Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - January 4, 2018

Cabinet Decisions

2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel
Approved by The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)
Operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel

Where -

  • on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A in Jammu and Kashmir
  • The strategic tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to strategically important Leh region.
  • It will be Asia’s largest 2-lane bi-directional tunnel.

Enlighten about Zojila Tunnel

  • The Zojila Tunnel will be situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1A).
  • The Project aims at construction of 14.150 km long 2-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.200 km long egress (escape) tunnel excluding approaches between Baltal & Minamarg in J&K at estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore.
  • The main objective of the project is to provide all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in J&K which at moment is limited to at best 6 months because of snow on the mountainous passes and threat of avalanches.
  • Ladakh region remains cut off from rest of the country during winter months due to heavy snowfall.
  • The project will be implemented by Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode.
  • The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather safe, fast and cheap connectivity connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
  • It will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
  • It also has strategic and socio-economic importance and it will be instrument for development of economically backward districts in J&K.
  • The project, on completion, will also lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to National market and beautiful region is able to receive round the year tourist trac

Water Resources

Brahmaputra Board 9th High power Review board meeting

Where -

  • The 9th meeting of High Powered Review Board of Brahmaputra Board was recently held at Borgos, Kaziranga in Assam.
  • The meeting was chaired by Sri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
  • High Powered Review Board (HPRB) approved restructuring of Brahmaputra Board and advised that funds should be largely spent for works and limited funds should be spent for establishment costs including salary and wages.
  • HPRB also ratified the project for protection of Majuli Island from flood and erosion for an amount of Rs. 237 crore.
  • A Mathematical Model Study prepared by IIT, Guwahati called Brahma-ID was also launched on this occasion.
  • This project has been sponsored by Brahmaputra Board for an amount of Rs. 3.00 crore.

Enlighten about the Brahmaputra Board -

  • The Brahmaputra Board is an autonomous statutory body which is responsible for preparation and implementation of plans related to flood management, erosion control, drainage management and water resource development in the Brahmaputra valley.
  • The board was set up under the Ministry of Irrigation (later renamed as Ministry of Water Resources) as per the Brahmaputra Board Act 1980.
  • The Board started functioning from January 11, 1982 and it’s headquarters are located at Guwahati, Assam.
  • The jurisdiction of the Board includes both the Brahmaputra and Barak Valley and covers all the States of the North Eastern Region, Sikkim and part of West Bengal falling under Brahmaputra river basin.
  • For it’s works and establishments, Brahmaputra Board is provided fund through grant-in-aid by the Central Government.
  • The Board consists of 21 Members representing seven states of the North Eastern Region, North Eastern Council, concerned Ministries and Departments of the Government of India.
  • Since creation of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and inclusion of Sikkim and part of West Bengal within the jurisdiction of Board, some other representatives of various concerned departments or bodies are also invited as Special Invitees in the meetings of the Brahmaputra Board.

Women And Child Development

e-Samvad portal

  • e- Samvad portal has been launched by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

Enlighten About e- Samvad –

  • It is an online platform for NGOs and Civil Societies to interact with the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • Through e-Samvad portal, NGOs and civil society can provide their feedback, suggestions, put up grievances, share best practices etc. Senior Officers within MWCD will be able to view the inputs/suggestions received for their concerned subject areas and appropriately respond to NGOs.
  • This will help in formulation of effective policies and measures for welfare of women and children.

International

Underwater surveillance networks in Indian Ocean developed by China in South China Sea

  • China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road, which includes the Indian Ocean.
  • The project is part of an unprecedented military expansion fuelled by Beijing’s desire to challenge the United States in the world’s oceans.

Enlighten About the Underwater surveillance network

  • It is an underwater surveillance system that is based on a network of platforms — buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders — that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • The system works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.

Internal Security

Nagaland declared as ‘disturbed area’ for 6 more months

  • The entire Nagaland has been declared as “disturbed area” for six more months, till June- end, under the controversial AFSPA. The decision to continue the declaration of Nagaland as “disturbed area” has been taken as killings, loot and extortion have been going in various parts of the state which necessitated the action for the convenience of the security forces operating there.
  • The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades. It has not been withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed in August 2015 between the Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM and the government.
  • The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland.

Enlighten about AFSPA

  • AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution. Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

Disturbed areas

  • The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.”

Space

Identification of unknown microbes in space for first time

  • Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have for the first time identified microbes in space without having to samples back to Earth for tests
  • The ability to identify microbes in space could aid in the ability to diagnose and treat astronaut ailments in real time, as well as assisting in the identification of DNA-based life on other planets
  • It could also benefit other experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory

Enlighten about Microbes

  • A microbe, or “microscopic organism,” is a living thing that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. We need to use a microscope to see them
  • The term is very general. It is used to describe many different types of life forms, with dramatically different sizes and characteristics: Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, Protists, Viruses, Microscopic Animals
  • The human body is home to microbes from all of these categories. Microscopic plants are also considered microbes, though they don’t generally live on or in the human body.

Environment

Two new ant species discovered from Andamans

  • Scientists have discovered two new ant species of the genus Tetramorium in the evergreen forests of the Andaman archipelago
  • The new species Tetramorium krishnani and Tetramorium Jarawa were discovered during a detailed island-wide survey of Havelock Island, a part of the Andaman archipelago
  • The species are named in honor of late scientist K.S. Krishnan of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), and after the Jarawas, an indigenous people of the islands, who are thought to have inhabited the islands for at least several thousand years

Enlighten About the species

  • The newly discovered ants dwell in leaf litter in the evergreen forests of Havelock Island and are endemic to the Andamans
  • In total, the study recorded the presence of 50 ant species, many of which have been recorded for the first time

Unique method adopted in identification

  • In a first for India, the team used a novel X-ray micro CT technology to build 3D models of the ant specimens to observe anatomical structures in detail for easier taxonomic identification of the species
  • These 3D images can be mapped with the genetic profiles of species using the new technology to study the evolution of ant morphology

Schistura larkCLsis – new species of blind fish Discovered inside Meghalaya cave

  • Scientists have discovered a new species of blind fish named Schistura larkCLsis inside a cave in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.
  • The fish has been named after Larket village, where the cave has been found to encourage local people to take up biodiversity conservation.

Enlighten about Schistura larkCLsis

  • Schistura larkCLsis has lost its sight during its living evolution in perpetual darkness inside the cave.
  • It has also lost its pigments too while adapting to its habitat in the dark waters.
  • The orbital diameter of fish decreases gradually as its matures with eyes completely absent in older individuals.
  • Small and faintly blackish spot-like depressions are seen in place of eyes, indicating evolutionary and morphological adaptations.

Enlighten about the discovery

  • Researchers had discovered the new blind fish in cave during an expedition several years ago.
  • The cave is about 880 meters above sea level and over 7 km in length.
  • The new fish sample was collected from small stagnant pools which are of few square meters in area and about 1-2 metres in depth.
  • These pools are about 1600 feet high from main entrance of cave. The pool bed is mostly sandy with pebbles.

Women Empowerment

Online portal ‘NARI’

  • In a path breaking initiative to empower women, the ministry of Women & Child Development has launched an online portal NARI.

Enlighten About NARI

  • It is an online portal developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which will provide information to women on issues affecting their lives.
  • The portal aims to provide women citizens with easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for women.
  • The portal contains information about schemes being run by both Central as well as the States Governments.
  • It provides links to the Ministries, Departments and autonomous bodies offering these schemes as well as easy access to online applications and grievance redressal.