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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 10 January 2024

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. India’s first high-resolution landslide susceptibility map

 

Content for Mains Enrichment:

  1. Japanese Cultural practices and its use for Disaster Management

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP) 

  1. Krishnarajasagar (KRS) dam
  2. Income Inequality
  3. Proba-3 Mission
  4. ANEEL
  5. Nasa’s Lunar Gateway Station
  6. DRDO anti-drone tech – Drone, Detect, Deter and Destroy (D4 System)

 

Mapping:

  1. Krishna-Godavari basin

 


 

India’s first high-resolution landslide susceptibility map

GS Paper  1

 Syllabus: Geography/ Disaster Management

 

Source: TH

 Context: IIT Delhi’s HydroSense Lab has created India’s first high-resolution landslide susceptibility map.

 

What is Landslide Susceptibility Mapping?

Landslide Susceptibility Mapping involves creating maps that depict areas prone to landslides based on certain factors. For example, using data on past landslide events and factors like slope steepness, soil type, and vegetation cover, a computer model can analyse these variables to predict areas at high risk.

 

Features of National Landslide Susceptibility Map:

FeaturesDetails
Data SourcesThe map incorporates 1.5 lakh known landslide events from sources like the Geological Survey of India (GSI). It also considers 16 landslide conditioning factors, including soil cover, tree density, proximity to roads or mountains, etc.
Machine Learning AnalysisEnsemble machine learning methods were employed to analyse the data. This involves using multiple machine learning models together to mitigate the impact of any single model’s limitations.
High-Resolution MappingThe map provides a high-resolution overview with a detailed resolution of 100 sqm., offering insights into landslide susceptibility across India.
Identification of New Risk ZonesFamiliar areas with high susceptibility, such as the Himalayan foothills, Assam-Meghalaya region, and Western Ghats, were identified.
New risk zones, previously unrecognized, were also revealed, including parts of the Eastern Ghats north of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Online AccessibilityThe map is available online and accessible to the public. It allows anyone to interact with the data without requiring technical expertise.
Future UseThe map aims to assist policymakers and organizations in landslide investigation and mitigation, and the team plans to develop a Landslide Early Warning System for India

 

About Landslide:

A landslide is “a movement of a mass of rock, earth or debris down a slope”.

 

Types of flows

  1. Debris flows: It is a form of rapid mass movement in which a combination of loose soil, rock, organic matter, and slurry that flows downslope. They are commonly caused by intense precipitation or rapid snowmelt.
  2. Earth flow: It is a down-slope viscous flow of fine-grained material saturated with water.
  3. Mudflow:A mudflow is a wet or viscous fluid mass of fine and coarse-grained material that flows rapidly along drainage channels.
  4. Creep:Creep is the slow, steady, downward movement of material under gravity that occurs in a large area

 

India’s Vulnerability to Landslides (as per ISRO’s Landslide Atlas of India)

  1. Global Ranking: India ranks among the top five countries globally prone to landslides, witnessing at least one death per 100 sq km annually due to such events.
  2. Primary Cause: Rainfall variability, particularly in the Himalayas and Western Ghats, stands as the predominant cause of landslides in India.
  3. Geographical Vulnerability: Excluding snow-covered areas, over 12% of the country’s geographical land area is susceptible to landslides.
  4. Regional Breakdown:
    1. Over 66% of landslides occur in the North-western Himalayas.
      1. Rudraprayag and Tehri Garhwal districts of Uttarakhand have the highest landslide density and landslide risk exposure in the country.
    2. About 19% are reported in the North-eastern Himalayas.
    3. The Western Ghats contribute to over 14% of landslide events.
  5. Impact in the Western Ghats: Despite fewer occurrences, landslides in the Western Ghats pose significant risks, especially in Kerala, making inhabitants vulnerable to fatalities.

 

Causes of Landslides:

Causes of LandslidesDetails
Heavy RainfallExcessive rainfall saturates the soil, increasing its weight and reducing cohesion. This weakens slopes, particularly during heavy rain, making them more susceptible to landslides.
Steep SlopesAreas with steep terrain face greater landslide risk as gravitational forces act more intensely on sloping surfaces, especially during heavy rainfall or seismic activity.
EarthquakesSeismic activity can disrupt slope balance, triggering landslides. Volcanic eruptions, such as pyroclastic flows, displacing soil and rock, also contribute to landslide occurrences.
Human ActivitiesDeforestation, mining, construction, and excavation alter landscapes, remove vegetation, and disturb slope balance. These activities weaken terrain stability, escalating the risk of landslides.
Underlying GeologyThe type of rock and soil beneath an area influences landslide susceptibility. Loose, unconsolidated soil is more prone to landslides, while stable bedrock, typical in the Himalayan landscape, is less likely to experience such events.

 

Effects of landslides:

  • Loss of Life: According to the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), landslides have caused over 50,000 fatalities worldwide between 2000 and 2020.
    • In the state of Uttarakhand, India, the 2013 Kedarnath disaster resulted in approximately 6000 deaths.
  • Environmental Impact: Soil erosion caused by landslides can lead to sedimentation in rivers and streams, affecting water quality and aquatic life.
    • The 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington, resulted in significant damage to the Stillaguamish River ecosystem.
  • Infrastructure Disruption: Landslides can block critical transportation routes.
    • In February 2021, the Chamoli disaster led to the blockage of the Rishi Ganga River and the destruction of various infrastructure in the region.
  • Property Damage: The cost of repairing or rebuilding homes, infrastructure, and farmlands can be substantial.
  • Displacement: The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) reports that landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Nepal in 2020 displaced more than 9,000 households, leaving many families without shelter.

  

Recent examples of landslide disasters in the past year:

  • Joshimath Sinking in Uttarakhand
  • June 2023: A landslide in the Noney district of Manipur, India, killed at least 58 people.
  • May 2023: A landslide in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, killed at least 232 people.
  • March 2023: A landslide in Putumayo, Colombia, killed at least 323 people.

 

Government Measures for Landslide Impact Mitigation:

  • The National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM) Programme (initiated by the Geological Survey of India in 2014) aims to
    1. Map the 0.42 million sq. km landslide-prone areas across India at a Macro Scale (1:50,000)
    2. Create a dynamic National Landslide Susceptibility Geodatabase for India
  • Establish a nationwide repository on GIS-based Landslide Inventory
  1. The goal is to enhance understanding, assessment, and management of landslide-prone regions in the country through comprehensive mapping and geospatial analysis.
  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released the Landslide Atlas of India, a detailed guide identifying Landslide Hotspots in the country.

  

NDMA Guidelines:

National Disaster Management Guideline on Management of Landslides and Snow Avalanches

  1. Hazard, Vulnerability & Risk Assessment: Identify areas prone to landslide hazards and assess resources at risk
  2. Early Warning Systems: Continuous monitoring of movements, stress development, and timely data transmission
  3. Investigations for Risk Assessment: Multi-disciplinary investigations for comprehensive risk assessment leading to the formulation of standards to effectively mitigate the impact of landslides

 

Way Forward for Landslide Management in India:

Way ForwardDetails
Landslide MonitoringInvolves deploying sensors, satellite imagery, and ground-based instruments for detecting ground movement and potential landslide precursors.
NHAI’s Landslip Detection SystemThe National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to install a landslip detection system on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway in Munnar. The system, developed by IIT-Mandi, the Indian Army, and DRDO, aims to provide early warnings about landslips.
Landslide Hazard MapsGeneration of reliable landslide hazard maps using advanced tools like UAVs, Terrestrial Laser Scanners, and high-resolution Earth Observation (EO) data.
International Best PracticesLearning from Brazil’s SNAKE System, a Landslide Early Warning System (LEWS), to incorporate digital monitoring, forecasting, and alert mechanisms.
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Landslide ManagementFormation of an expert professional group at the national level to study and decide on risk mitigation strategies to recommend permanent fixes for identified landslide hotspots.
Awareness ProgrammesInitiatives aimed at creating a culture of awareness, alertness and preparedness among the public.
Monitoring Construction and DevelopmentImplementing strict monitoring of construction and developmental activities, such as roads and dams, in landslide-prone areas.
Limiting Agriculture and SettlementsRestricting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes, controlling large settlements in high vulnerability zones.
Afforestation and Water Flow ControlPromoting large-scale afforestation programs and constructing bunds to reduce water flow.
Encouraging Terrace FarmingEncouraging terrace farming, especially in northeastern hill states where Jhumming (Slash and Burn/Shifting Cultivation) is prevalent.

 

Conclusion:

Understanding the causes and effects of landslides is essential for disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts. Implementing early warning systems, land-use planning, and sustainable land management practices can help reduce the vulnerability of communities to landslide hazards. Moreover, international cooperation and sharing of knowledge and best practices are crucial in addressing the challenges posed.

 

Insta Links:

Landslide Atlas of India

 

Mains Link:

Disaster preparedness is the first step in any disaster management process. Explain how hazard zonation mapping will help disaster mitigation in the case of landslides UPSC 2019

Differentiate the causes of landslides in the Himalayan region and Western Ghats (UPSC 2021)

/ 10 January 2024, Today's Article

Japanese Cultural practices and its use for Disaster Management

Content for Mains Enrichment:

 

Source: LM

 Context:  A recent fire incident involving a Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 and a De Havilland Dash 8 turboprop aircraft at Haneda airport in Tokyo. Despite the severity of the incident, most passengers on the JAL aircraft survived, highlighting several factors contributing to their safety.

 

Factors Contributing to Passenger Safety in JAL Aircraft Incident

  1. Japanese Culture: The Japanese cultural practice of ‘Kiritsu,’ emphasises self-discipline in various aspects of life. The crew’s presence of mind and disciplined evacuation procedures played a crucial role.
  2. Superior Aircraft Technology: Modern aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 use advanced materials, such as carbon fibre composites, which have lower burning temperatures compared to traditional aluminium.
  3. Cabin Crew Competence: The cabin crew’s competence, guided by safety training, played a significant role.
  4. Safety Training and Track Record

 

Usage: The example can be used in DM/ Ethics (to show values such as discipline, quick thinking, and safety consciousness in Japanese culture) 

Krishnarajasagar (KRS) dam

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: The High Court of Karnataka has issued a ban on all mining and quarrying activities within a 20-km radius of the Krishnarajasagar (KRS) dam in Mandya district (due to concerns about the potential danger posed to the dam by these activities)

The ban applies to activities already permitted or in operation, and it will remain in force until a comprehensive study by experts is completed. The decision on lifting the ban will be made by the State Committee on Dam Safety, established under the Dam Safety Act, 2021.

 

About Krishna Raja Sagar Dam
Built1932
LocationRiver Kaveri, Mysore, and Mandya districts, Karnataka
Named afterKrishnaraja Wodeyar IV (then ruler of Mysore Kingdom)
EngineerSir M. Vishweshwaraiah (Bharat Ratna) (Birthday celebrated as Engineers Day on 15th September)
PurposeWater supply for Mysore city, Bangalore, and irrigation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
About River KaveriThe Kaveri River is a perennial, monsoon rain-fed river. It rises at Talakaveri (Brahmagiri Hill) located in the Kodagu district in Karnataka.
Drainage Basin: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Bay of Bengal (south of Cuddalore)
Tributaries: Arkavathi, Hemavathi, Lakshmana Theertha, Shimsa, Kabini, Harangi
About Dam in IndiaIndia is the 3rd largest dam-owning nation in the world (after the US and China). India has over 6000 dams with 143 under construction
Initiatives for Dam Safety: Dam Safety Act, 2021; National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS); Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phases-II (co-financed by World Bank and Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank)

Income Inequality

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: According to a recent SBI Research report, income inequality in India has decreased, indicating a positive trend of upward mobility and the growth of the middle class.

 

What does the report say:

  • The decrease in Gini Coefficient (a measure of income inequality) has decreased from 0.472 in AY 2014-15 to 0.402 in AY 2022-23.
  • Increasing tax base: The study, referencing CBDT data, reveals a widening Income Tax base, with the number of individuals filing Income Tax Returns increasing from 70 million in AY 2021-22 to 74 million in AY 2022-23.
  • Improving upward mobility: The report attributes the decline in income inequality to significant upward mobility, with over 36% of individuals in the lowest income bracket in FY14 moving to higher income levels, resulting in over 21% increase in their income during FY14-FY21.
  • Rising female labour force participation
  • Micro Firms moving towards becoming bigger firms: There is a positive trend in MSME income, and changing consumption patterns post-COVID, challenging the notion of ‘K’ shaped growth.
  • Share of Top earners’ declined: The share of top earners with income over Rs 10 crores and Rs 100 crores has declined from 2013-14 to 2020-21.

 

About the Gini Coefficient:

The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of the economic inequality across the population in a country or between countries. It measures the dispersion of income or wealth distribution among the members of a population.

The Gini coefficient ranges from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality). Theoretically, values over 1 are possible due to negative income or wealth. A Gini coefficient larger than 0.40 is considered high inequality.

 

About K-Shaped Recovery:

Post-COVID, India is witnessing a ‘K-shaped’ recovery, signifying disparate economic rebounds for different segments. Experts note that the affluent are thriving, while the less privileged encounter challenges, exemplifying a divided recovery pattern.

 

Proba-3 Mission

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: ESA

 

/ 10 January 2024, Proba, Today's Article

ANEEL

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: BUSINESS LINE

 

Context: Clean Core Thorium Energy, a Chicago-based company, has developed ANEEL (Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life), (named after India’s scientist, Dr Anil Kakodkar) –  a fuel that combines Thorium and High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU).

  • ANEEL can be used in India’s existing Pressurized Heavy-Water Reactors (PHWRs), offering a potential game-changer for the country’s nuclear energy sector.
  • India has the world’s largest reserves of Thorium, estimated at 1.07 million tonnes, and ANEEL could facilitate the efficient utilization of Thorium in nuclear reactors.

 

The fuel’s benefits include reduced nuclear waste volume, lower operating costs, and longer-lasting efficiency.

Nasa’s Lunar Gateway Station

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: The Print

  

Context: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced its participation in developing a module on NASA’s Lunar Gateway Station, joining the USA, Japan, Canada, and the European Union in the project.

  • The UAE’s contribution includes developing the Crew and Science Airlock module, serving as the entry and exit point for missions and astronauts travelling to the Moon’s surface from the Lunar Gateway Station.
  • The UAE will also manage and operate the Airlock, and the first Emirati astronaut will be sent into lunar orbit as part of the project.
  • The lunar space station will function as a space laboratory, supporting various scientific and technical experiments, with a minimum lifespan of 15 years.

 

DRDO anti-drone tech – Drone, Detect, Deter and Destroy (D4 System)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a comprehensive integrated anti-drone system, focusing on the detection, identification, and neutralization of drones.

  • The anti-drone technology is designed to counter various types of drones, including micro drones, and is suitable for land borders.
  • D4 system can instantly detect and jam micro drones (Soft kill) and use a laser-based kill mechanism to terminate targets (Hard kill).
  • Utilizing the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), it identifies the frequency employed by the controller and subsequently disrupts the signals.

Krishna-Godavari basin

Mapping:

 

Source: IE

 Context: The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has successfully initiated crude oil production from its KG-DWN-98/2 deep-sea project in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the east coast of India.

This significant development, marked by delays and extensions, aims to bolster ONGC’s overall oil production, combating the decline in mature fields.

 

About Krishna-Godavari Basin:

It is situated in Andhra Pradesh and the Bay of Bengal is a vast deltaic plain formed by the Krishna and Godavari rivers. Covering 15,000 sq. km on land and 25,000 sq. km offshore, it has 5 km thick sediments deposited from Late Carboniferous to Pleistocene. The basin features upland and coastal plains, flood, and delta plains. Notably, the D-6 block in this basin holds India’s largest natural gas reserves, discovered by ONGC in 1983. Besides its geological significance, the basin is home to the Vulnerable Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.

 

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