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Insights Daily Current Events, 22 June 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 22 June 2016


Paper 3 Topic: conservation.


NHAI to mitigate impacts on wildlife


NHAI has approved an estimate of Rs. 58.16 Crore to mitigate impacts on Wildlife in Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS) for widening of part of Panvel – Indapur section of NH-17. This section constitutes the direct connectivity from Mumbai to Goa. The highway stretch passes for about 1.5 km length within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary under Thane wildlife division of West Mumbai Wildlife Circle.

  • The total length of the project is 84 Km, and the total project cost is Rs 943 crore. The State Government endorsed the proposal of widening the highway within the sanctuary, saying that this may smoothen the traffic and reduce the fuel emissions from recurring traffic jams that may be harmful to the birds and other wildlife.
  • The major mitigation measures being adopted by NHAI, as per the recommendations of the Wildlife Institute of India, include four wildlife passages in the 1.5 km sanctuary stretch. Besides, seven number of box culverts are also being provided.
  • In all, 27 structures will be provided for total length of 3.5 km stretch, i.e., 12 falling within 1.5 km length in protected area, and remaining 15 on the 1 km stretch on each side.

About Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS):

The KBS is covered with moist mixed deciduous forest and falls in the Western Ghat bio-geographic zone. The sanctuary is particularly rich in climbers and as many as 11 species are recorded from KBS.

  • Among mammals, three species of primates (Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque and Rhesus macaque) are occurring in the sanctuary. Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Jackals, Hyaena, Jungle Cat, Squirrel, Porcupine and Indian Hare are also reported from the sanctuary.
  • KBS is particularly known for its rich avifauna and is home to over 146 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds that visit during winter.
  • Rare endemic birds of Western Ghats such as Malabar grey Hornbill, Ashy Minivet, three-toed Kingfisher and Malabar Trogon are reported from Sanctuary.
  • Among other significant bird species the records of Malabar Whistling Thrush, long-billed Vulture, Indian Scimitar Babbler and Shaheen Falcon are significant.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


‘FDI in private security requires change in Act’


An Indian trade body has said that the Centre will need to amend the Private Security Agencies Regulation (PSAR) Act (2005) to help in implement its decision to allow foreign direct investment of up to 74% in private security agencies.


Investment in the private security sector is capped at 49% as result of the provisions under the PSAR Act (2005). Hence, the Government’s decision to allow majority foreign ownership in private security industry up to 74% would require amendments to the PSAR Act (2005).

Private security agency:

Private security agency means security provided by a person, other than a public servant, to protect or guard any person or property or both and includes provision of armoured car service. It services include offering training to private security guards and providing private security guards to any company.

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.


ISRO gears up to test scramjet engine


ISRO is gearing up to test a scramjet engine based on air-breathing propulsion. The test flight of the indigenously-developed scramjet engine is scheduled to take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota sometime in July.

Key facts:

  • The test platform, named Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), will comprise a scramjet engine hitched to a two-stage sounding rocket (RH- 560).
  • The vehicle has been characterised and is being fabricated at the VSSC and the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri.
  • The air-breathing engine will be released at a height of 70 km and ignited during the coasting phase. Apart from the hypersonic ignition at Mach 6, ISRO hopes to sustain the combustion for 5 seconds. The test is also expected to help ISRO achieve good thrust value with the scramjet engine.
  • Maintaining combustion in hypersonic conditions poses technical challenges because the fuel has to be ignited within milliseconds.


Space agencies across the world are focussing on the development of scramjet technology because it contributes to smaller launch vehicles with more payload capacity and promises cheaper access to outer space. The technology has been successfully tested in Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV- TD) last month.

What is a scramjet?

Scramjet is a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. This is helpful for flying at hypersonic speed – Mach 5 and above.

  • These engines have no moving parts. Instead of the rotating compressor and turbine in a jet engine, air is compressed and expanded by complex systems of shockwaves under the front of the aircraft, inside the inlet and under the fuselage at the rear.
  • The scramjet engine can also liquefy the oxygen and store it on board.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Jews In Maharashtra To Get Minority Status


Maharashtra government has approved a proposal to grant minority status to Jews in the state. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister.


  • After being officially recognised as a minority community, the Jews would enjoy several privileges like other minority communities.
  • This decision will benefit students from these communities to avail scholarships from the state government and setting up of educational institutions.
  • It would become easier for them to register their marriages. They would also be able to set up their own educational institutes and practice and promote their culture.


Jews have been a part of the Indian society for over 2,300 years now. According to 2001 Census, the number of Jews living in India was 4,650 with 2,466 of them residing in Maharashtra. The Jews of Manipur and Mizoram identify themselves as Beni Menashe. There are also some in Andhra Pradesh who call themselves Bene Ephraim Jews. India is one of the few countries in the world where Jews have never faced any harassment or persecution.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Bill nixed due to wrong definition of Manipuri


A contentious legislation passed by the Manipur Assembly last year to define who is a “Manipuri” was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee recently as the definition was found to be “incorrect”.

  • As per the Bill, “Manipur people means persons of Manipur whose names are in the National Register of Citizens, 1951, Census report 1951 and village directory of 1951 and their descendants who have contributed to the collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur.”


  • The definition of a “Manipuri” proposed by the State was based on the census conducted in 1951, which is flawed as the census exercise that year did not cover the entire State. Since the infrastructure at that time was not enough, many people were left out in the process. And hence the computation was not exhaustive. If 1951 figures are taken into account, half of the tribes would be declared stateless.
  • The other ground on which the Bill was rejected was that it was passed by the Assembly as a “Money Bill” and not sent to the Hill Areas Committee for consultation. As per rules, any Bill concerning people living in the hills of Manipur has to be vetted by the panel.

Manipur merged with India on October 15, 1949. Before the merger, entry into the State was regulated by a permit system, which was later abolished.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: conservation.


Coastal zone report relaxes curbs on constructions


An environment ministry committee has recommended reduction of the “no development zone” (NDZ) as specified under the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification 1991.


The committee headed by Sailesh Nayak, secretary, ministry of earth sciences has suggested a number of amendments to the CRZ notification in its report based on its review of issues in coastal states. The committee report was released under RTI about 16 months after the application was filed.


  • The committee has made some recommendations that could dilute several aspects of protection to CRZ areas. For instance, the committee suggests that buildings can be constructed behind existing structures and roads in CRZ II (built up cities and towns) areas as per existing Town and Country Planning norms.
  • It divides CRZ III (relatively undisturbed areas including rural areas) areas into densely populated rural areas and rural areas with lesser regulation through the reduction of the “no development zone” to 50 metres.
  • The “no development zone” (NDZ) is 200 metres from the high tide line as per CRZ notification 1991. The committee has recommended allowing tourism facilities and other constructions within the NDZ.
  • The report also allows for housing infrastructure and slum redevelopment activities in CRZ II and tourism in CRZ III areas based on town and country planning norms and other state regulations.
  • The committee recommends “temporary tourism facilities in the NDZ. But if the NDZ falls on the landward side of a national or state highway, it suggests permitting construction of permanent tourism facilities.
  • The committee also mentions reclamation of the sea bed in CRZ IV (coastal stretches in the Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep and small islands, except those designated as CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CRZ-III) area for “ports and harbour, fisheries-related activities and other infrastructure required in the larger public interest such as bridges, sea-links on stilts, roads, important national installations related to coastal security, tourism.”
  • The committee mentions the identification and delineation of “ecologically sensitive areas” (ESAs) in CRZ I (ecologically sensitive) along the coasts, which includes mangroves, beaches, coral reefs and others. It suggests that state and union territories prepare coastal zone management plan (CZMP) as per guidelines suggested by the committee. All ESAs should be notified under the environment protection act 1986 by state governments.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

  • Visakhapatnam Port has been declared as the second gateway port for Nepal after Kolkata-Haldia. The movement of traffic-in-transit between Port of Visakhapatnam and Nepal will be in sealed containers and in full rake only and the cost of transhipment will be borne by the consignor/consignee. Visakhapatnam Port has the deepest container terminal among major ports with permissible draft of 15 metres and LOA up to 320 metres. Most of the transit cargo of Nepal will be from China. The terminal can act as an ideal gateway for east-bound cargo. Handling of cargo will be advantageous in terms of ocean freight and liner detention, export-import traders say. India and Nepal signed the agreement recently to provide the additional transit facility to Nepal through the Visakhapatnam Port as second gateway port.


  • India has retained its ranking as the tenth-highest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2015, receiving $44 billion of investment that year compared to $35 billion in 2014, according to the United Nations. The World Investment Report 2016 released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently found that India also jumped a place in terms of attractiveness as a business destination in 2015, to sixth place, with 14% of the respondents naming it as their destination of choice. US has occupied the first place.


  • The first Phase-1 human clinical trial of a vaccine for the Zika virus is set to begin in the coming weeks, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green-lighting it. The DNA vaccine (GLS-5700) developed by the U.S-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science, South Korea, has already been tested on animals and found to elicit “robust” antibody and T cell responses. The human trial will be carried out on 40 healthy adults to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity and the interim results are expected before the end of the year. But it may take a couple of years to know if the vaccine works against Zika. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), four of the 14 companies working on a candidate vaccine have reached the preclinical stage. WHO declared Zika as a global public health emergency of international concern in February 2016.