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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th February 2021

  • IASbaba
  • February 9, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Study to examine judicial decisions for infrastructure projects commissioned

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Economy; Infrastructure

In news 

  • The NITI Aayog has commissioned a study that seeks to examine the unintended economic consequences of judicial decisions that have hindered and stalled big-infrastructure projects on environmental grounds.
  • The study is to be undertaken by the Jaipur-headquartered CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society) Centre for Competition, Investment, and Economic Regulation, which also has an international presence.

Key takeaways 

  • The document appears to suggest that judgments that negatively impact major infrastructure projects don’t adequately consider the economic fallout — in terms of loss of jobs and revenue.
  • Doing so would contribute to public discourse among policymakers for promoting an economically responsible approach by the judiciary in its decisions.
  • The project brief says that it intends to examine five major projects that have been “impacted” by judicial decisions of the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal.
  • It plans to do this by interviewing people who have been affected by the closure of the projects, environmental campaigners, experts, and assessing the business impact of the closure.
  • Projects to be analysed include the construction of an airport in Mopa, Goa; cessation of iron ore mining in Goa, and the shutting down of the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. 
  • The others are decisions by the NGT involving sand mining, and construction activities in the National Capital Region.

FSSAI amends its rules to cap trans-fatty acids (TFAs)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Health

In news 

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has amended its rules to cap trans-fatty acids (TFAs) in food products, just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats.

Key takeaways 

  • Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans-fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from 1st January 2022.
  • The 2% cap is considered to be the elimination of trans-fatty acids, which India will achieve by 2022.
  • In December 2020, the FSSAI had capped TFAs in oils and fats to 3% by 2021, and 2% by 2022 from the current levels of 5%.

Important value additions 

  • Trans-fatty acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, increase the shelf life of food items, and for use as an adulterant as they are cheap.
  • They are present in baked, fried, processed foods and adulterated ghee, which become solid at room temperature.
  • They are the most harmful form of fats as they clog arteries and cause hypertension, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • The WHO has called for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply by 2023.

Law in news: Information Technology Act, 2000

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Information technology, Sci & tech

In news 

  • The Centre has issued notice to Twitter after the site restored more than 250 accounts that had been suspended earlier on the government’s ‘legal demand’.

Important value additions 

  • In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended from time to time, governs all activities related to the use of computer resources.
  • It covers all ‘intermediaries’ who play a role in the use of computer resources and electronic records.
  • The term ‘intermediaries’ includes: Providers of telecom service, network service, Internet service, and web hosting, search engines, online payment and auction sites, online marketplaces, and cyber cafes.
  • It also includes any person who, on behalf of another, “receives, stores or transmits” any electronic record including Social media platforms as well. 

Centre’s powers vis-à-vis intermediaries:

  • Section 69 of the Act confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions “to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.
  • The grounds on which these powers may be exercised are: in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defense of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offense relating to these, or for investigating any offense.
  • Section 69A also enables the Centre to ask any agency of the government, or any intermediary, to block access to the public of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored, or hosted on any computer resource.
  • Procedures and safeguards have been incorporated in the rules framed for the purpose.

Rs 16000 crores allocated to Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Agriculture & GS-II – Policies and Interventions

In news 

  • To boost the safety of farmers’ crops and ensure the maximum benefit of crop insurance reaches farmers, the Government of India has allocated Rs 16000 crores for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for the fiscal year 2021-22.

Key takeaways 

  • This is a budgetary increase of around Rs 305 crore as against the previous fiscal year 2020-21.
  • The scheme extends coverage for the entire cropping cycle from pre-sowing to post-harvest including coverage for losses arising out of prevented sowing and mid-season adversities.

Important value additions 

  • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in 2016. 
  • It is an insurance service scheme for farmers for their yields. 
  • It aims to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum.
  • It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).
  • The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are being conducted under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).
  • Implemented by: Empanelled general insurance companies. 
  • Administered by: Ministry of Agriculture
  • The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for others. 

Related articles:

  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) successfully completes 5 Years of operations: Click here

Central Research Institute In Kalahandi For Soyabean

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Agriculture

In news 

  • The Union Minister of Agriculture informed Rajya Sabha about the setting up a Central Research Institute in Kalahandi for Soyabean.

Key takeaways 

  • The Kalahandi district of Odisha produces Soybean on a very limited scale.
  • The ICAR has established a national-level research Institute on Soybean in 1987 namely, ICAR-Indian Institute of Soybean Research, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) to conduct basic and strategic research on the crop.
  • Besides this, ICAR is also implementing an All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Soybean since 1967 in association with the State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) to develop location-specific high yielding varieties and production technologies required to increase Soybean production in the country.
  • The ICAR-AICRP on Soybean has one voluntary center at Regional Research & Technology Transfer Station, Bhawanipatna (Kalahandi) under the Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar.
  • This station is undertaking need-based and location-specific research on Soybean for hot & moist sub-humid climate of Odisha comprising of Kalahandi, Bolangir, and Koraput.

Important value additions 

  • The soybean or soya bean (Glycine max) is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean. 
  • Traditional unfermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk, from which tofu and tofu skin are made. 
  • Soybeans contain significant amounts of phytic acid, dietary minerals, and B vitamins. 
  • Soy vegetable oil, used in the food and industrial applications, is another product of processing the soybean crop. 
  • Soybean is the most important protein source for feed farm animals, which in turn, yields animal protein for human consumption.
  • Cultivation conditions: Climates with hot summers, with optimum growing conditions in mean temperatures of 20 to 30 °C; temperatures of below 20 °C and over 40 °C stunt growth significantly. 
  • They can grow in a wide range of soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils with good organic content.
  • Soybeans, like most legumes, perform nitrogen fixation by establishing a symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum.

National Family Planning Program: Measures For Population Control

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Health & GS- I – Society

In news 

  • The Government has been implementing the National Family Planning Program which provides voluntary and informed choices to the beneficiaries through a target-free approach to check population increase in the country.

Important value additions 

  • A National Population Policy was formulated in 2000. 
  • Objective: Attaining population stabilisation by 2045.
  • New Contraceptive Choices: The current contraceptive basket has been expanded with inclusion of two new contraceptives- Injectable contraceptive (Antara programme) and Centchroman (Chhaya).
  • Post-partum Intrauterine contraceptive device(PPIUCD) incentive scheme under which PPIUCD services are provided post-delivery.
  • Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors which provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider and team for conducting sterilisation.
  • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS) under which clients are compensated in the eventualities of death, complication, and failure following sterilization operations.
  • Family Planning Logistics Management Information System (FP-LMIS): Dedicated software has been launched to ensure smooth forecasting, procurement, and distribution of family planning commodities across all the levels of health facilities.
  • Mission Parivar Vikas has been introduced for substantially increasing access to contraceptives and family planning services in seven high focus states having a Total Fertility Rate of more than 3 namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Assam.
  • Scheme for Home Delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs at doorstep of beneficiaries has been taken up.
  • Scheme for provision of Pregnancy Testing Kits in the drug kits of ASHA for use in communities.

Dobhi – Durgapur Natural Gas Pipeline section inaugurated 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Energy; Infrastructure

In news 

  • Prime Minister recently dedicated to the nation the LPG import terminal, 348 km Dobhi – Durgapur Natural Gas Pipeline section. 
  • The section is part of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project.

Key takeaways 

  • Foundation stone was also laid for the second Catalytic-Isodewaxing unit of Haldia Refinery. 
  • These projects will also help Haldia to grow into a major hub of export-import.
  • The Pipeline will benefit West Bengal and 10 districts of Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • This second Catalytic Dewaxing Unit will reduce our dependence on import with regard to lube-based oils.

Miscellaneous

Joshimath

  • Glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district recently causing flash floods in the Dhauliganga River, devastating the Dhauliganga Dam and endangering people.

  • Joshimath is also known as Jyotirmath.
  • It is a gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails, and pilgrim centers like Badrinath.
  • Jyotirmath is the uttarāmnāya matha, or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri, and Dwarka.

(Mains Focus)


DISASTER MANAGEMENT/ ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Disaster and disaster management. 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Uttarakhand Glacier Disaster

Context: In a staggering collapse of part of a glacier in Uttarakhand’s Nanda Devi mountain and the ensuing floods many lives have been lost.

What exactly happened?

  • More than 200 people went missing after flash floods in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. So far, 20 bodies have been recovered. 
  • The flash floods were caused by a glacier burst in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. 
  • The resulting avalanche and deluge in the Alaknanda river system(Rishiganga and Dhauliganga rivers in Chamoli district) washed away a hydroelectric station (Tapovan power project) and five bridges (that connected nearby villages)
  • Multi-agency rescue work is on in the state as the authorities evacuated thousands of people from the affected areas
  • Apart from the terrain and the low temperature, mud and debris in the tunnel is posing a major challenge for the rescuers

Source: BBC

What caused the flood?

  • The remoteness of where this happened means no-one has a definitive answer, so far.
  • Experts say one possibility is that massive ice blocks broke off the glacier due to a temperature rise, releasing a huge amount of water.
  • That could have caused avalanches bringing down rocks and mud. This is a strong possibility because there was a huge amount of sediment flowing down
  • Another possibility is that an avalanche or landslide may have dammed the river for some time, causing it to burst out after the water level rose.
  • Experts say an avalanche could also have hit a glacial lake that then burst ( a term known as Glacial Lake Outburst Flood- GLOF)

Do You Know?

  • Dhauliganga is a left tributary of the Alaknanda, the left headwater of the Ganges, in the Himalayas in Uttarakhand.
  • Dhauliganga is joined by Rishiganga river at Raini, where the disaster at the power project dam took place.

Critical Analysis of the Uttarakhand Tragedy

  • Developmental Challenges:  The tragedy is a failure to draw a balance between fragile ecosystems & topography and development imperatives, compounded by climate-change effects. The increased pace of development in the region has also heightened fears about fallout from deforestation and other environmental troubles.
  • Climate Change as reason for such tragedies: Warming could have led to formation of hitherto undetected proglacial lakes > role played by climate change, which could have been worsen by development projects.
  • Earthquake prone region: Experts have pointed out that the hundreds of power projects and widening of roads is playing havoc with the ecologically fragile region which is also earthquake-prone.
  • Grim reminder: The tragedy come as a deadly reminder that this fragile, geologically dynamic region can never be taken for granted. 
  • Losing Environmentalism of State: Once the crucible of environmentalism, epitomised by Sunderlal Bahuguna, Gaura Devi and the Chipko movement, the State’s deep gorges and canyons have attracted many hydroelectric projects and dams, with little concern for earthquake risk. 
  • Not a new phenomenon: Red flags have been raised repeatedly, particularly after the moderate quake in 1991 in the region where the Tehri dam was built and the 2013 floods that devastated Kedarnath, pointing to the threat from dam-induced microseismicity, landslides and floods from a variety of causes, including unstable glacial lakes and climate change.
  • Perils of hydropower Projects: India is heavily invested in dam development and growth of hydropower, largely in the Himalaya region (plan to construct dams in 28 river valleys in the hills) so as to cut carbon emissions. However, the dangers of such projects include potential earthquake impacts, severe biodiversity loss and, importantly, extreme danger to communities downstream.
  • Miscalculation of life of dams: There is also some evidence that the life of dams is often exaggerated, and siltation, which reduces it, is grossly underestimated: in the Bhakra dam in Himachal Pradesh, for instance, siltation was higher by 140% than calculated. 
  • Dangers in Future: The number and area of glacier lakes will continue to increase in most regions in the coming decades, and new lakes will develop closer to steep and potentially unstable mountain walls, where lake outbursts can be more easily triggered.

Conclusion/ Way Forward

  • Centre and the Uttarakhand government cannot ignore the larger context of the State’s increasing frailty in the face of environmental shocks. 
  • The need is to rigorously study the impact of policy on the Himalayas and confine hydro projects to those with the least impact, while relying more on low impact run-of-the-river power projects that need no destructive large dams and reservoirs. 

Connecting the dots :

  • Institutional Structure for Disaster Management: Click here

GEOGRAPHY/ ENVIRONMENT

Topic:

  • GS-1: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanoes etc.
  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs)

About GLOFs

  • Glaciers are large bodies of ice moving slowly. 
  • Lake Formation: So, when a glacier retreats, it leaves behind a large impression in the ground, filling it with water and a lake is formed. This is known as a moraine, which can be impounded by precarious pile of debris and buried ice. 
  • Lake bursts: When such a lake (moraines) breaches, it is known as glacial lake outburst flood. GLOFs occur from an unstable natural dam formed from a glacial retreat.
  • Causes for GLOFs: The moraine dammed lakes weaken as the water level rises and the glacier retreats. They might crumble under pressure from the swelling lake, leading to massive floods.The outburst of water can also happen due to erosion, an avalanche of snow or rock, an earthquake or volcanic eruptions under the ice.
  • In the Hindu Kush Himalaya, moraine-dammed glacial lakes are common and numerous GLOF events have been traced back to the failure of moraine dams. 
  • Climate Change and GLOFs: The glacial outbursts are also related to global warming. As the temperature soars during summers, the glaciers retreat, leaving behind water-filled, unstable moraine dammed lakes.
  • Possibility of frequent occurrence in future: Glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of the mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes, according to the latest assessment reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Tus, there is a possibility of increase in events like GLOFs

Reducing GLOFs

  • Identifying and mapping such lakes: Potentially dangerous lakes can be identified based on field observations, records of past events, geomorphologic and geotechnical characteristics of the lake/dam and surroundings, and other physical conditions.
  • A robust early warning system, and a broad framework for infrastructure development, construction and excavation in vulnerable zones needs to be developed by state government in collaboration with Universities & Central govt.
  • Leveraging Technology: NDMA has recommended use of Synthetic-Aperture Radar imagery to automatically detect changes in water bodies, including new lake formations, during the monsoon months. Methods and protocols could also be developed to allow remote monitoring of lake bodies from space.
  • Structural measures to prevent their sudden breach: NDMA recommends reducing the volume of water with methods such as controlled breaching, pumping or siphoning out water, and making a tunnel through the moraine barrier or under an ice dam.
  • Regulating Developmental activities: Restricting constructions and development in GLOF prone areas is a very efficient means to reduce risks at no cost. Construction of any habitation should be prohibited in the high hazard zone. 
  • Existing buildings are to be relocated to a safer nearby region and all the resources for the relocation have to be managed by Central/State governments. 
  • Monitoring Mechanism: New infrastructures in the medium hazard zone have to be accompanied by specific protection measures. There should be monitoring systems prior to, during, and after construction of infrastructure and settlements in the downstream area.

Connecting the dots :

  • Landslides
  • Polar vortex

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Which of the following contain Trans-fatty acids?

  1. Baked
  2. Fried 
  3. Processed foods
  4. Cooking oils

Select the Correct code:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 4 only
  3. 2 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.2 Which of the following Section of the Information Technology Act, 2000 confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions to monitor any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource?

  1. Section 67
  2. Section 87
  3. Section 69
  4. Section 70

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:

  1. 2% premium is available for Kharif crops
  2. 5% premium is available for only commercial crops.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2  

ANSWERS FOR 8th February 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 D

Must Read

On Myanmar and India dilemma:

The Hindu

On Universal Healthcare:

The Hindu

About analysis of Union Budget 2021:

The Indian Express

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