South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
36th Charter Day anniversary of SAARC observed recently.
The Charter establishing the Association was signed on December 8, 1985 by the SAARC Heads of States/Governments during first Summit meeting in Dhaka.
What is SAARC? When was it established?
Afghanistan became the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Importance of SAARC:
SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
It is the world’s most densely populated region and one of the most fertile areas.
SAARC countries have common tradition, dress, food and culture and political aspects thereby synergizing their actions.
All the SAARC countries have common problems and issues like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural disasters, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and poor socio-economic condition.
Lakshadweep to get optical fibre cable
The Union Cabinet has approved laying of undersea optical fibre cable to connect 11 islands of Lakshadweep with Kochi by May 2023, to help improve broadband connectivity in the Union Territory.
The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the submarine cable connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in August.
He had then announced the aim to connect Lakshadweep with undersea optical fibre cable as well in 1,000 days.
This would improve telecommunication facilities in Lakshadweep by providing large bandwidth, and will play a vital role for delivery of e-governance services, potential development of fisheries, coconut-based industries, high-value tourism, educational development and healthcare.
What is Submarine Communications cable?
It is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea.
The optical fiber elements are typically individually coated with plastic layers and contained in a protective tube suitable for the environment where the cable will be deployed.
Importance of submarine cables:
Currently 99 per cent of the data traffic that is crossing oceans is carried by undersea cables.
The reliability of submarine cables is high, especially when multiple paths are available in the event of a cable break.
The total carrying capacity of submarine cables is in the terabits per second, while satellites typically offer only 1,000 megabits per second and display higher latency.
Public Wi-Fi plan ‘PM Wani’ gets cabinet approval.
The move is aimed at helping accelerate the uptake of broadband Internet services.
It was first recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2017.
Key features of the project:
This will allow setting up of public WiFi hotspots across the country via public data offices or public data offices (PDOs).
It will not require the PDOs to get a license or pay a fee.
This will involve multiple players, including PDOs, Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOA), app providers, and a central registry.
PDOs will be “facilitators” between service providers and users.
A PDOA will be an aggregator of PDOs that will oversee functions relating to authorization and accounting of Wi-Fi connections.
A person, who wants to use public Wi-Fi, can do so via an app and will make payments as per usage.
The project will also have an app developer who will build a platform to register users and discover Wani-compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in an area and display them on the app.
A central registry, which will be maintained by the Centre for Development of Telematics, will record the details of app providers, PDOAs and PDOs.
Significance of the project:
Public Wi-Fi networks will ‘democratize’ content distribution and broadband access to millions at affordable rates. This will be the UPI (unified payments interface) of connectivity services.
Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms
The six-member panel constituted by the National Green Tribunal recently conducted a field-level investigation into the alleged violations of Coastal Regulatory Zone norms along the coastal belt between Karavaka and Antarvedi Pallipalem in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district.
The panel sought the necessary data pertaining to the nature of permissions granted for aquaculture and extraction of beach sand.
What are CRZ norms?
Under the section 3 of Environment Protection Act, 1986 of India, Coastal Regulation Zone notification was issued in February 1991 for the first time.
In 2018-19, fresh Rules were issued, which aimed to remove certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.
They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.
What are the restrictions?
The restrictions depend on criteria such as the population of the area, the ecological sensitivity, the distance from the shore, and whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone.
The latest Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.
For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated.
In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) areas continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.