Biodiversity and Environment

UPSC Syllabus for Environment and Biodiversity

• Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


1) Discuss in detail the photochemical smog emphasising its formation, effects and mitigation. Explain the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol. (150 words) .
Photochemical smog is a type of air pollution that results from the interaction of sunlight with air pollutants.
Formation of photochemical smog
  • Photochemical smog occurs when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which are emitted from vehicles, factories, and other sources.
  • This reaction produces ozone, which is the primary component of photochemical smog.
  • In addition, other secondary pollutants such as peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) and aldehydes are also formed.
Effects of photochemical smog
  • Health related: Exposure to smog can lead to respiratory irritation, reduced lung function, and increased risk of asthma attacks.
  • Reduced visibility: It causes a light brownish coloration of the atmosphere and reduced visibility which leads to accidents in many northern cities during winter.
  • Photochemical smog can damage crops and other vegetation.
Mitigation measures against photochemical smog
  • Regulations on vehicle emissions and industrial pollution
  • Catalytic converters: It can reduce vehicle emissions of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons.
  • Public education campaigns to encourage the use of public transportation and carpooling,
  • Promotion of renewable energy sources
Gothenburg Protocol 1999
  • It is an international agreement adopted in 1999, aimed at reducing air pollution in Europe. It is a part of the convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.
  • to control and reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and PM that are caused by human activities.
  • to ensure that atmospheric depositions or concentrations do not exceed critical loads/levels;
  • It sets targets for reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia from various sources, including power plants, industrial processes, and transportation.
The protocol has been successful in reducing air pollution levels in Europe and serves as a model for other countries to follow.
2) Do you think India will meet 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030? Justify your answer. How will the shift of subsidies from fossil fuel to renewable help achieve the above objective? Explain. (250 words)
India has set an ambitious target of achieving 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The country has made significant progress in increasing renewable energy capacity over the past few years, achieving this target would require sustained efforts and investments. India will meet 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030
  • Resources: The country has abundant solar and wind resources, which can be harnessed for electricity generation.
  • Falling costs of solar and wind power have made these sources of energy increasingly competitive with fossil fuels.
  • The Indian government has taken several policy measures to promote renewable energy, including setting up a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.
  • Active private sector participation: Most of renewable energy projects in the country are being set up by private sector developers selected through transparent bidding.
Challenges for India in meeting the target
  • The intermittency of renewable energy sources, which could lead to reliability issues in the grid,
  • The lack of robust and flexible grid infrastructure, and
  • Lack of financing of renewable energy projects.
  • Non-reliability: Solar and wind energy generation are dependent on seasons and weather.
Role of shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable in achieving desired target
  • More fiscal space: Fiscal savings can be allocated to boost domestic manufacturing capabilities in renewable sector.
  • Taxing fossil fuels: Government can tax fossil fuels which will reduce emission and motivate people to shift towards renewable energy sources.
  • Reduction of barriers: The technical and economic barriers for setting up of renewable projects can be eliminated and companies are incentivized for set up of renewable industries.
Shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable, more international cooperation, more R&D will ensure achieving the target on time.

3) Discuss global warming and mention its effects on the global climate. Explain the control measures to bring down the level of greenhouse gases which cause global warming, in the light of the Kyoto Protocol, 1997. (250 words)

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans, primarily caused by the increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These gases trap heat from the sun in the Earth's atmosphere, leading to a rise in global temperatures.
Effects of global warming on the global climate
  • Rising temperatures: Global warming has led to an incredible increase in earth’s temperature. This has resulted in an increase in the melting of glaciers, which have led to an increase in the sea level.
  • Increasing variability in weather patterns: Heat waves and floods are becoming more regular occurrences.
  • Melting glaciers: Global warming leads to melting of sea ice at the poles and subsequently results in rise in sea level.
  • Changes in the distribution of plant and animal species.
Control measures to bring down the level of greenhouse gases in Kyoto protocol
To control the level of greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The key features of the Kyoto Protocol were:
  • Emission reduction targets: Industrialized countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2% below their 1990 levels by the year 2012.
  • Carbon trading: The Kyoto Protocol introduced the concept of carbon trading, where countries can buy and sell carbon credits based on their emissions.
  • Clean Development Mechanism: The Clean Development Mechanism allows industrialized countries to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries and earn carbon credits.
  • Joint implementation: The Joint Implementation mechanism allows countries to earn credits by investing in emissions reduction projects in other industrialized countries.
  • Adaptation Fund: The Kyoto Protocol established the Adaptation Fund to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
In addition to these measures, the adoption of Paris Agreement in 2015, is also builds on the principles of the Kyoto Protocol.


4) Explain the purpose of the Green Grid Initiative launched at World Leaders Summit of  the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, 2021. When this  idea was first floated in the International Solar Alliance (ISA)? (150 words)

The Green Grid Initiative launched in 2021 to create an interconnected global power grid for reliable, resilient and affordable supply of clean energy for all.
Purpose of the Green Grid Initiative launched at World Leaders Summit of  the COP26
  • To accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based energy systems to sustainable, clean energy.
  • To recognizes the critical role of energy grids in facilitating the integration and efficient utilization of renewable energy.
  • To enhance the capacity, reliability, and flexibility of power grids to accommodate the increasing share of renewable energy generation.
  • By strengthening and expanding the grid infrastructure, the initiative aims to enable the seamless transmission and distribution of renewable energy across regions and countries.
  • The initiative also focuses on fostering international collaboration and knowledge-sharing among countries, organizations, and industry stakeholders.
  • It aims to facilitate technology transfer, promote best practices, and encourage investment in renewable energy grid projects.
Idea first floated
The concept of a global solar grid was proposed at the International Solar Alliance assembly in 2018 by the Indian Prime Minister. The objective was to use green energy as a sustainable solution to alleviate poverty for millions of people.
By promoting green grids, this initiative accelerates the global transition to sustainable energy, mitigating climate change and achieving Paris Agreement goals.

5) Describe the key points of the revised Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). How are these different from its last update in 2005? What changes in India’s National Clean Air Programme are required to achieve these revised standards? (150 words)

The WHO Global air quality guidelines offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for key air pollutants with health risks. It was first released in 1987 and it was revised periodically. The revised guidelines released in 2021 were differing from the previous 2015 update in several aspects.
Key points of the revised Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs)
  • Used the updated scientific evidences of impacts of pollutants on health
  • Provide more specific recommendations for pollutant concentrations to safeguard public health
  • Adopted a holistic approach, by considering the cumulative impacts of multiple pollutants and their interaction with other risk factors like lifestyle and pre-existing health conditions
  • Emphasized the need for multi-sectoral collaboration
Differences between revised Global Air Quality Guidelines of 2021 and 2005 revision
  • Recommend stricter limits on major pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), compared to the previous update
       E.g.: annual PM2.5 limit to be set at 15 µg/m3, which is half of the previous limit of 30 µg/m3
Required changes in India’s National Clean Air Programme achieve the revised standards
  • Strengthening emission standards and control measures of various sources, such as industries, vehicles, and biomass burning
  • Enhancing air quality monitoring and data collection infrastructure to accurately assess pollution levels
  • Prioritizing public awareness campaigns to educate the population about the health risks and encouraging behavioural changes
  • Facilitating coordination and collaboration among different government agencies and departments
  • There is a need to adopt an air shed approach to take measures to deal with air pollution.
  • Clean air and environment would ensure reduction in mortality and help in achieving SDG goals such as SDG 6, 15 etc

6) Describe the major outcomes of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What are the commitments made by India in this conference? (250 words)

The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Glasgow. The conference aimed to accelerate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Major outcomes of the COP 26 of UNFCCC
  • Glasgow Climate Pact: The parties agreed to a new agreement, called the Glasgow Climate Pact, which sets out the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. The pact aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Global Methane Pledge: Over 100 countries, including India, pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to the 2020 levels.
  • Coal Phase-out Declaration: 44 countries, including India, committed to phase out coal power by 2040 or earlier, and to end international financing for coal projects.
  • Adaptation and Loss and Damage: The conference recognized the need for increased adaptation measures to address the impacts of climate change, and established a new Glasgow Centre for Adaptation.
  • Climate Finance: Developed countries pledged to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance for developing countries, with a goal to increase the amount in the coming years.
Commitments made by India in this COP 26 of UNFCCC (India's 5-point pledge or Panchamrit)
  • India announced its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • India committed to achieving 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Increase the share of renewable in the energy mix to 50% by 2030.
  • Reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 45%.
  • Reduce emissions by 1 billion tonnes of CO2.
The outcomes of the COP26 conference represent a significant step towards addressing the global challenge of climate change. The commitments made by India demonstrate its commitment towards a sustainable future and the mitigation of the effects of climate change.


7) How does the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 differ from the existing EIA Notification, 2006? (150 words)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 differs from the existing EIA Notification, 2006 in several ways. Difference between draft EIA notification 2020 and existing notification of 2006
  • Post facto clearance: 2020 notification proposes to allow post facto clearance for projects that have started without prior environmental clearance.
  • Reduction in public consultation: Recent notification, proposes to reduce the time period for public consultation from 30 days to 20 days, and restrict the scope of public hearings only to affected persons.
  • Exemption of project: Draft EIA Notification, 2020 proposes to exempt certain categories of projects, such as those related to national defence and security, from the requirement of public consultation and environmental clearance.
  • Draft notification proposes to expand the list of projects requiring environmental clearance, such as inland waterways, and reduce the threshold for certain projects. This has been criticised as it can lead to increased environmental degradation.
Draft EIA Notification, 2020 has been criticised by environmentalists and civil society groups for diluting the existing provisions and weakening environmental safeguards.

8) What are the salient features of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan launched by the Government of India for water conservation and water security? (150 words)

The Jal Shakti Abhiyan is a flagship program launched by the Government of India in 2019 to promote water conservation and water security in the country.
Salient features of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan
  • Water conservation: The program aims to promote water conservation and rainwater harvesting in water-stressed areas across the country.
  • Groundwater recharge: The program promotes the recharging of groundwater through the construction of check dams, recharge pits, and other structures.
  • Water resource management: The program aims to improve water resource management by mapping and conserving all water bodies, including lakes, ponds, and rivers.
  • Water quality: The program aims to improve the quality of water in India's rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.
  • People's participation: The program aims to involve local communities and stakeholders in the management and conservation of water resources.
  • Awareness and education: The program aim to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation and the need for sustainable water use.
  • Water security: The program aims to improve water security in water-stressed areas by ensuring equitable distribution of water and promoting water-efficient practices.
Jal Shakti Abhiyan seeks to promote a holistic approach to water conservation and water security in India, involving all stakeholders and addressing the multiple challenges facing the country's water resources.

9) Describe the benefits of deriving electric energy from sunlight in contrast to conventional energy generation. What are the initiatives offered by our Government for this purpose? (250 words)

The radiation received from the sun is utilised in the form of electricity and thermal energy by various available technologies like photovoltaic panels, solar heater etc.
Benefits of deriving electric energy from sunlight in contrast to conventional energy generation
  • Solar energy is a renewable energy source that is abundant and inexhaustible.
  • It does not produce any harmful emissions or pollution and is therefore environmentally friendly.
  • It can be harnessed in remote areas, reducing the need for extensive power grids and transmission lines.
  • It also reduces the dependency on foreign oil imports, which enhances energy security.
  • Moreover, the cost of solar energy has been decreasing steadily, making it increasingly affordable and accessible to households and businesses.
Initiatives offered by our Government for solar energy
  • One of the key initiatives is the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), launched in 2010, which aims to achieve 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
  • The government also provides various incentives and subsidies to encourage the use of solar energy, such as tax breaks and loans for solar installations.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme, launched in 2019, provides farmers with financial support to install solar pumps and other solar-powered devices on their farms.
  • The government has also launched several programs to increase awareness and promote the adoption of solar energy among individuals and businesses. These include
    • Solar Charkha Mission, which aims to provide solar-powered spinning wheels to artisans and weavers,
    • Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Program, which provides subsidies for rooftop solar installations in residential and commercial buildings.
The government's efforts to promote solar energy have been instrumental in increasing the adoption of solar energy in India, contributing to the country's sustainable development and energy security.

10) What are the key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) initiated by the Government of India? (250 words)

The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is a comprehensive initiative launched by the Government of India in January 2019 to tackle the issue of air pollution in the country. It is the first-ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
Key features of the NCAP
  • Comprehensive approach: The NCAP adopts a comprehensive approach to address the issue of air pollution, which involves a collaboration between multiple sectors and agencies.
  • Time-bound targets: The NCAP sets time-bound targets to reduce air pollution levels in 122 cities across the country by 20-30% by 2024.
  • Focus on source apportionment: The NCAP emphasizes on source apportionment studies to identify the major sources of pollution and prioritize their control measures.
  • Increased monitoring: The NCAP aims to increase the monitoring of air quality by setting up new monitoring stations, strengthening the existing ones, and introducing advanced technologies for real-time monitoring.
  • Strengthening implementation: The NCAP focuses on strengthening the implementation of existing policies and introducing new measures to control air pollution.
  • Capacity building: The NCAP emphasizes on capacity building of various stakeholders, including state pollution control boards, local bodies, and civil society organizations, to enable effective implementation of the program.
  • Public participation: The NCAP recognizes the role of public participation in tackling air pollution and encourages the involvement of local communities in monitoring and controlling pollution levels.
To achieve the targets set by the NCAP, the government has initiated several measures such as the introduction of BS-VI fuel standards, implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), and promoting the use of cleaner technologies and fuels.


11) Coastal sand mining, whether legal or illegal, poses one of the biggest threats to our environment. Analyse the impact of sand mining along the Indian coasts, citing specific examples. (150 words)

Sand Mining is an activity referring to the process of the actual removal of sand from the foreshore including rivers, streams and lakes. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), India is in the list of critical hotspots for coastal sand mining.
Coastal Sand Mining and impact on environment
  • Coastal sand mining affects the coastal terrain and leads to coastal erosion.
  • Depletion of sand from coastal areas results in deepening of rivers and estuaries, and the enlargement of river mouths and coastal inlets.
  • Coastal Mining disturbs the wildlife living in the beach ecosystem.
Impacts of sand mining along the Indian coasts
  • Erosion of coastal areas: Sand acts as a natural buffer against coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy. Excessive sand mining disrupts this natural process, leading to the erosion of beaches.
    E.g.: Kerala's Alappuzha and Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi
  • Habitat destruction: Coastal sand mining disrupts the nesting sites for turtles, birds, and other coastal fauna.
    E.g.: Odisha's Rushikulya rookery- Nesting grounds of Olive Ridley turtles
  • Coastal flooding and salinity intrusion: Sand deposits act as natural barriers against flooding and salinity intrusion in coastal areas. Sand mining weakens these barriers, increasing the vulnerability to flooding during storms.
    E.g.: Parts of West Bengal's Sundarbans and Gujarat's Gulf of Kachchh
  • Groundwater depletion: Coastal sand mining often involves extraction from riverbeds and coastal aquifers. Excessive mining can lead to the depletion of groundwater reserves
  • E.g.: Areas like Maharashtra's Raigad district and Karnataka's Udupi have witnessed groundwater depletion due to sand mining.
  • Damage to livelihoods: Coastal communities heavily rely on coastal resources for their livelihoods. Sand mining can disrupt fishing activities, damage fishing grounds, and reduce fish populations.
It is crucial to regulate and monitor sand mining activities strictly to prevent further damage to our coastline and ecosystems. CRZ rules, spatial planning, etc are the way ahead.
12) Define the concept of the carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region. (250 words)
Carrying capacity of an ecosystem can be defined as the maximum number of individuals of a particular species that an ecosystem can sustain over a long period of time without being degraded or damaged.
  • It is influenced by several factors such as the availability of resources like food, water, shelter, and space, as well as the level of competition, predation, and disease.
  • It varies with the changes in biotic and abiotic factors, and it can be limited by natural disturbances like fires, floods, droughts, and human activities like land use change, pollution, and climate change.
Importance of understanding carrying capacity while planning for sustainable development of a region
  • It is vital for the sustainable development of a region as it helps in assessing the potential impacts of human activities on the natural environment.
  • By considering the carrying capacity of an ecosystem, development planners can assess the impact of proposed development activities and make decisions that will minimize negative impacts on the environment, biodiversity, and local communities.
  • Understanding the carrying capacity of an area can help in avoiding the overuse of resources, reducing waste generation, and minimizing pollution levels.
  • It can also help in identifying appropriate land use patterns that will balance the needs of the local community with the ecological and environmental limits of the area.
  • Understanding the carrying capacity of the soil and water resources can help in choosing appropriate crop varieties and management practices that will enhance productivity without degrading the environment.
The concept of carrying capacity provides a useful framework for assessing the potential impacts of human activities on the environment and helps in making decisions that promote the long-term ecological and social well-being of the region.


13) What are the impediments in disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid wastes which are continuously being generated? How do we safely remove the toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment? (150 Words)
Solid wastes are the discarded materials i.e. any garbage, solid, liquid, or gaseous material, resulting from commercial and household activities. According to MoEF & CC data around 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country by the 377 million people living in urban India.
Key impediments in disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid wastes
  • Many regions lack proper waste disposal facilities, leading to improper waste handling.
  • Lack of awareness among the public can hinder effective waste disposal.
  • Irregular waste collection schedules, insufficient waste collection vehicles, and inadequate coverage in certain areas.
  • Inconsistent implementation of laws and regulations related to waste management.
  • Rapid urbanisation and population growth lead to increased waste generation.
Another major challenge is the presence of toxic waste in the discarded solid waste.
Comprehensive approach for removing toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment
  • To identify and classify the specific types of toxic wastes present in the environment
  • Conducting a thorough risk assessment is crucial to understand the potential risks
  • Handled with caution and according to established protocols
  • Must undergo proper treatment before disposal such as bio mining
  • Use of vermi compost, waste to energy plants and pyrolysis like processes
Proper infrastructure, efficient waste collection, proper waste segregation, identification and characterization of toxic waste, safe disposal methods, monitoring and control, and public awareness are crucial in addressing these challenges.

14) What is wetland? Explain the Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation. Cite two examples of Ramsar sites from India. (150 Words)

A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands include a wide range of habitats, such as marshes, swamps, bogs, and mangroves, and are home to a diverse range of plant and animal species.
Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed in 1971
  • It is an international treaty aimed at conserving wetlands and their resources. The Ramsar concept of 'wise use' emphasises the sustainable use of wetlands, ensuring that their ecological, economic, and social values are maintained over time.
  • Wetlands should be used in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • It involves balancing conservation with sustainable development, promoting the use of wetlands for economic and social benefits, while ensuring that they are not degraded or destroyed.
Two examples of Ramsar sites from India
  • Chilika Lake in Odisha - It is the largest brackish water lake in India, and an important habitat for migratory birds, as well as fishing and aquaculture activities.
  • Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal - It is a mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its rich biodiversity, including the endangered Bengal tiger.
Wetlands are vital for human survival as they are one of the world's most productive environments. Thus, the concept of wise use believes in sustainable use that mandates protection as well as non-exploitative use of the wetlands.

15) With growing energy needs should India keep on expanding its nuclear energy programme. Discuss the facts and fears associated with nuclear energy. (250 Words)

The NITI Aayog estimated that the country will need to increase its primary energy supply by 3 to 4 times, and electricity generation capacity by 5 to 6 times (2003-04 levels) if it is to meet the energy needs of all its citizens by 2032.
Needs on expanding its nuclear energy programme to adjust with growing energy needs of India
  • Rising Energy Demand: India's energy demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming years
  • Low Carbon Emissions: Nuclear power plants generate electricity without significant greenhouse gas emissions
  • Energy Security: Expanding the nuclear energy program enhances energy security by diversifying India's energy mix
Facts and fears associated with nuclear energy
  • Ability to generate large amounts of electricity,
  • Health applications
  • Resource richness: high amount of thorium in India
  • Works in all conditions
  • Potential alternative to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Potential risk of nuclear accidents, which can have severe consequences for human life and the environment. Eg.: This was seen in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, which was caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
  • Nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants is highly radioactive and remains hazardous for thousands of years, making it a significant environmental and health concern.
  • Risk of nuclear proliferation, as nuclear energy can be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Therefore, while nuclear energy can potentially help meet India's growing energy needs, it is essential to weigh the benefits against the risks carefully. India has taken measures to address safety concerns, such as implementing stringent safety measures and investing in research and development of advanced nuclear technologies. India should also explore other sources of clean energy, such as solar, wind, and hydropower, which have lower associated risks and are becoming increasingly competitive in terms of cost.

16) How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna? (250 Words)

India is one of the world's most bio diverse countries, with a wide range of ecosystems, from the Himalayas to the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. The country is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including more than 91,000 animal species and over 46,000 plant species.
Variation of biodiversity in India
  • Biodiversity in India varies from region to region due to differences in climate, topography, and soil.
  • The Himalayan region has a unique biodiversity, with high altitude and alpine ecosystems.
  • The Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a large number of endemic species.
  • The north-eastern region is also known for its high biodiversity, including rare and endangered species like the one-horned rhinoceros and clouded leopard.
Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna
  • Legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources, including plants, animals, and microorganisms
  • Access and Benefit Sharing: The Act emphasizes the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of biological resources.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: The Act aims to conserve biodiversity by regulating access to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.
  • Establishment of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs), and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at the local level.
  • Facilitated the establishment of protected areas, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, to conserve biodiversity.
However, there are still challenges in the implementation of the act, including inadequate funding, lack of awareness, and enforcement issues. It is, therefore, essential to continue to strengthen the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of India's rich biodiversity.


17) Not many years ago, river linking was a concept but it is becoming a reality in the country. Discuss the advantages of river linking and its possible impact on the environment. (150 words)

River linking, also known as the interlinking of rivers, is a large-scale water management project that aims to transfer water from surplus river basins to deficit river basins. Recently more numbers of interlinking are proposed due to more need. Recent projects are Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Penner, and Pennar-Cauvery etc.
Advantages of river linking
  • It can potentially enhance irrigation facilities in water-deficient areas. This can contribute to food security and poverty alleviation.
  • It can help manage floods by diverting excess water during the monsoon season, hence it reduces the impact of floods.
  • It has the potential to generate hydropower by utilizing the flow of water from surplus rivers to deficit regions.
Possible impact on the environment
  • The construction of canals and reservoirs can impact the ecology and biodiversity of river ecosystems, affecting aquatic habitats
  • Redirecting the natural flow of rivers can lead to the drying up of some stretches that leads to the loss of wetlands, and alteration of river courses.
  • The alteration of river flows can change the flow patterns, and sedimentation, and increased anthropogenic activities along the canals can lead to pollution and degradation of water bodies.
  • Displacement of local communities residing in the areas where canals and reservoirs are constructed.
  • Reduce water stress: The inter-linking of the rivers addresses chronic drought in drought-prone region and ensure availability of water to dry areas.
  • Clean energy: River linking will generate an estimated 34GW of hydroelectric power, which is relatively less polluting when compared to coal-based power plants. E.g.: Ken-Betwa river interlinking provides irrigation of about six lakh hectares of land annually in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
  • Groundwater recharge: The river linking is expected to increase the groundwater levels in the country.
Therefore, proper planning and implementation of river-linking projects with careful consideration of environmental factors are necessary to achieve sustainable development.

18) ‘Climate change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (250 words)

The increasing temperature of earth due to greenhouse effect is known as climate change. The World Economic Forum ranked climate change as the biggest risk to the economy and society as it leads to extreme weather events, rising sea levels etc.
Climate change as a global problem
  • Rising temperatures
  • Changes in precipitation patterns
  • More frequent extreme weather events
  • Rising sea levels
Effects of climate change on India
  • Temperature Rise: India has experienced a gradual increase in average temperatures over the years. Rising temperatures lead to heat waves, affecting human health, agriculture, and livestock
  • Water Scarcity: Changing rainfall patterns and increased evaporation due to higher temperatures contribute to water scarcity in many parts of India. This impacts agriculture, drinking water supplies, and industrial activities.
  • Extreme Weather Events: Climate change is associated with an increase in extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, and droughts.
  • Ecological Impacts: Climate change affects India's diverse ecosystems, including forests, wetlands, and biodiversity hotspots.
Impact of climate change on Himalayan States
Himalayan states of India, which include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh, will be severely affected by climate change.
  • Glacier Retreat: The Himalayas are home to thousands of glaciers, and climate change has accelerated their retreat. This affects water availability in rivers and streams, which are crucial for agriculture, hydropower generation, and freshwater supply
  • Increased Landslides and Avalanches: Climate change can lead to unstable slopes and increased risk of landslides and avalanches in the Himalayas
  • Biodiversity Loss: Climate change threatens these ecosystems by altering temperature and precipitation patterns, affecting the distribution and behaviour of species.
  • Socio-economic Impacts: Impacts on agriculture, water availability, and natural resources can affect the livelihoods of local communities, especially those dependent on farming and natural resource-based activities.
Impact of climate change on Coastal States
On the other hand, coastal states of India, such as West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, are also vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
  • Coastal Erosion: Climate change and sea level rise contribute to increased coastal erosion. Which will erode beaches and shorelines, threatening coastal habitats, infrastructure, and tourism
  • Loss of Coastal Biodiversity: Coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, coral reefs, and estuaries, are highly vulnerable to climate change
  • Saltwater Intrusion and Impact on Agriculture: Rising sea levels and increased salinity of groundwater can lead to saltwater intrusion into coastal areas
  • Displacement and Migration: Climate change-induced coastal hazards, such as sea level rise and extreme weather events, can result in the displacement of coastal communities.
India has launched various initiatives, such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change, which includes eight national missions on specific aspects of climate change. India has also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 33-35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels seen to be a positive step.


19) Give an account of the current status and the targets to be achieved pertaining to renewable energy sources in the country. Discuss in brief the importance of National Programme on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). (200 words)
Renewable energy has great potential for India, considering its vast natural resources and the need to address energy security, environmental concerns, and sustainable development.
Current status and the targets to be achieved pertaining to renewable energy sources in the country
Current Status:
  • As of September 2021, the total installed renewable energy capacity stood at over 100 gigawatts (GW).
  • installed solar capacity exceeded 50 GW, with several large-scale solar parks and rooftop solar installations contributing to this growth
  • Policy Support: The Indian government has implemented various policies and initiatives to support the growth of renewable energy. This includes the National Solar Mission, the Wind Energy Development Program, and incentives such as feed-in tariffs, tax benefits, and subsidies for renewable energy projects.
  • India has set an ambitious target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.
  • By 2022, the country has achieved a total renewable energy capacity of 103 GW, which includes 41 GW of wind, 41 GW of solar, 10 GW of biomass, and 11 GW of small hydro projects.
  • The government has also set a target of achieving 40% of total installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
The National Programme on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) is an initiative aimed at promoting energy efficiency and sustainable lighting solutions in various sectors.
Importance of National Programme on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
  • Energy Conservation: By promoting the use of LEDs, the program contributes to energy conservation and reduces the strain on the national power grid.
  • Cost Savings: LEDs have a longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements compared to conventional lighting technologies.
  • Environmental Impact: The use of LEDs helps in mitigating environmental impacts associated with lighting. LED lights do not contain toxic substances like mercury, which is present in fluorescent lamps.
  • Reduction in GHG emission: reducing energy consumption, LEDs contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. The program aligns with environmental sustainability goals and promotes eco-friendly lighting alternatives.
  • Improved Lighting Quality: LEDs offer better lighting quality in terms of brightness, colour rendering, and directionality.
  • Promoting Indigenous Manufacturing: Programme also focuses on promoting domestic manufacturing of LED products, thereby supporting the growth of the domestic lighting industry.
National Programme for LED -based home and street lighting not only helps facilitate India’s commitment of reducing its emission intensity per unit of GDP by 33-35% by 2030 under its INDC but also step towards bringing positive behavioural change in society by shifting to less energy consumption mode.

20) Rehabilitation of human settlements is one of the important environmental impacts which always attracts controversy while planning major projects. Discuss the measures suggested for mitigation of this impact while proposing major developmental projects. (200 words)

The rehabilitation of human settlements is an important aspect of any major developmental project. When a large project is proposed, it often requires the acquisition of land on which people have been living for generations.
Measures suggested for mitigation of impact from rehabilitation while proposing major developmental project
  • Participation of the affected people: Affected people should be consulted and their concerns considered. They should have the chance to participate in planning and express their opinions.
  • Adequate compensation: Displaced people should receive fair compensation for their land and property. They should be offered alternative housing, land, or employment.
  • Rehabilitation and resettlement plan: A comprehensive resettlement plan should be prepared in advance, ensuring proper housing, livelihoods, healthcare, and essential services.
  • Environmental and social impact assessment: Before initiating a major project, an environmental and social impact assessment should be conducted to identify potential impacts on the environment and affected communities.
  • Mitigation measures: Based on the assessment findings, suitable mitigation measures should be implemented to minimize the project's impact on the environment and affected people.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: The implementation of the resettlement plan should be monitored and evaluated to ensure adequate compensation and provision of necessary services to affected people.
Rehabilitation and development should go in hand in hand and it would lead to sustainable as well as inclusive development


21) To what factors can be the recent dramatic fall in equipment cost and tariff of solar energy be attributed? What implications does the trend have for thermal power producers and related industries? (200 words)

According to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis(IEEFA), India could be able to produce up to 405 gigawatts of energy from renewable sources by 2030, which is even greater than the target of the government to produce 50% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by the end of this decade. Solar energy is set to contribute a lot to that target.
Factors responsible for recent dramatic fall in equipment cost and tariff of solar energy
  • Technological advancements and innovations in solar cell production, which have significantly reduced the manufacturing cost of solar panels.
  • The economies of scale due to the increased demand for solar energy have led to further cost reductions.
  • Support from governments in the form of subsidies and incentives for the development of solar energy has boosted its growth.
Implications of falling solar energy price for thermal power producers and related industries.
  • Increased Competition: As solar energy becomes more cost-effective, thermal power producers face increased competition in the electricity market.
  • Potential Disruption: The decreasing cost of solar energy poses a potential disruption to the existing business models of thermal power producers.
  • Need for Adaptation: Thermal power producers and related industries need to adapt to the changing landscape by exploring opportunities in renewable energy. They may need to invest in or collaborate with solar power projects or diversify their portfolios to include renewable energy sources.
  • Environmental Implications: Thermal power producers and related industries may face increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt cleaner energy sources to align with sustainability goals and regulatory requirements.
Governments can support this transition by providing incentives for renewable energy production and implementing policies that promote a shift towards clean energy which help to achieve goals of “Panchamrit” agreed in the Glasgow summit.

22) Should the pursuit of carbon credits and clean development mechanisms set up under UNFCCC be maintained even though there has been a massive slide in the value of a carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth. (200 words)

Carbon Credits are Carbon Emission reduction Certificates which can be traded on Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) or cap-and-trade systems. Any public or private unit which saves carbon emissions beyond the total cap provided on that industry receives carbon credits. E.g.: Delhi Metro earned ₹19.5 crore from the sale of carbon credits
Pursuit of carbon credits and clean development mechanisms to be maintained even though there has been a massive slide in the value of a carbon credit
  • Climate Change Mitigation: The pursuit of carbon credits and the CDM provide incentives for countries like India to invest in cleaner and more sustainable technologies, helping to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
  • Sustainable Development: The pursuit of carbon credits and the CDM encourages the adoption of cleaner energy sources and technologies, promoting sustainable development and reducing the environmental footprint of India's energy sector
  • Technology Transfer and Capacity Building: The CDM offers opportunities for technology transfer and capacity building, particularly for developing countries like India.
  • International Cooperation and Commitments: The pursuit of carbon credits and the CDM aligns with India's commitments under international climate agreements, including the Paris Agreement.
  • Economic Opportunities: India can leverage these opportunities to attract investment, stimulate innovation, and create green jobs in sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and waste management.
Pursuit of carbon credits and clean development mechanisms can be ignored at the time of instability
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency: The decline in the value of carbon credits raises questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of carbon markets and the CDM.
  • Market Instability: The significant slide in the value of carbon credits indicates market instability and volatility. This instability can undermine investor confidence and hinder the development of low-carbon projects
  • Alternative Strategies: Instead of relying on carbon credits, countries may choose to focus on alternative strategies for addressing climate change.
Instead of completely avoiding or abiding the CDM or carbon credit, understand the reason behind the slide and correct it following the mechanism accordingly is the way ahead.

23) Discuss the Namami Gange and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) programmes and causes of mixed results from the previous schemes. What quantum leaps can help preserve the river Ganga better than incremental inputs? (200 words)

Namami Gange is a comprehensive program launched by the Government of India to clean and rejuvenate the river Ganga. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementing agency of this program.
The primary objective of this program is to reduce pollution, promote sustainable use of water resources, and conserve the ecology of the river Ganga.
Causes of mixed results from the previous schemes
  • Lack of adequate funding,
  • Absence of proper planning and monitoring,
  • Insufficient sewage treatment plants, and
  • Low public participation.
However, the Namami Gange program is designed to overcome these shortcomings.
Quantum leaps that can help to preserve the river Ganga better than incremental inputs
  • The government should adopt a holistic approach to clean and preserve the river Ganga by addressing the root causes of pollution such as industrial waste, agricultural runoff, and solid waste disposal.
  • Innovative technologies such as bio mimicry, phytoremediation, and bioreactors should be adopted for sewage treatment and effluent management.
  • Public participation is crucial for the success of any program. The government should involve local communities, NGOs, and other stakeholders in the planning and implementation of the program.
  • Institutional framework for the implementation of the Namami Gange program should be strengthened by providing adequate resources and manpower.
The Namami Gange program is a step in the right direction towards preserving the river Ganga. Protecting rivers through these quantum leaps would ensure a crippling effect in all walks of development.


24) Environmental Impact Assessment studies are increasingly undertaken before a project is cleared by the Government. Discuss the environmental impacts of coal-fired thermal plants located at coal pitheads. (200 words)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
Reason for Increasing number of EIA
  • Growing Environmental Concerns
  • International Standards and Agreements
  • Legal and Regulatory Requirements
  • Public Participation and Transparency
Environmental impacts of coal-fired thermal plants located at coal pitheads
  • Air Pollution: Coal-fired thermal plants are major emitters of air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury. These pollutants can cause respiratory diseases, acid rain, and environmental damage.
  • Water Pollution: Thermal plants require large amounts of water for cooling, and discharge heated water into nearby water bodies, leading to thermal pollution. Coal mining can also contaminate water sources with heavy metals and other pollutants.
  • Land Degradation: Coal mining can cause significant land degradation, including deforestation, soil erosion, and loss of biodiversity. Land subsidence due to underground mining can also cause physical damage to the environment and infrastructure.
  • Climate Change: Coal-fired thermal plants are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change and its associated impacts, including sea level rise, extreme weather events, and ecosystem disruption.
  • Health Impacts: The emissions from coal-fired thermal plants can cause serious health impacts, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
EIA studies are important in identifying and assessing these environmental impacts, as well as proposing mitigation measures to minimize or avoid them. In coal-fired thermal plants located at coal pitheads, mitigation measures may include the use of clean technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, and reducing water consumption through the use of dry cooling systems.


25) Write a note on India’s green energy corridor to alleviate the problem of conventional energy. (200 words)

India's growing energy demand, coupled with increasing concerns about environmental degradation and climate change, has spurred the need for sustainable and renewable energy sources. To address these challenges, the Indian government has initiated the development of a Green Energy Corridor.
This ambitious project aims to enhance the integration of renewable energy into the national grid, promote clean energy generation, and alleviate the reliance on conventional energy sources.
India’s green energy corridor to alleviate the problem of conventional energy
  • The Green Energy Corridor in India primarily focuses on the expansion and integration of renewable energy sources. This integration facilitates the effective utilization of renewable energy resources and reduces dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The development of the Green Energy Corridor involves the creation of a robust transmission infrastructure capable of efficiently transmitting power generated from renewable sources.
  • The Green Energy Corridor enable effective grid balancing, load management, and stabilization, ensuring a consistent and reliable power supply.
  • The increased use of renewable energy contributes to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, air pollution, and environmental degradation associated with conventional energy sources, such as coal and natural gas.
  • By extending the transmission network to rural areas, the corridor enables the delivery of clean and affordable energy, fostering socio-economic development.
India's Green Energy Corridor is a transformative initiative; however, the implementation of the project faces several challenges, including the acquisition of land for transmission lines and substations, the availability of finance, and the integration of renewable energy into the national grid.
It is important for the government to address these challenges to ensure the successful implementation of the Green Energy Corridor project

26) What do you understand by Run-of-river hydroelectricity project? How is it different from any other hydroelectricity project? (100 words)

A run-of-river hydroelectricity project refers to a type of hydroelectric power generation system that utilizes the natural flow of a river to generate electricity.
Differences between Run-of-river hydroelectricity project and other hydroelectricity project
  • Unlike conventional hydroelectric projects that require the construction of large reservoirs to store water, run-of-river projects do not involve significant water storage.
  • Run-of-river projects generally have a smaller environmental footprint compared to traditional hydroelectric projects.
  • Run-of-river projects are often more cost-effective and quicker to construct compared to large-scale hydroelectric projects that require dam and reservoir construction.
  • Due to the absence of significant water storage, run-of-river projects generally have a limited capacity to regulate power generation.
Run-of-the-river hydro projects can produce sustainable energy while reducing impacts on the surrounding environment and community when designed with consideration to footprint size and location

27) What are the consequences of Illegal mining? Discuss the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s concept of GO AND NO-GO zones for coal mining sector. (200 words)

Illegal mining refers to mining activities carried out without proper permits or in violation of environmental regulations.
Consequences of Illegal Mining
  • Illegal mining often involves severe environmental degradation. It can result in deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, contamination of water bodies, and destruction of sensitive ecosystems.
  • Illegal mining can lead to displacement of communities, loss of livelihoods, and increased social conflicts.
  • Illegal mining operations often disregard safety standards, putting miners at risk of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
  • Illegal mining undermines the legal mining sector and contributes to revenue loss for governments. It allows for the illegal extraction and sale of minerals, bypassing taxation and royalty mechanisms.
Concept of GO AND NO-GO Zones
This concept was introduced by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in India to regulate coal mining activities and protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Go Zones
  • Areas identified by the MoEF where coal mining activities can proceed after meeting specific environmental and social requirements.
  • These zones are usually non-ecologically sensitive areas or regions where mining activities are already well-established.
  • Strict compliance with environmental regulations, land reclamation plans, and rehabilitation measures is necessary for obtaining mining licenses in Go Zones.
No Go Zones
  • It refers to ecologically sensitive areas or regions with high conservation value where coal mining activities are prohibited.
  • These areas typically include protected forests, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and other environmentally fragile ecosystems.
The concept of Go and No-Go zones aims to strike a balance between the economic benefits of coal mining and the protection of critical ecological areas.

28) Enumerate the National Water Policy of India. Taking river Ganges as an example, discuss the strategies which may be adopted for river water pollution control and management. What are the legal provisions of management and handling of hazardous wastes in India? (200 words)

The National Water Policy of India was first adopted in 1987 and was revised in 2002 & 2012. The policy aims to ensure the optimal and sustainable utilization of water resources in the country.
The salient features of the National Water Policy
  • Conservation and management of water resources.
  • Priority for drinking water and sanitation.
  • Promotion of efficient use of water in agriculture.
  • Protection of water quality.
  • Promotion of research and development in the water sector.
Strategies to be adopted for river water pollution control and management Taking the river Ganges as an example
  • Strict implementation of pollution control laws.
  • Construction of sewage treatment plants to treat domestic and industrial wastewater.
  • Industrial Effluent Control and Solid Waste Management
  • Control of industrial discharge and effluent standards.
  • Implementation of sustainable agricultural practices to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Promotion of public awareness and participation in water conservation and management.
The legal provisions for the management and handling of hazardous wastes in India
They are mainly governed by the Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • The rules provide for the classification and management of hazardous wastes, the establishment of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities, and the regulation of hazardous waste transportation.
  • The rules also mandate the use of environmentally sound technologies for hazardous waste management, and the implementation of measures to prevent accidents and emergencies.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): The rules promote the concept of EPR, making the producers responsible for the safe management and disposal of their products' hazardous wastes.
  • Manifest System: The rules require the use of a manifest system for the transportation of hazardous wastes, ensuring proper tracking, and maintaining a record of the waste movement from the generator to the disposal facility.
  • The rules also require industries generating hazardous waste to obtain necessary permits and comply with reporting and record-keeping requirements. The rules also provide for penalties for non-compliance with hazardous waste management regulations.
The rules provide a framework for the implementation of sound practices and technologies for hazardous waste management throughout the country which would ensure abiding with international agreements like Basel convention.