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Guwahati 1st Indian city to have a city animal

Guwahati on 6 June 2016 became first city in the country to have its own ‘city animal’ with Kamrup metropolitan district administration declaring Gangetic River Dolphin as its mascot.
•    Gangetic River Dolphin is locally known as ‘Sihu’ and fewer than 2000 such animals remain in the River Brahmaputra along Guwahati.
•    In the three-month long voting process Gangetic River dolphin received 24247 votes out of 60003 total votes.
•    On the other hand, the Greater Adjutant Stork got 18454 votes while the Black Softshell Turtle got 17302 votes.
•    The Gangetic Dolphins are also called as the ‘Tigers of Ganga’ as it enjoys the position in Ganga that is equivalent to that of the tiger in the forest.
•    Its scientific name is Platanista gangetica.
•    Ganges River Dolphins prefer deep waters, in and around the confluence of two or more rivers. They share their habitat with crocodiles, fresh water turtles and wetland birds.
•    The distribution range of the Ganges River Dolphins in India covers seven states namely, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
•    Rivers where these dolphins are found: River Ganges, Chambal (Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh), Ghaghra, Gandak (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), Sone and Kosi rivers (Bihar), River Brahmaputra from Sadia up to Dhubri and Kulsi River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river,
•    The Ganges River Dolphin has a sturdy, yet flexible, body with large flippers and a low triangular dorsal fin. It weighs up to 150 kg. Females are larger than males.
•    The Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey by emitting an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey.
•    A Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme was initiated in 1997 to build a scientific database of the population status of the species and study the habitat quality of the dolphins' distribution range.

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Delhi Government approves solar policy with 1 GW target by 2020

The Delhi Government on 6 June 2016 announced implementation of its solar policy.
•    The policy aims at making the national capital a solar city with installation of 1 GW solar power capacity by 2020. 
•    This target is proposed to double it to 2 GW during further next five years.
•    The policy has been prepared by the Delhi Government in consultation with the Dialogue and Development Commission after extensive consultations with local and international experts.
•    Mandatory deployment of solar panels on the government or public institutions.
•    Virtual net metering to give access to the solar net metering facility to the consumers who do not have a suitable roof for installing a solar system.
•    Group net metering to encourage solar plants on rooftops of buildings that cannot consume all of the energy generated locally.
•    Generation based incentive for three years.
•    Amendment of the building bylaws for rooftop solar installations.

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Suresh Prabhu launches Tiger Trail Circuit Train on World Environment Day

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on 5 June 2016 flagged off the inaugural run of the Tiger Trail Circuit Train from Delhi Safdarjung Station.
The launch of this Tiger Express on World Environment Day is to highlight the significance of environment.
•    The most important objective of the train is to create and spread awareness about the wildlife in general and the tiger in particular.
•    This tourist train will be operated by Indian Railway PSU namely Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
•    It is one of the most innovative tourism products ever launched by Indian Railways.
•    This is for the first time that Indian Railways have forayed into the exciting and fascinating wildlife tourism.
•    This is also the first semi-luxury train on a tourist circuit having a dining car. The objective behind it is to facilitate frequent interactions among travelers during the travel.
•    The train with 5 days/6 nights itinerary will start from Delhi Sufdarjung railway station.
•    The semi-luxury train will take the guests onboard to the world famous Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh.
•    The 5 days/6 nights itinerary of the Tiger Express includes three Tiger Safaris.

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World Environment Day observed with theme Zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife

World Environment Day (WED) was observed globally on 5 June 2016 with theme Zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife. The day aims at inspiring more people to take action to prevent the growing strain on Earth’s natural systems from reaching the breaking point.
•    The host country for the WED 2016 is Angola. 
•    The year’s slogan "Go Wild for Life" encourages everyone to spread the word about wildlife crime and the damage it does. It also asks people to challenge all to do what they can to prevent it.
•    The 2016 theme highlights the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers, as well as many other species. It also undermines our economies, communities and security.
•    Illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s biodiversity and driving whole species to the brink of extinction. 
•    As per an estimate, in 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, and the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon.
•    Lesser-known victims include helmeted hornbills and pangolins, as well as wild orchids and timbers like Rosewood – flowers and timber that are also considered as wildlife.
•    On this day to create awareness for environment, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off Tiger Express, a semi-luxury tourist train, from Safdarjung station New Delhi. 
The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the day when Stockholm’s United Nations Conference on the Human Environment 1972 began. 

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Union Cabinet approves MoU between US and India to enhance cooperation in wildlife conservation

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing up of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between United States of America and India to enhance cooperation in the field of wildlife conservation and combating wildlife trafficking. 
•    With the approval, India will benefit from the expertise of the US Institutions in the field of wildlife conservation and management of wildlife areas and in combating illegal trade of wildlife and their derivatives. 
•    India and the United States of America are endowed with rich biodiversity and natural heritage and have established a network of Protected Areas in their respective territories. 
•    As there is scope for both the countries to share professional expertise to address priority wildlife conservation concerns, the MoU would provide a convenient platform for collaboration. 
•    Wildlife Forensics and Conservation Genetics: Useful in species conservation efforts and better scientific evidence collection in wild life crimes leading to better enforcement. 
•    Natural World Heritage Conservation: Facilitating the institutional capacity of the existing UNESCO Category -2 - centre at Wildlife Institute of India. 
•    Nature Interpretation and Conservation Awareness: Use of information technology in strengthening interface of forest managers with the people for sensitizing people, especially the youth and children in understanding complex issues of conservation of biological diversity.

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Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh has won the ‘India Biodiversity Award 2016’

Pakke Tiger Reserve on 22 May 2016 received the 'India Biodiversity Award 2016' in one of its four categories in Mumbai. 
•    The Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme of the Pakke Tiger Reserve was awarded the prize under Conservation of threatened species category.
•    Besides this, Hong Niitii, Lower Subansiri was awarded under category IV Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) award.
•    Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme It is a collaboration of Ghora-Aabhe Society, Nature Conservation Foundation and the State Forest Departments.
•    Under this programme, urban citizens contribute money to protect hornbill nests around Pakke Tiger Reserve.
•    It is a major step towards conservation of four hornbill species that are found in the adjoining areas of the Tiger Reserve.
•    India Biodiversity Awards are joint initiative of Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development programme (UNDP).
•    It recognizes the contribution of the stakeholders towards the biodiversity conservation.

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Sikkim bans disposable foam food containers.

For effective waste management in an eco-friendly manner, the Sikkim government has restricted the use of mineral water bottles in government programmes and banned the use of foam food containers all over the state.
•    In order to reduce creation of garbage in the form of used drinking water plastic bottles it is notified that the packaged drinking water bottles may not be used during any government meetings or functions.
•    It suggested that as an alternative, departments can use filtered water or water from large reusable water dispensers or reusable water bottles in government functions.
•    Government has been initiating various measures to manage the waste and maintain a clean environment but it has been found that a lot of disposable foam containers are being rampantly used not only in the bazar areas but also in the rural pockets.
•    A huge quantity of municipal waste is created in the form of disposable products which are environmentally hazardous and occupy a huge space in the landfill.
•    The order banned the use and sale of disposable items such as cups, plates, spoons, containers, etc made from foam throughout the state with immediate effect.
•    Made from polystyrene foam, such food containers are generally white in colour.

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India records its Highest temperature at 51 C

A small city in northwest India scored 51 degrees Celsius on 19th may 2016 afternoon, and broke the country's record for all-time hottest temperature. 
•    The previous record, 50.6 degrees Celsius, was set in 1886.
•    The record was broken in Phalodi, which is just 125 miles away from the city that, up until this afternoon, claimed fame as the hottest location in India - Pachpadra.
•    April and May tend to be the hottest months in northwest India, and this year has been exceptionally so.
•    Christopher C. Burt, a weather historian at Weather Underground, posited that April's heat wave was the most intense ever observed in Southeast Asia.
•    In India it lasted for weeks - but the heat never truly dissipated, dragging on into May. Hundreds of people have died from heat-related illness. 
•    Northern India and Nepal have been battling their worst wildfires in years. Officials have on occasion banned daytime cooking in an attempt to prevent accidental fires that killed nearly 100 people in late April.
•    The India Meteorological Department issued a "severe heat wave warning" for a huge swath of the country on Thursday, which will continue through Saturday. 
•    The department expects temperatures will remain above average through at least May 27.
•    A similar period of extreme heat killed over 2,500 people in 2015.

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Australian engineers set solar cell efficiency world record

Engineers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have set a new world record for solar efficiency, converting sunlight to electricity at a rate of about two-thirds the theoretical limit.
•    The new world record for unfocused sunlight saw the engineers achieve a conversion rate of 34.5 per cent. 
•    This marks nearly a 50 per cent leap on the previous record of 24 per cent efficiency, set by Alta Devices of the United States,
•    For the new record, the UNSW researchers used a 28-cm2 four-junction mini-module embedded in a prism
•    he result was obtained by the same UNSW team that set a world record in 2014, achieving an electricity conversion rate of over 40% by using mirrors to concentrate the light – a technique known as CPV (concentrator photovoltaics) – and then similarly splitting out various wavelengths. The new result, however, was achieved using normal sunlight with no concentrators.

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April 16 was hottest day ever on Record :NASA

Last month was the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records.
•    The latest figures smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever recorded.
•    It makes three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken by the largest margin ever, and seven months in a row that are at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month. 
•    Figures released by Nasa over the weekend show the global temperature of land and sea was 1.11degree celcius warmer in April than the average temperature for April during the period 1951-1980.
•    The new record broke the previous one by 0.24C, which was set in 2010, at 0.87C above the baseline average for April. That record itself broke one set three years earlier at 0.75C above the baseline average for April.
•    The current blast of hot air around the globe is being spurred by a massive El Niño, which is a release of warm water across the Pacific Ocean. But it’s not the biggest El Niño on record and that spike in temperatures is occurring over a background of rapid global warming, pushing temperatures to all-time highs.
•    The record temperatures were wreaking havoc with ecosystems around the world. They’ve triggered the third recorded global coral bleaching, and in Australia 93% of the reefs have been affected by bleaching along the 2,300km Great Barrier Reef. In the northern parts of the reef, it’s expected the majority of coral is dead, and on some reefs over 90% of the coral is dying.

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