National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 4th March 2019

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

1

Topic: Government Initiatives

In News: In the last four years, EESL has grown its topline from Rs. 70 crore to Rs. 2,000 crore this year.

EESL’s biggest achievement

  • “Ujala” the LED bulbs programme is the biggest achievement of EESL. At the beginning of the programme in 2014, a seven-watt LED bulb cost Rs. 310.
  • At present the cost has came down for more efficient nine-watt bulb to Rs. 40.Till now the institution has distributed 32 crore bulbs over the last four years, giving LEDs at Rs. 72.
  • EESL acts as a market enabler as well, 116 crore bulbs is done by the private sector.
  • The company has done market transformation in the lighting sector by saving 8,300 MW of power capacity by LED lighting.
  • With the intervention of EESL about 5 lakh street lights out of 1.4 crore street lights have replaced to energy efficient lights till now.

About EESL

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is an energy service company (ESCO) of the Government of India and is the world’s largest public ESCO.
  • It is 100% government owned, a joint venture of state-owned NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
  • EESL was formed under India’s Ministry of Power to facilitate energy efficiency projects. Innovative business and implementation models can significantly reduce consumption and costs.
  • EESL also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of state electricity distribution companies, electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs), state-designated agencies (SDAs), upcoming ESCOs, financial institutions, etc.

Source: The Hindu

Elephant Corridors

2

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News:In a publication titled “The importance of trans-boundary conservation of the Asiatic Elephant Elephas maximus in Patharia Hills Reserve Forest, northeastern India”, scientists have called for “joint conservation activities” for the protection of the herd of 6 elephants and elephant corridors .

More on the Topic:

  • Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants. Elephant corridors are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons. So fragmentation of forests makes it all the more important to preserve migratory corridors.
  • Efforts should be put in to expand elephant corridors, using the successful models within the country. This includes acquisition of lands using private funds and their transfer to the government. Ending human interference in the pathways of elephants is more a conservation imperative.

Why elephant corridors are Important:

  • The movement of elephants is essential to ensure that their populations are genetically viable. It also helps to regenerate forests on which other species, including tigers, depend.
  • Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, the migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
  • Forests that have turned into farms and unchecked tourism are blocking animals’ paths. Animals are thus forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increased elephant-human conflict.
  • Weak regulation of ecotourism is severely impacting important habitats. It particularly affects animals that have large home ranges, like elephants.

Source: The Hindu

SpaceX’s capsule docks on ISS

3

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: SpaceX’s new Dragon capsule successfully docked on the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, NASA and SpaceX confirmed during a live broadcast of the mission.

About ISS:

  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component was launched into orbit in 1998, with the first long-term residents arriving in November 2000. It has been inhabited continuously since that date.
  • The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.
  • The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.
  • The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada)

About Space x Dragon:

  • Dragon is a reusable cargo spacecraft developed by SpaceX, an American private space transportation company. Dragon is launched into orbit by the company’s Falcon 9 two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle.
  • During its maiden flight in December 2010, Dragon became the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to be recovered successfully from orbit.
  • On 25 May 2012, a cargo variant of Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with and attach to the International Space Station (ISS).

Source: The Hindu

Eviction of Forest Dwellers- Supreme Court’s Order

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Topic: Polity and Governance

In News: U The Supreme Court has ordered the state governments to evict over 10 lakh forest dwelling families whose claims have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act.

More On the Topic:

  • In the present order, the Supreme Court has specifically directed governments in 21 States by name to carry out evictions.
  • The families had filed claims to forest land under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and on rejection of their claims the court has directed that the eviction be carried out on or before July 24, 2019.
  • The court cautioned the States that if the evictions are not carried out within the stipulated time, the matter would be viewed seriously.
  • It ordered the States’ Chief Secretaries to also file affidavits, explaining why the rejected claimants on previous court orders were not evicted.
  • The court ordered the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to make a satellite survey and place on record the “encroachment positions.”
  • It directed the FSI to also place on record the position after the eviction as far as possible.

Why is the court’s order controversial?

  • The immediate result would be the forced eviction of over one million people (STs and other forest communities).
  • It is not clarified if the Supreme Court has the authority to order evictions of Scheduled Tribes from Scheduled Areas.
  • There is no reference to the implications for governance in the Scheduled Areas.
  • This is because the constitutional mechanisms protect the boundaries to Adivasi homelands and restrain interference in self-governance.
  • Constitutional protection – Around 60% of the forest area in the country is in tribal areas.
  • These are protected by Article 19(5) and Schedules V and VI of the Constitution; the area marked for eviction falls under these.
  • It specifically mentions that the State had to make laws for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
  • So the Court’s order is a disregard for this core fundamental right protection to Adivasis.
  • In fact, it is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional claims and equal citizenship.

New Developments:

  • While the Supreme Court has now made it clear that there will be no forcible eviction, what the order has succeeded in doing is resuscitating a sharp binary between the human rights- and wildlife rights-based groups that have for decades tried to swing public opinion in their favour.

Model Mains Question: There is a chance to correct the historical injustice has been inflicted on the people and to India’s forests. And it is through the FRA that India can achieve that aim. Comment

Source:The Hindu

OSDMA bags SKOCH Award

Topic: Disaster Management

In News: The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) has bagged the SKOCH Award, 2018 for its achievements in the field of disaster management.

More on the Topic:

  • The award, conferred by SKOCH Group, covers the best efforts in the areas of finance, governance, banking, disaster management, technology, economics and inclusive growth.
  • The OSDMA received an Order-of-merit in the Gold category for constructing 879 multipurpose cyclone and flood shelters that played a key role in saving human lives during Cyclone Phailin in 2013.
  • It also bagged an ‘Order-of-merit’ in the silver category for constructing disaster resilient houses for about 17,000 Phailin affected families by relocating them to safer places.
  • The ‘Order-of-merit, bronze category, was given to the OSDMA for its Early Warning Dissemination System for different hydro-meteorological disasters across the coastline of Odisha which will benefit 1,205 villages in 22 blocks of six coastal districts.
  • Odisha has come a long way since the 1999 Super Cyclone and has now become a model state in disaster preparedness and risk mitigation.

Model Mains Question: Disaster management is just reactive responses to crisis, It is a complete process that needs a fresh look. In light of frequent natural calamities ,Examine.

Source: The Hindu

2019-20 to be year of construction technology

Topic: Infrastructure development

 In News: In a bid to increase the use of modern technology in the construction sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 2019-2020 as the year of construction technology.

More on the Topic:

  • In construction sector, there has been a change in the approach. Now, efforts are being taken to make roads, residential apartments and commercial buildings eco-friendly and energy efficient.
  • PM was addressing the Construction Technology India 2019 conference.
  • The construction technology India 2019 conference aims at identifying innovative and globally established technologies that can be used in the Indian context. In the two day event, developers, academia, technology providers, researchers etc are participating.
  • Those technologies which are identified during the construction technology India 2019 will be invited to design and build lighthouse projects of around one thousand housing units each in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

Source: The Hindu

Zero Discrimination Day

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Topic: Social Justice

In News: On Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS recalls the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is calling for action to change discriminatory laws and practices, which are a significant barrier for access to health and other services.

More on the Topic:

  • Raising awareness, mobilizing and taking action are essential. On Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS is proposing specific actions that individuals, civil society organizations, parliamentarians and donor organizations can take to change discriminatory laws. These range from being an ally to someone affected by a discriminatory law to joining a nongovernmental organization, tabling amendments to laws and calling for reviews of legislation.
  • Making a positive change is possible and there are many ways a law can be amended or abolished. These include:
  • Reforming or removing laws through parliamentary processes and the votes of parliamentarians.
  • Raising awareness among parliamentarians is therefore essential, as was done in the revision of the HIV laws in the Philippines and bills in Malawi.
  • In many countries, courts have the power to strike down laws that are discriminatory. This can be done if an individual or organization affected by the law takes legal action and wins the case for change.
  • The case of India’s Supreme Court, which removed Section 377 in 2018, was a striking example.

Source: The Hindu 

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