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October 10, 2018
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09 October Current Affairs

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA)

In News:

Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has reconstituted Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).

About Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA):

EPCA was constituted with the objective of ‘protecting and improving’ the quality of the environment and ‘controlling environmental pollution’ in the National Capital Region. The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the region.

EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Composition:

Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Functions:

  • To protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region.
  • To enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.

Source: PIB

‘Nirman Kusuma’ programme

In News:

Odisha government has launched the ‘Nirman Kusuma’ programme to help the children of construction workers get trained in Industrial Training Institutes and polytechnics.

Key facts:

Under the scheme, the children of construction workers would get financial assistance for their education in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics.

While an ITI student will be entitled to get financial assistance of Rs. 23,600, a diploma student to get Rs. 26,300 per annum.

Outreach:

Under the scheme, an ITI student will get assistance of Rs. 23,600 a year and a diploma student will get Rs. 26,300.

Source: The Hindu

NRC for Tripura

In News:

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the government to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Tripura, as is being done in Assam, in order to detect and deport the “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.

Need:

A petition has been filed in the court contending that the “influx” of illegal immigrants into Tripura amounted to ‘external aggression’ under Article 355 of the Constitution. Also, the presence of illegal immigrants violates the political rights of the citizens of Tripura said the PIL.

Concerns:

Tripura was a predominantly tribal State, but now it has become a non-tribal State. Indigenous people who were once the majority has now become a minority in their own land claimed the PIL. Uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Tripura has caused huge demographic changes in Tripura.

Source: The Hindu

International Social Security Association

In News:

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) was awarded the ‘ISSA Good Practice Award’ for administrative solution for coverage extension at the ‘Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific’ held recently at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Details:

The award recognizes the measures taken by ESIC for extension of coverage of the Scheme for Promoting Registration of Employers and Employees (SPREE), reducing the rate of contribution rates for 24 months in newly implemented areas and raising the wage limit for coverage under the ESI Act.

About International Social Security Association:

  • The ISSA is the principal international organization for Social Security Organizations, Govts. and Departments of Social Security.
  • The ISSA was founded in 1927 under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva.
  • It promotes excellence in social security administration through professional guidelines, expert knowledge, services and support to enable its Members to develop dynamic social security systems.
  • The ESI Corporation hosts ISSA Liaison Office for South Asia at New Delhi. The Liasion Office coordinates with the Member countries and Social Security Institutions in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran on activities of ISSA related to social security.

Facts for Prelims:

The regional social security forum for Asia and the Pacific is a triennial Forum, which is the most important social security event in the region.

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) invites submissions for the ISSA Good Practices award for Asia and the Pacific regions, on the occasion of the triennial regional forum. The Forum provides unique opportunities to CEOs and Managers of ISSA Member Institutions to discuss key social security challenges and share their experiences.

Source: The Hindu

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY)

In News:

Union Government has decided to cover damages to crops in wild animal attacks under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna in select districts on an experimental basis.

Details:

In this regard, Government has amended provisions of crop insurance scheme in consultation with various stakeholders after review of its working for the last two years. The amended provisions of the scheme have been implemented from October 2018.

As per the new provisions:

  • Certain horticultural crops have been brought under ambit of PMFBY on experimental basis.
  • Damages due to individual fields due to incidents of localised disasters like water logging, land slide, cloud bursts, hailstorms and fire too are brought under scheme.
  • Henceforth, insurances firms will also have to spend 0.5% of their earnings from annual premium to advertise provisions of the scheme.
  • Fines in cases of delay in clearing insurance claims for crop damages have been proposed.
  • In case firm delays insurance clearances beyond two months, it will have to pay an annual interest of 12%. Similarly State government too will have to pay interest of 12% in case of delay in release of state’s share of subsidy in premium to insurance firms.

About PMFBY:

In April, 2016, the government of India had launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.

Objectives:

  • Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  • Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

Source: The Hindu

NASA’s New Horizons mission

In News:

NASA’s New Horizons probe is on course to fly by the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, which is at a distance of 6.6 billion kilometers from Earth. This event will set the record for the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.

About New Horizons Mission:

New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006, and has been travelling through space for the past nine years.

Just over a year after launch, it passed Jupiter and used the giant world’s gravity to boost its velocity, as well as making scientific observations. This boost shortened the time to reach Pluto by years.

The mission will complete what NASA calls the reconnaissance of the classical solar system, and it makes the U.S. the first nation to send a space probe to every planet from Mercury to Pluto. The probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto.

New Horizon’s core science mission is to map the surfaces of Pluto and Charon, to study Pluto’s atmosphere and to take temperature readings.

The spacecraft was launched in 2006, before the big debate started over Pluto’s status as a planet. In August of that same year, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

Facts for Prelims:

The Kuiper belt sometimes called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive.

Source: The Hindu

Canine distemper virus (CDV)

In News:

Gujarat Forest Department has started vaccination of lions in Gir sanctuary to protect them from a deadly canine distemper virus (CDV). The virus is blamed for the death lions in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in last one month.

Details:

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a viral disease that infects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs who have not been vaccinated for Canine Distemper are the most at-risk. While the disease can also be contracted when improperly vaccinated or when a dog has high susceptibility to bacterial infection, these cases are rare.

CDV can be spread through direct contact (licking, breathing air, etc.) or indirect contact (bedding, toys, food bowls, etc.), though it cannot live on surfaces for very long. Inhaling the virus is the primary method of exposure. There is no known cure for CDV.

What’s the issue?

The magnificent Asiatic lion is under threat. Twenty-three lions have died in as many days in the eastern part of Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary. This case is more worrisome as the big cat population in Gujarat is the last of the Asiatic lions in the wild.

Facts for Prelims:

  • Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.

Source: The Hindu

Strategic Policy Group

In News:

The government has set up Strategic Policy Group or SPG to help the National Security Council, which advises the Prime Minister on matters of national security and strategic interests.

About the Strategic Policy Group (SPG):

Composition:

It will be headed by National Security Advisor. Its members include the NITI Aayog vice chairman, cabinet secretary, the chiefs of the three defence services, the RBI governor, the foreign secretary, the home secretary, the finance secretary and the defence secretary.

The secretary of the Department of Defence Production and Supplies, the scientific adviser to the defence minister and the secretary, cabinet secretariat will also be members of the panel.

The other members are secretary, department of revenue; secretary, department of atomic energy; secretary, department of space; director, Intelligence Bureau, and secretary, National Security Council Secretariat.

Representatives of other ministries and departments will be invited to the meetings of the group as and when necessary.

Functions:

It will assist the National Security Council and undertake among other tasks, a long-term strategic review of country’s security affairs.

It will be the principal mechanism for inter-ministerial coordination and integration of relevant inputs in the formulation of national security policies.

Meetings:

The NSA will convene the meetings of the SPG and the cabinet secretary will coordinate implementation of the group’s decisions by union ministries and departments, and state governments.

Source: PIB

Eurasian Otter

Researchers have confirmed the presence of the elusive Eurasian Otter one of the least-known of India’s three Otter species in the Western Ghats after more than 70 years. While the species is widespread across Europe, northern Africa and several south Asian countries, it is not as frequently seen as smooth-coated or small-clawed otters in India.

Key facts:

Otters are members of the mammalian family called Mustelidae. They are shy and have elusive habits, adapting to a variety of habitats ranging from marine to freshwater environments.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened.

It is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Major threats to Asian otter population are loss of wetland habitats due to construction of largescale hydroelectric projects, conversion of wetlands for settlements and agriculture, reduction in prey biomass, poaching and contamination of waterways by pesticides. Poaching for pelt and other body parts that are believed to possess therapeutic properties. Few nomadic hunting tribes eat otter flesh. Reductions in prey biomass (fish stocks) and infrastructural developments have led to disappearance of otters from the many streams and rivers which were once major otter habitats.

Source: The Hindu

Zika Virus

  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) surveillance system has recently detected cases of Zika Virus in Jaipur.
  • Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae.
  • It is a mosquito-borne disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • It can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
  • It is also linked to other problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  • The disease is currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide.
  • Symptoms of Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, which include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and headache.
  • In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January-February 2017 and 2nd outbreak in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.
  • Both were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
  • According to WHO, Zika is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

Diphtheria

  • Government hospitals in Delhi has reported a dozen diphtheria deaths in children over the past two weeks.
  • Diphtheria is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria.
  • It primarily infects the throat and upper airways and produces a toxin affecting other organs.
  • The toxin causes a membrane of dead tissue to build up over the throat and tonsils, making breathing and swallowing difficult.
  • The disease is spread through direct physical contact or from breathing in the coughs or sneezes of infected individuals.
  • It can be fatal if left untreated, but has become increasingly rare in recent decades due to high rates of vaccination.

Cyclone Luban

  • Tropical Cyclone Luban is spinning through the Arabian Sea.
  • It is forecast to track toward Oman, Yemen or the Gulf of Aden in the week ahead.
  • The cyclone is named as Luban by oman authorities.
  • Tropical cyclones are most likely to develop in the Arabian Sea in the spring and fall.
  • It usually affects the Arabian Peninsula every one to two years.
  • The cyclone typically weaken as they approach the Arabian Peninsula due to dry desert air.
  • This year, Cyclone Sagar made landfall in western Somalia in May. It was the country’s strongest and westernmost tropical cyclone in records dating to the mid-1960s.

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