- Shivalik Elephant Reserve, Dehradun airport project
- Odisha moves to merge 8,000 schools: SATH-E
- MHA tells States to register more FIRs for cybercrime
- Spiral galaxy bars may prevent new stars
- How water bears survive lethal UV radiation
- Banks told to ensure interest payback, RBI tells SC
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
- Environmental activists and local residents protested outside Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport against the government’s decision to fell over 10,000 trees in the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, Thano forest for expansion of the airport.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) had recently asked the Uttarakhand government to consider another area for the expansion.
- The expansion will threaten hundreds of species of fauna in Thano (near Rajaji National Park) and the elephant corridor nearby.
- The State also falls in seismic Zone IV and V, as per the Earthquake Zoning Map, and uprooting Thano will lead to soil erosion, a factor that exacerbated the 2013 Kedarnath floods, endangering countless lives.
- Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.
Shivalik Elephant Reserve
- It was notified in 2002 under the ‘Project Elephant’.
- The Kansora-Barkot Elephant Corridor is located near to it.
- The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) occurs in the central and southern Western Ghats, North-east India, eastern India and northern India and in some parts of southern peninsular India. As per the Elephant Census, 2017, Karnataka has the highest population of Indian elephants.
Rajaji National Park
- Location: Haridwar, along the foothills of the Shivalik range, spans 820 square kilometres.
- Background: Three sanctuaries in the Uttarakhand i.e. Rajaji, Motichur and Chila were amalgamated into a large protected area and named Rajaji National Park in the year 1983 after the famous freedom fighter C. Rajgopalachari; popularly known as “Rajaji”.
- This area is the North Western Limit of habitat of Asian elephants.
- Forest types include sal forests, riverine forests, broad–leaved mixed forests, scrubland and grassy.
- It possesses as many as 23 species of mammals and 315 bird species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, deers and ghorals, etc.
- It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2015.
- It is home to the Van Gujjars in the winters. Van Gujjars are one of the few forest-dwelling nomadic communities in the country.
Other Protected Areas in Uttarakhand
- Jim Corbett National Park (first National Park of India).
- Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary.
- Gangotri National Park.
- Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary.
-Source: Indian Express
Focus: GS-II Social Justice
Why in news?
- At a time when it is mulling the reopening of schools amid the pandemic, the Odisha government has issued a notice to 15 districts to complete the merger of 8,000 schools with low enrolment.
- The merger is being carried out under the NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E) project, and has been termed Consolidation and Rationalisation of schools.
Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH)
- ‘SATH’ the programme for Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) focusses on two main sectors — Education and Health and to build three ‘Role Model’ States.
- After an elaborate selection process based on the Challenge Method, three States namely, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, were selected for the project.
- The program is being implemented in these States along with knowledge partners Boston Consulting Group (BCG) & Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership (PFEL) consortium with NITI Aayog as a facilitator and coordinator in the process.
- The project is being implemented in three phases over a period of 30 months, coming to an end in 2020.
- The two phases of the project have been completed. It is now in the third phase of implementation, which will last for 18 months.
- Progress of the project is being monitored through a National Steering Group (NSG) and Central Project Monitoring Unit (CPMU) at national level and State Project Monitoring Unit (SPMU) at State level.
Major achievements under the project SATH-Education include:
- In depth field diagnosis of districts and schools of Jharkhand, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh.
- State transformation roadmaps released for all the three States, which contain quarterly milestones committed for each initiative.
- Critical interventions including school mergers, remediation program, training, monitoring teacher recruitment/ rationalization, institutional reorganization at district and state level and proper utilization of MIS are in execution mode since January, 2018.
-Source: Indian Express
Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges
Why in news?
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to all States to examine and register FIRs based on the complaints received on National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.
- As per data available with the Ministry, only 2.5% of total complaints registered on the portal are converted into First Information Reports (FIRs).
- Through the portal, MHA also aims to raise a group of “cybercrime volunteers” to flag “unlawful content” on the Internet.
- The unlawful content is categorised as content against the sovereignty and integrity of India, against defence of India, against security of the State, against friendly relations with foreign States, content aimed at disturbing public order, disturbing communal harmony and child sex abuse material.
- Since its launch last year, the portal has received over 2 lakh complaints, but FIRs have been registered only in 5,000 cases.
- A senior government official said that on an average around 1,000 cybercrimes complaints from across the country are received. The rate of conversion of complaints to FIRs is very low.
- According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of registered cybercrimes increased by 63.5% in the year 2019 compared to the previous year.
- A total of 44,546 cases were registered under cybercrimes compared to 27,248 cases in 2018.
- In 2019, 60.4% of cybercrime cases registered were for the motive of fraud followed by sexual exploitation with 5.1% and causing disrepute with 4.2%.
- On receiving the complaint, the designated Police Officer after verifying the matter will report to concerned bank and financial intermediary or payment wallet, etc., for blocking the money involved in the cyber fraud.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
- Stars are fundamental building blocks of galaxies and the seeds of these stars are clouds of cosmic dust and gas.
- Stars are scattered all around the galaxies, and the galaxies themselves are of different types: star-forming spiral galaxies and non-star-forming lenticular and elliptical galaxies.
- In some spiral galaxies, the stars move in elongated orbits near the centre so that, from far, this portion appears like an illuminated bar.
- Nearly two-thirds of the disc galaxies in the local universe are found to have this bar structure.
Role of bars
- The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy. Since not all spiral galaxies have bars, the role of bars – why they exist, what triggers their formation and whether they foster star formation are interesting questions.
- Some barred galaxies have shown a higher concentration of newly formed stars, suggesting that the bar nurtures star formation.
- The present work studies four such barred galaxies out of which three, in fact, appear to prevent stars from forming at their central region covered by the length of the bar.
- Using data from multiple telescopes, including the Very Large Array, New Mexico, in the US, the IRAM 30 metre telescope, Sierra Nevada, Spain, Sloan Digital Sky Survey etc, the authors study the gas content and star formation along the bar region of four barred spiral galaxies.
- In three of the four observed galaxies, they find that the region covered by the length of the bar does not have enough gas (Hydrogen in the atomic form and molecular hydrogen, which is believed to condense and form stars).
- The researchers do not see the same depletion of gas and stars in the fourth galaxy. The reason, they believe is that this galaxy does not have an old enough bar.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-III Indian Economy
Why in news?
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) informed the Supreme Court that it has advised banks and financial companies to fully comply with a government scheme to pay back borrowers compound interest or interest on interest, charged on their loans during the six-month moratorium period.
- The RBI said it has “advised” commercial banks, co-operative banks, financial institutions and non-banking financial companies to comply with the government’s pay-back scheme.
- RBI has advised all Commercial Banks (including Small Finance Banks, Local Area Banks and Regional Rural Banks), all Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks/ State Cooperative Banks/ District Central Co-operative Banks, all All India Financial Institutions and all Non-Banking Financial Companies (including Housing Finance Companies) to be guided by the provisions of the Scheme and take necessary actions within the stipulated timeline therein.
- The government scheme is meant to bring “additional relief” to borrowers affected by the pandemic-induced financial distress.
- The scheme will cover MSME, education, housing, consumer durables, credit card, auto, personal and consumption loans.
- Clause three of the government scheme defines “all financial institutions” to include banking companies, public sector banks, cooperative banks, regional rural banks, all India financial institutions, non-banking financial companies, housing finance companies registered with the RBI, and national housing banks.
-Source: The Hindu