Current Affairs 9th March, 2019

PAPER – 1 AND PAPER - 3

Topics Covered

1. Conservation of Environment

2. Geography – Forest Fire

Bandipur Tiger Reserve

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What to read?

Prelims – Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Mains – Main Reasons for Forest fire and its spread in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Positive and negative impact of forest fire

The forest fire that erupted in Bandipur Tiger Reserve last month devastated hundreds of acres of pristine forest.

The National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, recently released a report based on Sentinel-2 satellite data, which revealed that in Bandipur alone, 15,443.27 acres were damaged by the fire between February 23 and 25. 

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Main Reasons for Forest fire and its spread in Bandipur Tiger Reserve

  • When the northeast monsoon failed, it set alarm bells in the forest. By mid-December, the deciduous forests of Bandipur filled with dry Lantana camara — an invasive weed that covers almost 50% of the reserve.

  • The rise in temperature coupled with the dearth of summer rains had turned the entire forest area into a tinderbox.

  • Windy weather made the task of containing the flames almost impossible.

  • Tribals as First line of Defence – Importance of involving local communities in forest conservation

  • The first line of defence against forest fires are the tribals, drawn mainly from the Jenu Kuruba, Soliga, and Betta Kuruba tribes.

  • About 400 of them were deployed as fire-watchers, and if not for them, the damage would have been far greater.

Forest Fire not that bad for forest ecosystem to survive

  • Given the fact that wildfires have been a part of the forest ecosystem, a section of scientists and conservationists say that forest fires are not all that bad since they help regenerate the vegetation.

  • There is a perception among officials that small and controlled fires may be necessary to reduce the piling up dry leaf, dead and decaying wood, and lantana. If that is not done, the next fire could be even bigger.

Bandipur Tiger Reserve

  • The Bandipur Tiger Reserve is flanked by the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.

  • It is home to nearly 570 tigers, according to the ‘Status of Tigers in India, 2014’ report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

  • These tigers share the forest with elephants, dholes, leopards and other mammals, making the tiger reserve an ecological hotspot.









PAPER – 1

Topics Covered

1. Art and Culture – Architecture

Golconda Fort

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What to read?

Prelims – About Golcanda fort

Rock formations on Golconda Fort flattened. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is constructing a 600-sq-feet toilet on Golconda Fort, according to a reply furnished by the custodian of the heritage site.

What was the concern?

  • Work has already begun at the site situated at 600 metres above the sea level, behind the ancient cave temple of Jagadamba and near the heritage Bala Hissar darbar hall where the last Qutb Shahi king Abul Hasan Tana Shah surrendered to the Mughal forces of Aurangzeb in 1687.

  • The Bala Hissar is one the iconic views of the monument identified with Hyderabad.

  • Though the toilet complex in the upper reaches of the fort would not deface or spoil the view of the fort from the ground, considerable damage has already been done to the rock formations behind the Jagadamba temple. 

About Golconda Fort

  • The fort was built by the Kakatiya dynasty in the 13th century.

  • The Golconda fort epitomises the sumptuous 'Nawabi' culture of the time. "Shepherd's Hill" or "Golla Konda", as it was popularly known in Telugu

  • Later, the Golconda fort came into the possession of the Bahmani dynasty. Still later, the Qutub Shahi dynasty took over and made Golconda its capital. Golconda fort owes much of its present grandeur to Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah

  • By the 17th century, Golconda was famous as a diamond market. It gave the world some of the best-known diamonds, including the 'Kohinoor'.


PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Judiciary

2. Alternate Dispute Resolution

3-member panel to mediate in Ayodhya dispute

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains – About the chronology of the Ayodhya land dispute case and how it had been a symbol of unrest against the secular nature of the country?

The five-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, appointed a panel of mediators, comprising former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla as chairman, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sriram Panchu, a senior advocate with experience in alternative dispute resolution.

  • The mediation would start in a week in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh — of which the disputed area is a part — with the process conducted in-camera.

  • The court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time” during the interregnum.

  • The mediation panel has been given eight weeks and the Bench also directed them to file a status report in four weeks.

Confidentiality as a safeguard

The Supreme Court ordered that while the mediation proceedings are being carried out, there ought not to be any reporting of the said proceedings either in the print or in the electronic media

The court stopped short of passing any specific gag order on the media and left it to the mediators to pass “necessary orders in writing, if so required.

Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi and Babri Masjid land dispute case – Chronological events

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- 1528: Babri Masjid built by Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur.

- 1949: Idols of Ram Lalla placed under a central dome outside the disputed structure.

- Feb 1, 1986: Local court orders the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers.

- August 14, 1989: Allahabad High Court ordered maintenance of status quo in respect of the disputed structure.

- December 6, 1992: Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure demolished.

- April 3, 1993:  - Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed in Allahabad High Court challenging various aspects of the Act.

- Supreme Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 139A transferred the writ petitions, which were pending in the High Court.

- October 24, 1994: Supreme Court says in the historic Ismail Faruqui case that mosque was not integral to Islam.

- April, 2002: High Court begins hearing on determining who owns the disputed site.

- March 13, 2003: Supreme Court says, in the Aslam alias Bhure case, no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the acquired land.

- September 30, 2010: High Court, in a 2:1 majority, rules three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

- May 9, 2011: Supreme Court stays High Court verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.

- February 26, 2016: Subramanian Swamy files plea in Supreme Court seeking construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site.

- March 6, 2019: Supreme Court reserves order on whether the land dispute can be settled through mediation.

- March 8, 2019: Supreme Court refers the dispute for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kallifulla.


PAPER – 2 AND PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Judiciary

2. Conservation of Environment

Supreme Court warns Haryana Government on Damage of Aravalli Range

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What to read?

Prelims – About the Aravallis

Mains – Judicial concern over devastation of Aravallis

The Supreme Court cautioned the Haryana government against doing “anything” to harm the ecologically fragile Aravalli range.

Background of Judicial Concern

  • On March 1, the court had threatened the Haryana government with contempt if it went ahead with the amendments virtually allowing massive scale of construction in the Aravalli Hills.

  • The court had pointed out how the once-lush Aravalli region was devastated after years of indiscriminate and illegal mining. The entire Aravalli area is devastated and entire flora and fauna there has gone

  • In October 2018, the court had expressed shock over 31 “vanished” hills in the Aravallis and had asked Rajasthan to stop illegal mining in 115.34-hectare area.

Aravalli Range

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  • They are aligned in north-east to south-west direction.

  • They run for about 800 km between Delhi and Palanpur in Gujarat.

  • They are one of the oldest (very old) fold mountains of the world and the oldest in India. {Fold Mountains – Block Mountains}

  • After its formation in Archaean Era (several 100 million years ago), its summits were nourishing glaciers and several summits were probably higher than the present day Himalayas.

  • Now they are relict (remnants after severe weathering and erosion since millions of years) of the world’s oldest mountain formed as a result of folding (Archaean Era).

  • They continue up to Hariddwar buried under the alluvium of Ganga Plains.

  • The range is conspicuous in Rajasthan (continuous range south of Ajmer where it rises to 900 m.) but becomes less distinct in Haryana and Delhi (characterized by a chain of detached and discontinuous ridges beyond Ajmer).

  • According to some geographers, one Branch of the Aravalis extends to the Lakshadweep Archipelago through the Gulf of Khambhat and the other into Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

  • It’s general elevation is only 400-600 m, with few hills well above 1,000 m.

  • At the south-west extremity the range rises to over 1,000 m. Here Mt. Abu (1,158 m), a small hilly block, is separated from the main range by the valley of the BanasGuru Sikhar (1,722 m), the highest peak, is situated in Mt. Abu.

  • Pipli Ghat, Dewair and Desuri passes allow movement by roads and railways.



PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. e- Governance

UIDAI to levy fees for verification

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What to read?

Prelims – UIDAI

Mains – What does the notification say? The exemptions mentioned.

Business organisations will now need to shell out Rs. 20 for each customer verification and 50 paise for authentication of each transaction done using Aadhaar.

What does the notification say?

  • Aadhaar authentication services shall be charged at the rate of Rs. 20 (including taxes) for each e-KYC transaction.

  • Rs. 0.50 (including taxes) for each Yes/No authentication transaction from requesting entities.

  • The entities shall be required to deposit the authentication transaction charges within 15 days of issuance of the concerned invoice based on the usage.

  • The delay in payment beyond 15 days shall attract interest compounded at 1.5% per month and discontinuation of authentication and e-KYC services

Exemption from the rule

  • Government entities and the Department of Posts will be exempt from authentication transaction charges.

  • Scheduled commercial banks engaged in providing Aadhaar enrolment and update facilities in accordance with its gazette notification issued in July 2017 shall be exempt from authentication transaction charges.

Criticisms against such move

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UIDAI

  • The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) , under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

  • Prior to its establishment as a statutory authority, UIDAI was functioning as an attached office of the then Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog).

  • Later, in 2015, the Government revised the Allocation of Business Rules to attach the UIDAI to the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) of the then Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Note - The first UID number was issued on 29 September 2010 to a resident of Nandurbar, Maharashtra








PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Infrastructure – Transport – Roadways

Launch of Delhi - Vadodara - Mumbai Expressway and Dwarka Expressway projects

What to read?

Prelims – About Delhi – Vadodara – Mumbai Expressway and Dwarka Expressway

Mains – Advantages from both expressways

Delhi - Vadodara - Mumbai Expressway

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Union Minister for Road Transport and laid the foundation stone for the 1,320 km-long Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway, to be developed at an projected cost of Rs. 90,000 crore by 2022.

The Delhi-Vadodara Expressway is being built in five phases and the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway is being constructed in three phases.

Features and Advantages of the Expressway

  • The Expressway aims to decongest the busy Delhi-Mumbai national corridor or NH-8. It is expected to reduce the distance between the two cities by about 150 km.

  • The expressway will also reduce the distance between Delhi and important cities like Kota, Bhopal and Indore by about 100 km.

Dwarka Expressway

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  • Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways also laid the foundation stone for an eight-lane access controlled Dwarka Expressway.

  • This 29 km long road passes through Delhi and Haryana and will serve as an alternate link to NH 8 for road connectivity between Delhi and Gurgaon.

  • It will also connect western Delhi and parts of Haryana with Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport.


PAPER –2 AND PAPER - 3

Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Conservation of Environment

Do forest surveys separately

What to read?

Prelims – Forest Survey of India

Mains – Reason for such separate survey as a recommendation

A high-power committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recommended that forest surveys (the biennial exercise by the government to estimate forest cover) explicitly demarcate trees grown in forests from those grown outside, that is, in plantations and private lands.

  • Currently, the government counts both towards estimating the portion of India’s geographical area covered by forest.

Reason for the recommendation

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  • Independent critics have for long pointed out that including both isn’t an ecologically sound principle but this is a first instance of government-constituted committee recommending so.

  • Various editions of the SFR have over the years reported the area under forests as hovering around 21%. So the government also includes substantial patches of trees outside areas designated as forests, such as plantations or greenlands, in its assessment.

India’s forest Survey Report

  • India posted a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017, according to the India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017, which was made public in February 2018.

  • The document says that India has about 7,08,273 sq. km. of forest, which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country (32,87,569 sq. km.).

  • Getting India to have at least 33% of its area under forest has been a long-standing goal of the government since 1988.

Forest Survey of India

  • Established on June 1,1981, the Forest Survey of India succeeded the ‘Pre-investment Survey of Forest Resources‘ (PISFR)

  • PISFR is a project initiated in 1965 by Government of India with the sponsorship of FAO and UNDP

  • The main objective of PISFR was to ascertain the availability of raw material for establishment of wood based industries in selected areas of the country

  • In its report in 1976, the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) recommended for the creation of a National Forest Survey Organization for a regular, periodic and comprehensive forest resources survey of the country leading to creation of FSI

  • After a critical review of activities undertaken by FSI, Government of India redefined the mandate of FSI in 1986 in order to make it more relevant to the rapidly changing needs and aspirations of the country