CSAT 2014 Study Note -1

High Level Working Group (HLWG)  report on Western Ghats

The Working Group was constituted to advise the Government on the recommendations of an earlier report – that of the eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). The WGEEP had recommended that the entire Western Ghats should be declared as an ecologically sensitive area; had suggested three levels of categorization where regulatory measures for protection would be imposed and had recommended the establishment of the Western Ghats Ecology Authority for management.

HLWG report draws upon the basic framework suggested by WGEEP to use remote sensing technologies to demarcate the ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats but with two key differences. First; it used satellite data, down to 24 m resolution, as against 9 km used by WGEEP

Second, it distinguishes between the cultural and the natural landscape of the region. Using remote sensing technology, it has found that the cultural landscape – which includes human settlements, agricultural fields and plantations -- covers 58.44 per cent of the region. The natural landscape ranges over the remaining 41.56 per cent.

Its conclusion, based on this methodology, is that roughly 37 per cent of the total area defined as the boundary of the Western Ghats is ecologically sensitive. Over this area of some 60,000 sq km, spread over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the HLWG has recommended a prohibitory regime on those activities with maximum interventionist and destructive impact on the environment.

The main reasons of air pollution in Delhi are vehicular exhaust emission and re-suspension of roadside dust. Different fuels, i.e., diesel, petrol, CNG, LPG, etc., are used in vehicles in Delhi. There in an decreasing trend in the levels of Sulphur Dioxide in ambient air during 1995-2010 in Delhi due to reduction in sulphur content in diesel, apart from other reasons

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. These Rules have, inter-alia, specified that plastic carry bags should have a minimum thickness of 40 microns, food stuffs cannot be packed in recycled plastics or compostable plastics and no carry bags shall be made available free of cost to consumers.

Buffer zones/eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Sanctuaries are considered desirable to ensure the integrity of the National Parks and Sanctuaries so that the same can act as a ‘transition zone’ from areas of higher protection to areas of lower protection.

Biomethanation plant is a waste to energy plant. Methanogenesis or biomethanation is the formation of methane by microbes known as methanogens. Organisms capable of producing methane have been identified only from the domain Archaea, a group phylogenetically distinct from both eukaryotes and bacteria, although many live in close association with anaerobic bacteria. The production of methane is an important and widespread form of microbial metabolism. In most environments, it is the final step in the decomposition of biomass.

A landfill site (dumping ground) is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment.Poisonous leachate can also leak from the landfill contaminating nearby soil and groundwater. The risks from waste leachate are due to its high organic contaminant concentrations and high concentration of ammonia. Pathogenic microorganisms that might be present in it are often cited as the most important, but pathogenic organism counts reduce rapidly with time in the landfill, so this only applies to the most fresh leachate.

In 2011, several Indian cities embarked on waste-to-energy projects of the type in use in Germany, Switzerland and Japan. For example, New Delhi is implementing two incinerator projects aimed at turning the city’s trash problem into electricity resource. These plants are being welcomed for addressing the city’s chronic problems of excess untreated waste and a shortage of electric power. They are also being welcomed by those who seek to prevent water pollution, hygiene problems, and eliminate rotting trash that produces potent greenhouse gas methane.

Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and heat.

Flue gas is the gas exiting to the atmosphere via a flue, which is a pipe or channel for conveying exhaust gases from a fireplace, oven, furnace, boiler or steam generator. Quite often, the flue gas refers to the combustion exhaust gas produced at power plants. Its composition depends on what is being burned, but it will usually consist of mostly nitrogen (typically more than two-thirds) derived from the combustion air, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water vapor as well as excess oxygen (also derived from the combustion air). It further contains a small percentage of a number of pollutants, such as particulate matter (like soot), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides

Incineration with energy recovery is one of several waste-to-energy (WtE) technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion. While incineration and gasification technologies are similar in principle, the energy product from incineration is high-temperature heat whereas combustible gas is often the main energy product from gasification.

Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700 °C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The resulting gas mixture is called syngas (from synthesis gas or synthetic gas) or producer gas and is itself a fuel. The power derived from gasification and combustion of the resultant gas is considered to be a source of renewable energy if the gasified compounds were obtained from biomass

Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen (or any halogen). It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro "fire" and lysis "separating".  In general, pyrolysis of organic substances produces gas and liquid products and leaves a solid residue richer in carbon content, char. Extreme pyrolysis, which leaves mostly carbon as the residue, is called carbonization.

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