Insights Daily Current Affairs, 30 July 2016
Paper-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,
Mahadayi: Karnataka bandh may hit life today
The Mahadayi water-sharing dispute has the states of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka vying for water from the Mahadayi river
- Mahadayi, the west-flowing inter-state river in the Western Ghats, takes birth in Degaon village, Khanapur taluk, Belagavi district.
- The river travels 35 km in Karnataka; 82 km in Goa before joining the Arabian Sea.
- The River Mahadayi is called Mandovi in Goa.
- Total catchment area 2,032 sq km. Catchment area in Karnataka 375 sq km
Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) Interim Order
- The tribunal, headed by J.N. Panchal, after hearing Karnataka and Goa and gives interim order on 28 July 2016
- Rejected Karnataka’s plea for diversion of 7 tmcft of water from the river to the Malaprabha basin.
- Considerations in the Tribunal’s order
- The ecological damage that the project may cause since the Mahadayi water is a key component in maintaining the ecological balance in a wildlife reserve on the Goa side
- Karnataka hadn’t shown what would be the downstream effects at 3 km and 5 km of lifting the river and so “relief couldn’t be granted.”
- Given the enormous amount of water being transferred, the tribunal reasoned, there would be huge submersible pumps and specialised equipment that would be required.
- The tribunal said it “didn’t have confidence” that Karnataka would rely on temporary structures and equipment — as it has claimed — to effect this transfer of water into the Malaprabha basin
- Karnataka government had also not obtained environmental and wildlife clearances to execute the project.
- Karnataka’s contention that 108.72 tmcft of water is available at 75 per cent dependability in the Mahadayi basin wasn’t cogent.
- Karnataka has relied on the data from the Central Water Commission that is seriously contested by Goa.
- The tribunal’s interim order signals a halt to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Banduri Nala project which is intended to utilise water from the Mahadayi river for drinking purposes in Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag.
What is Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?
- The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
- It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
- It is canal project undertaken by Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha
- crucial to meet the drinking water needs of the twin towns, Hubli and Dharwad, that aim to be the first in India to supply water round-the-clock to all its citizens.
- Kalasa-Banduri project planned in 1989; Goa raised objection to it.
- Goa filed a complaint seeking setting up of a tribunal in July 2002.
- The Ministry of Water Resources kept the clearance given to Karnataka in abeyance in September 2002.
- Goa moved the Supreme Court in 2006 seeking constitution of a tribunal, withdrawing approval for any work in the basin.
- Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.
- The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up on 22.11.2010.
Paper – 3: Achievements of Indians in S&T; Infrastructure – energy
Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor to be delayed
The much delayed completion of work on India’s first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam is likely to be completed only by March 2017
What is PFBR?
- The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India
- The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238 not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design
- Construction is over and the owner/operator, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), is waiting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
Dept of Atomic Energy(DAE) has been pursuing the following 3-stage Nuclear Power Programme :
- Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs)
- The first stage comprises setting up of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and associated fuel cycle facilities.
- PHWRs use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant
- The first stage is already in commercial domain.
- The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of DAE, is responsible for the design, construction and operation of nuclear power reactors
- Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs)
- The second stage envisages setting up of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) backed by reprocessing plants and plutonium-based fuel fabrication plants.
- A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes.
- Plutonium is produced by irradiation of uranium-238
- The prototype FBR is fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX fuel.
- The Fast Breeder Programme is in the technology demonstration stage.
- A new public sector undertaking Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (BHAVINI) of DAE is implementing this project which is expected to add 500 MWe to the Southern grid by the year 2017
- The tariff of electricity produced from PFBR is comparable with that of other contemporary base-load electricity generating technologies like coal based thermal power stations in the region
- Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR)
- The third stage is based on the thorium-uranium-233 cycle.
- Uranium-233 is obtained by irradiation of thorium
- India has one of the largest reserves of thorium
- The ongoing development of 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) at BARC aims at developing expertise for thorium utilization and demonstrating advanced safety concepts.
- Thorium-based systems can be set up on commercial scale only after a large capacity based on fast breeder reactors, is built up.
Paper – 3: Achievements of Indians in S&T
With thrust on innovation, scheme to INSPIRE young scientists to be renamed
The INSPIRE Awards (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research), as they are now called, will be rechristened MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspirations and Knowledge) from this year
What is Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)?
- This scheme offers 10,000 scholarships every year @ Rs.80,000/- each for undertaking Bachelor and Masters level education in the Natural & Basic sciences
- Since the scheme’s inception in 2010, around 13.85 lakh students have been funded according to the INSPIRE website
- The awards component — directed at school children between 10-15 years — consists of selecting 100,000 school students with the best science ideas.
- Each of the 100,000 will be given Rs. 5,000 each to build a model or prototype that showcases a practical use of technology or science
- emphasised science-fair models rather than take students through the innovation chain
What is New?
- best ideas would be worked upon by professional engineers and designers and taken up for potential commercial development with intellectual property rights for the children
- the top 60 ideas will also get incubation support…professionals will work on these and the children will share the intellectual property
Paper – 2: RTI; Governance; Functioning of executive
Strategic Forces Command exempted from RTI ambit
The Strategic Forces Command, which forms part of the National Command Authority (NCA), has been added to the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005, which exempts security and intelligence establishments from its purview.
Strategy Forces Command was being brought under sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the RTI
What is National Command Authority(NCA) ?
- The NCA’s Executive Council, chaired by the National Security Adviser, gives inputs to the Political Council, which authorises a nuclear attack if need be.
- The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister and advised by the Executive Council
- This mechanism is meant to ensure that the nuclear weapons are under civilian control. A Command and Control (C2) mechanism prevents their accidental or unauthorised use
- The NCA’s directives are executed by the Strategic Forces Command headed by a Commander-in-Chief of the rank of Air Marshal
What is Section 24 of RTI Act?
- Section 24 says the Act is not applicable to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule.
- The only exception is for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations
- Among the organisations included in the Second Schedule are the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Special Frontier Force, the Border Security Force, the National Security Guards and the Assam Rifles.
What is Section 8 of RTI Act?
- Section 8 deals with exemption from disclosure of information
- It says that there shall be no obligation to provide any citizen information, disclosure of which will affect
- India’s sovereignty and integrity
- the security
- strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state
- relations with foreign States or
- will lead to incitement of an offence.
Saving the Tiger
- The number of wild tigers has gone up globally by 22 per cent to 3,890, from the earlier 2010 estimate of 3200, based on the best available data, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum (GTF)
- WWF Tx2 Tiger Initiative
- According to the WWF, hundred years ago there were 100,000 wild tigers. By 2010, there were as few as 3,200.
- In 2010, tiger range governments agreed to act to double wild tigers by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger in 2022. This goal is known as Tx2.
- the manner in which tigers have dwindled over the past century, with 97% of their population dying out, shows how much work remains to be done
- Statistics from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that a minimum of 1,590 tigers were seized by law enforcement officials between January 2000 and April 2014, which feed a multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade.
- 29 July, International Tiger Day
- As per latest official count, India is home to 2,226 tigers, representing 70 per cent of the global population of the endangered big cat species
- increase in the budget for Project Tiger from Rs 185 crore to Rs 380 crore, adding that, with the 60:40 participation of states, this increase translates to Rs 500 crore in one year for tiger protection
- The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
- From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 47 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states
- 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 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.
- Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Wild tigers are found in 18 States in India
- The All India tiger estimation is carried out once in every four years. Based on the Tiger Task Force approval, a refined double sampling method using camera traps in a statistical framework was first used in 2006 country level tiger assessment.
Why save Tigers? Does spending crores worth the money?
- Tigers are terminal consumers in the ecological food pyramid, and their conservation results in the conservation of all trophic levels in an ecosystem
- The allocation for Project Tiger during the XII Plan is Rs 1245 crore. The expenditure during 2012-13 and 2013-14 are Rs 163.87 crore and 169.48 crore respectively
Challenges in Tiger conservation
- protection against poaching,
- fragmentation of habitat,
- securing inviolate space for tiger to facilitate its social dynamics,
- addressing tiger-human interface,
- restoration of corridors and eliciting public support of local people by providing ecologically sustainable options.