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The 10 Biggest Indian Environment Stories of 2021

The 10 Biggest Indian Environment Stories of 2021

Modified photo of a train passing through an area of the Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary. Original photo by Purshi/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 3.0

KochiIndia made huge promises to combat climate change at the global level. Many environmental concerns remain at home and will resurface in 2021. Despite the fact that money was spent to address it, air pollution levels at the capital did little to improve.

India also reported extreme weather and wildfires. However, politicians ignored environmental concerns and made it easy to fund many infrastructure projects. But the year had hope: people fought for the environment in many ways. Here are ten Indian environmental achievements that shaped the year.

1. India has set ambitious goals to combat climate change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070, which is one of the most ambitious targets a developing nation has set for combating climate change. The country has also pledged to sequester or capture all carbon it emits. Modi also stated that India will have a non-fossil power capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and that half of its energy needs will be met from renewable sources. Modi also said that India would reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes between now- 2030. But are we ready for decarbonisation yet? At COP26, India made a firm statement that it would not phase out but phase down coal, which energy researchers stated was necessary for India’s development paradigm.

2. Poor air quality north India

New Delhi’s air quality declined in winter months, just like every year. As usual, the primary cause was stubble burning. The primary cause of pollution in October, November and November was the crop-burning in Punjabi Haryana. This is despite the fact, that the government spent Rs 2,249 million over four years to fund several measures to discourage farmers from burning their crop scraps. A report by a Swiss company in March found that New Delhi was the most polluted capital in the world for the third consecutive year in 2020 based on concentrations of PM2.5 particles. Poor air quality was not limited to the capital region. Uttar Pradesh also suffered. The Wire Science reported. If the pollution continues, the people living in Lucknow could lose 10.3 year of their life expectancy.

3. People fought to protect the environment

It was the year to fight for environmental rights, livelihoods and rights. In September, 300 km of tribal members marched in Chhattisgarh to draw attention of the government to the Hasdeo Aranya. This dense forest tract is where people depend for their survival and livelihoods. Yet, the Centre and the state governments allowed mining in the region. People in Goa have been questioning the value of three development projects that would require the removal of more than 40,000 trees from two state protected areas.

4. Development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Throughout the year, the NITI Aayogs plan for the Andaman & Nicobar Islands has been a constant worry for conservationists and activists. Its 75,000-crore-rupee vision calls for the development of a transshipment terminal, townships, and solar- and gas-based power stations in the islands. Sociologists believe this will have a negative impact on the Shompen and Nicobarese people. The Union cabinet approved a Rs 11,040 crore outlay in August for a proposal to increase palm-oil production in India. This plan included a focus on the Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands. Experts warn that this could quickly lead to a disaster for the fragile ecology in these areas.

5. Wildfires in Odisha & Mizoram

April saw Mizoram suffer one of its worst-ever forest fires. The wildfire was first discovered in Lunglei, Mizoram. It quickly spread to 10 other districts in the state. Preliminary reports have been received from six of the affected districts. It was revealed thatThe fire had already destroyed 5,700 acres worth of forests. Odishas Similipal Biosphere reserve also reported a large fire in March. A task force constituted by the state government confirmed that the fire had spread to 26 of the state’s 30 districts.

6. Extreme weather

Another year of extreme weather across the country was another. A rare Rock and ice avalancheFlash floods in Uttarakhand were caused by the eruption of a volcano in February. More than 200 people were killed or missing. Unusual heavy rains and subsequent floods in Uttarakhand in Oct claimed the lives of more than 200 people. More than 50 Lives. Floods in western Maharashtra killed more than 250 people and destroyed large areas of standing crops. India reported two of the flooding events. Top 10The most costly extreme events in the world were Cyclones Tauktae and Yaas. They both struck the west coast and left more than 1.5 million people homeless in eastern India. Together, they caused losses totaling around Rs 33.472 crore in four countries. A UN climate report recommended that India be prepared for more such events in the future.

7. Despite the obvious environmental concern, there are several mega projects that have been approved

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Many mega projects that have obvious environmental concerns are currently in the planning stages, thanks to approvals they received back in 2021. In December, the Supreme Court argued for national safety. dismiss environmental concernsConcerning the controversial 825-km Char Dham highway extension project in Uttarakhand. However, the judgment did not address defence needs or environmental concerns and is counterproductive to both. The Wire Science reported. The Union environment minister also misrepresented facts to push seven hydropower project proposals, including the 1000-MW Tehri II dam in Uttarakhand.

8. India’s first river interlinking scheme was launched by the government.

The long-standing KenBetwa river interlinking project was approved by the Union cabinet in December. The project is expected to take 8 years to complete with an allocation of Rs 44 6005 crore. It will include the construction of a dam and a channel to transport water from the Betwa and Ken rivers in the Bundelkhand region, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. This is intended to irrigate agricultural areas and provide drinking water to the Bundelkhand area. However, activists oppose it. Questions raisedInformation about the consequences, including the submergence and destruction of a Tiger Reserve and the flawed concept that river-interlinking is itself.

9. Amendments, amendments & more amendments

The environment ministry introduced amendments to several biodiversity laws throughout the year. Many of them will weaken existing safeguards to varying degrees. When the year began, the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification 2020 was already prominently in the news. It was modified more than 330 times between 2011 and 2021 by the Centre. The Wire reported, and diluted environmental protections in effect for most industrial and infrastructural project to obtain prior environmental clearance.

In April and June, the ministry asked for two expressions o interest to shortlist consultants that could draft comprehensive changes to the Indian Forest Act 1927. The proposed amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act 80 that was suggested in July could allow for ecotourism to flourish unassisted in forest lands. The ministry also suggested modifications to the Biological Diversity Act 2002. This would favor AYUSH medicine practitioners, Indian companies with foreign shareholdings over scientists and local communities. The ministry plans to alter the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

10. India is home to the largest Ramsar network in south Asia.

India now has the largest Ramsar site network in South Asia, with five wetlands in Uttar Pradesh designated as Ramsar sites by the environment ministry and two each in Haryana (and Gujarat) being designated as Ramsar sites. Ramsar sites are wetlands that are of international significance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This intergovernmental treaty, which India is a signatory to, provides the framework for international cooperation in conserving and using wetlands in sustainable ways. Ramsar sites are subject to strict management plans in order to achieve this. India is home to 47 Ramsar Sites.

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