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Another blunder by Shimla MC to which Pollution Control Board has turned a blind eye

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Burning garbage including dry leaves is illegal according to Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 21 of Indian Constitution. Also, it’s strictly prohibited under “Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) rules 2000”.

SHIMLA- Did you ever wonder why the very institution of State Pollution Control Board even exists? How often you read about initiatives or actions taken by the board to control air, soil, water, visual and noise pollution? No activity from the boards is visible.

However, effects of air pollution are clearly visible. The weather pattern has changed a lot, now Shimla receives lesser snow that melts away by evening. The average temperature in winters has increased in Shimla. The minimum temperature in Shimla is between 8 and 15 degree C, which is quite unusual while there is no perceptible change in the temperature at Manali, Bhuntar, Una and Sundernagar.In terms of rainfall, Himachal is rain over 70 percent deficient this winter, and level of ground water has dipped. In summers, water shortage is likely to haunt Shimla. Another bad news is that most of the baoris (small natural water reserves) have either dried or have been declared unsafe for drinking purpose.

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So, emissions and air pollution are critical and sensitive issues to which both public and government are insensitive.

Previous Story: ‘Unusual rise’ in Shimla’s minimum temp – A big reason to worry

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Other than vehicular emission, it’s a very common and regular scene around Shimla city to see heaps of fallen leaves burning on roadsides, even in drains. In Delhi, 30% of air pollution is caused by biomass (garbage, wood, and fallen leaves) and air quality of Delhi has reached alarming levels. Therefore, Delhi government has strictly warned people about facing maximum penalty (Rs. 20,000 – 1 lakh depending upon circumstances) stipulated by the National Green Tribunal to curb the rampant practice of garbage and green waste burning in the cities.

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Previous Story: Why Himachal must act now to cut down diesel emissions

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had also taken notice of rampart burning of biomass and garbage had directed state governments of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to immediately spread mass awareness regarding ill-effects of burning waste materials in open areas. NGT had clearly stated that,

It is on record before us that burning of garbage and other materials is not only source of air pollution but forms 29.4 per cent of air pollution with reference to PM10. Burning of material also causes serious respiratory problems and is even carcinogenic. There shall be complete prohibition on burning of any kind of garbage, leaves, waste, plastic, rubber or any such other materials in open areas.”

The bench had also added,

We direct that for every incident of burning of such material, the person who is found burning or responsible for burning would be liable to pay compensation in terms of Section 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 under the principle of polluter pays.

So, what Shimla MC and Pollution Control Board are waiting for – to get things worse, as it happened in Rohtang-Pass or in case of jaundice outbreak in Shimla due Ashwani Khud water contamination that has killed about 8 people so far and has landed thousands in hospitals?

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Burning garbage including dry leaves is illegal according to Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 21 of Indian Constitution. Also, it’s strictly prohibited under “Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) rules 2000”. Along with air pollution, it also poses many health hazards.

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The health hazards caused by burning any kind of biomass including fallen, dry leaves and grass includes respiratory, neurological, cardiac diseases and even cancers due to long exposure to the smoke. Amount of carbon and toxic gases released is higher in biomass burning due to higher amount of moisture.

Click To View : Pollutants Released from Burning Biomass and Garbage and Related Health Effects

Health Hazards of waste burning

Fallen leaves make excellent compost if transported to waste management plants or to other specified facilities. Himachal is an agricultural state and compost could be supplied to growers. However, our talented IAS, HPS officers and politicians have chosen burning the leaves and garbage. Clearly, our government lacks vision and the public lacks awareness. Our government is always short of funds for such causes except for their luxury fleet of cars with beacons, fat salaries, and allowances.

Himachal Watcher is forwarding the complaint to Shimla MC and State Pollution Control Board and also expect people to understand why garbage and biomass must be properly disposed and not burn it. Places like Shimla need awareness drives organized by government and environmental groups.

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Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

Environment

Freshwater Pollutants To Become Major Cause of Deaths by 2050, warns UN Study

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Millions to die in india due to pollution by 2050

The most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the environment completed by the UN in the last five years was published today. The report, which was produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, says that either we drastically scale up environmental protections, or cities and regions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by mid-century.

Pollutants in our freshwater systems will see anti-microbial resistance become a major cause of death by 2050 and endocrine disruptors impact male and female fertility, as well as child neurodevelopment”

the study warned.

The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity are directly tied to the state of our environment. This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now,

said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment.

Innovative Policy Options

The projection of a future healthy planet with healthy people is based on a new way of thinking where the ‘grow now, clean up after’ model is changed to a near-zero-waste economy by 2050. According to the Outlook, green investment of 2 per cent of countries’ GDP would deliver long-term growth as high as we presently projected but with fewer impacts from climate change, water scarcity and loss of ecosystems.

At present, the world is not on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 or 2050. Urgent action is required now as any delay in climate action increases the cost of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, or reversing our progress and at some point, will make them impossible.

The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets, and reducing food waste in both developed and developing countries, would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people on the planet in 2050. At present, 33 per cent of global edible food is wasted, and 56 per cent of waste happens in industrialized countries, the report states.

While urbanization is happening at an unprecedented level globally, the report says it can present an opportunity to increase citizens’ well-being while decreasing their environmental footprint through improved governance, land-use planning and green infrastructure. Furthermore, strategic investment in rural areas would reduce pressure for people to migrate.

The report calls for action to curb the flow of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution going into oceans each year. While the issue has received increased attention in recent years, there is still no global agreement to tackle marine litter.

The scientists note advancements in collecting environmental statistics, particularly geospatial data, and highlight there is huge potential for advancing knowledge using big data and stronger data collection collaborations between public and private partners.

Policy interventions that address entire systems – such as energy, food, and waste – rather than individual issues, such as water pollution, can be much more effective, according to the authors.  For example, a stable climate and clean air are interlinked; the climate mitigation actions for achieving the Paris Agreement targets would cost about US$ 22 trillion, but the combined health benefits from reduced air pollution could amount to an additional US$ 54 trillion.

The report shows that policies and technologies already exist to fashion new development pathways that will avoid these risks and lead to health and prosperity for all people,

said Joyeeta Gupta and Paul Ekins, co-chairs of the GEO-6 process.

What is currently lacking is the political will to implement policies and technologies at a sufficient speed and scale,

they added.

The sixth Global Environmental Outlook has been released while environmental ministers from around the world are in Nairobi to participate in the world’s highest-level environmental forum. Negotiations at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly are expected to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste, promoting the spread of electric mobility, and tackling the crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans, among many other pressing challenges.

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Environment

Total 332 Bird Species Located in Himachal Pradesh

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Bird Species Count in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-As per the Great Backyard Bird Count (7th Indian edition), the number of bird species in Himachal Pradesh was 332 in 2018, a spokesman of State Forest Department informed on February 21, 2019.  

PCCF (WL) Dr. Savita said that among the Indian States, Himachal Pradesh shared the topmost position with Uttrakhand where the highest number of species was recorded.  

Birding locations included wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, conservation reserves, villages and urban areas. She said that more than 150 bird species were recorded in Mandi, Shimla, Kangra and Sirmaur districts.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a citizen science initiative intended to encourage both amateur and professional bird-watchers to contribute towards the understanding bird and their biology in a better way.

The Department said that amateur birders from across the state contributed in the count in addition to 287 checklists that were uploaded into e-Bird by 55 participants.

 Participation in the event involved a minimum of 15 minutes bird watching during which all the bird species seen were counted and listed.  It involved bird watching sessions with school teachers and students, birding involving local villagers and panchayat representatives and training of frontline staff of the forest department in bird identification.

The Department said a detailed report is in preparation and will be circulated by the first week of March

This initiative was coordinated by Joint Secretary (Forests) Sat Pal Dhiman, Chief Conservator Forest (HQR) Nagesh Guleria, Chief Conservator Forest (WL) South Sushil Kapta, DFO (Hqr) N.P.S. Dhaulta along with other senior officers of the department.

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Campus Watch

Watch: IIT Mandi Researchers Use ‘Pollutant Diesel Emissions’ For Water Treatment

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IIT mandi uses diesel soot sponge for water treatment

Mandi- Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi have used the soot emitted by diesel engines to mop up oil and other organic pollutants from water. Their work has been recently published in the journal – Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

Although diesel engines are known to be superior to other internal combustion engines in terms of lower fuel consumption and better energy release efficiencies, they are associated with significant amounts of particulate emissions.

 The particulates largely comprise soot, which is formed in the fuel rich regions of the burning diesel jets. Increasing environmental concerns and stringent emission standards require the development of both conventional and unconventional means for reducing soot.

 Studies in this area have focused on improving the engine design and incorporating special filters and treatment units at the exhaust end of the vehicle.

Dr. Rahul Vaish, Associate Professor, School of Engineering at IIT Mandi and his research students Vishvendra Pratap Singh and Moolchand Sharma have looked at this problem from a different perspective.

They rationalized that while it is impossible to bring down soot emissions to zero, it is possible to find a use for the soot produced.

 Carbon species such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and candle soot have shown their potential in many fields,

says Dr. Vaish,

so why not automobile soot?

It is known that carbon species can absorb various organic pollutants in water. Carbon nanotubes, filter paper, mesh films, and graphene have been used for removing oil from water. Given that the typical carbon content of soot is between 90 and 98%, the team explored the possibility of using this pollutant as an adsorbent of oil and organic contaminants in water.

 There is a rapid increase in oil and chemical leakages from oil tankers or ships and industrial accidents with expansion in oil production and transportation in the last few decades,

the authors write in their recently published paper, justifying the need for new materials to mop up oil and prevent catastrophic environmental outcomes.

 In an earlier study, Dr. Vaish used candle soot to successfully remove two cationic dyes, rhodamine B and methylene blue from water, thereby showing the possibility of organic from water thereby showing the possibility of organic chemical removal by soot. Extending this earlier work, the research team incorporated diesel exhaust soot into polymer sponges to study their capability to adsorb oil and other organic materials from water. This hydrophobic sponge showed high absorption capacity for various oils, without the need for complex pretreatments.

The researchers found that the highest oil absorption capacity was 39 g/g for engine oil. An interesting observation was that the sponges were recyclable and retained 95% efficiency even after 10 cycles.

The diesel soot impregnated sponge could also absorb pollutants like methylene blue, ciprofloxacin, and detergent from the water. This has practical implications.

Apart from oil spills, organic pollutants such as traces of dyes and detergent coming from industries and households are a major contributor to water pollution,

says Dr. Vaish.

The soot impregnated sponge can help in developing cost-effective remediation processes for common domestic and industrial pollutants. Such a development would additionally serve to repurpose automobile waste.

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