Sample file-The Hindu News Analysis-10 April’19

The Hindu News Analysis

NATIONAL NEWS


Kerala flood Amicus curiae Report

Syllabus – Prelims- Disaster || Mains- GS III Disaster Management


Why this News Is Important?

  • The amicus curiae appointed by the High Court of Kerala to assist it in a slew of flood related cases, has recommended appointment of an independent expert committee headed by a superior court judge to ascertain what caused the floods of August 2018 and to come up with recommendations for strengthening dam management.

What are Key Highlights?

  • The report raised a serious concern that none of the 79 dams in Kerala were used or operated for the purpose of flood control or moderation despite the obligation to do so as per the National Water Policy, National Disaster Management Authority guidelines related to floods.
  • It may be noted that the state has 79 dams and reservoirs that come under the control of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Irrigation Department of the state.
  • Also, the amicus curiae report indicates that the dams did not have any Emergency Action Plans as required.
  • The amicus curiae report states the details given in the counter affidavits indicate clearly that dams in Kerala had not maintained Effective Flood Control zone and the flood cushion as maintained is not as per the norms that are meant to be followed.
  • The state government’s counter affidavit stated that such ‘extremely heavy rain’ had not been predicted by IMD for the months June, July and August.
  • The counter affidavit further states that though the dams in the state are not flood control dams, flood cushions are provided to regulate the flood water in the reservoir. This term ‘flood cushion’ refers to the difference between the FRL and final warning level.

 

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Kerala Flood-

Causes of the Flood:

  1. Higher than normal rainfall:
    • According to the IMD, the cumulative rainfall in Kerala the from southwest monsoon between 1st June and 15th August 2018 was 2,087.67 mm, a departure of nearly 30% from the normal 1,606.05 mm rainfall. Such high intensity rainfall has been attributed to climate change.

 

  1. Release of water from dams:
    • Most of the dams in Kerala were opened since the water level rose close to overflow level due to heavy rainfall. The opening of the Idduki dam caused rapid swelling of Periyar River that flows through Idukki and Ernakulam districts and led to inundation of places downstream. Dam experts claimed that the authorities waited till the dams reached its capacity. Had the gates been opened earlier, floods would have been of lesser extent.

 

  1. Anthropogenic factors:
    • According to environmentalists, Illegal constructions on river beds, unauthorised stone quarrying and high levels of deforestation contributed to the flood and landslides.
    • For example: Idduki and Wayanad show a 30% and 11% decrease in forest cover respectively between 2011 and 2017. Environmentalists assert that this has made the districts more vulnerable to flash flooding
    • Ecologist Madhav Gadgil asserted that the disaster could have been negated had his committee’s recommendations on Western Ghats were followed. Most of the regions in Kerala impacted flood were once classified as ecologically-sensitive zones (ESZs) by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by Gadgil.

 

Impact and Extent of the Disaster:

  • More than 350 deaths and lakh of people displaced.
  • Floods destroyed roughly 906,000 hectares of crops.
  • Cost of the disaster has been estimated to be around 19,000 crore

 

Biomedical Waste Management in India: Still a looming concern

Syllabus – Prelims- Environment|| Mains- GS III Waste Management in India


Why this News Is Important?

  • The seemingly endless issue of biomedical waste management (BMWM) in India has necessitated the MoEFCC to amend and enforce the “parent rules” of 2016, yet again.
  • Combating the issues has multifaceted humanitarian and environmental challenges for various communities of the country, and therefore, needs immediate responsiveness for our common world.

Salient features of the rules

  • All bedded healthcare facilities (HCFs) irrespective of their number of beds have to regularly update the BMWM register
  • HCFs which have beds less than 10 shall have to comply with the output discharge standard for liquid waste generated, latest by December 31, 2019
  • Corresponding duties of Ministry of Defence officials as per Schedule III: A report needs to be submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after the inspection and monitoring of HCFs, Medical Inspection (MI) rooms and AFMS.
  • In March 2018, the BMW amendments delve into extension of dates to phase out — chlorinated plastic bags (excluding blood bags) and gloves etc.

 

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Definition of bio-medical waste
According to Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules of India “Any waste which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biologicals.
Bio-Medical waste consists of:
  • Human anatomical waste like tissues, organs and body parts.
  • Animal wastes generated during research from veterinary hospitals.
  • Microbiology and biotechnology wastes.
  • Waste sharps like hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpels and broken glass.
  • Discarded medicines and cytotoxic drugs.
  • Soiled waste such as dressing, bandages, plaster casts, material contaminated with blood, tubes and catheters.
  • Liquid waste from any of the infected areas.
  • Incineration ash and other chemical wastes.
Hazards associated with poor health care waste management
Proper disposal of biomedical waste is of paramount importance because of its infectious and hazardous characteristics. Improper disposal can result in the following:
  • Injuries from sharps to all categories of health care personnel and waste handlers.
  • Increase risk of infections to medical, nursing and other hospital staff.
  • Poor infection control can lead to nosocomial infections in patients particularly HIV, Hepatitis B & C.
  • Increase in risk associated with hazardous chemicals and drugs being handled by persons handling wastes.
  • Poor waste management encourages unscrupulous persons to recycle disposables and disposed drugs for  repacking and reselling.
  • Development of resistant strains of microorganisms.

 

ECONOMY NEWS

IMF forecasts dip in global growth in 2019

Syllabus – Prelims- Economy|| Mains- GS III Indian economy-Growth

Why this News Is Important?

  • The IMF has recently published the World Economic Outlook Report.

What are Key Highlights?

  • After strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in the second half of last year. There has been economic slowdown in most of the countries such as China, Japan, Eurozone countries and USA.
  • As a result of these developments, global growth is now projected to slow from 3.6 percent in 2018 to 3.3 percent in 2019, before returning to 3.6 percent in 2020.

GDP forecasts for India

  • The IMF has cut the growth forecast for India as well. India is expected to grow at 7.3% in 2019-20.
  • The report has advised that continued implementation of structural and financial sector reforms with efforts to reduce public debt remain essential to secure the economy’s growth prospects. In the near term, continued fiscal consolidation is needed to bring down elevated public debt. This should be supported by strengthening Goods and Services Tax compliance and further reducing subsidies.
  • Further, the report has highlighted that there is a need to reduce the NPAs of the banks and at the same time focus on enhancing the governance of Public sector Banks.

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

World Economic Outlook (WEO)

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is a survey conducted and published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

India’s gold reserves increase marginally in February: WGC

Syllabus – Prelims- Economy|| Mains- GS III Indian economy

Why this News Is Important?

  • According to the report published by World Gold Council, India has maintained 11th Position in terms of Gold Reserves.

What are Key Highlights?

  • It is to be noted that this report is based upon the amount of gold reserves held by the central Banks of the countries. It does not take into the account the gold held by financial institutions and public within an economy.
  • According to the report, India had total gold reserves of 608.7 tonnes in February, which is marginally higher than the previous month’s holding of 607 tonnes.
  • Apart from India, only two other countries (Russia and China) among the top 10 in terms of gold reserves increased their holdings in the month of February.

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

World Gold Council

  • The World Gold Council is an association consisting of the world’s leading gold mining companies. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way.
  • There are growing concerns that the newly mined gold could be used to finance armed conflicts in the countries. Thus, there is a need to ensure that the gold that is sold in the market does not indirectly finance such conflicts. In this regard, the World Gold Council has developed the Conflict-Free Gold Standard to help companies to provide assurance that their gold is not contributing to conflict.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

India, US set up first ever secure communication link under COMCASA

Syllabus – Prelims- IR|| Mains- GS II Bilateral relations

Why this News Is Important?

  • Under COMCASA pact, the first-ever secure communication link between the Indian Naval Headquarters and the US Naval Commands was recently set up.
  • This will give India access to the latest US naval intelligence.

What are Key Highlights?

  • With COMCASA in place, India will not only be able to obtain critical defence technologies from the US but also gain access to critical communication network of the US armed forces and real-time intelligence.
  • The US has now also activated the Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module GPS system in some of the Indian Air Force’s C-130 and C-17 transport aircraft.
  • The two upgrades will allow both sides to share real-time operational intelligence.
  • India has also been assured that the US will not share data from Indian platforms with another country, nor access such data without prior permission.
  • In due course, the agreement will enable both sides to operate on the same communication systems, thus ensure interoperability among the armed forces of both countries.

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

What is COMCASA Agreement?

COMCASA becomes particularly important as India is set to buy the combat version of Sea Guardian drones from the United States. The US would not have provided India with the weapon systems on the drone without COMCASA.

COMCASA stands for ‘Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement’.

What is COMCASA?

  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is one of the four foundational agreements that a country needs to sign to become a major defence partner of the United States. The agreement comes into effect immediately and has a lifespan of 10 years.
  • The other three agreements are General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMoA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
  • COMCASA provides the legal framework for the US to part with its sensitive communication equipment and codes to enable transfer of realtime operational information. This equipment is largely used for ground-to-air communication to enable best battle situation awareness.
  • It ensures that the militaries of the US and India can boost their “interoperability” as well as share operational intelligence in real-time in the years ahead.
  • For instance, if a US warship or aircraft detects a Chinese submarine in the Indian Ocean, it can convey to India through warships or aircraft equipped with COMCASA-protected equipment in real-time.
  • COMCASA allows the US to transfer high-tech avionics, encrypted communication and electronic systems as well as ensure secrecy of its C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems.

Significance

  • The signing of COMCASA will enable India to access advanced technologies from the US and enhance India’s defence preparedness.
  • The pact guarantees India access to critical US defence technologies and communication network to help the militaries of the two countries in their interoperability.
  • COMCASA will allow India to procure transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is.
  • COMCASA will effectively mean that India shares the real-time American intelligence on military deployments by China and Pakistan.
  • COMCASA becomes particularly important as India is set to buy the combat version of Sea Guardian drones from the United States. The US would not have provided India with the weapon systems on the drone without COMCASA.
  • However, the signing of agreement does not mean that India would have to necessarily buy American military equipment.
  • Before signing the agreement, India made sure that it gets full access to equipment. There is no commitment on acquisition and there will be no disruption as well.

 

 

India highest recipient of remittances in 2018: World Bank

Syllabus – Prelims- Economy|| Mains- GS III Indian Economy

Why this News Is Important?

  • India retained its position as the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending a whopping $79 billion back home in 2018 a/c to the World Bank.

What are Key Highlights?

  • Remittances grew by more than 14% in India, where a flooding disaster in Kerala likely boosted the financial help that migrants sent to families.
  • India was followed by China (USD 67 billion), Mexico (USD 36 billion), the Philippines (USD 34 billion), and Egypt (USD 29 billion), the global lender said.
  • Over the last three years, India has registered a significant flow of remittances from $62.7 billion in 2016 to $65.3 billion 2017.
  • In Pakistan, remittance growth was moderate (7%), due to significant declines in inflows from Saudi Arabia, its largest remittance source.

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

About Foreign Remittance

  • A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to an individual in his or her home country.
  • Money sent home by migrants competes with international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries.
  • Workers’ remittances are a significant part of international capital flows, especially with regard to labour-exporting countries.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS

IIT Bombay’s bacteria preferentially degrade aromatic

Syllabus – Prelims- Science and Tech|| Mains- GS III Disaster Management

Why this News Is Important?

  • A unique strain of bacterium which can selectively remove the environment toxic, aromatic pollutants such as benzoate (sodium benzoate is used as a food preservative), benzyl alcohol and naphthalene, from soil has been discovered.

What are Key Highlights?

  • The bacterial strain has preference for aromatic compounds and organic acid as a food source even when glucose is available.
  • The strain can degrade aromatics and organic acids simultaneously.
  • The bacterial strain is a very good candidate for bioremediation or waste-water treatment.

SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Bioremediation:

  • Bioremediation is a process used to treat contaminated substance including water, soil and subsurface material, by altering environmental conditions to stimulate growth of microorganisms and degrade the target pollutants.
  • Bioremediation is less expensive and more sustainable than other remediation alternatives.

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