The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has opened a 360 feet long bailey suspension bridge over Teesta river in Munshithang, Sikkim.
The construction was commenced in October 2019 under Project Swastik.
The bridge will help the state tourism in growing and facilitate the movement of logistics for the Armed Forces deployed in the state.
Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
Originally, the river continued southward to empty directly into the Padma River (main channel of Ganga in Bangladesh) but around 1787 the river changed its course to flow eastward to join the Jamuna river.
The Teesta Barrage dam helps to provide irrigation for the plains between the upper Padma and the Jamuna.
Teesta river water conflict is one of the most contentious issues between India and Bangladesh.
Mid Day Meal
Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has asked state governments to provide Mid Day Meals (MDM) or food security allowance whichever is feasible, to all eligible children till schools are closed due to COVID-19.
Kerala is already providing hot-cooked meals to students at home.
The schools across the country have been closed to contain the transmission of COVID-19 outbreak.
The ministry’s order came after the Supreme Court issued notices to all state governments to explain how they would ensure the midday meals reach the vulnerable while schools stay shut.
According to the MDM Rules 2015, when meals cannot be provided to students on account of unavailability of foodgrains, cooking cost,or due to any other reason, the state government is expected to provide a food security allowance to each child consisting of foodgrains and cooking cost entitlement.
The MDM rules 2015, provide that:
The place of serving meals to the children shall be school only.
If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
The meal shall be prepared in accordance with the Mid Day Meal guidelines issued by the Central Government from time to time.
Procuring AGMARK quality items for preparation of midday meals, tasting of meals by two or three adult members of the school management committee, including at least one teacher, before serving to children.
The School Management Committee mandated under Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 shall also monitor implementation of the Mid-day meal Scheme.
The State Steering-cum Monitoring Committee (SSMC) shall oversee the implementation of the scheme including establishment of a mechanism for maintenance of nutritional standards and quality of meals.
About Mid Day Meal Scheme:
The MDM Scheme comes under the Ministry of HRD.
It was launched in the year 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme.
The scheme provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I- V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class), free of charge every day except on school holidays.
The scheme covers all government and government aided schools and also Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
UN World Happiness Report- 2020
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations released the World Happiness Report on 20th March, 2020.
March 20 was designated as the World Happiness Day by the UN General Assembly in 2012.
Highlights From the Report:
Finland is ranked as the world’s happiest nation for the third consecutive year.
Nordic states dominated the top 10, along with countries such as Switzerland, New Zealand and Austria.
Luxembourg edged into the 10th spot for the first time this year.
The countries at the bottom are those afflicted by violent conflicts and extreme poverty, with Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Afghanistan classified as the world’s least happy nation.
India, previously ranked at 140 dropped to 144.
Its rank is way lower than its neighbours. Nepal is ranked 92, Pakistan is at 66, Bangladesh at 107 and Sri Lanka at 130.
India is a new entrant to the bottom-fifteen group.
About the World Happiness Report:
The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.
The rankings are based on polling (Gallup World Poll) which looks at six variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
The 2020 Report for the first time ranked cities around the world by their subjective well-being and looked into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect happiness.
Whiteflies Resistant Variety of Cotton
Recently, the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow has developed a whiteflies-resistant variety of cotton.
Whiteflies are one of the top ten devastating pests in the world that damage more than 2000 plant species and also function as vectors for some 200-plant viruses.
Cotton is one of the worst-hit crops by whiteflies. As two-third of the cotton crop was destroyed by the whiteflies in Punjab in 2015.
Even though Bt cotton is also genetically-modified cotton and present in the market for farmers usage, it is resistant to two pests only and not resistant to whiteflies.
The leaf extract of an edible fern Tectaria Macrodonta causes toxicity to the whitefly.
It works against whiteflies but is safe for application on the crop plants and provides protection from them.
When whiteflies feed on doses of insecticidal protein of Tectaria Macrodonta, it interferes with the life cycle of insects.
The whiteflies suffer from very poor egg-laying, abnormal eggs, nymph and larval development, and the poor overall growth of the fly.
The Tectaria Macrodonta is found to be in-effective on non-target insects.
Thus, it clearly shows that the protein is specifically toxic to whitefly and does not cause any harmful effect on other beneficial insects like butterflies and honeybees.
It is native to tropical areas of Asia and commonly found in Western Ghats of India.
The fern is known to be used in salads in Nepal and as a concoction for gastric disorders in many regions of Asia.