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2nd September Current Affairs

To contain food prices, Sri Lanka declares economic emergency

(GS-II: International relations)

In News:

President of Sri Lanka declared an economic emergency on account to contain inflation which saw a huge spike after a steep fall in valuation of its currency caused a spike in food prices.

What precipitated this unprecedented move?

Since November 2019, the value of Sri Lankan rupee has eroded by about 20%

High global market price due to the pandemic has escalated the prices of essential items

Hoarding by traders has also contributed to Sri Lanka taking this emergency route to combat the crisis

Tourism which happens to be one of the main businesses of Sri Lanka has suffered due to the travel restrictions placed owing to the pandemic. Sri Lanka’s economy shrank by a record 3.6% last year.

The declaration of economic emergency will empower Sri Lankan government to:

Prevent the hoarding of essential items by traders

Ensure essential items are sold at government-determined prices

It will also help the government to realize import duties owed to the state by the traders

Inflation and the pandemic:

Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time.  Inflation has been rising consistently since the pandemic hit in multiple countries; primarily owing to supply and demand-side disruptions owing to the pandemic.

Some of the causes behind the recent rise in Inflation:

Rise in fuel prices. This is adding to the cost of production across multiple industries

Volatility in labour market has been hampering the normal conduct of business

There has been a rise in demand; particularly for essential commodities amongst the masses owing to the fear of lockdown. This has led to the behavior of hoarding amongst common people

The menace of hoarding is still prevalent

Increase in global prices is causing the products to be diverted to these markets owing to the possibility of greater product; this is creating shortage of products in the domestic market

Erratic rainfall pattern has further exacerbated the inflation issue in some countries

Way forward:

Ensure adequate supply of essential items through appropriate measures (Ex: prevention of hoarding)

Monitor the pricing mechanisms of essential items to prevent any steep hike

Intervention in the market through sale of government-held stocks to bring down the rate of essential items

Bring petroleum under the GST bracket. This will reduce the multiplicity of taxes currently being imposed on the product

Improve vaccine coverage so as to ensure minimal disruptions in the market going forward.

Assam wetland at risk till dumping stops

(GS-III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

In News:

Degradation of Assam’s Deepor Beel due to anthropogenic forces

Details:

Human activities which have caused this destruction– dumping of garbage, construction of roads and railways, construction of warehouses, tourism activities

This degradation has caused death of elephants in railway accidents, fewer elephants visiting the wetland due to deteriorating quality of water due garbage dumping, reduction in the number of fishes available for fishermen etc

About Deepor Beel:

Deepor Beel is a Ramsar site and a part of it is also wildlife sanctuary (Rani Reserve forest) in Guwahati, Assam.

Deepor Beel is a permanent freshwater lake, in an earlier channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river.

The site is an important destination for many migratory species of birds

What is Ramsar convention? It is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands, named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971.

Raptor Species

(GS-III: Environmental Conservation)

In News:

160 species of birds of prey endangered worldwide

Details:

Around 30 per cent of the 557 raptor species around the world are threatened by extinction to some degree, according to a new study.

The Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobonscops-owl were among the 166 species facing some degree of threat, the study found.

The new analysis by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and BirdLife International, a global initiative to protect birds and wildlife by non-profits, was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Threats to the Birds of Prey:

The threats to the birds of prey are a result of habitat loss, pollution, toxic substances, human–wildlife conflicts, collisions with aerial structures and electrocution by power lines and climate change.

Migratory birds of prey are at risk to these threats due to long annual journeys from their breeding grounds to wintering areas and back.

The population of Philippine eagles, the largest variety of eagles in the world, decreased rapidly in the last decades due to extensive deforestation.

Some vulture populations have declined by over 95 per cent in Asian countries such as India because of the widespread use of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug.

Raptors MOU:

The CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) aims to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate.

The Raptors MOU is one of several instruments operating under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The MoU seeks willingness of the signatory range states for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats.

India signed Raptor MOU in 2016.

Raptor MoU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

(GS-III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

In News:

Irrawaddy dolphin found dead in Chilika Lake. This is the 8th dolphin death in Odisha in 8 months.

About Irrawaddy Dolphins:

Irrawaddy dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and mentioned in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

Found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Irrawaddy (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong (China).

The concentrated lagoon populations are found in Chilika Lake in Odisha, and Songkhla Lake in southern Thailand.

About Chilika Lake:

Chilika is Asia’s largest and world’s second largest lagoon.

It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent and is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals.

In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Major attraction at Chilika is Irrawaddy dolphins which are often spotted off Satpada Island.

The large Nalabana Island (Forest of Reeds) covering about 16 sq km in the lagoon area was declared a bird sanctuary in 1987.

Kalijai Temple – Located on an island in the Chilika Lake.