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28th February Current Affairs

Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership

(GS-II: Important International Organisations)

In News:

Finland and Sweden have dismissed Russia’s warnings that their potential NATO membership would have “serious military-political consequences” for the two countries.

However, Russia has voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.

What does Russia want?

Tensions between Russia and the West have been building ever since Vladimir Putin started his proxy war in eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.

In response, NATO sent reinforcements to countries seen as vulnerable to Russian aggression.

In December, Moscow set out its security demands in two documents: a proposed treaty with the US, and an agreement with NATO.

Essentially, Russia now wants guarantees that NATO will halt its eastward expansion, rule out membership for Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

What is the source of Russia’s dispute with NATO?

Russian leaders have long been wary of the eastward expansion of NATO, particularly as the alliance opened its doors to former Warsaw Pact states and ex-Soviet republics in the late 1990s (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) and early 2000s (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia).

Their fears grew in the late 2000s as the alliance stated its intent to admit Georgia and Ukraine at an unspecified point in the future.

What is Russia demanding of NATO and the United States today?

Russia has put forth two draft agreements that seek explicit, legally binding security guarantees from the United States and NATO, respectively:

The draft calls for NATO to end its eastward expansion, specifically, deny future membership to ex-Soviet states, such as Ukraine. It would also ban the United States from establishing bases in or cooperating militarily with former Soviet states.

It would block both signatories from deploying military assets in areas outside their national borders that “could be perceived by the other party as a threat to its national security.”

The ‘Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights Act)’

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

The Himachal Pradesh government has said that it settled 164 claims filed under Section 3(1) and 1,811 cases filed under Section 3(2) of the Forests Rights Act (FRA), 2006.

About the Forest Rights Act:

The Act passed in 2006 grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities.

Rights under the Act:

Title rights – i.e. ownership – to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted.

Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.

Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.

Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife.

Eligibility criteria:

According to Section 2(c) of Forest Rights Act (FRA), to qualify as Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribe (FDST) and be eligible for recognition of rights under FRA, three conditions must be satisfied by the applicant/s, who could be “members or community”:

Must be a Scheduled Tribe in the area where the right is claimed; and

Primarily resided in forest or forests land prior to 13-12-2005; and

Depend on the forest or forests land for bonafide livelihood needs.

And to qualify as Other Traditional Forest Dweller (OTFD) and be eligible for recognition of rights under FRA, two conditions need to be fulfilled:

Primarily resided in forest or forests land for three generations (75 years) prior to 13-12-2005.

Depend on the forest or forests land for bonafide livelihood needs.

Process of recognition of rights:

The gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.

This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.

The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. These committees also hear appeals.

Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB)

(GS-II: Federalism related issues)

In News:

The Union Power Ministry has made an amendment to the rules governing the appointment of Member Power and Member Irrigation on Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) from Punjab and Haryana, respectively, thereby removing the stipulation that these two appointments need to be filled from the two states only.

Latest changes:

Posts of Member Power and Member Irrigation have so far been occupied by officials from Punjab & Haryana, respectively.

Under the new rules notified by the Ministry of Power, officials from other states are now eligible.

The two members are appointed by the central government after selection from a panel of engineers forwarded to the Ministry of Power by the respective states.


Change in the rules has kicked up a controversy, with a section of stakeholders averring the new criteria makes it difficult for aspirants from Punjab to get selected.

It is also being averred by some employees of the Board that since the organisation is dealing with water management in the aforementioned states, full-time members ought to be drawn from these states as they will have a better understanding of local issues and technicalities.

Sharing between the states:

Following the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, Punjab and Haryana were allocated a share of 58:42 in power projects related to BBMB. Later, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh were also given a share.

About the Bhakra Beas Management Board:

On Reorganisation of the erstwhile state of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, Bhakra Management Board (BMB) was constituted under section 79 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

The administration, maintenance and operation of Bhakra Nangal Project were handed over to Bhakra Management Board w.e.f. 1st October 1967.

The Beas Project Works, on completion, were transferred by Government of India from Beas Construction Board (BCB) to Bhakra Management Board as per the provisions of Section 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Pursuant to this Bhakra Management Board was renamed as Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB)e.f. 15th May 1976.

Since then, the Bhakra Beas Management Board is dedicated to the service of the nation and is engaged in regulation of the supply of Water & Power from Bhakra Nangal and Beas Projects to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh.

It is a statutory body.


The regulation of supply of water from Satluj, Ravi and Beas to the States of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The regulation and supply of power generated from Bhakra-Nangal and Beas Projects.

Construction of new Hydro Projects within and outside BBMB System.

History of Bhakra Nangal Dam:

The Bhakra-Nangal dam is one of the earliest river valley development schemes undertaken after the independence of India.

The project was signed by then Punjab Revenue Minister Sir Chhotu Ram in November 1944 with the king of Bilaspur and was finalised on January 8, 1945.

The construction of the multipurpose dam was initially started by the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir Louis Dane.

But, it got delayed and it was resumed after independence under the chief Architect Rai Bahadur Kunwar Sen Gupta.

The dam was completed in 1963, and it was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Features of the dam:

The Bhakra dam is built on Sutlej River.

It is Asia’s second tallest dam with a height of around 207.26 meters after the Tehri dam, which has a height of around 261 meters. The Tehri dam is also situated in India in the state of Uttrakhand.

The Gobind Sagar reservoir of the dam has a capacity to store water up to 9.34 billion cubic meters.