OCTOBER YOJANA – OUR ECOSYSTEM
- Editorial: The World Around Us
- Zoological Diversity
- Geoscientific Explorations
- Safeguarding Oceans
- A Biological Paradise
- Wonder in the West
- Water Governance
- Indigenous Bioresources of NER
- Green Telecom
- Our Water Heroes
- Bhakti and Nationalist Movement
THE WORLD AROUND US
- Humankind represents a very small fraction of the universe.
- The life around us is said be a phenomena of aroud 3.8 billion years.
- The biological activity started even before that.
- Drifting away of Gondwana landmass formed the Indian subcontinent, bringing species from its parent land and humans emerging much later.
- The delicate balance between different lives and us is what forms the ecosystem. It is our basic life support system.
- Abiotic system includes – air, land water, etc.
- Biotic system includes – vegetation and living beings around us.
- The unique topography of Indian subcontinent has blessed the land with various landforms, forests, water bodies, wetlands and climate.
- Different organisms are found in different ocean depths, providing a colorful spectrum to marine life and its ecosystem.
- The Andaman and Nicobar islands support a luxuriant and rich vegetation due to tropical hot and humid climate along with abundant rains.
- The coral reefs of these islands is the second richest in the world.
- Gujarat is one of the richest biodiversity states which is indicated by the presence of 7,500 species of flora and fauna.
- Biodiversity plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in nature and is found in abundance in Northeast region (NER).
- The regions sharing Himalayas and Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots,serves as the native habitat for valuable natural flora and fauna.
- Indigeneuous bioresources are facing challenges these days such as habitat destruction due to rise in human population, illegal mining, landslide and over utilisation and illegal trading of medicinal plants.
- Measures are being undertaken by government to solve the challenges.
- India has banned manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single use plastic items all across the country from July 1, 2022.
- Another initiative is National Mission for Green India.
- It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India's forest cover and responding to Climate Change.
- It also aims at recognising the vital impacts of forestry on ecological sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and food, water, and livelihood security for the nation.
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.
- Scientists of ZSI are describing new species at the rate of 125 to 175 per year.
- Till December 2021, a total of 5300 species have been describes as new to science.
- 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.
LONG TERM MONITORING OF FAUNA
- Long Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) – Monitoring Arthropods in LTEO sites funded by MoEF&CC, and implemented by ZSI.
- The LTEO landscapes include the Western Ghats, Western Himalayas, Eastern Himalayas, Central India, North West Arid Zone and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- In order to understand the impact of climate change, long-term monitoring plots have been
established in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
- 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.
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.
- Mobile Application and Web GIS have been developed in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre, ISRO to provide specific information on different animals in Protected Areas.
- A geospatial database has been created for the threatened vertebrates of the Indian Himalayan Region.
- ZSI is currently working on developing the geospatial repository of the fauna of India based on the National Zoological Collections.
- 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.
- An attempt has also been made to understand the impact of forest fire in Northeast India and also to predict the fire-prone area.
2. GEOSCIENTIFIC EXPLORATIONS
- Acquisition and dissemination of pre-competitive baseline geoscience data of the highest standards and probing deep-seated/concealed mineral deposits are primary requisites to promote mineral exploration in the country.
- 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 Geological Survey of India (GSI) is the premier geoscience organisation involved in mineral
exploration in the country since its inception in 1851.
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 has geologically mapped 99.15% of the mappable part of the country.
- Mission-II–Natural Resource Assessment:
- GSI is augmenting natural mineral and coal resources for enhancing the Mining Sector's contribution in 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 fulfill the responsibility to disseminate multi-thematic geoscientific information freely for the use of all through “Bhukosh,” the flagship Geospatial portal of GSI.
- GSI is also taking up the lead role in setting up of National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) for hosting exploration-related geoscientific data collected by all stakeholders.
- 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 the nodal agency for landslide hazard studies in the country since 2004.
- In collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS) under 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 micro zonation, active fault mapping. and neo-tectonic studies over the years.
- 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.
- 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.
3. SAFEGUARDING OCEANS
- About two-thirds of our Earth's surface is covered by water, and the oceans hold about 96.5 per cent of the entire Earth's water. Thus, the oceans are the most significant source of our present and future energy requirements.
- Water exists everywhere, In the ocean, river, pond, lake, glacier, air or soil moisture. There is about 70 per cent water in the protoplasm of millions of cells, the basic biological unit of plants, animals and human beings.
- We are all aware that water Is vital for life, hence rich biodiversity is found in the ocean.
- 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.
- Sunlight permeates about 200 metres below the sea surface called the sunlight or Epipelagic Zone.
- In the zone, from 200 metres to 1000 metres, the faint light of the sun percolates, hence it is called twilight or midwater zone or Mesopelagic Zone. Darkness prevails here and to overcome it, the creatures use bioluminescence similar to fireflies found on the land.
- Below the midwater zone comes the bottom depth of the sea, i.e., the depth from 1000 to 4000 metres, it is called the midnight or Bathypelagic Zone. The organisms found here are illuminated by bioluminescence. The water pressure in this zone is very high. But surprisingly, despite such adversities, innumerable creatures are found here.
- The Abyssal Zone or ocean womb is the part of the sea with a depth of 4000 to 6000 metres. Here, it is stark dark and the temperature is very low (almost equal to the freezing point). Only a few creatures are found in this depth, mostly invertebrates like squids.
INNOVATIVE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INITIATIVES
- Many innovative research works are being carried out by Indian scientists dealing with the effects of environmental pollution, anthropogenic interference and climate change on the ocean. Here are some glimpses of such efforts.
- RV Sindhu Sadhana Scientific Research:
- By the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) headquartered in Goa, the laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
- It has been conducting research in the field of oceanography since 1966. In 2021, a vital project in this laboratory completed research work in the Indian Ocean named ‘R V Sindhu Sadhana’.
- This sea expedition had two main objectives:
- First – Gene Mapping of Marine Microorganisms:
- The expedition team conducted scientific analysis of proteins and genes in marine organisms to understand the processes occurring at the cellular level of marine microorganisms. (known as proteomics)
- The study made it possible to understand how climate change, pollution and stress from trace metals and nutrients affect ocean organisms, as well as how the cellular biochemistry of organisms responds to these external interferences.
- Second – Study of Trace Metals:
- Trace metals (manganese, cobalt, iron, nickel, copper, zinc) found in the oceans help in the growth of organisms. These trace metals present in small amounts in the tissues of living beings mainly act as catalysts in the enzyme system and energy metabolism.
- To fully understand the cycling and productivity of nutrients found in the oceans, it is essential to know the relationship between marine organisms and trace metals.
DEEP OCEAN MISSION
- Humans have yet to discover about 95 per cent of deep ocean. About 30 per cent of India's human population inhabits the coastal areas. Hence, the sea is the primary source of livelihood for this population.
- Keeping in mind the significance of the ocean, the United Nations has declared the decade 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
- Given the Government of India's Vision of New India by 2030 framework, Blue Economy has been constituted.
- It is in this context; the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the 'Deep Ocean Mission' of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- The Deep Ocean Mission consists of the following six major components:
- Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining and Manned Submersible
- Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services
- Technological Exploration and Conservation of Deep-Se Biodiversity
- Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration
- Energy and fresh water from the ocean State-of-the-art Marine Centre for Ocean Biology.
- 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 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.
- It is essential to curb harmful human activities to save the ocean and its ecosystem. We must make every possible effort to conserve the ocean and its ecosystem.
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.
- There are four mains types of forests are found here: Tropical Wet Evergreen, Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous and Littoral and Swamp Forests. In addition to this, other 13 different types of forests are found here.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scyphozoa: The Scyphozoans are commonly known as true jellyfish. 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.
- 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.
- Platyhelminthes: Flatworms, also known as polyclads, belong to the Order Polycladida, Class Turbellaria under the phylum Platyhelminthes.
- Crustacea: Crustaceans belong to the phylum Arthropoda, and include both marine and terrestrial forms of life.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ascidians: Ascidiacea is a marine invertebrate animal, specified as a class which is commonly known as the ascidians or sea squirts.
- 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).
- Protozoa: They are important bioindicators for pollution and environmental biomonitoring, particularly in water purification plants and activated sludge processes.
- Molluscs (Land and freshwater): 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.
- Amphibia: A total of 19 species of amphibians were recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Aves: A total of 377 species/subspecies (268 species and 81 subspecies) of birds are found.
- 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 is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world which is related to hermit crabs and lobsters.
- Long-tailed Macaque: It inhabits Great Nicobar Island, Katchal island and Little Nicobar Island in Nicobar Islands. Their preferred habitats are mangroves and coastal forests. The long-tailed Macaque is an endangered primate in India and it has been listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Narcondam Hornbill: 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 as endangered.
- Nicobar Megapode: The Nicobar Megapode belongs to the family of megapodes, Megapodiidae. IUCN has categorised these species as vulnerable. These species are found only in the Nicobar Islands.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in the equatorial belt and have been endowed with an abundance of flora and fauna. 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.
5. WONDER IN THE WEST
- The region in and around Gujarat is blessed with a plethora of varied ecosystems that accommodate numerous species of wildlife. The State can boast of a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna found in contrasting environments.
- It has many biodiversity hotspots that are abodes of several migratory birds and other rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
- Gujarat's rich biodiversity is demonstrated by the presence of 7,500 species of flora and fauna, including 2,550 angiosperms and 1,366 vertebrate species.
- 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 Gir National Forest supports the last surviving population of Asiatic lions in the world.
- 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.
- 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).
- In 1977, a Natural History Museum was established in Gandhinagar. Later, this was subsumed into Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation which was founded in June 1982.
- Considering the expertise of GEER Foundation, MoEF&CC has assigned the work of Long Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) Project under Climate Change Action Programme.
- This project of LTEO was launched during 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNFCC at Paris in December 2015.
- GEER Foundation is also involved in the creation of “Cactus Garden” at “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.
6. WATER GOVERNANCE
- It is fascinating to observe how Gujarat and the Indian water journey have been invaluable in showing the world how water management can be reinvented to make it sustainable and restore our environment.
- These initiatives, centred on people partnering technology aiming at sustainable, pave the way for affordable, scalable and reliable models for the entire world.
- 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 also times when special water trains had become the new norm for the delivery of water.
- 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 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.
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.
- 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
- It was announced on 15th August 2019 to bring tap water connections to every rural household of the country by 2024.
- 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.
- 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.
7. INDIGENOUS BIORESOURCES OF NER
- The Northeastern Region (NER) of India comprising of eight states (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur,Meghalaya, Mizoram Nagaland. Tripura,and Sikkim) is blessed with smoky mountains, rivers, waterfalls, evergreen forests, valuable natural flora and fauna that should be protected, explored and used sustainably.
- NER shares both, Himalaya and Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots that are the natural habitats of several endemic species, which are unexplored, untouched, and extremely beneficial.
- Its scenic beauty and exotic biodiversity have attracted scientist, policymakers and various stakeholders to work together as one coherent one for overall wellness of the people of NER.
- Even though there is immense potential in agriculture, the majority of the tribal community from NER practices jhum shifting cultivation, which accelerates habitat destruction, deforestation and environmental pollution.
- To call 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Given the aforementioned dire circumstances, ex-situ conservation and sustainable utilisation of indigenous NER bioresources should be prioritised.
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.’
- Telecom services are an integral part of our lives, connecting people and things by the means of calls, messages, and the Internet. 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. Both of these contribute to the emission of Green House Gases, thus increasing the carbon footprints.
- With the advent of 5G technology, it is expected that there will be a significant rise in the towers, small cells, resulting in an acceleration in GHG and carbon emissions, and the resultant contribution to the overall global warming.
- India's telecom market is the second largest in the world in terms of subscriptions. This market is
characterised by one of the lowest broadband rates in the world.
- Due to the pandemic, there has been a 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).
TO REDUCE THE ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE OVERALL ECOSYSTEM BY THE TELECOM SECTOR, STEPS MUST BE TAKEN NOW ON THE TWO MAIN FRONTS
- 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.
- Use of 5G Technology: In the 5G technology, the energy issues are handled right from the design stage itself. It will help in power management at the equipment level itself, thus reducing not only power requirement but also the need for air conditioning.
- Efficient Use of Network Operations: 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. There is an urgent need to move to renewable sources of energy for telecom towers, i.e., Green telecom towers for energy saving.
- For providing energy to the telecom towers, some of the following renewable sources can be used:
- Solar Power
- Wind Power and Geothermal Power
- Fuel cell – 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.
- Other innovative solutions: Wave power, tidal power, and ocean currents can also be used to drive turbines to generate electricity.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Some historical events are:
- The Koya Revolt (1862) started against the 'Muttadars' (zamindars).
- 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 West Godavari district.
- Komaram Bheem (1901-40), a revolutionary leader in Hyderabad State from the Gond tribes, is credited for coining the slogan Jal, Jangal, Jameen 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.
- Akin to the present-day water-supply missions, various piped-water supply schemes were implemented by Sood community during 1860 to 1920 in Muhin, Garli, and Garh villages of 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 irrigation of crops.
- 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.
- 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.
- Er Kunwar Sain Gupta, also known as father of Indira Gandhi Canal (IGC), gave a vision to build this canal in 1940.
- 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.
- Thol Lake Sanctuary near Ahmedabad is made up of a reservoir that was created in 1912 as an irrigation tank when the Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda Kingdom ruled the region.
- Rankala lake in Kolhapur city was constructed by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj in 1890s.
- Nizam Sagar is the oldest dam in Telangana which was built by 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan and designed by famed engineer Ali Nawaz Jung Bahadur.
- Mulshi dam on Mula River in Pune district was constructed by the Tata Industries in 1927 for hydroelectricity generation. This project was the main subject of the Mulshi Satyagraha led by Senapati Bapat, a Gandhian revolutionary.
- The first hydro-electric project in Kerala was established at Pallivasal during the reign of Maharaja Shri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
- These water related developments during the British era instils a feeling of pride to learn how devoted king and queens, talented engineers, patriotic freedom fighters, and unsung heroes have made enormous contribution in developing and conserving water resources while fighting for the freedom of India.
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.
- ajnarayan 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.