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GulfToday: Environmental progress under review
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GulfToday: Environmental progress under review


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According to the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the country’s Protected Area coverage has increased from 4.90 percent in 2014 to 5.03 percent 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 to present 981 PAs having an area of 1,712,921 square. km,” a Ministry release said.

After several years of focusing on tigers for many years, the Ministry is now focusing its attention on elephants, dolphins, and lions. “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.

According to the Ministry, India has taken a leadership role in conserving migratory bird habitats along the Central Asian Flyway. In October 2021, it organized a workshop with Central Asian Flyway (CAF), Range countries about the same. The Ministry also noted that there are now 47 Ramsar sites in India (Wetlands of International Importance), covering an area of 10,90,000.230 hectares. 21 of these sites were added during 2019-2021.

“India has the largest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia. On October 2, 2021, a dedicated portal was launched for wetlands. 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.

There are ten beaches in seven US states and one Union Territory that have been developed to international standards. The Blue Flag certification recognizes the environmentally sound management of these beaches and their safe and secure infrastructures.

“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.

The Wire reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a country with one of the most ambitious targets for combating climate change, announced at the COP26 Summit held in Glasgow in November, that India would achieve net-zero carbon emission by 2070. The country has also promised to sequester or capture all carbon it emits. 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. Modi also stated that India will reduce its carbon emissions by one million tonnes between now and 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 refer to wetlands of international importance as per the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. India is a signatory. It provides the framework to international cooperation to conserve and sustain wetlands. Ramsar sites are subject to strict management plans in order to achieve this. India currently hosts 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.

The Mongabay India report cites a global dataset and states that experts believe India is one of the top 15 countries that have the highest total cost-effective mitigation potential using land-based methods. Improved forest management, forest restoration/afforestation, and reducing deforestation are actions with the most significant mitigation potential.

Extreme weather events have been common in the country this year. Rare rock and ice avalanches and flash floods, in Uttarakhand and western Maharashtra, were two of the 10 most expensive extreme events in the entire world. They occurred in May: Cyclones Tauktae, Yaas. A UN climate report said that India should prepare for more of these events in the future.

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