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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 3 February 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. UN Report on Ageing dams in India
  2. Pending HC cases on minimum age for marriage

UN REPORT ON AGEING DAMS IN INDIA

Context:

A report, titled ‘Ageing water infrastructure: An emerging global risk’ was compiled by United Nations University was released raising concerns of the longevity of the dams that were constructed in the past.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of water and other resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Ageing dams in India: Highlights of the UN Report
  2. Ageing dams in the World: Highlights of the UN Report
  3. Surge in large damn constructions in the past
  4. Conclusion Regarding Decommissioning of ageing dams
  5. Issues with Ageing Dams in India
  6. Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)

Ageing dams in India: Highlights of the UN Report

  • India is ranked third in the world in terms of building large dams.
  • Over a thousand large dams in India will be roughly 50-years-old in 2025 and such aging structures pose a growing threat.
  • There are also more than four thousand large dams in the country that will be over 50-years-old in 2050 and 64 large dams will be more than 150-years-old in 2050.
  • Ageing signs include increasing cases of dam failures, progressively increasing costs of dam repair and maintenance, increasing reservoir sedimentation, and loss of a dam’s functionality and effectiveness, “strongly interconnected” manifestations
  • Krishna Raja Sagar dam was built in 1931 and is now 90 years old.
  • Mettur dam was constructed in 1934 and is now 87 years old.

Mullaperiyar Dam

  • The report said that approximately 3.5 million people are at risk if India’s Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, built over 100 years ago, “were to fail”.
  • The dam, in a seismically active area, shows significant structural flaws and its management is a contentious issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu States.
  • Mullaperiyaru Dam is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala.
  • The Periyar National Park in Thekkady is located around the dam’s reservoir.
  • The dam is built at the confluence of Mullayar and Periyar rivers but is operated and maintained by the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

Ageing dams in the World: Highlights of the UN Report

  • There are around 60 thousand large dams worldwide which were constructed between 1930 and 1970 with a design life of 50 to 100 years.
  • By 2050, most people on Earth will live downstream of tens of thousands of large dams built in the 20th century, many of them already operating at or beyond their design life.
  • More than half of the world’s total large damns (more than 30 thousand) are found in just four Asian countries: China, India, Japan, and South Korea – a majority of which will reach the 50-year threshold relatively soon.
  • The report added that dams that are well designed, constructed and maintained can “easily” reach 100 years of service but predicts an increase in “decommissioning” as economic and practical limitations prevent ageing dams from being upgraded or if their original use is now obsolete.
  • Worldwide, the huge volume of water stored behind large dams is estimated to be enough to cover about 80% of Canada’s landmass under a meter of water.

Surge in large damn constructions in the past

  • Large dam construction surged in the mid-20th century and peaked in the 1960s – 70s especially in Asia, Europe and North America, while in Africa the peak occurred in the 1980s.
  • The number of newly-constructed large dams after that continuously and progressively declined.
  • The best locations for such dams globally have been progressively diminishing as nearly 50% of global river volume is already fragmented or regulated by dams.
  • According to the report, the world is unlikely to witness another large dam-building revolution as in the mid-20th century, but dams constructed then will inevitably be showing their age.

Conclusion Regarding Decommissioning of ageing dams

  • There are also strong concerns regarding the environmental and social impacts of dams, and large dams in particular, as well as emerging ideas and practices on the alternative types of water storage, nature-based solutions, and types of energy production beyond hydropower, it said.
  • Public safety, escalating maintenance costs, reservoir sedimentation, and restoration of a natural river ecosystem are among the reasons driving dam decommissioning.
  • Dam decommissioning should be seen as equally important as dam building in the overall planning process on water storage infrastructure developments.

Issues with Ageing Dams in India

  • As dams age, soil replaces the water in the reservoirs. Therefore, the storage capacity cannot be claimed to be the same as it was in the 1900s and 1950s.
  • Studies show that the design of many of India’s reservoirs is flawed in the sense that the designs underestimate the rate of siltation and overestimate live storage capacity created.
  • When soil replaces the water in reservoirs, supply gets choked. The cropped area begins receiving less and less water as time progresses.
  • The net sown water area either shrinks in size or depends on rains or groundwater, which is overexploited.
  • The designed flood cushions within several reservoirs across many river basins may have already depleted substantially due to which floods have become more frequent downstream of dams.

Recently in news: Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)

  • Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) was started in 2012 and aims to improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner.
  • DRIP also has the objective of strengthening the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at the central level and exploring alternative incidental means in few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams.
  • It also aims at ensuring the safety of downstream population and property that are affected in the case of a dam failure or operational failure.

-Source: The Hindu


PENDING HC CASES ON MINIMUM AGE FOR MARRIAGE

Context:

A Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India decided to examine a plea to transfer the cases pending in the Delhi and Rajasthan High Courts to declare a “uniform minimum age” for marriage to the SC.

The plea also sought a direction to the Centre to take appropriate steps to remove the anomalies in the minimum age of marriage and make it ‘gender-neutral, religion-neutral and uniform for all citizens’ in the spirit of the fundamental rights of equality and right to life and international conventions.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance, Social Justice (Issues related to women, Government Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How the minimum age limit for marriage came to be where they are now?
  2. Reasons to have a minimum age for marriage
  3. How prevalent is underage marriage?
  4. How does the age of marriage correlate with health?
  5. Can a mandated age of marriage bring about a change at population level?

How the minimum age limit for marriage came to be where they are now?

  • The Indian Penal Code in 1860 criminalised sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 10, introducing the first legal framework for a minimum age of consent for girls.
  • Increasing the age by even just two years to 12 in the Age of Consent Bill in 1927 was opposed by many nationalists who saw the move as imperial interference with local customs.
  • In 1929, the barrier was further raised to outlaw marriage of girls below 16.
  • From then, it took nearly five decades to bring the law to its current standard of 18 years for women and 21 for men.

Reasons to have a minimum age for marriage

Female Health

  • According to a United Nations Population Fund report, India is home to one in three child brides in the world.
  • Early marriages causing early pregnancies are inherently linked to higher rates of malnourishment, maternal and infant mortality.
  • Although maternal mortality rate has been declining, the move to increase the minimum age of marriage could boost the fight.

Equality

  • There is no reason why the law makes the presumption that the minimum age of marriage must be different for men and women.
  • It perpetuates benevolent sexism or the stereotype that women are more mature and therefore, can be given greater responsibilities at a younger age in comparison to men.
  • The reflection of patriarchy in personal laws must change to fit the framework of the Constitution.

How prevalent is underage marriage?

  • Data show that the majority of women in India marry after the age of 21.
  • Although, the mean age of women at marriage is 22.1 years, and more than 21 in all states- this does not mean that child marriages have disappeared.
  • The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) found that about 26.8% of women aged 20-24 were married before adulthood (age 18).

How does the age of marriage correlate with health?

  • Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio.
  • As of 2018 data, the maternal mortality ratio — the number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born — is 113 – dropping from 122 in 2016.
  • India’s infant mortality ratio shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one.
  • Both these indicators in India are the highest among the BRICS economies.
  • Also, young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia- more than half the women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are anaemic.
  • The prevalence of anaemia among women has consistently been high over the last 20 years.

Can a mandated age of marriage bring about a change at population level?

  • Poverty, Limited Access to Education and Economic Prospects, and Security Concerns are the known reasons for early marriage.
  • If the main causes of early marriage are not addressed, a law will not be enough to delay marriage among girls.
  • Women in the poorest 20% of the population married much younger than their peers from the wealthiest 20%.
  • The average age at marriage of women with no schooling was 17.6, considerably lower than that for women educated beyond class 12.
  • Almost 40% of girls aged 15-18 do not attend school, as per a report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • Nearly 65% of these girls are engaged in non-remunerative work.

Hence, many believe that merely tweaking the official age of marriage may discriminate against the poorer, less-educated and marginalised women.

  • Despite the well-intended reasons, a change in law may not suffice in ending discrimination against women.
  • Policymakers will do well to delink age of marriage and age of sexual consent as teen pregnancies happen outside of marriage too.
  • Laws that prevent child marriages and sexual exploitation of minors must be implemented effectively.
  • Without improving other welfare mechanisms including educational and employment opportunities for women, the increase in age of marriage will only delay the problem and not remedy it.

-Source: The Hindu

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