Mercury Poisoning

Mercury Poisoning

This article deals with ‘Mercury Poisoning  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


Mercury concentrates as highly toxic Methyl Mercury in the bodies of fish.

Mercury Poisoning

Minamata disease

  • The disease was searched in Japan’s seaside town of Minamata.
  • Strange behaviour was seen in cats, birds & also in humans. The investigation found that petrochemical companies had been discharging mercury waste into the sea.
  • Around 5,000 people were killed & 50,000 were poisoned to some extent by Mercury.
Minamata disease

Humans have controlled the Minamata disease and the use of Mercury to a large extent. But such cases are sporadically noticed in 

  • Mercury Mining, mainly in China
  • Central Asian nations like Kyrgyzstan 
  • In India 
    1. Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu): The thermometer factory was dumping waste (the factory was of Ponds and later acquired by Hindustan Unilever in 1987 ) 
    1. Singrauli Region in Uttar Pradesh 
    2. Ganjam in Odisha 

Applications of Mercury

Applications of Mercury

Side Topic: Diseases from Metal Poisoning

Mercury Minamata Disease
Cadmium Itai Itai
Nitrate Blue Baby Syndrome
Water with little or no fluoride Cavity in teeth
Arsenic Black Foot Disease (disfigures the skin, impacts kidney and, heart & lung fatalities.

Minamata Convention on Mercury

  • Minamata Convention aims to control the use of Mercury.
  • The convention was signed in Kumamoto (Japan) in 2013 and ratified by India in 2014.
  • Minamata Convention is part of the cluster of agreements, including 
    • Basel Convention to control transboundary movement of hazardous wastes
    • Rotterdam Convention to manage international trade of hazardous chemicals and pesticides
    • Stockholm Convention to restrict and eliminate persistent organic pollutants.

What does India have to do?

  • India will have to establish and enforce mercury emission standards for coal-fired power plants(and coal mining).  
  • The Chlor-alkali industry has to use mercury-free technologies.
  • Replace CFLs with LED.

Noise Pollution in India

Noise Pollution in India

Last Update: March 2023

This article deals with ‘Noise Pollution in India – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


Noise Pollution in India
  • The unwanted and undesirable sound or sound that can disrupt one’s quality of life is called noise.
  • Noise pollution is the phrase used to describe when there is excessive “noise” in the environment.
  • World Health Organization has prescribed optimum noise level as 45 dB by day and 35 dB by night. Anything above 80 dB is hazardous.

Sources of Noise Pollution

Sources of Noise Pollution
  • Industrialization (industries use big machines)   
  • Poor Urban Planning: Congested houses and large families sharing small space
  • Social Events:  Such as marriage, parties, pubs or places of worship 
  • Vehicles: A large number of vehicles run and honk on roads
  • Construction Activities  
  • Household appliances like noise from the TV, Radio, Air Conditioner, cooking appliances etc. These might be minor contributors but affect the quality of life badly.

India suffers from high levels of Noise pollution. For example, World Health Organisation’s “Worldwide Hearing Index” reported that Delhi is the second-worst city with the highest noise pollution (Guangzhou in China is the worst and Zurich in Switzerland is the best). 

Effects of Prolonged Noise Pollution

  • Physical Effects: It leads to irreversible Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), heart disease, high blood pressure, stress-related illness, sleep disruption and productivity loss. 
  • Physiological effects: 
    • Depression and fatigue 
    • Aggressive behaviour 
    • Straining of senses and annoyance 
    • Psychomotor impacts
  • Sleeping disorders: Loud noise can impact a person’s sleeping cycle. Due to this, a person’s performance may go down in the office.
  • Effect on Wildlife: Wildlife is dependent on sounds for their various functions, and animals may become easy prey.

Legal and Constitutional Provisions 

  • Article 48-A regarding protection and improvement of the environment) 
  • Article 51-A (fundamental duties) of the Constitution of India.
  • Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981: The act includes noise in the definition of ‘air pollutant’.
  • Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules: Under the rules, permissible noise limits are as follows
    1. Industrial Areas: 75 decibels during the day and 70 decibels during the night
    2. Commercial Areas: 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels during the night
    3. Residential Areas: 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels during the night
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has set up the National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network (NANMN), covering 35 locations in seven metro cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.
  • Article 48-A, i.e. protection and improvement of the environment
  • Article 51-A, i.e. fundamental duties of the Constitution of India
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has established the National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network (NANMN), covering 35 locations in seven metro cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.

Preventive measures

  • Personal Level: NIHL can be prevented by  
    • Dietary supplements rich in antioxidants  
    • Use of earplugs  
  • Scientific urban planning: Transport terminals, Industries, airports, and railway terminals sight should be far from living spaces.
  • Green Belt, i.e. planting trees in and around noise sources.
  • Lubricating the industrial machinery to reduce their noise levels
  • Making and implementing laws in effective ways to control noise pollution. E.g., regulations regarding loudspeakers are present but not applied strictly.

Ways to Control Climate Change

Ways to Control Climate Change

This article deals with ‘Ways to Control Climate Change – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


  • It is a deliberate, large-scale intervention carried out in Earth’s natural systems to reverse the impacts of climate change.
  • It involves techniques to physically manipulate the global climate to cool the planet.
  • These techniques fall primarily under three categories:
    • Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
    • Climate Engineering
    • Carbfix Project
    • Controlling the Emissions of Ruminants

1. Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)

It is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere & depositing it in a reservoir. 

First Capture CO2  

  • Firstly, we need to capture the CO2 directly from the atmosphere or at the end of combustion & industrial processes. 
  • It is done using technologies such as 
    1. Chemical Solvent: Preferred when dealing with gas streams that are lean in CO2 and have relatively lower pressures, such as flue gas streams from power plants etc. 
    2. Adsorption: Suitable for gas streams with moderate to high pressure and moderate CO2 concentration, such as steam methane reforming (SMR) flue gas.
    3. Cryogenic Separation: Preferred in cases where the cost of power is low.

Transport and then store CO2 in Reservoir (Carbon Sequestration) 

The captured CO2  is then stored in reservoirs, which can include

  • Depleted Oil and Gas Reserves 
  • Unmineable Coal Seams
  • Deep Saline Aquifers 
  • Enhancing the productivity of ocean biosystems through fertilization, e.g. algae 
  • Inject CO2 into the deep ocean  
  • Enhancing and manipulating the forests, wetlands etc.
  • Artificial Upwelling: This water will absorb more CO2 
  • Ocean fertilization 
Ways to Control Climate Change

Issues with the concept

  • There is general agreement about the need to halt fossil fuel emissions, particularly in industrialized countries. However, instead of moving ahead with drastic reductions in energy use and initiating a transition towards low-carbon economies, forests’ ability to (temporarily) sink carbon is being used to justify continued fossil fuel use.
  • Afforestation – especially afforestation in northern tundra regions – may accelerate global Warming. Dark green forests absorb more sunlight than tundra or farmland, adding to the warming trend (snow reflects).
  • All carbon is not the same. Fossil carbon is generally static, whereas that which is in the active carbon pool (the atmosphere and the biosphere) can be easily released through activities beyond government control, such as forest fires).
  • Lands dedicated to carbon sink projects require contractual agreements that lock the land up for years, often decades.  
  • High Cost: Upfront capital investment for carbon capture technology, transport pipelines, and geological storage is high, and significant energy and water usage is required to capture and compress CO2.
  • Insufficient geological information: Due to a lack of geological survey technology, companies lack geological information before the project is carried out. Therefore, they cannot accurately predict project risks.

2. Climate Engineering

  • Climate engineering describes a diverse and largely hypothetical array of technologies and techniques for intentionally manipulating the global climate to moderate or forestall the (most severe) effects of climate change.
  • These include
    1. Space Mirrors: Reflect Solar Energy and not allowing it to enter the atmosphere
    2. Reflective Aerosols in Stratosphere (proponents claim that it can reduce Global Warming by 1 C) 
    3. Cloud Seeding: Clouds are good reflectors of sunlight
    4. Using pale-coloured roofing material or growing high albedo crops
    5. Cirrus cloud manipulation: cirrus clouds are removed or thinned so that their long-wave trapping capacity is reduced, thus cooling the surface.

3. Other Projects for Carbon Fixation going on

3.1 Carbfix Project

  • It is a project in Iceland that aims to lock away CO2 by reacting it with basaltic rocks. 
  • Carbonated water is injected into the rocks to react with Calcium, Magnesium or Silicate material present in Basaltic rocks. It is called enhanced weathering. Thus, the CO2 is captured permanently without releasing any harmful by-products. 

3.2 Controlling the Emissions of Ruminants

Emissions of Ruminants

Philanthropists such as Bill Gates are funding startups to develop feed called Rumin8 that will reduce the amount of methane they emit in the atmosphere.

Impacts of Climate Change

Impacts of Climate Change

This article deals with ‘Impacts of Climate Change  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


The Climate Change we will talk about in this article pertains to the change in the climate because of human-induced factors.

Even before humans, the Earth’s climate changed throughout history. In the last 6.5 lakh years, Earth has passed through 7 ice ages. The last ice age ended approx. 7000 years ago, also marking the beginning of human civilization.

But the climate change that we are witnessing now is entirely different. The earlier changes were primarily attributed to minor variations in the Earth’s orbit, which changed the amount of solar insolation received by Earth’s atmosphere or volcanic eruptions.

The reason for present climate change is the increase in the concentration of heat-trapping gases (or Green House Gases) in the Earth’s atmosphere due to the increase in the rate of burning of fossil fuels.

Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory (Hawaii) has been recording the CO2 concentration since 1958. The concentration reached dangerous levels of 415 ppm in 2019 and 419 ppm in 2021.

Impacts of Climate Change

Many people, especially from countries like the USA, UK etc., known as Climate Sceptics, don’t accept that Global Warming and Climate Change are real. After fighting for years against denialism, scientists have now been successful in making world leaders realize that we need to act against climate change if we want to avoid the potentially huge cost to the economy and society worldwide caused by the “irreversible build-up of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and warming of the globe.”

Evidences and Impacts of Climate Change

1. Glacier Retreats

  • Glaciers have been melting rapidly due to global warming, leading to a phenomenon known as Glacier Retreat. The examples include Hindukush – Karakoram – Himalayan Glacier Retreat and Kaskawulsh Glacier Retreat (Kaskawulsh is Canada’s one of the largest glacier).
  • The breakdown of Larsen C Glacier (in the Antarctic) is the result of Climate Change and Global Warming.

Impact of Glacier Retreat

  • Shortage of Water: The glacier retreat can result in a water shortage in the river streams fed by the glaciers. Therefore, it will negatively impact the lives of people living in those river basins.
  • River Piracy: Climate Change has resulted in the retreat of one of Canada’s largest glaciers (Kaskawulsh Glacier). It led to an incident called ‘River Piracy’ by the researchers.
    • Earlier (Before Retreat): The glacier was feeding Slims River (taking water to the Bering Sea) 
    • Now (After Retreat): The glacier feeds Alsek River (taking water to the Gulf of Alaska)
  • Habitat loss: Animals that dwell on or near glaciers may be pushed towards extinction—for example, tiny ice worms. 
  • Contaminants: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) are transported in the air from their source to cooler areas where they condense and are deposited in glacial ice. Rapid melting has begun to release them back into the environment. For example, in some Canadian lakes, glacial meltwater is the source of 50-97% of the various POPs entering the lake. 
  • Flooding: Rapid melting of glaciers can lead to flooding in rivers.  
  • Sea level rise: Sea-level rise will affect coastal regions worldwide, causing erosion and saltwater intrusion into aquifers and freshwater habitats. 
  • Economic impact: Industries that thrive on vibrant fisheries will be affected as warmer waters change where and when fish spawn.  

2. Climate Change and Oceans

Climate Change and global warming have impacted the oceans negatively in various ways.

1. Ocean Acidification

  • As CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased, more CO2 is being dissolved in Ocean Waters leading to the formation of Carbonic Acid. It increases the pH of Ocean Water (i.e. makes it acidic), which harms the calcifying animals.

2. Ocean Warming

  • According to IPCC Report, the world’s oceans have absorbed 90% of the temperature rise caused by man-made GHG emissions.
  • Ocean warming creates anoxic (i.e., waters with no dissolved oxygen) and hypoxic (i.e. waters with low oxygen concentration) zones. It will lead to the destruction of the ecosystem in those zones.

3. Sea Level Rise 

  • Sea Level rise happens due to two reasons
    • Glaciers melting at a faster pace
    • The density of warm water is lower (leading to higher volume)
  • Impact of Sea Level Rise is as follows
    • Large-scale displacement: 10% of the world’s population lives on the coast, which faces the danger of getting displaced. Additionally, many islands will disappear (Kiribati, Maldives, Tuvalu etc.)
    • The saltwater intrusion into surface waters will exacerbate the issue of drinking water shortage. 
    • Increasingly severe storm surges will cause damage to property situated on coasts. 
    • International Conflicts: Sea Level Rise will change nations’ exclusive economic zones, potentially creating conflicts between neighbouring nations. 

4. Changes in Ocean Current patterns

  • Oceans are now receiving more fresh water due to climate change. It is changing the patterns of Ocean Currents, thus resulting in strange weather phenomenon. E.g., an increase in the frequency of tropical cyclones and El-Nino.
  • It is disrupting the marine food chains. 

5. Negative impact on Food Security

  • Rainfall patterns affected: Precipitation patterns in a number of areas have changed, resulting from large-scale atmospheric teleconnections with ocean warming.   
  • Due to Ocean Warming, more rain happens over the ocean and rainfall on land decreases. It impacts agriculture negatively.
  • Due to Ocean Warming, the size of fish is decreasing. The experiment showed that fishes raised in warm waters weighed less and had lower metabolic performance than those raised in lower temperatures.

6. Deoxygenation (Creation of Dead Zones) 

  • Ocean warming leads to deoxygenation, i.e., reduced dissolved oxygen in ocean water. It negatively impacts the marine species, ecosystems and fundamental benefits humans derive from the ocean.

7. Migration of animals

  • Ocean Warming is leading to the migration of tropical marine creatures towards temperate areas, thus disturbing the food chain, food availability and biodiversity of a region. 

3. Climate Change and Island Submergence

  • Island states such as Tuvalu, Mauritius etc., are on the verge of submergence.
  • Kiribati  is on the verge of drowning and will become the first country to drown due to sea level rise due to climate change
  • A World Bank report stated that some of these states, including the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, may lose their status as a nation if sea levels continue to rise at this rate.

4. Increase in frequency of Extreme Events 

  • As per the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced climate change has likely increased the frequency and intensity of extreme events since pre-industrial times, including heatwaves, extreme precipitation events, marine heatwaves, etc.
  • For example: Since 2020, we have seen a large number of extreme events like
    1. Heatwave in Canada and parts of the USA. Temperatures in Canada have reached as high as 49.4 C.
    2. Floods in Germany, New South Wales (Australia) and Pakistan.

5. Impact on Flora and Fauna

  • Rapid climate change is more than the ability of animals to adjust. In 1999, the death of the last Golden Toad in Central America marked the first documented species extinction driven by climate change. Experts opine that one-fourth of Earth’s species will face extinction by 2050.
  • Animal and plant species are responding to earlier springs—E.g., earlier frog breeding, bird nesting, flowering, and migration of birds and butterflies.
  • Increased frequency of Wildfires: As the Earth gets warmer and droughts increase, wildfires are expected to occur more often and be more destructive. Wildfires do occur naturally, but the extremely dry conditions resulting from droughts allow fires to start more easily, spread faster, and burn longer.
  • The distribution of tree lines, plants, birds, mammals, insects, fish, reptiles, and marine invertebrates is shifting towards the poles. 
  • The distribution of plants is shifting to higher elevations.
  • Tropical reef corals are expanding poleward.

6. Impact on Health

  • Global warming has led to greater frequency & severity of heat waves. In 2003, for example, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India.
  • Malaria is now being reported from countries like Bhutan for the first time.
  • Climate change has increased the spread of infectious diseases, mainly because warmer temperatures allow disease-carrying insects, animals and microbes to survive in areas where they were once blocked by cold weather.
  • According to Lancet Report, Climate Change will lead to undernutrition and obesity.  
    • Undernutrition: Global Warming will lead to lower yields, thus resulting in undernutrition. 
    • Obesity: Climate Change will reduce the production of fruits & vegetables, making them expensive and forcing people to move towards processed food (high in fats, sugars, and sodium).

7. Impact on Security

Climate Change is leading to environmental degradation, food shortages, and unfair distribution of resources, likely leading to tension and conflict. The civil war in Syria has successive droughts as one of the most important issues.

Climate Change is a security issue because

  • Local resource competition: Due to Climate Change, pressure on local resources like water is increasing, leading to instability and violent conflict. Transboundary river water issues will become violent due to water shortage.
  •  Forced Migrations: World Bank Report points toward the fact that by 2050, 140 million people from South Asia & Latin America will be forced to migrate 
  • Volatile food prices heighten the risk of protest, rioting and civil conflict.
  • Sea level rise and coastal degradation will lead to social disruption and disagreement over maritime boundaries (change in EEZ) and ocean resources. 

Keeping this in mind, United Nations Security Council deliberated on the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security.

8. Impact on Women

Women are impacted by climate change disproportionately.

  1. Patriarchal norms: Socio-cultural factors like regulations on movement, childcare and elderly care responsibilities, gendered cultural codes of dress etc., limit their mobility and heighten vulnerability and exposure to climate change-related extreme weather events. 
  2. Dependence on natural resources: Women increasingly rely on natural resources for their livelihood, which is threatened by climate change. E.g., 75.7% of women in rural India are engaged in agriculture (PLFS, 2019-20).
  3. Public measures lack a gender equality perspective: Most policy documents lack explicit provisions for addressing the specific vulnerabilities of women across sectors.
  4. Inadequate access to and control over finance and productive resources: It affects women’s contribution to climate efforts and ability to recover from climate-related disasters or loss of livelihood economically. 
  5. Lack of gendered data: The scale and scope of women’s burden related to climate change are not well understood due to inadequate data. 

9. Impact on Health

  • Global Warming will lead to greater frequency & severity of heat waves and extreme weather events. In 2003, for example, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India.
  • Malaria is now being reported from countries like Bhutan for the first time.
  • Climate Change increases the spread of infectious diseases, mainly because warmer temperatures allow disease-carrying insects, animals and microbes to survive in areas once blocked by cold weather.
  • Climate Change will lead to undernutrition and obesity (Lancet Report Jan 2019) as
    • Global Warming will lead to lower yields. 
    • Global Warming might reduce protein and other micronutrients in plants. 
    • Climate Change will reduce the production of fruits & vegetables, making them expensive and forcing people to move towards processed food which is high in fats, sugars, and sodium.

Side Topic: Anthropocene Epoch

  • Currently, we are living in the Holocene epoch. It began 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. All human civilizations have developed during this climatically and geologically stable period.  
  • An expert group at the World Geological Congress in Cape Town recommended that the new Anthropocene epoch, starting from the mid-20th century, be officially declared (coined in 2000 by the Nobel prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen)
  • Since the 1950s, human beings have begun to alter Earth’s surface & atmosphere in unalterable ways. Human activity has:  
    • Pushed extinction rates: In the coming centuries, 75% of all species on Earth are expected to go extinct.
    • Doubled nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertilizer use 
    • Airborne particulates have left a permanent layer in sediments and glacial ice. 
  • It sends out the statement that humans have fundamentally changed the planet to the point it will preserve sediments for millions of years to come to that record a world that is now fundamentally different to the one that preceded it.   
  • In 2019, 34 member panel of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) voted 29-4 in favour of designating a new geological epoch – The Anthropocene. Focus is now on identifying the golden spike to the signal beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. Most probably, it will be artificial radionuclides which spread the world by the atomic bomb from the early 1950s.

Marine Pollution

Marine Pollution

Last Updated: March 2023

This article deals with ‘Marine Pollution – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Environment, you can click here.


Marine Pollution is the spread of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural & residential wastes, and noise or invasive organisms in the marine environment. 

Effects of Marine Pollution

Marine Pollution
  • Bioaccumulation of toxins in zooplanktons & phytoplanktons 
  • Eutrophication
  • Ocean acidification 
  • Coral bleaching


Causes of Marine Pollution
  • Oil Spills: From ships carrying oil or from accidents in the deep ocean oil extraction facilities. 
  • Eutrophication: It results due to the fertilizer runoff from the farms. Eutrophication has created dead zones in several parts of the world, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic Sea. 
  • Disposal of sewage and solid garbage
  • Spread of invasive organisms: Invasive species multiply rapidly due to the absence of natural predators and damage the original ecosystem. E.g. zebra mussel in Great Lakes from the Black Sea in 1988. 
  • Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 make the oceans more acidic, affecting calcifying organisms.

Steps taken by the International Community

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): The convention acts as an effective international law regarding seas and oceans. 
  • London Convention: To prevent deliberate Marine Pollution by dumping wastes (India is not a member of the London Convention). 
  • International Maritime Organisation  (a UN specialized agency) has developed a number of legal frameworks related to the marine environment.
  • Bunker Convention for effective compensation for damage caused by oil spills
  • Ballast Water Management Convention

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

This article deals with ‘Indoor Air Pollution – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Environment, you can click here.


Apart from outdoor pollution, the peculiar situation in India is that it also suffers from indoor contamination caused by smoky chulhas. Such exposure to the smoke of Chulhas is equivalent to inhaling carcinogens from two packs of cigarettes a day. Moreover, they impact the health of pregnant women and newborns adversely.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

  • Charcoal & wood burning lead to an increase in the concentration of VOCs and PM 2.5 & 10. According to the Economic Survey of India, there is a lack of access to better forms of energy. 49% of households still use firewood for cooking.
Indoor Pollution
  • Poorly ventilated dwellings (especially in slums) 
  • Asbestos released from the construction material
  • Tobacco Smoking within the household. 
  • Biological Pollution which includes pollen from plants, hair from pets, fungi etc.


1. Health impacts

  • It results in acute and chronic respiratory conditions, lung cancer and cataract. 
  • It results in Sick Building Syndrome (a situation in which the occupants experience acute health issues due to time spent in the building).

2. Gender issues

  • Women are disproportionately impacted because they work on chulhas.

3. Children

  • The impact on children is more because their coping capacity is low.

Steps taken by the Government

  • The government has launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to provide LPG connection to BPL households (by the Petroleum Ministry and part of Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan). 
  • Scientists have developed a graphene-based sensor to detect air pollution in homes. 
  • Neerdhur: National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has developed ‘Neerdhur’, a novel multi-fuel domestic cooking stove. 
  • HEPA Filters (High Energy Particulate Arrestor): HEPA Filters are used as Indoor air filters. But they are just for particulate matter. 
  • WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit): WAYU is made by CSIR-NEERI. It has filters for removing Particulate Matter along with activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for removing poisonous gases.  
  • SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Free LPG 
PM Ujjwala Yojana 
Neerdhur (by NEERI) 

Wildlife Protection Schemes

Wildlife Protection Schemes

This article deals with ‘Wildlife Protection Schemes – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


Wildlife Protection Schemes

The government is running 3 schemes for wildlife protection

  • Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH)
  • Project Tiger
  • Project Elephant

1. Project Tiger

About Tiger

  • Tiger has eight subspecies in total, and three have been extinct of these. Of the five remaining subspecies, only one subspecies is found in India, i.e. Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris). 
  • 70% of the total tiger population in the world is found in India.
  • Tiger is the national animal of both India & Bangladesh
  • Status of Tiger
    • IUCN Red List: Endangered 
    • Wildlife protection Act: Schedule 1 (maximum protection)
    • CITES: Appendix 1 

Project Tiger

1900 20,000 to 40,000 tigers were present in India
1972 The number of tigers reduced to 1800.
1973 The government started Project Tiger to combat this alarming situation

About Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger is run as Core Scheme, i.e. union and state governments share expenses in the 60:40 ratio.  
  • It is administered by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

National Tiger Conservation Authority of India (NTCA)

  • It is a statutory body constituted under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Minister of Environment and Forests heads NTCA.

Procedure to make Tiger Reserve

  • The state government can notify any area as Tiger Reserve on the recommendation of NTCA.

Objective of Project Tiger

  • Ensuring the maintenance of a viable Tiger population in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological value

Parts of Tiger Reserves

Core Area No human activity is allowed except anything that affects the rights of the scheduled tribes and forest dwellers.
Buffer Area Limited non-commercial activity such as development is allowed.
There is a co-existence of man and wildlife Gram Sabha is consulted in the management of buffer areas. 

Alteration in boundary

  • No alteration can be made except on the recommendation of NTCA and approval of the National Board for Wildlife.

Recent initiatives

  • Strengthening of anti-poaching activities by the deployment of anti-poaching squads involving ex-army personnel/home guards
  • Reintroduction of tigers has been done at Sariska (Rajasthan), Panna (MP), Satkosia (MP) and Rajaji Tiger Reserve (Uttarakhand) tiger reserves.

Problems with project tiger

1. Funds

  • Funds received by a majority of tiger reserves are usually inadequate & delayed.

2. Staff

  • Forest Guards are usually trained only once during the course of their employment. Proper training is also lacking. 

3. Infrastructure

  • Roads, wireless equipment, jeeps, arms and ammunition and other  anti-poaching equipment are lacking.

4. Constitutional angle

  • Forests and Wildlife are placed under the concurrent list in the Indian Constitution. Hence, the Central Government has limited powers over the execution of Project Tiger. Thus, while the guideline issued by the Central Government may be sound, their translation into ground realities depends totally on the State Government’s commitment.  

Tiger Reserves in India

Tiger Habitats in India can be divided into 5 divisions i.e.

  1. Shivalik Gangetic Plains
  2. Central India and the Eastern Ghats
  3. Western Ghats
  4. Sunderbans
  5. North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains

There are 52 Tiger Reserves in 17 States. The important ones are listed below

Corbett Uttarakhand
Dudhwa UP
Valmiki Bihar
Ranthambore Rajasthan
Sariska Rajasthan
Kanha MP
Bandhavgarh MP
Panna MP
Pench MP
Guru Ghasidas Chhattisgarh
Pench Maharashtra
Bandipur Karnataka
Nagarhole Karnataka
Periyar Kerala
Anamalai Tamil Nadu
Mudumalai Tamil Nadu
Simplipal Odisha
Sunderbans West Bengal
Buxa West Bengal
Kaziranga Assam
Manas Assam
Namdapha Arunachal Pradesh

Reasons for decrease in tiger population

1. Habitat loss

  • Because of Deforestation, the size of tiger prey (deer, sambar etc.) has declined.  
  • Forest fires and floods are leading to habitat loss.

2. Disturbance in Tiger breeding/ reproduction

  • Highways, noise pollution, tourism etc., disrupt the tiger breeding, thus impacting their population. 

3. Area constraint/fragmentation of area

  • Tiger is a territorial animal which advertises its presence in an area through urine marking and maintains a territory. Hence, 80-100 tigers need a protected and undisturbed area of 1000 sq km. In its absence, male tigers would fight and kill each other. Due to the construction of highways and farming activities, the habitats are getting fragmented. 

4. Insurgency in North East and Naxals in Central India

  • The Forest departments cannot efficiently work and protect tigers. 
  • Using illegal trade in these to fund their operations 

5. Black market of tiger bones and organs

  • China has a big market for tiger bones and organs where these organs are used for enhancing male virality.

Why do we need to protect tigers?

  • Tiger is an “umbrella species“. It resides at the top of the forest food chain. A healthy tiger population indicates that the other ecological components in its habitat are equally robust since tigers need a large amount of prey and good habitat. 
  • If the Umbrella species are protected, it will also ensure viable populations of other wild animals (co-predators like leopards and prey like dears) and the habitat (trees, shrubs, water).  

Transfer Projects

1. Lion to Tiger Territory

  • There is a proposal to shift lion from Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur National Park, MP
  • Reason: All Lion population in Gujarat which makes them vulnerable.
  • Problem: Gujarat government considers it PRIDE OF THE STATE & refusing to share it with MP.

2. Interstate Tiger Cub transfer

  • From  Bandhavgarh and Kanha in MP to Satkosia in Odisha.  
  • Tigers were transferred in 2018. But this led to massive protests by the locals as they were not consulted in the whole process. One of the tigers started to raid human habitations leading to Man-Animal conflict. Hence, the project was shelved, and Tiger was transferred back to MP.

Tiger census-2018

Tiger census is the all India tiger estimation exercise happening since 2006. The Tiger Census is carried out after a gap of every three years by NTCA.

Project Tiger


  • M-STRiPES, or Monitoring System for Tiger Intensive Protection & Ecological Status, is software developed by the Wildlife Institute of India.
  • It is a software-based Monitoring system for tigers.
  • It uses e-Eye system using thermal cameras. 
  • The Indian government launched it in 2010.
  • The Tiger Census is also conducted using M-STRiPES.

2. Project Elephant

Project Elephant
Scientific Name Elephas Maximus
IUCN status Endangered
Population 25,000 in India
Heritage Animal The elephant was declared National Heritage Animal in 2010

Project Elephant

  • Project Elephant was launched in 1992 as a centrally Sponsored Scheme


  • Protect elephants, their habitat and corridors
  • To address the issue of man-animal conflict
  • Ensure the welfare of the domesticated elephants 
  • Strengthening of protection from the poachers and unnatural causes of death
  • Public education and awareness
  • Providing Veterinary care

Elephant Reserves

There are a total of 30 elephant reserves in India.

Important ones are

Singhbhum Jharkhand
Mayurbhanj Odisha
Sambhalpur Odisha
Kameng  Arunachal
Singhpan Nagaland
Kaziranga Assam
Wayanad Kerala
Periyar Kerala
Anaimalai Tamil Nadu

Elephant Corridors

  • Elephant Corridors are narrow land for the passage of elephants from one habitat to another. 
  • There are 183 identified Elephant Corridors in India.

Reasons for decrease in population

  • Poaching for elephant ivory 
  • Disruption of habitat
  • Man animal conflict 
  • Mining activities in central India
  • Train hits 

Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Program

  • It was established in 2003 by CITES.
  • It is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants across Africa and Asia to monitor the effectiveness of field conservation efforts.

3. Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat (IDWH)

  • Project Tiger is run as Core Scheme, i.e. union and state governments share expenses in the 60:40 ratio.  
  • The aim of the scheme is  protection of the wildlife.
  • Objective
    • Support the protected areas 
    • Conservation of Wildlife outside protected areas 
    • Recovering the critically endangered species as well as habitats.

Financial and technical assistance is given to states to protect threatened 18 species like

Mammals 1. Snow Leopard
2. Bustards (including Florican)
3. Hangul
4. Nilgiri Tahr
5. Asian Wild Buffalo
6. Manipur Brow-antlered
7. Malabar civet
8. One-horned rhinoceros
9. Asiatic Lion
10. Swamp deer 
Aquatic 11. River Dolphin
12. Marine Turtles
13. Dugongs 
14. Coral Reefs
Birds 15. Edible-nest Swiftlets
16. Nicobar Megapode
17. Vultures
18. Jerdon’s Courser

3.1 Lion Conservation Project

Lion Conservation Project
  • It was launched by Environment Ministry in 2018. 
  • The aim is to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion. 
  • It is funded under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat (IDWH), with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State governments. 

About Asiatic Loin

  • Asiatic Lion, Panthera Leo Persica is listed in 
    • Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 
    • Appendix-I of CITES
    • Endangered category under IUCN Red List
  • Asiatic Lions are found only in the 5 protected areas of Gujarat, the most famous of which is Gir. 

Lion Transfer

  • Lion is only found in Gujarat, which makes it vulnerable to extinction in case of any disease or unwanted accident. Hence, the proposal is to transfer some lions to Kuno-Palpur National Park, Madhya Pradesh. 

3.2 Project Snow Leopard

Project Snow Leopard
  • There are around 7400 snow leopards globally, and ~10% of them are present in India (750 in India ).
  • The snow leopard is the apex predator on the ecological pyramid. Hence, it plays an important role in sustaining the ecosystem in its habitat.
  • Snow Leopard is listed in 
    • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 
    • Vulnerable category under IUCN Red List
  • It is found in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal and Sikkim.
  • In 2021, the newly created Union Territory of Ladakh declared it to be the state animal.

3.3 Vulture

  • India is home to 9 out of 23 species of vultures. These include
    1. White-rumped vulture (WRV)
    2. Long-billed vulture (LBV)
    3. Read-headed or king vulture
    4. Egyptian vulture (EV)
    5. Eurasian griffon (EG)
    6. Himalayan griffon (HG)
    7. Cinereous vulture (CV)
    8. Slender-billed vulture (SBV)
    9. Bearded vulture(BV).
  • Of these, 3 are Critically Endangered 
    1. White Backed Vulture 
    2. Slender Billed Vulture 
    3. Long-Billed Vulture 
  • Other points about Vultures
    • Vultures nest on tall trees and rocky cliffs. 
    • They are slow breeders. Hence, the survival of every individual is essential.
    • They have excellent eyesight and smelling sense and can detect the presence of dead animals from great distances. 
    • They don’t hunt and rely on other carnivores for carcasses. But they have strong bills and necks adapted to tear flesh from carcasses. Further, vultures have acidic stomachs, which help them to digest rotting carcasses. 

Causes of their deaths

  • Bioaccumulation of Diclofenac leads to kidney failure in vultures culminating in their death.
Bioaccumulation of Diclofenac

Other minor reasons

  • Hunting and trading because of myths about the medicinal power of vultures.
  • Habitat destruction due to rapid urbanization. 
  • Electrocution in the areas with lesser trees.

Program for Protection

  • The use of Diclofenac has been banned in India.
  • Vulture has been brought under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat (IDWH)
  • Vulture Safe Zones : 3 such zones have been created – from Uttarakhand to Nepal, Assam to Arunachal and Central India
  • Vulture Breeding Facilities: Breeding facilities have been created in Guwahati, Pinjore and Buxa (WB)
  • Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary: It is India’s only vulture sanctuary in Karnataka
  • ‘Vulture Restaurants/Cafeteria’: These are elevated spots located strategically, for example, in Punjab and Maharashtra, where dead animals are kept for vultures to feed. 

Consequences of these disappearances

  • The disappearance of vultures has allowed other species, such as rats and wild dogs, to take their place. These new scavengers, however, are not as efficient as vultures. Vulture’s metabolism is a true “dead end” for pathogens, but dogs and rats become carriers of the pathogens. Thus, they are directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of human deaths. 

3.4 Rhino

  • Rhino is listed in
    • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 
    • Vulnerable category under IUCN Red List
  • There are around 3000 Rhinos in the world. 
  • In India, Rhino is found in North Bihar, North West Bengal and the Brahmaputra valley of Assam. But 95% of the world population is found in Kaziranga & Orang National Park in Assam.

Reasons for poaching

The reason for poaching is a great demand of horns of Rhino due to

  • Use of Rhino horn in Chinese medicines.
  • The Rhino horn is considered a status symbol in countries such as Vietnam.

3.5 Project Hangul/Kashmiri Stag

  • Hangul or Kashmiri Stag is a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED species under IUCN Red List. 
  • There were only 160 mature individuals of Hangul in 2008 
  • Project Hangul was started in 1975 by the J&K government, IUCN and WWF. Presently under IDWH
  • It is also the state animal of J&K. 
  • The main population is in Dachigam National Park, Srinagar.

3.6 Gangetic Dolphin

  • In 2010, Government declared Gangetic Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal.  
  • It is listed in the
    • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act  
    • Endangered on IUCN Red List.
  • It is found in parts of the Ganga Brahmaputra river system. More than 50% of Gangetic Dolphin are found in Bihar. 
  • The Gangetic Dolphin symbolizes the purity of Ganga as it can survive only in freshwater.
  • It is also known as Susu or Sushak, or Souns because of its noise. 

Side Topic: River Dolphins

  • There are a total of 4 freshwater dolphins in the world i.e. 
    1. Baiji or Yangtze Dolphin (China)
    2. Boto or Amazon Dolphin 
    3. Bhulan or Indus Dolphin
    4. Susu or Gangetic Dolphin.

Main reasons for population decline

  1. Poaching for oil 
  2. Habitat degradation due to declining flow 
  3. Heavy siltation 
  4. Sand mining 
  5. The construction of barrages causes population fragmentation due to physical barriers 
  6. Increasing traffic due to the declaration of Ganga as National Waterways

Steps taken for preservation of Gangetic Dolphin

  • Project Dolphin 
    • Ministry of Environment announced it in 2020 on the lines of ‘Project Tiger’.
    • It involves the conservation of dolphins through the use of modern technology and engages local fishing communities in the conservation process.
  • National Dolphin Research Centre has been established at Patna University.
  • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary has been established in Bihar.

Side Topic: Indus Dolphin

  • Indus Dolphin are endangered, freshwater, and functionally blind species of dolphins relying on echolocation for navigation, communication and hunting prey.
  • India has a population of around 30 Indus Dolphins in the Beas River. The rest of the population is found in the Indus river in Pakistan. 
  • Punjab declared it as its state aquatic animal in 2019.
  • In 2021, the Punjab government, along with WWF-India, conducted the first organized census on the population of Indus Dolphin. 

3.7 Nilgiri Tahr

  • Nilgiri Tahr is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
  • It is listed in 
    • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act  
    • Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • It is endemic to the narrow belt of the higher elevation of Shola Forest in the Western Ghats.

Legal Provisions regarding Biodiversity Conservation

Legal Provisions regarding Biodiversity Conservation

This article deals with ‘Legal Provisions regarding Biodiversity Conservation – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here.


Before Independence

1887 Wild Birds Protection Act was enacted by the British Government aimed to prohibit the trade and sale of scheduled wild birds. But the act remained merely a piece of legislation as wildlife protection wasn’t a priority for the British Indian government. 
1927 Indian Forest Act was enacted. But the act was not envisaged to protect Indian forests or the environment. Instead, the act was aimed to exploit Sal & Teak for making railway sleepers & export to Europe. 

After Independence

Legal Provisions regarding Biodiversity Conservation
1950 Indian Constitution came into force. It has various provisions for biodiversity conservation, such as Article 51-A(G), calling citizens should conserve Wildlife & Environment. 
1972 Wildlife (Protection) Act was enacted.
1980 Forest (Conservation) Act was enacted.
2002 Biological Diversity Act was enacted.

Some Acts to Protect Biodiversity in India

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The Biological Diversity Act, 2000 was enacted to fulfil India’s commitments under UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), signed in 1992 at Nagoya.


  • Conservation of biological diversity. 
  • Regulating the access to biological and genetic resources. 
  • Ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising by using those biological resources.

Institutional Structure

  • 3 -tier system was established with
    • National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at Centre.
    • State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) in each state.
    • Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) function with local governments (both municipalities and panchayats).
  • It also establishes the National and State Biodiversity Fund. 
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

Functions of NBA, SBB & BMC

1. National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)

  • All foreign nationals require approval from NBA for obtaining Indian biological resources.
  • All Indian individuals/organizations must seek NBA approval before transferring knowledge/research to foreigners.
  • The NBA’s prior approval is required before applying for IPR based on research conducted on Indian biological material.
  • Advise the Central Government on matters relating to (1) conservation of biodiversity, (2) sustainable use of its components and (3) equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resource
  • Advise the State Governments in the framing rules for managing Biodiversity Heritage sites.

2. State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs)

  • It advises state governments on the matter relating to the conservation of Biodiversity.  
  • It regulates the commercial use of bio-resources in the state by Indians (i.e. companies using biodiversity resources for a commercial purpose need to take permission from SBB ), excluding 1) Vaids and Hakims, practising Indian medicinal system 2) Local People using the bioresources for local use.
  • It ensures equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilizing biological resources.

3. Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs)

  • BMCs are constituted by the local bodies within their area of jurisdiction. 
  • BMC will promote conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity.
  • NBA and SBBs shall consult the BMCS while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources and knowledge within the jurisdiction of the BMCS.
  • BMC is mandated to prepare the People’s Biodiversity Register in consultation with local people. These registers will have comprehensive information about local biological resources and knowledge about their medicinal and traditional uses. 

Role of Indigenous & Local Community  (ILC)

  • The act recognizes the role of ILCs in conserving biological resources over the years. Under the act, if the company uses local biological resources and has an annual turnover of more than Rs 3 crore, it will have to share 0.5% of sales with the local community.
  • It also provides for the involvement of ILCs through biodiversity management committees (BMCs) in the preparation of people’s biodiversity registers (PBRs).

Biodiversity Heritage Sites

  • Under the provisions of the Act, State Government, after consulting local bodies, can notify any area with biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS). 
  • In consultation with the Central Government, the State Government may frame rules for the management and conservation of BHS.

Issues with Act

  • Lack of Local Representation: Neither NBA nor State Biodiversity Boards have any representation from indigenous communities, forest-dwelling communities, or traditional knowledge practitioners. 
  • Corporate Collusion:  Big players in this industry are yet not registered with the respective State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs). Hence, these corporations are able to bypass the provision of taking permission prior to using local biological resources and the subsequent requirement of sharing royalty.
  • Less than 16% of local bodies had constituted Biodiversity Management Committees till 2016.
  • Less than 3% of local bodies have prepared the People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs). The absence of PBRs puts several endangered species at the risk of extinction and denies benefits to locals from the commercial use of biological resources.

Divya Pharmacy Case (2019)

  • Uttarakhand High Court has directed Divya Pharmacy to share part of its profits with the indigenous communities under the provisions of the Biodiversity Act, 2002. 
  • Judgement has said that both Indian and foreign companies are liable to pay indigenous and local communities for using the biological resources under the Biological Diversity Act, as the latter kept the traditional knowledge of biological resources alive over the years.  

TKDL (Traditional Knowledge Digital Library)

  • TKDL was started in 2001.
  • It is a collaboration project between CSIR & Ministry of AYUSH and implemented by CSIR.
  • TKDL acts as a bridge between traditional knowledge information existing in local languages & patent examiners at IPO (International Patent Offices). Whenever any MNC or foreign company tries to get a patent on traditional knowledge of Indians, TKDL files a complaint against it to stop biopiracy.
  • In the late 1990s, after granting Turmeric and basmati rice patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the neem patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), respectively, the Indian Government successfully achieved their repudiation. Thereafter, the biopiracy and unethical bioprospecting issue made headlines. This led to the coming of more patent claims. Due to India’s vast traditional medicine knowledge in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Tamil, it became impossible for patent examiners to verify such claims at the international patent offices. Thus, the Department of AYUSH, Government of India, was encouraged for the creation of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) in 2001.
  • Achievements Till 2010,
    • TKDL had transformed 148 books in the public sphere based on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga languages into information consisting of 34 million pages, and further translated them into five languages, namely, English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese.
    • TKDL has already received information on Ayurveda’s 80,000 formulations, Unani’s 1,000,000 and Siddha’s 12,000.
    • TKDL also signed an agreement with the world’s leading international patent offices, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), the United Kingdom Trademark and Patent Office (UKPTO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office with the primary objective of protecting conventional knowledge from biopiracy and further giving access to the database of TKDL by the patent examiners at International Patent Offices for enabling the purpose of patent search and examinations.
    • Pangaea Labs Limited (a UK-based company) filed a patent for a product based on Turmeric, pinebark, and green tea to treat hair loss. TKDL objected to this and proved it to be part of the Indian system of medicines like Ayurveda and Unani. As a result, Pangaea Labs withdrew its application. 
    • US company Colgate Palmolive applied for a patent for a mouthwash formula containing the herb Jayaphal (Nutmeg). The TKDL submitted proof against this, and the company withdrew the claim. 

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Before this Act, India had only 5 designated National parks. This was the first umbrella act that established schedules for plants & animals 

  • The act extends to the whole of India. 
  • Under the provisions of this law, hunting & harvesting of species were largely outlawed based on their names in Appendix.

Schedules of the Act

There are 6 schedules in this act, which give varying degrees of protection

Schedule 1 & Part 2 of Schedule 2

  • Absolute protection and the highest penalty.
  • Note: Animals in Schedule 1 cant be declared Vermin in any case. 

Schedule 3 & 4

  • Less penalties, but animals are protected.

Schedule 5

  • Schedule 5 is meant for vermin & pests.
  • No legal protection is provided to animals in Schedule 5. 
  • It includes rats, common crow, fruit-bat etc. 

Schedule 6

  • Schedule 6 includes the plants prohibited from plantation and cultivation. These include 
    1. Beddomes cycad 
    2. Blue Vanda 
    3. Kuth 
    4. Ladies slipper orchards 
    5. Red Vanda

Proposed Amendments

Amendment for the Wildlife (Protection) Act has been introduced, which seeks to rationalize the schedules from 6 to 4 by 

  • Reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level)
  • Removing the schedule for vermin species (Wild animals to be declared as Vermin by way of notification by the Central Government for any area and for a specified period.)
  • Inserting a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES
Wildlife (Protection) Act , 1972

Statutory Bodies under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

Statutory bodies under Wildlife Protection Act include 

1. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

  • NTCA works under the Environment Ministry.
  • It was made via amendment in 2006.
  • Its functions include strengthening tiger conservation. 
  • State Governments can declare any area to be a Tiger Reserve on the recommendation of NTCA. 

2. National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

  • It was constituted in 2002 via an amendment in the act.
  • Its function includes 
    1. Advice Central Government on framing policies for the conservation of wildlife.
    2. Approve projects around Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks.
    3. Alteration in the boundaries of National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries can be done only after the approval of NBWL.

3. Central Zoo Authority

  • Central Zoo Authority is the central body responsible for the oversight of zoos in India.

4. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)

  • It works under MoEFCC.
  • Its functions include 
    • Collection, collation of intelligence.
    • Establishment of Wildlife Crime data bank.
    • Advise the Indian Government on wildlife crimes.

Other notes regarding the Act

  • It protects the hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Organizations for Biodiversity Conservation

Organizations for Biodiversity Conservation

This article deals with ‘Organizations for Biodiversity Conservation  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)


  • IUCN, established in 1948, is one of the world’s oldest global environmental organizations.
  • It is an organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • IUCN is headquartered in Gland (Switzerland). 
  • Its members include both Nation States and NGOs. 
  • It has observer status at United Nations General Assembly.

Main functions of IUCN

  • IUCN’s mission is to encourage, influence, and assist societies worldwide to conserve nature and ensure sustainable and equitable use of natural resources  
  • It influences governments and industries through partnerships by providing information and advice. 
  • The organization collects, compiles and publishes the IUCN red list of threatened species.

Red List of IUCN

  • The Red Databook or Red list is a system of classifying plants and animals on the basis of their likelihood of extinction.
  • The concept of the Red list was mooted in 1963. Each year, scientists worldwide assess or reassess species & IUCN Red List is subsequently updated. The latest list was released in 2021.
  • This list helps Governments and NGOs prioritize their efforts to save the particular plant, animal etc. Special emphasis should be paid to species on the red list, and their trade should be banned CITES.

It has divided all flora and fauna into 9 groups

1. Extinct (Ex)

  • The last individual has died.

2. Extinct in Wild (EW)

  • Only surviving in captivity.

3. Critically Endangered (CR)

If the organism satisfies any one of the following conditions

(1) Reduction in population over the last ten years > 90% 
(2) Population size number less than 50 mature individuals
(3) Probability of extinction in wild 50% in ten years

4. Endangered (EN)

If the organism satisfies any one of the following conditions

(1) Reduction in population over the last ten years >70%
(2) Population size number less than 250 mature individuals
(3) Probability of extinction in wild 20% in twenty years

5. Vulnerable (VU)

If the organism satisfies any one of the following conditions

(1) Reduction in population over the last ten years >50%
(2) Population size number less than 10,000 mature individuals
(3) Probability of extinction in wild 10% in 100 years

6. Near Threatened (NT)

  • Doesn’t qualify above three but is close to qualifying in future.

7. Least Concern (LC)

  • These have widespread & abundant taxa.

8. Data Deficient

  • Enough data is not available to conclude.

9. Not Evaluated

  • Species that are not evaluated at all 
Organizations for Biodiversity Conservation

Note: Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable are also known as Threatened Species. 

Limitations of IUCN Redlist

  • IUCN Red List contains 9 groups & the 9th group is not evaluated. It contains thousands of species.
  • It is also likely that many species have or are in the process of becoming extinct but not receiving government protection efforts because they are in the 9th or 8th group.



  • CITES or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna & flora is the brainchild of IUCN.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva. 
  • It is an inter-governmental treaty to ensure that trade in the wildlife species doesn’t threaten their survival. 
  • It is also known as Washington Convention.
  • Limiting the trade of wildlife flora and fauna has become even more important due to frequent epidemics in the past few years like the SARS epidemic (bats), MERS-CoV (camels), Ebola (bats or non-human primates) and Nipah virus (bats).

Why illegal trade?

  • According to WHO, more than 50% of people in the world still use traditional medicines derived from animals and plants. In traditional Chinese and Asian medicine, the bones, tissues, and blood of tigers and the ivory of elephants are used to treat diseases like arthritis and impotence.
  • It is a multibillion-dollar industry, just like narcotic drugs trade with large supply chains.

How CITES work?

CITES has no enforcement authority of its own. It relies on the cooperation of various nations and classifies species into 3 Appendices to regulate their trade  

Appendix 1 Species threatened with extinction. E.g., Cheetah, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino etc.
Trade of these species is banned totally.
Appendix 2 Species that are not threatened with extinction, but maybe threatened if their trade is not controlled. Eg: Zebra, Black Bear, Queen Conch etc. 
Trader is required to get a licence to export such plants and animals.  
Appendix 3 Species that are listed as threatened in at least one country. 

CITES and India

  • CITES has undertaken many projects, especially with the help of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau under the Ministry of Environment. E.g., Project MIKE (Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants), Haathi Mere Saathi etc.
  • In recent times
    1. India has demanded to transfer Small Clawed Otters and Indian Star Tortoise from Appendix II to Appendix I.
    2. On the opposite side, India has also proposed to remove Rosewood from Appendix II.


1. It has no enforcement agency of its own

  • Hence, it depends on the agencies of different nations and their laws, which vary greatly 

2. Arena of the fight between Developed nations vs Developing nations 

  • CITES has become an arena of battle between developed nations, which promote a ban on trade in endangered species and developing nations, which see such trade as an economic resource. 

3. Introduction of Non-Native species

  • Sometimes, confiscated endangered species are released into nature in a country where it is confiscated instead of sending it back to their native habitat. It has potential ecological impacts. E.g., Malayan Pangolin was released in China. 

4. Placing species in the Appendix is counterproductive

  • If any species is included in Appendix I, it drives up the prices for that species, encouraging more hunting and poaching for trade. It was seen in the case of rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory, and tiger bone.  


  • WWF = World Wide Fund for Nature.
  • It was established in 1961.
  • Mission: “To conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.”
  • Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland
  • It runs a large number of projects in partnership with governments and bodies.


  • It is also known as Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.
  • TRAFFIC is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) co-founded by WWF and IUCN, working on the global trade of wild plants and animals.
  • The aim is to ensure that trade in the wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. 
  • Headquartered in Cambridge (United Kingdom).
  • One of the major programs of TRAFFIC was Project Shatoosh (for Chiru).
  • It also passed a resolution in United Nations for combatting the illegal wildlife trade. 
  • It has also started a program for the protection of Indian Pangolins.
  • TRAFFIC’s latest campaign is the WANTED ALIVE series on the four Asian big cats- Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard—all of them threatened by the illegal trade in their body parts.

Bombay National History Society (BNHS)

  • BNHS is an autonomous organization.
  • It deals with the conservation of flora and fauna, education and ecological conservation.
  • It is headquartered in Coimbatore
  • It has partnered with the Government of India to establish Salim Ali Centre on Ornithology and Natural History, which is an institute of higher learning which gives MPhil and PhD in Ornithology and Natural History.

Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

This article deals with ‘Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here


1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands  
1972 Stockholm Meet / United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
It led to Stockholm Declaration, which (1) recognized human impact on the environment; (2) recognized the need for nations to design integrative development plans to lessen air, land, and water pollution and human impact on the environment; (3) create regulations for protecting wildlife and conserving the natural resources and (4) creation national population policies.
It also led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), headquartered in Nairobi.
India passed Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972 and started Project Tiger (in 1973) as a direct result of this.  
1975 Limits to Growth Theory
It is a pessimistic model of how humans will cause their own end by 2022 (given by the Club of Rome).  
1982 10th anniversary of UNEP.  
1985 Vienna Convention signed
To save the ozone layer. Subsequently, Montreal Protocol was signed.   
1987 Brundtland Report
Brundtland Commission published a report known as ‘Our Common Future’ in which it gave the concept of Sustainable Development.  
1988 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed 
By UNEP and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The major work of IPCC is to provide an objective scientific view of climate change as well as its socio-economic impact.
The work of IPCC is to produce reports so that UNFCCC can work to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.   
1992 Rio Earth Summit held (on the 20th anniversary of UNEP)
Three documents were opened for signature on 5th June 1992 at Rio Earth Summit
1. United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity  
2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  
3. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)  
1992 Global Environment Facility established 
It works under World Bank.  
2002 Millennium Development Goals announced (on the 30th anniversary of the UNEP / Stockholm Declaration)  
2012 Sustainable Development Goals announced (on the 40th anniversary of the UNEP / Stockholm Declaration)

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

  • It is an organization under the United Nations.
  • It was formed in 1972 as a direct result of the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. 
  • It is headquartered in Nairobi.

Earth Summit

  • 1992 marked the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration (United Nations Conference on the Human Environment).
  • Earth Summit or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was held in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro to commemorate this and discuss further steps.
  • It led to the following important conventions wrt Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification.
    1. United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity 
    2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  
    3. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 

Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD)


  • It aims to 
    1. Protect Biodiversity
    2. Safe use of biotechnology 
    3. Fair use of genetic resources
  • It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
  • CBD has a membership of 193 countries (the USA & Andorra are the only non-member countries).
  • It is a legally binding treaty.
  • CBD accepts the sovereign right of states on their biological resources but places the responsibility of conserving biodiversity on the states. States should create National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) for this. 
  • CBD recognizes the close & traditional dependence of indigenous & local communities on biological resources & the need to ensure that these communities share the benefits arising from the use of their traditional knowledge & practices relating to conservation & sustainable use of biodiversity.
  • Funds are provided by GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF), which works under World Bank.

Conference of Parties and Protocols

  • Signatories of CBD meet regularly at conferences known as the Conference of Parties (CoP). 
  • In these CoPs, countries reach at various agreements known as Protocols. E.g., Under CBD, the Nagoya Protocol (for fair use of genetic resources) and Cartagena Protocol (for safe use of biotechnology) have been signed. 

Timeline of various CoPs and Protocols of CBD

1994 CoP-1 was held in Nassau (Bahamas)
2000 An extraordinary Conference of Parties (Ex-CoP) was held in Cartagena, and Cartagena Biosafety Protocol was signed.
2010 CoP-10 was held in Nagoya (Japan), and Nagoya Protocol was signed.
2012 COP was held in Hyderabad in India
2014 CoP was held in Pyeongchang in South Korea
2016 CoP was held in Cancun in Mexico
2018 CoP was held in  Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt
2021 CoP-15 will be held in Kunming in China
Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD)

India and CBD

  • India has ratified the CBD. 
  • India has also enacted Biological Diversity Act, 2002
  • India was President of CBD from 2012-to 201414 because in 2012, COP was held in Hyderabad. The present President is China.

Why the USA hasn’t ratified?

  • Provision of CBD that concerns the USA is that which calls for technology transfer for developing countries. USA thinks it would threaten its IPR.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety


  • Since the domestication of the first crops & farm animals, humans have altered their genetic makeup through selective breeding & cross-fertilization. But in recent years, advances in biotech techniques have enabled scientists to cross the species barrier. E.g., Tomato has been modified using a gene from cold-water fish to protect plants from frost.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become part of an increasing number of products, including foods, food additives, beverages, drugs, fuels etc. It has raised concern about side effects on human health & environment, including risk to biodiversity. 
  • Cartagena Protocol (under the Convention of Biodiversity) was signed in 2000 to address the potential risks posed by the cross border trade & accidental release of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs).
  • India is a member of the Cartagena Protocol.


Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

1. Advanced Informed Agreement

  • Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) is to ensure that member countries have access to the necessary information to make an informed decision before importing such organisms into their territory.

2. Biosafety Clearing House

  • To signal whether the country is willing to accept the import of agricultural commodities, including LMOs.

3. Clear Labelling

  • Commodities that may contain LMOs are to be clearly labelled when they are being exported.

Can a country ban import of LMO

  • The country can ban the import of genetically modified organisms if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence that the product is safe.

Nagoya Protocol

Nagoya Protocol
  • Full Name: Nagoya Protocol on the access to genetic resources & fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization.
  • The Protocol was signed at the Conference of Parties-10 (CoP-10) to Convention on Biodiversity, which was held in Nagoya (Japan) in 2010. If Kyoto entered history as a city where the climate accord was born, Nagoya would be remembered as a city where Biodiversity Accord was born. Subsequently, it became operational in 2014 at Pyeongchang CoP (South Korea).
  • It is a legally binding agreement.
  • Only those countries that are members of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) can sign the Nagoya Protocol. Hence, USA and Andorra are not the members.

What is sharing the benefits of genetic resources?

  • Most of the world’s biodiversity is found in developing countries which consider it a resource for fuelling their economic & social development. Foreign bio-prospectors have searched for natural substances to develop new commercial products such as drugs & medicines. The product such developed would often be sold & protected by patents or other IPR without giving fair benefit to source countries. Hence, in the whole process, all parties suffer because biopirates don’t share profit, and as a result, countries are unwilling to share their genetic resources with MNCs (biopirates).
  • The provision of access and benefit-sharing comes into the picture in such a situation. Under access and benefit-sharing, if any foreign or Indian company or any individual wants to get access to Indian biological resources like medicinal plants or traditional knowledge associated with that, that entity has to take consent from National Biodiversity Board. The board can impose a condition on the entity to share benefits in the form of royalty fees or profit-sharing arising from the commercialization of that product. 

Basis of Nagoya Protocol

  • CBD recognizes national sovereignty on all genetic resources & provides that access to valuable biological resources be carried out on mutually agreed terms & subject to prior informed consent of the country of origin.
  • When a microorganism, plant or animal is used for a commercial application, the country from where it has come has the right to benefit.
  • Such benefits include 
    1. Cash 
    2. Samples of what is collected from the source country 
    3. Participation or training of national researchers 
    4. Transfer of biotech equipment & know-how 
    5. Shares of any profit from the use of resource 
  • Nagoya protocol covers  
    • Genetic resources 
    • Derivatives (antibodies, vitamins, enzymes, active compounds & metabolics)
    • Traditional Knowledge associated with genetic resources 
  • It doesn’t apply on 
    • Genetic resources covered under special access & benefit sharing agreements like (1) Framework for Pandemic Preparedness of WHO and (2) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for food & agriculture.
    • Human genetic material  
    • Genetic resources acquired before the protocol 

Obligations of the country under Nagoya Protocol

  1. Obligations related to access to genetic resources
    • Each party is required to create unambiguous & clear legal processes related to access to genetic resources.
  2. Obligations related to benefit-sharing 
    • It provides for fair & equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources with the contracting party providing genetic resources subject to mutually agreed terms.
    • The benefit may be monetary (royalties) or non-monetary (sharing of research results).
  3. Compliance obligations  
    • Party should cooperate in cases of the alleged violation of another contracting party’s requirement.

Implications of Nagoya Protocol on the economy such as India

  • India would benefit as it is the most genetically diverse nation in the world.
  • Now MNCs / bio-prospectors making use of Indian genetic resources in making commercial products would have to share profit with India.

Bonn Convention

  • Bonn Convention is the Convention on the conservation of migratory Species of Wild Animals.
  • It was established under the aegis of UNEP in 1983.
  • Bonn Convention brings together the States through which migratory animals pass and take coordinated conservation measures. 
  • It has two Appendix  
    • Appendix I – Migratory species threatened with extinction
    • Appendix II – Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international cooperation