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Current Affairs 17 June 2024

  1. E-flows Monitoring System
  2. Eco-Sensitive Areas in Western Ghats
  3. Expansion of BRICS
  4. Digital Health Incentives Scheme
  5. Potential of Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) in Food and Feed Applications
  6. Search for the Ninth Planet
  7. Bumpy Road to COP29


Context:

The Union Jal Shakti Ministry launched an e-flow ecological monitoring system that allows real-time planning and monitoring of projects, river water quality, and other key parameters.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background of the E-flows Monitoring System Launch
  2. E-flows Monitoring System
  3. About Namami Gange programme

Background of the E-flows Monitoring System Launch:

  • Mandate:
    • In 2018, the Government of India mandated maintaining a minimum E-flow for various stretches of the Ganga River year-round.
  • NMCG Role:
    • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), part of the Jal Shakti Ministry, established flow specifications crucial for:
      • Preserving the river’s ecological balance and protecting aquatic life.
      • Ensuring sustainability amid diverse water usage demands.
  • Implementation:
    • From the upper Ganga Basin to its confluences and beyond, stringent measures are enforced to ensure compliance with E-flow norms, benefiting both current and future projects.
    • Monitoring and regulatory mechanisms safeguard the Ganga’s ecological resilience for future generations.

E-flows Monitoring System:

  • Development:
    • Developed by the NMCG, it provides real-time analysis of the water quality of the Ganga, Yamuna, and their tributaries.
  • Functionality:
    • It monitors activities of the Namami Gange programme at the central level, including:
      • Evaluating the performance of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs).
      • Ensuring STPs operate at their rated capacity.
  • Namami Gange Programme:
    • This flagship programme of the Ministry focuses on cleaning the Ganga and now includes its tributaries.
Significance of the E-flows Monitoring System:
  • Ensuring Flow:
    • The E-flows Monitoring System is a significant step towards maintaining the continuous and sustainable flow of the Ganga River.
  • Parameter Tracking:
    • The system tracks key parameters such as in-flow, out-flow, and mandated E-flow across 11 projects along the Ganga Mainstream.

About Namami Gange programme

Nodal: Ministry of Jal Shakti.

  • It is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • Implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.

Main Pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are:

  • Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure
  • River-Surface Cleaning
  • Afforestation
  • Industrial Effluent Monitoring
  • River-Front Development
  • Biodiversity
  • Public Awareness
  • Ganga Gram

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa, three of the six states where the Centre has proposed eco-sensitive areas (ESAs) to protect the Western Ghats, have requested a reduction in the extent of these ESAs to permit development projects.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)
  2. Overview of ESZs in India
  3. Problem with ESZs in Scheduled Areas
  4. Major Concerns of Declaring Eco-Sensitive Areas (ESAs):
  5. Way Forward

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)

  •  Eco Sensitive Zones are fragile areas around protected areas declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • They are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • Among activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone are hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood and discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land areas.
  • No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.

Overview of ESZs in India

  • Surrounding protected areas is a region of more than 1,11,000 sq. km — or 3.4% percent of the country’s land — which falls under the ESZ regime.
  •  Governments have notified 341 ESZs in 29 States and five Union territories, while another 85 ESZs are awaiting notification.
  • Together, protected areas and ESZs cover 8.66% of India’s land area.
  • The ESZs span notified forests outside protected areas, most of which could also come under gram sabhas’ jurisdiction under the FRA.
  • The extent of ESZs from the boundary of a protected area ranges from 0 to as much as 45.82 km (in Pin Valley National Park, Himachal Pradesh). Fifteen States have ESZs exceeding 10 km.

Problem with ESZs in Scheduled Areas

  • Significantly, parts of the ESZs in ten States — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana — fall within the Scheduled Areas notified under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Such Scheduled Areas cover over 11% of the country’s land area and are thickly forested and mountainous.
  • They are preponderantly populated by Scheduled Tribe groups and are notified by the President under Article 244 where the Provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) 1996 apply.
  • The PESA recognises habitation-level gram sabhas to be competent to safeguard and preserve community resources on forest and revenue lands in Scheduled Areas.
  • However, the MoEFCC has shown no inclination to amend the Indian Forest Act 1927, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 (under which ESZs are notified) to comply with the PESA and FRA.

Major Concerns of Declaring Eco-Sensitive Areas (ESAs):

  • Economic Growth Conflict:
    • ESAs are often located in areas with significant potential for economic growth. This can lead to conflicts between conservation goals and development projects, potentially resulting in local communities missing out on economic opportunities.
  • Restriction on Traditional Practices:
    • Regulations in ESAs can limit traditional practices and livelihoods of resident communities, causing resentment and hindering cooperation with conservation efforts.
  • Policy and Implementation Variability:
    • Policies and implementation of ESAs can vary across regions and states, causing confusion and challenges in enforcement. Inconsistencies can create loopholes for activities harmful to the environment.
  • Lack of Awareness and Participation:
    • Local communities and stakeholders may not fully understand the importance of ESAs or be involved in the decision-making process, leading to resistance and reduced effectiveness of the program.

Way Forward:

  • Balanced Approach:
    • Safeguard the ecological integrity of the Western Ghats while allowing sustainable development. This can be achieved by zoning ESAs with stricter regulations in core areas and designated zones for specific, low-impact development projects.
  • Independent Scientific Assessments:
    • Conduct thorough, independent scientific assessments to determine the minimum area required for ESA designation. This ensures evidence-based decision-making and minimizes unnecessary development restrictions.
  • Open Communication and Collaboration:
    • Facilitate open communication and collaboration between central government bodies, state governments, local communities, and environmental groups. This inclusive decision-making process considers the needs of all stakeholders.
  • Alternative Livelihood Options:
    • Develop alternative livelihood options for those residing within ESAs who might be impacted by stricter regulations. This could include promoting eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture practices, and skill development programs.
  • Transparent Monitoring Mechanisms:
    • Establish clear and transparent monitoring mechanisms to track the effectiveness of ESAs and development projects. This allows for course correction if unintended consequences arise and ensures responsible development practices.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, BRICS foreign ministers held their first meeting since the BRICS was expanded to add Egypt, Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia in 2023. They have joined the BRICS with effect from 1st January 2024.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is BRICS?
  2. Significance of the Enlarged BRICS Group
  3. Geopolitical Importance of Recently Included BRICS Members

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

Significance of the Enlarged BRICS Group:

  • Population:
    • The enlarged BRICS group now consists of approximately 3.5 billion people, which represents about 45% of the world’s population.
  • Economic Impact:
    • The combined economies of the BRICS members exceed USD 28.5 trillion, making up around 28% of the global economy.
  • Oil Production:
    • Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as part of the BRICS group, collectively contribute to roughly 44% of the world’s crude oil production.

Geopolitical Importance of Recently Included BRICS Members:

  • Energy Access:
    • The inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Iran significantly enhances BRICS’ access to vast energy reserves. Saudi oil is increasingly directed towards China and India, while Iran continues to expand its oil exports to China despite international sanctions. This underscores the importance of energy cooperation within BRICS.
  • Energy Supply Diversification:
    • Russia’s exploration of new markets within BRICS for its energy exports helps diversify the group’s energy supply. This reduces Russia’s reliance on traditional markets and strengthens the coalition’s energy security.
  • Strategic Maritime Influence:
    • The strategic inclusion of Egypt and Ethiopia boosts BRICS’ geopolitical significance. It provides greater influence and access to crucial maritime trade routes in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The central government has given a year-long extension to the Digital Health Incentive Scheme (DHIS) meant for digitising patients’ health records and linking them with the Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Account (ABHA ID).

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS)
  2. About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS)

  • The Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS) is a pioneering initiative aimed at accelerating the adoption of digital technologies in the healthcare sector.
  • This scheme operates with the objective of creating a digitally inclusive healthcare ecosystem that aligns seamlessly with the broader vision of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.
  • By incentivizing hospitals, diagnostic labs, and digital health solution providers, the DHIS seeks to catalyze transformative digitization practices for enhanced healthcare delivery.

Here are the key aspects of the scheme:

Scheme Focus and Purpose:
  • Transformation through Digitization: The DHIS is designed to encourage and reward hospitals, diagnostic labs, and registered Digital Solution Companies (DSCs) that embrace advanced digitization practices in their operations.
  • Digital Healthcare Ecosystem: The scheme contributes to the larger mission of creating a digitally enabled healthcare ecosystem, in line with the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission’s overarching vision.
Eligibility Criteria:
  • Health Facilities and DSCs: Hospitals, diagnostic labs, and digital health solution providers that are registered under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission’s Health Facility Registry (HFR) are eligible to participate in the DHIS.
Incentive Structure:
  • Incentive Calculation: Financial incentives are determined based on the number of digital health records generated and successfully linked to the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) numbers of patients.
Achievements and Participation:
  • Incentive Recipients: As of June 2023, a notable total of 1205 health facilities have successfully enrolled in the DHIS. This inclusive participation encompasses both public and private entities, with 567 representing public hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic labs, and 638 from the private sector.
  • Digital Solution Companies: The DHIS has garnered substantial interest from digital solution companies, with 22 out of the 25 registered entities operating in the private sector. This diverse participation underscores the robust engagement of the private industry in driving digital transformation.

About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission:

  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will help connect digital health solutions across the country.
  • All Indians will get a digital health ID under this scheme.
  • Every citizen’s health record will now be digitally secure.
  • The health ID will be used as health account.
  • Personal health records can be linked to this account and viewed with the help of a mobile application.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will provide reliable data, leading to better treatment and savings for patients too.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA) will be the implementing agency of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, scientists at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) have spotlighted the potential of Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), a protein-rich extract derived from the microalgae ‘Chlorella sorokiniana’, as an ideal ingredient for a wide range of food and feed applications.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

What are Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) and Chlorella Sorokiniana?

Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF):
  • Rich in Nutrients: CGF is abundant in high-quality amino acids and proteins, making it a promising alternative for both human and animal nutrition.
  • Essential Components: Contains vital amino acids and nutrients such as peptides, nucleotides, polysaccharides, vitamins, and minerals, surpassing commercial soy meal.
  • Extraction Process: Obtained through a non-chemical autolysis method, preserving the integrity of amino acids and other valuable elements.
  • Benefits to Animal Feed: Enhances egg quality when added to chicken feed, indicating its potential as a superior protein supplement for animals.
  • Sustainable Crop: Microalgae like Chlorella sorokiniana are viewed as “under-exploited crops,” not competing with traditional food crops for resources, thus offering a sustainable solution for meeting the growing global demand for high-quality protein.
Chlorella Sorokiniana:
  • Unique Characteristics: This oval-shaped, single-celled algae stands out in the microscopic world due to its active growth capability.
  • Self-Contained Organism: Each cell is a complete organism, containing all the essential nutrients required for life, making it self-sustaining.
  • Rapid Reproduction: Can multiply rapidly, expanding from one cell to 24 cells within 24 hours when exposed to sufficient sunlight and nutrients.

-Source: Down To Earth



Context:

Astronomers have been scouring the outer solar system for signs of a hypothetical ninth planet for almost a decade, without success. However, experts say we may finally be on the cusp of finding it.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About:

  • Planet Nine is a theorized planet located in the outer reaches of our solar system.
  • This concept was introduced to account for peculiarities in the orbits of distant trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), particularly those with highly elliptical and clustered trajectories.
Characteristics:
  • Mass: Estimated to be between 5 and 10 times that of Earth.
  • Orbit: Believed to have a highly elliptical path with a semi-major axis ranging from 400 to 800 AU (astronomical units).
    • One AU equals the average distance from Earth to the Sun, approximately 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers.
  • Orbital Period: Could span between 10,000 and 20,000 years.
  • Distance: At its nearest, it may be around 200 AU from the Sun, and at its farthest, about 1,200 AU.

Current Status:

The search for this possible ninth planet in our solar system may soon reach a conclusion. With the Vera C. Rubin Observatory expected to open in 2025, we might finally discover Planet Nine in the coming years—or definitively dismiss the hypothesis.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The road to COP29 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Baku appears bumpy after the mid-year climate talks in Bonn, Germany concluded on June 13, with little progress, according to researchers from the Centre for Science and Environment.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

About Mitigation Work Programme:

The Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) is an initiative developed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to support countries in enhancing their mitigation ambitions and implementation efforts, aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Objectives:
  • Generate Discussions: Encourage innovative dialogues among policymakers and stakeholders to address obstacles in scaling up mitigation efforts.
  • Inclusive Participation: Promote broad participation to bolster national processes and practical domestic policymaking pathways.
  • Explore Opportunities: Identify cost-effective and scalable mitigation strategies to aid countries in achieving and enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Operationalization: Organize annual global dialogues and investment-focused events from 2023 to 2026.
  • Address Equity and Sustainable Development: Emphasize equity, sustainable development, and synergies with adaptation, considering regional contexts.

UNFCCC:

The UNFCCC, established in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, aims to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations to prevent dangerous climate change, ensuring natural adaptation of ecosystems and promoting sustainable development.

-Source: The Hindu


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