1. Prologue
  2. Flora Fauna Wildlife related
    1. Jellyfish bloom
    2. Cyber poaching
    3.  Tiger Census
    4. Giant African Snail
    5. Hibernation
    6. Great Indian Bustard
    7. Katurirangan report on western ghat
    8. Human Cruelty by Animals?
  3. Waste Management related
    1. #1: E-waste rules
    2. #2: Nisrgruna
    3. #3: Coriander as biosorbent
  4. Air Pollution related
    1. #1 Air Quality Index
    2. #2 SAFAR
    3. #3 China bans coal based power plants
    4. #4: Aerosol
  5. Energy related
    1. #1: Nanotech: Better solar panels
    2.  #2: Nanotech: better fuel cells
  6. Mock Questions


  • Until now, I’ve compiled Hindu Sci-Tech upto August 2013. You can access the entire archive on Mrunal.org/snt now moving to next three months: September, October and November 2013. (minus last Thursday of November ie.28th Nov)
  • This compilation runs in total three parts, first part dealing with Environment and Biodiversity related topics. Topics of agro, medical research, space, IT etc in remaining parts coming soon.
  • COP-19/ Warsaw climate change conference being a big topic- separately dealt click me
  • Disclaim: I’ve covered only Thursday edition. (in that too, left many topics that I felt useless.) However sci-tech news randomly comes in Non-Thursday editions also. And nothing prevents UPSC from asking anything from there. So one should keep habit of maintaining daily notes from the newspaper on his own. These articles are only meant to supplement your preparation- not substitutes of  Hindu/IndianExpress

Flora Fauna Wildlife related

Jellyfish bloom

Jellyfish bloom = huge increase Jellyfishes population.

Jellyfish bloom: result?

  1. In Sweden, a nuclear power plant had to be shut down after jellyfishes clogged its water cooling system. Similar incidents reported from Muscat, S.Korea to Scotland
  2. Bad for fishermen: their nets get busted and trawl lines get clogged.
  3. Jellyfish stings are extremely painful. Sea-resorts/beaches receive less tourists whenever jellyfishes are sighted near the coast.

Why Jelly fish blooms?

or, why is Jellyfish population increasing so rapidly?

Predators They have few predators – sea turtles, salmon, mackerel et al.Overfishing of salmon, mackerel = less predators of jelly fish.
cuisine Except a few Asian countries- most people don’t eat Jelly fish because its meat is tasteless and you need to carefully remove its poisonous stings.=less demand=fishermen avoid jellyfishes.
Competitors Jelly fish competes with smaller fishes for the same food. But Jelly fish even eats the eggs of its competitors fishes= collapses smaller fish populations.
  • They create polyps—little bundles of clones. Polyps attach to hard surfaces and wait for their opportunity to release small jellyfish.
  • Nowadays with lot of man-made hard surfaces in the ocean: drilling platforms, offshore wind turbines, boats, anchors etc even plastic cigarette packets= more places for polyps to thrive.
  • In Certain species of jelly fish- even dead jelly fishes’ cells find each other again and from a whole new polyp.
  • Because of this ‘polyps’ mechanism- Jellyfish can even transport to new ecosystem- where often they have no natural predators.
Algae Bloom
  • Pesticides, fertilziers, industral waste etc=>river=>ocean
  • This increases the nitrogen and phosphorous content in water=> algal blooms
  • During algal bloom, oxygen content in water decrease. = most marine organisms are wiped out. However, jellyfish can survive because it needs very little oxygen.
  • So as other animals dwindle, jellyfish colonies expand
  • Example: Pollution from Yangtze River in western China =>  dead zones in the East China and Yellow Seas with Jelly blooms.

Cyber poaching

  • Cyber poaching is the use of GPS, satellite, IT technology poaching animals.
  • Iridium collar= fitted on tigers, can track them both via satellite and ground tracking. Can provide GPS data about animal’s movement at regular interval daily.
  • Wildlife official found that someone from Pune tried to access this GPS data of tiger in MP=>leading to suspicion that hacker tried to get the tiger movement data- pass it to poachers so the animal can be easily hunted. FIR has been lodged.
  • in the meantime, forest officers captured this tiger, replaced this iridium collar with Very High Frequency (VHF) collar.
VHF collar GPS collar
since 60s recent technology
An animal wearing a VHF collar = transmits radiowaves- you track it with a special receiver and directional antenna. (but you have to in the nearby region).
  • GPS tracking is based on a radio receiver (rather than a transmitter) in an animal’s collar.
  • satellite used for monitoring the location coordinates- every 15 minutes, one hour etc.
  • labor intensive. You need a man on the ground / plane in the air to track animal.
  • So, doesn’t work well in bad weather / difficult terrain.
Satellite captures GPS coordinates- you can see animal’s location on computer anywhere.
cheap expensive
long life Battery expires in a few months.
Accuracy=reasonable. extreme

 Tiger Census

  • Conducted every four years.
  • By National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) + Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun
  • It is in news because October-December 2013 period, tiger census will run in the four southern states.
  • Authorities also want to include NGOs and citizens in this exercise. Public participation gives transparency and credibility to tiger census. (else local forest officers  might inflate tiger numbers in their district.)
  • but as per the rules: no cameras/mobile phones allowed. – hence very few volunteers applied.
  • Why? Because in previous census Volunteers spent most of their time shooting photos and recording videos, rather than collecting data.
  • flashlights from camera=disturbs the tigers and other wildlife.

Giant African Snail

  • Exotic pest introduced from East Africa to India in 1800s
  • This is the biggest land snail
  • Damages crops of papaya, brinjal etc.
  • Snail is one type of Mollusk= Invertebrate having a soft body usually enclosed in a shell
  • Snail is a hermaphrodite and lays eggs on soil.
  • In cold regions, snail can undergo hibernation



  • Hibernation is a way that some animals deal with the harshness of winter.
  • They curl up in a safe place, barely breathe, heartbeat is so slow – you can hardly detect it, as if the animal is almost dead.
  • In warmer weather, they return to their regular activities.
  • Hibernation =in winter / cold regions. Similarly, Estivation = in summer/ hot regions.

Why Hibernation?

  • Evolutionary mechanism to survive in winters + food shortage.
  • they breathe slowly, don’t move=energy expenditure declines. Can live with just their  body fat.
  • (new research)
    • Hibernation boosts immunity.
    • Predator avoidance: since animal is motionless and emit minimal noise and body odour= predator cannot detect it.


  • Mammals: bats, bears, chipmunks, mice, hedgehog, Prairie Dogs, Raccoons,  hamsters
  • frogs, snakes, turtles, snails, earthworms, bees, lizards
  • Birds: Poorwill, Nighthawks.

Great Indian Bustard

Regarding Great Indian Bustard: Less than 250 left in country.

Why decline?

Andra has received ca$h from CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning).. Yet they’ve not declared bird sanctuary for great Indian bustards.
Maharashtra in Chandrapur, the government ordered that farmland cannot be sold if bustard was seen on it. So, farmers kill bustards to sell the land.
Karnataka Forest officials planting exotic tree species= unsuitable as habitat for birds + less insect=less food
  • Erosion of grassland by domestic animals=less insects=less food for bird.
  • Grassland turned into farmland, Farmland sold for industrial purpose= less insects=less food.
  • Forest mafia destroying teak trees.
  • poaching
  • Unregulated tourism.

In recent times, UPSC has been asking MCQ about ‘status’ and ‘location’ of endangered species. So, As per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s red list:

Birds found in India red list status (on Nov 2013) Found in
Great Indian Bustard critically endangered Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Cattle Egret least concern
  • Egrets are local winter Migratory birds.
  • In winter, they migrate to Ooty hill station region.
  • They also feed on pest/insects=help farmers.
Baya Weaver least concern
Pink-headed Duck critically endangered You dig and post in comments.
Jerdon’s Courser critically endangered
Siberian Crane critically endangered
Indian Vulture critically endangered
Bengal Florican critically endangered

Katurirangan report on western ghat

  • We’ve already seen Gadgil report in detail: click me
  • But Gadgil report led to widespread protests by villagers and forest/builder/mining mafia lobby in Western Ghats.
  • So, Environment ministry setup one more committee under Kasturirangan, in August 2012.
  • headed by Dr. K. Kasturirangan (Member, Planning Commission)
Gadgil Kasturirangan
Official name: Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) High Level Working Group (HLWG)
use satellite data down to 9km resolution 24 meters resolution
Classifies western ghat region into three zone: 1, 2 and 3. Separate level protection to each of this zones. click me for more It classifies Western Ghat into

  • cultural landscape: ~58%
  • Natural landscape ~42%.
kept cultural landscape within purview of ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Kasturi has kept cultural landscape out of purview of Ecologically sensitive areas. e.g. sacred groves of Kerala- rich in biodiversity.
  • So, if Kasturi’s recommendations accepted, any builder could raze the sacred groves to construct new buildings. (or atleast that’s what Gadgil followers say)
entire Western ghat should be declared as ecologically sensitive area under Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • nope, only 37% area of Western ghat (=60000 sq.km)
  • villages with population density >100, shoulnot be declared ecologically sensitive.
pro-people, pro-nature.Grama Sabhas should decide on the Ecological Sensitivity of the respective areas autocratic approach. Doesn’t include local community’s role in ecological decision-making. (or atleast that’s what Gadgil followers say)

Why Kasturi in news?

  • As per Kasturi’s recommendation, Environment ministry banned mining activities and restrict on construction activities in 123 villages of Western Ghat.
  • Kasturi also recommends that commercial crops, rubber, tea, coffee, pepper, cashew, cardamom, arecanut and coconut etc. shouldnot be allowed in such ecologically sensitive areas.
  • + even chemical fertilizers and pesticides should not be allowed for any crops.
  • result? farmers are against Kasturi’s report. = violent protests in Kerala.

gadgil vs kasturi-western-ghats

Human Cruelty by Animals?

  • Shimla Municipal Corporation had earlier rounded up every stray dog and kept them in dog houses built outside the town.
  • But an NGO got these dogs released and now leopards entering localities to hunt this dogs
  • Similarly, people throwing food garbage in the town= monkeys coming from jungle causing more crop destruction.
  • State Government has banned export of monkeys for medical research.
  • Kisan Sabha demanding that (1) monkeys must be culled and (2) monkey export should be permitted.
  • Animal-loving NGOs move to courts for flimsiest reasons but don’t care for such problems faced by humans.

Waste Management related

#1: E-waste rules

  • e-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011
  • By Environment ministry- made in 2011, became effective since 2012
  • Covers: electrical / IT equipment.
  • Doesn’t cover: lead batteries and radioactive waste (separate rules for them)


  • safe disposal e-waste through private bodies
  • Apply to every producer, consumer and recycling center.
  • Specify the ceiling limits of lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, ether etc. hazardous substances in electrical equipment.
  • Every producer has to certify their equipment donot contain those substances beyond the specified level.
  • Concept: Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR).
  • Meaning, once the consumer discards the electronic / IT product- it is producer’s responsibility to collect the e-waste and ensure they’re safely disposed.
  • Producer has to take back its discarded electronic products from customers. (or can outsource this work to a recycler/collection center)
  • If municipality gather e-waste (during their day-to-day operation)- they need to hand over e-waste to such private bodies.
Non-Compliance State pollution control board can cancel the license of that producer.

Some more fodder points on e-waste

  1. E-waste is not entirely waste. you can salvage iron, aluminum, copper and gold and other precious metals and reuse them
  2. but e-waste also contains mercury, cadmium etc. hazardous substances
  3. Mercury =bio-accumulates (builds up in organisms) and biomagnifies (moves up the food chain).  Thus, even a minuscule amount of mercury can affect entire ecology and human health.
  4. As per ASSOCHAM report top three e-waste producing cities
city rank e-waste in tonnes per year
  1. Mumbai
  1. Delhi
  1. Banglore

#2: Nisrgruna

too clichéd topic, besides already been asked in one of the earlier mains. but anyways:

  • Nisargruna= solid waste management technology devised by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
  • 1 tonne of biodegradable waste from households, hotels, farms=>nisargruna plant=>methane (1 cylinder) + manure (50kg)
  • 4 such cylinders can power 80-100 LED streetlight for 8 hours.
  • takes only 20 lakhs to setup one plant.
  • More efficient than traditional biogas plants
  • been in news because a new Plants being setup in Madurai + Chennai

some fodder points related to municipal waste

  • By 2100: India’s total waste generation will be 70 per cent of all the high income and OECD countries put together
  • by 2030 India will be world’s largest municipal solid waste generator.

#3: Coriander as biosorbent

  • Coriander or cilantro, the leafy herb used to garnish variety of Indian food.
  • US researchers found coriander leafs are potential biosorbent = can remove lead, nickel and other toxic heavy metals from water.
  • can be used low-cost remedy to purify drinking water.

Air Pollution related

#1 Air Quality Index

Air Quality Index is a color-coded tool that categorizes air quality.

Air QualityRating Air Quality Index (AQI) Color
GOOD 0 – 50 green
MODERATE 51 – 100 yellow
UNHEALTHY 151 – 200 red
VERY UNHEALTHY 201 – 300 purple
HAZARDOUS >300 maroon

Air Quality index can be measured based on particle size.

  • PM 10: measure pollutants with a diameter of 10 microns or less.
  • PM 2.5: pollutants with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less.

For example

Air QualityRating Range PM10 PM2.5 Color
GOOD 0 – 50 green
MODERATE 51 – 100 yellow
UNHEALTHY 151 – 200 red
VERY UNHEALTHY 201 – 300 purple
HAZARDOUS >300 maroon

for Beijing, it remains >300 (hazardous) and for Delhi- in the range of 250 (very unhealthy). [October data]


  • SAFAR: System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)
  • Computerized system developed by Indian institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune (under Ministry of Earth Science)
  • with help of India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • SAFAR was installed in Delhi, during CWG-2010. Later in Pune.
  • Why in news? Because SAFAR is being installed in Mumbai. (October)
  • it provides data on
  1. Air Quality Index – health advisory
  2. UV Index – skin advisory
  3. Dynamic city pollution maps.
  • Quality of air can be forecasted 24-72 hours in advance.

#3 China bans coal based power plants

In Beijing, air quality index is constantly above 300 in recent months. Haze is a routine phenomenon.  Air pollution has reduced Chinese people’s life expectancy by 5.5 years and so on… finally Chinese government woke up, has banned new coal based power plants in the three key industrial regions

  1. Beijing
  2. Shanghai
  3. Guangdong (Pearl River)

China will try to reduce its coal consumption to 65% by 2017, and aim for more nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy.

#4: Aerosol

Aerosol= solid/liquor particles uniformly distributed in gas.

natural man-made
sea salt, dust
  • soot from vehicles.
  • firewood burning,
  • sulphate particles from thermal / cement plants.

Aerosol optical depth (AOD)= An index of aerosol levels. Researchers found aerosol level has increased over the years in India.

Why aerosol bad in atmosphere?

  • They absorb light= less sunlight coming to ground. also affect how much heat escapes from earth
  • Thus aerosol affect aerosol affect regional climate and monsoon (+respiratory problems).
  • Man made aerosols have HFCs (Hydrofloro carbons)=greenhouse effect.

Energy related

#1: Nanotech: Better solar panels

  • Solar power panels use semiconductor material, like silicon or gallium arsenide
  • Sunlight=>photons=> Semiconductor material =>electromagnetic energy
  • London researchers coated this solar panel surface with aluminum nanostructures.


  • More photons absorbed=>more electricity produced.
  • Earlier scientists tried similar thing with silver and gold nanoparticles. But Aluminum is giving better performance at cheaper cost.
  • Price of Solar Power in India
2011 Rs. 18/kWh
2013 Rs. 7/kWh
Aluminum nano structure Could help bring down the cost even further

 #2: Nanotech: better fuel cells

  • Fuel cells: chemical energy=>electricity.
  • Fuel cell running cars will emit water rather than carbon dioxide.
  • But fuel cells use platinum as a catalyst= very expensive.
  • Researchers came with new tech. to convert cheap catalyst from geletin.
  • Gelatin is protein, used in jelly making.
  • Gelatin+Magneisum+Iron=>heating=>create metal nanoparticles. Use’em as catalyst in fuel cells.

Mock Questions

Q1. Consider following statements about Nisargruna Technology

  1. It is a solid waste management technology developed by BARC
  2. can transform plastic waste into biodiesel
  3. More efficient than traditional biogas plants because Nisargruna plant can directly turn waste into butane gas.

The incorrect statements are

  1. only 1
  2. only 2
  3. only 2 and 3
  4. only 1 and 3

Q2. Consider following statements about hibernation

  1. It is a survival mechanism to cope up with harsh winters.
  2. During hibernation, animal reduces its breathing rate to increase its metabolism rate.
  3. Only mammals can undergo hibernation.

Correct statements are

  1. only 1
  2. only 2
  3. only 2 and 3
  4. only 1 and 3

Q3. Which of the following set of birds are included in IUCN’s critically endangered list?

  1. Great Indian Bustard, Cattle Egret,  Indian Vulture
  2. Great Indian Bustard, Siberian Crane, Cattle Egret
  3. Great Indian Bustard, Siberian Crane,  Indian Vulture
  4. Cattle Egret, Siberian Crane,  Indian Vulture

Q4. Consider following statements about Jellyfish:

  1. Jellyfish is one type of Mollusk
  2. Jellyfish population is on decline because the overfishing of its food-salmon and mackerel.
  3. Jellyfish requires high amount of dissolved oxygen and hence can die immediately during an algae bloom.
  4. Man-made hard surfaces in the ocean such as drilling platforms, offshore wind turbines, boats and anchors negatively affect the reproduction of jelly fishes.

Correct statements

  1. only 1 and 2
  2. only 2 and 3
  3. only 2, 3 and 4
  4. None

Q4. Find correct statements

  1. VHF collar is more accurate in tracking wild animals compared to GPS collars.
  2. VHF collar is one type of radio transmitter.
  3. Both A and B correct
  4. Neither A nor B correct

Q5.Consider following statements about Tiger Census

  1. Tiger census is conducted at the interval of every five years.
  2. Tiger census is solely done by Wild life institute of India, with help of state forest departments.
  3. As per the tiger census rules, the forest officials are prohibited from using public and NGOs in the tiger counting work.

Correct statements

  1. Only 1
  2. only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None

Q6. Consider following statements about Katurirangan report on western ghat

  1. Kasturirangan is the chairman of Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP)
  2. His report recommends entire Western ghat should be declared as ecologically sensitive area under Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  3. His report recommends promoting cultivation of rubber, tea, coffee, pepper, cashew, cardamom, arecanut and coconut in the ecologically sensitive areas- to prevent tribals from joining poaching activities.

Incorrect statements

  1. Only 1
  2. only 2 and 3
  3. All
  4. None

Q7. Incorrect statement

  1. E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules were enacted by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in 2011.
  2. These rules follow the principle of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR), under which, producer is freed from the responsibility of safe-disposal of e-waste, by paying a specified amount to government.
  3. both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q8. Correct Statement

  1. As per the Air Quality index- city with lower index number is  more polluted than a city with higher index number.
  2. System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) is a new technology developed by Japan to monitor air quality index during next Olympic Games.
  3. both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B


  • 5 marks
    1. SAFAR technology
    2. Tiger Census
    3. Great Indian Bustard
  • 12 marks
    1. List the salient features of the rules enacted by Ministry of environment and forestry for management and handling of e-waste.
    2. Between Gadgil and Kasturirangan’s recommendations- which one is more suitable for the conservation of Western Ghats? Why?
    3. List the applications of nanotechnology in the area of clean energy.