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Current Affairs 05 February 2024

  1. Chief source of Revenue for Panchayats
  2. Ergosphere
  3. Need to restore WTO’s authority
  4. CBI’s manpower shortage
  5. World Cancer Day
  6. Dhanauri wetland


Context:

The main source of revenue for panchayats come from the Centre and the states as grants. The Revenue from taxes form a negligible share.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Government Policies and Interventions for Transparency and Good Governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. Overdependence on the centre and states for funds
  3. Historical Background of (Panchayat Raj Institutions) PRIs:
  4. PRIs progress after independence under Five-year plans:
  5. Issues and Concerns
  6. Way forward

Key points:

  • As the data from the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) report titled ‘Finances of Panchayati Raj Institutions’, The Panchayats earn only 1% of their revenue through taxes.
  • A major part of its revenue comes from the State and the Centre as grants.
    • 80% of the revenue was from Central government grants.
    • 15% was from State government grants.
  • Panchayats act on three different levels namely, gram sabhas, panchayat samithis, and zila parishads. They are responsible for a variety of tasks including agriculture, rural housing, water management, rural electrification, healthcare, and sanitation. In some cases, zila parishads are also responsible for maintaining schools, hospitals, dispensaries, and minor irrigation projects.

Overdependence on the centre and states for funds:

  • As an impact of overdependence on the Centre and the State for their funds, most panchayats suffer from interference from the top two tiers of the system.
  • The Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj said in March last year that 19 out of 34 State/Union Territories did not receive any funds under the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan scheme in FY23.
    • The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan scheme was started fobuilding capacity and training elected representatives.
  • Due to meagre revenue raising potential, panchayats’ share in the respective State’s own revenue was poor. For instance, in Andhra Pradesh, revenue receipts of panchayats formed just 0.1% of the State’s own revenue. The revenue of panchayats in Uttar Pradesh formed 2.5% of the State’s own revenue, the highest among States. 
  • Recent incidences:
    • Protest by several panchayats heads in Chennai last year asking for independence of the Panchayati Raj.
    • A news report from Telangana last year stated that the failure of the State government in releasing funds on time forced sarpanches to use private funds.

Historical Background of (Panchayat Raj Institutions) PRIs:

  • Although historically in India there was a prevalence practice of the panchayat system under various dynasties and kingdoms such as Cholas (very popular for its local self-Government system), Pandyas, Mauryan etc. for efficient administration of kingdoms and dynasties in order to provide maximum satisfaction and services on behalf of king to the entire kingdom. but in later stages under the British/modern Era, gradually the importance of this efficient system robustly declined as was the progress in economy and societal development declined due to such horrendous policies neglecting the progress of state was observed. It’s because of this fact the constitution drafters keeping such issues in mind made a place for village panchayats in the constitution under Article 40 of the Indian constitution which was then a mere suggestion for a state for good governance under Directive Principles of State Policy, various states in order to provide good governance started drafting separate legislations and creating PRIs but this didn’t happen in all the states of India which was the need of an hour for bringing-in remarkable changes for an under-developed India due to such halt in the performance, Panchayat raj essentially got the constitutional status in order to decentralize the democratic government and governance for effective welfare of the states.

Post-Independence India:

  • Panchayat Raj Institutions are a local level institution comprising of elected representatives entrusted with the responsibility of identifying, formulating, implementing and monitoring the local level developmental and welfare programmes, the constitutional provisions expect the state government to enact state legislation not only to create PRIs but also to endow them with such financial powers and functional responsibilities.

PRIs progress after independence under Five-year plans:

  • During the first five year plan the government felt the need of PRIs or disaggregated planning exercise for efficient governance and introduced idea of village plans and district development councils. (DDC)
  • Balwant Rai Mehta committee recommended block as the unit of planning with panchayat samitis as the executive body for planning and also suggested setting up of village panchayats, Talukas, Zilla parishads etc.
  • But due to non-binding nature and absence of mandatory constitutional legislations, various suggestions wouldn’t work for all the states.
  • In third and fourth five-year plans too, same thing re-emerged due to lack of planning machinery and poor planning. The concept of “Integrated area approach” and district planning and various schemes such as lead bank scheme for district credit plans to farmers were introduced which made a little progress and contribution to the idea and implementation of PRIs under fourth and fifth five-year plan. Ashok Mehta Committee in 1977 was set up to examine the functioning of PRIs to improve efficiency of decentralized planning. During the sixth and seventh five year plan a multi-level planning frame work within districts was emphasized but the same various different fallacies took place such as administrative, financial and others. It was during the ninth five-year plan that the Indian government introduced the decentralization reform depicting its seriousness towards village levels through making PRI a constitutional right by making 73rd and 74th amendment in the year 1993 for efficient governance so that the development process could even reach the doors of villages.

Issues and Concerns

  • The first failure of the 73rd Amendment was that the transfer of various governance functions—like the provision of education, health, sanitation, and water was not mandated. Instead, the amendment listed the functions that could be transferred, and left it to the state legislature to actually devolve functions. There has been very little devolution of authority and functions in the last 25 years. PRIs cannot govern unless they are given the authority to actually perform functions related to governance.
  • To make matters worse, because these functions were never devolved, state executive authorities have proliferated to carry out these functions. The most common example is the terrible state water boards, performing tasks that should have been left to elected representatives of local governments who best understand local water problems and can be disciplined through the democratic process.
  • The second failure of the 73rd Amendment is the lack of finances for PRIs. Local governments can either raise their own revenue through local taxes or receive intergovernmental transfers. The 73th Amendment recognized both forms of public finance, but did not mandate either. The power to tax, even for subjects falling within the purview of PRIs, has to be specifically authorized by the state legislature. The 73rd Amendment let this be a choice open to the state legislatures—a choice that most states have not exercised.
  • A second avenue of revenue generation is intergovernmental transfers, where state governments devolve a certain percentage of their revenue to PRIs. The constitutional amendment created provisions for State Finance Commissions to recommend the revenue share between state and local governments. However, these are merely recommendations and the state governments are not bound by them. Though finance commissions, at every level, have advocated for greater devolution of funds, there has been little action by states to devolve funds.

Way forward:

  • The only long-term solution is to foster genuine fiscal federalism where PRIs raise a large portion of their own revenue and face hard budget constraints, i.e., fiscal autonomy accompanied by fiscal responsibility.
  • As per the report released by the Reserve Bank of India on the finances of Panchayati Raj Institutions for 2022-23 argues that one of the ways forward is to promote greater decentralisation and empower local leaders and officials.
  • Now that there are millions of elected representatives giving voice to Indians at the grass-roots level, these representatives need clear mandates of local functions, and the ability to raise their own revenue, to foster better local governance. Without the functions and finances, PRIs will only be an expensive failure.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Ergosphere, a unique feature of rotating black holes, a region outside their outer event horizon.

Relevance:

GS II- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Ergosphere
  2. Key terms
  3. About black hole
  4. Where do black holes come from?

About Ergosphere:

  • The Ergosphere is a region surrounding a rotating black hole where the rotational energy of the black hole is transferred to the surrounding space-time.
  • The label ‘ergosphere’ comes from ‘ergon’, the Greek word for ‘work’.
  • It is named so because it is possible to extract matter and energy from the ergosphere, but not from beyond the event horizon.
  • One interesting feature of the ergosphere is that any object or particle entering this region is forced to rotate along with the black hole’s rotation. This means that within the ergosphere, it is impossible for an object to remain stationary relative to distant observers.

Key terms:

Black Hole: A black hole is formed when a really massive star runs out of fuel to fuse, blows up, leaving its core to implode under its weight to form a black hole.

Gravitational singularity: The black hole’s gravitational pull itself emanates from a point at its centre called the singularity. It is a point where the general theory of relativity breaks down, i.e. where its predictions don’t apply.

Event horizon: The event horizon describes a sphere around the singularity: when anything enters this sphere, it can’t escape unless it travels faster than light (which is impossible).

About black hole

A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space, this can happen when a star is dying.

Black holes are of four types, classified on the basis of their mass –

  • Stellar mass black holes,
  • Mid- size black holes ,
  • Super Massive black holes
  • Miniature black holes.

A black hole has two basic parts:

  • The Singularity:  It is at the centre and is where the mass resides.
  • Event Horizon: There is a region of space beyond the black hole called the event horizon. This is a “point of no return”, beyond which it is impossible to escape the gravitational effects of the black hole.

Where do black holes come from?

  • A black hole is formed when stars collapse, leading to a space in the universe with an escape velocity — the speed at which an object must travel to override a planet or an object’s gravitational force.
    • For instance, for a spacecraft to leave the surface of the Earth, it needs to be travelling at a speed of about 40,000 km per hour which is so great that even light cannot escape it.
  • Because light cannot get out, black holes are invisible and can only be tracked with the help of spatial telescopes and special tools.
  • The light cannot go out because the gravity inside a black hole is very strong as a result of a lot of matter being squeezed into a small space.
  • In 2020, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award one half of the year’s Nobel Prize in physics to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for furthering the understanding of black holes, the most “enigmatic” objects in the universe.

-Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express



Context:

Many countries have found an easy way to avoid complying with the WTO panel rulings making the body toothless.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism (DSM)
  2. World Trade Organization (WTO)
  3. Subsidies under WTO
  4. Need to relook into subsidy norms arises due to several reasons

WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism (DSM):

  • It is a permanent judicial body of seven independent members with compulsory jurisdiction over all WTO members.
  • This body heard appeals from the decisions rendered by WTO panels.
  • However, since the end of 2019, it stands crippled because the US, which lost several critical disputes before it, has single-handedly blocked the appointment of new members.
  • Consequently, countries have found an easy way to avoid complying with the WTO panel rulings. They appeal into the void, thereby rendering the WTO toothless.
  • At the 12th WTO ministerial meeting, countries resolved to create a fully functioning DSM by 2024.
  • India and several developing countries have rightly demanded the body’s restoration.
  • Significance of DSM:
    • It existed from 1995 till 2019, a fully functional dispute settlement, with the checks and balances that the appellate body provides.
    • It best serves the interests of the developing world

World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.
  • It is the largest international economic organization in the world.
  • The headquarters of the World Trade Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments.
  • The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.
  • Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.
  • The WTO has 164 members (including European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc.)
  • India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO.

Origin of WTO

  • The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created in 1947.
  • The Uruguay Round (1986-94) of the GATT led to the WTO’s creation. WTO began operations on 1st January, 1995.
  • The Agreement Establishing the WTO, commonly known as the “Marrakesh Agreement”, was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1994.

Functions of WTO

  • Trade negotiations: The WTO agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They set procedures for settling disputes.
  • Implementation and monitoring: WTO agreements require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Various WTO councils and committees seek to ensure that these requirements are being followed and that WTO agreements are being properly implemented.
  • Dispute settlement: The WTO’s procedure for resolving trade quarrels under the Dispute Settlement Understanding is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly.
  • Building trade capacity: WTO agreements contain special provision for developing countries, including longer time periods to implement agreements and commitments, measures to increase their trading opportunities, and support to help them build their trade capacity, to handle disputes and to implement technical standards.
  • Outreach: The WTO maintains regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, other international organizations, the media and the general public on various aspects of the WTO and the ongoing Doha negotiations, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and increasing awareness of WTO activities.

Subsidies under WTO

Amber Box Subsidies:

  • Distort international trade by making a country’s products cheaper in comparison to other countries.
  • Examples include subsidies for inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, electricity, irrigation, and Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  • Agriculture’s amber box includes all domestic support measures that are deemed to distort production and trade.
  • WTO requires signatories to commit to reducing trade-distorting domestic supports in the amber box.
  • Members who do not make commitments must keep their amber box support within 5-10% of the value of their production. (Di Minimus Clause)

Blue Box Subsidies:

  • A conditional form of Amber Box subsidies.
  • Placed in the Blue Box if it requires farmers to limit production.
  • These subsidies aim to limit production by imposing production quotas or requiring farmers to set aside part of their land.
  • Currently, there are no limits on spending on Blue Box subsidies.

Green Box Subsidies:

  • Domestic support measures that do not cause trade distortion or cause minimal distortion.
  • Government-funded subsidies without any price support to crops.
  • Examples include environmental protection and regional development programs.
  • Green Box subsidies are allowed without limits (except in certain circumstances).

Need to relook into subsidy norms arises due to several reasons

Unequal Weight in Trade Discussions:

  • There has been a long-standing complaint that the viewpoints of the Global South and emerging markets have not been given equal weight as those of the developed nations in trade discussions.
  • The export of agricultural goods has been a particularly contentious issue.

Frozen Subsidies for Developing Countries:

  • The current reference price adopted under global trade norms has frozen subsidies for agriculture and poor farmers in developing countries.
  • WTO members are not allowed to breach the 10% value of production limit based on the reference price of 1986-88.
  • Subsidies for agriculture and poor farmers in developing countries were not counted at all.

Importance of Food and Fertilizer Security:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict have highlighted the importance of food and fertilizer security.
  • Food security is stronger in developed nations due to unbalanced trade agreements.

Proposed Measures:

  • India has proposed measures such as amendments in the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap.
  • India has also proposed the inclusion of post-2013 programs under the Peace Clause to address the frozen subsidies issue.
    • The WTO’s Peace Clause is an interim mechanism agreed upon by its members in December 2013, aimed at dealing with the food stockpiling issue.
    • Under this clause, developing nations are allowed to breach the prescribed ceiling for food subsidies without facing any challenges at the dispute settlement forum of the WTO.
    • The Peace Clause will remain in effect until a permanent solution is found to the issue of food stockpiling.
  • These measures aim to balance the interests of both developed and developing nations in global trade discussions.

-Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express



Context:

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is facing acute shortage of manpower that led to more than 1000s of cases pending.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution, Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Lack of Manpower topples CBI
  2. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
  3. Functions of CBI
  4. Challenges of CBI

 Lack of Manpower topples CBI:

  • As per the data obtained by the annual report of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) 2022-23, the CBI is facing a shortage of 23% manpower, including in the posts of Special Director, Joint Directors and DIGs.
  • Over 1,025 cases – 943 registered cases and 82 preliminary enquiries were pending before them.
  • Till December 31, 2022, the total sanctioned strength of CBI was 7,295 against which 5,600 officers were in position and 1,695 posts were vacant.
  • How are the personnel recruited?
    • CBI strength is made up of directly recruited personnel and state police personnel on deputation while all higher posts are occupied entirely by officers on deputation.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 after the recommendation of Santhanam committee under Ministry of Home affairs and was later transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
  • Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, however, it is NOT a Statutory Body.
  • CBI is the apex anti-corruption body in the country – Along with being the main investigating agency of the Central Government it also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
  • The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation.
  • The CBI is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
  • The CBI’s conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
  • The CBI is headed by a Director and he is assisted by a special director or an additional director. It has joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police.

CBI has following divisions

  • Anti-Corruption Division
  • Economic Offences Division
  • Special Crimes Division
  • Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
  • Administration Division
  • Directorate of Prosecution
  • Central Forensic Science Laboratory

Functions of CBI

  • Investigating cases of corruption, bribery and misconduct of Central government employees
  • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws, that is, breach of laws concerning export and import control, customs and central excise, income tax, foreign exchange regulations and so on. However, such cases are taken up either in consultation with or at the request of the department concerned.
  • Investigating serious crimes, having national and international ramifications, committed by organized gangs of professional criminals.
  • Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
  • Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.
  • The CBI acts as the “National Central Bureau” of Interpol in India.

Challenges of CBI

  • The CBI has been dubbed a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice” by the Supreme Court of India due to excessive political influence in its operations. It has frequently been utilised by the government to conceal misdeeds, keep coalition allies in line, and keep political opponents at away. It has been accused of massive delays in concluding investigations, such as in its investigation into high-ranking Jain dignitaries in the Jain hawala diaries case [in the 1990s].
  • Loss of Credibility: Improving the agency’s image has been one of the most difficult challenges so far, as the agency has been chastised for its mishandling of several high-profile cases, including the Bofors scandal, the Hawala scandal, the Sant Singh Chatwal case, the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the 2008 Noida double murder case (Aarushi Talwar).
  • Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempt from the Right to Information Act, which means it is not accountable to the public.
  • Acute staff shortage: One of the key causes of the shortfall is the government’s mishandling of the CBI’s employees, which includes an inefficient and inexplicably biassed recruitment policy that was utilised to bring in favoured officials, possibly to the organization’s damage.
  • Limited Authority: Members of the CBI’s investigative powers and jurisdiction are subject to the consent of the State Government, restricting the scope of the CBI’s inquiry.
  • Restricted Access: Obtaining prior authorisation from the Central Government to initiate an inquiry or probe into Central Government workers at the level of Joint Secretary and above is a major impediment to tackling corruption at the highest levels of government.

-Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express



Context:

World cancer Day is observed every year on 4th of February.

  • The Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year through education, raising awareness and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the deadly disease.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Cancer
  2. What is the incidence of cancer In India and world currently?
  3. Steps to prevent cancer
  4. Improvement in Cancer treatment

About Cancer

  • Cancer is a widely feared disease that leads to many deaths globally, including in India where more than a million people suffer from it annually.
  • The mechanisms behind the development, treatment and control of cancer have been extensively studied in the field of biology and medicine.
  • In healthy individuals, cell growth and differentiation are tightly controlled, but in cancer, these regulatory mechanisms break down.
  • Normal cells have a property called contact inhibition, which prevents them from growing uncontrollably when in contact with other cells.
  • However, cancer cells appear to lose this property, leading to the uncontrolled growth and division of cells, resulting in tumors.

Types of Tumors

  • Tumors are of two types:
    • Benign 
    • Malignant
  • Benign tumors normally remain confined to their original location and do not spread to other parts of the body and cause little damage.
  • The malignant tumors, on the other hand are a mass of proliferating cells called neoplastic or tumor cells. These cells grow very rapidly, invading and damaging the surrounding normal tissues.

Causes of Cancer

  • Cancer is caused by the transformation of normal cells into cancerous neoplastic cells. This transformation can be triggered by physical, chemical or biological agents called carcinogens.
  • These agents include ionizing radiations such as X-rays and gamma rays, non-ionizing radiations such as UV rays, and chemical carcinogens found in tobacco smoke.
  • Cancer-causing viruses, known as oncogenic viruses, also have genes called viral oncogenes that can contribute to the development of cancer.
  • Additionally, certain genes called cellular oncogenes or proto oncogenes in normal cells can be activated under certain conditions, resulting in the oncogenic transformation of cells.

What is the incidence of cancer In India and world currently ?

  • Cancer is a major contributor to global mortality. It causes about 1 in every 6 deaths and affecting nearly every household.
  • Cancer is not only catastrophic to individual health and well-being but also a significant challenge for families and societies at large.
  • Globally, there were an estimated 20 million new cases of cancer and 9.7 million deaths from cancer as of 2022.
  • As per the World Health Organisation, the cancer burden will increase by about 77 percent by 2050, further straining health systems, people and communities.
  • Globally, the most common cancers are breast, lung, colon, rectum, and prostate cancer.
  • In 2020, breast cancer was the most prevalent cancer globally, while lung cancer led to the highest number of deaths.
  • According to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Cancer Registry Programme (ICMR-NCRP), the estimated number of cervical cancer cases in India in 2023 was more than 3.4 lakh.
    • Doctors emphasised the need to ensure regular checkups for early detection of breast and cervical cancer. They also stress the need for efficacy of the indigenously produced vaccine Cervavac for the treatment of Cervical cancer.

Steps to prevent cancer:

  • It has been proven that up to 50 percent of cancers can be prevented.  Few efficient behaviours to prevent cancer:
    • Refraining from consumption of tobacco and alcohol,
    • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and
    • Timely vaccinations
  • Although most cancers do not present symptoms in the early stages of the disease, some diagnostic tests (screening techniques) are sensitive enough to detect cancer even when it is invisible.  
  • When detected and treated at an early stage, cancer can often be cured completely.

Improvement in Cancer treatment

  • The success rate for treating various types of cancer is increasing.
  • For example, the cure rate for pancreatic cancer has doubled from 3% 50 years ago to 6%. Similarly, the cure rate for prostate cancer has gone from 60% to 100% and for breast cancer it has improved from 50% to 90% with newer treatments.
  • However, to further reduce mortality, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial.

-Source: All India Radio



Context:

The eco-sensitive Dhanauri wetland site is yet to be granted protection.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Dhanauri wetlands
  2. What is a Ramsar Site?
  3. Ramsar Convention
  4. What are wetlands?

About Dhanauri wetlands:

  • Dhanauri wetlands support a fairly large population of the vulnerable sarus crane and a congregation of at least 20,000 waterfowl and other species.
  • It is possibly the largest roosting site for sarus cranes in north India.
  • It receives water from three or four sources such as rainwater and runoff from fields that are irrigated.
  • Encroachments: The wetlands themselves are threatened by encroachments and pressure from construction activities nearby, thus making its protection inevitable.
    • The NGT, in its November 20, 2023, order, had noted that the wetland area demarcated in the master plan appears to be lesser as compared to that in the wetlands inventory.
    • A bird-watcher Anand Arya, had also filed a petition in the NGT seeking a stay on the construction of the Noida International Airport in Jewar till the wetland is granted protection. The Airport is set to be operational by September 2024.
    • While granting environmental clearance to the proposed airport, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had laid down a specific condition that a “conservation plan for birds and fauna, in consultation with the Wildlife Institute of India, shall be submitted within six months from the grant of clearance and be implemented in letter and spirit”. However, the Uttar Pradesh government has yet to make a decision in this regard.

What is a Ramsar Site? 

  • A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Ramsar sites are recorded on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance.
  • The Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type is a wetland classification developed within the Ramsar Convention intended as a means for fast identification of the main types of wetlands for the purposes of the Convention.
  • The countries with most sites are the United Kingdom with 175 and Mexico with 142.
  • The country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia.

Ramsar Convention

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
  • It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
  • The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands.
  • The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
  • Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention and improve the way in which the Parties are able to implement its objectives.

What are wetlands?

  • A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
  • The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
  • The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, and fen; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains, mire, vernal pool, sink, and many others.
  • The largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.

-Source: The Indian Express, Hindustan times


 

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