Environment Notes From Down To Earth: August 06-08, 2020

Chemical Safety

  • Chemical safety, including explosives used in industrial processes, need to be handle with extreme precautions. More than 50,000 chemicals are manufactured in the country, some of which have dual uses, including ammonium nitrate.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and state pollution control boards (SPCB) are the only organisations that are effective in dealing with industrial issues. It is, thus, time to strengthen the CPCB and SPCBs in terms of infrastructure and manpower.

Shrinking Water Bodies and Urban Floods

  • Lakes and wetlands are an important part of urban ecosystem.
  • They perform significant environmental, social and economic functions — from being a source of drinking water and recharging groundwater to supporting biodiversity and providing livelihoods.
  • Their numbers are declining rapidly. For example, Bangalore had 262 lakes in the 1960s; now only 10 of them hold water. At least 137 lakes were listed in Ahmedabad in 2001; construction work started on 65 of them.
  • Concretisation has been a major problem in several cities and towns.
  • Urban water bodies have been a victim of unplanned urbanisation in India, because of which they face several threats

Diversion of Forest Land

  • A total of 481.56 hectares (ha) of forest land in protected areas — which comprise wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and conservation reserves) — was diverted for developmental projects by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in 2019.
  • Forest land diversion for railway projects — which accounted for 61 per cent of the total linear project diversions — comprised three railway projects: Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (bullet train, Maharashtra), Castle Rock-Kulem-Madgaon Railway Doubling Project (Goa) and Sakri-Biraul- Kusheshwar Asthan Railway (Bihar).


  • The island country of Mauritius has declared an environmental emergency after a ship that ran aground on a reef in the Indian Ocean started leaking fuel.
  • The ship, the MK Wakashio, is Japanese-owned but registered in Panama. It was travelling from China to Brazil when it struck the reef on July 25 and its crew was evacuated.
  • A new species of ‘twighopper’ or pygmy grasshopper, discovered by Croatian and German researchers in the rainforests of Sri Lanka, has been named after Kerala grasshopper expert, Dhaneesh Bhaskar.
  • The island of New Guinea, the world’s second-largest in area and the largest tropical island, has the globe’s richest collection of plants, a study by the University of Zurich in Switzerland has said.

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