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Current Affairs 17 October 2023


  1. NGT Issues Notices to Stakeholders After Teesta-III Dam Break
  2. Gandhi’s Opposition to Jewish Nation-State Resurfaces Amid Israel-Palestine Conflict
  3. CAR T-cell therapy
  4. Deepfake technology
  5. Ken-Betwa Link Project

NGT Issues Notices to Stakeholders After Teesta-III Dam Break


Responding to the Teesta-III dam break due to the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued notices to 3 key stakeholders including National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).


GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Green Tribunal (NGT)
  2. Structure of National Green Tribunal
  3. Powers of NGT
  4. Challenges related to the NGT
  5. Teesta-III Dam Project

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • The NGT was established on October 18, 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.

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.

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:

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  • 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.

Challenges related to the NGT

  • Two important acts – Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.
  • Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.
  • The absence of a formula-based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.
  • The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases – which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.

Teesta-III Dam Project

  • Location: Reang, Kalimpong district, West Bengal
  • Project Type: Run-of-the-river hydroelectric station
Key Project Details:

Commissioning Dates:

  • Unit I and II: January 2013
  • Unit III and IV: February and March 2013

Beneficiary: Solely the state of West Bengal

Community Benefits:
  • Infrastructure Development: The project contributes to the development of local infrastructure.
  • Education: Enhancements in educational facilities for the area.
  • Medical Facilities: Improved access to healthcare services.
  • Employment Opportunities: Creation of job opportunities for the local population.

-Source: The Hindu

Gandhi’s Opposition to Jewish Nation-State Resurfaces Amid Israel-Palestine Conflict


The opposition of Mahatma Gandhi to a Jewish nation-state in Palestine has gained renewed attention because of ongoing conflict and tensions between Israel and Palestine.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gandhi’s Opposition to a Jewish Nation-State in Palestine
  2. Gandhi’s Influence on India’s Israel-Palestine Policy

Gandhi’s Opposition to a Jewish Nation-State in Palestine

  • In the 1930s and 1940s, Jewish people in Europe faced severe persecution, notably under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, which implemented the Holocaust, resulting in the loss of approximately six million lives.
Gandhi’s Sympathy for the Jewish People:
  • Gandhi expressed immense sympathy for Jews historically persecuted for their religion.
  • He drew parallels between Jewish persecution in Europe and the plight of untouchables in India, emphasizing inhumane treatment of both groups.
  • Gandhi was deeply concerned about Nazi persecution of Jews and considered a war with Germany justifiable to prevent it.
The Zionist Movement and the Balfour Declaration:
  • The Zionist movement aimed to establish a national homeland for Jews in Palestine.
  • Momentum increased after World War I, spurred by the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which supported a Jewish national home in Palestine.
  • In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan for separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, with Jerusalem as an international city.
  • The plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by Arab leaders, leading to violence.
  • Israel officially declared independence on May 14, 1948.
Gandhi’s Opposition:
  • Gandhi opposed a Jewish nation-state in Palestine, considering it wrong and inhumane.
  • He believed it would be a crime against humanity to displace the native Arab population for a Jewish homeland.
  • Gandhi insisted that Jews could settle in Palestine only with Arab goodwill, and the British should not enforce it.
  • He argued that religious acts, like Jews returning to Palestine, should not be enforced with force but rather with Arab goodwill.
  • Gandhi questioned whether Jews, who had settled worldwide, would welcome the idea of leaving other regions if Palestine became their sole home.

Gandhi’s Influence on India’s Israel-Palestine Policy

Gandhi’s Influence on Nehru:

  • Gandhi’s anti-imperialism and his stance against a Jewish nation-state in Palestine deeply influenced India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • This influence shaped India’s foreign policy for decades, including its vote against UN Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine.

India’s Recognition of Israel:

  • India recognized the state of Israel in 1950, but official diplomatic relations were established in 1992, during Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure.

Support for Palestine:

  • India was among the first non-Arab nations to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole Palestinian representative.
  • In 1988, India recognized Palestine as a state.

Evolution of India’s Policy:

  • India’s policy on Israel and Palestine evolved over time, taking into account its strategic and economic interests.

Dehyphenation Policy:

  • In recent years, India has shifted towards a dehyphenation policy, seeking to balance its relationships with both Israel and Palestine.
  • It supports a Two-State Solution and the right to self-determination for both nations in a peaceful manner.

-Source: Indian Express

CAR T-cell therapy


Recently, the IIT Bombay-incubated company Immuno Adoptive Cell Therapy has received Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSO) approval of the first humanized CD19-targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T cell) Therapy product called NexCAR19 (Actalycabtagene autoleucel) for use in cases of relapsed/refractory B-cell Lymphomas and Leukaemia in India.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. CAR T-cell Therapy
  2. What are ‘cell therapies’?

CAR T-cell Therapy

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies use a patient’s own cells that have been modified in a laboratory to attack tumors.

  • Blood is drawn from the patient to harvest T-cells.
  • The T-cells are modified in the laboratory to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) that have an affinity for proteins on the surface of tumor cells.
  • The modified cells are infused back into the patient’s bloodstream after being conditioned to multiply more effectively.
  • The CAR T-cells bind to the tumor and destroy it, with the patient’s immune system clearing the debris.
  • More clinically effective than chemotherapy or immunotherapy as it directly activates the patient’s immune system against cancer.
  • More specific than targeted agents as it uses the patient’s own cells.
  • Considered as “living drugs”.
Where is it used?
  • Currently approved for treating leukaemias and lymphomas
  • Used among patients with cancers that have returned after initial treatment or not responded to previous chemotherapy or immunotherapy
  • Efficacy varies, with response rate as high as 90% in certain kinds of leukaemias and lymphomas and significantly lower in other types of cancers
  • Complex preparation process
  • First clinical trial demonstrating effectiveness published almost a decade ago
  • Requires technical and human resources to administer, with treatments in the U.S. costing more than a million dollars
  • Significance potential side-effects such as cytokine release syndrome and neurological symptoms

What are ‘cell therapies’?

  • Cell therapies are a form of cancer treatment that involves using a patient’s own cells.
  • One form of cell therapy is CAR T-cell therapy, which modifies T-cells to attack cancer cells and has been approved for certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.
  • The treatment is complex and expensive, but has shown high response rates in certain cancers.
  • Cell therapies also have potential to help understand the complexities of cancer and offer new treatments, including personalised anti-cancer vaccines and tumour infiltrating lymphocyte therapies.
  • Despite the challenges, the field holds promise for developing more sophisticated cancer treatments with fewer side-effects.

-Source: The Hindu

Deepfake technology


The Central government is looking to invoke a law that would require WhatsApp to share details about the first originator of a message. The basis for this are multiple deepfake videos of politicians circulating on WhatsApp.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a deepfake?
  2. Measures to address the threats related to deepfakes
  3. Way forward

What is a deepfake?

  • Deepfakes are a compilation of artificial images and audio put together with machine-learning algorithms to spread misinformation and replace a real person’s appearance, voice, or both with similar artificial likenesses or voices.
  • It can create people who do not exist and it can fake real people saying and doing things they did not say or do.
  • The term deepfake originated in 2017, when an anonymous Reddit user called himself “Deepfakes.”
  • This user manipulated Google’s open-source, deep-learning technology to create and post pornographic videos.
  • The videos were doctored with a technique known as face-swapping.
  • The user “Deepfakes” replaced real faces with celebrity faces.
Where can it be used?
  • It is used to generate celebrity porn videos, produce fake news, and commit financial fraud among other wrongdoings.
  • It is now being used for nefarious purposes like scams and hoaxes,election manipulation, social engineering, automated disinformation attacks, identity theft and financial fraud.
    • Deepfake technology has been used to impersonate former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood celebrity Tom Cruise.

Measures to address the threats related to deepfakes:

Collaborative actions and collective techniques across legislative regulations, platform policies, technology intervention, and media literacy can provide effective and ethical countermeasures to mitigate the threat of malicious deepfakes.

Media literacy:

  • Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
  • Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public. As consumers of media, we must have the ability to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
  • Even a short intervention with media understanding, learning the motivations and context, can lessen the damage. Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes

Legislative regulations:

  • Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.

Technological solutions:

  • We also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.

Way forward:

Deepfakes can create possibilities for all people irrespective of their limitations by augmenting their agency. However, as access to synthetic media technology increases, so does the risk of exploitation. Deepfakes can be used to damage reputations, fabricate evidence, defraud the public, and undermine trust in democratic institutions. To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.

-Source: The Hindu

Ken-Betwa Link Project


The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) recently secured final forest clearance after a significant government push. While the forest clearance is secured, the project’s wildlife clearance remains under scrutiny at the Supreme Court of India.


GS-I: Geography (Drainage System in India, Projects to improve Irrigation), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Inter-State Relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Interlinking of Rivers
  2. What is the Ken-Betwa Link Project?
  3. Which regions will benefit from the Ken-Betwa Link Project?

Interlinking of Rivers

  • In 1858, Arthur Cotton (British general and irrigation Engineer) came up with even more ambitious proposals such as connecting all major rivers of India, and interlinking of canals and rivers. He suggested drought-relief measures for Odisha.
  • The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.
  • The interlinking of river project is a Civil Engineering project, which aims to connect Indian rivers through reservoirs and canals.
  • The farmers will not have to depend on the monsoon for cultivation and also the excess or lack of water can be overcome during flood or drought.
  • Since the 1980s, the interlinking project has been managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA) under the Ministry of Water Resources.
  • It has been split into three parts as follows:
    • A northern Himalayan river interlink component.
    • A southern peninsular component.
    • An Intra-State river linking component.

As of now, six ILR projects have been under examination of the authorities:

  • Ken-Betwa,
  • Damanganga- Pinjal,
  • Par-Tapi-Narmada,
  • Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga,
  • Mahanadi-Godavari and
  • Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut)
  • With regard to the peninsular rivers, the Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link.

What is the Ken-Betwa Link Project?

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers.
  • KBRIL is a river-interlinking project that aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa in Uttar Pradesh to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
  • Both Ken and Betwa are the tributaries of the Yamuna.
  • The Ken-Betwa Link Canal will be 221 km long, including a 2-km long tunnel.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the project

  • According to the statement, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be set up to implement the project.
  • In fact, the Centre has set in motion the process of creation of National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), an independent autonomous body for planning, investigation, financing and implementation of the interlinking of river (ILR) projects in the country.
  • The NIRA will have powers to set up SPV for individual link projects.

Which regions will benefit from the Ken-Betwa Link Project?

  • The project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region, especially the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh, and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.
  • “It will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water do inhibitor for development in the country,” the Ministry said in a statement.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023