Govt. allows Indian companies to list on foreign exchanges through IFSC
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that Indian companies could now directly list their shares on foreign exchanges operating at the GIFT City-based International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gujarat.
“I had said in May 2020 that direct listing of securities by public Indian companies would be permissible in foreign jurisdictions. Now I am pleased to announce that the government has taken a decision to enable direct listing of listed and unlisted companies on the IFSC exchanges,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
“This is a major step forward to enable Indian companies to access global capital at better valuations,” she added.
The Finance Minister was in Mumbai to inaugurate a Limited Purpose Clearing Corporation (LPCC) mechanism called AMC Repo Clearing Ltd. (ARCL) and the Corporate Debt Market Development Fund (CDMDF) which will help in the development of a vibrant corporate bond market in India. The FM had made an announcement on this during her budget speech of 2021-22.
The LPCC has been set up with the purpose of clearing and settling corporate bond repo transactions and to develop an active repo market. This is expected to improve liquidity in the underlying corporate bond market. The LPCC will allow market makers to access cost-effective funding for their inventory, bondholders to meet their short term liquidity needs without having to liquidate their assets, and entities with short term surpluses to deploy their funds in a safe and efficient manner.
In times of market dislocation, CDMDF will have access to capital worth ₹33,000 crore to purchase and hold eligible corporate debt securities from participating investors (i.e., specified debt-oriented MF schemes to begin with) and to sell these securities as markets recover.
Ms. Sitharaman said that the lack of a central counterparty had been cited as one of the reasons for the failure of a market for repo transactions in corporate bonds to take off.
Facts about the News
Indian companies to list on foreign exchanges
- Indian companies can now list their shares on foreign exchanges operating at GIFT City-based International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gujarat.
- This will enable Indian companies to access global capital at better valuations.
- A Limited Purpose Clearing Corporation (LPCC) mechanism called AMC Repo Clearing Ltd. (ARCL) and the Corporate Debt Market Development Fund (CDMDF) were inaugurated by the finance minister.
- The LPCC has been set up with the purpose of clearing and settling corporate bond repo transactions and to develop an active repo market.
- CDMDF, initially, will have a corpus of ₹33,000 crore capital.
About Limited Purpose Clearing Corporation Mechanism
- The aim of the mechanism is to address and resolve disputes and claims arising from transactions cleared by the LPCC.
- Accordingly, this mechanism aims to settle disputes among the following:
- disputes between clearing members,
- disputes between clearing members and their clients,
- disputes between the LPCC and its vendors/suppliers/service providers,
- disputes between clearing members or its clients and the LPCC.
- All disputes between a Clearing Member and the LPCC must be resolved according to the dispute resolution mechanism prescribed by SEBI.
- In case, a Clearing Member or the LPCC is not satisfied with the decision as per such mechanism-
- Then the disputes must be resolved in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 and rules and directions notified thereunder.
What is a Clearing Corporation?
- A clearing corporation is an organization associated with an exchange to handle the confirmation, settlement, and delivery of transactions.
- Clearing corporations fulfill the main obligation of ensuring transactions are made in a prompt and efficient manner.
About Corporate Debt Market Development Fund (CDMDF)
- The CDMDF will purchase investment grade corporate bonds from fund houses in distress to help them meet redemption requests.
- It will also prevent disruption in fund raising in corporate bond markets during such crises.
- Hence, CDMDF will act as a key enabler for facilitating liquidity in the corporate debt market and help quick response in times of market dislocation.
What is a Repo Market?
- A repurchase agreement (repo) agreement or repo market is a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities.
- In the case of a repo, a dealer sells government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day at a slightly higher price.
- That small difference in price is the implicit overnight interest rate.
- Repos are typically used to raise short-term capital.
- They are also a common tool of central bank open market operations.
Note: Repos and reverse repos are used for short-term borrowing and lending, often with a tenor of overnight to 48 hours.
Charting the path for the Sixteenth Finance Commission
The vertical and horizontal dimensions
The Fourteenth Finance Commission had raised the share of States in the divisible pool of central taxes to 42% from 32%. This was revised to 41% when the number of States in India was reduced to 28. However, the Centre could manage the situation because of the withdrawal of Planning Commission grants as the Planning Commission was abolished. There may not be a strong case for recommending any further increase in the States’ share of central taxes in view of the Centre’s large fiscal imbalances. Alongside, a re-examination of the role of non-shareable cesses and surcharges is required.
During 2020-21 to 2023-24 (BE), the effective share of States in the Centre’s gross tax revenues (GTR) averaged close to 31%, which was significantly lower than the corresponding share of nearly 35% during 2015-16 to 2019-20. This was due to the inordinate increase in the share of cesses and surcharges to 18.5% of the Centre’s GTR during 2020-21 to 2023-24 (BE) from 12.8% during 2015-16 to 2019-20. This heavy reliance on cesses and surcharges requires scrutiny by the Sixteenth Finance Commission. One option is to freeze the share of cesses and surcharges to some base number.
In the period under the Thirteenth Finance Commission, this share was just 9.6%. Perhaps, a 10% upper limit of the share of cesses and surcharges as a percentage of Centre’s GTR may be recommended. To make it biting, the share of States must be increased if the proportion crosses 10%. Thus, there will be one proportion, say 42%, if cesses and surcharges exceed 10%, and another share of 41% if they are 10% or below. The formula may be nuanced by the Sixteenth Finance Commission with the help of the latest data. An issue of concern in recent years has been the poor performance of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the consequent decline in total divisible pool. Fortunately, this is not an issue now. GST collections have maintained good buoyancy in the last two years. GST still needs restructuring to make it a good and simple tax.
The share of individual States in the Centre’s divisible pool of taxes is determined by a set of indicators that includes population, per capita income, area, and incentive-related factors such as forest cover and demographic change. In the case of per capita income, it is the distance of a State’s per capita income from a benchmark, usually kept at the average per capita income of the top three States that is used as a determining factor. This distance criterion implies relatively larger shares for relatively lower income States. At present, it has the highest weight of 45% — it had an even higher weight previously. Many of the richer States have argued for a lowering of the weight given to this criterion.
However, due attention needs to be paid to the needs of the lower income States. These States are expected to provide a relatively larger share of ‘demographic dividend’ to India in future provided attention is paid to the educational and health needs of their populations. It may be useful to freeze the weight to distance criterion at the current level or even reduce it to 40%, but some upward adjustment in the resources transferred to the poorer States may be done through grants.
In fact, equalisation of the provision of education and health services should be prioritised in the overall scheme of resource transfers. Instead of using a large number of tax devolution criteria, the transfer of resources to individual States may be guided by the equalisation principle using a limited number of criteria such as population, area and distance, supplemented by a suitable scheme of grants. The equalisation principle is consistent with both equity and efficiency. It is used in federations such as Canada and Australia. The basic consideration of reflecting needs, costs of providing services, and equity considerations can all be reflected through these three criteria, provided there is more fine-tuning.
The debt-GDP ratio for the combined account of central and State governments had peaked at 89.8% in 2020-21, of which the Centre’s debt-GDP ratio excluding any on-lending to the States amounted to 58.7%, and that of States was 31%. While these numbers have begun coming down, these are still considerably above the corresponding Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) norms of 40% and 20%, as in the 2018 amendment. In 2020-21, the Centre’s fiscal deficit had shot up to 9.2% of GDP and that of States to 4.1%. In view of the large departures of the debt and fiscal deficit to GDP ratios from their corresponding norms and the reduction of the States’ debt-GDP target to 20%, the 2018 amendment to the Centre’s FRBM needs to be re-examined. This was also recommended by the Fifteenth Finance Commission.
The Twelfth Finance Commission had recommended a target of 28% consistent with an underlying nominal GDP growth of 12%. It is also clear that the adjustment needed for the central government is larger than that for State governments. At the same time, a few State governments appear to have relatively larger debt and fiscal deficit numbers relative to their GSDPs. In this context, two concerns appear: these relate to the proliferation of subsidies and the re-introduction of the old pension scheme in States without a clear identification of the sources of financing and the resultant fiscal burdens. Often, such subsidies are sought to be financed by raising the fiscal deficit.
Reforms worth pursuing
One innovation which may be relevant in this context is to set up a loan council, as recommended by the Twelfth Finance Commission. This independent body should oversee the loan magnitudes and profiles of the central and State governments. The Sixteenth Finance Commission should examine the subject of non-merit subsidies in detail. However, exclusion of ‘unjustified’ subsidies while determining grants may cause the Finance Commission to be caught in political crossfire.
At the same time, one cannot afford to be relaxed with respect to subsidies and fiscal deficit. The Finance Commission should be strict about States maintaining fiscal deficit within limits. It should provide carrots to States maintaining fiscal deficit (for example including fiscal performance as a criterion in horizontal distribution) and sticks for those that exceed fiscal deficit limits (by suitably acting on the extent of borrowing allowed).
Correcting excessive cesses, freezing the weight for income distance criterion, and sharper monitoring of fiscal deficit are the areas that need attention.
Facts about the News
Charting the path for the Sixteenth Finance Commission
- The Sixteenth Finance Commission is due to be set up shortly by the President on the recommendations of the central government.
- Key Highlights:
- The Fourteenth Finance Commission had raised the share of States in the divisible pool of central taxes to 42% from 32%.
- This was revised to 41% when the number of States in India was reduced to 28 by the Fifteenth Finance Commission.
- There may not be a strong case for recommending any further increase in the States’ share including in non-shareable cesses and surcharges.
- The share of cesses and surcharges to the Centre’s GTR (Gross Tax Revenue) increased from 12.8% during 2016-20 to 18.5% of GTR during 2020-21 to 2023-24 (BE).
- In the period under the Thirteenth Finance Commission, this share was just 9.6%.
- The share of individual States in the Centre’s divisible pool of taxes is determined by a set of indicators that includes:
- per capita income,
- area along with incentive-related factors such as forest cover and
- demographic change.
What is the Finance Commission?
- The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution
- The president constitutes it after every five years.
- The commission gives its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.
- Finance Commission consists of a chairman and four additional members, who are selected by the president of India.
- They serve for the length of time indicated by the president in his order.
- Members of the commission have a chance to be re-appointed.
What is Tax Revenue?
Tax Revenue forms part of the Receipt Budget, which in turn is a part of the Annual Financial Statement of the Union Budget.
It includes revenues collected from taxes on income and profits, social security contributions, taxes levied on goods and services, payroll taxes, taxes on the ownership and transfer of property, and other taxes.
The tax-to-GDP ratio is a measure of a nation’s tax revenue relative to the size of its economy.
- This ratio is used with other metrics to determine how well a nation’s government directs its economic resources via taxation.
- Developed nations typically have higher tax-to-GDP ratios than developing nations.
- Functions of the Commission:
- The distribution of net proceeds of taxes to be shared and allocated between the centre and the states.
- The rules for the centre that govern the grants and aid to the states by the centre.
- To make a proper course of action for increasing consolidated funds of the state.
- To give advice on such financial matters which the president refers to it.
- The Finance Commission submits its report to the president of India, and the president lays down it before both the houses of parliament.
- Advisory Role of Commission:
- Finance Commission is a recommendatory body. It gives advice to the president.
- The president then considers the recommendation for making a decision in financial matters.
- The president is not bound for the advice made by the commission.
- The report given by the Finance Commission to the president cannot be challenged in court. It is not under the ambit of judicial review.
- The Chairman of the Commission shall be selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs.
- The four other members shall be selected from among persons who
- (a) are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
- (b) have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
- (c) have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
- (d) have special knowledge of economics.
Criteria for devolution
Understanding the Criteria for Devolution:
- Income distance: Income distance is the distance of a state’s income from the state with the highest income.
- Demographic performance: The demographic performance criterion has been used to reward efforts made by states in controlling their population.
- States with a lower fertility ratio will be scored higher on this criterion.
- Forest and ecology: This criterion has been arrived at by calculating the share of the dense forest of each state in the total dense forest of all the states.
- Tax and fiscal efforts: This criterion has been used to reward states with higher tax collection efficiency.
- Note: The first chairman of the Finance Commission was K.C Neogy. The 15th Finance Commission is headed by former revenue secretary and former Rajya Sabha member, N.K Singh.
What is a Cess?
- Cess is a form of tax charged/levied over and above the base tax liability of a taxpayer.
- A cess is usually imposed additionally when the state or the central government looks to raise funds for specific purposes.
- Cess is not a permanent source of revenue for the government, and it is discontinued when the purpose levying it is fulfilled.
- It can be levied on both indirect and direct taxes.
- While all taxes go to the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), cess may initially go to the CFI but has to be used for the purpose for which it was collected.
- If the cess collected in a particular year goes unspent, it cannot be allocated for other purposes.
- The amount gets carried over to the next year and can only be used for the cause it was meant for.
- The central government does not need to share the cess with the state government either partially or in full, unlike some other taxes.
- Examples: Education Cess, Swachh Bharat Cess, Krishi Kalyan Cess, etc.
What is Surcharge?
A surcharge — or additional charge — is essentially a tax levied on a tax.
Surcharge is usually added to the existing tax and is generally, not mentioned in the price of the good.
For example if the initial tax rate is 30% and an additional 10% of surcharge is added to it, the total tax burden will rise to about 33%.
Climate change calls for a renewed sense of urgency
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, this week reiterated the consequences of the climate catastrophe that has enveloped the globe. The earth had passed from a warming phase into an “era of global boiling”, he said at the UN’s headquarters in New York. His comments come even as scientific evidence converges on the conclusion that July is set to be the hottest month in the last 12,000 years. This was a “disaster” for the whole planet, he said, noting that “short of a mini-Ice Age over the next few days, July 2023 will shatter records everywhere”. Scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service described conditions this month as “rather remarkable and unprecedented”, with July seeing the hottest three-week period on record. Average July temperature so far has been 16.95° Celsius, 0.2° C warmer than in July 2019 — a record in the 174-year observational data of the European Union.
With ocean temperatures on the rise and the Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean transitioning from La Niña conditions — where average sea surface temperatures are below normal — to El Niño conditions, the opposite, it was widely expected that temperatures would be warmer than that in the last three years (when La Niña prevailed). However, it is the distribution and impact of the 16.95° C, which includes temperature in northwest China touching 52° C; wildfires in Greece and the baking heat in the United States’ Southwest. The extraordinarily high rains in north and western India, while largely due to prevailing monsoon conditions, were also due to the warm air increasing atmospheric capacity to hold moisture resulting in short torrential bursts, causing floods and devastation. While climate prognostication induces pessimism, Mr. Guterres said that it was still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5° C and avoid the very worst of climate change but only with “dramatic, immediate climate action”. At a G-20 ministerial meet in Chennai the same day, the COP28 President-designate, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, also emphasised that the world’s largest economies should be more ambitious with emission cuts. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to make India the “third largest economy” if his party is re-elected in the general election, it will also mean greater pressure on India to take on a greater share of greenhouse gas mitigation responsibilities. This could mean advancing its net zero commitments from 2070 to 2050, as Mr. Guterres says, and generating fossil-free electricity by 2040. While these are the testy points on which climate negotiations hinge, the climate — it bears reminding — waits for nobody.
Facts about the News
Mercury rising: On an ‘era of global boiling’
- The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said that the earth had passed from a warming phase into an “era of global boiling”.
- His comments come even as scientific evidence converges on the conclusion that July is set to be the hottest month in the last 12,000 years.
- Average July temperature so far has been 16.95° Celsius, 0.2° C warmer than in July 2019 — a record in the 174-year observational data of the European Union.
- This could be attributed the transition from the La Niña conditions to the El Niño conditions in the Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
What are El Niño and La Niña?
- El Niño and La Niña are climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.
- During normal conditions in the Pacific ocean, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia.
- To replace that warm water, cold water rises from the depths — a process called upwelling.
- El Niño and La Niña are two opposing climate patterns that break these normal conditions.
- Scientists call these phenomena the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.
- El Niño and La Niña can both have global impacts on weather, wildfires, ecosystems, and economies.
- Episodes of El Niño and La Niña typically last nine to 12 months, but can sometimes last for years.
- El Nino phenomenon was first noticed by the scientists in the 1920s, though local populations in Peru and Ecuador were aware of the periodic warming much earlier.
- The La Nina phenomenon, on the other hand, was discovered only in the 1980s.
About El Niño
- El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
- El Niño means Little Boy in Spanish.
- El Niño is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
- During El Niño, trade winds weaken. Warm water is pushed back east, toward the west coast of the Americas.
- The warmer waters cause the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position.
- El Niño events occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals.
In Image: El Niño weakens the trade winds moving towards India. This results in eventual weakening of Indian Monsoon.
About La Niña
- La Niña means Little Girl in Spanish.
- La Niña has the opposite effect of El Niño. During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia.
The Impact on Indian Monsoon
- El Nino, as is commonly known, refers to an abnormal warming of surface waters in equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is known to suppress monsoon rainfall. The opposite phase, La Nina, which is the abnormal cooling of sea surface waters in the same region, is known to aid rainfall over India.
About UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC)
- The UNFCCC sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation.
- Objective: To stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
- The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994.
- The 198 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention
- In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement, which requires all parties to determine, plan, and regularly report on the nationally determined contribution (NDC) that it undertakes to mitigate climate change.
- Note: The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference will convene from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is at this meeting that the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) will occur.
Land-use changes putting rocky addresse of animals under stress in Sahyadri plateau
A saw-scaled viper under an upturned rock. Special arrangement
The rapid shift from traditional local grain cultivation to monoculture plantations of mango and cashew in the Sahyadri plateaus of Maharashtra is impacting elusive amphibians, insects, and reptiles that live under a crop of loose rocks.
A team of five scientists upturned more than 7,000 rocks over a considerable period of time to find out how animals ranging from ants to snakes are responding to land-use changes in rocky habitats. Their study has been published in the Global Ecology and Conservation, a peer-reviewed international journal.
The study was carried out by Vijayan Jithin, Manali Rane, Aparna Watve, Varad Giri, and Rohit Naniwadekar representing Nature Conservation Foundation-India (NCF), Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), and the Ahmedabad-based Reliance Foundation.
The animals the scientists focused on included the white-striped viper gecko (Hemidactylus albofasciatus) reported only from small parts of the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, the Seshachari’s caecilian (Gegeneophis seshachari), a unique legless amphibian that mostly lives under soil, the saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus), ants, spiders, and scorpions.
The loose rocks shelter these animals – some endemic and threatened – from scorching heat during summer and heavy monsoon rains. They have evolved to survive on the rocky plateaus, but their adaptability to changing conditions may not be enough for the pace of shift in the land-use pattern.
“The rapidly changing agricultural trends in the rock outcrops include abandoning traditional local grain cultivation, and establishing monoculture plantations of mango and cashew by destroying the natural plateaus,” Ms. Rane, the co-author of the study and a researcher at BEAG said.
“More intensive studies are needed to understand how the socio-ecological impacts of traditional paddy abandonment benefits an amphibian, while orchards impact other animals negatively in rock outcrops,” Ms. Rane added.
The rapid expansion of mango orchards has resulted in the conversion of more than 25,000 hectares of lateritic plateaus.
“We found less than 30 animals under more than 7,000 rocks on multiple plateaus we surveyed, indicating their rarity. Given their rarity and vulnerability to change due to ever-increasing orchards, representative plateau habitats need to be preserved in partnership with local communities who are the owners of the land,” Dr. Naniwadekar of NCF said.
“Many of the animals we recorded under the rocks are very poorly known, and we do not know how their disappearance from the plateaus impacts the ecosystem services they provide to us. Since many of these animals are unique, and sensitive to the changes we make on the plateaus, even removing a rock can have cascading impacts on biodiversity,” Mr. Jithin, the lead author of the study, said.
By comparing the lesser-known rock-dwelling animal communities in plateaus, abandoned paddy fields and orchards, the team established the baseline for their conservation. “The data generated from the study could help conserve the plateaus as biodiversity heritage sites,” Mr. Jithin said.
Facts about the News
Land-use changes- Impact on Animals
- In the first experiment of its kind, scientists upturned some 7,000 loose rocks to find how creatures from ants to snakes respond to land-use changes in rocky habitats.
- There is a rapid shift from traditional local grain cultivation to monoculture plantations of mango and cashew in the Sahyadri plateaus of Maharashtra.
- This may be impacting elusive amphibians, insects, and reptiles that live under a crop of loose rocks.
- The loose rocks shelter the animals – some endemic and threatened – from scorching heat during summer and heavy monsoon rains.
- They have evolved to survive on the rocky plateaus, but their adaptability to changing conditions may not be enough for the pace of shift in the land-use pattern.
- The rapid expansion of mango orchards has resulted in the conversion of more than 25,000 hectares of lateritic plateaus.
- Since many of these animals are unique, and sensitive to the changes we make on the plateaus, even removing a rock can have cascading impacts on biodiversity.
- Thus, there is a need to preserve these species in partnership with local communities who are the owners of the land.
Need legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called on the G-20 nations to work constructively for an effective, international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
He was addressing the G-20 Environment Ministers’ Meeting here through videoconference. Detailing India’s progress with regard to the climate action plan or the ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs), Mr. Modi said the country achieved its installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuel sources nine years ahead of the target of 2030. He said India was one of the top five countries in the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity and added that the country had set a target of attaining ‘Net Zero’ by 2070.
Mr. Modi stressed the need to enhance action on commitments under the ‘UN Climate Convention’ and the ‘Paris Agreement’ to help the Global South fulfil its developmental aspirations in a climate-friendly way.
Referring to the ‘Small Island States’ as ‘Large Ocean Countries’, Mr. Modi said the oceans were a crucial economic resource for them while also supporting the livelihoods of over three billion people across the globe. He stressed the importance of responsible use and management of oceanic resources.
Mr. Modi said 70% of the world’s tigers were found in India as a result of ‘Project Tiger’. He said work was under way on ‘Project Lion’ and ‘Project Dolphin’.
Underlining that India’s initiatives were powered by people’s participation, Mr. Modi said under Mission Amrit Sarovar, more than 63,000 waterbodies were developed in just about a year. He also credited community participation in the Namami Gange Mission, which has resulted in the reappearance of the Gangetic Dolphin in the river.
Mr. Modi said India was one of the top five countries in terms of installed renewable energy.
Facts about the News
Plastic Pollution: A Look back
- Since the 1970s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material.
- If historic growth trends continue, global production of primary plastic is forecasted to reach 1,100 million tonnes by 2050.
- Approximately 36 per cent of all plastics produced are used in packaging.
- Additionally, some 98 per cent of single-use plastic products are produced from fossil fuel.
- The level of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, use and disposal of conventional fossil fuel-based plastics is forecast to grow to 19 per cent of the global carbon budget by 2040.
- In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away.
- Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
- In the early 2000s, the amount of plastic waste we generated rose more in a single decade than it had in the previous 40 years.
- Today, we produce about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.
- Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled.
- Cigarette butts — whose filters contain tiny plastic fibers — are the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment.
- Food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, plastic straws, and stirrers are the next most common items.
- Despite current efforts, it is estimated that 75 to 199 million tonnes of plastic is currently found in our oceans.
- The amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple from 9-14 million tonnes per year in 2016 to a projected 23-37 million tonnes per year by 2040.
- Plastics including microplastics are now ubiquitous in our natural environment.
- They are becoming part of the Earth’s fossil record and a marker of the Anthropocene, our current geological era.
- They have even given their name to a new marine microbial habitat called the “plastisphere”.
- Note: The 2023 World Environment Day campaign #BeatPlasticPollution also called for global solutions to combat plastic pollution.
Beat Plastic Pollution
- Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from UN Member States endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi.
- The resolution was to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024.
Melting of Ladakh glacier could form three glacial lakes: Study
Accelerated melting of the Himalayan Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh could give rise to three glacial lakes with an average depth ranging between 34 and 84 metres, scientists have found.
These lakes could be a potential source of glacial lake outburst floods in the Himalayas, the scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun said.
Parkachik Glacier is one of the largest glacier in the Suru River valley, which is a part of the Southern Zanskar Ranges, western Himalaya. The Zanskar Range, part of the Himalayas, lies in the union territory of Ladakh.
The glacier’s yearly melting rate was 6 times faster between 1999 and 2021 (22 years) than that calculated from 1971 to 1999 (28 years), the scientists found using satellite data to determine is glacial retreat from 1971 – 2021. The findings are published in the journal Annals of Glaciology.
The study attributed the accelerated glacial retreat to ongoing climate warning, which also causes surface morphological or geological changes to glaciers.
Faster glacial retreat, along with surface morphological changes, have been known to result in the forming of new glacial lakes and expansion of existing ones, a potential source of glacial lake outburst floods.
Glacial lakes are formed when a glacier erodes the land and then melts, filling the depression created by the glacier.
In this study, the scientists have identified three potential over-deepening sites for lake formation on the glacier at different elevations. The lake area of each of these lakes could range from 43 to 270 hectares.
They said however, that the expansion and reduction of these lakes depended on the dynamics of the glacier.
Facts about the News
Ladakh glacier melting may form three lakes
- The Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh is likely to have three lakes of different dimensions due to subglacial over-deepening.
- The study was done by the scientists of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
- The three glacial lakes are likely to form around Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh due to rapid ice melt.
- The glacial melt is worrying as it not only increases chances of glacial lake outbursts but can also lead to paucity of water, glaciers being the region’s primary source of water.
- It was found that the glacier retreat varied between 1971 and 2021.
- Remote sensing data shows that the glacier retreated at an average rate of around two metres per annum between 1971 and 1999.
- Whereas between 1999 and 2021, the retreat was at an average rate of around 12 metres per annum.
- The Parkachik glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the Suru River valley.
- There are two main reasons for the rapid melting of the glacier.
- The first is global warming and increasing temperatures in the region, and
- the second is that it is at a lower altitude than other glaciers in the Zanskar region.
What is subglacial over-deepening?
- Overdeepening or is a characteristic of basins and valleys eroded by glaciers.
- It is the excavation of the subglacial landscape by the processes of glacial erosion.
- An overdeepened valley profile is often eroded to depths which are hundreds of metres below the lowest continuous surface line (the thalweg) along a valley or watercourse.
- Overdeepenings are one of the most significant glacial landforms.
International Tiger Day
- Global Tiger Day is celebrated every year on July 29th as a way to raise awareness about this magnificent but endangered big cat.
- The day was founded in 2010, when the 13 tiger range countries came together to create Tx2 – the global goal to double the number of wild tigers by the year 2022.
- International Tiger Day was first celebrated in 2010 after it was found that 97% of all wild tigers had disappeared in the last century, with about only 3,000 of them remaining.
- Habitat loss, climate change, hunting, and poaching are only some of the factors that are responsible for the decline in the tiger population.
Tiger Protection in India
- The Govt. of India had launched “Project Tiger” on 1st April 1973 to promote conservation of the tiger.
- On the basis of the recommendations of National Board for Wild Life chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, a Task Force was set up.
- The Task Force recommended strengthening of Project Tiger by giving it statutory and administrative powers, apart from creating the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
- The NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) was also constituted under the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 for the purpose of strengthening tiger protection.
- India currently hosts the largest tiger population with over 3100 tigers in its Tiger Reserves.
- The Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve is the largest in India, with an area of 3,728 sq.
SOURCE : THE HINDU