28 May Current Affairs
May 28, 2020
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29 May Current Affairs

Garbage-free star rating for the cities

In News:

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has announced the results of garbage-free star rating for the cities.

Key highlights:

A total of 141 cities have been rated — six of them 5-star, 65 of three-star, 70 one-star.

Around 6 cities were given 5-star rating. This includes Ambikapur, Surat, Rajkot, Mysuru, Indore and Navi Mumbai.

Karnal, New Delhi, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chandigarh, Bhilai Nagar, Ahmedabad are among ‘three-star garbage free rating while Delhi Cantonment, Vadodara, Rohtak are among one-star garbage free cities.

About the star rating initiative:

The star rating protocol was launched by the central government in January 2018 to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve garbage free status leading to a higher degrees of cleanliness.

The protocol includes components such as cleanliness of drains & water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction & demolition waste which are critical drivers for achieving garbage free cities.

It is one of the various initiatives which intends to make Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) as a successful project.

How cities are give ratings?

The Star Rating is supported by self-assessment and self-verification for achieving a certain star rating.

It also ensures the involvement of citizen groups for a transparent system of self-declaration.

The self-declaration is further verified through an independent third party agency appointed by MoHUA.

Significance:

The performance of cities under the Star Rating Protocol is crucial as it carries significant weightage for their final assessment in Swachh Survekshan.

It also ensures certain minimum standards of sanitation through a set of prerequisites defined in the framework.

Since the rating is conducted at a city level, it makes the process easier to implement and helps the cities incrementally improve their overall cleanliness.

Hotter oceans spawn super cyclones

In News:

Super cyclone Amphan that is barrelling towards West Bengal is the strongest storm to have formed in the BoB since the Super Cyclone of 1999 that ravaged Paradip in Odisha.

Details:

Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 cyclone to category-5 in 18 hours, an unusually quick evolution.

Factors responsible for the intensification of cyclones in BoB:

Higher than normal temperatures in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) may be whetting ‘super cyclones’ and the lockdown, indirectly, may have played a role.

Cyclones gain their energy from the heat and moisture generated from warm ocean surfaces. This year, the BoB has posted record summer temperatures a fall-out, as researchers have warned, of global warming from fossil fuel emissions that has been heating up oceans.

Lockdown impact: Reduced particulate matter emissions during the lockdown meant fewer aerosols, such as black carbon, that are known to reflect sunlight and heat away from the surface.

General factors responsible for the origin of Cyclones in Bay of Bengal region are:

  • Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C.
  • Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex.
  • Small variations in the vertical wind speed.
  • A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation.
  • Upper divergence above the sea level system.

Arabian Sea is comparatively less prone to cyclonic storms than Bay of Bengal:

Temperature: BOB is hotter than Arabian sea. Hot water temperature is the basic criteria for the development & intensification of cyclones.

Salinity: Arabian sea has higher salinity than BOB. It’s easier to heat & simultaneously evaporate water having lower salinity.

Location: The typhoons originating in the Pacific Ocean too influences the cyclones in BOB, not the case in Arabian Sea.

Movement: According to IMD cyclones originating in Arabian Sea are believed to move northwest. So they actually move away from Indian mainland.

The Bay receives higher rainfall and constant inflow of fresh water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. This means that the Bay’s surface water keeps getting refreshed, making it impossible for the warm water to mix with the cooler water below, making it ideal for a depression.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

In News:

Government of India has disbursed RS 170 crores to MGNREGA workers. The amounts were disbursed to the beneficiaries through the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

About MGNREGA:

The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”.

The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.

Key objectives:

Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.

Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.

Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.

Reduce urban migration from rural areas.

Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:

Must be Citizen of India to seek MGNREGA benefits.

Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.

The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).

Applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Key facts related to the scheme:

The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.

Individual beneficiary-oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.

Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.

Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.

Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.

The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.

It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Role of Gram Sabha:

 

It determines the order of priority of works in the meetings of the Gram Sabha keeping in view potential of the local area, its needs and local resources.

Monitor the execution of works within the GP.

Roles of Gram Panchayat:

  • Receiving applications for registration
  • Verifying registration applications
  • Registering households
  • Issuing Job Cards (JCs)
  • Receiving applications for work
  • Issuing dated receipts for these applications for work
  • Allotting work within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought in the case of an advance application.
  • Identification and planning of works, developing shelf of projects including determination of the order of their priority.

Responsibilities of State Government in MGNREGA:

  • Frame Rules on matters pertaining to State responsibilities under Section 32 of the Act ii) Develop and notify the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the State.
  • Set up the SEGC.
  • Set up a State level MGNREGS implementation agency/ mission with adequate number of high calibre professionals.
  • Set up a State level MGNREGS social audit agency/directorate with adequate number of people with knowledge on MGNREGA processes and demonstrated commitment to social audit.
  • Establish and operate a State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF).

Preservation of Eastern, Western Ghats

In News:

6 States have expressed desire to expedite early notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area of Western Ghats.

These six states include Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Background:

The government had constituted a High Level Working Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Kasturirangan to conserve and protect the biodiversity of Western Ghats while allowing for sustainable and inclusive development of the region.

The Committee had recommended that identified geographical areas falling in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu may be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas.

What are Eco-Sensitive Areas?

They are located within 10 kms around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

ESAs are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) under Environment Protection Act 1986.

The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas.

Objectives of declaring areas as ESA:

  • To manage and regulate the activities around these areas with the intention of creating some kinds of ‘shock absorbers’.
  • To provide for a transition zone between the highly protected and relatively less protected areas.
  • To give effect to Section 3(2)(v) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which restricts the operation of industries or processes to be carries out in certain areas or to maintain certain safeguards to operate industries.

What did the Gadgil Committee say?

It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management.

It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).

Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.

It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.

The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.

Why was Kasturirangan Committee setup?

None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.

In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.

The Kasturirangan report seeks to bring just 37% of the Western Ghats under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones — down from the 64% suggested by the Gadgil report.

Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:

  • A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining.
  • No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions.
  • A ban on new polluting industries.
  • Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned.
  • Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.

Importance of Western Ghats:

The Western Ghats is an extensive region spanning over six States. It is the home of many endangered plants and animals. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.

According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas. They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.

Eastern Ghats:

The Eastern Ghats run from the northern Odisha through Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south passing some parts of Karnataka.

They are eroded and cut through by four major rivers of peninsular India, viz. Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri.

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