People and Environment Notes (UGC NET Paper 1 Free Study Material)

Indian Environmental Acts

  • Indian Forest Act – 1927
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act – 1972
  • The Water (prevention and control of Pollution) Act – 1974
  • The Forest (Conservation ) Act – 1980
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act – 1981
  • The Environment (Protection) Act – 1986
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act – 1991
  • The National Environment Tribunal Act – 1995
  • The National Environment Appellate Authority Act – 1997
  • National Forest Policy – 1988
  • National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment Development – 1992
  • Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution – 1992

Natural  Hazards   and  Mitigation  

1. Deforestation  (Forest  Destruction)

Deforestation     is a threat   to the  economy,   quality   of life and   future    of  the  environment.    Main   causes   of  deforestation      in  India   are:    explosion    of human  and  livestock   population,     increased    requirement      of timber   and  fuel wood,    expansion  of cropland    and  enhanced    grazing.   Another   cause  of forest  degradation     is construction of roads   along  the mountains.    Increased   demand    for fuel wood,   wooden   crates,  paper   board and  newsprint     have   led  to large   scale  tree  felling.   Ideally   one  thud    (or  33%)  of land  of a country    must  be  covered   by  forest.  In India,   forest  cover is   only  19.43%,  out  of which    only 13% are  thick  forest.   Rest  is bushy   land.   Deforestation     has  caused   intensified     soil  erosion, accentuated     floods   and  drought    and  loss  of precious    wild  life  and  has  led  to deterioration of economy    and  quality    of life  of weaker    sections    of the  society.   India   is losing   about   1:5 million   hectares    of forest  cover  each year.   Nearly   one  per  cent  of the  land   surface   of India is turning    barren   every  year  due  to deforestation.     In the  Himalayan     range,   the  rainfall   has declined    3 to 4 per  cent  due   to deforestation.

2. Afforestation

Forests   occupy   central   position   in nature.   They  restore   ecological   balance   of all  ecosystems,     maintain    biological    diversity,    act  as catchments     for  soil  and  water   conservation,   prevent    floods  and   safeguard    future   of tribal   people.   In order   to meet  such  needs, we  need  to develop   massive   afforestation    programme     of indigenous      and  exotic  fast growing species   for  production      and   protection     of  forestry    on  suitable    land   including     wasteland.

A massive social forestry  programme   is needed  to meet demands   of local people for fuel, fodder, timber, etc. Then there is need for wood-based  industry. Today, the   two   major goals for forestry are:

(i)   Supply of    goods  and  services  to people  and  industry   by a well  thought   out   plan of production,  and long term ecological security through  conservation  of forest cover and its restoration.

(ii) Conservation  of forest

Reserve forests, i.e., National  parks,  sanctuaries,  sacred   groves biosphere  reserves and all ecologically fragile areas are covered by Government  of India. No commercial  exploitation   can be allowed  in these areas.

Social and  Agro-forestry
The Social Forestry Programme started  in  1976.  It seeks  the use of public and  common   land  to produce  firewood,  fodder  and small timber  for the use of the rural community to relieve pressure  on existing  forests. The programme   includes  raising, planting  and protecting  trees with multiple  uses (firewood, fodder, agricultural  implements, fruits, etc.) for the rural community.                                            The Agro-Forestry Programme consists  of reviving  an ancient  land  use  practice  where  the same  land  IS used  for farming,  forestry  and  animal  husbandry.

The National Forest  Policy, 1988, stressed  people’s  involvement   as one of the essential  components  of forest management   in the development   and protection  of forests  The main features  of the 1988 Forest  Policy are:                                                                      .

(i)   maintenance of environmental   stability  through  preservation   and  restoration   of ecological balance,

(ii)  conservation   of natural  heritage;

(iii) check soil erosion  and  denudation   of catchment  areas of rivers,  lakes and  reservoirs

(iv) check on extension  of desert  areas;

(v)increase  in productivity   of forest to fulfil the natural  needs;

(vii)  encouragement   to efficient utilisation  of forest produce  and  optimum   subtitution of fodder  and  fuel wood;  and

(ix)  steps  to promote  people’s  participation   in forest conservation

Bio-diversity  action plan

An ongoing national programme  is attempting to reach  out to tens  of thousands   of  people in the making of a new vision and strategy  related  to environment and development.  This is the National  Biodiversity  Strategy  and  Action  Plan (NBSAP). There have been several international   treaties  and pacts  relating  to it, the latest  and most comprehensIve   being  the Convention  of Biological Diversity  (CBD) The CBD   was signed at the Earth summit in RIO de Janeiro in 1992 by 15 nation states, and came into force in 1993. This legally binding treaty obliges ratifying countries and o ensure that benefits room such use are shared equitably across local, regional , national and global societies. India ratified this conversion in 1994.

3. Environmental Pollution

It   has been discussed  under  previous  sections.

4. Global Warming

Global  warming  means the rise in the mean global temperature   to a level which  affects the life-forms  on the earth  surface. The factors responsible  for this warming may be both  natural  and man-made.  Warming  of the globe due to natural  factors is not an unusual   phenomenon. The earth  is kept warm   due  to what  is known  as the “green  house  effect”. Without  it, the earth would  be a frozen waste-land.  The short wavelengths   or ultraviolet  radiation  coming from the Sun penetrates  the atmosphere   and is absorbed  by the earth. This absorbed  energy is also radiated  back to space at infrared  wavelengths.   The earth atmosphere  contains  gases which  trap  some  of the outgoing  radiation   and  thereby  warm   the earth.  These gases  are known  as “Green  House  Gases.”  Water vapour,  carbon  dioxide,  methane,ozone,nitrous oxide  and  CFCs are prominent   examples.  To maintain  the  global  energy  balances,  both the atmosphere   and  the surface will warm  until  the outgoing  energy  equals the incoming energy.

The increase  in the quantity  of the greenhouse   gases in the atmosphere   can reinforce  the greenhouse  effect and lead to global warming.  CFCs and nitrous  oxide are many time more potent  than the same quantity  of carbon-dioxide  or methane.  However  carbon dioxide is the largest contributor  to the global warming  as it holds the largest s  are @.long the green house gases in the atmosphere.   CFCs are totally man-made   greenhouse   gas which  are controlled under  Montreal  Protocol.  The largest  sources  of methane  in the atmosphere  are natural wetlands,  rice paddies   and livestock.  Natural  gas production,   bio-mass  burning,  termites,landfills  and  coal mining  also releases  methane.  Nitrous  oxides are released  by the oceans and  soils but  human   activities  such  biomass burning and the use of fertilizers play a major role in it.

According  to the  IPCC report, which takes into account the global warming

potential  of different  gases,  it is estimated   that  72% of global  warming   is contributed   by carbon-dioxide,   18% by methane  and 5% due to nitrous  oxide. The contribution   of CFCs  to overall  global  warming   related  to carbon-dioxide   is low. The warming   effect of CFCs is cancelled  out by the global  cooling  due to their  destruction   of stratospheric   ozone.

Global  Warming  Trend

The earth has warmed  by about  one degree  Fahrenheit  in the last century  and the warmirtg  has accelerated  in the last two decades. This accelerated  warming is  the result  of the  emission  of heat-trapping    waste  industrial   gases  like  CO2    and  if the emissions  are not reduced  the surface will warm by about another  3.5 degrees  over the next century.

Carbon  Dioxide  Emission

According   to WRI (World Resources Institute) between  1992 and 1997 the global  carbon-dioxide   emission increased   by 38 per cent. The USA is the largest emitter  of CO ,   but  two  developing   countries  –  China  and  India are also among the ten largest polluters.

Although  they are among  the least polluters  on the per capita basis. The OECD countries  accounts  for 45 per cent of the total  global CO2  emission  and the European Union  alone  contributes   13 per cent of the total.

On the per  capita  basis  the US remains  the biggest  polluter   (19.1  tons  per  capita),  while China is  third  lowest  and  India  emits  the  least  amount   of carbon  dioxide  (0.8 tons  per capita).


In order  to tackle this problem  three approaches   can be adopted.

1. Prevention

It means  slow or half the rate of increase  in atmospheric   concentrations of greenhouse  gases. This would  involve reductions  in the use of fossil fuels, switching between  fossil fuels with  different  carbon  contents,  removal  of carbon-dioxide   from power  plant  smokestacks,  switching  from fossil fuel combustion   to biomass  combustion, reforestation,   etc.

2. Mitigation

This would  involve  release  of particulates   into  the atmosphere,   of gases that offset the effects of the greenhouse gases, promoting cloud formation, steering   tropical storms  away  from populated   areas.

3. Adaptation

This would  involve stopping  new development  in low-lying  coastal areas, changing  agricultural  practices,  using different  plants  and animal  varieties,  undertaking research  in new  plants  and  animal  varieties.

Ozone  Layer  Depletion

The Sun emits  radiation  over  a broad  range  of wavelengths,   to which  human  eye responds   in the region  from approximately   400  nm  to 700 nm.

The maximum  concentration   of ozone (about 0.5 ppm)  OCcursbetween  the altitude  of 20 to 35 km and  the layer at this level is called Ozone layer.  The presence  of ozone is an essential necessity  for life on Earth. Stratospheric  ozone layer absorbs  dangerous   UV rays of the Sun and  thus protects  the Earth’s  surface from these high-energy  radiation.  Over the past few decades  03 layer  is thinning  out because  of man-made   pollutants   which  catalyse  the dissociation  of 03 at a very fast rate. Major pollutants   responsible  for depletion  of ozone are chlorofluorocarbons  (CFCs), nitrogen   oxides,  hydrocarbons    and  oxides  of chlorine  and bromine.

Increased  UV radiation  would  retard photosynthesis  in plants.  Moreover, it would  increase earth’s  mean  temperature   which  would  have  disastrous   consequence   of flooding  or sub- merging  many low-lying  islands. Recently it has been found  that the UV radiation  degrades polymers used  in paints  and  building  materials.Considering   the monumental   damages  ozone depletion  does, the world  community  is taking steps to control the ozone depletion. The Montreal Protocol, adopted  in 1987 and strengthened in 1990, called for phasing  out CFCs and other ozone depleting  substances  (ODS) by 2000, established  rules governing  international   trade  in ODS and their products.  Since the developing   countries  lack the financial  and  technological  means  to replace  CFC or other ODS they have been given a grace period  of 10 years. That is, they are required  to phase out CFCs by 2010.

World’s Most polluted cities

According to WHO (2016)

  1. Zabol (Iran
  2. Gwalior (India)
  3. Allahabad (India)
  4. Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
  5. Al Jubail (Saudi Arabia)
  6. Patna (India)
  7. Raipur (India)
  8. Bamenda (Cameroon)
  9. Xingtai (China)
  10. Baoding (China)
  11. Delhi (India)
  12. Ludhiana (India)

Most Polluted Rivers of World

  1. Citarum River, Indonesia
  2. Ganges River, India
  3. Matanza-Riachuelo River, Argentina
  4. Buriganga River, Bangladesh
  5. Yamuna River, India
  6. Jordan River, Israel/Jordan
  7. Yellow River, China
  8. Marilao River, Philippines
  9. Sarno River, Italy
  10. Mississippi River, USA

Most polluted city of India

  1. Delhi
  2. Bihar
  3. Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
  4. Raipur, Chattisgarh
  5. Ahmedabad , Gujrat

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