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Friday 10 July 2020

World Environment Day: India, world sensitised

Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued an appeal to live in harmony with nature; scientists in Goa shared the impact of microplastics and the UN sensitised the people to the impact of pollution on their health and longevity

Washington, DC: The World Environment Day, which is being observed on 5 June, is seeing India, as much as the world, share studies and politicians issue appeals for the conservation of the earth and the atmosphere.

Modi appeals on World Environment Day

Living in harmony with nature will lead to a better future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday on the World Environment Day.

“Our planet and environment is something we all cherish greatly. Today on #WorldEnvironmentDay, we reiterate our commitment to ensure a cleaner planet,” the prime minister tweeted.

Living in harmony with nature will lead to a better future, he said and posted a short video.

In the video, he said planting saplings is not enough and people have to take care of it till it becomes a tree.

Goa: Impact of microplastics

Scientists have underlined the need to conduct a detailed study on the impact of microplastics on the mangrove ecosystem in the country, as it is believed that these tiny plastic particles can adversely affect marine life. In Goa, the previous studies by the CSIR-NIO (National Institute of Oceanography), located near Panaji, had confirmed the presence of microplastics along the coastline in the famous tourist destination.

Researchers feel that studies can be done in selected sites like the Zuari, Mandovi, Chapora, Terekhol, Talpona and Galgibag rivers and in Salim Ali bird sanctuary near Panaji.

Microplastics, measuring less than five mm, come from a variety of sources including larger plastic debris that degrades into tinier pieces.

These small particles can easily pass into the sea and other water bodies, posing a potential threat to aquatic life.

“It is important to know what type of microplastics are accumulated in the mangrove sediments and sediment-related flora and fauna, and their sources in abundance.

“The findings will provide new insight into distribution, transportation and transformation of microplastics in mangrove ecosystems located on the semi-enclosed sea,” said Dr Mahua Saha, Senior Scientist with CSIR-NIO, on the sidelines of the World Environment Day Wednesday.

Scientists have conducted a preliminary study of the mangrove ecosystem in the Mandovi river, but the need for detailed research is felt to find out the exact impact of microplastics on this eco-system.

“There is no detailed study on the impact of microplastics on the mangrove eco-system in India. The countries like Singapore, Malaysia and China have conducted the studies bringing in results that are alarming,” said Saha.

Underlining the importance of such study, she said the mangrove eco-systems always serve as buffers and act as barriers to prevent delivery of land-based inorganic and organic contaminants into the sea.

“However, limited information is available on the distributions of microplastics in the mangrove ecosystems,” the senior scientist said.

Saha said the Indian mangrove vegetation is the fourth largest in the world, which is distributed along the coastline and occupies 8% of the total world mangrove covering 6749 sq km.

The entire mangrove habitats in India are situated in east coast, west coast and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

“East coast zone ranges from Sundarban forest of West Bengal to Cauvery estuary of Tamil Nadu and comprises 70% mangroves while the west coast region, which stretches from Bhavnagar estuary of Gujarat to Cochin estuary of Kerala, constitutes 15% mangroves.

“Various species of mangroves are reported along the coast of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, respectively, in western India,” Saha said, adding that mangrove vegetation in Goa is spread on 500 hectares.

UN expresses concern on World Environment Day

Air pollution, both outside and inside homes, is a silent and deadly killer responsible for the premature deaths of seven million people each year, including 600,000 children, according to a UN Special Rapporteur on environment and human rights.

David Boyd, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, said that over six billion people, one-third of them children, are regularly inhaling air so polluted that it puts their life, health and well-being at risk.

Every hour, 800 people are dying, many after years of suffering from cancer, respiratory illnesses or heart disease directly caused by breathing bad air.

Air pollutants are everywhere, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and heating, as well as from industrial activities, poor waste management and agricultural practice.

Women and children, who in many less wealthy countries spend a lot of time at home, are disproportionally affected by indoor air pollution caused by cooking, heating or lighting with solid fuels and kerosene.

Boyd identified seven key steps, which include monitoring air quality and impact on human health, assessing sources of air pollution; and making information publicly available, including public health advisories.

Programmes in India and Indonesia that have helped millions of poor families switch to cleaner cooking technologies and states that are successfully eliminating the use of coal-fired power plants are a few examples of good practices.

Also, many actions to ensure cleaner air can be designed to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, resulting in a double dividend.

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