Yojana Magazine is an important source of material for the UPSC exam. The monthly magazine provides details of major government schemes and programmes in various domains. Moreover, coming from the government, it is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Yojana, exclusively for the IAS Exam.
Chapter 1: Zoological Diversity
- According to world biogeographic classification, India represents two of the major realms, the Palearctic and Indo-Malayan, and three biomes viz. Tropical Humid Forest, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests, and Warm Deserts/Semi-Deserts. And, the Indian landmass has been classified into 10 Biogeographic Zones.
- In order to protect biodiversity, 990 Protected Areas sprawling over 5.27% of the country’s geographical area have been designated, of which faunal communities have been thoroughly listed among 120 Protected Areas by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
- Altogether, 1,03,258 species have been documented in India. Among the animals reported from the country 2,841 species are protected under different schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for better conservation.
- In 2021, ZSI discovered one new genus and 131 species and recorded 102 species.
Coastal and Marine Biodiversity:
- India has a long coastline of 7516.6 km on the mainland, Lakshadweep, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- The coast is diversified into the categories of bay, cover, gulf, estuaries, and peninsula.
- Indian coasts are endowed with different ecosystems such as mangrove swamps, coral reefs, seagrass beds, beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and mud flats.
- It has the 18th largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with a total area of 2.37 million square kilometres.
- In the Indian Ocean region, India is one of the highest marine biodiverse countries with 20,444 species.
- Besides, 9,457 species from freshwater, 3,939 species from estuarine, and 5,747 species from mangrove ecosystems have been recorded in the country.
- Among the Indian fauna, 5,632 species have been included in various categories on the ‘IUCN Red List’ which requires much attention for conservation.
Status Survey by ZSI:
- Significant progress has been made in the monitoring of the status of the endangered/rare species of animals by ZSI.
- Recently, ZSI has taken the initiatives of a massive tagging programme of Olive ridley turtles along the Odisha coast and Leatherback turtles in the Great Nicobar Island for tracking their migration in the Indian Ocean.
- ZSI also initiated several innovative programmes from the molecular level to the monitoring of fauna.
- There are at least 37 species of mammals genetically identified from Himalayan regions through non-invasive genetic study techniques.
- Similarly, the population genetics of the Arunachal Macaque (Macaca munzala) and population genetics of Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak), as well as Chinese Pangolin, have been carried out by scientists of ZSI.
- Adding to this, advanced research on soundscape (acoustics) through spectrogram of vocalisation of animals, and the impact of forest fire on faunal diversity in the Northeastern Region of India are vital contributions by ZSI.
India – Long-Term Monitoring of Fauna:
- The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has launched the Long-Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) programme as a constituent activity of the Climate Change Action Programme of the country.
- The India – Long Term Ecological Observatories (India – LTEO) programme is a multi-institutional programme that aims to set up long-term ecological monitoring for different taxa in six landscapes across India.
- India LTEO includes nine themes including forests, grasslands, soil, herpetofauna, marine ecosystems, arthropods, freshwater fish birds and movement ecology.
- The LTEO landscapes include the Western Ghats, Western Himalayas, Eastern Himalayas, Central India, North West Arid Zone and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- ZSI is designated as a Forensic Laboratory by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, for solving wildlife case materials and supporting the MoEF&CC.
- Studies dealing with chromosomal mapping, PCR, and DNA Barcoding of animals including threatened species have been taken up by ZSI and more than 8,000 DNA sequences have been barcoded and registered in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database.
Mapping of Fauna:
- ZSI has implemented a number of geospatial modelling studies including the mapping of biological corridors, landscape change analysis, and climate change risk modelling for several studies of Himalayan as well as other areas in collaboration with the State Forest Department.
- Out of 5.7 million specimens, 3.8 million specimens are identified and geo-tagged to 4.2 unique localities, pertaining to about 40,000 animal species.
- Mobile Applications and Web GIS have been developed in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre, ISRO, to provide specific information on different animals in Protected Areas of India.
- A geospatial database has been created for the threatened vertebrates of the Indian Himalayan Region which will be useful in understanding the diversity and richness of wildlife species in the Himalayan region.
- Studies on pollinators, invasive and alien species, and climate change with reference to faunal diversity and conservation have been envisaged.
- Studies have also been made to understand the impact of forest fires in Northeast India and also to predict the fire-prone area.
- Approximately, 1050 square metre area of degraded coral reefs has been restored with branching coral species belonging to the family Acroporidae, which are the dominant reef contributors in all world reefs, in collaboration with the Government of Gujarat through World Bank-Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM).
- Presently, the translocation of corals in the Gulf of Kutch is being carried out for Indian Oil Corporation.
Chapter 2: Geoscientific Explorations
- The main requirements to support mineral exploration in the nation are the acquisition and dissemination of pre-competitive baseline geoscience data of the highest calibre and exploring deep-seated/concealed mineral resources.
- The baseline geoscience data collected by the Geological Survey of India is the core for generating more mineral exploration work which leads to mineral discoveries.
- Thrust has been given to exploration for strategic and critical minerals like tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, lithium, cobalt, REE/RM, rock phosphate, potash, etc., and to probe deep-seated and concealed deposits.
- The growth of the mineral industry is directly linked to the mineral endowment of a country which is established through successive efforts in mineral exploration by discoveries and resource augmentation.
- The baseline geoscience data collected by GSI is the core for generating more mineral exploration work which leads to mineral discoveries.
- Natural resource assessment and augmentation are now the prime thrust area of GSI, along with activities in public good and geoscience.
Recent Thrust Areas:
- Mission-I– Baseline Geoscience Data Generation: The National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP), 2016, emphasises that acquisition and dissemination of pre-competitive baseline geoscience data of the highest standards, the creation of a geoscience data repository and a special initiative to probe deep-seated/concealed mineral deposits are primary requisites to promote mineral exploration in the country.
- Accordingly, GSI is on a mission to generate nationwide baseline geoscience data, eg. geological, geochemical, geophysical, and aero-geophysical data which are of paramount importance for planning mineral exploration activities.
- GSI has geologically mapped 99.15% of the mappable part of the country at a 1:50,000 scale.
- Mission-II–Natural Resource Assessment: GSI is augmenting natural mineral and coal resources for enhancing the mining sector’s contribution to the GDP of India.
- In response to the natural requirement, thrust has been given on exploration for strategic and critical minerals like tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, lithium, cobalt, rock phosphate, potash, etc. and to probe deep-seated and concealed deposits under Project “Uncover India”, in collaboration with Geoscience Australia.
- Mission III-Geoinformatics: GSI has implemented Online Core Business Integrated System (OCBIS) portal to fulfil the responsibility to disseminate multi-thematic geoscientific information freely for the use of all concerned stakeholders through “Bhukosh” – the flagship portal of GSI.
- Mission-IV– Fundamental & Multidisciplinary Geosciences and Special Studies: Fundamental geoscience research such as crustal evolution, tracing of mineral bearing pathways, tectonic studies, and geophysical research, all contribute to mineral exploration which in turn engenders research problems on structure and tectonics, coupled with geological and other thematic maps form input parameters to help comprehend the earth surface processes which helps in holistic studies on natural hazards and disaster management.
- GSI has been involved in geoscientific programmes with an aim to contribute to societal causes which include landslide studies, seismic studies, geology, polar studies, etc.
- GSI has been the nodal agency for landslide hazard studies in the country since 2004.
- In collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS) under the National Environment Research Council (NERC), UK funded, multi-consortium LANDSLIP project, GSI is engaged in developing an experimental regional Landslide Early Warning System (LEWS) based on rainfall thresholds since 2017.
- Since 2020, GSI is issuing daily landslide forecast bulletins during monsoons to the district administrations in two pilot areas (Darjeeling district, West Bengal and the Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu).
- GSI has also been carrying out several seismic/earthquake studies, seismic hazard microzonation, active fault mapping, and neotectonic studies over the years.
- GSI has established observatories at 10 different strategic locations across India, viz. Itanagar, Mangan, Agartala, Jammu, Nagpur, Lucknow, Jaipur, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram and Little Andaman for continuous data acquisition.
- With an aim to build a permanent Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) network in India which can be used as the Crustal Movement Monitoring Network, GSI has established 35 permanent GNSS stations all over the country.
- Since 1974, GSI has been closely monitoring several glaciers in the Himalayan states. Studies including long-term monitoring of snow/ice accumulation-ablation pattern, observation of glacial mass balance and its correlation with meteorological parameters, etc. are done to decipher the effect of climate change on the cryogenic environment and its impact on the water balance of Himalayan River systems.
- In addition, for a better understanding of the global ecosystem, GSI has also been conducting glaciological and limnological studies in the Polar Region of Antarctica and the Arctic to decipher the climate change pattern in the frozen continent and its impact on the global climate.
- The application of multi-disciplinary geoscience research with advanced geoscience skills of data acquisition, accumulation and analysis with intensive field and lab studies become imperative for discovering new mineral deposits of economic significance all over the world.
- Earlier, the discoveries were mainly a result of mapping with the study of exposed outcrops. Now the challenge is more complex as easily discoverable deposits showing surface manifestation are a rarity now. Current discovery efforts mandate the combined efforts of advanced geoscience research activities apart from the wide use of baseline geoscience data.
Chapter 3: Safeguarding Oceans
- The oceans are the most significant source of our present and future energy requirements.
- About two-thirds of our Earth’s surface is covered by water, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of the entire earth’s water.
- There is about 70 percent water in the protoplasm of millions of cells, the basic biological unit of plants and human beings.
Diversity in oceans:
- Different organisms are found in different ocean depths, providing a colourful spectrum to marine life and its ecosystem. According to scientific studies, so far, about 2.5 lakh marine life species have been identified all over the world.
- Evidence of diversity is also found in their size. They range from 0.2 micrometres of small sea creatures to about 110 feet long blue whales found in the sea.
- Sunlight permeates about 200 metres below the sea surface called the sunlight or Epipelagic Zone.
- From 200 metres to 1000 metres, the faint light of the sun percolates, hence it is called the twilight zone or Mesopelagic Zone.
- The depth from 1000 metres to 4000 metres is called the midnight or Bathypelagic Zone.
- Due to the absence of light, creatures in this zone use bioluminescence.
- The water pressure in this zone is very high.
- The sea creatures here are primarily black or red in the absence of light.
- The average temperature remains below 4 degrees celsius in this region.
- The Abyssal Zone with a depth of 4000 to 6000 metres is very dark and the temperature is almost freezing point.
Innovative Scientific Research Initiatives:
- Research on ocean organisms, minerals and other natural resources is being carried out by Indian scientists to deal with the effects of environmental pollution, anthropogenic interference and climate change on the ocean. A few examples of such efforts are mentioned below.
RV Sindhu Sadhana Scientific Research:
- By the National Institute of Oceanography, headquartered in Goa which focused on the Indian Ocean.
- The expedition team conducted a scientific analysis of proteins and genes in marine organisms to understand the process occurring at the cellular level.
- Proteins act as markers and catalysts in biochemical reactions which occur in organisms that survive in different ocean conditions.
- The branch of biology that deals with protein studies is called Proteomics.
- This helps in understanding the impact of climate change, pollution and stress on organisms.
- Expeditions also studied the impact of trace metals such as manganese, cobalt, iron and nickel on marine organisms.
- These trace metals present in small amounts of animal/plant tissue act as catalysts in enzyme systems and energy metabolism.
- They settle in oceans through continental water flow and atmospheric and hydrothermal activities.
Deep Ocean Mission:
- The Deep Ocean Mission was launched with the aim to explore the marine diversity in our country, which is still unexplored.
- This project is managed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
- Through this mission, the Government aims to conduct the exploration of the underwater world on similar lines as ISRO does for space.
- It is India’s first unique manned ocean mission that aims to send men into the deep sea in a submersible vehicle for deep-ocean exploration and mining of rare minerals.
- It will send three persons in a manned submersible vehicle MATSYA 6000 to a depth of 6000 metres into the sea for deep underwater studies.
- It is a part of the Deep Ocean Mission.
- With this Mission, India joined the elite club of nations such as the US, Russia, France, Japan, and China to have niche technology and vehicles to carry out subsea activities.
Increasing human population, tourism, the release of industrial chemicals and fertilisers into the sea and other physical interventions in the coastal areas are creating dead zones in the oceans. It is essential to curb these activities to save the oceans and their ecosystems as oceans will be the primary custodians of human existence in the future.
Chapter 4: A Biological Paradise
- The Andaman and Nicobar archipelago consists of 836 islands, islets, and rocky outcrops, extending over 800 km.
- The islands were once a part of the Asian landmass but then got disconnected some 100 million years ago during the Upper Mesozoic Period due to geological upheaval.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be generally divided into two groups, i.e., the Andamans and the Nicobars.
- They are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is about 150 km wide and 400 fathoms deep.
- The highest elevation is Saddle Peak (732 m) in North Andaman and Mount Thullier (642 m) in Great Nicobar Island.
- The annual precipitation is slightly higher in Nicobar with an average of 3000 to 3500 mm.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands support very luxuriant and rich vegetation due to its tropical, hot and humid climate with abundant rains.
- These islands have 04 types of forests, i.e., Tropical Wet Evergreen, Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous and Littoral and Swamp Forests, in addition to this, 13 different types of forests are classified.
- The total geographical area under forest land is i.e., 6,742.78 km (81.74 per cent) as per the State Forest Report of 2019.
- An extraordinary variety of habitat types, ranging from sandy beaches to coral reefs, mangroves and mountains with dense forests, characterise the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The coral reefs of Andaman and Nicobar are the second richest found in the world.
- These islands provide different varieties of animal life of which, the coral reefs ecosystem constitutes the most fragile and interesting faunal element as elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific Reefs.
- According to the available literature, a total of 21,663 marine species have been reported from India, which includes marine algae and mangroves. Out of these, 20,444 species contributed by animals have been distributed in Indian seas.
- Overall, 1,200 species of terrestrial and marine fauna of Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been listed under various Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The long isolation of these islands from the sub-continent has resulted in high endemicity of terrestrial faunal and floral elements. More than 10% of the plants are endemic and, estimated about 871 species from the terrestrial ecosystem.
- Among the invertebrates, butterflies have more than 70% of endemism at the sub-species level.
- Porifera: Sponges are worldwide in their distribution, from the Polar regions to the tropics. The highest numbers of sponges were generally found on firm surfaces such as rocks, but some sponges can attach themselves to soft sediment by means of a root-like base.
- Generally, more species of sponges are found in shallow water and are also distributed in the deep oceans.
- Around 512 species of sponges are recorded from Indian waters.
- Among them, Andaman and Nicobar Islands represent 130 species.
- A total of 12 species of calcareous sponges were reported from Indian waters and are protected under the Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
- Scyphozoa: The Scyphozoans are commonly known as true jellyfish.
- The Scyphozoan taxon comes under the phylum Cnidaria.
- According to the recent estimates, 191 species belonging to three orders, and 20 families were recorded.
- A total of 5 scyphozoan species were reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Anthozoa (Scleractinian corals): The Scleractinian corals of Indian water are highly diverse than other parts of the tropical reefs. A total of 424 species of Scleractinian corals belonging to 19 families were reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The reefs are mainly dominated by the family Acroporidae, Faviidae, Poritidae, Fungidae and Agariciidae.
- Octocorals: Octocorals are commonly called Alcyonarians, Order Octocorallia (eight polyp tentacles) are distinguished from the hard corals (six or multiple of six polyp tentacles) by their number of polyp tentacles.
- They consist of soft corals, seafans, seawhips, seapens, tubecorals and blue corals.
- Platyhelminthes: Flatworms, also known as polyclads, belong to the Order Polycladida, Class Turbellaria under the phylum Platyhelminthes.
- They are exclusively marine and free-living organisms. These animals are one of the common inhabitants of coral reefs.
- The Zoological Survey of India has documented 47 species under 10 genera which includes 7 new records to Indian waters and 6 new species.
- Crustacea: Crustaceans belong to the phylum Arthropoda, and include both marine and terrestrial forms of life.
- These highly diverse animals consist of economically important groups such as crabs, shrimps and lobsters.
- Out of 2,394 species of crustaceans that have been reported from India, marine species (94.85%) contribute the most.
- A total of 897 species were recorded from Andaman and Nicobar Islands of which 388 species are brachyuran crabs and 129 species are shrimps.
- Mollusca: Mollusca are the mainly assorted phylum in reef ecosystems and also, this fauna is the second species-rich phylum in the world after the arthropods.
- In India, 5,070 species of Mollusca have been recorded from freshwater (183 species); land (1,487 species) as well as from marine habitats (3,370 species).
- Echinodermata (Holothuroidea – Sea cucumbers): The Holothuroidea, commonly known as sea cucumbers, are an abundant and diverse group of worm-like and usually soft-bodied echinoderms. About 1,100 species have been recorded worldwide till now whereas India represents 179 species.
- Ascidians: Ascidiacea is a marine invertebrate animal, specified as a class which is commonly known as the ascidians or sea squirts.
- They are categorised under the subphylum Tunicata and phylum Chordata, which includes all animals with dorsal nerve cords and notochords.
- A total of 442 species were recorded from Indian waters while 57 ascidians were recorded from Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Pisces: The Ichthyofaunal diversity of India accounts for a total of 2,735 species, of which Andaman and Nicobar Islands contribute to 58% of the total diversity.
- Mammalia: Marine mammals include representatives of three major orders, namely Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises), Sirenia (manatees and dugong) and Carnivora (sea otters, polar bears and pinnipeds).
- A total of 26 species of marine mammals were recorded from Indian waters. Andaman and Nicobar Islands represented 07 species of marine mammals.
- Protozoa: They are important bioindicators for pollution and environmental biomonitoring, particularly in water purification plants and activated sludge processes.
- A total of 2,577 species of protozoans were reported from India. A total of only 9 species of Protozoans were recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Molluscs (Land and freshwater): Land snails form an important component in the forest ecosystem.
- There are about 5,070 species of Mollusca which have been recorded from India of which 283 species are freshwater and 1487 species are land Mollusca. A total of 152 species of freshwater and land molluscs were reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Annelida: The Annelids, known as the ringed worms or segmented worms, are a large phylum with over 17000 extant species including ragworms, earthworms, and leeches.
- A total of 840 Annelids were reported from India and 193 species were recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Insects: Insects have evolved even before the origin of Dinosaurs. They have adapted to almost every conceivable type of environment from the Equator to the Arctic and from sea level to the snow field of the highest mountains.
- The composition of the insect group indicates that seven orders viz. Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Orthoptera and Odonata comprise the bulk (93 per cent) of the fauna.
- Lepidoptera (Butterflies & Ninth): This group has small to very large in size insects, commonly known as butterflies and moths. So far, 305 species belonging to 125 genera under 9 families of butterflies are reported from Andaman and Nicobar islands; of these, 155 species are endemic to these islands.
- Odonata: These are amphibiotic insects commonly known as dragonflies or damselfly. The adults are large predacious living insects.
- They have colourful bodies, and clear wings and make swift flying movements.
- 72 species belonging to 39 genera, pertaining to 11 families are reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands so far. Only 11 species are endemic to these Islands.
- Pisces: Freshwater fish are those that spend some or all of their lives in freshwaters, such as rivers and lakes, with a salinity of less than 0.05%.
- A total of 951 species of freshwater are reported from Indian freshwater of which 77 species are recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Amphibia: A total of 19 species of amphibians were recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Reptilia: A total of 82 species were recorded from Andaman and Nicobar Islands including 39 species of snakes, 15 species of geckos, 11 species of skinks, nine species of lizards, seven species of tortoises and one species of crocodiles who have contributed to the description of species of reptilia.
- Aves: A total of 377 species/subspecies (268 species and 81 subspecies) of birds are found.
- Around 30 species are endemic, of which 21 species are recorded from the Andaman Island group and 9 species from the Nicobar Island group, are known to be limited in distribution on the Islands. A total of 42 species are threatened birds.
- Mammalia: A total of 426 species of mammals were reported from India. A total of 60 species of mammals were recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Representative Fauna of A&N Islands:
- Coconut Crab: Birgus latro:
- The coconut crab or robber crab or palm thief crab comes under the family of Cocnobitidae and Infraorder Anomura.
- The coconut crab is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world which is related to hermit crabs and lobsters. This is the only species of the genus ‘Birgus’ that can be adapted to exist on land and is also dependent on marine water for the pelagic larvae.
- The size of adult coconut crabs can be varied: can grow up to 40 cm; a leg can reach more than 0.91 m.
- This species carries an empty gastropod shell for protection at the juvenile stage, but the adults develop a strong exoskeleton on their abdomens and stop carrying a shell.
2. Long-tailed Macaque: Macaca fascicularis umbrosa:
- It inhabits Great Nicobar Island – Katchal island and Little Nicobar Island in the Nicobar Islands.
- Their preferred habitats are mangroves and coastal forests. They are also found in inland forests at altitudes of up to 600 m above sea level.
- The long-tailed Macaque is an endangered primate in India and it has been listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. 1972.
3. Narcondam Hornbill: Aceros nareondami:
- There are 55 different species of hornbills found in Asia and Africa, of which 31 species of hornbills are present within Asia. There are 9 species of Indian hornbills, of which 4 species are endemic in India, and among them, one species is present in Narcondam Island.
- This species is considered ‘Vulnerable’ according to the IUCN red list.
- It is protected under Schedule I under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.
4. The Nicobar Megapode (Megapodius nicobariensis):
- It belongs to the family of megapodes, Megapodiidae.
- IUCN has categorised these megapode species and has listed them as vulnerable. These species are found only in the Nicobar Islands of India.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in the equatorial belt and have been endowed with an abundance of flora and fauna. Many species are endemic and restricted to small areas because of the island’s geographic isolation.
- Due to the mentioned reasons, any change in the natural systems can affect the ecosystem in a chaotic way.
- In order to conserve the ecosystem, 87% of the areas are declared as protected areas. There are 105 protected areas (nine National Parks and 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries) that have been established over an area of 1271.12 km on land and 349.04 sq.km in the surrounding territorial sea.
- Apart from this, the Great Nicobar is declared a Biosphere Reserve to protect the endemic fauna of these islands.
Chapter 5: Wonder in the West
- The region in and around Gujarat is blessed with a varied ecosystem that accommodates numerous species of wildlife. The State has many biodiversity hotspots that are abodes of several migratory birds and other rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
- The richness of Gujarat’s biodiversity is indicated by the presence of 7,500 species of flora and fauna, among these 2,550 are angiosperms and 1,366 are vertebrate species (of which 574 are bird species and the rest are mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc.).
- Gujarat State has many biodiversity hotspots like Little Rann of Kutch, Greater Rann of Kutch, Marine National Park, Jamnagar, wetlands and forests of Barda Sanctuary, Porbandar, Grasslands of Velavadar, Thol Lake and Nalsarovar, Northern part of Western Ghat in South Gujarat, etc.
- The flora of this region is unique in nature as the species have developed many adaptations like resistance to salinity to sustain themselves in hostile and adverse climatic conditions in arid and semi-arid regions.
- In order to conserve such a rich and diverse natural heritage of wildlife in Gujarat, four National Parks, 23 Sanctuaries, and one Conservation Reserve have been established over a period of time.
- In spite of industrialisation in the State, the Government has managed to succeed in preserving the ecosystems and also in spreading awareness amongst the general public.
- Gujarat has four Ramsar sites, i.e., wetlands of international importance and several wetland-based Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
- The notable Ramsar sites of the State are Nalsarovar and Thol Bird Sanctuaries near Ahmedabad, Khijadia Sanctuary near Jamnagar and Wadhvana wetland near Vadodara.
- Way back in 1977, a Natural History Museum was established in Gandhinagar. The area is now popularly known as Indroda Nature Park (INP).
- Later, this was subsumed into Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation which was founded in June 1982 to undertake activities such as ecological education, research, natural history interpretation, climate change research, wetland monitoring, biodiversity monitoring of Sanctuaries and National Parks. INP now serves as the headquarters of the GEER Foundation.
- The GEER Foundation was also recognised as the Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (SIRO), Gujarat State Centre on Climate Change by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and the Nodal Agency of Gujarat State Wetland Authority by the State Government.
- The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has assigned the work of the Long Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) Project under the Climate Change Action Programme.
- LTEO project was launched during the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015.
- The main aim of this project is to know the biophysical and anthropogenic drivers of ecosystems in selected biomes as well as their effect on social-ecological responses.
- The GEER Foundation along with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has established three field stations in the Asiatic lion landscape area viz. Sasan Gir, Bajana and Hingolgadh and one in Jessore for the North Western Arid Zone under Forests and Soil Theme.
- The observations recorded at these sites will be correlated with data on various climatic parameters collected from Automatic Weather Stations (AWSs) which are installed therein as per the guidelines of the World Meteorological Organisation to know the effect of climate change.
- GEER Foundation under the National Green Corps’ Programme of MoEF&CC, GoI has been sensitising young minds about environmental conservation through Eco-Clubs established in 16,500 schools and 162 colleges in the State.
- The GEER Foundation is also involved in the creation of the “Cactus Garden” at “The Statue of Unity” in Kevadia. It is said to be a “Grand Architectural Greenhouse” consisting of 450 species of cactus and succulents from India and 17 other countries.
With industrialisation, ecosystems across the world have been destroyed leading to an impact on humans themselves, therefore, the balance between technological development and nature becomes all the more critical. Any deliberate or unprecedented imbalance in biodiversity disturbs its surroundings causing an imbalance in the ecosystem which further trickles down to food chains and then to the food web. Realising the sensitivity of the overall impacts, various governments have deliberated and formulated policies to protect the biodiversity of their respective lands.
Chapter 6: Water Governance
- The State of Gujarat witnessed a turnaround from being a water scarce state to water secure state in the first decade of the 21st century.
- The State transformed by adopting environment-friendly policies, climate-resilient engineering, and strengthening grassroots leadership stand out as an example of sustainable development and offers a path to follow.
- The scarcity of water contributes negatively to socio-economic development. Economic growth led to policies and practices to achieve long-term water security.
- The critical relationship between water, environment and ecosystems was acknowledged, built upon, shaped and transformed by the policymakers in a sustainable way to meet the challenges without compromising the health of the natural world.
Gujarat in the 2000s:
- Two decades ago, the western and northern parts of Gujarat region were prone to repeated droughts and water scarcity, damage to life and livelihood due to devastating earthquake with epicentre in Kutch in 2001 and the resultant economic crisis with shrinking economy.
- There were cases of mass migration of pastoral communities like Maldharis in search of fodder and water for their livestock.
- On an average, every third year was marked as a drought year leading to uneven distribution of water. Annually, thousands of tankers were deployed to mitigate drinking water scarcity and make water available to people.
- There were also times when special water trains had become the new norm for the delivery of water.
- The administration focused only on temporary fixes neglecting the emptying aquifers and damage to the environment remained unattended.
- Water was placed at the centre stage of Gujarat’s developmental policy to address the issue of water scarcity.
- Viable solutions were explored to conserve water and achieve an ecological balance whilst resolving to ensure adequate and assured availability of clean water in every home became the top priority.
- A series of policy decisions, including the integration of the overall water sector to manage demand and supply coherently ensured accountability at all levels.
- A great value was placed on the water as a ‘finite resource’ that needed to be replenished every year. As all water is received from precipitation during limited rainy days in the State, the focus was on making the State open-defecation free with emphasis on rainwater harvesting and efficient use of water.
- A component of drought-proofing was adopted in building climate-resilient water infrastructure.
- The State-wide drinking water supply grid was planned to provide clean tap water free from chemical and bacteriological contamination.
- Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River was completed and the existing canal systems were further strengthened. Inter-basin transfer of water from reasonably water-rich South and Central Gujarat to North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch was planned and executed in the form of a 332 km-long Sujalam Sufalam Canal with speed and scale.
- Further, to meet water requirements, especially in areas with groundwater salinity, desalination plants were set up.
Enabling Water-Use Efficiency in Agriculture:
- With about 85% of all freshwater being consumed for agricultural purposes, micro-irrigation and Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) were promoted in an extensive manner to optimise water use in farms.
- Agriculture extension activities to educate farmers on the concept of ‘Per Drop, More Crop’ were initiated as a campaign.
- Farmers were provided financial and technical support to build check dams, farm ponds, bori-bandhs, etc., in and around their farmlands to ‘catch the rain where it falls’.
- ‘Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan’ was initiated around the twin objectives of deepening water bodies before monsoons and enhancing water storage for rainwater collection.
- It entails numerous water conservation activities including the cleaning and deepening of ponds, canals, and tanks, check dams and reservoirs, repair of water storage structures, construction of rainwater harvesting structures, etc., through a participative approach.
- With the integrated water management approach and groundwater table continuously improving, the total irrigable area in the State increased by 77%, and the agriculture production in the State also increased by 255%, leading to a green economy. This has paved the way for a sustainable and environment-friendly model.
Jal Jeevan Mission:
- JJM was announced on 15th August 2019 to bring tap water connections to every rural household of the country by 2024.
- The program will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through greywater management, water conservation, and rainwater harvesting.
- The Jal Jeevan Mission will be based on a community approach to water and will include extensive Information, Education, and Communication as a key component of the mission. JJM looks to create a Jan Andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.
- The vision of the mission is that every rural household has a drinking water supply in adequate quantity, of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis at affordable service delivery charges leading to improvement in the living standards of rural communities.
- Under the mission, Pani Samitis or Village Water Sanitation Committee at the Village level are being set up across 06 lakh rural villages of the villages, where they are empowered to plan, implement, and manage their in-village water supply systems by adopting an end-to-end approach involving the four key components, namely, source sustainability, water supply, greywater treatment and reuse and operation & maintenance.
- The socio-economic development and economic growth, especially in drought-prone and desert areas depend upon how wisely water resources are utilised.
- Water, being a finite resource, plays a key role especially in arid and semi-arid regions in restoring and sustaining the environment including flora and fauna. Its vitality for reducing the burden of disease and improving the health, welfare and productivity of human populations and keeping other life forms on earth possible cannot be underestimated or ignored.
Chapter 7: Indigenous Bioresources of NER
- The Northeastern Region (NER) of India shares both Himalaya and Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots which are the natural habitats of several endemic species, which are unexplored, untouched, and extremely beneficial.
- Its scenic beauty and exotic biodiversity have attracted scientists, policymakers and various stakeholders to work together as one coherent unit for the overall wellness of the people of NER.
- Landlocked by international borders, NER states are innately connected with nature and have a rich socio-economic and cultural heritage.
Intervention in Farming Strategies of NER:
- The majority of the tribal community from NER practices jhum shifting cultivation, which accelerates habitat destruction, deforestation and environmental pollution.
- To have self-sufficiency in agriculture, policymakers are aiming for doubling farmers’ income through the introduction of high-yielding varieties and modern scientific farming strategies that prove productivity.
- Recent studies show that extensive urbanisation, wild harvests of natural flora and changing environmental conditions become an extreme threat to NER.
- As a result, many medicinally and commercially important plant species are on the verge of extinction. In such a scenario, in-vitro plant tissue culture techniques are a highly reliable approach for germplasm conservation, eco-restoration and phytopharmaceutical production, especially for several medicinally and commercially important plant species.
Qualitative Improvement of Genetic Resources of Indigenous Tree Species – Camellia sp:
- Tea plant (Camellia sp.) is an evergreen socio-economic crop species and belongs to the family ‘Theaceae’.
- The indigenous tea cultivator of Assam is named Camellia assamica ssp. assamica (TV21) having broad leaves and high content of catechins, dominates in black tea production as compared to China-type tea (Camellia sinensis).
- The extreme cross-pollinating nature of tea plants results in high heterozygosity (high variability), which leads to inconsistent quantity and quality of phytochemicals.
- Conventional methods of plant propagation through seeds do not produce genetically uniform clones/identical plants and, on the other hand, stem-cutting and grafting have a poor survival rate and require adequate care to best suit the changing environmental conditions.
- Being a woody perennial, tea plants require a longer time period to attain reproductive maturity, which causes less success rate of the development of superior clones/plants from existing parent plants following conventional farming strategies.
- Furthermore, the improvement of genetic constituents and a further selection of superior varieties require several years in conventional breeding practices.
- In such a scenario, the in-vitro tissue culture method not only acts as a potential way of qualitative development of superior plants but can also produce a large number of true-to-type (identical) plants in a comparatively shorter duration.
- The in-vitro-developed plants could serve as a potential source for the development of pure breeding plants and would also facilitate the consistent production of medicinally important bioactive metabolites, independent of seasonal variation.
- Azadirachta indica, commonly known as the Neem plant, is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. All parts of the Neem tree, the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, and seeds contain medicinal metabolites and are used for household remedies against various diseases.
- It is also renowned for its eco-friendly, insect-eliminating properties, thus regularly used in agriculture. The extreme cross-pollinating nature of Neem plants causes high variability in plants which leads to inconsistent quantity and quality of phytochemicals.
- To satisfy the growing demand and the vast need for pharmaceutical industries, attaining enhanced production of metabolite compounds should be our utmost priority.
- In-vitro tissue culture methods would be the most suitable alternative strategy for the production of homozygous clones (purebred plants) containing high amounts of metabolites compared to seed-borne trees.
- It is a medicinally important plant containing low-calorie sweeteners (steviol glycosides) in leaves. Excess consumption of sucrose in the diet is associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Vegetative propagation of Stevia Rebaudiana is limited by unfavourable climatic conditions, and seeds of the stevia plant show low viability in the field. However, in-vitro propagation is a rapid reliable system for the production of a large number of genetically uniform disease-free plantlets, irrespective of the seasonal variations.
- Tinospora cordifolia or Giloy is a multipurpose woody liana that generally grows in tropical climates and is readily available in Northeast India.
- It is widely known for its immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypertensive, and antioxidant properties, hence called a rejuvenating herb.
- The nutraceutical features are also mainly due to the presence of high protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
- Recent studies show that the consumption of Giloy has increased the recovery rate in dengue and SARS-CoV-2 patients.
Musa Balbisiana and Musa Paradisiacal:
- The Musa sp. commonly known as banana belongs to the family Musaceae and is one of the most widely distributed and consumed fruits with high content of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds.
- In Assam, farmers are growing bananas commercially due to high profitability. There are 15-20 different varieties of bananas available to Assam.
- Rutin, a flavonoid, naturally present in banana leaves has antioxidant properties and is beneficial to health.
- Banana leaves also have the potential for use as an inexpensive and new source of bioactive metabolites.
Biodiversity plays a pivotal role in maintaining the ecological balance in nature. Nowadays, indigenous bioresources of NER have experienced a number of challenges, such as habitat destruction due to the ever-increasing human population, illegal mining, landslide, and over utilisation and illegal trading of medicinal plants. Considering the above alarming situations, ex-situ conservation and sustainable utilisation of indigenous bioresources of NER should be given top priority.
Chapter 8: Green Telecom
- Ever since the start of industrialisation in the 18th century with steam power and mechanisation of production, the air and water pollution levels have been rising on Earth and the amount of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) rising was giving effect to ‘Global Warming.’
- The various phenomena of global warming along with other natural calamities like typhoons, flash floods, melting of icebergs, etc., are collectively termed ‘climate change.’
- The respective sectors like Agriculture, Industry, Service sector, etc., have to take corrective steps in their area to mitigate the effects of climate change for a balanced ecological system.
- Telecom services are an integral part of our lives, connecting people and things by the means of calls, messages, and the Internet. Telecom towers play a pivotal role in this process.
- The operations of these towers of telecommunication networks require electricity on a continuous basis for interruption-free telecom services.
- The electricity comes mainly from the power grid. However, when there are power cuts, these towers’ electronics run on fossil fuels like Diesel Generator sets and battery backup which results in GHG emissions.
Increase in telecom towers:
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been rapid growth in mobile broadband as people are using broadband for connecting through video-conferencing and using payment through applications like Unified Payment Interface (UPI).
- The proliferation of mobile and broadband has led to an increase in the number of towers.
- A significant number of these towers are in rural and hilly areas where the grid power supply is not at a very stable level itself; thus reducing not only power requirement but also the need for air conditioning.
- Further, 5G technology will allow flexible use of spectrum which is an essential element for wireless communication, which in turn will have a direct impact on energy consumption.
Steps to reduce adverse effects of the telecom sector on the overall ecosystem:
- Reducing the energy consumption of electronics, designing eco-friendly electronics, buildings, consumables and effective network planning with the overall aim to reduce the power requirement.
- Introducing smart shutdown techniques using Artificial Intelligence (AI) across multiple sites and radio networks to reduce power consumption.
- Use of single Radio Access Network (RAN) platforms, in which a single base station supports 20, 30, 40, and 50 technologies, thus replacing multiple pieces of equipment and reducing total power consumption.
- Migrating towards renewable sources of energy to mitigate the effects of global warming.
- Telecom towers consume 65-70% of energy from the operations of telecom networks.
- In order to reduce the impact on the environment and ecology due to the energy needs of telecom equipment, there is an urgent need to move to renewable sources of energy for telecom towers, i.e green telecom towers for energy saving.
- Fuel cells are a promising technology for use as a source of heat and electricity. A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and water.
Significant barriers to the implementation of renewable energy:
- Expensive renewable energy (RE) technology which results in higher capital costs compared to conventional energy supplies.
- Installations of RE technologies are costlier and more time-consuming. They also need support for relatively long periods before reaching profitability.
- Poor consumer awareness regarding emerging technologies.
- Financial, legal, regulatory and organisational barriers need to be overcome in order to implement RE technologies and develop markets in India.
With the proliferation of broadband and mobile devices, there has been significant growth in the number of telecom towers and associated electronics at the base stations. Policymakers must focus on adopting the latest technologies to reduce the power requirement and move towards alternate sources of energy that are renewable and which in turn reduce the GHG and carbon emissions, thus helping in maintaining the ecological balance.
Chapter 9: Our Water Heroes
- Our ancestors had a rich knowledge of water conservation and management. For example, canal irrigation was mentioned by Greek travellers and also mentioned in Arthashastra and not surprisingly, the Ahar-Pyne system of that period is still in use in the South Bihar region.
- Later, many Princely states constructed canals, lakes, reservoirs, dams, and other waterworks and services for irrigation and domestic purposes.
- History has numerous contributions by many capable Indian engineers, water warriors and unsung heroes, who have discovered the origin of rivers, and planned, designed and implemented a variety of water structures.
Contribution of water heroes during the British colonial period:
- Many protests were organised to demand the access of water for all sections of the society. Unreasonable taxes imposed on the use of water also caused many irritants. Since lands and forests are intrinsically linked to water, many protests were carried out on the theme of Jal-Jungle-Jameen, especially in the tribal areas.
- The Koya Revolt was started against the ‘Muttadars’ (zamindars) who formed a chain of rent collectors from the colonial rulers in the year 1862.
- The tribals attacked the authorities under the leadership of Tammanna Dora in 1879.
- In 1922-24, this movement synchronised with the Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movement under the leadership of Alluri Sitharama Raju in the West Godavari district.
- Komararn Bheerm (1901-40), a revolutionary leader in Hyderabad State from the Gond tribes, is credited for coining the slogan Jal, Jangal, Jameen (translated as Water, Forest, Land), which symbolised a sentiment against encroachment and exploitation.
- Besides water-related protests and building water structures, another category of efforts made by people includes activities like exploring virgin areas to identify water sources, carrying out surveys and investigations for the planning of water schemes, establishing institutions, etc.
- Similar to the present-day water-supply missions, various piped-water supply schemes were implemented by the Sood community from 1860 to 1920 in Muhin, Garli and Garh villages of the Kangra region and adjoining areas of undivided Punjab.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the first ruler in Punjab who thought of large-scale utilisation of canal water for the irrigation of crops.
- Both the perennial and inundation canals were excavated and expanded in the early nineteenth century. Under the Kingdom of Lahore, inundation canals were excavated particularly in the southwest, in Multan and Derajat, and took their supply from the rivers Satluj, Chenab, and Indus.
- Rai Bahadur Sir Ganga Ram was a civil engineer and architect. His extensive contributions to the urban fabric of Lahore, then in colonial India and now in modern Pakistan, caused Khaled Ahmed to describe him as “the father of modern Lahore.
- He converted 20,000 hectares of barren, unirrigated land in undivided India into fertile fields, irrigated by water lifted by a hydroelectric plant and running through a thousand miles of irrigation channels, all constructed at his own cost.
- After the catastrophic floods of 1908 from rivers Musi and Esi, Hyderabad’s then Nizam Mahboob All Khan engaged Sir M Visvesvaraya to prepare a comprehensive plan for the flood protection of the city.
- Khadakwasala Dam on the Mutha river near Pune and the associated reservoir known as Khadakwasla lake were also constructed by Sir Visvesvaraya. This is the main source of water for Pune and its suburbs even today.
- Kunwar Sain Gupta, also known as the ‘father of Indira Gandhi Canal (IGC)’, gave a vision to build this canal in 1940. IGC is the longest canal in India and the largest irrigation project in the world.
- Many water harvesting and water conservation structures were built by the Princely States rulers in the 19th century when many famines occurred in India. In order to tackle famine and recurring droughts, large-scale construction of canals and wells was taken up. Artificial lakes and tanks were mainly constructed in southern India.
- Raniya Kuhl (1800) irrigation system was re-constructed by Rani of Kangra. In addition to providing irrigation water, Kuhls used to meet all the water needs of the villages they flowed through.
- Sarkari Bagicha ki Bawdi lndore was made by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar in around 1835 at the time of the construction of the Baneshwar temple.
- Seshadri Iyer was responsible for initiating the first hydro-electric project in Asia, at Shivanasamudra in the Mandya district of Karnataka, which began generating power in 1902 for the Kolar gold fields and for Bangalore in 1905.
- Thippagondanahalli Reservoir (1930-34) was constructed by King Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII of Mysore, at the confluence of the Arkavathi and Kumudavathi rivers. It is used by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board as a major source of drinking water.
- Nizam Sagar is the oldest dam in Telangana which was built by the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan and designed by engineer Ali Nawaz Jung Bahadur.
- It was built in 1931 over the Manjra river (a tributary of the Godavari river).
- The first hydro-electricity project in Kerala was established during the reign of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and commissioned during 1940-42.
- Even though India suffered for 200 years under British colonial rule, its spirit to fight through difficult periods never wavered. Like a phoenix, India rose from its dark past to hold a prominent place in the world at present.
- Not only in the ancient Vedic and mediaeval periods, the post-medieval era also witnessed pioneering works done on the development and conservation of water resources.
- Many water development and conservation works were carried out parallel with the freedom struggle by Indian engineers, freedom fighters, rulers of the Princely States, and other unsung heroes, which have left everlasting footprints in India.
Chapter 10: Bhakti and National Movement
- The rise of nationalist sentiment in Bengal revolved around Chaitra Mela, established in 1867. Educated Bengalis sought nationalistic inspiration from the glorious chapters of ancient Indian scriptures and started celebrating the staging of Sanskrit dramas in Bengali translation in their theatres instead of Shakespearean plays.
- In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the Bhakti sect of Hindu nationalism was far more influential than the political sect of neo-nationalism.
- Rajnarayan Basu had first attempted to theorise this newborn nationalistic passion and brought it under an organisational framework. The most significant of Rajnarayan’s proposals was the introduction of a trifold education system of imparting moral lessons, the inculcation of benevolence for the nation, and promoting mutual love, all through inspirational music.
- Though Bankim Chandra’s ‘Anand Math’ talked about the militant form of nationalism, the root of that nationalism lies in Bhaktism.
- He has given the national struggle a well-organised orderly form.
- The Song ‘Vande Mataram’ had become a group identity, the great hymn of liberation, the strength and courage for the Sanyasis.
- The Sanyasi group and their activities in ‘Anand Math’ were actually comparable to the arrangements for revolutionary upheaval.
- Through this novel, for the first time in the canon of Bengali novels, an ‘all-encompassing and active nationalism’ appeared in a very distinct and more intense form through Bhakti and shakti, the freedom movement.
- Setting ground for revolutionary movements in Bengal had started as far back as 1902. Aurobindo Ghosh planted the idea of creating ‘secret societies’ to enlighten the youth. A small booklet was published with the same intent, namely, ‘Bhavani Mandir’.
- The second method of the functional approach was Bhakti.
- The Bhakti cult preached by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had taken the social environment of Bengal by storm.
- Staged in 1881, Ravana Badha by Girish Chandra left the audience overwhelmed with the Bhakti Rasa.
- In the 1880s and 90s, Girish Chandra kept Bengalis immersed in the Bhakti Rasa by writing and performing plays like Chaitanya Leda, Prahlad Charitra, Bilwamangal Thakur, Jana, etc.
- Since Bankim Chandra comprehended the relevance of the Bhakti Rasa in ‘Anand Math’, he directed extremist armed revolution hand-in-hand with the frills of Bhaktism and the devotional pursuit of an all-sacrificing monk.
Apart from its dignity as a song, ‘Vande Mataram’ had become the only slogan for the mainstream national movements of Bengal as well as India, right since the time of the Partition of Bengal. It slowly became an acceptable mantra for protesting and rousing patriotism even at the pan-national level.