Q. Among the following crops, which one is the most important anthropogenic source of both methane and nitrous oxide?

(a) Cotton
(b) Rice
(c) Sugarcane
(d) Wheat

Answer: Rice.

  • Methane and nitrous oxide are important greenhouse gases. They contribute to global warming. To a large extent, emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are connected with the intensification of food production. 
  • Important anthropogenic sources of biogenic methane are wet rice fields, cattle, animal waste, landfills and biomass burning.
  • Important anthropogenic sources of biogenic nitrous oxide are land-use change, fertilizer production and use and manure application.
  • Flooded rice cultivation has been identified as one of the leading global agricultural sources of anthropogenic methane (CH4) emissions. Furthermore, it has been estimated that global rice production is responsible for 11% of total anthropogenic CH4 emissions.
  • Paddies are a potential source of anthropogenic nitrous oxide (N2O) emission as well. In paddies, both the soil and the rice plants emit N2into the atmosphere. The rice plant in the paddy is considered to act as a channel between the soil and the atmosphere for N2O emission.
  • Cotton is one of the most important fiber and cash crop of India. Cotton is a Kharif crop.
  • There are four cultivated species of cotton viz. Gossypium arboreum, G.herbaceum, G.hirsutum and G.barbadense.
  • Cotton, a semi-xerophyte, is grown in tropical & sub tropical conditions.
    • A minimum temperature of 15oC is required for better germination at field conditions.
    • The optimum temperature for vegetative growth is 21-27oC & it can tolerate temperature to the extent of 43oC but temperature below 21oC is detrimental to the crop.
  • Warm days of cool nights with large diurnal variations during the period of fruiting are conducive to good boll & fibre development.
  • Cotton is grown on a variety of soils ranging from well drained deep alluvial soils in the north to black clayey soils of varying depth in central region and in black and mixed black and red soils in south zone.
  • Cotton is semi-tolerant to salinity and sensitive to water logging and thus prefers well drained soils.
  • Insect Pests (in Cotton)
    • Jassids /Aphids
    • Thrips
    • White flies
    • Bollworms
  • Diseases (in Cotton)
    • Bacterial blight
    • Fungal leafspots
    • Grey mildew
    • Boll rot
    • Root Rot
    • Leaf Curl
    • Leaf reddening
  • Cotton Advisory Board (CAB), Ministry of Textiles estimates the statistics and prepare balance sheet of cotton situation.
  • Rice cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is labor-intensive to cultivate and requires ample water.
    • Rice requires slightly more water to produce than other grains. Rice production uses almost a third of Earth’s fresh water.
    • However, rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain area with the use of water-controlling terrace systems.
  • Throughout India, rice is cultivated in a wide range of climatic and altitude conditions. In India, rice is grown from 8 to 35º N latitude and up to 3000 metres above sea level.
  • A hot, humid atmosphere is necessary for rice production. It works best in areas with high humidity, continuous sunshine, and a reliable supply of water.
    • The crop needs an average temperature between 21 and 37 ° C. for the duration of its life.
    • 40° to 42° C is the highest temperature the crop can tolerate.
  • Silts, loams, and gravels are just a few of the several types of soil on which rice can grow. Both acidic and alkaline soils are acceptable to it. However, clayey loam is an excellent soil type for growing this crop.
  • Globally, the top rice-producing country is China, followed by India.
    • Vietnam, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were other significant producers.
  • Arsenic concerns:
    • While growing, rice plants tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops.
  • Climate change:
    • The worldwide production of rice accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in total than that of any other plant food.
    • It was estimated in 2021 to be responsible for 30% of agricultural methane emissions and 11% of agricultural nitrous oxide emissions.
    • Methane release is caused by long-term flooding of rice fields, inhibiting the soil from absorbing atmospheric oxygen, a process causing anaerobic fermentation of organic matter in the soil.
  • Sugarcane is a species of tall, perennial grass (of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae) which is used to make sugar, ethanol and paper.
  • The plants have thick, jointed, fibrous stalks which are rich in sucrose and amass in the internodes of the stalks. They are 2–6 m (6–20 ft) tall.
    • Sugarcanes are a member of the Poaceae grass family, a group of commercially significant flowering plants that also contains numerous forage crops such as maize, wheat, rice, and sorghum.
  • It is indigenous to India, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea’s warm tropical and temperate climates.
    • The plant is also cultivated for the production of biofuel, particularly in Brazil where the canes can be utilised to instantly make ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
  • India has emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and the world’s 2nd largest exporter, due to the record production of more than 5000 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) of sugarcane.
  • Temperature: Between 21-27°C with hot and humid climate.
  • Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Deep rich loamy soil, with neutral soil reactivity (pH 6.5 to 7.5).
  • Top Sugarcane Producing States: Maharashtra>Uttar Pradesh > Karnataka
  • Biofuel Policy 2018 has fixed a target of achieving 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol by 2025.
  • Nitrogen fixation: Some sugarcane varieties are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen in association with the bacterium Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus.
  • Sugarcane production often pollutes freshwater ecosystems with silt and fertilizers washed from farms, as well as plant matter and chemical sludge from mills. 
    • Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop that remains in the soil all year long.
  • Wheat is a Rabi Crop grown between September and December and harvested between February and May.
  • Temperature: Between 10-15°C (Sowing time) and 21-26°C (Ripening & Harvesting) with bright sunlight.
  • Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy (Ganga-Satluj plains and black soil region of the Deccan).
  • Major wheat-growing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat.
  • China is the world’s largest wheat producer and Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, accounting for more than 18% of international exports.
  • India is the second largest producer of wheat with a share of around 13.5% of world total production.
    • India produces around 107.59 MT of wheat annually while a major chunk of it goes towards domestic consumption.
    • India accounts for even less than 1% in world wheat export. However, its share has increased from 0.14% in 2016 to 0.54% in 2020.
Wheat production

Q. Consider the following pairs:

      Wetland/Lake:                      Location

  1. Hokera Wetland                    Punjab
  2. Renuka Wetland                   Himachal Pradesh
  3. Rudrasagar Lake                  Tripura
  4. Sasthamkotta                        Tamil Nadu

How many pairs given above are correctly matched?

(a) Only one pair
(b) Only two pairs
(c) Only three pairs
(d) All four pairs

Answer: (b) Only two pairs

1.Hokera WetlandJammu and Kashmir
2.Renuka WetlandHimachal Pradesh
3.Rudrasagar LakeTripura
4.Sasthamkotta LakeTamil Nadu

Read here: Ramsar Sites in India

Q.“Climate Action Tracker” which monitors the emission reduction pledges of different countries is a :

(a) Database created by coalition of research organisations

(b) Wing of “International Panel of Climate Change”

(c) Committee under “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”

(d) Agency promoted and financed by United Nations Environment Programme and World Bank

Answer: (a) Database created by coalition of research organisations

  • The Climate Action Tracker is an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures it against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of “holding warming well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.”
  • collaboration of two organisations, Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute, the CAT has been providing this independent analysis to policy makers since 2009.
  • CAT quantifies and evaluates climate change mitigation targets, policies and action.
  • It also aggregates country action to the global level, determining likely temperature increases during the 21st century using the MAGICC climate model.
  • CAT further develops sectoral analysis to illustrate the required pathways for meeting the global temperature goals.
  • CAT covers all the biggest emitters and a representative sample of smaller emitters covering about 85% of global emissions and approximately 70% of the global population. 
  • The aim of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) project is to provide policymakers, civil society and the media that inform them with an up-to-date assessment of countries’ individual reduction targets and with an overview of their combined effects at the global level. 
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessment of climate change.
    • It is a key source of scientific information and technical guidance to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. The IPCC provides governments at all levels with scientific information they can use to develop climate policies.
  • The IPCC is an organisation of governments that are members of the United Nations or the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The IPCC currently has 195 members.
  • IPCC’s main activities are to prepare:
    • comprehensive assessment reports on climate change, its causes, impacts and response options
    • methodology reports, which provide practical guidance to Parties to help them prepare national greenhouse gas inventories
    • special reports on topics that inform the assessment reports.
  • The IPCC does not undertake new research but synthesises published and peer-reviewed literature to develop a comprehensive assessment of scientific understanding, published in IPCC assessment reports.
  • So far, Six assessment reports have been produced, the first one being released in 1990.
  • India ratified the UNFCCC in 1993.
  • The nodal agency for the UNFCCC in India is the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
Category of PartiesMeaning
Annex I43 parties (countries) come under this category. The countries that come under this category are developed countries.
Annex II24 countries of Annex I also come under Annex II countries. The countries in this category are expected to provide technical and financial assistance to countries coming under the category of developing countries.
Annex BThe countries in this category are Annex I countries, who have first or second-round Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Least-developed countries (LDCs)47 Parties (countries) come under the category of LDCs. These countries are given special status under the treaty taking into consideration their limitations adapting to the effects of climate change.
Non Annex IParties (countries) that are not listed in Annex I that come under the category of low-income developing countries.
  • The UNEP engages in developing global conventions on the environment and related issues. It hosts the secretariats of various conventions such as:
    • Minamata Convention
    • United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
    • Basel Convention
    • Stockholm Convention
    • Rotterdam Convention
    • Montreal Protocol
    • Vienna Convention
    • Convention on Migratory Species
    • Tehran Convention
    • Bamako Convention
    • Carpathian Convention
    • Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)
  • Major Programmes of the UNEP
    • Earth Hour
    • Clean up the World
    • Billion Tree Campaign
    • Seal the Deal
    • Pain for the Planet
    • Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL)
    • TUNZA
    • Faith for Earth
  • Major Reports:
    • Emission Gap Report,
    • Adaptation Gap Report,
    • Global Environment Outlook,
    • Frontiers,
    • Invest into Healthy Planet,
    • Making Peace with Natur,
  • Major Campaigns: 
    • Beat Pollution,
    • UN75,
    • World Environment Day,
    • Wild for Life.

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. The Climate Group is an international non-profit organisation that drives climate action by building large networks and runs them. 
  2. The International Energy Agency in partnership with the Climate Group launched a global initiative “EP100”.
  3. EP100 brings together leading companies committed to driving innovation in energy efficiency and increasing competitiveness while delivering on emission reduction goals.
  4. Some Indian companies are members of EP100. 
  5. The International Energy Agency is the Secretariat to the “Under2 Coalition”. 

Which of the statements given above are correct? 

(a) 1,2, 4 and 5 
(b) 1,3 and 4 only 
(c) 2,3 and 5 only
(d) 1,2, 3, 4 and 5 

Answer: (b) 1, 3 and 4 only

Climate Group
  • The Climate Group is a non-profit organisation that works with businesses and government leaders around the world to address climate change.
  • The Group has programmes focusing on renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Launched in 2004, the organisation operates globally with offices in the UK (headquarters), the United States and India.
  • It acts as the secretariat for the Under2 Coalition (an alliance of state and regional governments around the world that are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero levels by 2050.)
    • As of 2022, the Under2 Coalition brings together over 270 governments representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the world economy.
  • The organisation’s business initiatives “RE100”, “EP100” and “EV100”, which are run as part of the We Mean Business coalition, aim to grow corporate demand for renewable energy, energy productivity and electric transport, accelerating the transition to a zero-emissions economy, while helping leading businesses to reduce carbon emissions, be more resilient and increase profits.
  • The Climate Group hosts international summits and events, including Climate Week NYC in New York City, a week-long global forum promoting global climate action, and the India Energy Access Summit in New Delhi.
Under2 Coalition
  • The Under2 Coalition is a coalition of subnational governments that aims to achieve greenhouse gases emissions mitigation.
    • It started as a memorandum of understanding, which was signed by twelve founding jurisdictions on May 19, 2015 in Sacramento, California.
    • Although it was originally called the Under2 MOU, it became known as the Under2 Coalition in 2017.
    • As of October 2022, the list of signatories had grown to 270 governments which represented over 1.75 billion people and 50% of the world economy.
  • The Under2 MOU was conceived through a partnership between the governments of California and Baden-Wurttemberg, with The Climate Group acting as secretariat.
  • The intent of the memorandum signatories is for each to achieve Greenhouse gas “emission reductions consistent with a trajectory of 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and/or achieving a per capita annual emission goal of less than 2 metric tons by 2050.
International Energy Agency
  • International Energy Agency (IEA) was established during the oil crisis of 1973-1974.
    • The IEA was set up under the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis to respond to physical disruptions in global oil supplies, provide data and statistics about the global oil market and energy sector, promote energy savings and conservation, and establish international technical collaboration on innovation and research.
  • It is an intergovernmental autonomous organisation based in Paris.
  • IEA has a major role to play in providing information related to the international oil market and taking action against any physical disruptions in the supply of oil.
  • IEA also acts as a policy adviser for its 31 member countries as well as for the non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia.

Q. “If rainforests and tropical forests are the lungs of the Earth, then surely wetlands function as its kidneys.” Which one of the following functions of wetlands best reflects the above statement?

(a) The water cycle in wetlands involves surface runoff, subsoil percolation and evaporation.

(b) Algae form the nutrient base upon which fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, reptiles and mammals thrive.

(c) Wetlands play a vital role in maintaining sedimentation balance and soil stabilization.

(d) Aquatic plants absorb heavy metals and excess nutrients.

Answer: (d) : Aquatic plants absorb heavy metals and excess nutrients.

  • Wetland is defined as areas of marshes, fen, peatland, or water whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary with water. that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt including areas of marine water, the depth of which does not exceed six meters.
  • These areas have the soil covered by water or are present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
  • Wetlands, natural and manmade, freshwater or brackish, provide numerous ecological services.
  • The wetlands essentially act as the ‘kidneys of the landscape’, filtering and capturing sediment, and helping settle it to the bed of the wetland and the plants use these nutrients to grow which supports the whole ecosystem.
    • Wetlands are also known as the Kidneys of the landscape due to their natural ability to accommodate surface runoff and subsequently clean the water, protect against floods, and recharge the underground aquifers through percolation. Evaporation is also a process instigated by the formation of wetlands. 
  • Importance of Wetlands:
    • It helps to maintain sedimentation and balance of soil, helpful in water, carbon, and nutrient cycles.
    • They filter, clean, and store water and thus act as kidneys for other ecosystems.
    • It helps to regulate the amount of water as excess water from rainfall and floods gets absorbed and can be used in times of need.
    • It is the source of livelihood through fishing and rice farming to travel, tourism, and water provision.
    • Wetlands host a large variety of life, protect our coastlines, provide natural sponges against river flooding and store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change.
    • They provide habitat for wildlife and migratory birds and help in the conservation of the environment. 

Q. In the Guidelines, statements: context of WHO consider the Air Quality following

  1. The 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m³ and annual mean of PM 2.5 should not exceed 5 µg/m³.
  2. In a year, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during the periods of inclement weather.
  3. PM10 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream.
  4. Excessive ozone in the air can trigger asthma.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1, 3 and 4
(b) 1 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4
(d) 1 and 2 only

Answer: (b) 1 and 4 only

  • The WHO Air quality guidelines are a set of evidence-based recommendations of limit values for specific air pollutants developed to help countries achieve air quality that protects public health.
  • The first release of the guidelines was in 1987. 
  • The guidelines offer guidance about these air pollutants: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
  • The guidelines stipulate that PM2.5 should not exceed 5 μg/m3 annual mean, or 15 μg/m3 24-hour mean; and that PM10 should not exceed 15 μg/m3 annual mean or 45 μg/m3 24-hour mean.
  • PM10 (particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres or less): these particles are small enough to pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.
  • PM2.5 (particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less): these particles are so small they can get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream. 
  • Particles with a diameter of 10 microns or less, (≤ PM10) can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.
  • The even more health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, (≤ PM2.5). PM2.5 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the blood system.
  • As ozone concentrations increase above the guideline value, health effects at the population level become increasingly numerous and severe. Such effects can occur in places where concentrations are currently high due to human activities or are elevated during episodes of very hot weather.
  • Ozone triggers asthma because it is very irritating to the lungs and airways. It is well known that ozone concentration is directly related to asthma attacks.
Inclement Weather
  • Inclement Weather means the existence of rain or abnormal climatic conditions (whether they be those of hail, snow, cold, high wind, severe dust storm, extreme high temperature or the like or any combination thereof) by virtue of which it is either not reasonable or not safe for workmen exposed thereto to continue working whilst the same prevail.

Q. With reference to “Gucchi” sometimes mentioned in the news, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a fungus.
  2. It grows in some Himalayan forest areas.
  3. It is commercially cultivated in the Himalayan foothills of north-eastern India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1 and 2
(d) 2 and 3

Answer: (c) 1 and 2

  • Morel Mushrooms are commonly called Gucchi mushrooms in the Himalayan region and are prized for their spongy, honeycomb texture, and unique flavor. 
  • The scientific name of the Gucchi mushroom is Morchella Esculenta and belongs to a class of fungi.
  • The Gucchi mushroom is an expensive and exclusive ingredient that grows wild on the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Jammu-based NGO Border World Foundation has filled the GI tag application for Gucchi mushroom at the Geographical Indication Registry recently. 
  • It is facilitated by the Director of Agriculture, Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Jammu & Kashmir already have GI tags for Saffron.
  • Gucchi mushrooms cannot be cultivated commercially and instead they grow wild only in some regions like the Kangara Valley, Jammu and Kashmir, Manali and other parts of Himachal Pradesh after the snowfall period. 
  • A fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms.
  • A characteristic that places fungi in a different kingdom from plants, bacteria, and some protists is chitin in their cell walls. Fungi, like animals, are heterotrophs; they acquire their food by absorbing dissolved molecules, typically by secreting digestive enzymes into their environment.
  • Fungi do not photosynthesize.
  • Fungi are the principal decomposers in ecological systems.
    • Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange in the environment.
  • Since the 1940s, fungi have been used for the production of antibiotics, and, more recently, various enzymes produced by fungi are used industrially and in detergents.
  • Fungi are also used as biological pesticides to control weeds, plant diseases, and insect pests.

Q. With reference to polyethylene terephthalate, the use of which is so widespread in our daily lives, consider the following statements:

  1. Its fibres can be blended with wool and cotton fibres to reinforce their properties.
  2. Containers made of it can be used to store any alcoholic beverage.
  3. Bottles made of it can be recycled into other products.
  4. Articles made of it can be easily disposed of by incineration without causing greenhouse gas emissions.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 3
(b) 2 and 4
(c) 1 and 4
(d) 2 and 3

Answer: (a) 1 and 3

  • Polyethylene terephthalate is a condensation polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.
  • It is a thermoplastic synthetic substance, malleable under heat, and can be placed into nearly any shape known mostly for its short PET form.
  • Terephthalate polyethylene (PET) is very moisture tolerant.
  • Polyethylene terephthalate has outstanding chemical resistance to organic matter and water, it is not biodegradable.
  • A list of uses of polyethylene terephthalate is given below.
    • For the manufacturing of shopping bags, water bottles, videotapes, containers and bags, clothes and housing material, water bottles, microwave containers, packaging films, etc.
    • Polyester for fabrics is strong and flexible, and when combined with materials like cotton can reduce wrinkling, and shrinking, and makes the fabric more resistant to tears.
  • Advantages of Polyethylene terephthalate
    • It is readily available and relatively inexpensive.
    • It has a high strength-to-weight ratio.
    • It is very resistant to moisture.
    • It has excellent chemical resistance to organic material and water (it is not biodegradable which is good and bad depending on your perspective and its intended use).
    • It is virtually shatterproof (it won’t break like glass packaging).
    • It is easily recycled.
    • It can be reused by conducting a series of washing processes or broken down into its constituent raw materials which can then be turned into the original resin.
    • It is highly transparent.
  • PET consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, so if it is burned in the air (or in pure oxygen), the combustion products will be carbon dioxide and water.

Q. Which of the following is not a bird?

(a) Golden Mahseer

(b) Indian Nightjar

(c) Spoonbill

(d) White Ibis

Answer: (a) Golden Mahseer

Golden Mahseer
  • Golden Mahseer goes by many names, such as the Himalayan mahseer, Putitor mahseer, king mahseer, and mighty mahseer. Its scientific name is Tor putitora.
  • Mahseer is the union of Mahi (meaning fish) and sher (meaning tiger). That’s why it is also referred to as the tiger of the water or the tiger among fish.
  • Characteristics of the Golden Mahseer
    • The Golden Mahseer is a striking fish with attractive golden colour and elusive nature.
    • It is characterised by reddish-golden fins, thick lips, and large shiny scales. This cyprinid can grow up to 9 feet in length and about 54 kg in weight. It counts among the most powerful freshwater fish.
    • This species is a column feeder in freshwater. It follows omnivorous feeding habits during the adult stage.
    • The fish migrate upstream twice a year under monsoon conditions to breed. The spawning season extends from May to September.
    • It can swim over small to mid-size rocky boulders and against gravity. The sexual productivity of this fish is low and ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 eggs per kg.
    • It is a bioindicator species. Its large size, agility, sustenance, and liveliness make it a highly popular and fascinating game fish.
  • Habitat and Distribution of the Golden Mahseer
    • Golden Mahseer mainly inhabits fast-moving rivers, rapid streams, and riverine pools in the Himalayan region. It has been introduced in large reservoirs and lakes.
    • The basins of the Gange, Indus, and Brahmaputra rivers are its native range. It is also found down south in the Tambraparini, Cauvery, Balamore, and Kosi Rivers.
    • This fish is found in Himachal Pradesh, the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, and Sikkim.
  • IUCN: Endangered
Golden Mahseer
Indian nightjar
  • The Indian nightjar is a small nightjar (medium-sized nocturnal or crepuscular birds) which is a resident breeder in open lands across South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • Like most nightjars it is crepuscular and is best detected from its characteristic calls at dawn and dusk that have been likened to a stone skipping on a frozen lake – a series of clicks that become shorter and more rapid.
  • This nightjar is small and short-tailed with white corners to the tail, a golden nape and collar, dark cheeks and white patches on the sides of the throat. The crown is grey and the breast is finely barred in brown.
  • IUCN: Least Concern
Indian Nightjar
  • Spoonbills are a genus, Platalea, of large, long-legged wading birds.
  • The spoonbills have a global distribution, being found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • All spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side.
  • The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—it is snapped shut.
  • Spoonbills generally prefer fresh water to salt but are found in both environments. They need to feed many hours each day.
White Ibis
  • White Ibises are large wading birds with football-shaped bodies.
  • They have long legs and a long neck that they hold out straight in flight. Their bill is long and curved.
  • This ibis is almost entirely white, save for the black-tipped wings and brilliant reddish pink legs and bill. The bare skin around their blue eyes is also reddish pink.
White Ibis

Q. Which of the following are nitrogen-fixing plants?

  1. Alfalfa
  2. Amaranth
  3. Chickpea
  4. Clover
  5. Purslane (Kulfa)
  6. Spinach

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 3 and 4 only
(b) 1, 3, 5 and 6 only
(c) 2, 4, 5 and 6 only
(d) 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6

Answer: (a) 1, 3 and 4 only

  • Nitrogen fixation is a process that implies the transformation of the relatively non-reactive atmospheric N2 into its more reactive compounds (nitrates, nitrites, or ammonia).
  • Nitrogen fixation is the essential biological process and the initial stage of the nitrogen cycle.
  • In this process, nitrogen in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia (another form of nitrogen) by certain bacterial species like Rhizobium, Azotobacter, etc., and by other natural phenomena.
  • Nitrogen-fixing plants are those that have roots colonized by specific kinds of bacteria with the ability to extract nitrogen from the air and convert it to a usable form of nitrogen that can be used to help them grow.
  • Nitrogen-fixing plants contribute an essential plant nutrient that’s necessary for healthy fruit and foliage production.
  • Alfalfa should also be dubbed the “King of Nitrogen Fixation” because it makes more residual nitrogen available to subsequent crops than any other legume you can grow.
  • Chickpea plays a significant role in improving soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.
  • Red Clover ( Trifolium Pratense) is a nitrogen-fixing perennial plant that produces showy red, purple, or pink flowers in late spring or summer.
  • Amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, pseudocereals, and ornamental plants. Most of the Amaranthus species are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweeds.
  • Purslane is an annual succulent that has been considered both a useless weed and a powerful medicinal plant at different times throughout history.
  • Spinach, also known as Spinacia oleracea, is a member of the Amaranthaceae family. 

Nitrogen-fixing cover crops bring multiple benefits to farmers:

  • participate in N fixation;
  • protect soil from erosion by covering it or holding in place with strong root systems;
  • improve soil fertility when used as green manure;
  • retain soil moisture;
  • help in weed management with crop residues;
  • serve as forage and grazing material for poultry and cattle;
  • attract pollinators at the crop flowering time.

Q. “Biorock technology” is talked about in which one of the following situations?

(a) Restoration of damaged coral reefs

(b) Development of building materials using plant residues

(c) Identification of areas for exploration/extraction of shale gas

(d) Providing salt licks for wild animals in forests/protected areas

Answer: (a) Restoration of damaged coral reefs

  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using bio rock or mineral accretion technology. A bio rock structure was installed one nautical mile off the Mithapur coast in the Gulf of Kachchh.
    • Bio rock is the name given to the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source, in this case solar panels that float on the surface.
    • The technology works by passing a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water. When a positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode are placed on the sea floor, with an electric current flowing between them, calcium ions combine with carbonate ions and adhere to the structure (cathode). This results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and grow quickly.
N-Treat technology
  • N-Treat is a seven-stage process for waste treatment that uses screens, gates, silt traps, curtains of coconut fibres for filtration, and disinfection using sodium hypochlorite.
  • According to the detailed project report for N-Treat, it is a natural and environment friendly way for sewage treatment.
  • It’s set up takes place within the nullah channels that is through the in-situ or on-site method of treatment, and does not require additional space.

Q. The “Miyawaki method” is well known for the:

(a) Promotion of commercial farming in arid and semi-arid areas

(b) Development of gardens genetically modified flora using

(c) Creation of mini forests in urban areas

(d) Harvesting wind energy on coastal areas and on sea surfaces

Answer: (c) Creation of mini forests in urban areas

  • The Miyawaki technique is an urban afforestation method by turning someone’s backyard into a forest.
  • Miyawaki is a technique pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, that helps build dense, native forests in a short time.
  • It has revolutionized the concept of urban afforestation by turning backyards into mini-forests.
    • This method includes planting trees (only native species) as close as possible in the same area which not only saves space, but the planted saplings also support each other in growth and block sunlight from reaching the ground, thereby preventing the growth of weeds.
    • The saplings become maintenance-free (self-sustainable) after the first three years.
  • Miyawaki Process
    • Examine the Soil Texture and Measure Biomass.
    • Select Native Species for Plantation.
    • Prepare the Ground and Equip the Forest Area.
    • Start the Plantation Process.
    • Take Care of the Forest for the Next 3 Years.
  • The Miyawaki method helps create self-sustaining vegetation within 2 to 3 years, whereas a traditional procedure takes nearly 100 years.
  • The approach is supposed to ensure that plant growth is 10 times faster and the resulting plantation is 30 times denser than usual.

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. The India Sanitation Coalition is a platform to promote sustainable sanitation and is funded by the Government of India and the World Health Organisation.
  2. The National Institute of Urban Affairs is an apex body of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in Government of India and provides innovative solutions to address the challenges of Urban India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (b) 2 only

The India Sanitation Coalition
  • It was launched on June 25, 2015, at FICCI, New Delhi.
  • It is a multi-stakeholder platform that brings together the private sector, government, financial institutions, civil society groups, media, donors/bi-lateral/multilateral, experts, etc. to work in the sanitation space to drive sustainable sanitation through a partnership model. 
  • The vision of the alliance is to enable and support an ecosystem for sustainable sanitation through a partnership mode.
  • It currently has over 150 organizations that are engaging with it in various capacities. They have been awarded as a top contributor in the “Corporate Category” for the Swachh Bharat Mission by The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India in 2018. 
The National Institute of Urban Affairs
  • It is an institute for research, training, and information dissemination in urban development and management.
  • It is located in New Delhi, India.
  • It was established in 1976 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act.
  • The Institute is supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Government of India, State Governments, urban and regional development authorities, and other agencies concerned with urban issues.
  • As a hub for the generation and dissemination of cutting-edge research in the urban sector, NIUA seeks to provide innovative solutions to address the challenges of a fast urbanising India, and pave the way for more inclusive and sustainable cities of the future.
  • It was appointed as an apex body to support and guide the Government of India in its urban development plans. Since then, it has worked closely with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, alongside other government and civil sectors, to identify key areas of research.

Q. Which one of the following has been constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 ? 

(a) Central Water Commission

(b) Central Ground Water Board

(c) Central Ground Water Authority

(d) National Water Development Agency

Answer: (c) Central Ground Water Authority

Central Ground Water Authority
  • It has been constituted under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate and control the development and management of groundwater resources in the country. Hence, Option 3 is correct.
  • The Authority has been conferred with the following powers:
  • Exercise of powers under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for issuing directions and taking such measures in respect of all the matters referred to in sub-section(2) of section 3 of the said Act.
  • To resort to penal provisions contained in sections 15 to 21 of the said Act.
  • To regulate and control, manage, and development of groundwater in the country and to issue necessary regulatory directions for the purpose.
  • Exercise of powers under section 4 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the appointment of officers.
Central Water Commission
  • It is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and the organization currently functions as an office attached to the Ministry of Jal Shakti, under the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation.
  • CWC was earlier known as Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission i.e. CWINC.
  • It was established in 1945 by the Government on the advice of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Member (Labour) in Viceroy’s Executive Council.
  • The work of the Commission is divided among 3 wings namely – Designs and Research (D&R) Wing, River Management (RM) Wing and Water Planning and Projects (WP&P) Wing.
Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)
  • It is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India is the National Apex Agency entrusted with the responsibilities of providing scientific inputs for management, exploration, monitoring, assessment, augmentation, and regulation of groundwater resources of the country.
  • Central Ground Water Board was established in 1970 by renaming the Exploratory Tube wells Organization under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.
The National Water Development Agency (NWDA)
  • It was set up in July 1982 as an Autonomous Society under the societies registration act 1860, to carry out the water balance and other studies on a scientific and realistic basis for optimum utilization of water resources of the Peninsular river system for the preparation of feasibility reports and thus to give concrete shape to Peninsular river development component of National perspective plan prepared by Central Water Commission and the then Ministry of Irrigation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation(DoWR, RD& GR)).

Q. Which one of the following statements best describes the ‘Polar Code’?

(a) It is the international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters.

(b) It is the agreement of the countries around the North Pole regarding the demarcation of their territories in the polar region. 

(c) It is a set of norms to be followed by the countries whose scientists undertake research studies in the North Pole and South Pole.

(d) It is a trade and security agreement of the member countries of the Arctic Council.

Answer: (a) It is the international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters.

  • The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code) is a new code adopted by the IMO.
  • The Code acknowledges that polar waters may impose additional demands on ships beyond those normally encountered. It provides a mandatory framework for ships operating in polar waters.
  • It is mandatory under both the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
  • The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles. 
  • The Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017.

Q. Which one of the following best describes the term “greenwashing”?

(a) Conveying a false impression that a company’s products are eco-friendly and environmentally sound

(b) Non-inclusion of ecological/ environmental costs in the Annual Financial Statements of a country

(c) Ignoring the consequences disastrous ecological while infrastructure development undertaking

(d) Making mandatory provisions for environmental costs in a government project/programme

Answer: (a) Conveying a false impression that a company’s products are eco-friendly and environmentally sound

  • Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. 
  • Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.

Q. With reference to Indian laws about wildlife protection, consider the following statements :

  1. Wild animals are the sole property of the government.
  2. When a wild animal is declared protected, such animal is entitled for equal protection whether it is found in protected areas or outside.
  3. Apprehension of a protected wild animal becoming a danger to human life is sufficient ground for its capture or killing.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3
(d) 3 only

Answer: (a) 1 and 2

  • According to Section 39 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Every Wild Animal shall be the property of the State Government, and, where such animal is hunted in a sanctuary or National Park declared by the Central Government, such animal or any animal article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat [derived from such animal, or any vehicle, vessel, weapon, trap or tool used in such hunting] shall be the property of the Central Government.
  • The law governing the subject of wildlife, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, does not discriminate between animals found in protected areas and outside. It provides for equal protection for wild animals irrespective of where they are found.
  • According to Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, only if the wild animal becomes a danger to human life or is diseased or disabled beyond recovery can it be allowed to be captured or killed by the competent authority, the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. This provision is applicable to wild animals listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which includes leopards. Mere apprehension or fear that a wild animal could endanger human life is not a ground for capture or killing.

Q. Certain species of which one of the following organisms are well known as cultivators of fungi?

(a) Ant

(b) Cockroach

(c) Crab 

(d) Spider

Answer: (a) Ant

  • This species of Ant is well known as the cultivator of the fungi.
    • Few other insects such as termites, beetles, and marsh periwinkles are also able to cultivate fungi.
  • The fungus-growing ants are a New World group of less than 200 species, all obligate symbionts with a fungus they use for food.
  • The These ants are found across the American continents and the West Indies. These ants are known as fungus growers because they maintain an obligate mutualism with fungi cultured inside their nests, and which is the only food source for the larvae and an important resource for the adult ants as well
  • Cockroach falls under the category of menace-causing insects.
  • Cockroaches or roaches fall under the suborder Blattodea which is under the super order Dictyoptera.
  • Cockroaches usually prefer a warm, dark-dingy, and humid climate to survive.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s has decided to observe the first-ever International Horseshoe Crab Day on 20th June 2020.
  • Odisha is their largest habitat in India.
  • It is in Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under which the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offense.
  • The Zoological Survey of India has suggested declaring the habitat of horseshoe crabs as Eco-Sensitive Zones for their conservation and proper management.
  • The spider belonging to the Genus Poecilotheria, commonly known as the Peacock Parachute Spider or Gooty Tarantula was spotted in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests in Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu.
  • Peacock Parachute Spider (Gooty Tarantula)
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized it as Critically Endangered.
    • It is endemic to India.
    • The known habitat of this species is in the Eastern Ghats especially degraded forests near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh.​

Q. Consider the following:

  1. Carbon monoxide
  2. Nitrogen oxide
  3. Ozone
  4. Sulphur dioxide

Excess of which of the above in the environment is/are cause(s) of acid rain?

(a) 1, 2 and 3
(b) 2 and 4 only
(c) 4 only
(d) 1, 3 and 4

Answer: (b) 2 and 4 only

  • The term ‘acid rain’ refers to the deposition of wet or dry acidic materials from the atmosphere on the earth’s surface.
  • The phenomenon of Acid rain was discovered in the 19th century by Robert Angus Smith, a pharmacist from Manchester (United Kingdom), who noted that there were high levels of acidity in rain falling over industrial regions of England and compared them to the much lower levels of acidity in rain falling over less polluted areas near the coast and agricultural regions.
  • The pollutants, Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide which are released by burning of coal and petroleum products combine with moisture in ‘the air and rain water and produce Sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively and fall along with the rain called as acid rain. 
  • The acid rain pollute soil, water and reduces the growth of crops and fishes in river, streams, canals and ponds.
  • It also stops the growth of plants and destroys: the buildings made of marble and stones and statues made up of metals.
  • Acid rain can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Sources of compounds causing acid rain:
    • Sulfur
      • Natural Resources: – Seas and oceans, Volcanic eruptions, Biological processes in the soil e.g., Decomposition of Organic matter
      • Man-made sources: – Burning of coal (60%), Petroleum products (30 % of S02) and smelting of metal sulfides ores to obtain the pure metals, Industrial production of sulphuric acid in metallurgical, chemical, and fertilizers industries.
    • Nitrogen
      • Natural Resources: – Lightning, Volcanic eruptions
      • Anthropogenic sources: – Forest fires, Combustion of Oil, Coal, And Gas