Karnataka forest encroachments outpace reclamation efforts:-

Forest land, as much as thrice the size of Bengaluru, has been encroached upon in Karnataka as of October 2016. According to data from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEF), a total of 187,000 hectares of forests were encroached in this southern state. After Madhya Pradesh (534,000 hectares) and Assam (317,000 hectares), Karnataka reported the highest encroachment of forests in India.

Other problems

Evicted people are targeting other forests. so the state forest department is trying to ensure maximum plantation on the reclaimed land so that encroachers find it difficult to settle in that area in future.

“Encroachments are done by illegal land grabbers. Traditional forest dwellers don’t suddenly encroach into forest lands,”.

“There’s a 50 per cent shortage of frontline staff like beat patrolling officers in certain districts. Without enough human resources to monitor forest areas, it is becoming difficult to identify encroachment cases.”

According to forest officials, the nature of offences ranges from chopping of trees like sandalwood and teak and cutting of forest trees for housing needs.

Are we ready for Diwali?


Diwali is less than a week away and New Delhi’s air quality has already plunged to “very poor” levels. Delhi’s air quality index showed a reading of 318 and 306 on October 23 and 24 respectively, both categorised as “very poor”. It is unusual for levels to rise this early in the season. The air quality has been fluctuating between the “poor” and “very poor” categories, made worse by a sudden dip in temperatures and low wind speed.

According to Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Crop burning in the neighbouring states has also affected air pollution. According to the satellite images from NASA, there is an increase in the number of crop fires in Haryana and Punjab. Locally too, waste burning has been rampant.

An analysis of the air quality done by CSE between October 7 and October 24 showed that air quality on almost 78 per cent of the days was “very poor”, on 16.6 per cent of the days, it was “poor”, and on 5.6 per cent of the days, it was “moderately polluted”.

CSE’s analysis of air quality data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee
CSE’s analysis of air quality data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee

India Meteorological Department officials have said that the wind speed might come down just before or on Diwali. Northwesterly winds were favourable for dispersion of pollutants. “But we see the wind pattern changing around October 29 when it may become calm. Visibility will reduce and winds may have a westerly influence. This will obviously lead to accumulation of aerosols, which will be accentuated by fire-crackers during Diwali.

Town today, gone tomorrow

Perhaps for the first time, an entire town will be brought down for mining development. The Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Amendment Act, 1957, is threatening to wipe Morwa—a town in Madhya Pradesh—off the map. Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, is set to acquire the entire town and 10 adjoining villages under the Act, turning the area into a coal mine. This is an emergency provision that allows immediate takeover of land and will cover the entire town. The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to invest one trillion rupees in thermal power plants. By 2017, Singrauli alone is expected to feed around 35,000 MW of electricity to the national grid.

Morwa is situated at the heart of Singrauli district, which is home to abundant reserves of power grade coal and is known as India’s energy capital. The town was born in the 1950s when rapid infrastructure and industrial development in the region displaced people by the thousands (see ‘Displaced, again’). They flocked to the seven villages in Morwa, and gradually the area mushroomed into a bustling township of 11 municipal wards with a population of 50,000 residents.

Acquisition process

Towards the end of 2015, local media first reported that Ward number 10 of Morwa and 10 villages dominated by the Gond tribe would be acquired for expansion of coal mines. The move would affect areas on the outskirts of the town and displace 400 families.

A senior NCL official told Down To Earth that the company has already planned to set up a smart city called New Morwa to relocate the displaced people. But the city will be spread over only 4 sq km, making the resettlement of 50,000 residents of Morwa town and 3,500 residents of the adjoining villages seem impossible.

Compensation hurdles

In Kathas village on the outskirts of Morwa, many land owners do not stand a chance of getting compensation because they do not have pattas. The collector has also banned the registration of new pattas because “land sharks are trying to usurp adivasi land.

So despite the Despite the Forests Rights Act (FRA), the Adivasis are unable to convert their land. The FRA may also not apply in this case since the acquisition is for the expansion of existing mines, and not the digging of new ones.

Displaced, again

Thousands of people in Singrauli have suffered recurring displacement due to industrial and infrastructure development

  • 1954 Construction of Rihand Dam begins, displacing 200,000 people from 146 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Many of them migrate to Morwa
  • 1973 The Special Authority Development Area, a municipal corporate body, is established in Singrauli to regulate the acquisition of land for future projects. It facilitates legitimisation of projects and pushes new development projects
  • 1977 The World Bank loans US $150 million to the National Thermal Power Corporation for the construction of the first coal-fired power plant in the region. Around 600 families, already displaced by Rihand Dam, are forced to move to Morwa
  • 1985 Northern Coalfields Limited’s Dudhichua coal mine displaces about 378 people, mostly tribals
  • From 2006 Five super thermal power projects of Dainik Bhaskar, Essar, Hindalco, Jaypee, and Reliance are set up as privatepublic partnerships. Around 4,047 hectares of land is acquired for mines and power plants, displacing more than 3,000 families in Singrauli. Some of these projects figure in the infamous coal scam, later cancelled by the Supreme Court in September 2014


Bird flu monitoring panel says containment measures in place

The Monitoring Committee constituted by the MoEFCC for overseeing outbreak of H5N8 avian influenza, reviewed the control and containment of the avian influenza and submitted its first ’24-hour Mortality Status Report’ on Tuesday, October 25. The committee, comprising the Member Secretary of Central Zoo Authority as the chairman, Director of the National Zoological Park as the Member Convenor and the Deputy Inspector General of Forest (Wildlife) as the Member, was constituted on October 22.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National SC/ST hub and the Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at Ludhiana in Punjab.

What is National SC/ST hub?The objective of the SC/ST (Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes) Hub is to provide professional support to entrepreneurs from the SC/ST. It also seeks to promote enterprise culture and entrepreneurship among the SC/ST population and to enable them to participate more effectively in public procurement. It will work towards strengthening market access/linkage, capacity building, monitoring, sharing industry-best practices and leveraging financial support schemes.What is Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) scheme?

  • ZED Scheme aims to rate and handhold all MSMEs to deliver top quality products using clean technology. It will have sector-specific parameters for each industry.
  • MSME sector is crucial for the economic progress of India and this scheme will help to match global quality control standards. T
  • It was given for producing high quality manufacturing products with a minimal negative impact on environment.
  • ZED Scheme is meant to raise quality levels in unregulated MSME sector which is engine of growth for Indian economy. The scheme will be cornerstone of the Central Government’s flagship Make in India programme, which is aimed at turning India into a global manufacturing hub, generating jobs, boosting growth and increase incomes.

Green train corridors

GS III Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Green Train Corridors are sections of the railways which will be free of human waste on the tracks. The Indian Railways has declared the Okha-Kanalus (141 Kms) and Porbandar-Wansjaliya (34 Kms) sections of Gujarat in Western Railway as the Green Train Corridors. This will be  achieved by the installation of bio-toilets in all coaches of Indian Railways.

first Green Train Corridors of India- Rameswaram to Manamadurai ( 114-km)  had been identified as a Human Waste Discharge Free Train Corridor and was formally inaugurated as the first green corridor in July this year. Accordingly, ten passenger trains consisting of 286 coaches moving over this section have been provided with bio-toilets.


To ensure proper working of the bio-toilets, Southern Railway had established a bio-lab at the coaching depot, which handled the coaches, in September last year for testing the discharge. Indian Railway had developed the environment friendly ‘IR-DRDO Bio-toilets’, in association with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Regenerative type anaerobic bacteria in liquid form was poured into the six-chamber retention tanks in the bio-toilets and the bacteria helped in disintegrating human waste into liquid and gas. The liquid would be chlorinated and discharged with no harm to the environment. The bio-lab had facilities to test total solids, total dissolved solids and total volatile solids.

2nd joint tactical exercise by India and China:


  •  Indian and Chinese armies recently held Second Joint Exercise “Sino India Cooperation 2016” in Ladakh.
  • During the day long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian Border village was painted. Thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance.
  • The exercise is aimed at increasing the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
  • The joint exercise, compliments the Hand in Hand series of the India -China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas of India and China.

INS Tihayu

  • The Indian Navy has commissioned the highly manoeuvrable fast attack craft INS Tihayu at the Eastern Naval Command.
  • INS Tihayu is the second ship of the four follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (FO-WJFAC), being built by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE).
  • Conceived, designed and built indigenously, the commissioning of this ship completes the addition of another chapter to the nation’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and indigenisation efforts in the field of warship design and construction
  • Named after Tihayu island (presently known as Katchal island) in the Nicobar group, the 320-tonne INS Tihayu, measuring 49 meters can achieve speeds in excess of 35 knots.
  • The ship is capable of operating in shallow waters at high speeds and is equipped with enhanced fire power. Built for extended coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol the warship is fitted with advanced MTU engines, water jet propulsion and the latest communication equipment.

India look forward to a JV in fertilizer sector

The huge phosphatic reserve available in Algeria draws the attention of India to  explore the possibilities of setting up a multi-billion dollar fertilizer project. The estimated phosphate reserve in Algeria is estimated to be more than 5 billion tonnes and possible Indian investment in the sector is expected to be $5 to 7 billion.


Around 90 to 95% phosphate being used by Indian fertilizer companies is imported and the production cost is also very high. The price of fertilizer in India is expected to come down along with the subsidy burden if the talks between the two countries lead to setting up of a joint venture mega fertilizer company in Algiers.

  • India currently imports raw phosphate resources from a number of African countries including Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, as also from Russia, Canada and Israel among others.
  • India ranks second in the production of nitrogenous fertilizers and third in phosphatic fertilizers.


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