Environmental progress under review - GulfToday

Environmental progress under review

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


Representational image.

The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has said that the Protected Area coverage in the country has increased from 4.90 per cent in 2014 to 5.03 per cent in 2021.

“The increased Protected Areas (PAs) coverage includes an increase in Protected Areas in the country from 740 PAs with an area of 1,61,081.62 sq. km in 2014 to present 981 PAs with an area of 1,71,921 sq. km,” a Ministry release said.

Also, after several years of focus on tigers, the Ministry has turned its attention to dolphins, elephants, and lions this year. “The project dolphin and the project lion have been initiated, and the associated environmental impact of this is also strengthened at the major sanctuary and forest areas for cleaner environmental protection of endangered species,” the press release added, saying that the population of several species such as tiger, Asiatic lion, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephants, etc., have increased with wildlife health being addressed to aggressively monitor zoonotic diseases.

The Ministry release states that India has taken a leadership role in conserving migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and organized a two-day workshop in October 2021 with Central Asian Flyway (CAF) Range countries regarding the same. Another positive listed by the Ministry was that the number of Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) in India has increased to 47, covering an area of 10,90,230 hectares, including 21 new sites designated during 2019-2021.

“India has the largest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia. A dedicated web portal for wetlands was developed and launched on October 2, 2021. The portal Indian wetlands. It is publicly available information and knowledge platform to facilitate knowledge sharing, information dissemination, host capacity building material, and provide a single-point access data repository,” the release said.

As many as ten beaches in seven states and one Union Territory have been developed according to international standards and conferred with the prestigious Blue Flag certification for its environmentally sound management and ecologically sustainable infrastructures with adequate safety measures.

“This has resulted in better waste management, maintaining bathing water quality, self-sustaining solar energy-based infrastructure, containing marine littering, enhancing local level livelihood options and increased tourist-based economy,” it added.

As the Wire reports, in one of the most ambitious targets set by a developing country to combat climate change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November that India will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. That is, the country has promised to balance all the carbon it emits by sequestering, or capturing, an equal amount. Modi also said India would achieve a non-fossil energy capacity of up to 500 GW by 2030, and that 50% of the country’s energy requirements will be met by renewable sources. Finally, he said India will reduce carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now until 2030. India also took a firm stand at COP26 to “phase down”, not “phase out”, coal — which energy researchers said is necessary for India’s development paradigm.

The report points out that with the environment ministry designating five wetlands — Haiderpur in Uttar Pradesh and two each in Haryana and Gujarat – as ‘Ramsar sites’ in the last six months, India is now home to the largest network of Ramsar sites in South Asia. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that India is signatory to and which provides the framework for international cooperation to conserve and use wetlands in sustainable fashion. To enable this, Ramsar sites have strict management plans. India is currently home to 47 Ramsar sites.

A Mongabay-India report states that protection, restoration and better management of ecosystems through Nature-based Solutions (NbS) feature in many national commitments, including India’s, but there is scope for much more in climate change mitigation and adaptation, citing a UN study.

Citing a global dataset, the Mongabay-India report adds that experts say that India is among the top 15 countries with the highest total cost-effective mitigation potential from land-based measures. Improved forest management, forest restoration/afforestation, and reducing deforestation are actions with the most significant mitigation potential.

The year has witnessed extreme weather events across the country. A rare rock and ice avalanche and flash floods in Uttarakhand, floods in western Maharashtra, two of the top 10 most expensive extreme events in the world, both in May: Cyclones Tauktae and Yaas. A UN climate report has said India should brace for more such events in future.

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