Polity & Governance
- Ken-Betwa project gets nod from NBWL
- Centre’s nod for NICDIT, an apex corridor development body
- Health Ministry, AIIMS to set up National Death Registry
- Status of tribal development remains poor: Ministry report
Environment & Ecology
- India might use deer antlers in ayurvedic medicine, If the government approves it
Bilateral & International Relations
- Nepal rejects India’s ‘open sky’ offer
Science & Technology
- Supercluster of galaxies near Milky Way found
Key Facts for Prelims
- ‘Digi Dhan’ mela
- 50% reservation in Bihar judicial services
- Kovvada Nuclear power plant
- 2016 Bihari Puraskar
Polity & Governance
Ken-Betwa project gets nod from NBWL
The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given its much-awaited clearance for the Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers (ILR) project, paving the way for work to begin for linking Ken and Betwa rivers.
- However, the clearance has finally come with certain conditions.
- Integration of nearby sanctuaries including Ranipur and Rani Durgavati with the Panna Tiger Reserve to compensate loss of tiger habitat and complete ban of fresh mining lease in the area.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will take care of the landscape plan for the area with the help of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state forest departments.
- Since the project requires diversion of forest land of Panna Tiger Reserve, it was required to be formally cleared by the board.
- Though the Rs 9,000 crore project had got the Union Cabinet’s clearance in July 2014, work could not begin as the mandatory clearance from NBWL got stuck amid objections from environmentalists and wildlife conservationists.
About river Ken:
- The Ken is the last tributary of the Yamuna before it joins the Ganga — 87% of it lies in Madhya Pradesh and 12% in Uttar Pradesh.
About river Betwa:
- The Betwa is an interstate river that rises in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh — 68% of it lies in that state before it flows towards Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. This too is a tributary of the Yamuna.
About the proposed river linking project:
- Under the proposed river linking project, the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh, which flows into the Yamuna, will receive surplus water from the river Ken that originates in Uttar Pradesh and then runs south across Madhya Pradesh.
- The Davdhan dam is to be built on the Ken near its source.
- The project envisages construction of a dam across river Ken in Madhya Pradesh for various purposes like irrigation, hydropower generation and supply of drinking water.
- The reason why the Ken-Betwa link was the first to get off the ground is that it is the shortest.
Centre’s nod for NICDIT, an apex corridor development body
The Centre has approved the re-designation of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund as National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust (NICDIT).
- NICDIT will be the apex body to oversee development of all industrial corridors across the country.
- NICDIT will implement all the five proposed industrial corridors, together covering 15 States. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the first of the planned corridors, is under development. Other four corridors Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor, Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor, Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor and Vishakapatnam-Cheenai Industrial Corridor are in various stages of planning.
- As an apex body, the NICDIT will help streamline activities and better coordination of the industrial corridor projects which are essential to India’s goal of becoming a global manufacturing hub.
- The DMICDC, which is currently developing the western corridor, will serve as the Knowledge Partner (KP) to the NICDIT for all the industrial corridors until the KPs for them are in place.
- The NICDIT has also been sanctioned an additional ₹ 1,584 crore besides the balance available from ₹ 18,500 crore already sanctioned to the DMIC-Project Implementation Trust Fund for project activities.
- It will consist of
- Minister of Commerce & Industry,
- Minister of Railways,
- Minister of Road Transport & Highways,
- Minister of Shipping,
- Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and
- Chief Ministers of states concerned as members.
Health Ministry, AIIMS to set up National Death Registry
The Union Health Ministry, in collaboration with AIIMS, will come up with a National Death Registry.
About the registry:
- The registry will contain data about deaths, including causes, from hospitals across the country.
- The objective is to have a database about cause of deaths in hospitals across India.
- This will help policy-makers have a better understanding of disease outbreaks so as to optimise resources and healthcare facilities in respective regions.
- AIIMS has already implemented the pilot version of the death registry with a coding system called the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED).
- Currently, health is a State subject. Thus, the entire death data is not transmitted to a central depository. This creates hurdles for policy-makers in framing health and disease related policies.
What is SNOMED?
- The Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) is a standardized, multilingual vocabulary of clinical terminology that is used by physicians and other health care providers for the electronic exchange of clinical health information.
Status of tribal development remains poor: Ministry report
According to recently released annual report of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the tribal population in India lags behind other social groups on various social parameters.
- The tribal population lags in parameters such as child mortality and infant mortality and women’s health, education, poverty etc.
Highlights of the report:
- Tribal population, with a vast majority engaged in agricultural labour, has the largest number of anaemic women.
- The community also registered the highest child mortality and infant mortality rates, when compared to other social groups.
- While educational achievements on the whole has improved, the gross enrolment ratio among tribal students in the primary school level has declined from 113.2 in 2013-14 to 109.4 in 2015-16.
- Besides, the dropout rate among tribal students has been at an alarming level.
- While the overall poverty rates among the tribal population have fallen compared to previous years, they remain relatively poorer when weighed against other social groups.
- Health infrastructure has also been found wanting in tribal areas.
- At an all-India level, there is a shortfall of 6,796 Sub Centres, 1267 Primary Health Centres and 309 Community Health Centres in tribal areas as on March 31, 2015.
Gap in rehabilitation
- Gap in rehabilitation of tribal community members displaced by various development projects is also high.
- Out of an estimated 85 lakh persons displaced due to development projects and natural calamities, only 21 lakh were shown to have been rehabilitated so far.
Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana:
- In 2014, the Central government initiated the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana for the holistic development and welfare of tribal population on a pilot basis. However, budgetary provisions made under the scheme is minuscule and barely sufficient to meet the purpose of the Scheme given that it intends to cover 27 States across the country.
Environment & Ecology
India might use deer antlers in ayurvedic medicine, If the government approves it
Kerala State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) has recommended the use of antlers of spotted deer and sambar in Ayurveda medicines.
- A proposal in this regard is pending with the National Board for Wildlife and the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
What is the issue?
- The Kerala SBWL had approved a request from the state-run Oushadhi to collect and use antlers shed by spotted deer and sambars in zoos for preparing ayurvedic medicines.
- However, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits (bans) sale and use of antlers in India. Tonnes of antlers are kept in the stores of Department of Museums and Zoos as the sale and use of antlers are banned.
- SBWL is seeking suitable amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act for using the antlers for medicinal purposes.
What Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 says?
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, has included antler in the definition of wildlife trophy that may be whole or any part of any captive animal or wild animal.
- Section 39 of the Act prohibits person from acquiring or keeping trophies in his possession without the previous permission of Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer.
- Wildlife and wildlife trophies are considered to be owned by the government.
- The Act prescribes imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of Rs. 25,000 for offences involving wildlife trophies.
- Antlers are the extensions of the deer’s skull.
- There are three deer varieties deer, sambar, and barking deer having antlers and are found in Kerala. They shed their antlers annually.
- It is believed that antlers have medicinal values and are mainly used for invigorating spleen, strengthening bones/muscles and boosting blood flow.
Bilateral & International Relations
Nepal rejects India’s ‘open sky’ offer
Nepal has rejected India’s ‘open sky’ offer to allow unlimited flights between the two countries at a recently held meeting.
- Nepal said it was not yet ready for the agreement.
- However, India and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint technical committee to examine Nepal’s request for developing new air routes and air entry points at Janakpur, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. The committee will shortly meet to examine the feasibility of the proposed routes.
- Nepal has long been pushing for new airspaces to ease congestion on the existing routes and to save time and cost for air passengers.
What is India’s Open-Sky policy?
Under the National Civil Aviation Policy, approved by the Union Cabinet earlier this year, India intends to enter into ‘open-sky’ agreements with SAARC countries and with those beyond the 5,000-km radius from Delhi.
- Countries sign air services agreements (ASAs) through bilateral negotiations to decide the number of flights airlines can fly.
- Under the ‘open-sky’ agreement, there is no restriction on flights or seats.
- Among SAARC countries, India doesn’t have any ‘open sky’ agreement with Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.
- It allows unlimited flights from Bangladesh and Maldives at 18 domestic airports, from Sri Lanka at 23 airports, and from Bhutan at all its airports.
Science & Technology
Supercluster of galaxies near Milky Way found
An international team of astronomers has found one of the universe’s biggest superclusters of galaxies near the Milky Way.
- Known as the Vela supercluster had previously gone undetected as it was hidden by stars and dust in the Milky Way.
- It was spotted with help slew of telescopes including the Anglo-Australian Telescope (Sydney) and South African Large Telescope (Cape Town).
- Vela supercluster is one of the biggest concentrations of galaxies found in the Universe.
- It is a huge mass that influenced the motion of our galaxy.
- It is estimated to carry 100,000 galaxies with trillions of stars.
- Vela supercluster is possibly biggest galaxy in neighborhood of our Milky Galaxy and is at a distance of 840 million light-years from Earth.
- Our galaxy Milky Way, part of Laniakea supercluster is puny when compared to Vela.
Significance of this discovery:
- This new discovery may help astronomers to answer the retardation on the speed of Milky Way, which has mass of 400 billion suns and is containing 100 billion or more stars.
- Vela can also offer hints on how Milky Way got to the current location in the universe and gravity of the supercluster can explain the variations in Milky Way’s measured motion in space.
What are Galaxy clusters?
- Galaxy clusters seem to be a group or plenty of galaxies joined together by mutual pull of gravity.
- They are among the largest known gravitationally bound structures in the universe.
- It is believed that these clusters formed stars a long time ago but not making stars anymore.
Key Facts for Prelims
‘Digi Dhan’ mela
- In order to promote cashless transaction, the first ‘Digi Dhan’ mela has been organised in Gurugram, Haryana where customers will be able to purchase items only by making digital payment.
- This is the first such fair in the country since demonetisation for educating masses on how to use mobile phones for making purchases.
- It is part of the nationwide 100-day special campaign to promote digital and cashless transactions.
- As many as 100 such melas would be organised throughout the country up to April 14, 2017.
- Recently, the central government has launched Lucky Grahak Yojana to encourage the consumers and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to encourage merchants for transition to digital payments.
- At these ‘Digi Dhan’ melas, lucky winners of the schemes will be drawn.
50% reservation in Bihar judicial services
- The Bihar Cabinet has declared 50% reservation in all judicial services for aspirants belonging to the Extremely Backward Classes, Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Aspirants belonging to EBCs will get 21% reservation, OBCs will have 12% reservations, Scheduled Castes will have 16% reservation and Scheduled Tribes will be provided 1% reservation in all judicial services of the State.
- Also, there will be 35% ‘horizontal reservation’ for women and 1 per% reservation for disabled persons.
- The reservation will be in both Superior Judicial Services and Subordinate Judicial Services.
Kovvada Nuclear power plant
- Despite opposition from people, the State government gave the go ahead for the proposed 6,600 MW Kovvada Nuclear power plant in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh.
- A majority of people residing in Kovvada and surrounding areas are said to have agreed to accept the package proposed to be finalised soon by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the State government.
- They would part with their lands for the establishment of India’s biggest atomic power plant that would attract Rs.1 lakh-crore worth investments.
- Officials had recently conducted a crucial meeting with Kovvada villagers to win their consent for the Social Impact Survey, which was mandatory to obtain permission from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
2016 Bihari Puraskar
- Dr Satya Narayan, an esteemed Rajasthani litterateur has been chosen to be awarded the 26th Bihari Puraskar 2016.
- He was chosen for his Hindi book Yeh Ek Dunia published in 2010.
- The prize includes cash of Rs 2 lakhs, besides a citation and a plaque.
- Instituted in 1991 by the K K Birla Foundation, the award is named after famous Hindi poet Bihari.
- The award recognises outstanding work in Hindi or Rajasthani, published during the last ten years by a Rajasthani writer.
- Last year, writer Bhagwati Lal Vyas received this award for his Rajasthani poetry collection titled, ‘Katha Sun Aawe Hai Sabad’.