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26th March Current Affairs

Mekedatu water project

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Karnataka Assembly has adopted a unanimous resolution seeking clearance for the Mekedatu project.

Details:

This was in response to the resolution adopted by Tamil Nadu opposing the Mekedatu drinking water and balancing reservoir project proposed by the State.

Demand by Karnataka:

Karnataka Legislative Assembly urges the Central Water Commission and MoEF to approve the Mekedatu project at the earliest.

The House urges the Central authorities not to finalise the DPR of the Godavari, Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, Vaigai, and Gundar river-linking project till the share of riparian States is decided and till Karnataka gives its approval.

It also urges them not to approve the illegal projects of Tamil Nadu and to instruct Tamil Nadu to desist from continuing them.

Reasons given by Karnataka for taking up the Mekedatu project:

Mekedatu project, the resolution said: “The Supreme Court has modified the judgement of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and prescribed confirmation of release of 177.25 tmcft of water at Biligundlu (water gauge) in a normal water year.

To ensure allocation of 24 tmcft for Bengaluru Metropolitan city and consumptive use of 4.75 tmcft as per the Supreme Court’s verdict and also in turn provide for hydel generation, the Mekedatu drinking water and balancing reservoir project has been planned.

About the Project:

Mekedatu is a multipurpose (drinking and power) project.

It involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district in Karnataka.

The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighboring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.

Export Preparedness Index 2021

(GS-III: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth)

In News:

NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the Institute of Competitiveness, has released the second edition of the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2021.

The first Index was launched in August 2020.

About the Index:

The Export Preparedness Index is a comprehensive analysis of India’s export achievements.

It aims to identify the fundamental areas critical for subnational export promotion.

The coastal states have been adjudged as the best performers in the index.

How were states ranked?

The index ranked states on four key parameters – policy; business ecosystem; export ecosystem; export performance.

The index also took into consideration 11 sub-pillars — export promotion policy; institutional framework; business environment; infrastructure; transport connectivity; access to finance; export infrastructure; trade support; R&D infrastructure; export diversification; and growth orientation.

Performance of various states:

Gujarat has topped NITI Aayog’s Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2021 for the second consecutive time.

Maharashtra has been ranked second and Karnataka has been ranked third.

The GSAT 7B and India’s other military satellites

(GS-III: Developments in Science and Technology)

In News:

GSAT-7B satellite, which recently got the acceptance of necessity from the Defence Ministry, will be a dedicated satellite for the Indian Army.

The satellite would help the Indian Army enhance its surveillance in border areas.

Significance of the satellite:

The GSAT 7B will primarily fulfil the communication needs of the Army.

The use of such a satellite would also mean that the Army’s vast array of radio communication equipment could come under a single platform.

GSAT 7 Satellite series:

They are advanced satellites developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to meet the communication needs of the defence services.

The GSAT 7 satellite has a footprint of nearly 2,000 nautical miles in the Indian Ocean region.

The GSAT 7 (Rukmini) is India’s first military satellite. It provides a gamut of services for military communication needs, which includes low bit voice rate to high bit rate data facilities, including multi-band communications.

The GSAT 7A, launched in 2018, helps in boosting the connectivity between the ground radar stations, airbases and the airborne early warning and control aircraft (AEW&C) of the IAF.

Lead poisoning

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Recently, high levels of lead were found in the blood of thousands of children living around the Kabwe mine in Zambia.

How lead affects children?

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains.

It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of 5 as it damages their brain before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, causing them lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.

Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and an increase in crime and violence.

Older children suffer severe consequences, including increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases in later life.

How it costs countries?

Childhood lead exposure is estimated to cost lower- and middle-income countries almost USD $1 trillion due to lost economic potential of these children over their lifetime.

Factors contributing to lead poisoning:

Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.

Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.

Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.

They also smelt the recovered lead in crude, open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes poisoning the surrounding community.

Need of the hour:

A coordinated and concerted approach across the following areas:

  • Proper Monitoring and reporting.
  • Prevention and control measures.
  • Management, treatment and remediation.
  • Public awareness and behaviour change.
  • Legislation and policy.
  • Global and regional action.

Conclusion:

It is clear from evidence compiled that lead poisoning is a much greater threat to the health of children than previously understood. Although much more research needs to be conducted, enough data have recently emerged for decisive action to begin – and it must begin now.

PM CARES

(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)

In News:

The Supreme Court has refused to entertain an appeal challenging an Allahabad High Court order which rejected a challenge to the constitutional validity of the PM-CARES Fund.

What’s the issue?

The High Court had dismissed the PIL which challenged the validity of the PM-CARES Fund and the Prime Minister National Relief Fund in the backdrop of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The petitioner had contended that the fund was established without statutory backing and was kept beyond the scrutiny of the RTI Act.

Issues surrounding the fund and its functioning:

PM CARES has been under a cloud of suspicion ever since it was announced, with opposition parties demanding transparency over the handling of the funds.

About PM-CARES:

The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund was set up to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other similar emergencies.

PM-CARES Fund:

PM-CARES was set up as a public charitable trust with the trust deed registered on March 27, 2020.

It can avail donations from the foreign contribution and donations to fund can also avail 100% tax exemption.

PM-CARES is different from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Who administers the fund?

Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

In 2021, the Delhi High Court was informed that the PM CARES Fund is not a Government of India fund and that the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India.