[AnswerKey] UPSC Prelims-2020: Environment, Biodiversity, National Parks MCQs Solved with Explanation for All Sets & Strategy for 2021

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Unacademy Plus Mrunal Economy for Prelims and Mains UPSC!
  1. Trend Analysis of the Environment Biodiversity MCQs in UPSC prelim exams?
  2. How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?
  3. How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for UPSC Mains GSM3–2021?
  4. Answerkey: Flora Fauna and Wildlife Protection
  5. Answerkey: Parks and Sanctuaries
  6. Answerkey: Pollution & Water Shortage
  7. Epilogue

Trend Analysis of the Environment Biodiversity MCQs in UPSC prelim exams?

[AnswerKey] UPSC Prelims-2020: Environment, Biodiversity, National Parks

Environment in Prelims-2019 and before Prelim-2020: Continuity and Change
-2018: 3 Easy, while the rest of the environment MCQs were in the medium to tough category.

-2019: same as above

-only 1 easy, rest is environment MCQs were medium to tough
Ever since the merger of forest service prelims with Indian civil services (IAS/IPS) prelims, UPSC had been devoting about 1/5th of the Prelim paper-1 to environment, biodiversity topics but in 2017 and 2018 less number of questions were asked. same scene, but more so, to make space for a large number of agriculture questions.
Traditional preparation sources giving decreasing utility in Prelims

-ShankarIAS book could solve just 2-2 MCQs in 2018 and 2019’s prelims.

-India Yearbook: 0 MCQ (2017), 1 MCQ (2018), 0 MCQ (2019)

-hardly 1-2 MCQs from NCERT, NIOS type textbooks.

-No question could be solved from Shankar or IYB.

-NIOS helped only in ’50:50′ elimination of some MCQs. but no direct answers.

-Before 2019: questions from the ‘About us’ websites of obscure International organisations and funds – TEEB, CCAC, GCCA, PAGE, GACSA, Biocarbon fund, Forest carbon facility, birdlife international etc.

-But this nonsense was stopped in 2019.

-Thankfully no random question from “About us” pages of low-profile bodies.
2-3 questions from flora-fauna. same
Wildlife Park and Sanctuary related questions are asked from obscure and contrived angles. They’re never easy. Same sadistic game is continued.
Usually a few questions on R&D such as fuel cell, bio toilets, bioremediation, algae fuel, carbon sequester, H-CNG, Remote Sensing etc. Seems all that R&D quota of MCQs were exhausted in the science tech and agriculture portion of the Prelims-2020 Paper. Nothing left to ask here, in the environment.
pollution  / water conversation = was the single largest sub-topic asked within Environment in 2018 and 2019. Pollution-Prem continues. 7 out of the 15 MCQs devoted to pollution  / water conversation.
  • 10 out of the 15 MCQs had 3 statements / more, then you had to find which of them were correct= very lengthy and mentally taxing paper.
  • To conclude, the environment section is medium to tough. But, it feels ‘monotonous’ because excessive MCQs just require you to know about parks & species. In Previous years, UPSC examiners ensured that there was an internal ‘variety’ of MCQs/topics within a subject.

How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?

  • To cultivate the logical elimination 50:50 skill, You must have strong foundation in environment. So avoid mentality- that why waste time/money on NCERT/NIOS when no direct questions are coming. You should prepare them irrespectively.
  • ShankarIAS Environment Book (6th Ed) as base-book for advanced theories and contemporary issues on environment. Yes, relatively less MCQs came from here in 2019 and 2020, it’s still more reliable than its rival publishers.
  • (When it is published next year) India Yearbook 2021 by Ministry of information and Broadcasting: Ch. 12 on Environment and Ch.1 on Land and People. Don’t buy India 2021 at this stage.
  • Selective Study any one “base-book” on Indian Geography: Majid Husain | हिंदी में भी उपलब्ध ch. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Some of the flora-fauna / park-sanctuary questions require background knowledge of weather/climate/elevation/drainage so you need command over geography as well.
  • Selective study of the State of Forest Report
  • To keep the paper tough, UPSC examiner even lifts statements from bare acts and rules but if you engage in preparing those things, it’ll give poor cost:benefit.
  • In 2019, few questions were ‘National Geographic Kids GK’ like viviparous snakes & herbivore turtles. It’s futile to make a compilation of such wildlife GK, because UPSC examiner can always ask something random or technical that only an IFS (Forest) candidate with B.Sc (Agriculture / Zoology / Botany) can attempt it. Remember that some questions are meant to test the Forest Service candidates. UPSC examiner is not mandating you, as a non-IFS aspirant, must have impeccable command over zoology and botany.
  • In 2020, similarly excessive focus on flora-fauna-parks. But beyond a point, it gives poor cost benefit in investing your time in this.
  • For Current Affairs: IndianExpress OR Hindu, and whichever PDF compilation catches your fancy. Focus should be on the CA related to Pollution, Clean Energy, New legal amendments, SC/NGT Judgement, international treaties, funds, R&D, reports-rankings.
  • For Contemporary Affairs: In the environment segment the focus of UPSC examinations on contemporary office usually after a lag of one to two years. So, accordingly for Prelims-2021 you should prepare environment topics that were in news during 1/1/2019 from any ONE (free) PDF compilations you like. Don’t try to be Half-Blood-Prince, “I’ll make super-secret notes by compiling all Environment CA-PDF from VisionIAS, IASparliament (an initiative by ShankarIAS) and 5 other sources. because even in the best case scenario such compilation will only help you arrive at 50:50 elimination stage.

How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for UPSC Mains GSM3–2021?

Covered in a separate article Mains GS Paper-3- including topicwise previous papers!

Answerkey: Flora Fauna and Wildlife Protection

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.61. If a particular plant species is placed under Schedule VI of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, what is the implication?

[a) A licence is required to cultivate that plant.

[b) Such a plant cannot be cultivated under any circumstances.

[c) It is a Genetically Modified crop plant.

[d) Such a plant is invasive and harmful to the ecosystem.

Difficulty : Tough 🥵

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation: 

  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, has six schedules.
  • No person is allowed to cultivate a specified plant mentioned in schedule 6, except with a licence granted by the Chief Wild Life Warden. The plant mentioned in the sixth schedule are
  • Beddomes’cycad
  • Blue Vanda
  • Kuth
  • Ladies slipper orchids
  • Pitcher plant
  • Red Vanda

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.92. With reference to Indian elephants, consider the following statements :

  1. The leader of an elephant group is a female
  2. The maximum gestation period can be 22 months.
  3. An elephant can normally go on calving till the age of 40 years only.
  4. Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Kerala.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct ?

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 2 and 4 only

[c) 3 only

[d) 1, 3 and 4 only

Difficulty:  Medium 🧐 to tough, Depending on your knowledge about the State-wise elephant population in India. 

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • As per the 2017’s data: Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054). So 4th statement – wrong. We are 🤞 50:50 between A or C.
  • In the majority of cases an elephant group is headed by a female elephant, named ‘matriarch’. So, #1 is correct → Answer should be A.

Answer Sources:-

🎲 GuessMaster-GiriTM: 👍Fully Possible. If you believe in the rule#1 that extreme worded statements are always wrong  → Then state#3 and #4 should be wrong, because they contain extreme words “40 years ONLY” and “highest” respectively. So, elimination we arrive at the correct answer “A” without studying anything.


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.94. With reference to India’s biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith barbet, Gray-chinned minivet and White- throated redstart are

[a) Birds

[b) Primates

[c) Reptiles

[d) Amphibians

Difficulty : Tough 🥵 Primate (=monkey) species are very limited in number. so, it doesn’t fit B option but still after that elimination, you’re left with 3 options.

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation: 

The hindu has covered some of the birds selectively in news but difficult to remember in real life.

Answer Sources:-

Answerkey: Parks and Sanctuaries

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.95. Which one of the following protected areas is well-known for the conservation of a sub-species of the Indian swamp deer (Barasinga) that thrives well in hard ground and is exclusively graminivorous ?

[a) Kanha National Park

[b) Manas National Park

[c) Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

[d) Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary

Difficulty : Medium 🧐 to tough, Depending on your knowledge about the distribution of species across parks and Sanctuaries.

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh is well known for the Barasingha or the Swamp deer.

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.97. Which of the following are the most likely places to find the musk deer in its natural habitat ?

  1. Askot Wildlife Sanctuary
  2. Gangotri National Park
  3. Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. Manas National Park

Select the correct answer using the code given below

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 3 and 4 only

[d) 1 and 4 only

Difficulty : Medium 🧐 to tough, Depending on your knowledge about the distribution of species across parks and Sanctuaries.

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Musk deer are found in high altitude ecosystems, in the colder part of Himalayas.
  • Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary is in Uttar Pradesh. So, #3 is unlikely be a Natural habitat of Musk deer → We are 🤞 50:50 between A or D.
  • In both of the remaining options first statement is common. Now between the Gangotri and Manas, Manas (Assam) is likely to be a lower altitude place, so A: 1 and 2 should be the answer.

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.55. With reference to India’s Desert National Park, which of the following statements are correct?

  1. It is spread over two districts.
  2. There is no human habitation inside the Park.
  3. It is one of the natural habitats of the Great Indian Bustard.

Select the correct answer using the code given below;

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 2 und 3 only

[c) 1 and 3 only

[d) 1, 2 and 3

Difficulty : Tough 🥵

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Normally human activities are not allowed in National Park but many villagers lived inside Desert National park, and they did not have access to even basic facility like road, electricity and water. 2017: Supreme Court ordered the government to provide such facilities to them So,#2 as wrong. By elimination the answer is C.
  • Desert national park is spread in two districts of Rajasthan Jaisalmer &   → #1 is correct
  • It is Natural home to the Great Indian Bustard. 3rd Statement is right

Answer Sources:-

🎲 GuessMaster-GiriTM: 👍Fully Possible. If you believe in the rule#1 that extreme worded statements are always wrong  → Then state#2 should be wrong, because contains extreme words “No human habitation”. So, elimination we arrive at the correct answer “C” without studying anything.


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.60. Among the following Tiger Reserves, which one has the largest area under “Critical Tiger Habitat”?

[a) Corbett

[b) Ranthambore

[c) Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam

[d) Sunderbans

Difficulty : Tough 🥵

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Sundarban has Critical Tiger Habitat area of 1699.62 sq.
  • Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Core/ Critical Tiger Habitat : 3721 Sq. Km
  • If Sundarbans critical Tiger Habitat is smaller than Nagarjunsagar then remaining options are unlikely to have a bigger size than Nagarjunsagar so answer should be C.

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.93. Which of the following Protected Areas are located in Cauvery basin ?

  1. Nagarhole National park
  2. Papikonda National park
  3. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve
  4. Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary

Select the correct answer using the code given below :

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 3 and 4 only

[c) 1, 3 and 4 only

[d) 1,2,3 and 4

Difficulty : Tough 🥵 Difficult to memorise the location of the parks to such detail.

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:   

  • Caurvery basin lies in the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.
  • Papikonda National Park is in Andhra Pradesh So, #2 is wrong. We are 🤞 50:50 between B or C. In both of these options statements 3 and 4 are common so we have to accept them as correct without checking. Everything boils down to weather Statement#1 is right or not?
  • Nagarhole National Park is located in Karnataka, and is the in Cauvery basin. So, Answer C.

Answer Sources:-

  • Google map and multiple pages on internet

Answerkey: Pollution & Water Shortage

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.08. Which of the following are the reasons/factors for exposure to benzene pollution ?

  1. Automobile exhaust
  2. Tobacco smoke
  3. Wood burning
  4. Using varnished wooden furniture
  5. Using products made of polyurethane

Select the correct answer using the code given below :

[a) 1, 2 and 3 only

[b) 2 and 4 only

[c) 1, 3 and 4 only

[d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Difficulty : Medium 🧐

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Source of benzene pollution is the automobile and petroleum industry. (NIOS Page 167) So, #1 is correct.
  • Benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants generated during incomplete combustion of coal oil, petrol and wood. They’re also found in cigarette smoke and charcoal boiled food. So, #2 and #3 are correct. (Tamilnadu State Board class 11 Chemistry chapter 13)
  • So, We are 🤞 50:50 between A or D.
  • Benzene is also present in particleboard furniture, plywood, fibreglass, flooring adhesives, paints, wood panelling. Therefore, new buildings or recently redecorated indoor environments have been associated with high concentrations of benzene from materials and furniture. Says NCBI research paper. So, #4 should be correct. Therefore the answer should be D.

🎲 GuessMaster-GiriTM: 👍Fully Possible. If you believe in the rule#6 that in science-technology type questions, more than often, the answer is “D/ All statements correct”. 


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.58. Consider the following statements:

  1. 36% of India’s districts are classified as “overexploited” or “critical” by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
  2. CGWA was formed under the Environment (Protection) Act.
  3. India has the largest area under groundwater irrigation in the world.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

[a) 1 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 2 only

[d) 1 and 3 only

Difficulty : Tough 🥵

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation:

  • The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) was  formed under  the Environment (Protection) Act.1986, 2nd statement is correct. So, we are 🤞 50:50 between B or C.
  • The countries with the largest extent of areas equipped for irrigation with groundwater, in absoluteterms, are India (39 million ha), China (19 million ha) andthe USA (17 million ha). Says FAO research paper published in 2010. So, #3 is correct → Answer B.

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.64. According to India’s National Policy on Biofuels, which of the following can be used as raw materials for the production of biofuels?

  1. Cassava
  2. Damaged wheat grains
  3. Groundnut seeds
  4. Horse gram
  5. Rotten potatoes
  6. Sugar beet

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

[a) 1, 2, 5 and 6 only

[b) 1, 3, 4 and 6 only

[c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

[d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Difficulty : Tough 🥵 because on internet search, all six of the given material can be used for preparing biofuel, but the question is specific – which of them are mentioned in the national policy?

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation:

  • National Policy on Biofuels 2018 identified following raw materials for biofuel generation:
  • Molasses, Sugarcane juice, biomass in form of grasses,
  • agriculture residues (Rice straw, cotton stalk, corn cobs, saw dust, bagasse etc.) ,
  • sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, etc.
  • starch containing materials such as corn, cassava, rotten potatoes etc.,
  • Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice etc.
  • In the entire policy document there is no mention of horse gram or groundnut so, #3 and #4 are wrong. By elimination we arrived at answer A.

Answer Sources:-

🎲 GuessMaster-GiriTM: 👍Fully Possible. If you believe in the rule#6 that in science-technology type questions, more than often, the answer is “D/ All statements correct”. 


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.65. Which one of the following statements best describes the term ‘Social Cost of Carbon’? It is a measure, in monetary value, of the

[a) long-term damage done by a tonne of COշ emissions in a given year.

[b) requirement of fossil fuels for a country to provide goods and services to its citizens, based on the burning of those fuels.

[c) efforts put in by a climate refugee to adapt to live in a new place.

[d) contribution of an individual person to the carbon footprint on the planet Earth.

Difficulty : Easy 🤩, by decoding the word “social cost”

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation:

  • In microeconomics, Social cost is a concept associated with some type of negative externality. For example, Factories emit large amount of smoke from their chimneys into the atmosphere. This may not figure in the calculation of costs in their records. But the cost to the community may be in the form of additional washing bills for clothes and the money spent by the community on medical bills etc. These costs are social costs.
  • OECD defines Social Cost of Carbon as the net present value of climate change impacts over the next 100 years (or longer) of one additional tonne of carbon emitted to the atmosphere today.
  • Considering these interpretations, A is the closest option.

Answer Sources:-

  • OECD research paper
  • Tamilnadu State Board class 11 economics textbook chapter 4 which gives concept of ‘social cost’.

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.96. Steel slag can be the material for which of the following ?

  1. Construction of base road
  2. Improvement of agricultural soil
  3. Production of cement

Select the correct answer using the code given below :

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Difficulty : Tough 🥵 because As per the NIOS textbooks steel slag causes soil pollution so then Statement#2 should be wrong but then you arrive at a wrong answer.

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation:

  • Steel slag, an unavoidable by-product in iron and steel production. Developed countries like Japan, USA have taken lead in making fertilisers using steel-making slag, says 2018’s article in Financial Express So, #2 is correct.
  • Steel Slag is used in road metal and bases, producing portland slag cement. It is also used for soil conditioning. Says Handbook of Indian Bureau of mines page 6. So, All #3 statements correct.

Answer Sources:-

🎲 GuessMaster-GiriTM: 👍Fully Possible. If you believe in the rule#6 that in science-technology question, more than often, the answer is “D/All statements correct”. 


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.98. In rural road construction, the use of which of the following is preferred for ensuring environmental sustainability or to reduce carbon footprint ?

  1. Copper slag
  2. Cold mix asphalt technology
  3. Geotextiles
  4. Hot mix asphalt technology
  5. Portland cement

Select the correct answer using the code given below :

[a) 1, 2 and 3 only

[b) 2, 3 and 4 only

[c) 4 and 5 only

[d) 1 and 5 only

Difficulty : Medium 🧐

Type: Contemporary 📅

Explanation:

  • Coir is a natural fibre. Government has allowed the use of coir based geotextiles for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in 2020. So, #3 is correct, We are 🤞 50:50 between A or B.
  • In the Hot Mix Asphalt technology, Asphalt is heated & poured over stone, sand, gravel, then a heavy roller is driven over it to compact the road surface. If you visualise the entire process, it results into emission of many gases because of heating so, does not seem to help reducing the carbon footprint. #4 is wrong and so the answer is A.
  • Copper slag is a by-product obtained during smelting and refining of copper. Copper slag is non-hazardous, non-toxic material. This eco-friendly industrial by-product is being used in government road projects for the past 3 years now, says the report by Sterlite Copper Company. Research papers published in Springer journal, also tell a similar story. So, #1 is correct, & Answer should be A.

Answer Sources:-


(Pre’20-SetB) Q.99. Consider the following statements :

  1. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead and mercury.
  2. Coal-fired power plants release sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen into the environment.
  3. High ash content is observed in Indian coal.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?

[a) 1 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 3 only

[d) 1, 2 and 3

Difficulty : Medium 🧐

Type: Theory 📚

Explanation:

  • Excessive burning of coal, wood, kerosene, petrol etc. release toxic gases such as SO2 (sulphur dioxide), NOx (oxide of nitrogen),CO(carbon monoxide) and hydrocarbons in the air. These gases are also emitted by industries, power plants, automobiles and aircrafts. Says NIOS Environment Book Page 33. So, #2 is correct, We are 🤞 50:50 between B or D. Now everything boils down to the validity of the statement#1.
  • Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. So, #1 is correct, → Answer D.

Answer Sources:-

Epilogue

  • My thanks to Shri Brijesh Patel (Faculty, SPIPA, Ahmedabad) for his assistance in preparation of this answer key.
  • Any errors? let me know in the comment section!
  • Get Detailed UPSC Prelims Answerkeys with Explanations at Mrunal.org/prelims

    Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

    22 Comments on “[AnswerKey] UPSC Prelims-2020: Environment, Biodiversity, National Parks MCQs Solved with Explanation for All Sets & Strategy for 2021”

    1. Sir, how to prepare for Prelims 21 is missing

    2. 1st to comment
      Thanks sir ji for analysis
      God bless u

    3. Sir, “how to prepare prelims 2021 – environment” tab ke nichey blank h. Please update, thank you.

    4. Sir you have not mentioned the sources for how to prepare for Prelims 2021
      Kindly provide that Sir

    5. Sir…Please include Strategy for Prelims -2021. It is left blank

    6. Very good analysis sir…but I just have 1 question:

      Why is there nothing given under the section “How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?” ?

      Is this section going to be updated later? Please let us know.

    7. Sir, The content under “how to prepare for 2021 prelims” is empty.

    8. Sir “How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?” Section mei kuch nahi likha hua

    9. How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021? sir do we go behind traditional source like shankar ?

    10. How to prepare environment for 2021 is not there

    11. Mrunal sir. First of all many thanks to you for making Economics the easiest subject for upsc. Also sir, please update “how to prepare prelims 2021 – environment” and guide us if we should prepare from ShankarIAS book or NIOS or anywhere else. I have no idea how to go about environment Ques in prelims.

    12. Sir prelim 2021 environment ki preparation k liye koe source bataye pls….No link given for prelim preparation….

    13. Sir environment 2021 prelims k liye source bataye pls. .. No link given …

    14. SIR, KINDLY UPDATE HOW TO PREPARE FOR 2021 PRELIMS SECTION.IT IS EMPTY.NO LINK IS THERE.PLZ SIR

    15. Check questions 1 of Schedule VI again .

    16. Sir the content is missing under the tab “How to Prepare for Prelims 2021”

    17. How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?
      Blank…????

    18. How to prepare Environment and biodiversity for Prelims – 2021?
      Please Provide Link & Details

    19. Sir mujhe economy samjh me nahi rahi 1st Tim padh ri hu kya kru ap samjhate tab ajati hai jab notes banane jao revision ke lie Kuchh bhi samjh ni ata h kya pura likhu

    20. Pre 20 set B que 64 …. Your answer is option A and you have mentioned option D in Guessmastergiri……..

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