Recently, Indonesia introduced a global declaration urging Minamata Convention on Mercury parties to combat illegal mercury trade.
The declaration was read in Nusa Dua, Bali, where Indonesia is hosting the Minamata Convention on Mercury’s fourth Conference of Parties (COP4).
The conference will take place from March 21st to March 25th, 2022.
The non-binding declaration requests that parties:
Create practical tools, as well as notification and information-sharing systems, for monitoring and managing mercury trade.
Exchange experiences and best practises for combating illegal mercury trade, including reducing mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Share examples of national legislation, as well as data and information about such trade.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty designed to safeguard human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury and its compounds.
It was agreed upon at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee’s fifth session in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2013.
One of the key obligations under the Convention is to control anthropogenic mercury releases throughout its lifecycle.
The Convention also addresses interim mercury storage and disposal once it has become waste, mercury-contaminated sites, and health concerns.
The Convention addresses all aspects of mercury’s life cycle, controlling and reducing mercury in a variety of products, processes, and industries. This includes restrictions on:
mercury mining, the manufacture and trade of mercury and mercury-containing products, mercury waste disposal, and mercury emissions from industrial facilities
Countries that have ratified the Convention are required by international law to implement these controls. The Convention has been ratified by India.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in the air, water, and soil.
Mercury exposure, even in small amounts, can cause serious health problems and jeopardises a child’s development in utero and early in life.
Mercury can be toxic to the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks mercury as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
People are more vulnerable to Minamata disease when they consume methylmercury (an organic compound) from fish and shellfish.
A methylmercury poisoning disorder that was first described in the residents of Minamata Bay, Japan, as a result of eating fish contaminated with mercury industrial waste.
Peripheral sensory loss, tremors, and hearing and visual loss are all symptoms of the disease.
Methylmercury is not the same as ethylmercury. Ethylmercury is used as a preservative in some vaccines and is not harmful to one’s health.
Natural sources include volcanic eruptions and ocean emissions.
Anthropogenic (caused by humans) emissions include mercury emitted from fuels or raw materials, as well as its use in products or industrial processes.
Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is the largest source of anthropogenic mercury emissions (37.7%), followed by stationary coal combustion (21 percent ).
Nonferrous metals production (15%) and cement production are also significant sources of emissions (11 percent ).
Globally, 10-20 million people are employed in the ASGM sector, with many of them using mercury on a daily basis.
In the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, Russia recently used a hypersonic missile for the first time.
A hypersonic missile is a manoeuvrable weapon system that travels at least at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
The hypersonic missile’s manoeuvrability distinguishes it from a ballistic missile, which follows a fixed course or a ballistic trajectory.
Thus, unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles can be manoeuvred to the intended target and do not follow a ballistic trajectory.
Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGV) and Hypersonic Cruise Missiles are the two types of hypersonic weapons systems.
The HGV is launched from a rocket before gliding to its target, whereas the hypersonic cruise missile is powered by air breathing high speed engines known as’scramjets’ after acquiring their target.
When other forces are unavailable, denied access, or are not preferred, they can enable responsive, long-range strike options against distant, defended, or time-critical threats (such as road mobile missiles).
To destroy unhardened targets or even underground facilities, conventional hypersonic weapons only use kinetic energy, or energy derived from motion.
Because of their speed, manoeuvrability, and low altitude of flight, hypersonic weapons can pose detection and defence challenges.
Ground-based radars, also known as terrestrial radars, cannot detect hypersonic missiles until the weapon is well into flight.
This delayed detection makes it difficult for missile attack responders to assess their options and attempt to intercept the missile.
While the United States, Russia, and China have advanced hypersonic missile programmes, India, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia are also working on hypersonic weapons.
As part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle Programme, India is also developing an indigenous, dual-capable (conventional and nuclear) hypersonic cruise missile, and has successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020.
India has approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels that can test speeds of up to Mach 13.
The United Nations observes the 21st of March as International Day of Forests (IDF) every year (UN).
It should be noted that the United Nations celebrates World Water Day the day after, on March 22nd.
In 2012, the United Nations declared March 21st as International Day of Forests to commemorate and raise awareness of the value of all types of forests.
Countries are encouraged to organise activities involving forests and trees on a local, national, and international scale, such as tree planting campaigns.
The UN Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations are organising the event in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and other relevant organisations in the field.
‘Forests and sustainable production and consumption’ is the theme for 2022.
Forests cover one-third of the Earth’s land surface and provide numerous environmental benefits, including a primary role in maintaining the hydrological cycle’s balance, contributing to climate regulation, and preserving biodiversity.
Aside from the ecological perspective, economic studies conclude that forest resources can contribute to a country’s economic growth and that maintaining forest cover is critical for a variety of agricultural and forestry-related activities.
Forests provide over 86 million green jobs while also supporting many people’s livelihoods.
Everyone on the planet has come into contact with forests in some way. This includes communities that rely on these ecosystems directly for their lives and livelihoods, as well as communities that rely on the products derived from these forests.
Forest sustainable management and resource use are critical to preventing climate change and contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests are also beneficial in terms of poverty alleviation.
Despite these invaluable environmental, economic, social, and health benefits, global deforestation is increasing at an alarming rate.
The FAO estimates that between 2015 and 2020, 10 million hectares of land were cleared globally each year. Closer to home, India lost 132 square kilometres of natural forest in 2020 alone, according to Global Forest Watch, a global platform that tracks forests and changing patterns.
According to another study, Amazon forests have begun to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than absorb it.
According to India’s State of Forest Report 2021, the country has 3,07,120 square kilometres of open forest, which has increased by 4,203 square kilometres in the last two years (2019-21).
Add scrub land (46,539 sq km) to this and the total is 3,53,659 sq km, accounting for 10.76 percent of India’s degraded forest and scrub land. If we only consider forest area, it is 43.03 percent.
The report showed a continued increase in forest cover across the country, but experts raised concerns about some of its other aspects, such as a decline in forest cover in the Northeast and degradation of natural forests.
It is one of the eight Missions established by the National Climate Change Action Plan (NAPCC).
It was established in February 2014 with the goal of protecting our country’s biological resources and associated livelihoods from the threat of adverse climate change, as well as to recognise the critical role of forestry in ecological sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and food, water, and livelihood security.
National Afforestation Programme (NAP): This programme has been in place since 2000 to reforest degraded forest lands.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change is in charge of carrying it out (MoEFCC).
Launched in 2016, 90 percent of the fund will be distributed to states, with the remaining 10 percent retained by the Centre.
The funds can be used for catchment area treatment, assisted natural generation, forest management, wildlife protection and management, village relocation from protected areas, managing human-wildlife conflicts, training and awareness generation, supply of wood saving devices, and other related activities.
The National Action Programme to Combat Desertification was developed in 2001 in order to address the issue of increasing desertification and to take appropriate action.
The MoEFCC is in charge of carrying it out.
It is the only federally funded programme dedicated solely to assisting states in dealing with forest fires.
When allocating funds to states/UTs under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a 10% weightage is given to the population residing in habitations affected by chemical contaminants such as arsenic.
Arsenic is a semi-metallic chemical element found in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed in the environment, including the air, water, and land.
Organic arsenic compounds are less dangerous than inorganic arsenic compounds.
Source – Geogenic arsenic pollution is thought to account for more than 90% of all arsenic pollution.
Arsenic contamination in groundwater is primarily caused by alluvial sediments, and there is a link between plate tectonic processes, mountain formation, erosion, and sedimentation.
Groundwater extracted from unconsolidated sedimentary aquifers is particularly vulnerable, particularly in the world’s younger orogenic belts.
Arsenic poisoning is caused by ingesting, absorbing, or inhaling dangerous amounts of arsenic.
Long-term exposure to arsenic-contaminated groundwater causes serious health problems such as skin, lung, kidney, and bladder cancer, coronary heart disease, bronchiectasis, hyperkeratosis, and arsenicosis.
[Bowel irrigation, medication, and chelation therapy are used in treatment.]
Remedial measures must be designed based on the affected region’s source mineral, climatological, and hydrogeological scenarios.
Among the available corrective measures are:
Substituting low-arsenic, microbiologically safe sources such as rain water and treated surface water for high-arsenic sources such as groundwater.
Using filters to remove arsenic from groundwater,
Investigating deeper or alternative aquifers
Treatment of the aquifer, dilution method by artificial recharge to groundwater, concurrent use, and installation of nano-filter, among other procedures
The Supreme Court ruled that BS-VI (BS6) light and heavy diesel vehicles used for public utility and essential services could be registered.
The central government establishes Bharat stages (BS) emission standards.
They control the emissions of air pollutants from internal combustion engine and spark-ignition engine equipment, such as automobiles.
The Central Pollution Control Board, which reports to the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, establishes the standards and timeline for implementation.
BS1 through BS6 – The first emission standards, based on European regulations, were implemented in India for petrol vehicles in 1991 and for diesel vehicles in 1992.
The primary rules BS-I with the soubriquet Asian nation 2000 were introduced in 2000.
In 2001 and 2005, the abbreviations BSII (BS2) and BSIII (BS3) were introduced. In 2017, BS4 was introduced.
The Indian government announced in 2016 that the country would abandon BS V standards in favour of BS VI standards by 2020.
From April 1, 2020, vehicle manufacturers must manufacture, sell, and register only BS-VI (BS6) vehicles.
– What Is the Difference Between BS4 and BS6?
Both BS-IV and BS-VI are unit emission standards that establish the maximum allowable levels of pollutants that an automobile or two-wheeler exhaust can emit.
BS6 emission standards are more stringent than BS4.
While manufacturers use this variation to update their vehicles with new features and safety standards, the most significant change is in the permissible emission standards.
2002 Mashelkar Committee
The Government formed the high-powered Mashelkar Committee in 2002 to decide on the National Auto Fuel Policy for 2003.
The report submitted by the Mashelkar committee was accepted.
The Mashelkar committee proposed a road map for the implementation of Euro-based emission standards in India.
It also recommended a phased implementation of future norms, with regulations being implemented in major cities first and extended to the rest of the country after a few years.