/ UT headed by State MoEF. It will develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within notified wetlands.
  • Restrictions:
  1. Encroachments on wetlands have been banned.
  2. It also prohibits solid waste dumping, discharge on untreated waste and effluents from industries and human settlements.
  • The rules prohibited activities like conversion of wetland for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind, industries, waste dumping and discharge of untreated wastes and effluents.

National Wetland Inventory and Assesment:

  • The 1st scientific national inventory of wetlands in India was carried out by Space Applications Center (ISRO), Ahmedabad at the behest of MoEF.
  • Lakshadweep has the largest % of Wetlands (96.12%) followed by A&N. Gujarat has the highest % (statewise).

National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP), 1985-86

  • Under this programme, 115 wetlands have been identified which needs urgent conservation.

Objective is

  • To prevent further degradation and ensuing wise use for the benefit of local communities and conservation of biodiversity.
  • To provide financial assistance for conservation of priority wetlands and monitor implementation of programme.
  • To prepare an inventory of the Indian wetlands.
  • Since Land Resources belong to State, State Govt or UT are esponsible for management of wetlands and implementation

Wetlands International

  • It is a global organization that works to sustain and restore wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity. It is an independent, not for profit organization supported by Govt and NGOs.
  • It does not fund. It was founded in 1937 as an International Wildfowl Enquiry. Not under UN.
  • Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) across Asia and Australia is coordinated by Wetlands International and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

For complete news on Ramsar Wetlands: click here

Source: TH

Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices raised for the 4th time

GS-III : Economic Issues Energy crisis & security

Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices raised for the 4th time

What is Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF)?

  • ATF is Kerosene-based fuel used for powering jet and turboprop engine aircraft.
  • ATF doesn’t come under the GST (Goods and Services Tax) regime.
  • States charge ~30% in sales tax on ATF on top of Excise duty of Center.

What is the news?

  • Jet fuel, or ATF, price on Saturday was hiked by 3% — the fourth increase in two months — on firming international oil prices, while petrol and diesel rates remained unchanged after hitting new highs.
  • Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) price was raised by Rs. 1,512.38 per kilolitre (kl), or 2.96%, to Rs. 52,491.16 per kl in the national capital, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.
  • This is the fourth increase in price since December 1. Rates had gone up by 7.6% (Rs. 3,288.38 per kl) on December 1, by 6.3% (Rs. 2,941.5 per kl) on December 16 and by Rs. 1,817.62 (3.69%) on January 1.
  • The increase in ATF price, which makes for close to 40% of the running cost of an airline, will put additional burden on airlines that have been struggling to return to normal business after COVID-19 lockdown had halted their operations.

Biojet Fuel

  • Biojet Fuel is made from Jatropha crop.
  • The flight Spicejet Bombardier Q400 is using Biojet fuel developed by CSIR - IIP (Indian institute of Petroleum).
  • It was 75% ATF + 25% Biojet fuel blend.
  • Biojet fuel is made from biomass resources like animal fat, used cooking oil, waste dairy fat, sewage sludge.
  • It doesn't freeze at high altitudes.
  • It has lower sulfur content.

Source: TH

New Orvakal Airport

GS-III : Economic Issues Airports

New Orvakal Airport

  • The Orvakal airport on the outskirts of Kurnool city in Andhra Pradesh has got the approval of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after the completion of all the mandatory safety inspections and the creation of infrastructure.

  • “With all the efforts and budgetary support of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, the Kurnool / Orvakal airport got the DGCA approval after completion of works as per its specifications,” the Collector said.

For complete news on UDAN: click here

Source: TH

Musaveni win in Uganda for the 6th time

GS-II : International Relations African Countries

Museveni win in Uganda for the 6th time

  • Uganda’s Electoral Commission said on Saturday that President Yoweri Museveni won a sixth five-year term, extending his rule to four decades, while top opposition challenger Bobi Wine dismissed “cooked-up, fraudulent results” and officials struggled to explain how polling results were compiled amid an Internet blackout.

  • In a generational clash watched across the African continent with a booming young population and a host of ageing leaders, the 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker Mr. Wine posed arguably Mr. Museveni's greatest challenge yet. The self-described “ghetto president” had strong support in urban centers where frustration with unemployment and corruption is high. He has claimed victory.
  • The Electoral Commission said Mr Museveni received 58% of ballots and Mr. Wine 34%, and voter turnout was 52%, in a process that the top U.S. diplomat to Africa called “fundamentally flawed.” The vote followed the East African country’s worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old Mr. Museveni took office in 1986.

Source: TH

Do plants share genetic material with each other?

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Vegetation

Do plants share genetic material with each other?

  • The genetic material of plants and animals is well protected in the nucleus of each cell and stores all the information that forms an organism.

  • In addition, cells contain small organelles that contain their own genetic material.
  • These include chloroplasts in plants, which play a key role in photosynthesis, and mitochondria, which are found in all living organisms and represent the power plants of every cell.
  • Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam have shown, through experimental approaches, (Science Advances) how the genetic material is not actually permanently stored within one cell but can migrate from cell to cell.
  • They conducted experiments with tobacco plants using grafting.
  • Two different tobacco plants were grafted onto each other and the cells of the junction were observed microscopically in real-time.
  • They could observe that genome transfer from cell to cell occurs in both directions with high frequency at this site.
  • The researchers were able to observe structural changes in the cell walls in the wound tissue of the graft site.
  • Protrusions formed on the cell walls, thus creating junctions between the two partners.
  • The size of the created pores allowed the migration of an entire plastid. “Therefore, the genome does not migrate freely, but encapsulated from cell to cell,” Dr Alexander Hertle says in a release.
  • However, to actually make this possible, the plastids have to shrink and become mobile.
  • These rod-shaped plastids grow back to normal size after transfer into the target tissue.

Source: TH

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