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28th May Current Affairs

Islanders seek withdrawal of land norms in Lakshadweep

In News:

Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel is facing opposition from the people of the union territory and politicians — both from within Lakshadweep and neighbouring Kerala — over policies introduced by him since his appointment in December 2020.

The contentious regulations include:

The Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR) — which gives the administrator powers to remove or relocate islanders from their property, for town planning or any developmental activity.

The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA), introduced in January 2021, under which a person can be detained without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year.

The draft panchayat notification, where a member with more than two children is disqualified from being a member.

Issues with the recently created Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA):

Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA) has been created with extensive powers, including eviction of land owners.

This is widely read as having been pushed by the real estate lobby and against the interest of the islanders.

It is because the legislation vests extensive powers with the authority, allowing it to prepare comprehensive development plans for any area and relocate people.

Appointment, role and significance of the administrator:

Patel was made administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020. He was appointed the administrator in a departure from the earlier practice of appointing only IAS officers to the post.

The position of administration, appointed by the President of India, is important for any union territory, because the person becomes in charge of all functions in the area and acts on behalf of the President.

WHO panel to investigate rise in zoonotic diseases and build action plan

In News:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has formed a high-level expert panel ‘One Health’ to study the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases like H5N1, avian influenza, MERS, Ebola, Zika and possibly the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Terms of reference:

The panel will advise global agencies on how future outbreaks, especially due to zoonotic diseases, can be averted.

It will also develop a surveillance framework and global action plan for the same.

Background:

Zoonotic diseases — pathogenic infections that transmit from animals to humans — have triggered pandemics in past as well. Three of every four infectious diseases are caused by zoonosis. Scientists across the world suspect COVID-19 is also a zoonosis.

What is the OneHealth concept?

One Health is the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, as defined by the One Health Initiative Task Force.

One Health model facilitates interdisciplinary approach in disease control so as to control emerging and existing zoonotic threats.

What are zoonotic diseases?

The word ‘Zoonosis’ (Pleural: Zoonoses) was introduced by Rudolf Virchow in 1880 to include collectively the diseases shared in nature by man and animals.

Later WHO in 1959 defined that Zoonoses are those diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man.

Zoonoses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents.

Concerns:

As well as being a public health problem, many of the major zoonotic diseases prevent the efficient production of food of animal origin and create obstacles to international trade in animal products.

Provide food, rations to stranded workers: SC

In News:

The Supreme Court has ordered States across the country to distribute dry rations to stranded migrant workers without ration cards and run community kitchens for them.

Details:

The court left it to the discretion of individual States to utilise either the Centre’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme, which was implemented for giving dry rations to migrant workers in May and June of 2020, or any other alternative scheme.

The Bench directed that “wide publicity” should be given about the various welfare schemes for migrant workers, including locations of community kitchens, so that needy persons would benefit.

Background:

The orders came in a suo moto proceeding initiated by the top court in the light of problems faced by migrants across the country.

Need for:

The government had recently submitted that it had opened control rooms to help the migrant workers. But it was the responsibility of the States to provide cooked food for stranded migrant workers.

The real issue now is that such measures cover only people covered under the Food Security Act, that is, people with ration cards. Unorganised labourers, wandering from one place of work to another in mega cities, could not be expected to have ration cards.

NGT upholds rights of pastoralists in Banni grasslands

In News:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months and directed a joint committee to prepare an action plan in a month.

Details:

The court also said the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.

What’s the issue?

The Maldhari community had filed a case against the rampant encroachment in the ecologically-sensitive grassland in May, 2018.

Who are Maldharis?

Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community in Gujarat, India.

Maldhari community breeds Banni Buffaloes, a species endemic to the region. The buffaloes are adaptive to Kutch’s hot weather conditions.

About Banni Grasslands:

Banni grassland is spread over 2,618 kilometres and accounts for almost 45 per cent of the pastures in Gujarat.

It comprises 48 hamlets / villages organised into 19 panchayats, with a population of about 40,000.

Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are juxtaposed in Banni.

The area is rich in flora and fauna, with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.