All that was discussed in the House through the day
Frequency of natural disasters
Natured disasters such as cyclones and floods have increased in the country in the last few years, Jitendra Singh, minister of state in Union science ministry, told Rajya Sabha December 16, 2021.
There was a significant rise [0.86 per decade] in the frequency of post-monsoon (October-December) very severe cyclonic storms in the northern Indian Ocean during the past two decades (2000-2018).
The frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea increased during the same period.
There was also an increased frequency of localised heavy rainfall on sub-daily and daily timescales that has enhanced the flood risk over India, contributing to an increased frequency and impacts of floods in urban areas, Singh added.
Air pollution in metro cities
At least Rs 4,400 crore have been released in the Union Budget 2020-21 to tackle air pollution in 42 cities / urban agglomorations with a million-plus population.
City-specific action plans have been prepared for the identified 132 non-attainment and million-plus cities including metro cities and have rolled out for implementation in these cities.
These action plans focus on city-specific short- / medium- / long-term actions to control air pollution from sources such as vehicular emissions, road dust, burning of biomass / municipal solid waste, construction activities, industrial emissions, etc.
Public Grievance Redressal System and Graded Response Action Plan have been developed and hot spots identified, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest And Climate Change told Rajya Sabha.
City-level implementation committees and Air Quality Management Cells at the urban local bodies level have also been constituted to monitor the progress of city action plan at the ground level.
Indian vaccination certificates
A total 113 countries now accept India’s vaccination certificate, as of December 13, 2021. Some have agreements for mutual recognition of vaccination certificates with India, while others have their own protocols that apply to all vaccinated travellers, including from India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, external affairs minister said.
Currently, there is no multilateral agreement on linking international travel with vaccination status. Wherever countries have not instituted a protocol that facilitates travel by vaccinated Indians, the Government has decided to reach bilateral understandings to that end.
In this regard, the Union Cabinet approved September 29, 2021, pursuing mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates with individual countries, either through the exchange of note verbales or through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Till December 13, 2021, India entered into agreements on mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates with 22 countries, Jaishankar said.
Encroachment of water bodies
Works related to the enumeration of water bodies, their protection from encroachment or diversion for use for other purposes, comes under the purview of the state government concerned. However, from time to time, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti conducts census of minor irrigation schemes in the country, which captures data regarding water bodies in rural areas associated with irrigation.
There are 516,303 water bodies in the rural areas of the country being used for minor irrigation purposes, out of which 53,396 are not in use for various reasons such as non-availability of water, siltation, salinity, etc., Bishweswar Tudu, minister of state for Jal Shakti (water resources) told the Lok Sabha.
Cost economics of renewable energy sources
The country has seen record low renewable energy tariffs of Rs 1.99 per kilowatt-hour for solar power and Rs 2.43 per KWh for wind power, quite favourable as compared to the tariff of electricity produced from non-renewable energy sources, RK Singh, Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy and Power said.
In line with the Prime Minister’s announcement at the 26th Conference of the Parties (CoP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the ministry is committed to achieving 500 GW of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030, Singh added.
Heavy metals in groundwater
As of December 13, 2021, 36,873 rural habitations were reported to have quality issues in drinking water sources.
Arsenic in groundwater beyond the permissible limit has been encountered in three districts in Punjab, particularly in Malwa belt Mansa, Faridkot and Sangrur;
This is according to the data available with Central Ground Water Board, the Jal Shakti minister said.
India has 1,175 large dams (including one dam of Punjab, Nangal dam) more than 50 years old (constructed in or before 1971), according to the National Register of Large Dams (2019) maintained by the Central Water Commission.
The country has 227 large dams having more than 100 years of service life (constructed in or before 1921), Tudu said.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.