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Insights Daily Current Events, 20 April 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 20 April 2015

Patel statue on green tribunal radar

The National Green Tribunal has asked the Gujarat government to file a reply before May 8 to allegations of irregularities in the Sardar Patel Statue project made by activists.

Why?

  • Activists allege violation of environmental rules.
  • The activists say the project has not obtained the mandatory permissions required under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification. Moreover, the site was on an active tectonic plate in a fault line area.
  • They say that the statue is just one part of a big tourism project for which environmental and wetland laws and safety and disaster-management norms had been given the go-by.

About the Project:

  • The plan is to erect a giant statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, called the “Statue of Unity”, on the Sadhu Bet island on the Narmada near Vadodara.
  • It is expected to be the tallest in the world at 182 metres when completed. The Statue of Unity will be double the height of the Statue of Liberty in the USA and five times taller than the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • It is a tribute to the Iron Man of India.

The project would require extensive construction work on the active riverbed of the perennial Narmada and is likely to fall within a critical wetlands area to be notified under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.

A glance at some of the world’s tallest statues:

Sources: The Hindu, statueofliberty.com.

 

Pudukottai CEO office gets ISO certification

The office of the Chief Educational Officer, Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu, has bagged the ISO 9001:2008 certification.

  • This is said to be the first Education Department office to get the certification.
  • The certification is valid for three years. The agency would take up annual review on the services of the office for the next three years.

Details of the Assessment:

  • Representatives of Max, a Swedish-based agency for ISO, ascertained the performance of employees of the office during the academic year 2014-15 and ascertained their efficiency in service during the start and end of the assessment.
  • Service to people, leadership, system-based management, commitment to service, decision making on rational grounds, design in office, uniform clothes for employees on the lines of corporate sector and above all service to students and teachers were some of the factors which were analyzed.

About ISO 9001:2008:

  • ISO 9001:2008 specifies requirements for a quality management system where an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
  • To get certified the organization should aim to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
  • All requirements of ISO 9001:2008 are generic and are intended to be applicable to all organizations, regardless of type, size and product provided.
  • Third-party certification bodies provide independent confirmation that organizations meet the requirements of ISO 9001.

Sources: The Hindu, iso.org.

 

Nod for climate change action plan

Kerala is all set to launch a long-term programme to develop resilience to climate change.

  • The Ministry of Forest, Environment, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has approved the Kerala State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC), strengthening the hands of the State in taking up a slew of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

Details of the Plan:

  • It is a five-year package which envisages a budget requirement of Rs.1,170 crore for projects in eight key sectors, namely agriculture and animal husbandry, fisheries and coastal ecosystem, forest and biodiversity, water resources, health, energy, urban front, and transport and tourism.
  • It seeks to address the negative consequences of climate change and reduce the associated risks.
  • It also aims at integrating climate change strategies into the development planning process.

Challenges posed by changing Climate?

  • According to the projected climate change scenario, the atmospheric temperature across Kerala would rise by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. It estimates that if the sea level rises by one metre, 169 sq km of the coastal region surrounding Kochi would be inundated.
  • Paddy production in Kerala would drop by 6% with each degree rise in temperature. Crops such as cardamom, coffee, tea, and black pepper will also be affected by higher temperature and changing rainfall pattern.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Manipur on high alert to tackle bird flu

The Manipur government has officially confirmed outbreak of bird flu in the State.

  • Culling of the chickens, ducks and other fowls will start soon in 1 km radius of Imphal and the operation will gradually be widened to a radius of 10 km which is regarded as the affected zone for the time being. The government will pay adequate compensation to the owners and chicken farmers.

Avian flu:

Avian influenza (AI), commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds often causing no apparent signs of illness.

Spread: AI viruses can sometimes spread to domestic poultry and cause large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Some of these AI viruses have also been reported to cross the species barrier and cause disease or subclinical infections in humans and other mammals.

Effects on Humans:

  • Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however some, such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), have caused serious infections in people.
  • The majority of human cases of A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.
  • Controlling the disease in animals is the first step in decreasing risks to humans.

Initial symptoms include high fever, usually with a temperature higher than 38°C, and other influenza-like symptoms (cough or sore throat). Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, and bleeding from the nose and gums have also been reported as early symptoms in some patients.

Treatment:

  • Evidence suggests that some antiviral drugs, notably oseltamivir, can reduce the duration of viral replication and improve prospects of survival.
  • In cases of severe infection with the A(H5N1) or A(H7N9) virus, clinicians may consider increasing the recommended daily dose or/and the duration of treatment.

History:

The A(H5N1) virus subtype, a highly pathogenic AI virus, first infected humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong SAR, China. Since its widespread re-emergence in 2003 and 2004, this avian virus has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, resulting in millions of poultry infections, several hundred human cases, and many human deaths. Outbreaks in poultry have seriously impacted livelihoods, the economy and international trade in affected countries.

  • India had declared itself free from H5N1 Avian Influenza (bird flu) as there had been no occurrence of the disease for three months.

Usually, what measures are taken by the Government?

  • The entire infected poultry population and its eggs, feed, litter and other infected material will be stamped out within a radius of one km.
  • Restrictions on the movement of poultry will be imposed and the affected area will be cleaned up and disinfected.
  • Regular surveillance will be maintained, especially in vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds.

Sources: The Hindu, WHO, Wiki.

 

Uttarakhand gets new tiger reserve

Uttarakhand now has a second tiger reserve, besides the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

  • Uttarakhand is the State with the second highest tiger population after Karnataka.
  • The Rajaji National Park has now been notified as the Rajaji Tiger Reserve by the Centre.

Project Tiger:

Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves. It was launched in 1973.

  • The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
  • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 48 at present, spread out in 17 of our tiger range states. This amounts to around 2.08% of the geographical area of our country.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy. The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended in 2006 keeping in view the needs of the Project Tiger for providing enabling provisions for constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau.

The functions of NTCA are as follows:

  • Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
  • Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
  • Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
  • Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.

Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF):

  • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) was announced in 2008.
  • A onetime grant of Rs. 50 Crore was provided to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for raising, arming and deploying a Special Tiger Protection Force for 13 tiger reserves. The rest of the reserves were taken up later.

Sources: The Hindu, GOI, envi.nic.in.

 

India fifth biggest generator of e-waste in 2014: U.N. report

The ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2014’, compiled by U.N.’s think tank United Nations University (UNU), has warned that the volume of global e-waste is likely to rise by 21% in next three years.

Important observations made by the Report:

  • At 32%, the U.S. and China produced the most e-waste overall in 2014. India is behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany. India is the fifth biggest producer of e-waste in the world.
  • Most e-waste in the world in 2014 was generated in Asia at 16 Mt or 3.7 kg per inhabitant. The top three Asian nations with the highest e-waste generation in absolute quantities are China (6.0 Mt), Japan (2.2 Mt) and India (1.7 Mt).
  • The top per capita producers by far are the wealthy nations of northern and western Europe, the top five being Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and the U.K.
  • The lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was generated in Africa (1.7 kg/inhabitant). The continent generated 1.9 Mt of e-waste in total.
  • In 2014, people worldwide discarded all but a small fraction of an estimated 41.8 Mt of electrical and electronic equipment — mostly end-of-life kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment like microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers.
  • While only 7% of e-waste last year was made up of mobile phones, calculators, personal computers, printers, and small information technology equipment, almost 60% was a mix of large and small equipment used in homes and businesses, such as vacuum cleaners, toasters, electric shavers, video cameras, washing machines, electric stoves, mobile phones, calculators, personal computers, and lamps.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Protection only for honest public servants: apex court

In a judgment with far-reaching effect on numerous cases pending under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Supreme Court has held that a public servant cannot by default claim legal protection of prior sanction against prosecution.

What has the Supreme Court said?

  • Under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC), no court should take cognisance of criminal charges against a public servant unless previous sanction to prosecute him is received from a competent authority.
  • This safeguard is meant to help government servants perform their duties honestly without fear of malicious prosecution. However, the provision has largely become a ruse to delay prosecution in corruption cases.
  • Besides, this protection cannot be claimed immediately after a complaint is lodged. The question of prior sanction would be considered later, during stages in the criminal trial, as and when the need arises, the apex court observed.

Background:

  • The judgment came in a clutch of criminal appeals filed by the Andhra Pradesh police in 2013 against a High Court order quashing criminal proceedings against two revenue officials who successfully claimed protection under Section 197 of CrPC.
  • The duo figured among 41 people, including revenue officials, stamp vendors and document writers, against whom the police registered an FIR in 1999 for allegedly manipulating registers and undervaluing property, causing loss to the government.
  • Setting aside the High Court order to quash the criminal proceedings against them, the SC held that the trial should be completed expeditiously before December 31 this year.

CrPC section 197:

Public servants have been treated as special category under Section 197 of CrPC to protect them from malicious or vexatious prosecution. Such protection from harassment is given in public interest.

Sources: The Hindu.