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Insights Daily Current Events, 10 April 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 10 April 2015

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Bio-fences to ward off straying elephants in Assam

In a bid to reduce man-animal conflict in Assam, bio-fences are proposed to be set up replacing electric fences, to ward off straying elephants.

  • To start with four tea estates in Assam will have these “bio-fenced” with thickets of thorny bamboos.

Why bio fences are preferred over electric fences?

  • Because electric fencing is considered costly and unreliable besides being hazardous.

Benefits:

This would reduce man-elephant conflict.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Thane named India’s Earth Hour Capital

An 11-member international jury has declared Thane the National Earth Hour Capital with the city emerging the winner from India in the Earth Hour City Challenge this year.

  • Recently, Thane represented India in the Global Earth Hour Capital Competition of 16 countries in Seoul. The host city was declared the winner and acknowledged as the Global Earth Hour Capital 2015.

Details of the Competition:

  • The year-long competition among cities is aimed at promoting renewable energy and preparing for climate change. In its third year in India, the contest had 13 participants.
  • Thane, Rajkot and Pune were the finalists from India. Pune received a special mention from the jury for its city mobility plan and its solar and waste-to-energy initiatives.
  • While all finalists were invited to the programme in Seoul, only the Mayor of Rajkot could attend the ceremony and was felicitated for the city’s performance in the field of renewable energy.
  • Last year, Coimbatore was selected as the National Earth Hour Capital.

Developments in Thane:

The notable actions by the Thane city administration include

  • The mandatory use of solar water-heating systems for municipal buildings and solutions such as wind-solar hybrid systems and use of solar energy for lighting and air-conditioning.
  • The city plans solar rooftop net metering-based power generation and regular energy audits.
  • An energy service company (ESCO) project for energy-efficient street lighting.
  • Commissioning of a bio-methanation plant to treat municipal solid waste and generate electricity and three cyclic switching units for optimal use of streetlights.
  • A five-year target has been set for developing a solar city project in the city.

Earth Hour:

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday in March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.

  • It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.
  • Earth Hour 2015 was on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in a location’s local time. Earth Hour 2016 will be on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants’ local time.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Growth in Euro zone and India accelerating, says OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently said that economic growth is accelerating in the euro zone and in India but slowing in China, Russia and Brazil.

  • It has also said that within the euro zone, France and Italy were showing signs of better growth and the outlook is also improving in Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy.

OECD:

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

Origin:

The OECD originated in 1948 as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), led by Robert Marjolin of France, to help administer the Marshall Plan (which was rejected by the Soviet Union). In 1961, the OEEC was reformed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and membership was extended to non-European states.

The OECD promotes policies designed:

  • To achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in Member countries, while maintaining financial stability, and thus to contribute to the development of the world economy;
  • To contribute to sound economic expansion in Member as well as nonmember countries in the process of economic development; and
  • To contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, nondiscriminatory basis in accordance with international obligations.

Most OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries. India is one of the many non-member economies with which the OECD has working relationships in addition to its member countries.

Sources: The Hindu, oecd.org.

 

Dhanush successfully test-fired

India recently successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 km from a naval ship off the Odisha coast.

Dhanush:

  • It is a surface-to-surface missile and a naval variant of India’s indigenously-developed Prithvi missile.
  • It is a single-stage, liquid-propelled missile.
  • It has 350 km range.
  • It has already been inducted into the armed forces and is one of the five missiles developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Sources: The Hindu.

 

NGT bars construction on riverbeds in Maharashtra

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has declared riverbed construction as illegal in Maharashtra and has directed the State government to amend controversial government resolutions (GR) allowing the State Water Resources Department to permit the same.

What is the issue?

  • According to green activists, two ambiguously worded government resolutions (GR), one issued in August last year and the other in March this year, allegedly encourage sanction by the State Irrigation Department to allow construction in the no-development zone (NDZ) area within the blueline and embankments of rivers. The blueline or the flood-line on the map depicts the limit beyond which construction near a river is prohibited to maintain a riverbed.
  • The first GR, dated August 8, 2014, mentions that as per various city development plans, the Irrigation Department’s regional chief engineer can issue no-objection certificates for constructing roads, gardens and jogging tracks on riverbeds, flood protection walls on river banks, or laying sewerage pipes within the blueline area, claiming that these will neither erode the riverbed cross-sections nor interfere with the natural flow. The second GR allegedly empowers the department to alter bluelines ‘on demand’ without clearly setting forth the concerned authority.

What has the NGT said?

  • The Tribunal has noted that the GRs were improper and gave ample scope for illicit construction by ignoring the precautionary principle enumerated in Section 20 of the NGT Act, 2010.
  • The Tribunal has ruled that the blueline could be drawn by the Irrigation Department only on demand or urgent notification by the District Collector of any impending flood-like situation where a river flows above the danger level.

The Tribunal has directed the Irrigation Department to conduct a geo-mapping of the State’s rivers and upload blueline maps on the official websites of the Environment and Irrigation Departments within 12 weeks.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Rajasthan to cover 4 lakh children under immunisation plan

Rajasthan will immunize four lakh children from the vulnerable sections of society under Mission Indradhanush, launched nationally on April 7. The immunization campaign will focus on unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children below the age of two.

  • Rajasthan’s immunization coverage is 73% and the government has an ambitious target of 90% by 2020. Increased coverage will help in reducing child and maternal mortality.
  • The programme provides immunisation against seven life-threatening diseases — diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.
  • In addition, vaccination against Haemophilus influenza type B and Japanese encephalitis will be provided in select districts. Catch-up campaigns will also be organised to increase the coverage annually by five per cent.

Mission Indradhanush:

Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Health & Family Welfare Ministry recently. The Mission was launched on Good Governance Day to mark the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Madan Mohan Malaviya and birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Aim:

The Mission Indradhanush, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine preventable diseases which include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.

Details:

  • The Mission will be implemented in 201 high focus districts in the country in the first phase which have nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children (Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of 4 states).
  • These districts will be targeted by intensive efforts to improve the routine immunization coverage.
  • The campaign is part of the Universal Immunisation Programme by 2020 and is being implemented under the National Health Mission across the country.
  • Between 2009-2013 immunization coverage has increased from 61% to 65%, indicating only 1% increase in coverage every year. To accelerate the process of immunization by covering 5% and more children every year, the Mission Mode has been adopted to achieve target of full coverage by 2020.
  • The focused and systematic immunization drive will be through a “catch-up” campaign mode where the aim is to cover all the children who have been left out or missed out for immunization.
  • Under Mission Indradhanush, four special vaccination campaigns will be conducted between January and June 2015 with intensive planning and monitoring of these campaigns.
  • The learnings from the successful implementation of the polio programme will be applied in planning and implementation of the mission.
  • The Ministry will be technically supported by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other donor partners. Mass media, interpersonal communication, and sturdy mechanisms of monitoring and evaluating the scheme are crucial components of Mission Indradhanush.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

 

UNESCO report lauds India’s progress

A recently released UNESCO global education report says that India has reduced its out of school children by over 90% and has achieved universal primary education.

Details:

  • The report says that India is predicted to be the only country in South and West Asia to have an equal ratio of girls to boys in both primary and secondary education.
  • The report says that while globally 47% of the countries achieved universal pre-primary enrolment, 8% of the countries including India were close to achieving so.
  • The UNESCO report also noted the achievement of gender parity in India but said the country is yet to achieve significant progress in adult literacy. It said 32% of the countries including India are still “very far” from achieving it.
  • The report called upon all the countries to ensure that children and adolescents complete pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education by 2030.
  • The report said that globally, just one-third of countries have achieved all of the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals set in 2000 and only half of all countries have achieved the most prominent goal of universal primary education.

Sources: The Hindu.

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