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

Contents

  1. India, Japan back in another Sri Lanka port project
  2. NHRC issues notices on Hirakud displacement
  3. Pakistan needs legislation to meet FATF benchmarks
  4. Himalayan serow spotted in Assam

INDIA, JAPAN BACK IN ANOTHER SRI LANKA PORT PROJECT

Context:

Sri Lanka said it will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port along with India and Japan while previously, the Sri Lankan Rajapaksa government ejected the two partners, India and Japan, from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) of Colombo Port.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Economic relations and Landmark agreements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Sri Lanka’s decision regarding ECT at Colombo Port
  2. About the New Offer for WCT at Colombo port
  3. Geopolitical Significance of Sri Lanka

About Sri Lanka’s decision regarding ECT at Colombo Port

  • The Sri Lankan government offers the West Container Terminal (WCT) to India for possible investments, however, does not want any foreign involvement in the development of the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port.
  • This decision comes amid mounting pressure from Port union workers against any foreign role or investment in the ECT project, where nearly 70% of the transshipment business is linked to India.
  • Even though Sri Lankan government has announced the decision, there is a tripartite agreement on it between India, Sri Lanka and Japan, so any action upon the development would be considered unilateral.

India’s role in development of ECT

  • For New Delhi, the strategic ECT project in Colombo has been high on priority.
  • The Adani Group – Government of India’s nominee – was set to invest in the terminal which would not be “sold or leased” to any foreign entity.
  • The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold 51 % stake in the operations, while India and Japan together would hold 49 %, as per the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC).

About the New Offer for WCT at Colombo port

  • The Rajapaksa government has offered India and Japan the WCT as an alternative, allowing higher stakes.
  • In the WCT proposal, India and Japan will be accorded 85% stake – this is similar to the 85% stake given to China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited in the nearby Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).
  • As opposed to the ECT, the WCT West Container Terminal, however, has to be built from scratch, requiring a much higher investment.
  • Colombo’s alternative offer also comes at a time when Sri Lanka is seeking support at the ongoing UN Human Right Council session, where a resolution on the country’s rights record will soon be put to vote.

Geopolitical Significance of Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region as an island State has been of strategic geopolitical relevance to several major powers.
  • Some examples that highlight Western interests in Sri Lanka’s strategic location are the British Defence and External Affairs Agreement of 1948, and the Maritime Agreement with USSR of 1962.
  • Even during the J.R Jayewardene (1978-1989) and Ranasinghe Premadasa (1989-1993) tenures, Sri Lanka was chosen to build the Voice of America transmitting station (suspected of being used for intelligence gathering purposes and electronic surveillance of the Indian Ocean).
  • It was the massive Chinese involvement during the Rajapaksa tenure that garnered the deepest controversy in recent years.
  • China is building state of the art gigantic modern ports all along the Indian Ocean to the south of it, in Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh, Kyauk Phru (Myanmar) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka).
  • China’s string of pearl’s strategy is aimed at encircling India to establish dominance in the Indian Ocean.
  • Post 2015, Sri Lanka still relies heavily on China for Port city project and for continuation of Chinese funded infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
  • Although the Hambantota harbour is reportedly making losses, it too has potential for development due to its strategic location.
  • Sri Lanka has a list of highly strategic ports located among busiest sea lanes of communication.
  • Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port is the 25th busiest container port in the world and the natural deep-water harbor at Trincomalee is the fifth largest natural harbour in the world.
  • Port city of Trincomalee was the main base for Eastern Fleet and British Royal Navy during the Second World War.
  • Sri Lanka’s location can thus serve both commercial and industrial purposes and be used as a military base.

-Source: The Hindu


NHRC ISSUES NOTICES ON HIRAKUD DISPLACEMENT

Context:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the action taken to alleviate the sufferings of people displaced by the construction of the Hirakud dam over the Mahanadi river about six decades ago.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Statutory Bodies, Government policies and interventions for development and issues arising out of design and implementation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hirakud Dam Project
  2. More about NHRC notices regarding Hirakud displacement
  3. About Mahanadi River
  4. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Hirakud Dam Project

  • Hirakud Dam Project is a multipurpose scheme conceived by Er. M. Visveswaraya in 1937, after recurrence of devastating floods in Mahanadi river. Its first hydro power was commissioned in 1956.
  • The dam is built across river Mahanadi at about 15 km upstream of Sambalpur town in the state of Odisha.
  • The project provides more than 1.5 lakh hectares of Kharif and more than 1 lakh hectares of Rabi irrigation in the districts of Sambalpur, Bargarh, Bolangir and Subarnapur.
  • The water released through the power house irrigates more than 4 lakh ha of regions in Mahanadi Delta.
  • The installed capacity for power generation is almost 350 MW through its two power houses at Burla, at the right bank and Chiplima, at 22 km downstream of the dam.
  • The project provides flood protection to Mahanadi basin including 9500 sq. km of delta area in districts of Cuttack and Puri.

More about NHRC notices regarding Hirakud displacement

  • A Human rights lawyer had moved the NHRC alleging that more than 25 thousand families were displaced for the construction of the Hirakud dam project and due compensation was not paid to evictees.
  • When the dam was built, more than a total of 70 thousand hectares of land was submerged, including agricultural land, government land and forest.
  • A total of 111 villages were fully submerged and 174 villages were partially submerged, with approximately 18,000 families displaced.
  • The NHRC has directed the Chief Secretaries of both Odisha and Chhattisgarh to submit an Action Taken Report on the mitigation of problems with regards to evictees.

About Mahanadi River

  • The Mahanadi is a major river in East Central India which flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • The Mahanadi River system is the third largest of peninsular India after Godavari and Krishna.
  • Major tributaries of the Mahanadi River include: Seonath, Hasdeo, Mand, Jonking.
  • Its basin is bounded by the Central India hills on the north, by the Eastern Ghats on the south and east and by the Maikala range on the west.

Source

  • Like many other seasonal Indian rivers, the Mahanadi too is a combination of many mountain streams and thus its precise source is impossible to pinpoint.
  • The Bastar hills in Chhattisgarh (from which the farthest headwaters form the river) are an extension of the Eastern Ghats and are a source of many other streams which then go on to join the Mahanadi.

Floods in the past and Hirakud dam

  • The Mahanadi river is very well known for the Hirakud dam which is one of the first major multipurpose river valley projects started after India’s independence. (It is the Longest Major Earthen Dam in India)
  • The Mahanadi river deposits more silt than any other river in the Indian subcontinent. (Relate to the news regarding Floodplains).
  • The Mahanadi was notorious for its devastating floods for much of recorded history. Thus, it was called ‘the sorrow of Orissa’.
  • However, the construction of the Hirakud Dam has greatly altered the situation.

Click Here to read more about the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

-Source: The Hindu


PAKISTAN NEEDS LEGISLATION TO MEET FATF BENCHMARKS

Context:

Pakistan will have to make further legislation on at least two counts to meet three outstanding benchmarks of the 27-point action plan of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog FATF before the new deadline.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Major international organizations, Areas of confrontation in India Pakistan relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is FATF?
  2. What is FATF Greylist?
  3. What is FATF Blacklist?
  4. Effect of being blacklisted by FATF
  5. Recent report of FATF on Pakistan

What is FATF?

  • The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • FATF is a “policy-making body” that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries.
  • Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the FATF greylist (formally called the “Other monitored jurisdictions”).
  • The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

What is FATF Greylist?

  • FATF greylist is officially referred to as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring.
  • FATF grey list represent a much higher risk of money laundering and terrorism financing but have formally committed to working with the FATF to develop action plans that will address their AML/CFT deficiencies.
  • The countries on the grey list are subject to increased monitoring by the FATF, which either assesses them directly or uses FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) to report on the progress they are making towards their AML/CFT goals.
  • While grey-list classification is not as negative as the blacklist, countries on the list may still face economic sanctions from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and experience adverse effects on trade.

What is FATF Blacklist?

  • FATF Blacklists is Officially known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.
  • FATF blacklist sets out the countries that are considered deficient in their anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulatory regimes.
  • The list is intended to serve not only as a way of negatively highlighting these countries on the world stage, but as a warning of the high money laundering and terror financing risk that they present.
  • It is extremely likely that blacklisted countries will be subject to economic sanctions and other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organizations.

Effect of being blacklisted by FATF

  • The effect of the FATF Blacklist has been significant, and arguably has proven more important in international efforts against money laundering than has the FATF Recommendations.
  • While, under international law, the FATF Blacklist carried with it no formal sanction, in reality, a jurisdiction placed on the FATF Blacklist often found itself under intense financial pressure.
  • FATF makes sure funds are not easily accessible by terror organisations that are causing crimes against humanity.
  • FATF has helped to fight against corruption by ‘grey-listing’ countries that do not meet Recommended Criteria and this helps to cripple economies and states that are aiding terrorist and corrupted organisations.

Recent report of FATF on Pakistan

  • It was observed that Pakistan had made progress over the past two years and was being appreciated by the international community, but at the same time it did not send a good message when international commitments and deadlines were missed repeatedly.
  • The NEC was informed that Pakistan had to update the Paris-based global watchdog on financial crimes on the way forward and its timelines on the basis of observations of FATF plenary and shortcomings pointed out by the FATF assessors.
  • The additional legislation has to cover some weaknesses in the existing framework that limited the authorities from taking action, including imposing sanction or apprehending those acting for or on behalf of designated terrorist entities or individuals and prosecuting targeted persons and entities or those working for them.
  • The three outstanding action points include demonstrating that Terrorism Financing (TF) investigations and prosecutions target persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities and Demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

-Source: The Hindu


HIMALAYAN SEROW SPOTTED IN ASSAM

Context:

A Himalayan mammal, somewhere between a goat and an antelope, has been confirmed as the newest creature to be spotted in Assam.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in News)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Himalayan serow

Himalayan serow

  • The Himalayan serow (Capricornis sumatraensis thar) is a subspecies of the mainland serow native to the Himalayas.
  • The Himalayan serow is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List.
  • It is also listed in Appendix 1 of CITES and Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Himalayan serow resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
  • It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
  • There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia.
  • They are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres.
  • They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.

-Source: The Hindu

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