Panel will study the ‘1 nation, 1 poll’ issue
A committee will be formed by the Narendra Modi-led government to prepare a road map for “One nation, one election”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced here at the end of an over four-hour meeting with presidents of 21 political parties.
“Majority of the parties supported. CPI and CPI(M) raised questions about its feasibility but didn’t oppose the move. The Prime Minister then said he will form a committee regarding this issue.”
“The Prime Minister said that this is not the government’s agenda but the country’s agenda. If there are differences of opinion, they are welcome.”
Sources said Mr. Modi stressed that this formula needs to be accepted even if it takes 10 years to achieve synchronisation.
NCP’s Sharad Pawar, according to sources, said the idea was noble but not practical. “He said during the meeting that simultaneous elections will have a lot of grave implications and the idea needed further intensive study,” a top Opposition leader said.
A water clinic for jumbos opens
India has opened its first specialised hydrotherapy treatment for elephants suffering from arthritis, joint pain and foot ailments, near the Wildlife SOS’ Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC), which currently houses 20 rescued animals and is run in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and the NGO Wildlife SOS.
Situated on the banks of the Yamuna in Mathura, the hydrotherapy jumbo pool is 11-foot-deep and has 21 high pressure jet sprays that create water pressure that massage the elephants’ feet and body and help in increasing blood circulation.
“The hospital started in 2018 already offers state-of-the-art facilities, including wireless digital X-ray, laser treatment, dental X-ray, thermal imaging and ultrasonography to treat injured, sick and geriatric elephants”.
Dr. said that with each elephant rescue they had observed a disturbing pattern. “In captive elephants their bodies are weakened due to improper nutrition, their bodies and delicate feet are riddled with wounds and painful abscesses. Osteoarthritis and foot issues are common ailments. Water resistance is useful for muscle strengthening and cardiovascular training while water pressure can reduce oedema and swelling”.
The elephants at the Wildlife SOS have been rescued from extreme distress. Some were privately owned and had the cruel history of being used for begging. Others spent a lifetime in captivity and confinement in temples or were being forced to perform in circuses.
State picks Raigad for oil refinery project
The Maharashtra government has decided to move India’s largest investment project, a Rs. 3 lakh crore refinery to be built in co-ordination with Saudi Arabia’s Aramco on the State’s coastline, to Raigad, months after scrapping its original location at Nanar in the face of local protests.
In a written reply in Assembly on Wednesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) is developing an Integrated Industrial Cluster (IIC) at 40 villages in Alibaug, Murud, Roha and Shrivardhan tehsils of Raigad over 13,409.52 hectare land.
“CIDCO has sought land documents of those 40 villages to initiate the acquisition process of the notified land under the Navnagar Development Corporation from the Raigad Collector’s office. Till now no protest from 40 villages has come up”.
“While the western world is realising its mistake and declaring climate emergencies, the Maharashtra government is going back to increase reliance on petrochemical plants. This, if true, is a regressive step.”
On April 11, 2018, three Indian public sector oil firms had signed the MoU with Aramco.
SC seeks reply on Maharashtra quota
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to file its response on a petition challenging a Bombay High Court decision to dismiss a plea against 16% quota for Marathas in admission to PG medical and dental courses.
The petition filed by Nagpur resident Sameer challenged the government’s ordinance on quota for Marathas in PG medical courses for the current academic session.
Plea seeks expert team to treat AES patients
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to urgently constitute a team of medical experts for the treatment of the children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, who are suffering from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), which has claimed more than 100 lives.
A Vacation Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to hear the plea on June 24 after the petitioner’s counsel sought an urgent listing of the matter.
The plea also sought a direction to the Centre for providing medical equipment and support for the effective treatment.
The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Pratap, claimed he was deeply saddened by the deaths, mostly in the age group of 1 to 10, in the past week and the figures were rising day by day.
“The deaths are a direct result of negligence and inaction on the part of the respective State governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the Union of India in handling the epidemical situation which arises every year due to the outbreak of AES also called Japanese encephalitis,” the plea said.
It claimed that thousands of young children were losing their lives every year but the governments (State and Centre) had done nothing to prevent its spread.
“This year i.e. in 2019, the epicentre of the said disease is Muzaffarpur in Bihar where more than 126 children have lost their lives in the past one week. Media reports show that there is acute shortage of doctors, medical facilities, intensive care units and other medical equipment in the nearby hospitals,” the petition said.
The petitioner sought a direction to the Centre for constituting a board of experts and immediately sending it to Muzaffarpur to review and assist the emergency situation.
He had also asked the Supreme Court to direct the Centre and the State for arranging 500 stationary and 100 mobile ICUs with doctors to deal with the patients from the remote areas and the emergency situation.
He also sought a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh to the bereaved families.
U.P. site expected to get ‘national importance’ tag
An ancient site with chariots, swords and other objects pointing to the presence of a warrior class around 4,000 years ago in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district could be declared a site of national importance soon.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has started the process of declaring the site at Sadikpur Sinauli, which is spread over 28 hectares, of national importance, issuing a notification on June 6 seeking objections, if any, from the public for a period of two months.
An ASI official said the site, where excavation and preservation work is still ongoing after being started in 2018, was deemed to have national importance due to the finds uncovered. Among the treasures unearthed are three chariots, legged coffins, shields, swords and helmets – all which point towards a warrior class that must have existed around 2,000 BCE, according to an ASI statement.
In an official statement about the excavation earlier this year, ASI said the site, which is 68 km north-east of Delhi, was the “largest necropolis of the late Harappan period of the early 2nd millennium BCE”.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
Functions: Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI. Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Canning, with Alexander Cunningham as its first Archaeological Surveyor, to excavate and conserve India’s ancient built heritage.
Activists pan Assam elephants’ proposed trip to Gujarat
Animal rights activists in Assam and elsewhere in India have decided to petition the Supreme Court against the proposed “torturous train trip” of four juvenile elephants from the State to Gujarat for a religious event in Ahmedabad.
NGOs such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) too have panned the imminent journey of the elephants in railway wagons, reminding that the decision is an apparent violation of the apex court’s 2016 order prohibiting people in possession of elephants from parting with the animals by way of transfer in any manner.
“It appears that the Assam government is under pressure from very powerful people to let the elephants travel more than 3,000 km amid the heat wave in metal wagons they are not likely to survive in. Only the Supreme Court can do something about it, and a group of activists from across the world are getting together in a bid to save the elephants the torture”.
Officials in the Assam Forest Department said Chief Wildlife Warden Ranjana Gupta granted permission for the transit on a six-month lease after fixing microchips on the elephants and taking DNA samples. She reportedly ignored the request from two people who came to meet her for taking the elephants for the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad in the first week of July, but later relented.
Joint election not must, Delhi HC ruled in 2009
The issue of holding separate bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the Gujarat Congress, had come up before the Delhi High Court in 2009.
It had then held that it was not mandatory to hold joint election in the case of casual vacancies.
“It is not necessary for us to express any opinion on the issue as to whether the elections to regular vacancies are required to be held together. However, there cannot be any doubt that insofar as casual vacancy is concerned, holding of joint election is not mandatory, even if more than one casual vacancy occurred at about the same time,” the High Court said in the Satyapal Malik vs Election Commission of India case on January 20, 2009.
The same order, which pertained to two casual vacancies from Uttar Pradesh, has been quoted by the Election Commission in its press note for bypolls to fill six casual vacancies in the Rajya Sabha from Bihar, Gujarat and Odisha. The EC’s note mentions that byelections to all Houses, including the Rajya Sabha, are considered separate vacancies. Separate notifications are issued and separate poll is taken for each of the vacancies.
In Gujarat, two Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant after BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha. On Gujarat Congress’s petition, the Supreme Court has sought a response from the Election Commission by June 24.
70.8 million displaced globally: UN
Developing countries, not rich Western nations, are bearing the brunt of the world’s refugee crisis and are hosting most of the record 70.8 million displaced people who have fled war and persecution, the United Nations said.
Half of the world’s forcibly displaced are children and the 2018 total is the highest in nearly 70 years, the U.N. refugee agency said in its annual flagship report, “Global Trends”.
But the global figure, which comprises 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million people uprooted within their homelands, and 3.5 million asylum-seekers, is “conservative”, the report added. That is because it does not include most of the 4 million Venezuelans who have fled abroad since 2015 as they do not need visas or to lodge asylum claims to stay in most host countries.
Cancer cell detection ‘dots’ developed from coal
A team of scientists in Assam has developed a chemical process that turns ‘dirty’ coal into a biomedical ‘dot’ to help detect cancer cells.
The team, led by Binoy Kumar Saikia and Tonkeswar Das, has applied for a patent for their chemical method of producing carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from cheap, abundant, low-quality and high-sulphur coals.
CQDs: CQDs are carbon-based nanomaterials whose size is less than 10 nm, or nanometre.
“Carbon-based nanomaterials are used as diagnostic tools for bio-imaging, especially in detecting cancer cells, for chemical sensing and in opto-electronics. A few chemical companies in the U.S. and Japan have been manufacturing CQDs. What we have done is develop fluorescent carbon nanomaterials at one-twentieth the cost of imported CQDs”.
The CQDs that the CSIR-NEIST team developed emit a bluish colour with “high-stability, good-conductivity, low-toxicity, environmental friendliness, and good optical properties”. The finer details have been published in their study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology .
“Our source material is abundant, low-quality Indian coal not directly suitable for thermal electricity production. Even if the selling price is twice our cost of production of Rs. 50 per ml, it will be much cheaper than the imported CQDs with market price of up to Rs. 2,000 per ml”.
Scientists said CQDs are futuristic materials whose demand in India has been increasing leading to a considerable volume of import. The CSIR-NEIST technology can produce approximately 1 litre of CQDs per day at a low cost to become an import substitute.
Other advantages of the process are the use of environment-friendly reagents and less water than methods elsewhere.
Turtles wrapped in nets wash ashore in Goa, saved
The sea turtles entrapped in a net and washed ashore on three beaches in Goa last week have been released back into the ocean.
Earlier this week, lifeguards of Drishti, an agency contracted by Goa Tourism department to ensure safety of tourists along the coastline, and others spotted sea turtles caught in a fishing net and washed up on the shore in Betalbatim, Cavelossim, and Rajbag Canacona, south Goa.
The incidents were reported to the Forest department immediately. The turtles were freed from the net and examined.
As medical intervention was not required, the turtles were released back into the ocean.
Marine Wildlife Stranding Network and Ocean Watch — Goa have expressed strong concern and anguish over the incident of entrapped turtles found on the shore.
The nets in which the marine mammals get entangled are commonly called ghost nets. These are lost or discarded fishing nets and are hazardous to turtles and other marine animals.
Fish, sea snakes, cetaceans, turtles and other marine animals continue to get trapped in ghost nets.
Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles. The weight of a net may hold them back and not allow them to surface. An added load also slows them down. In recent times, Goa’s coast has witnessed a number of incidents of turtle stranding.
Drug boosts growth in dwarf children
A ground-breaking drug that helps regulate bone development may boost growth rates in children with achondroplasia – the most common type of dwarfism -according to scientists who conducted a global trial.
The drug vosoritide was tested in children aged five to 14 years, according to the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study ran over four years receiving daily subcutaneous doses of the drug in increasing amounts. The patients’ average boost in height to about six centimetres per year was close to growth rates among children of average stature, and the side effects were mostly mild .
‘Cat-fox’: On the trail of what may be a new species
In the forest of northern Corsica, two wildlife rangers have revealed a striped, tawny-coated animal, one of 16 felines known as “cat-foxes” and thought to be a new species. “We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits”.