Q.1) Saumitra Committee recommendations propose for the shift towards alternate fuels to reduce India’s dependence upon petrol and diesel. Critically examine the recommendation and suggest a way forward.
The Top Answer for this question is written by – Ashish Sancheti
Ans) Despite introduction of vehicle emission norms since 1991, automobile pollution remains a leading cause of environmental pollution in India. Saumitra committee has, thus, recommended a shift towards alternative fuels.
Major findings and recommendations:
The committee examined merits and demerits of possible alternative fuels vis-a-vis diesel and petrol like Methanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen, CNG, LPG and Hybrid Electric Vehicles.
The implementation of these can have following impacts:
It will reduce import dependence, contain fiscal deficit and provide the fiscal space.
Reduce emissions, stem environmental degradation
Help achieve India’s international commitments and strengthen its global image
Cleaner air helps in various other fronts : reduce health vulnerability, social security strengthened, a healthy demography will certainly contribute more to GDP.
Increase fiscal burden. There are various limitations to use these alternative fuels which requires huge infrastructural investment, R&D, promotion and public awareness programs.
This might take toll in other social goals India has set itself for due to limited financial capacity.
Increase public awareness and environmentalism in the country
The way forward should be a gradual shift to these alternates by infrastructure development and R&D.
Some suggestions are augmentation of implementing BS5 norms, taxing the diesel guzzling SUVs and reducing taxes on hybrid fuel efficient cars, linking insurance with vehicular pollution, charging cess to upgrade technical capabilities of refineries, increase ethanol blending (committee recommends 20% blending by 2017), replicate CNG success story across the country. Energy security and environment degradation for India are alarming issues and immediate effective steps has to be taken to tackle them.
Q.2) “Conservation is best achieved by those who know the forest”. In the light of the statement, critically discuss the present status and issues related with Forest Right Act.
The Top Answer for this question is written by – Sepoy No 1446
Ans) Forest rights Act 2006 was an attempt to compensate for the “historical injustices” done to to tribal people by recognizing their rights over forest land and conserve forests at the same time.The act recognizes two type of land rights:
Individual rights over cultivable land
Community rights over community forest resources (CFR)
Once the rights are granted, no unauthorized development can take place. This way it provides livelihood security to indigenous people which in turn ensure conservation of forests.
However the implementation of acts has been less than satisfactory. Major reasons can be attributed to lack of awareness about FRA rights, bureaucratic resistance, political and corporate lobbying and procedural complexities. Under the act CFR claims first go to Gram Panchayat which has been given authority to examine and approve such claims. After GP approval it goes to state’s sub-divisional and district level committees (SDLCs and DLCs). Many a times approval got stuck here, thus rendering the whole exercise futile. Vested interests play an influencing role. Mahan forest clearance in MP and Vedanta and POSCO cases in Odisha can be referred to in this context.
In this situation,judicial intervention and NGT role becomes crucial. However these are piecemeal approaches and only comes into picture when substantial dilution of FRA has taken place. Hence way forward should look into easing the bureaucratic resistance and procedural complexities. An awareness drive to educate tribal communities about their legal rights and periodical evaluation by expert agencies should be made more of a norm than exception.
Q.3) Trace the differences in Kasturirangan and Gadgil’s report on the demarcation of ESA in the Western Ghats region. Is Kasturirangan’s report a diluted version of Gadgil report? Critically examine.
The Top Answer for this question is written by – Heidi
Ans) Two Environmental Research Committees, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by Madhav Gadgil and High Level Expert Group headed by Kasturi Rangan, were appointed to suggest protective measures for Western Ghats. The latter was appointed to look into the recommendations of the former.
Environment vs Development
The committees differ fundamentally on their recommendations. As the recommendations were debated as an ‘environment’ vs ‘development’ issue; Gadgil report is viewed as pro environment and anti development; on the other hand Kasthurirangan report is viewed as pro development and anti environment.
Gadgil committe demarcate The entire Western Ghat as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) by severely restricting developmental and other livelihood activities. where as Kasthurirangan committee demarcates only 37% as ESA and restricting only highly damaging activities. This is the fundamental difference. Which makes the latter a diluted version of the former.
Environment vs People
Environment protection is undoubtedly of prime importance but the ground reality should also be considered. Abandoning power projects will be counter productive if alternatives are not in place. If agriculture banned without proper rehabilitation plans, people will loose their livelihoods. the revenue loss issue to the states should be considered.
Environmental conservation cannot be achieved solely at the cost of certain section’s lives and livelihoods. The likely impacts, the implementation of the report is going to make on these people should also be considered genuinely. All these require a practical approach with alternatives and rehabilitation in place, rather than an idealistic non implementable suggestion.
Q.4) Write a note on structure, functioning and performance of Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMAs)
The Top Answer for this question is written by – Maari
Ans) The Coastal Zone Management Authority(CZMA’s) are the only institutional bodies at present through which all objectives of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification(1991) are to be realized.
Structure of the CZMA was established due to Supreme Court order in 1996 :
The National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA): Responsible for the coordination of actions of SCZMAs and for providing technical support and assistance to them when necessary.
State/Union Territory Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs/UTCZMAs): In every coastal state (9) and Union Territory(4)
District Level Coastal Committees (DLCCs): In every district that has coastal stretch and where CRZ Notification is applicable
1) For protecting and improving the quality of coastal environment.
2) Examination of proposals for change in CRZ areas & making recommendations.
3) CZMP preparation, zoning & classification.
4) Identification of ESAs, areas prone to erosion and economically important stretches.
5) Address concerns of coastal communities.
6) Post-clearance monitoring.
Though CZMA’s have been performing well in taking actions against violations but its performance is affected by factors like
1) Members have been mostly working part-time, with their role in the CZMA being an additional responsibility.
2) Low inter-departmental coordination.
3) Lack of public interface for redressing grievances of coastal communities.
4) Low allocation of funds.
5) Irregular conduct of meetings.
CZMA can play an important role in balancing India’s quest for development and environmental concerns.
Q.5) Is National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) synonymous to the concept of ‘Green India’? Comment.
The Top Answer for this question is written by – BS
Ans) Compensatory afforestation is defined as afforestation done in lieu of the diversion of forest land for non forest use under the Forests (Conservation) Act; 1980.
The National Mission for Green India is one of the eight Missions outlined under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover.
Green India is a more holistic and broader approach to greening than CAF:
It is not limited to trees and plantations, but also focus on restoring diverse ecosystems: mangroves, wetlands, fallow agricultural land, wildlife corridor
It aims to restore, protect and enhance relatively dense forests
It envisages a key role for local communities and seeks to provide a higher forest-based livelihood income to three million households
The recent CAF Bill if cleared will create an appropriate institutional mechanism, to utilize these funds for afforestation. Earlier the artificial plantation under CAF has created many problems like fragmentation of ecosystem, introduction of non-native species and threat to wildlife. There is a need for convergence between Green India and CAF to ensure an integrated approach to address the challenges of degradation of forest, deforestation, threat to wildlife etc
So the concept of Green India also includes in its ambit the aims of CAF that is conserving “remaining forests of India”.