Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change Current Affairs - 2019

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India Rhino will soon have DNA Database

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has undertaken a project to create DNA Profiles of all rhinos present in India. The project which would formally be underway by end of 2019 is set to be completed by 2021 (project’s deadline).

Key Facts

About: After the completion of project, Indian rhino could become India’s first wild animal species to have all its members DNA-sequenced. The database so collected will be hosted in Wildlife Institute of India (WII) headquarters in Dehradun.

Project Highlights: The project being undertaken is a subset of India’s larger, already ongoing Rhino Conservation Programme.

Population: In India, there are about 2,600 rhinos and more than 90% of Indian Rhino population is concentrated in Kaziranga National Park, Assam.

Since 1980s, Indian government is trying to move significant number of rhinos out of Kaziranga. The aim behind it is in interest of the species’ conservation, threats they face from poaching and challenges to their current habitat. Some other locations for translocating are in Assam itself like Manas National Park and Pobitara Wildlife Sancutary.

Project Proponents: includes World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Current Updates: around 60 samples of tissue of rhinos living outside Kaziranga have been collected so far and researchers are also extracting DNA samples from dung.

Importance: DNA Database exercise would be useful to curb killing and poaching and collecting evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.

Rhino Species: There are three species of rhinos, out of which only one species ‘the Indian rhino’ is found in India.

Central Monitoring Committee to Prepare National Plan for Polluted Rivers

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches pollution free across the country. River pollution has caused a serious threat to the safety of water and environment.

Order of NGT

  • The committee would comprise representatives of NITI Aayog; secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment; the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Central Pollution Control Board chairman.
  • The Committee will also coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors.
  • Chief Secretaries of states would be the nodal agency at the state level.
  • NGT directed the Ministry of Environment to consider a policy for giving environmental awards to outstanding persons (natural and juristic) and institutions or states and introducing “dis-incentives” for non-compliant states.
  • The Central Monitoring Committee may consider identifying experts, best practices and models for use of treated water, including plan to supply untreated sewage for a price or otherwise so that the concerned needy party can treat and utilise such water as is reportedly being done at Surat in Gujarat, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Bhilwada in Rajasthan or any other place.
  • Use of polluted water in irrigation is a threat to the health of human beings apart from the aquatic flora and fauna. Hence it is necessary to have a regular hygienic survey of the rivers particularly with reference to pathogenic organisms having an impact on human health directly or indirectly and It is necessary to note that biological health of the rivers is an important aspect.
  • There has to be a regular study of the Indian rivers with regard to biological health and its diversity.

The NGT has issued the order after taking note of the article “More river stretches are now critically polluted: CPCB” in the Hindu.