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Current Affairs 04 October 2022

Contents:

  1. Uttrakhand disaster caused by Avalanche
  2. Nobel prize in Physics
  3. NGT halts mining in Shaliganga Nallah
  4. Made-in-India attack helicopters inducted into IAF

Uttrakhand Disaster Caused by Avalanche


Context:

As many as 10 people are feared dead after an avalanche hit Mount Draupadi Ka Danda-II peak in Uttarakhand

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management, GS-I: Geography (Physical Geography, Important Geophysical Phenomena),

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. What is an Avalanche?
  3. Effects of Climate Change in Uttrakhand:

Key points:

Avalanche strikes Uttrakhand’s Danda 2 peak and as many as 10 people are feared dead, trapping 29 mountaineers from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi.

Rapid relief and rescue operations are being carried out by the district administration, NDRF, SDRF, Army and ITBP personnel

What is an Avalanche?

  • An avalanche (also called a snowslide) is a rapid flow of snow down a slope, such as a hill or mountain.
  • Avalanches can be set off spontaneously, by such factors as increased precipitation or snowpack weakening, or by external means such as humans, animals, and earthquakes.
  • Primarily composed of flowing snow and air, large avalanches have the capability to capture and move ice, rocks, and trees.
  • Though they share similarities at first, avalanches are distinct from slushflows, mudslides, rock slides, and serac collapses. They are also different from large scale movements of ice.

Effects of Climate Change in Uttrakhand:

  • The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate found that in the Himalayan ranges, there could be variations in overall water availability, but floods, avalanches and landslides were all forecast to increase. Changes in monsoonal precipitation could also bring more frequent disasters.
  • Changing the rainfall pattern: In 2013, catastrophic loss of lives was seen in the floods that swept Kedarnath. They were triggered by heavy rainfall over a short period in June, first destroying a river training wall, and then triggering a landslide that led to the breaching of the Chorabari moraine-dammed lake, devastating Kedarnath town.
  • The Indian summer monsoon caused by changes to long-term climate could produce even greater damage, by bringing debris and silt down the river courses, destroying physical structures, reducing dam life, and causing enormous losses.
  • Landslide avalanche: In 2021, a snow avalanche triggered possibly by a landslide caused a flash flood in the Rishi Ganga river, a tributary of the Alaknanda in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, washing away a functional small hydroelectric project and destroying the under-construction 520 MW Tapovan Vishnugad project of the NTPC on the Dhauli Ganga river.
  • These problems are also aggravated by the erosion of mountain slopes and the instability of glacial lakes in upper elevations. On the other hand, as the IPCC Special Report points out, the retreat of glaciers in the high mountains has produced a different kind of loss — of aesthetic and cultural values, declines in tourism and local agriculture.

-Source: The Indian Express


Nobel Prize in Physics


Context:

Three scientists share Physics Nobel for their work on quantum mechanics

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. What is Quantum teleportation?
  3. About Quantum Mechanics

Key points:

  • The Nobel Prize in physics for 2022 is being awarded to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger for their work on quantum mechanics.
  • The award is for their groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated.
  • Significance:
    • This development has laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology.
    • Being able to manipulate and manage quantum states and all their layers of properties gives us access to tools with unexpected potential.
    • The research has demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation, which makes it possible to transfer a quantum state from one particle to one at a distance.
  • Intense research and development are underway to utilise the special properties of individual particle systems to construct quantum computers, improve measurements, build quantum networks and establish secure quantum encrypted communication.

What is Quantum teleportation?

  • It is a technique for transferring quantum information from a sender at one location to a receiver some distance away.
  • It uses the features of entanglement which can be used to transport information, carried by the object, to another place where the object is then reconstituted.
  • Transportation in general means to transfer physical objects from one location to the next, quantum teleportation only transfers quantum information.
  • Regardless of the distance, the encoded information shared by the “entangled” pair of particles can be passed between them.
  • An interesting note is that the sender knows neither the location of the recipient nor the quantum state that will be transferred.
  • So far this can be done on very small particles.  It is fundamentally important for transferring information between quantum computer

About Quantum Mechanics:

  • Quantum mechanics is a subfield of physics that describes the behavior of particles — atoms, electrons, photons and almost everything in the molecular and submolecular realm. 
  • It was developed during the first half of the 20th century, the results of quantum mechanics are often extremely strange and counterintuitive.
  • The first phase of this revolutionary technology has provided the foundations of understanding of the physical world and led to ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors.
  • The second revolution is currently underway with the goal of putting properties of quantum mechanics in the realms of computing.

-Source: The Hindu


NGT Halts Mining in Shaliganga Nallah


Context:

A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench recently ordered to halt mining operations at the Shaliganga Nallah in Budgam district of the Kashmir Valley to halt, calling into question the environmental clearances (EC) given for the operations.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution, Environmental Degradation, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Statutory Bodies and Quasi-Judicial Bodies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. About the National Green Tribunal (NGT)
  3. Powers of NGT
  4. Structure of National Green Tribunal

Key points:

  • The NGT order came in response to a plea by activist who challenged the validity of the Environmental Clearance given to three mining blocks in the area earlier this year.
  • Shaliganga Nallah is a feeding channel for the Hokersar wetland and mining activity may be detrimental to natural flow and quality of water flowing into Hokersar.
  • The irrigation kuhls are also present within the mining site. Kuhls are traditional, community-managed irrigation systems in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Recent investigations found that minerals had been depleted to a large extent due to heavy illegal mining.
  • Hardly any material was available for exploitation without endangering the environmental setting of the Nallah.
  • The mining may be detrimental to the water flowing into Hokersar Wetland Reserve which is an internationally declared Ramsar site and home to migratory birds. A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

About the National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • The NGT was established on 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government.
  • National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • NGT Act draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.

Powers of NGT

  • The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
    1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
    2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
    3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
    4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
    5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
    6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
    7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • This means that any violations pertaining ONLY to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
  • Importantly, the NGT has NOT been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.

Structure of National Green Tribunal

  • Following the enactment of the said law, the Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench). Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region.
  • The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi.
  • Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
  • Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.

-Source: Down to Earth


Made-in-India Attack Helicopters Inducted into IAF


Context:

The Union Defence Minister formally inducted the  indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) “Prachand” into the Indian Air Force, in Jodhpur.

It is suitable for operating in high-altitude battlefields, and capable of destroying enemy air defence and engaging in counter-insurgency operations.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points:
  2. About Light Combat Helicopter
  3. Genesis of the Light Combat Helicopter
  4. Combat Helicopters currently in use:

Key points:

  • The formal induction of the LCH comes after the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by the Prime Minister, approved in March the procurement of 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) for Rs 3,887 crore along with allied infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.
  • Of the 15 helicopters being procured from the LSP, 10 are for the IAF and five for the Indian Army.
  • The helicopter will be called ‘Prachand’, which means fierce.

About Light Combat Helicopter:

  • Features:
    • The LCH is a 5.5-tonne class dedicated combat helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
    • LCH is powered by two French-origin Shakti engines manufactured by the HAL.
    • The LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world that can fly and take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres with considerable weapons and fuel load, meeting the specific requirement of armed forces.
    • As far as weapons systems are concerned, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rockets and air-to-air missile systems are onboard.
    • The helicopter is equipped with the requisite agility, maneuverability, extended range, high-altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability to perform Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations.
    • It can also counter slow-moving aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), and be deployed in high-altitude bunker busting operations and counter insurgency operations in jungle and urban environments
  • Combat capabilities:
    • The LCH has the capabilities of combat roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter insurgency warfare, combat search and rescue, anti-tank, and counter surface force operations.
  • Significance:
    • The induction marks India becoming the seventh country to make attack helicopters.
    • It has stealth features, armour protection, night attack capabilities and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability.
    • Versatility and offensive protection of this platform is at par or better among attack helicopters available globally.

Genesis of the Light Combat Helicopter:

  • The need for an indigenous Light Combat Helipcopter was first felt during the Kargil war in 1999. India needed a lightweight assault helicopter that could hold precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios. This meant a craft that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions.
  • The government sanctioned the LCH project in October 2006, and HAL was tasked to develop it.
  • Initial operational clearance came in 2017 for the IAF variant and in 2019 for the Army variant. 
  • In March this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved procurement of 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) — 10 for IAF and five for Army — at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.
  • The LCH was formally inducted into the Army on September 29 at Bangalore and into the IAF on October 3rd at Jodhpur.

Combat Helicopters currently in use:

  • India has been operating sub 3 ton category French-origin legacy helicopters, Chetak and Cheetah, made in India by the HAL.
    • These single engine machines were, primarily, utility helicopters.
  • Indian forces also operate the Lancer, an armed version of Cheetah.
  • The Indian Air Force currently operates the Russian origin Mi-17 and its variants Mi-17 IV and Mi-17 V5, with maximum take off weight of 13 tonnes, which are to be phased out starting 2028.

-Source: Indian Express



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