Mullaperiyar dam issue
(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)
The Kerala government has withdrawn its decision granting permission to Tamil Nadu for felling 15 trees downstream the Baby Dam at Mullaperiyar reservoir as part of efforts to strengthen the structure. The state government said that action will be taken against the officials who had sanctioned the move.
The present issue:
Please note that both the states are at loggerheads over the stability of the structure, with Kerala demanding that a new dam must be constructed and Tamil Nadu saying that a new structure is not needed. Also, Kerala has been against increasing water levels at the dam, citing structural stability.
Last month, the Supreme Court directed the Supervisory Committee to take an immediate and firm decision on the maximum water level that can be maintained at Mullaperiyar dam, amid torrential rain in Kerala.
The SC constituted a permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 to oversee all the issues concerning Mullaperiyar dam. The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Issue surrounding water level at the reservoir?
Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods. It is because the lives of 50 lakh people would be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised.
However, Tamil Nadu objected to this decision citing the Supreme Court judgments of 2006 and 2014, which fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
Mullaperiyar Dam– what you need to know?
Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers inKerala’s Idukki district.
What does Tamil Nadu say?
Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.
Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.
Scientists have argued that if there is an earthquake in the region measuring above six on the Richter scale, the lives of over three million people will come under grave danger.
(GS-II: Issues related to health)
The rate of spread of dengue in Delhi is rampant, with the total number of cases reported in just the first week of November being 1,171. The number of dengue cases reported in the national capital in the month of October was 1,196.
The spike in dengue, malaria and chikungunya cases across Delhi is leading the local bodies and authorities to increase their fogging and spraying drives. The citizens are also being directed to make sure that there is no stagnant water collected near or inside their houses, as it provides a breeding space for the disease.
Dengue virus is transmitted through the bite of a female Aedes (Ae.) mosquito.
Aedes is a day time feeder and can fly up to a limited distance of 400 meters.
Although it usually results in mild illness, severe dengue infections can sometimes prove fatal.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest an annual incidence of 100-400 million dengue infections every year, with its global incidence growing dramatically “in recent decades”.
Status of Dengue:
Incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades, with a vast majority of cases under-reported, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO estimates 39 crore dengue virus infections per year, of which 9.6 crore show symptoms.
India registered over 1 lakh dengue cases in 2018 and over 1.5 lakh cases in 2019, according to the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).
Controlling Dengue Using Bacteria:
Recently researchers from the World Mosquito Program have used mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria to successfully control dengue in Indonesia.
The scientists infected some mosquitoes with Wolbachia and then released them in the city where they bred with local mosquitoes, until nearly all mosquitoes in the area were carrying Wolbachia bacteria. This is called the Population Replacement Strategy.
At the end of 27 months, the researchers found that the incidence of dengue was 77% lower in areas where Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes had been released, as compared to areas without such deployments.
UNESCO creative cities network (UCCN)
(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has picked Srinagar among 49 cities as part of the creative city network under the Crafts and Folk Arts category.
The inclusion of Srinagar in the creative city network for the arts and crafts has paved a way for the city to represent its handicrafts on the global stage through UNESCO.
About Creative Cities Network:
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
Objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.
The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature and Music.
Joining the Network, cities commit to sharing their best practices and developing partnerships involving the public and private sectors as well as civil society in order to:
As of November, 2019, there are five Indian cities in UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as follows:
(GS-II: Issues related to Health)
With a rise in the number of Zika virus cases in Uttar Pradesh, doctors have advised that people should avoid all non-essential travel to areas reporting cases. Currently close to 90 persons, including 17 children, have tested positive for the virus from the State.
What’s the concern now?
According to information released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a majority of those infected with Zika virus disease either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body ache, joint pains.
The Zika virus is predominantly transmitted by infected mosquitoes from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti. The Aedes mosquitoes also spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys.
Apart from the mosquitoes, an infected person can also spread the virus.
Generally, the symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, or headache. It lasts for about two to seven days. Most infected people do not develop any symptoms.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly (smaller than normal head size) and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome.
It has no treatment or vaccine. Instead, the focus is on relieving symptoms and includes rest, rehydration and acetaminophen for fever and pain.
Sessions of Parliament
(GS-II: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these)
The Cabinet Committee on Parliament Affairs (CCPA) has recommended that the winter session of Parliament be held from November 29 to December 23.
Last year, the winter session could not be held due to the onslaught of the pandemic, which had witnessed the curtailment of the Budget and the Monsoon sessions.
What the Constitution says on Parliamentary Sessions?
Article 85 requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.
Please note, the Constitution does not specify when or for how many days Parliament should meet.
The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months. That means the Parliament should meet at least twice a year.
A ‘session’ of Parliament is the period between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation.
Who shall convene a session?
In practice, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, comprising senior ministers, decides on the dates for parliament’s sitting and it is then conveyed to the president.
So, the executive, headed by the prime minister, which steers the business to be taken up by parliament will have the power to advise the president to summon the legislature.
Why is a Parliamentary Session important?
Law-making is dependent on when Parliament meets.
Also, a thorough scrutiny of the government’s functioning and deliberation on national issues can only take place when the two Houses are in session.
Predictability in the functioning of Parliament is key to a well-functioning democracy.