India 2015: Environment

Date: March 15, 2015

Climate Change National Green Tribunal Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar Ramsar Convention National Wetland Conservation Programme


THE Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change (MoEFCC) is the nodal agency in the Central Government for overseeing the implementation of India’s environment and forest policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country’s natural resources including lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals and prevention and abatement of pollution. While implementing these policies and programmes, the Ministry is guided by the principle of sustainable development. The Ministry is also the nodal agency for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP,) South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

               India is a party to five major international conventions related to Wild Life conservation, viz, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), International Whaling Commission (IWC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-World Heritage Convention (UNESCO-WHC) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The broad objectives of the Ministry are:

  • conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife.
  • prevention and control of pollution.
  • afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas and
  • protection of environment, and ensuring the welfare of animals.

Natural Resources – Survey and Exploration

Survey of Flora  

The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under the Ministry for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country.

Survey of Fauna

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) a premier institution under the Ministry has been undertaking survey, exploration and research, leading to the advancement of our knowledge on the exceptionally rich faunal diversity of the country since its inception in 1916. With its headquarters at Kolkata and 16 regional centres located at different parts of the country.

Environmental Conservation    

This Ministry is at the forefront and accords high priority to the conservation and management of mangroves and coral reefs in the country.


India has a total mangroves cover of 4,662.56 i.e. 0.14% of the country’s land area, 3% of the global mangroves area and 8% of Asia’s mangroves. Mangroves are plants that survive high salinity, tidal regimes, strong wind velocity, high temperature and muddy anaerobic soil – a combination of conditions hostile for other plants. Mangroves vegetation has been reported in all the 12 coastal states/UTs. India is home to some of the best mangroves in the world.

Coral Reefs

The India reef area is estimated to be 2,373.87 sq. km. The four major coral reef areas identified for intensive conversation and management in the country are: (i) Gulf of Mannar, (ii) Gulf of Kachchh (iii) Lakshadweep (iv) Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The emphasis is more on preventive aspects through monitoring and surveillance as the restoration work is both costly and time consuming.

Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are internationally recognized within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme of the UNESCO. These reserves are required to meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, designated by the UNESCO

  • Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The three objectives of the CBD are: conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.
  • Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)-COP Presidency and follow up India successfully hosted the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held from 8-19 October 2012, in Hyderabad, along with the sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety (COP/MOP 6). The event provided India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our strengths on biodiversity. The meeting were presided over by Minister for Environment and Forests, India as the President of CoP-11
  • National Biodiversity Authority At the national level, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established by the Government of India in October, 2013 at Chennai (Tamil Nadu) under Section (8) of the Biological Diversity Act. The State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) are to be established by the State Government and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) to be constituted by the local bodies.

NBA is an autonomous, statutory and regulatory organization which is intended to implement the provisions of Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

The main objectives of NBA are:

  • To regulate access to biological resources of the country to conserve and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • To respect and protect the knowledge of local communities related to biodiversity.
  • To secure sharing of benefits with the local people as conservers of biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use of biological resources.
  • Conservation and development of area of importance from the view point of biological diversity by declaring them as biological diversity heritage sites.
  • Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC), under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has notified the “Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered organisms or Cells, 1989” (Rules, 1989).
  • Cartagena Bio – safety Protocol (CPB) The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) was negotiated under the aegis of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and adopted on 29th January 2000. India is a party to the Protocol. The Protocol has come into force from 11th September 2003. As of date 163 countries are Parties to the Protocol.
  • Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP6)-COP-MOP Presidency and follow up India hosted CoP-MoP6 in Hyderabad in October, 2012. The event provided India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our initiatives and strengths on biosafety. Approximately 1300 participants representing nearly 100 Parties to the Protocol and other governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia and industry attended CoP – MoP 6.

Wildlife Conservation

The Wildlife Wing in the Ministry has two divisions, namely, Project Elephant Division and Wildlife Division. In addition, there are three autonomous bodies, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for wildlife research and training, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for conservation and zoo management and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

The Wildlife Crime. Control Bureau (WCCB) was constituted as a statutory body under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, on June 6, 2007 to combat wildlife crime in the country.

Project Elephant

Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government in 1991-92 as a centrally sponsored scheme with the following objectives; to protect elephants, their habitat  and corridors; to address issues of man-animal conflict; welfare of domesticated elephants. Financial and technical support is being provided to major elephant bearing states in the country.


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National Tiger Conservation Authority

The centrally sponsored scheme “Project Tiger” was launched in April, 1972 with the objective “to ensure maintenance of a viable population of tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values, and to preserve for all times, areas of biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people”.

Environment Impact Assessment  

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has been used as a management tool to minimize adverse impacts of the developmental projects on the environment and to achieve sustainable development through timely, adequate, corrective and protective mitigation measures. The Ministry has used Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications 2006 as a major tool to regulate rapid industrial development of the country for minimizing the adverse impact on environment and reversing the trends which may lead to climate change in the long run. The developmental projects have been re-categorized into category ‘A’ and category ‘B’ depending on their threshold capacity and likely pollution potential in the re-engineered EIA Notification of September 2006, requiring prior Environmental Clearance (EC) from MoEFCC or the concerned State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs). Further the notification provided for screening, scoping, public consultation and appraisal of project proposals.

Hazardous Waste (HW) Management

Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs)

TSDFs provide for disposal of HW in environmentally sound and techno-economical viable manner. Common TSDFs are facilities used by various units/industries for treatment, storage and disposal of their hazardous wastes on charge, basis. These are useful for small and medium scale hazardous waste generating industries which cannot set up their own TSDFs. These common TSDFs are generally expected to have facilities such as authorized vehicle for transportation of hazardous wastes from industries/units, weighing machine, laboratory facilities (to determine characterstics of hazardous wastes to decide their storage and disposal pathway,) hazardous waste storage facilities, waste trestment/stabilization facilities, etc.

National Wetland Conservation Programme   

The National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) was initiated in 1987 with the following objectives to lay down policy guidelines for conservation and management of Wetlands in the country; to provide financial assistance for undertaking intensive conservation measures in the identified wetlands, to monitor implementation of the programme; and to prepare an inventory of Indian wetlands.

Ramsar Convention  

Twenty-six sites have been designated as Ramsar sites in the country. Six more wetlands are under process of being designated as Ramsar sites. India represented Wetlands International on the Board of Directors and was elected as member of Supervisory Council of Wetlands International twice which is a partner organization of the Ramsar Convention. India is also a partner to the Himalayan initiatives along with other Himalayan countries. Indian delegation participated in Ramsar Convention COP-II meeting held at Bucharest, Romania in 2012 and intervened in almost all 22 resolutions passed during the convention.

Fellowships and Awards

Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar

In memory of late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in the year 1987, instituted an award called the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar (IGPP) to give recognition to those having made or have the potential to make measurable and major impact in the protection of environment.

Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award

The Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection, Award is given for significant contribution in the field of wildlife protection, which is recognized as having shown exemplary courage or having done exemplary work for the protection of wildlife.

National Green Tribunal 

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010 was brought into force in October, 2010. It was established for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters, connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil  Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice. They Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provides speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. Five places of sitting with the Principle Bench at New Delhi and Pune, Kolkata, Bhopal and Chennai as zonal Benches have been notified. Delhi and Chennai Bench of the Tribunal have been operationalised. In addition to the Chairperson, 3 judicial and 9 expert members are working in the Tribunal.

Climate Change

“Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. Its effect on developing countries is particularly more severe as their capacity and resources to deal with the challenge is limited.

         Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988 by World Metrological Organization (WMO) and UNEP, following a number of international conferences and reports showing that Green House Gases (GHG) were increasing rapidly due to human activity of the IPCC has three Working Groups (WG) and a Task Force. The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals an assessment of the state of knowledge on climate change through Working Group technical reports, WG summaries for policy-makers and an overall synthesis report. It is mentioned in WGI which is the key message of the report that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased by 40% since the pre-industrial times, unprecedented in at least 800,000 years.

Ozone Layer Protection

Ozone, a tri-atomic molecule of oxygen is formed from oxygen naturally in the upper levels of the earth’s atmosphere by high-energy Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. About 90 per cent of ozone formed in this way lies between 10 and 50 km above the earth’s surface, called the stratosphere. The stratospheric ozone layer absorbs all the harmful UV-B radiation emanating from the sun. It protects plant and animal life from UV-B radiation. The UV-B radiation has the potential to cause skin cancer, eye cataract, suppress body’s immune system, decrease crop yield etc., which led to the adoption of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. India was mainly producing and using nine of the 96 Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs), controlled under the Montreal Protocol. These are chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) viz., CFC – II, CFC – 12, CFC – 113; carbon tetrachloride (CTC). Hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (HCFC-22), halon–1211, halon-1301, methy1 choloform and methy1 bromide.