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22nd March Current Affairs

Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project

(GS-II: Government policies and associated issues)

In News:

The tribals in Gujarat are protesting against the Centre’s Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project.

About the Project:

Envisioned under the 1980 National Perspective Plan.

It proposes to link three rivers:

Par, originating from Nashik in Maharashtra and flowing through Valsad.

Tapi from Saputara that flows through Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat.

Narmada originating in Madhya Pradesh and flowing through Maharashtra and Bharuch and Narmada districts in Gujarat.

The project proposes to transfer river water from the surplus regions of the Western Ghats to the deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.

Benefits:

The surplus water proposed to be diverted through the estimated Rs 10,211 crore Par-Tapi-Narmada link project is expected to irrigate an area of 2,32,175 hectares, of which 61,190 ha is en route to the link canal.

Why is this project being opposed?

According to a report by the NWDA, about 6065 ha of land area will be submerged due to the proposed reservoirs.

A total of 61 villages will be affected, of which one will be fully submerged and the remaining 60 partly.

The total number of affected families would be 2,509 of which 98 families would be affected due to the creation of the Jheri reservoir, the only one in Maharashtra, spread over six villages.

In Gujarat, around 2000 families will be affected by the project. The districts where the project will be implemented are largely dominated, by tribals who fear displacement.

Benefits of interlinking:

  • Enhances water and food security.
  • Proper utilisation of water.
  • Boost to agriculture.
  • Disaster mitigation.
  • Boost to transportation.

Issues and Concerns:

Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. It will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people.

Interlinking of rivers will lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.

It causes massive displacement of people. Huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.

Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.

International Day of Forests

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Observed on: 21st March every year since 2021.

The organizers are the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organizations in the field.

Background:

The occasion was established, and the date fixed, on November 28, 2012, by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The aim behind observing the International Day of Forests is to ‘celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.’

Theme 2022:

“Forests and sustainable production and consumption”.

Details:

Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more that 60,000 tree species.

Around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.

The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year – about the size of Iceland.

State of Forest Report 2021:

The biennial report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) is an assessment of the country’s forest resources.

Highlights of the Report:

India’s forest and tree cover has risen by 2,261 square kilometers in the last two years with Andhra Pradesh growing the maximum forest cover of 647 square kilometers.

The total tree-and-forest cover in the country includes an increase of 1,540 square kilometres of forest cover and 721 sq km of tree cover compared to the 2019 report.

India’s total forest and tree cover is now spread across 80.9 million hectares, which is 62 per cent of the geographical area of the country.

The top five states in terms of increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km), Telangana (632 sq km), Odisha (537 sq km), Karnataka (155 sq km) and Jharkhand (110 sq km).

The gain in forest cover or improvement in forest canopy density may be attributed to better conservation measures, protection, afforestation activities, tree plantation drives and agroforestry.

Among the mega cities in the country, Ahmedabad has been the biggest loser when it comes to forest cover.

States with maximum forest cover:

Area-wise, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.

17 states/UTs have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.

Challenges:

The north-east did not show positive results as the current assessment showed a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 1,020 sq km in the region.

Arunachal Pradesh lost the maximum forest cover of 257 sq km, followed by Manipur which lost 249 sq km, Nagaland 235 sq km, Mizoram 186 sq km and Meghalaya 73 sq km.

In total 140 hill districts of the country, the forest cover has been reduced by 902 sq km in the last two years. In the 2019 report, the forest cover in the hill regions had increased by 544 sq km.

Disaster Management Plan of Ministry of Panchayati Raj

(GS-III: Disaster management)

In News:

Union Minister of Panchayati Raj has released the “Disaster Management Plan of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj(DMP-MoPR)”.

Areas covered under the Plan:

1) Institutional arrangement for Disaster Management.

2) Hazard Risk, Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis.

3) Coherence of Disaster Risk Management across Resilient Development and Climate Change Action.

4) Disaster Specific Preventive and Mitigation Measures-Responsibility Framework.

5) Mainstreaming of Community Based Disaster Management Plan of Villages and Panchayats and so on.

Highlights of the plan:

It aims to develop a culture of disaster resilience at the grassroots level among the Panchayats and Rural Local Bodies.

It seeks to establish a framework to align the disaster management measures in rural areas to that of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Under the Plan, every Indian village would have a “Village Disaster Management Plan” and every Panchayat would have their Disaster Management Plan.

All stakeholders including PRIs, elected representatives and functionaries of Panchayats etc. would participate in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the plan.

Need for Panchayati Level Plans:

Panchayat-level and village-level Disaster Management Plans to mitigate the challenges in the event of disaster form a foundational level.

The Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI), the representative body of the people, is the most appropriate institution from village to the district level in view of:

Its proximity.

Universal coverage.

Enlisting people’s participation on an institutionalised basis.

Their close involvement will be able to make people more prepared for countering natural disasters as well as involve them in all possible preventive and protective activities so that the impact of the disasters are mitigated and the people are able to save their lives and property.

ExoMars

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2022 mission has been delayed after the agency suspended all cooperation with Russia’s space program Roscosmos.

About ExoMars:

It was a joint endeavour between ESA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

The primary goal of the ExoMars programme is to address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.

Components of the mission:

The programme comprises two missions.

The first launched in March 2016 and consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.

TGO’s main objectives are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes. The Schiaparelli probe crashed during its attempt to land on Mars.

The second, comprising a rover and surface platform, is planned for 2022. Together they will address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.

Objective:

The primary aim of the mission is to check if there has ever been life on Mars and also understand the history of water on the planet.

The main goal is to land ESA’s rover at a site which has high-potential for finding well-preserved organic material, particularly from the history of the planet.

Other Mars Missions:

NASA’s Perseverance Rover.

UAE’s Hope Mars Mission (UAE’s first-ever interplanetary mission).

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan.

Tianwen-1: China’s Mars Mission.