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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 DECEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 DECEMBER 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


Topic– important geophysical phenomena.

1) What is Pacific Ring of Fire? Explain its relevance in the case of recent volcanic eruption in Indonesia?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

A recent volcano has erupted in Indonesia. From a GS1 perspective, we need to know about the ring of fire, which leads to several earthquakes and volcanoes in that region.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain about Ring of Fire and discuss why it leads to occurrence of several volcanoes and earthquakes in the region.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that Pacific Ring of Fire is a horse shoe shaped basin area of pacific ocean which stretches from all the way from South America and North America to Japan and New Zealand on the other side of the ocean. it consists of continous series of oceanic trenches,volcanic arcs,volcanic belts and high tectonic plate movements.

Body

  • Discuss why ring of fire is the zone most prone to get volcanoes and earthquakes
  • Explain that Indonesia sit along the Ring of Fire region, an area where most of the world’s volcanic eruptions occur. The Ring of Fire has seen a large amount of activity in recent days, but Indonesia has been hit hard due to its position on a large grid of tectonic plates. Indonesia is at the meeting point of three major continental plates – the Pacific, the Eurasian and the Indo-Australian plates – and the much smaller Philippine plate. As a result, several volcanoes on the Indonesian islands are prone to erupting.

Conclusion – Mention that the recent volcano is also a result of this.

Pacific ring of fire:-

  • The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Roughly 90% of all earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, and the ring is dotted with 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth
  • The Ring of Fire is also home to hot spots, areas deep within the Earth’s mantle from which heat rises. This heat facilitates the melting of rock in the brittle, upper portion of the mantle. The melted rock, known as magma, often pushes through cracks in the crust to form volcanoes.
  • Ring of Fire stretches 25,000 miles. It goes from New Zealand up through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, and then across the Aleutian Islands and down the coasts of Alaska, Canada, the West Coast of the United States and all the way down to the tip of South America.
  • It’s largely the Pacific plate that makes up the majority of it. But the ring also includes the Philippine Sea plate, Juan de Fuca and Cocos plates, and the Nazca Plate. The tectonic plates fit together like a puzzle, but are constantly moving and colliding with each other, thus producing numerous earthquakes.
  • Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet’s subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire. 

Relevance of recent volcanic eruption in Indonesia to Pacific ring of fire :-

  • Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis because of its unlucky position on the world map.
  • Indonesia sits along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” where several tectonic plates collide and many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
  • The country lies on the edge of three major continental plates – the Pacific, the Eurasian, the Indo-Australian plates and much smaller Philippine plate.
  • Indonesia has a record of some of the most deadly volcanic eruptions in history, and right now there are ongoing eruptions at the Agung, Sinabung and Dukono volcanoes.
  • Mount Soputan is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia which lies on a vulnerable quake-hit zone called “the Pacific Ring of Fire”.
  • Anaka Krakatau volcano erupted and was followed by a wall of water that slammed the east side of Java, causing widespread destruction and death also belongs to ring of fire. These volcanoes are part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”

 


General Studies – 3


Topic -Part of static series under the heading – “Environmental impact assessment”

2) Evaluate whether there is a need to set up a regulator for conducting environmental impact assessment?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first discuss the issues faced in EIA process which would necessitate the creation of a regulator. Thereafter, we need to highlight that other committees have also recommended creation of such a regulator , the role it would have and the likely impact of the actions of such a regulator.

Directive word

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that eia process suffers from several deficiencies which need to be taken care of.

Body

  • Explain the need for a regulator by pointing out towards the deficiencies in eia process.
  • Highlight that parliamentary standing committee in December 2014 had recommended the government to set up National Environment Managament Authority (NEMA) at the central level and State Environment Management Authority (SEMA) at state level as full time processing, clearance and monitoring agencies.
  • Discuss what the role of such a regulator would be – What is required is a regulator at the national level having its offices in all the states which can carry out an independent, objective and transparent appraisal and approval of projects for environmental clearances and which can also monitor the implementation of the conditions laid down in environmental clearances
  • Discuss the impact that the regulator would have – bring objectivity in the entire process of EIA will oversee the process of accreditation of consultants, evaluate the reports and appraisal of the projects.

Conclusion – give your view on the need for a regulator and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • Compromised decision-making on development and infrastructure projects have already wrecked the lives of rural and forest dwelling people. Mining and industries pollute their water sources and farmlands and prohibit their access to forests. 

What is EIA?

  • It is a study to evaluate and identify the predictable environmental consequences and the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits of the proposed project.
  • On the basis of EIA, an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is prepared, which is a description of the means by which the environmental consequences as pointed out in the EIA will be mitigated. Together the whole draft is termed as EIA-EMP report.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Notification (EIA) ,2006:-
    • The EIA notification categorizes all kinds of developmental projects in various schedules.
    • The EIA notification establishes four stages for obtaining Environmental Clearance.
      • Screening
      • Scoping
      • Public hearing
      • Appraisal

Why there is a need for a regulator to conduct EIA :-

  • Supreme court’s view :-
    • The Supreme Court earlier ordered the government to appoint a national regulator which would take up comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) of projects.
    • According to the SC order, the regulator will carry out independent, objective and transparent appraisal and approval of projects for environmental clearances.
  • Parliamentary standing committee in 2014 had recommended the government to set up National Environment Managament Authority (NEMA) at the central level and State Environment Management Authority (SEMA) at state level as full time processing, clearance and monitoring agencies.
  • Benefits of having a regulator:-
    • The regulator will also monitor the implementation of the conditions laid down in the clearances and impose penalties on polluters. While exercising such powers, the regulator will ensure the National Forest Policy, 1988 is duly implemented.
    • The regulator will bring objectivity in the entire process of EIA and will oversee the process of accreditation of consultants, evaluate the reports and appraisal of the projects.
  • There are issues with the way EIA is conducted:-
    • India has experienced major problems with the way environment and forest clearances are granted. It has had to deal with poor Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports and bad decisions of the Forest Advisory Committee which recommends diversion of forestland for developmental projects.
    • India has found conflict of interest in the way an EIA report is prepared and forest area is identified, demarcated and finally diverted for non-forest uses. 
    • Less accountability :-
      • The regulators EAC, SEAC or SEIAA  are not accountable to anyone. There are now many cases in which the clearances granted by regulators have been rejected by the courts.
    • Less monitoring:-
      • Hardly any post-clearance monitoring is done.
    • Less manpower:-
      • The six regional offices of the MoEF that are supposed to enforce the clearance conditions do not have the human power or the resources to do this.
    • Over involvement of Public hearing consultants:-
      • In the public hearing meeting, the consultants should not be allowed to have a dominant say, except responding to the issues of the people. On the contrary, they get involved in public hearings beyond requirements and thus mislead the local people.
    • Unaddressed issues persist:-
      • The issues raised by people in public hearings remains unanswered and they do not know what happens to the issues, nor do they know if the issues raised are reflected in public hearing reports that is presented to Ministry of Environment and forests
    • Lack of awareness:-
      • There is a gross lack of awareness among the local people, about the process of EIA, its significance for them, role of various players and their own rights and responsibilities.
      • Moreover there is a communication gap between authorities and local people because the notice for Public hearing is issued in local newspapers only and no separate notices are sent to individual concerned panchayats.
      • Lobbying efforts have ensured that several sectors, including real estate construction, are altogether exempted from public hearings giving urban communities no say in how their cities are shaped and reshaped.
      • There are no public hearings held for urban construction projects, and governments assume that citizens have nothing to say about them.
    • Unavailability of EIA in local languages
  • Unlike environment clearance, there is no impact assessment report required for forest diversion. There is no assessment of the impact the forest diversion on the ecology, water resources or the people living in the area. None of the reports are made available in the public domain.
  • Very few states have mapped their coastal zones and developed integrated coastal management plans. As in the case of environment clearance, there is a conflict of interest in preparing the EIA report and demarcating the coastal areas. 
  • Multiplicity of regulations and regulatory authorities help unscrupulous elements in the industry and the government. But it is bad for the environment and economic growth.

Way forward:-

  • There is a need for a second-generation reform for environmental regulation, which will safeguard environment and community rights as well as reduce time and transaction costs for the industry. 
  • In this reform process, there is certainly a possibility of setting up a national regulator that can consolidate all clearances i.e.., environment, forests, wildlife and coastal so that the project’s impact is fully understood and decisions taken.
    • This regulator should be given enough power and resources to do proper post-clearance monitoring and assessment and also impose fines and sanctions.
    • The regulator must be transparent and accountable and promote deepening of public assessment, participation and scrutiny.
  • Collaboration between public and private sector is needed:-
    • EIA and SEIAA, together with the SPCB, could do more to regulate pollution in Delhi and other eight Indian cities which are among the most polluted cities in the world based on particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels, according to the World Health Organization .
  • Developing stronger centre-state, intra- and interstate collaborations would be beneficial for knowledge and resource sharing and improving technical, financial and administrative capabilities across states.
  • A critical evaluation of all high polluting firms should be undertaken in order to assess and accordingly include all relevant firms into the regulatory process.
  • It is essential to reassess the inclusion of all relevant industries, including the ­automobile industry, for the EIA process. Regular monitoring and reporting should be mandatory.
  • It is necessary to enhance responsible and effective governance and judicial processes to be more conducive to improve the implementation of regulations.
  • Ensuring public consultations and representations and engagement with civil society and allied organisations would be beneficial for ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • In any future reforms, it would be beneficial to consider extending EIA processes to be applicable to small and medium enterprises, as it can contribute greatly towards achieving India’s goals for environmental sustainability.

Topic: Climate Change

3) At the recently concluded COP24, key issues of concern for the poorest and developing nations were diluted or postponed. Critically analyze .(250 words)

The hindu

Indianexpress

Why this question

With the framing of rulebook at Katowice, the need of the hour is to critically analyze the provisions to see whether they have enough concrete steps laid out in them to mitigate the disastrous consequences of climate change.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss how the Katowice rulebook has shaped up and whether it has sufficient provisions related to equity, finance and technology transfer, loss and damage etc to keep the interest of poorest and developing countries in mind.

Directive word

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain about COP24 and its purpose. Highlight that a rulebook has been framed as a end result.

Body

  • Discuss the various outcomes of the summit and examine the issues involved
    • There is little to no finance available for poor and developing nations. The details on funding and building capacity have been postponed. References to “equity” in the draft rule book were erased
    • Poor and developing countries whose greenhouse gas emissions have been low or negligible will bear the brunt of warming effects. Whether or not funds will be replenished even for the implementation of the current NDCs is unclear. Funds for finance, better terms for new technologies to be transferred to developing and vulnerable countries, and economic and non-economic support for loss and damage and their equitable moorings in the text have been eliminated, minimised or footnoted etc
  • Give the other point of view as well
    • Under the Paris Agreement, states have complete autonomy on the nature and type of climate actions they choose to take, subject to the expectation that they represent a progression on past actions. However, the rules now require them to provide detailed information of their actions. If states have absolute economy-wide targets, they need to provide quantifiable information on their reference points for measurements, the gases covered, their planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches, how they consider their contribution as fair and ambitious, and how it contributes to the objective of the regime. Etc

Conclusion – give your fair and balanced opinion on the significance of Katowice rulebook and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • The 1.5 Degree Report, which was produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018, showed that the earth is close to a climate catastrophe.

Developing nations issues were tackled through rule book :-

  • The Paris Rulebook, agreed at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, gives countries a common framework for reporting and reviewing progress towards their climate targets.
  • The world will now be able to see how much the world is lagging behind on the necessary climate action.
  • A key element of the Paris Agreement is the Global Stocktake  which is a five-yearly assessment of whether countries are collectively on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global warming. The new rulebook affirms that this process will consider “equity and best available science”.
  • The new rules allow a degree of flexibility for the most vulnerable countries, who are not compelled to submit quantified climate pledges or regular transparency reports. All other countries will be bound to report on their climate action every two years, starting in 2024.
  • Finance:-
    • The new rulebook defines what will constitute “climate finance”, and how it will be reported and reviewed.
    • Developed countries are now obliged to report every two years on what climate finance they plan to provide, while other countries in a position to provide climate finance are encouraged to follow the same schedule.
  • Katowice rules  perform several important functions :-
    • They seek to instil discipline in a process governed by “national determination”. The rules now require them to provide detailed information of their actions.
    • The rules flesh out the obligations of states identified in the Paris Agreement, and make them meaningful.
      • For instance, the Paris Agreement contained a general obligation for developed countries to report biennially on their provision and mobilisation of climate finance.
    • The rules operationalise the key processes established by the Paris Agreement i.e.. ,a “global stocktake” and a compliance regime that seek to impose accountability and facilitate implementation.
      • The transparency framework requires states to report on indicators for measuring progress in achieving their targets, which is significant as the Paris Agreement does not impose a binding obligation on states to achieve their targets.
      • The rules allow developing countries to self-determine the reporting flexibility they need. Developing countries, with capacity constraints, can choose both how often and in what detail to report. They will also be provided support in addressing these capacity constraints.
    • The Talanoa Dialogue, the alarming IPCC 1.5°C Report, and various catastrophic climate events this year, have elicited promises from several countries that they will submit more ambitious actions by 2020.
    • The rules operationalising the Paris Agreement’s facilitative compliance and implementation mechanism seek to infuse accountability and facilitate implementation. They permit a compliance committee to consider cases where countries have breached binding procedural obligations.
      • Thus, if a state does not submit a contribution every five years or a developed country does not submit its report on provision of finance, the committee will step in. 
    • Katowice rules strike a fine balance between competing interests, create hooks for all parties to operationalise equity, and privilege the flow of information within the system.

The rule book fails to prevent the dangerous effects of global warming and issues of concern for the developing nations were diluted :-

  • The rulebook offers little to compel countries to up their game to the level required.
  • The rule book will offer no prescription for fixing things with respect to global stocktake. This risks failing to address one of the biggest issues with the Paris Agreement so far i.e.., that countries are under no obligation to ensure their climate pledges are in line with the overall goals. 
  • Rather than directly asking for national climate targets to be increased, the Katowice text simply reiterates the existing request in the Paris Agreement for countries to communicate and update their contributions by 2020.
  • The newly agreed rulebook carries a substantial risk of double-counting where countries could potentially count overseas emissions reductions towards their own target, even if another country has also claimed this reduction for itself.
  • Accounting rules for action in the land sector have also been difficult to agree. Countries such as Brazil and some African nations sought to avoid an agreement on this issue.
  • This report was not suitably acknowledged as an evidence-based cause for alarm by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia, however.
  • Finance issues:-
    • There is little to no finance available for poor and developing nations. The details on funding and building capacity have been postponed. 
    • Whether or not funds will be replenished even for the implementation of the current NDCs is unclear.
  • References to “equity” in the draft rule book were erased by the U.S. delegation.
    • Article 9 (the provision of financial support to developing countries from industrialised nations) was ignored instead, there was an emphasis on carbon markets and insurance mechanisms. 
  • Poor and developing countries whose greenhouse gas emissions have been low or negligible will bear the brunt of warming effects.
  • Funds for finance, better terms for new technologies to be transferred to developing and vulnerable countries, and economic and non-economic support for loss and damage and their equitable moorings in the text have been eliminated, minimised or footnoted. 

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Environmental impact assessment”

4) EIA process if followed diligently can lead to mitigation of several environmental concerns. Examine. (250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the process of EIA and highlight how it can help in mitigating Environmental concerns. Thereafter, we need to explain the issues inherent in the eia process and how can we ensure that the process is followed diligently.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain about the EIA process. It is a study to evaluate and identify the predictable environmental consequences and the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits of the proposed project.

Body

  • Discuss the process followed in EIA and describe how they are meant to mitigate environmental degradation. Highlight that eia consists of identification of the consequences of the proposal, Prediction of the extent of consequences, evaluation of the predicted consequences. (Significant or not), mitigation of the adverse consequences, Documentation to inform decision makers what needs to be done. These steps if followed diligently would ensure that damages caused due to projects can be mitigated.
  • Highlight issues with EIA due to which the process has become less effective – screening and scoping not done well, misleading reports prepared, poor quality of EIA professionals etc, public hearing not conducted in several cases etc
  • Discuss the steps that need to be taken to bolster the eia process.

Conclusion – Emphasize on the importance of eia and the need for reforming the process to make it more effective.

What is EIA?

  • It is a study to evaluate and identify the predictable environmental consequences and the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits of the proposed project.
  • On the basis of EIA, an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is prepared, which is a description of the means by which the environmental consequences as pointed out in the EIA will be mitigated. Together the whole draft is termed as EIA-EMP report.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Notification (EIA) ,2006:-
    • The EIA notification categorizes all kinds of developmental projects in various schedules.
    • The EIA notification establishes four stages for obtaining Environmental Clearance.
      • Screening
      • Scoping
      • Public hearing
      • Appraisal

Importance of EIA in disaster management:-

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) provides a framework for assessing the environmental impact of projects at their concept stage. It normally includes a detailed risk assessment.
  • This process is established good practice and an integral part of most multilateral and bilateral donors as well as governments planning for infrastructure investment. 
  • EIA plays an important part in identifying technological hazard risks and ensuring that appropriate measures are taken to prevent accidents.
  • EIAs also include the development of a ‘safety case’, integrating safety concerns at stages of design, construction and operation. 
  • Standard EIA guidelines include assessment of the potential impact of projects on natural hazards.

How EIA has been successful in reducing polluting activities in India :-

  • De­centralisation of environmental regulation helps with better understanding of local environmental problems, to promote more transparent and efficient use of natural resources, as well as to increase local participation based on the homogeneity of common goals and priorities.
  • Findings indicate that the decentralisation process has led to an increase in the average regulatory stringency and has been successful in reducing the number of polluting activities.
  • Decentralisation was associated with relatively fewer firm births in states with stricter environmental enforcement.
  • Faster decision making and faster clearance of projects which is good for economy.
  • Increased participation of lower executives in decision making on clearances.

Why there is need to strengthen EIA:-

  • Report Issues.
    • Screening and Scoping not well defined:-
      • In the EIA notification 2006, there is a lack of clarity in overall conductance of the Screening process. As it is discretion of the State Level committee to decide which projects are B1 and which are B2, many a times the bias of respective State Governments come into play. The Scoping process faces same types of issues because of lack of clarity in guidelines.
    • Misleading EIA reports :-
      • Sometimes the EIA reports lack the expected degrees of honesty, owing to bias, corruption, exaggeration and wrong claims. Due to poor knowledge of the project area the agencies lift paragraphs and sentences from other sources, thus presenting contradictory, inconsistent and outdated information. Moreover there is no process for punishing the agencies tabling such dishonest EIA reports.
      • The EIA reports for the approved redevelopment projects in Delhi used plagiarised information and old baseline data.
    • Insufficient EIA reports:-
      • Agencies or project proponents also prepare incomplete EIA reports, which include incomplete surveys, arbitrary demarcation of EIA study area and unsubstantiated statements. Sometimes the impact with respect to flash floods, landslides, peak precipitation etc. round the year is grossly ignored in reports.
    • Poor quality of EIA professionals:-
      • This happens mostly when the proponents themselves conduct the EIA. They intentionally hire local and incompetent professionals to save cost over the whole process or some other vested reasons. These poor professionals prepare a poor quality of EIA reports.
      • Indian EIAs are never peer reviewed. EIA procedures are so corrupted by project interests that reputable scientists almost never agree to be on the Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) after one experience. 
      • In the 1990s, EAC committees used to have eminent environmentalists in them which is not the case now
    • Public hearing issues
      • Lack of awareness:-
        • There is a gross lack of awareness among the local people, about the process of EIA, its significance for them, role of various players and their own rights and responsibilities.
        • Moreover there is a communication gap between authorities and local people because the notice for Public hearing is issued in local newspapers only and no separate notices are sent to individual concerned panchayats.
        • Lobbying efforts have ensured that several sectors, including real estate construction, are altogether exempted from public hearings giving urban communities no say in how their cities are shaped and reshaped.
        • There are no public hearings held for urban construction projects, and governments assume that citizens have nothing to say about them.
      • Unavailability of EIA in local languages:-
        • Most of the time EIA reports are unavailable in local languages, thus local people are unable to decipher the reports, and are misled by the proponents. This can be interpreted as a clear violation of the right to information on their part.
      • Ignorance of officials:-
        • The concerned officials for example those in Public Hearing committee are ignorant of their roles and responsibilities. Sometimes they don’t even get a copy of EIA report and it is passed without their consent, owing to gross corruption of the system.
      • Over involvement of Public hearing consultants:-
        • In the public hearing meeting, the consultants should not be allowed to have a dominant say, except responding to the issues of the people. On the contrary, they get involved in public hearings beyond requirements and thus mislead the local people.
      • Unaddressed issues persist:-
        • The issues raised by people in public hearings remains unanswered and they do not know what happens to the issues, nor do they know if the issues raised are reflected in public hearing reports that is presented to Ministry of Environment and forests
      • Large constructions have been difficult to manage in India. The sector has systematically lobbied to be excluded from the environmental norms of the countryand has been successful in carving out special privileges for itself in the environment clearance process.
      • Compensatory afforestation taken up in lieu of trees felled by projects is a failure due to poor survival rates of saplings and no monitoring.
    • Consultants for EIAs and the regulator’s own staff may have incentives to under-report pollution. They observe that independent verification of pollution reports through overlapping monitoring regimes may have similar effects, based on environmental audits.
      • Further, in weaker enforcement regimes, collusion between state-level authorities and regulated firms can also become an issue.

Way forward:-

  • The burden of resource use in upcoming buildings or urban housing projects can be minimized in many ways.
    • Properly designed housing projects can provide numerous services such as purification of air and water, pollution control, mitigation of floods and droughts, re-generation of soil fertility, moderation of temperature extremes, climate change mitigation and enhancing the landscape quality.
  • The NCEPC, revived in a form reflecting the times, could be the body entrusted with the preparation of a workable policy document on “Environment and Development”
    • It could be fashioned on the model of the White House Council on Environmental Quality functioning in the US directly under the President.
    • The Indian version could be under the Prime Minister advising him on matters referred to it by him or taken up by it suo moto for enquiry.
    • The reason for locating the Committee directly under the Prime Minister is that environment being an all-embracing term, the issues it would deal with would often be the concern of more than one ministry and their examination has necessarily to be undertaken with a perspective larger than what any individual department or ministry may have.
  • The revival of the NCEPC need not be at the cost of the MOEF:-
    • While the former would act as a senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister, the latter could continue to look after its present duties and responsibilities.
  • Centre could also be involved in enabling know­ledge sharing of best practices bet­ween states, as well as in capacity building for resource constrained states to develop technical, financial and administrative performance. Without addressing the technical, financial and administrative needs of different states, increased ­environmental stringency could translate into excessive bureaucratic burden on firms.
  • Collaboration between public and private sector is needed:-
    • EIA and SEIAA, together with the SPCB, could do more to regulate pollution in Delhi and other eight Indian cities which are among the most polluted cities in the world based on particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels, according to the World Health Organization .
  • Developing stronger centre-state, intra- and interstate collaborations would be beneficial for knowledge and resource sharing and improving technical, financial and administrative capabilities across states.
  • A critical evaluation of all high polluting firms should be undertaken in order to assess and accordingly include all relevant firms into the regulatory process.
  • It is essential to reassess the inclusion of all relevant industries, including the ­automobile industry, for the EIA process. Regular monitoring and reporting should be mandatory.
  • It is necessary to enhance responsible and effective governance and judicial processes to be more conducive to improve the implementation of regulations.
  • Ensuring public consultations and representations and engagement with civil society and allied organisations would be beneficial for ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • In any future reforms, it would be beneficial to consider extending EIA processes to be applicable to small and medium enterprises, as it can contribute greatly towards achieving India’s goals for environmental sustainability.

Topic– Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

5) The recent amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 will create new markets & jobs for poor communities. Critically analyze.(250 words)

downtoearth

downtoearth

Why this question

The centre brought an ordinance to the Indian Forests act a few months back and has been contemplating about the need to revise the act holistically and bring in a substantive legislation to make the act relevant for the present social, economic and environmental situation in India. In this context it is essential to analyze the amendments made by the ordinance passed by the centre.

DIRECTIVE WORD

critically analyze-  here we have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary. based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to dig deep into the recent amendments made in Indian Forest Act,1927 and discuss how these amendments  will help the environment and the people and also discuss the shortcomings/ pitfalls of the amendments. Based on our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Write a few introductory lines about the amendment made in Indian Forest Act 1927 E.g the Act seeks to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest produce and the duty that can be levied on timber and other forest produce.

 

  1. Discuss in points the amendments made in the IFA and how will they create employment and livelihoods and new markets for the poor. 1927 E.g

 

  1. The amendments include definitions of terms like forests, pollution, ecological services etc. as there was no definition of forest in any Indian law pertaining to forest or its governance. The legal definition of forests will have huge ramifications on the conservation of forests as well as the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
  2. After amending Section 2(7) of Indian Forest Act, 1927, bamboo is no longer a tree and felled bamboo too is not timber. So any bamboo grown in private or homestead land by millions of farmers does not require a felling permission or transit permission from any state forest department etc.
  1. Discuss the shortcomings of these amendments. E.g Some environmentalists have expressed fears that the amendment will degrade bamboo in forests and adversely impact the lives of millions of tribal communities who have rights over this resource under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 etc.

Conclusion – Based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background :-

  • The government of India recently amended the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and the new changes can transform the bamboo sector.

Recent amendments to Indian forest act 1927 :-

  • The amendments include definitions of terms like forests, pollution, ecological services etc as there was no definition of forest in any Indian law pertaining to forest or its governance.
    • The legal definition of forests will have huge ramifications on the conservation of forests as well as the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
  • After amending Section 2(7) of Indian Forest Act, 1927, bamboo is no longer a tree and felled bamboo too is not timber. So any bamboo grown in private or homestead land by millions of farmers does not require a felling permission or transit permission from any state forest department etc.

How the new amendments are beneficial :-

  • The legal and regulatory hardships being faced by farmers and private individuals will be removed and it will create a viable option for cultivation in 12.6 million hectares of cultivable waste land.
  • The measure will go a long way in enhancing the agricultural income of farmers and tribals, especially in North-East and Central India.
  • The amendment will encourage farmers and other individuals to take up plantation/ block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land, in addition to plantation on agricultural land and other private lands under agroforestry mission. 
  • The move is in line with the objective of doubling the income of farmers, besides conservation and sustainable development. 
  • Bamboo sector :-
    • Amendment and the resultant change in classification of bamboo grown in non-forest areas will usher in much needed and far-reaching reforms in the bamboo sector. 
    • After amending Section 2(7) of Indian Forest Act, 1927, bamboo is no longer a tree and felled bamboo too is not timber. So any bamboo grown in private or homestead land by millions of farmers does not require a felling permission or transit permission from any state forest department.
    • The amendment will help in harnessing this great potential and enhance the scope to increase the present level of market share and improve the economy of the entire country, particularly the North Eastern region.

Criticism :-

  • Some environmentalists have expressed fears that the amendment will degrade bamboo in forests and adversely impact the lives of millions of tribal communities who have rights over this resource under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Topic– Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

6) Discuss the strategy Increasing Green Cover outside Recorded Forest Areas, as forwarded by the Abhijit Ghose committee report.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Recently the Abhijit Ghose committee submitted its report on increasing green cover outside recorded forest areas of India. It is an important document which needs to be discussed in detail.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the recommendations of the Abhijit Ghose committee report and bring out the strategy envisaged by the report in order to increase the tree cover outside recorded forest areas in the country.

Structure of the answer

Write a few introductory lines about the importance of trees outside protected forests. E.g Adoption of agroforestry in a large scale will ensure the expansion of trees outside forests and gradually India could be a country of the net exporter in wood and wood products from its present status as a net importing nation in wood resulting in a huge savings of our foreign reserve currency.

 

Discuss the recommendations of the Abhijit Ghose committee report and also discuss its strategy to increase the tree cover in the country E.g

  1. Actions to achieve the NDC would require action on both forest lands and non-forest lands. On forest lands in terms of rehabilitating the degraded forests and improving other forest areas, and in respect of non-forest lands by creating additional tree cover through agroforestry, farm forestry, urban and peri-urban forests, roadside avenues.
  2. “rationalisation and easing out of felling and transit prescriptions on wood and wood products coming from agroforestry, farm forestry and tree cropping areas.”,
  3. “development of business models of tree cultivation on a pilot basis to wean the practice away from project funding to create self-sustaining market models.
  4. “evolving business models for tree cultivation to be supported by rationalised policy and regulatory regime, including those of felling and transit, accreditation of QPM [quality planting material] nurseries, and mandatory use of certified QPM.”
  5. “Development of appropriate PPP models involving the private sector and forest corporations and issuance of green bonds:
  6. Setting aside “fixed proportion of national highways and expressways projects for greening roadsides by responsible agencies” and “innovative ways of generating financial incentives, for example, by developing and establishing a carbon registry”,
  7. “leasing of wasteland to the corporate sector for re-greening following proper safeguards for local communities and wildlife” etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

 

Background:-

  • India aims to increase the contribution of trees outside forests in meeting the goal of having 33% of India’s geographical area under the forest and tree cover, achieve the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution targets of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 and improve the farmers’ income and reduce the trade deficit in wood.
  • To address such issues, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in January 2018 formed an expert committee to suggest ways to increase green cover outside forests.

Abhijeet Ghose committee report :-

  • It observed that most of the experts agree that achievement of NDC [Intended Nationally Determined Contribution] will require more action on non-forest lands than the forest lands but to create the targeted additional carbon dioxide sink, actions on forest and non-forest lands will be equally important.
  • To analyse and classify the agricultural regions into silvi-climatic zones and suggest zone-wise tree species 
  • R&D to develop additional combinations of trees and agricultural crops suitable to the climatic condition, soil profile, socio-cultural acceptability and with a favorable Cost- Benefit Analysis. 
  • Identification through diagnostic research, suitable tree species for each agro-ecological zone distributed in the States/UTs of the country. 
  • Presenting a bouquet of agroforestry models to farming community of a region allowing them the option to choose the best combination. 
  • Ensuring availability of certified QPM for increasing productivity of cropping systems 
  • Local government to identify suitable species for incorporating in agroforestry systems in  consultation with the local community 
  • To develop strategy for research and production of certified QPM accessible to farmers  through a network of identified organizations and industries, extension of technical knowledge and marketing of the produce 
  • Initiating collaborative research with ICAR, ICFRE, SAUs and wood-based industry as partners focusing on genetic improvement of planting stock of most used tree species in agroforestry practices of different agro-ecological zones 
  • Creation of an agroforestry research network joining organizations and farmers bodies 
  • Rejuvenating the tree improvement program with continuous work on selection of candidate plus trees and establishment of seed production areas.

Positive:-

  • Adoption of agroforestry in a large scale will ensure the expansion of trees outside forests and gradually India will be a country of the net exporter in wood and wood products from its present status as a net importing nation in wood resulting in a huge savings of our foreign reserve currency.

Criticism:-

  • However, a section of environmentalists expressed displeasure with the report as they feel it is not the first time that an attempt is being made at bringing in the private sector. It is not the first time that there is an attempt to bring in the private sector. The report is not very clear about the land that will be targeted to give access to the private sector.
  • The main question is about the land use. There are doubts about the area of the land to achieve the 33% target. Besides land under food production is usually the common lands used by the poor which is classified as wastelands.
  • Forest development corporations had become forest destruction corporations and till today villagers in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh have been protesting against the destruction of rich natural forests by them for teak plantations.

Topic– Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

7) How is Food wastage linked to environment. Discuss. Also discuss the ways to reduce food wastage.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Food wastage is an environmental as well as a moral issue which has a huge but unnoticed impact on the society. It is essential to discuss the issue in detail and how it affects environment and whether anything can be done to solve the problem.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about all the aspects as to how food wastage is an environmental issue. It then wants us to discuss in detail about the ways in which food wastage can be reduced.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Write a few introductory lines about food wastage problem. E.g A 2011 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) illustrates the scale of the challenge. It states that globally, one third of the food produced is wasted, amounting to a loss of $750 billion.

Body-

  1. Discuss the environmental impacts of food wastage. E.g Overall, on a per-capita basis, much more food is wasted in the industrialised world than in developing countries; ‘the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km³, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga river, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva;  Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land or close to 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land area.’; Food wastage impacts on biodiversity loss at a global level. In order to maximize agricultural yields, farmers have increasingly invaded wild areas in search for more fertile lands which has led to loss of biodiversity; The food produced and then later goes to waste is estimated to be equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emission, accelerating the impacts of climate change etc.
  2. Discuss how food wastage can be reduced. E.g Balancing food production with demand; Bettering food harvesting, storage, processing and distribution processes; Consumers to buy and prepare food with a plan; Food recycling; Foodprint campaigns etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

 

Background:-

  • Food wastage is termed as a global paradox regarding the manner in which emphasis is put on agriculture to improve food security and then a third of all the food produced ends up as waste.
  • This is according to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) report in 2013 indicating that the food waste globally sums to one-third of the total food produced for human consumption, about 1.6 billion tons a year.
  • FAO report states that globally, one third of the food produced is wasted, amounting to a loss of $750 billion.
  • Food wastage, which includes both food loss and food waste, is not only morally irresponsible, but also causes huge economical losses as well as severe damage to the world.

What is food wastage link with environment:-

  • Biodiversity loss
    • In order to maximize agricultural yields, farmers have increasingly cultivated wild areas in search for more fertile lands which has led to loss of biodiversity.
    • Agricultural practices such as mono-cropping have also compounded biodiversity loss. The mass rearing of livestock for consumption and the use of pesticides in crop production has also significantly contributed to nitrogen, phosphorous, and chemical pollution in streams, rivers and coastal waters thus affecting marine life.
  • Wastage of the 1/3 of the world fertile land areas
    • The produced but unconsumed food accounts for approximately 1.4 billion hectares of land, constituting almost 1/3 of the planet’s agricultural land.
  • Blue water footprint
    • The volume of water used in agricultural food production is immense. Therefore, if 30 percent of all the food produced goes to waste, then it means that more than 30 percent of freshwater used in the production and processing of food also goes to waste.
    • Food wastage is responsible for the wastage of nearly 250 cubic kilometers (km3) of water.
  • Increased carbon footprint and the acceleration of climate change
    • The food produced and then later goes to waste is estimated to be equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emission, accelerating the impacts of climate change. Research also has it that food waste is the third biggest emitter of green house gases.
    • Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane.
  • With agriculture accounting for 70 percent of the water used throughout the world, food waste also represents a great waste of freshwater and ground water resources.

Ways to decrease food storage :-

  • Balancing food production with demand
    • Precedence should be centered on balancing food production with demand to reduce the problem of food wastage.
    • The first thing is to cut back on the use of natural resources in food production. Such a tool will work towards ensuring managers and chefs only produce and cook food in accordance with demand or the orders made.
  • Bettering food harvesting, storage, processing and distribution processes
    • The second strategy should be placed on developing efficient technologies and production systems that better storage, harvesting, processing and the distribution processes.
    • Harvesting, storage and processing should also be improved by governments and NGOs by availing subsidies and training on better production practice, especially in developing countries.
  • Food waste reduction initiatives
    • Supermarkets, retail food outlets, big restaurants and individual consumers all alike can also work on their own tailored and creative efforts to reduce food footprint.
  • Consumers to buy and prepare food with a plan
    • The use of meal plans in preparing food can go a long way in ending food wastage. Consumers should only buy food according to their plans or in small batches to reduce the food that goes to waste due to expiration after long storage periods.
  • Food recycling
    • Food recycling efforts are already underway but the technologies and methods used should be bettered. Starch-rich foodstuff such as crisps, bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals can for instance be recycled into high quality feeds for livestock.
  • Foodprint campaigns
    • Campaigns for reducing food footprint can help fishers, farmers, supermarkets, food processors, individual consumers, and the local and national governments to work on strategies for preventing food wastage.
    • The UN and FAO have already launched such a campaign by putting emphasis on “Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign slogan. Moreover, with more and more of such campaigns, societies at large will be informed on ways for reducing foodprint and get the real facts about environmental impacts.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic– corporate governance.

8) Discuss the Wates principles for improving corporate governance standards for private companies. (250 words)

Reference

Reference

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the Wates principles which are aimed at improving corporate governance standards for private companies.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Wates principles. E.g these are the principles forwarded by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of the UK and are a significant step in the direction to address the perceived issue of corporate governance standards in large private companies etc.

Body-

Discuss in points the Wates principles. E.g The code creates an obligation to report to society as a whole as the price they pay for the use of societal capital and the privilege of limited liability”

  • Principle one: Purpose
  • Principle two: Composition
  • Principle three: Responsibilities
  • Principle four: Opportunity and risk
  • Principle five: Remuneration
  • Principle six: Stakeholders

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Recently the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of UK issued its long-awaited corporate governance standards for private companies which provides a framework to help the companies meet legal requirements and improve and disclose their governance.
  • The genesis of the principles lies in the collapse of private company BHS, which led to tens of thousands of employees losing not only their jobs but their pensions

Wates principle of corporate governance :-

  • It encourages private companies to adopt a set of key behaviours to secure trust and confidence among stakeholders and benefit the economy and society in general.
  • By explaining the application of these Principles, large private companies will also be able to meet their obligations under the Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018, part of a package of new regulations that have been issued for private enterprises.
  • These regulations require all companies of a significant size that are not currently required to provide a corporate governance statement to disclose their corporate governance arrangements.
  • The Wates principles are :-
    • Purpose and Leadership :-
      • An effective board develops and promotes the purpose of a company and ensures that its values, strategy and culture align with that purpose.
    • Board Composition :-
      • Effective board composition requires an effective chair and a balance of skills, backgrounds, experience and knowledge, with individual directors having sufficient capacity to make a valuable contribution. The size of a board should be guided by the scale and complexity of the company.
    • Board Responsibilities :-
      • The board and individual directors should have a clear understanding of their accountability and responsibilities. The board’s policies and procedures should support effective decision-making and independent challenge.
    • Opportunity and Risk :
      • A board should promote the long-term sustainable success of the company by identifying opportunities to create and preserve value and establishing oversight for the identification and mitigation of risks.
    • Remuneration :-
      • A board should promote executive remuneration structures aligned to the long-term sustainable success of a company, taking into account pay and conditions elsewhere in the company.
    • Stakeholder Relationships and Engagement :-
      • Directors should foster effective stakeholder relationships aligned to the company’s purpose. The board is responsible for overseeing meaningful engagement with stakeholders, including the workforce, and having regard to their views when taking decisions.