- A proposed road tunnel beneath Western Ghats in Kerala
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Dolphin Safaris
- Plan for upgradation of Zoos across the country in PPP mode
Defence & Security Issues
- SMART Torpedo System
Art & Culture
- Mandala-Makaravilakku Pilgrimage Season
- Nobel Prize in Physics 2020
Science & Technology
- New insights into LEDs emitting white light
Also in News
- World Habitat Day 2020
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A proposed road tunnel beneath Western Ghats in Kerala
A tunnel road project that would connect Kozhikode with Wayanad was launched by Kerala CM recently.
Kozhikode-Wayanad tunnel road:
- The 7-km tunnel is part of an 8-km road cutting through sensitive forests and hills of the Western Ghats.
- The tunnel is being described as the third-longest in the country.
- Its endpoints are at Maripuzha in Thiruvambady village (Kozhikode) and Kalladi in Meppadi (Wayanad).
- At present, Wayanad plateau is linked to the rest of Kerala via four roads, all with hilly sections, the longest being the 13-km Thamarassery Ghat Road along the Kozhikode-Mysuru NH 766.
- The tunnel road is an outcome of a decades-long campaign for an alternative road as the Thamarassery Ghat Road is congested and gets blocked by landslides during heavy monsoon.
- The proposed route has identified as a highly sensitive patch comprising evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, marsh lands and shola tracts.
- This region is part of an elephant corridor spread between Wayanad and Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu.
- Two major rivers, Chaliyar and Kabani that flows to Karnataka, originate from these hills in Wayanad.
- Eruvazhanjipuzha, a tributary of Chaliyar and the lifeline of settlements in Malappuram and Kozhikode, begins in the other side of the hills.
- The region, known for torrential rain during monsoon, has witnessed several landslides.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
On the occasion of Gangetic Dolphin Day, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) launched the Dolphin Jalaj Safari at six locations i.e. Bijnor, Brijghat, Prayagraj and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Kahalgaon (Bihar) and Bandel (West Bengal).
- The aim is to integrate Gangetic dolphin and Ganga conservation with local livelihoods.
- My Ganga My Dolphin campaign was also launched to conduct a dolphin census in a 250 km- stretch from Bijnor to Narora.
- The Ganga Praharis – trained volunteers will take tourists at these sites on boat rides to view dolphins in the Ganga.
Ganga River Dolphin Day:
- Celebrated annually on October 5.
- On this day Ganga Dolphins were declared National Aquatic Animals in 2010.
About Gangetic Dolphin:
- The Gangetic dolphin is a mammal and is one of five species of river dolphin. The animal is popularly referred to as the Susu.
- It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems. The Gangetic Dolphins found in the Indian territory account for 80 per cent of the total dolphin count.
- It has been spotted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Assam.
- The dolphin relies on a bio-sonar method to move around and catch their prey. It feeds on several species of fishes, invertebrates etc.
- Being one of the apex predators of the ecosystem, the Gangetic dolphin is considered to be an indicator of the river health.
- Depletion of prey base, Construction of dams and barrages along with increasing pollution are major causes for the declining population of the dolphins.
- Listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- The Government initiated a Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020 health of river ecosystems.
Plan for upgradation of Zoos across the country in PPP mode
Marking the celebration of Wildlife Week 2020 Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, congratulated the country for the diverse wildlife.
- Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that the government is working towards the upgradation and development of 160 Zoos in Public Private Partnership (PPP) across the country to encourage interaction between wildlife and humans, and help people observe and understand wildlife behaviour more closely.
- He informed that policy for up gradation and development of all the zoos in the country is underway and will be taken up during the upcoming budget.
- The state governments, corporations, businesses and people will all be key elements of the plan.
- It will help give enhanced experience to the visitors especially the students and children and the future generation in order to nurture the connect between wildlife, nature and humans.
- The Minister also launched a report (e-report) of the CZA-TERI titled “Economic valuation of ecosystem services, National Zoological Park, New Delhi ‘.
- The report highlights the importance of habitats such as zoos to human wellbeing and the need of replication across India.
- The study first of its kind in India and perhaps the entire World, pegs the total annual economic value of the ecosystem services (biodiversity conservation, employment generation, carbon sequestration, education and research, recreational and cultural) at around 423 crores (2019-20).
- The total value of the one-time cost of services such as carbon storage and land value provided by the zoo is estimated to be around 55,000 crores.
- The Minister also gave away the CZA-Prani Mitra awards to encourage the zoo officers and staff towards working for captive animal management and welfare.
- The awards were given in four categories viz. the Outstanding Director / Curator, Outstanding Veterinarian, Outstanding Biologist /Educationist, Outstanding Biologist /Educationist and Outstanding Animal keeper.
- The Minister, during the virtual interaction, also addressed questions of school children from across the country, concerning wildlife protection and human-wildlife interaction.
- He stated that we must all work together to protect the valuable wildlife of the country.
Central Zoo Authority (CZA):
- CZA which was established to oversee the functioning of Indian zoos and complement the wildlife conservation strategies through ex-situ measures.
- Today, it recognizes around 160 zoo and rescue centers that enforce global standards in animal housing and welfare.
- Over 567 captive animal species (with 114 species under endangered category) with overall 56481 individual animals are currently housed in Indian zoos.
- Every Zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the Authority for its operation.
- Its role is more of a facilitator than a regulator. It provides technical and financial assistance to zoos which have the potential to attain the desired standard in animal management.
- CZA also regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category list under Schedule – I and II of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Defence & Security Issues
SMART Torpedo System
India successfully conducted the flight test of a Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.
- SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo System for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations far beyond Torpedo range.
- This launch and demonstration are significant in establishing Anti-Submarine warfare capabilities.
What is SMART system?
- Torpedoes are self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target, are limited by their range.
- This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own.
- For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.
- It takes off like a regular supersonic missile when launched from a warship or a truck-based coastal battery.
- SMART is a game-changing technology demonstration in anti-submarine warfare.
- India’s anti-submarine warfare capacity building is crucial in light of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.
- Assets of such warfare consist of deployment of submarines, specialised anti-submarine ships, air assets and state-of-the-art reconnaissance and detection mechanisms.
Art & Culture
Mandala-Makaravilakku Pilgrimage Season
The Kerala Government has permitted for the Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season.
About Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage
- Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage is a two-month pilgrimage season of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.
- Celebrated on the 1st day of Malayalam Calendar, Vrischikam.
- Makaravilakku is the climax of the 7-day annual festival, heldon Makar Sankranti at the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala.
- A celestial star appears thrice at Ponnambalamedu -a remote hill-top near the temple.
For more information, please visit:[Ref: The Hindu]
Nobel Prize in Physics 2020
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded one half of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for furthering the understanding of black holes.
What are black holes?
- A black hole is formed when stars collapse and can be defined as a space in the universe with an escape velocity so strong that even light cannot escape it.
- Escape velocity is the speed at which an object must travel to override a planet or an object’s gravitational force. For instance, for a spacecraft to leave the surface of the Earth, it needs to be travelling at a speed of about 40,000 km per hour.
- Since light cannot get out, black holes are invisible and can only be tracked with the help of a space telescope or other special tools.
- And the reason light cannot escape is mainly that the gravity inside a black hole is very strong as a result of a lot of matter being squeezed into a small space.
What do the winners’ work tell about black holes?
- Penrose’s work has shown that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
- He used Einstein’s general theory of relativity in order to prove that the process of formation of black holes is a stable one.
- He proved that black holes exist and described them in detail back in 1965, ten years after Einstein died.
- Genzel and Ghez have discovered that an invisible and an extremely heavy object governs the stars’ orbit at the centre of the Milky Way.
- This extremely heavy object has the mass equivalent to 4 million solar masses and is packed into an area about the size of our solar system.
- Their work tells that at the centre of our galaxy the Milky Way lies an invisible supermassive object, of which a black hole provides a reasonable explanation.
Science & Technology
New insights into LEDs emitting white light
As colour quality is a key challenge faced in producing white Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) as a general light source, scientists have unearthed crucial reaction insights that can help design white LEDs to produce high-quality white light.
About the research:
- Scientists at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) found that though nanocrystals of inorganic chemicals caesium lead halide show the promise of white light emission, a very odd behaviour of the nanocrystals prevented them from keeping that promise.
- The capability of white light emission rests in the fact that the emission from these crystals can be easily tuned over the entire visible spectrum by varying their halide compositions.
- However, they failed to emit white light due to an interparticle mixing between the nanocrystals that resulted in a single emission.
- White light needs the presence of red, green and blue spectra of light. So, once the crystals give a single emission, they miss the chance of creation of white light.
- Researchers found that halide ions of the crystals migrate from one particle to another even at room temperature and form an alloy of nanocrystals, which yield a single emission.
- The understanding of this reaction kinetics will help in developing strategies to prevent interparticle mixing and create LED that produce good quality white light.
Key Facts on LED:
- A Light-Emitting Diode, or LED, is a type of solid-state lighting that uses a semiconductor to convert electricity into light.
- The first visible-spectrum LED was invented by Nick Holonyak, Jr., while working for GE in 1962.
- Today’s LED bulbs can be six-seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lights and cut energy use by more than 80 percent.
- Good-quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more– more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs.
- LEDs contain no mercury, and LEDs have a much smaller environmental impact than incandescent bulbs.
- LED’s give off little or no UV rays, which means your fruit and veggies might be able to retain higher nutrient levels.
- LED’s can tolerate temperature extremes, making them a useful, durable option to have if you live in an area with varying temperatures throughout the year.
- In contrast to the Watts (W) used for incandescent bulbs, LED’s use Lumens (lm) to indicate brightness.
Also in News
World Habitat Day 2020
The United Nations decided to observe the first Monday of October (5th October) as World Habitat Day.
About World Habitat Day:
- The day is commemorated every year worldwide to throw light on the condition of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
- This day is a reminder to the world that we all have the capability and the duty towards shaping the future of our cities and towns.
- Theme for World Habitat Day 2020: Housing for all: A better urban future.
- Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a shelter has become a matter of life and death.
- As by staying inside homes, people can stop the virus from spreading as well as getting contaminated.
- World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with its theme as ‘Shelter is my right’.
- It was hosted by Nairobi city during that year.
- The habitat ‘Scroll of Honour’ award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989.
- It is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world.
Significance of a home in today’s scenario:
- Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the need of having a home has grown remarkably in order to make a safe environment for living, working and learning.
- A home should also be assured with basic necessities, infrastructure, hygiene measures and room for social distancing.
- The location of a home should allow its residents access to green places and open spaces, employment opportunities, health-care facilities, schools, childcare centres and other social facilities.
- Affordable housing for all is a major target of all governments particularly in the developing economies.
- Affordable, safe and adequate housing for the urban poor has been the Indian government’s focus.
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on World Habitat Day organised a webinar to discuss several issues linked with housing in urban India.
Programme of the global observance in Surabaya, Indonesia:
- The Global Observance of World Habitat Day 2020 will be co-hosted by UN-Habitat and the Government of Indonesia.
- It is a two-day hybrid event coming from Surabaya, Indonesia.
Mains relevant (govt. initiatives):
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations Member States in 2015 is a guiding document for a planet and the people that inhabit it.
- The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets together reflect, both the collective vision and goal that India have to work to achieving by 2030
- The entire flagship Missions such as Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban, the Smart Cities Mission, the AMRUT Mission were in implementation mode well before the SDGs were adopted by the India.
- In a country of India’s size, diversity and population, it is a staggering challenge to implement this ambitious urban agenda.
- The essential ingredient for success in any endeavour of this magnitude is strong political will.