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  1. NGT asks panel to inspect Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary
  2. World’s longest High-Altitude Tunnel opened
  3. Intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed, it has to be evident: Supreme Court
  4. 100-day campaign to provide potable piped water in Schools

NGT asks panel to inspect Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary

Why in news?

NGT took suo moto cognisance of a report that a road was being laid within the eco-sensitive zone of the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Srivilliputtur, without permission from the Forest Department.

Grizzled Squirrel:

 grizzled giant squirrel UPSC Legacy IAS
  • The grizzled giant squirrel is usually known to nest in the Western Ghats in Southern India ranging from Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary in Kerala to Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu.
  • Owing to habitat loss and poaching, the species has been categorised as near threatened by the Red List and listed under Schedule II of CITES.
  • It is an endangered species listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary: It is located in Shenbagathoppu, Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu.

World’s longest High-Altitude Tunnel opened

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Atal Tunnel which is the world longest high-altitude tunnel at Rohtang. 

Details about Atal-Tunnel

  • The tunnel have the length of 9.02 km. The tunnel is of 8 metres wide and the overhead clearance is of 5.525 metres.
  • The tunnel is located in the Pir Panjal range of Himalaya under the Rohtang pass
  • The tunnel would be proved beneficial for the defence troops stationed in Ladakh and for the residents of Lahaul and Spiti Valley who remain cut off from the rest of the part during winters.
  • It reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km. The journey between Manali and Lahaul- Spiti Valley usually takes five hours but now it has been reduced to 10 minutes.

Pir Panjal Range:

  • The Pir Panjal range in Kashmir is the longest and the most important range of middle/lesser Himalaya
  • It extends from the Jhelum river to the upper Beas river for over 300 km.
  • It rises to 5,000 metres and contains mostly volcanic rocks.

Passes in Pir Panjal

  • Pir Panjal Pass (3,480 m), the Bidil (4,270 m), Golabghar Pass (3,812 m) and Banihal Pass (2,835 m).
  • The Banihal Pass is used by the Jammu-Srinagar highway and Jammu-Baramula railway.
  • The Kishanganga, the Jhelum and the Chenab cut through the range.
  • Southeast of the Ravi, the Pir Panjal continues as Dhaola Dhar range, passing through Dalhousie, Dharmshala, and Shimla.

Intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed, it has to be evident: Supreme Court

Why in news?

The intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed and it needs to be backed by solid, visible proof, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.


  • The police have to establish that an accused wanted to abet the suicide. ‘Abetment’ is defined in Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 
  • Similarly, the crime of ‘abetment of suicide’ under Section 306 of the IPC involves instigating or actively aiding a person to take his own life.
  • Abetting a person to commit suicide should be intentional, deliberate and calculated
  • The police cannot assume the intention (mens rea) of the abettor of a suicide. It has to be evident

Suicides in India:

  • India reported an average 381 deaths by suicide daily in 2019, totalling 1,39,123 fatalities over the year, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
  • The rate of suicide (incidents per 1 lakh population) rose by 0.2 per cent in 2019 over 2018, as per the data.
  • Suicide rate in cities (13.9 per cent) was higher as compared to all-India suicide rate (10.4 per cent) in 2019.
  • Family problems (other than marriage-related issues) were behind 32.4 per cent of suicides, marriage-related problems (5.5 per cent) and illness (17.1 per cent) together accounted for 55 per cent of the total suicides in the country during 2019
  • For every 100 suicide deaths, 70.2 were male and 29.8 females
  • Majority of suicides were reported in Maharashtra (18,916), followed by 13,493 in Tamil Nadu, 12,665 in West Bengal, 12,457 in Madhya Pradesh and 11,288 in Karnataka.

About Section 309:

  • Under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, an attempt to commit suicide is punishable with simple imprisonment up to one year and/or a fine.
  • The section continues to remain in the IPC and The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017 has significantly reduced the scope for the use of Section 309 IPC and made the attempt to commit suicide punishable only as an exception.
  • Supreme Court in Gian Kaur case(1996) overturned the 1994 decision which brought Section 309 back to life and made ‘right to die’ unconstitutional. The Court held that the right to life under Article 21 does not include the right to die.
  • Rajasthan High Court ruled that the Jain practise of Santhara would henceforth be treated as “suicide” and made punishable under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) and Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but later Supreme Court has overruled the HC’s judgement.

100-day campaign to provide potable piped water in Schools

Why in news?

The campaign seeks to provide piped water supply to schools and Anganwadi centres. This mission was launched on the occasion of 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.


  • Under the campaign, the States and Union Territories will ensure that Gram Sabha are convened at the earliest in order to pass the resolution to provide safe water in schools and Anganwadi centres.
  • These facilities will be operated by Gram Panchayats.


Paani Samiti

The Pani Samiti is a statutory committee under the nodal head Gram Panchayat. The committee take cares of the community participation, ownership and contribution with respect to water supply systems.

Jal Jeevan Mission

Har Ghar Nal Se Jal Scheme - UPSC Legacy IAS

The mission is aimed at providing tap connections to every household by 2024. It  was launched in the backdrop that 81.67% of households in India do not receive tap water supply. The scheme is being implemented at National, State, District and Gram Panchayat levels.

India’s Water Crisis:

  • India’s 1.3 billion people have access to only about 4% of the world’s water resources, and farmers consume almost 90% of the groundwater water available.
  • According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
  • 12 per cent of India’s population is already living the ‘Day Zero’ scenario
  • More than 163 million people in India do not have access to clean water, the highest in the world. 
  • People who spend more than 30 minutes travelling to procure water are to be considered without access to water.
  • The lack of political will and finance are the primary reasons 11 per cent of the world remains without access to water. 
  • India’s per capita water availability has fallen from 1,816 cubic metres in 2001 to 1,545 cubic metres in 2011.
  • It is projected to decrease further to 1,345 cubic metres per capita per year by 2025.
  • States like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana are more ground water exploiting states.
  • Almost 90% of the water is being used for irrigation in our country, which is 3-5 times more compared to countries like China. Hence there is a need to shift to less water-intensive crops and recharge aquifers.
  • Presently, India captures only eight per cent of its annual rainfall, among the lowest in the world.
  • Safe drinking water received attention in 2014 when Swachh Bharat mission was launched.
  • It added further momentum and strength to the implementation of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities in the country. 

Measures Taken by the Government

  • Across the country, states are taking the lead.
  • In Rajasthan, there is a scheme called ‘Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan’. One of its objectives is to ensure effective implementation of water conservation and water harvesting related activities in rural areas.
  • Maharashtra has launched a project called ‘Jalyukt-Shivar’, which aims to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year.
  • The Telangana government has launched a mission called Mission Kakatiya, the objective of which is to enhance the development of agriculture based income for small and marginal farmers, by accelerating the development of minor irrigation infrastructure, strengthening community based irrigation management and adopting a comprehensive programme for restoration of tanks.
December 2023