India to restore 5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030
News this week
4 Sep 2019
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India urgently needs to address increasing desertification. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ahead of UNCCD COP14 in Delhi this week, India pledges to restore 5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030

For the first time, India is hosting the 14th Conference of Parties (COP 14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 2nd to the 13th in New Delhi. Ahead of the event, India pledged to restore 5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 - but this is just 1.5% of the country's geographical area, and 28.5 percentage points less than the total land left degraded. Nearly 30% of its land area, as much as the area of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra put together, has been degraded through deforestation, over-cultivation, soil erosion and depletion of wetlands. As per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), countries need to halt land-use change, work on forest conservation and step up land restoration in order to to halt land degradation. (IndiaSpend)

NITI Aayog releases Composite Water Management Index

The government think tank has released the second edition of the Composite Water Management Index, to assess the performance of states in India, in managing their water resources. Gujarat topped the index, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, while Meghalaya, Arunachal and Delhi are at the bottom of the index. Out of 27 states studied, 16 scored below 50 on the index. These 16 states accounted for 48 percent of the country's population, 40 percent of national agricultural produce and 36 percent of the national economic output.

The report highlights that annual per capita availability of water is expected to reduce to 1,140 cubic metres by 2050, close to the official water scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic metres. It further warned that India stands to lose 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050 because of a water crisis. 

(Business Standard, The Times of India)

Yamuna river water poisoned, thanks to excessive use of fertilisers: CPCB

As per a recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides by farmers on the Yamuna’s floodplains is poisoning the river water, its floodplains and groundwater. While metals like copper, lead and manganese in the Yamuna's water were found to be beyond permissible standards, iron and manganese were predominant in the groundwater. The CPCB has recommended that farming be controlled on the floodplains, and farmers be discouraged from growing such vegetables and fruits that absorb more metal. It has also recommended organic farming, biological control of pests and training for farmers, to bring down the use of chemicals in the Yamuna floodplain. Even though the study didn’t find any metal content above safe limit in the vegetables grown on the floodplains, HT reported in July this year that a separate study conducted by NEERI had found high doses of lead in vegetables grown here. (Hindustan Times)

Oceans to cause misery on a global scale, warns draft UN report

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on oceans and Earth’s frozen zones, 30 percent of the northern hemisphere’s permafrost could melt by the end of the century, unleashing billions of tonnes of carbon and accelerating global warming. Oceans that have nourished human evolution and acted as a sponge for the ill-effects of climate change, could as a result become destructive.

The study highlights that the countries most vulnerable to sea level rise are China, the United States, Europe and India. In India, Mumbai and other major coastal cities like Chennai and Kochi are highly vulnerable. 

(Hindustan Times)

2018 flood has left dams, reservoirs in Kerala prone to tremors: Study

A recent Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis shows that the 2018 floods in Kerala left 21 of the 43 dams and reservoirs in the state, highly prone to earthquakes - a phenomenon called Reservoir-Induced Seismicity (RIS). The study was conducted post the 2018 floods to understand the geology of the Western Ghats, and found them to be highly deformed with folds and faults caused due to tectonic movements. The study also recommends assessing the hydro-dynamics of these 21 dams and optimizing their storage and water release to avert major disasters. (Livemint)

This is a roundup of important news published between  August 22 - September 3, 2019. Also read policy matters this week.


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