New Delhi, December 31: India’s leadership and commitment on environmental issues under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led to landmark achievements. With significant developments such as India for the first time ranking among the top ten countries in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) goes further to prove that all efforts and activities being currently undertaken by the country under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) are setting a tone of vast improvements.
Measures to combat air pollution:
Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. A time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched on January 10, 2019.
Third Indo-German Environment Forum with the theme ‘Cleaner Air, Greener Economy’ was held in New Delhi in February. The one-day event through panel discussions and parallel sessions focused on challenges, solutions and necessary framework conditions of air pollution control, waste management and circular economy as well as implementation of NDCs and SDGs based on Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 of UN respectively.
Eradication of single-use plastic:
In a significant first, India piloted resolutions on two important global environment issues relating to Single-use Plastics and Sustainable Nitrogen management at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which was held in Nairobi from March 11 to 15. UNEA adopted both the resolutions with consensus.
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP):
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) was launched in March this year. India is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive Cooling Action plan which has a long term vision to address the cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.
Cooling requirement is cross sectoral and an essential part for economic growth and is required across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries.
In order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country, the Ministry amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. The amendment has been done keeping into consideration the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and boosting ‘Make in India’ initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
Selfie with Sapling:
On World environment Day, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar launched a people’s campaign ‘Selfie with Sapling’ urging all to join and plant a sapling and post the selfie with the sapling on social media. Javadekar stressed that ‘Jan Bhagidari’ is integral towards tackling the environmental issues and environment protection has to be a people’s movement.
14th Conference of Parties (COP14):
India hosted the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 2-13 at Greater Noida. During the Conference, the Prime Minister announced that India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty-one million hectares to twenty-six million hectares between now and 2030.
Bharat Standard VI:
The country has leapfrogged from Bharat Standard IV to Bharat Standard VI for vehicle emission norms and from April 1, 2020, vehicles will be BS VI compliant. There is also a strong push for use of e-vehicles by introducing multiple policy interventions and incentives.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in February between MoEF&CC and University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada for the next 10 years in New Delhi. Both the institutions shall explore opportunities for future collaborations in the field of forestry science through their respective organizations namely Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Wildlife Institute of India, Forest Survey of India, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy and Directorate of Forest Education, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Asiatic Lion Conservation Project:
A dedicated ‘Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’ with a budgetary contribution of Rs 97.85 Cr from Central Government was launched in February. The Asiatic Lion endemic to Gir landscape of Gujarat, is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes. ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade.
Rise in tiger count:
On the occasion of International Tiger Day on July 29, PM Narendra Modi released the results of the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation - 2018. The count of tigers in India has risen to 2967, in 2018, according to this census.
Rise in total forest and tree cover:
Towards, the end of 2019, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar released the biennial ‘India State of Forest Report (ISFR)’. Announcing the results, the Union Minister said that India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing. In the present assessment, the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country. As compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
In a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country, the Ministry handed over Rs.47,436 crores of Compensatory Afforestation Fund anagement and Planning Authority, CAMPA funds to various states in August. Important activities on which the fund will be utilised will be for the Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Wildlife Management, Assisted Natural Regeneration, Forest Fire Prevention and Control Operations, Soil and Moisture Conservation Works in the forest, Improvement of Wildlife Habitat, Management of Biological Diversity and Biological Resources, Research in Forestry and Monitoring of CAMPA works etc.
Conserving Snow Leopards:
With efforts towards protecting and conserving Snow Leopards, the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India was launched on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day in October.
Withdrawal of Draft amendment to the Indian Forests Act:
Draft amendment to the Indian Forests Act withdrawn to remove any misgivings, thereby enriching the livelihood of tribals and forest dwellers. It was a milestone in the descent of democracy in forests.
A publication released in February on climate actions in India titled ‘India – Spearheading Climate Solutions’. This publication mentions the key actions India has taken under various sectors towards combating and adapting to climate change.
India CEO Forum on Climate Change was organized, as the pioneering initiative of the government, inviting industry representatives, exchanged views on climate change issues and discussed opportunities to collaborate in regard to fulfilling India’s national as well as international climate change commitments.
World leaders gathered in New York in September for the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Climate Action Summit. Bringing attention towards India’s efforts in always following a climate sensitive sustainable development pathway by mainstreaming climate change concerns in development policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced thatIndia is going to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 175 GW by 2022, and will further take it to 450 GW. The Global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure was also launched.
In order to boost the investment in wind power projects and help in providing wind power at cheaper rate, a conscious decision to relax the condition of charging the lease rent of Rs. 30,000/- per MW for wind power projects was made in August.
Promoting the use of environmentally friendly products, the Ministry in November gave Environment Clearance to Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to set up new 2G Ethanol plant at Panipat. It is also pertinent to highlight that it was declared that no separate environmental clearance was required to produce additional ethanol from B-heavy molasses as it does not contribute to the pollution load, giving further benefits to farmers and the sugar industry.
India at COP 25:
The 25th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held under the Presidency of Chile in Madrid, Spain on December 2 to 15. India has been stressing on parity between mitigation and adaptation and Technology development and transfer. At COP25, India also called upon more countries to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to meet the growing energy requirement, even as it acknowledged the phenomenal progress made by the Alliance and the growing solar energy capabilities the world over.
BASIC and BRICS meetings:
Brazil, South Africa, India and China, BASIC countries held its 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change from August 14 to 16 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, wherein India participated.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) nations come together for Urban Environmental Management in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August, where it was agreed upon to work together to resolve the multifaceted environmental issues faced by BRICS cities.
In a first, a four-day long Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, MoEF&CC & Centre for Media Studies (CMS) VATAVARAN-2019 Short Film Competition and Festival on Environment was held. Range of discussions, seminars, workshops, interactions were organized to churn innovative ideas, paving a path for new talents and creative minds in the stream of film making with a sense of responsibility towards the Environment.
MoU with Switzerland:
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of India represented by the MoEF&CC and the Government of Switzerland represented by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs on Technical Cooperation in the field of Climate Change and Environment was signed on September 13.
The MoU will remain in effect for a five-year period, and may be renewed for similar periods, as agreed upon by the Parties. The MoU identifies several areas of cooperation including capacity building on Climate Change and sustainable water management; sustainable forest management; sustainable development of mountainous regions; environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development; air, land and water pollution; clean and renewable energy and climate change risk management.
Swachh – Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan:
To strive to make our beaches clean and create awareness amongst citizens about the importance of coastal ecosystems, the Ministry undertook a mass cleanliness-cum-awareness drive in 50 identified beaches under the ‘Swachh – Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan’, from November 11 to 17.
The identified beaches were in 10 coastal States and Union Territories (UTs) namely Gujarat, Daman & Diu, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. The beaches were identified after the consultation with the States/UTs.
Thus, India is successfully steping ahead in environement conservation from all its aspects, setting ideal examples before the world.