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9th January Current Affairs

Geology to unplanned construction: Decoding why Joshimath is sinking

(GS-I: Important Geophysical Phenomena/Disaster Management)

In News:

The Uttarakhand government has banned construction work in and around Joshimath due to land subsidence, which has resulted in cracks in over 560 homes, prompting panicked locals to protest.

Joshimath is the starting point for many Himalayan Mountain climbing expeditions, pilgrimage sites such as Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib

It is the location of one of Adi Shankara’s four cardinal monasteries.

Science behind the subsidence:

Location, topography:

Also known as Jyotirmath, it is a town (of over 20,000 population) in the Garhwal Himalayas in Chamoli District in Uttarakhand, located on the NH-7 (Rishikesh-Badrinath) at an altitude of 1890

It is situated in the middle slopes of a hill bounded by the Karmanasa and Dhaknala streams on the west and the east and the Dhauliganga and Alaknanda rivers on the south and the north.

According to the Mishra Commission report (1976), the first instance of subsidence in Joshimath was reported way back in 1976 and the town is –

Located on the site of ancient landslides

Covered with thick layer of overburden material

The town area is prone to landslides and highly vulnerable to sinking due to scattered and highly weathered gneissic rocks with a low bearing capacity and loose soil due to seepage from streams uphill.

Extreme weather events:

Flood events of June 2013 and February 2021 (flooding of Rishi Ganga) had adverse impact on the landslide zone as a result of extreme erosion.

According to the latest satellite data, mountain streams have expanded their channels and changed course, thereby inducing more slope instability in an already fragile belt.

Geology:

According to the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA), Joshimath falls in Zone V of the Seismic Zonation Map and has witnessed several earthquakes of magnitude of less than 5 on the Richter scale.

Joshimath being on a fault line makes it highly vulnerable to sinking because of tectonic activity.

Unplanned construction:

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is building the Helang bypass that will reduce the distance to Badrinath shrine by about 30 km, using heavy machinery.

Hydroelectric (HE) schemes have been sanctioned around Joshimath and Tapovan, including the Vishnugad HE Project and a tunnel boring machine (TBM) was employed for excavating the tunnel for the project.

In 2009, it punctured a water-bearing strata and experts had warned that this sudden and large-scale dewatering of the strata had the potential of initiating ground subsidence in the region.

Improper water drainage: According to the USDMA, this could be the reason for increase in ground seepage of water from the surface, which is a probable cause for subsidence.

Preventive measures:

Immediate:   

  • Relocating residents to a safer place.
  • Experts recommend that all development and hydroelectric projects in the region be halted completely.

Long-term:

  • The town’s planning must be reimagined to accommodate the new variables and changing geographical factors.
  • One of the most important factors that needs to be studied and redeveloped is drainage and sewer planning.
  • Experts have also suggested replanting in the region, particularly in vulnerable areas, to retain soil capacity.

Conclusion: To save Joshimath, the government and civil bodies must work together, with the assistance of military organisations such as the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Kangla Nongpok Thong

In News:

The Prime Minister has congratulated the people of Manipur on opening of Kangla Nongpok Thong in the state.

Details:

The development came after Union home minister opened the eastern gate of the fort.

About Kangla Nongpok Thong:

The Nongpok Thong was dismantled by the British after the 1891 Anglo-Manipur War.

The opening of Kangla Nongpok Thong has a very important cultural significance.

The Eastern Gate of Kangla is considered to be the pathway to peace, prosperity and happiness for the people of Manipur.

World’s longest river cruise ‘Ganga Vilas’

In News:

The launch of world’s longest river cruise with MV Ganga Vilas from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh by the Prime Minister will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India.

Details:

The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is a first-of-its-kind cruise service. With support from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) under Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW).

Significant spots of its itinerary: The trip includes many major spots of historical, cultural, and religious importance like “Ganga Arti” in Varanasi, Sarnath, Mayong, and Majuli in Assam. Travelers will also get a chance to see Sunderban’s famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, and Kaziranga National Park, known for one horn rhino.

BIND Scheme

In News:

Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development (BIND) is a central sector Scheme (100% Central funding) to modernize the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati (under which comes All India Radio (AIR), Door darshan (DD) and other channels).

Objectives:

To widen Prasar Bharati’s reach, including in the LWE (Left Wing Extremism), border and strategic areas and provide high-quality content to the viewers.

To increase the coverage of AIR FM in the country to 66% by geographical area and 80% by population (currently 59% and 68% respectively)

Free distribution of over 8 lahks DD Free Dish STBs (Set Top Box) to people living in remote, tribal, LWE and border areas.

Importance of Prasar Bharati?

Prasar Bharati, as the public broadcaster of the country, is the most important vehicle of information, education, entertainment and engagement for the people, especially in the remote areas of the country through Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR).

Technical Textiles

In News:

Ministry of Textiles has issued guidelines (under the National Technical Textiles Mission) for:

  • Enabling Academic Institute and degrees (graduate and Postgraduate) in technical textiles
  • Grant for Internship Support in Technical Textiles (GIST)

What are technical textiles?

They are functional fabrics that have applications across various industries including automobiles, civil engineering and construction, agriculture, healthcare, industrial safety, personal protection etc.

Based on usage, there are 12 technical textile segments: Agrotech, Meditech, Buildtech, Mobiltech, Clothtech, Oekotech, Geotech, Packtech, Hometech, Protech, Indutech and Sportech.

The penetration level of technical textiles is low in India varying between 5-10% against the level of 30-70% in developed countries.

The biggest players are the USA, western Europe, China and Japan (20-40% share).

What is the National Technical Textiles Mission (NTTM)?

It was approved in 2020 for four years period (FY 2020-21 to FY 2023-24) to position India as a global leader in Technical Textiles.

It further aims to increase the domestic market size of technical textiles from USD 40 billion to USD 50 billion by 2024.

It has four components: R&D; Development of the market for technical textiles; export promotion, and focus on education, training and skill development.