27th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Compensatory Afforestation Scheme’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) is planning to buy a 67-acre private plot near Bhadra Tiger Reserve in lieu of forest land in Kadugodi (Bangalore), which will be used to construct a depot under phase-II of Namma Metro.
BMRCL will be acquiring 45 acres of land in Kadugodi from the Forest Department. As per the policy, it will have to purchase and hand over a plot of land of the same size for the Forest Department to carry out afforestation work.
What is Compensatory Afforestation Scheme?
Compensatory Afforestation (CA) refers to afforestation and regeneration activities carried out as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest purposes. Here “non-forest purpose” means the breaking up or clearing of any forest land or a portion thereof for-
- the cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil-bearing plants, horticultural crops or medicinal plants;
- any purpose other than re-afforestation;
but does not include any work relating or ancillary to conservation, development and management of forests and wildlife, namely, the establishment of check-posts, fire lines, wireless communications and construction of fencing, bridges and culverts, dams, waterholes, trench marks, boundary marks, pipelines or other like purposes.
CA is one of the most important conditions stipulated by the Central Government while approving proposals for de-reservation or diversion of forest land for non-forest use. The compensatory Afforestation is an additional plantation activity and not a diversion of part of the annual plantation programme.
To accelerate the CA activities, the Union Cabinet on 29 April 2015 gave its approval for introduction of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 in Parliament. The proposed legislation seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization, in an efficient and transparent manner, of the amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. It also seeks to provide safety, security and, transparency in utilization of these amounts, which currently are being kept in Nationalized Banks and are being managed by an ad-hoc body. These amounts would be brought within broader focus of both Parliament and State Legislatures and in greater public view, by transferring them to non-lapsable interest bearing funds, to be created under public accounts of the Union of India and each State.
The Bill provides for among other things:-
- Establishment of the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and the State CAFs to credit amounts collected by State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to compensate loss of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
- Constitution of a National Authority to manage and utilize amounts credited to the National CAF.
- Constitution of a State Authority in each State and Union Territory to manage and utilise the amounts credited to the State CAFs.
- Establishment of a Monitoring Group to assist the National Authority in monitoring and evaluation of activities undertaken from amounts released from the National CAF and State CAFs.
A major part of these amounts will be used to restock and improve quality of degraded forests, which constitutes more than 40 % of the total forest cover of the country. Rules to be framed by the Central Government in consultation with the States/ UTs will provides for use of native species in afforestation activities to be undertaken from these funds. Majority of the employment will be generated in tribal dominated and backward areas of the country. Apart from creation of direct employment, utilization of these amounts will result in increased availability of timber and various other non-timber forest products, and will thus help in improvement of the overall living standards of the forest dependent communities.
‘India-Vietnam ties’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated a ‘Jaipur Foot’ camp in Hanoi and met with 500 Vietnamese beneficiaries of the free India-made prosthetic limb.
Significance of this visit by minister
It aims at deepening India’s strategic cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia – the key countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region
The camp is being organized as per an agreement between BMVSS and the Ministry of External Affairs for providing 5,000 ‘Jaipur Foot’ to the needy amputees of various countries.
‘Bio-jet fuel’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: SpiceJet conducted the country’s first-ever biojet fuel-powered flight on Monday between Dehradun and Delhi.
A blend of 75% of the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and 25% of biojet fuel was carried in one of the two engines of the plane, while the other engine carried only ATF.
About the biojet
- Made from Jatropha crop, the fuel has been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, based in Dehradun, along with the Indian Institute of Petroleum.
- Biojet fuel was low cost and helped in significantly reducing carbon emissions
- It has the potential to reduce our dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50% on every flight and bring down fares
- The biojet fuel has been recognised by the American Standard Testing Method (ASTM) and meets the specification standards of Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier for commercial application in aircraft.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the aviation industry contributes 2% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.
‘Asian Games 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India’s Dharun Ayyasamy clinched a silver in men’s 400m hurdles in national record time as athletics continued to swell India’s medal tally in the Asian Games in Jakarta
It is India’s first medal in the event since Joseph Abraham won a gold in 2010
Other medals won include:
- Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian javelin-thrower to win an Asian Games gold medal as he shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 88.06m in Jakarta
- Neena Varakil gave India another silver medal from the athletics arena after she came second in the women’s long jump event at the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta
- Veteran Indian long distance runner Sudha Singh on Monday clinched the silver in women’s 3000m steeplechase event in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
- Hima Das and Muhammed Anas won a silver each in women’s and men’s 400m as Indian athletes continued their strong show in the Asian Games in Jakarta
‘G-20 Digital Economic ministerial meeting’ (GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: During the meeting, the G20 member nations agreed to promote policies that will contribute to bridging all forms of the digital divide, with special attention to the digital gender divide.
Other observations made during the meeting
- The countries agreed to promote digital government and digital infrastructure, strengthen the digital skills of the workforce, deepen the analysis towards digital economy measurement, and to share experiences and lesson learned.
- Global technology giants should reinvest part of their profits for development of infrastructure and job creation in revenue generating countries such as India
- Data needs to improve business but it must be anonymous, objective, and taken with consent.
- Serious note of reported misuse of data from social media platforms was also noted by companies
The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Founded in 1999, the G20 aims to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. The G20 heads of government or heads of state have periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008, and the group also hosts separate meetings of finance ministers and foreign ministers due to the expansion of its agenda in recent years.
Membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank. Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade (or, if excluding EU intra-trade, 75%), two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area.
Since the November 2011 Cannes summit, all G20 summits have been held annually.
‘Textile manufacturing’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The textile industry can tap opportunities emerging globally in high-value manufacturing by converting fibre into fibre assemblies according to some industrialists
About high-value manufacturing in textile industries
- Current century is of fibres, including carbon and glass fibres. These will revolutionize the way we make products in the future
- Those who are into technical textiles, even the small and medium-scale enterprises, can tap the potential in new fibres and convert those into suitable high value products
- Functionalities in three-dimensional weaving using these fibres are different and the units need to have the requisite technology and machinery for the purpose.
‘Plantation sector’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Recent rains in Kerala and the Malnad region of Karnataka have left a trail a destruction in India’s major spice-growing regions.
Coupled with landslips, the rains have adversely affected plantation crops such as ginger, black pepper, cardamom coffee, nutmeg, rubber and tea. Though government agencies are yet to ascertain the quantum of loss in the plantation sector, farming sources said that the loss incurred by the sector is about ₹2,100 crore in Karnataka and ₹800 crore in Kerala.
However coffee industry sources said ‘Arabica’ coffee production is likely to fall about 30% and the Robusta variety by about 20% in the country in 2018-19 owing to the flooding and landslips in major coffee growing areas.
Tea production in July and August is expected to be very low because of the rains in most growing regions
‘Micro-plastic pollution’(GS3: Environmental Pollution)
Issue: The small fragments of plastic contact lenses are believed to be contributing to the growing problem of micro-plastic pollution. Pharmaceuticals, which are also frequently flushed down the drain, have been found in our drinking water
Other products believed to be contributing plastic pollution
- Products like wipes and tampons are also clogging sewer systems, resulting in billions of dollars in maintenance and repair costs.
- When contact lenses are flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink, they do not biodegrade easily. As a result, they may make their way into surface water, causing environmental damage
- The lenses are also impervious to the bacteria that break down biological waste at treatment plants.
- Waste water treatment plants are not designed to filter out pharmaceuticals, so drugs that are disposed of in the toilet or the sink drain end up entering streams, rivers and lakes.
- A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found prescription and nonprescription drugs and hormones in 139 streams across the U.S. during 1999 and 2000
‘E-Mudhra’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: eMudhra, a licensed Indian certifying authority that issues digital signature certificates, expects revenue to grow 30% from last year’s ₹78 crore and plans to enter the U.S. market next year
Significance of such companies in the society
- Digital transaction management is poised to grow globally into a $30-billion market by 2020
- There are many businesses that need the management of digital assets include banks, credit unions, independent lessors and those that leverage mortgages, equipment leases, and vehicle and consumer financing.
- In India, cyber-security and paperless transformation, as a result of Digital India, were proving to be big drivers for eMudhra’s growth
- The Bengaluru-headquartered company, which is licensed by the Controller of Certifying Authorities, has a research and development centre in the city and is building its own campus in the Bangalore IT Park to accommodate 2,000 people
‘Hazira LNG venture’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s subsidiary Shell Gas B.V. has signed a binding letter of intent (LoI) with Total Gaz Electricité Holdings France to buy its 26% equity in the Hazira LNG and port venture in India
About the venture
The Hazira LNG and port venture comprises Hazira LNG Pvt. Ltd. that operates an LNG re-gasification terminal and Hazira Port Pvt. Ltd. which manages a direct berthing multi-cargo port at Hazira in Gujarat.
Shell Energy India (SEI) was established in 2017, to aggregate demand from downstream customers and secure competitive international supply to meet such demand and will market and sell that gas to customers across India.
What is LNG?
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a clear, colourless and non-toxic liquid which forms when natural gas is cooled to -162ºC (-260ºF). The cooling process shrinks the volume of the gas 600 times, making it easier and safer to store and ship. In its liquid state, LNG will not ignite.
When LNG reaches its destination, it is turned back into a gas at regasification plants. It is then piped to homes, businesses and industries where it is burnt for heat or to generate electricity. LNG is now also emerging as a cost-competitive and cleaner transport fuel, especially for shipping and heavy-duty road transport.
‘Aerosols’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA has now released a vivid image that shows the aerosol flow across the face of Earth.
According to NASA, “An optical thickness of less than 0.1 (palest yellow) indicates a crystal clear sky with maximum visibility, whereas a value of 1 (reddish brown) indicates very hazy conditions.”
What is an Aerosol?
An aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets, in air or another gas. Aerosols can be natural or anthropogenic. Examples of natural aerosols are fog, dust, forest exudates and geyser steam.
Earth-observing satellites use the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to measure the aerosol optical thickness from hundreds of kilometers above the Earth. These measurements are based on the fact that aerosols change the reflection and absorption of visible and infrared light in the atmosphere.
‘Spitzer telescope’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope – which was initially scheduled for 2.5-year primary mission – has completed 15 years of space exploration
About the mission
Launched into a solar orbit in 2003, Spitzer has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. It assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.