4th February Current Affairs
February 4, 2022
7th February Current Affairs
February 7, 2022
Show all

5th February Current Affairs


(GS-II: Important International institutions)

In News:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.

About UNEP:

Founded in 1972 following the landmark UN Conference on the Human Environment.

UNEP was conceived to monitor the state of the environment, inform policy making with science and coordinate responses to the world’s environmental challenges.

Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.

Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.


Since its creation, UNEP has worked closely with its 193 Member States and other stakeholders to galvanize worldwide commitments and coordinated action to address many of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

It also played a leading role as the docking station for 15 multilateral environmental agreements.

Key milestones and timeline:

1972: Maurice Strong is elected as first head of UNEP.

1973: UNEP opens first headquarters. On 2 October at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

1973: Leaders sign Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships Known as

1973: States adopt the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES became a UNEP-administered multilateral environmental agreement in 1984.

1974: World Environment Day makes its debut. The world celebrates the first World Environment Day organized by UNEP on 5 June under the theme “Only One Earth.”

1974: Regional Seas Programme established.

1976: The Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was adopted on 16 February 1976 in Barcelona and entered into force in 1978.

1979: States adopt Convention on Migratory Species. Also known as the Bonn Convention.

UNEP hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies. These include the following:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol
  • The Convention on Migratory Species
  • The Carpathian Convention
  • The Bamako Convention
  • The Tehran Convention

Coal Gasification and Liquefaction

(GS-III: Infrastructure- Energy)

In News:

In its endeavour to reduce emissions and control dependence on crude oil, the Centre has said four coal gasification plants will be set up on a pilot basis to understand the technical and financial viability of such projects.


India is committed to cut consumption of coal, a primary pollutant, in power plants to half by 2030 and reduce its overall carbon footprint. Coal gasification is considered a greener alternative to burning the fossil fuel in furnaces.

What is coal gasification?

It is the process of producing syngas, a mixture consisting carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas (CH4), and water vapour (H2O).

During gasification, coal is blown with oxygen and steam while also being heated under high pressure. During the reaction, oxygen and water molecules oxidize the coal and produce syngas.

Benefits of gasification:

Transporting gas is a lot cheaper than transporting coal.

Help address local pollution problems.

Has greater efficiency than conventional coal-burning because it can effectively use the gases twice: the coal gases are first cleansed of impurities and fired in a turbine to generate electricity. The exhaust heat from the gas turbine can be captured and used to generate steam for a steam turbine-generator.

Concerns and challenges:

Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.

There are also concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely.

What is coal liquefaction?

Also called Coal to Liquid (CTL) technology, it is an alternative route to produce diesel and gasoline and makes economic sense only in a world of high crude oil prices.

The process involves gasification of coal, which in turn will produce synthetic gas (a mix of CO+H2). The synthetic gas can be liquefied to its fuel equivalent in presence of cobalt/iron-based catalysts at higher pressure and temperature.

However, liquefied coal emits twice as much CO2 as burning oil. It also emits a large volume of SO2.

Benefits of liquefaction:

The CO2 emissions are more readily and cheaply captured from CTL plants than from conventional coal-fired power stations. The captured CO2 can be transported and injected into underground storage reservoirs (a procedure known as “carbon capture and storage”—CCS—or “geosequestration”).

Ken-Betwa link project

(GS-II: Government policies and issues related)

In News:

Even as the union Cabinet cleared the Rs 44,605-crore Ken-Betwa link project (KBLP) in December 2021 with a eight-year deadline for completion, the project does not have the clearances to start work as yet.

Why? What are the challenges?

2016-2017: KBLP got wildlife, environment and preliminary forest clearances on condition that no units of the proposed 78-MW powerhouse would be constructed in “the forest area to avoid constant disturbance in the Panna” tiger reserve. But KBLP is yet to submit a modified project plan of relocated power stations for fresh environment clearance.

2018-2019: Hearing a petition against KBLP’s wildlife clearance, the Supreme Court asked its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to investigate the issue. The CEC recommended an examination of alternatives to meet irrigation and poverty alleviation targets set by specialised agencies, and a thorough study of KBLP’s impact on Panna, before approving the project. The Supreme Court is yet to decide on the matter.

2018-2021: Ministry of Jal Shakti repeatedly told the Environment Ministry that Madhya Pradesh could not find only 42.06 sq km revenue land for Panna tiger reserve instead of 60.17 sq km — a key precondition for KBLP’s final forest clearance.

Why was the Project being opposed?

The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project will lead to the submergence of a major portion of the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, triggering a major loss of the tiger and its major prey species such as chital and sambar, according to a new study.

The project may incur an estimated loss of 58.03 square kilometres (10.07 per cent) of critical tiger habitat (CTH) in the reserve.

There will be an indirect loss of 105.23 sq km of CTH because of habitat fragmentation and loss of connectivity due to submergence, the study.

The total area submerged would be 86.50 sq km, of which 57.21 sq km lies within Panna Tiger Reserve. This will account for 65.50 per cent of total submergence.

The area that will be submerged due to the KBRIL Project has a rich floral density and diversity. Ungulates such as sambar, chital, blue bull and wild boar are found here.


The Union Cabinet has approved the funding and implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project at a cost of ₹44,605 crore at the 2020-21 price level.

The Centre would fund ₹39,317 crore for the project, with ₹36,290 crore as a grant and ₹3,027 crore as a loan.

About the Project:

The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa river through the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.

Significance of the Project:

The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.

The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.

It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.

Benefits of interlinking:

  • Enhances water and food security.
  • Proper utilisation of water.
  • Boost to agriculture.
  • Disaster mitigation.
  • Boost to transportation.

Key facts:

Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.

Ken meets with Yamuna in Banda district of UP and with Betwa in Hamirpur district of UP.

Rajghat, Paricha and Matatila dams are over Betwa river.

Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.


(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

For its opening ceremony, China picked a final torchbearer from Xinjiang as a rebuttal to the many countries that have criticized its human rights record in the region.


Xinjiang is a region where multiple governments suspect China is committing an ongoing genocide against Uighur/uyghur and other Muslim minorities.

But, critics see these developments as publicity stunts.

What’s the issue?

Various countries have called on China to “ensure full respect for the rule of law” for the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang.

Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uighurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uighur culture.

China’s response:

Despite mounting evidence, China denies mistreating the Uyghurs, and goes on to insist it is simply running “vocational training” centres designed to counter extremism.

Who are Uighurs?

The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.

The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.

Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.

A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uighur Muslims for decades, under the false accusation by the Chinese government of terrorism and separatism, have suffered from abuses including persecution, forced detention, intense scrutiny, surveillance and even slavery.