Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 July 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 July 2017


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Sunderbans mangrove cover at risk

 

Remote sensing and GIS-enabled data offer definite proof for the first time that the mangrove forest cover in the Sunderbans has been depleting alarmingly. From 1986 to 2012, 124.418 sq. km., or about 5.5% of the mangrove cover, was lost. Variable degrees of erosion was observed in at least 18 islands. The continuation of this process is a serious ecological threat, say experts.

 

  • Noted islands experiencing erosion include Sagar, Gosaba, Dulibhasani, Dalhousie, Bhangaduni and Jambudwip.

 

How climate change and sea level rise has contributed to the phenomenon of losing land, including mangrove forests in the Sundarbans, in the last part of the 21st century?

In the western part of sunderban delta, there is less fresh water flow and sediment supply. This has led to the starvation of sediment. Besides, the rate of sea level rise is higher than sediment supply. This has led to the erosion of Islands.

 

Concern:

A critical minimal inflow of freshwater is necessary for the luxuriant growth of mangroves. When freshwater inflow is missing, there is a change in mangrove succession, and freshwater loving species of mangroves are replaced by salt-water loving ones. The immediate impact of salinity will be on the fishing community, where commercially sought after fish species will be replaced by fish that does not have as much market value.

 

About Sunderbans:

The Sundarbans is a natural region in West Bengal and Bangladesh. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.

  • The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) of which 60% is in Bangladesh with the remainder in India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

 

Why Bhutan is special to India

 

The recent standoff between India and China over Doklam issue has highlighted India’s special relationship with Bhutan, which includes military responsibilities towards it.

bhutan

Background:

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently attempted to construct a road in the disputed Doklam region unilaterally. However, Bhutan had strongly opposed this.

 

Relationship between India and Bhutan:

India- Bhutan friendship treaty 2007 has been guiding the bilateral relations between the two countries. Under the 2007 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, the two sides have agreed to “cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.”

  • Under the previous treaty, India was to “guide” Bhutan on foreign and defence policies. The language of the 2007 treaty is meant to respect the sensitivities of Bhutan regarding its sovereignty. But the reality is that the Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses.
  • The Eastern Army Command and the Eastern Air Command both have integrated protection of Bhutan into their role. The Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), headed by a Major General, plays a critical role in training Bhutanese security personnel.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

In Telangana, a unique irrigation project

 

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) of the Telangana government has gained much attention in recent times.

kaleshwaram

Why is it important?

Claimed to be the costliest irrigation project to be taken up by any State till date with an estimated cost of Rs. 80,500 crore, the project holds the key to the government’s promise of providing irrigation facility to one crore acres of land under all projects/tanks. The government has already spent Rs. 10,000 crore on the project, including land acquisition, and has allocated Rs. 7,000 crore in the current budget, besides tying up a Rs. 7,400 crore loan from a consortium of banks. Notwithstanding its share of controversies, particularly related to land acquisition for the Mallannasagar reservoir, one of the key components of the project for storage of 50 tmc ft water, the project is making swift progress.

 

What’s the project?

The Kaleshwaram project is an off-shoot of the original Pranahitha-Chevella Lift Irrigation Scheme taken up by the Congress government in 2007 when Andhra Pradesh was not divided. After the formation of Telangana in 2014, the TRS government redesigned the project on the ground that the original plan had too many environmental obstacles and had very low water storage provision — only about 16.5 tmc ft.

  • After conducting a highly advanced Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey for a couple of months, the government separated the original component serving the Adilabad area as the Pranahitha project and renamed the rest as Kaleshwaram by redesigning the head works, storage capacity and the canal system based on the data of availability of water at different locations along the course of the Godavari and its tributaries.
  • The Kaleshwaram project has provision for the storage of about 148 tmc ft with plans of utilising 180 tmc ft by lifting at least 2 tmc ft water every day for 90 flood days. The project is designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.

 

What’s unique?

According to engineers, KLIP has many unique features, including the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km, between the Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir. The project would also utilise the highest capacity pumps, up to 139 MW, in the country to lift water.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Sharpest laser can help test Einstein’s theory

 

Scientists have developed the worlds sharpest laser with record-breaking precision that can help make optical atomic clocks more precise as well as test Einsteins theory of relativity.

laser-developed

 

What you need to know?

Ideally, laser light has only one fixed wavelength or frequency. In practice, the spectrum of most types of lasers can, however, reach from a few kHz to a few MHz in width, which is not good enough for numerous experiments requiring high precision.

  • Researchers have now developed a laser with a linewidth of only 10 miliHertz (mHz) — closer to the ideal laser than ever before.

 

Significance of this discovery:

This precision is useful for various applications such as optical atomic clocks, precision spectroscopy, radioastronomy and for testing the theory of relativity.

 

What is a laser?

The letters in the word laser stand for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser is an unusual light source. It is quite different from a light bulb or a flash light. Lasers produce a very narrow beam of light. This type of light is useful for lots of technologies and instruments.

  • Lasers produce a narrow beam of light in which all of the light waves have very similar wavelengths. The laser’s light waves travel together with their peaks all lined up, or in phase. This is why laser beams are very narrow, very bright, and can be focused into a very tiny spot.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Integration of oil & gas majors is best avoided

 

The idea of an integrated oil major has surfaced again in 2017 even after being rejected twice earlier.

 

Background:

The idea first made its appearance during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 1998. The proposal was then rejected for encouraging a monopolistic scenario in distribution of essential goods like LPG, petrol, kerosene etc. In 2005, the Krishnamurthy committee formed by the UPA government debunked the idea as it would reduce competition and manpower in the oil and gas sector.

 

An integrated oil major is good for the following reasons:

  • Better capacity to bear higher risks.
  • Avail economies of scale.
  • Create more shareholder value.
  • Make better investment decisions and be more competent globally.

 

Counter arguments- Why an integrated oil major is not suitable for India?

  • Indian firms are much smaller in size compared with top international oil companies. Also, the Government’s track record of consolidating state run firms has not borne good results. Besides, in oil and gas, minimum political interference and liberalisation have proven better in creating more shareholder value compared with integration. Therefore, with oil firms facing such allegations and inefficiencies, giving complete autonomy to one entity can risk the nation’s energy security.
  • Another concern is employment generation. The sector has seen a continuous decline in manpower since FY11. The Krishnamurthy Committee had earlier deduced that such integration will result in manpower reduction. At a time when the government is struggling with job creation, it will be difficult to justify job losses due to restructuring.

 

Way ahead:

Any decision that creates a monopoly in the oil and gas sector must be carefully thought through. An important question here is whether a bigger oil company will help reform the sector. Or, will it create new problems for the Indian people at large?

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Nine more bird, biodiversity areas in Kerala

 

Nine more locations in Kerala have been identified as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).

birdlife

Key facts:

  • The new list was released by the Bombay Natural History Society, a partner of BirdLife International, in its recent publication, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in India Priority sites for conservation.
  • With the latest addition, Kerala now has 33 IBAs. Kerala IBAs are home to three critically endangered species — Whiterumped Vulture, Indian Vulture, and Red-headed Vulture.
  • The newly identified IBAs of Kerala are Achencoil Forest Division; Anamudi Shola National Park; Camel’s Hump Mountain, Wayanad; Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary; Malayattoor Reserve Forest; Mankulam Forest Division; Mathikettan Shola National Park; Muthikulam-Siruvani; and Pampadum Shola National Park.

 

What are IBAs?

The IBAs are “places of international significance for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity” and are “distinct areas amenable to practical conservation action,” according to BirdLife International.

  • Declaring a site as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area does not ensure that the site gets legal protection or becomes inaccessible to people. Instead BirdLife International encourages national and State governments to recognise the areas as sites of vital importance for conservation of wildlife and to empower local community-based conservation initiatives.

 

Know about Birdlife international:

BirdLife International (formerly the International Council for Bird Preservation) is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. It is the world’s largest partnership of conservation organisations, with over 120 partner organisations.

  • BirdLife International publishes a quarterly magazine, World Birdwatch, which contains recent news and authoritative articles about birds, their habitats, and their conservation around the world.
  • BirdLife International is the official Red List authority for birds, for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

 

Sources: the hindu.