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PIB 21st May

Contents

  1. PMUY: 6.8 Crore free LPG cylinders distributed
  2. Ecologically Sensitive Areas of Western Ghats
  3. Textiles Committee: Indigenous PPE Testing Equipment
  4. Genes to Eliminate rice crop residue burning
  5. IIT Guwahati: New way prevent Alzheimer memory loss

PMUY: 6.8 CRORE FREE LPG CYLINDERS DISTRIBUTED

Focus: GS-II Social Justice, Prelims

Why in news?

As part of the economic response to COVID-19, Pradhan Mnatri Garib Kalyan Package, under which – Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is providing free of cost LPG cylinders to over 8 crore PMUY beneficiaries for 3 months.

The beneficiaries were given funds in advance through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in their accounts, so that there was no difficulty in availing this facility.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a government scheme launched in 2016 which envisages the distribution of 50 million LPG connections to women below the poverty line.
  • PMUY is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
  • There are 27.87 Crore active LPG consumers in the country, with the PMUY beneficiaries accounting for over 8 crore.

Why was PMUY Necessary?

  • As per the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 5 lakh deaths in India occurred due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • These deaths were caused mostly due to non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
  • Providing LPG connections to families below the poverty line will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • The scheme can be a tool for women empowerment in that LPG connections and clean cooking fuel can reduce cooking time and effort, and in most of India, cooking is a responsibility shouldered solely by women.
  • The scheme also provides employment to the rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (PMGKY) is an amnesty scheme launched by the Narendra Modi led Government of India in December 2016 on the lines of the Income declaration scheme, 2016 (IDS) launched earlier.

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in India, Finance Minister announced a ₹1.70 Lakh Crore($24 billion) relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor.

  1. ₹500 each to 19.86 crore women Jan Dhan account holders
  2. LPG cylinders to be provided to 8 crore poor families for the next three months free of cost.
  3. ₹1,000 for senior citizens to tide over difficulties during next three months.

ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREAS OF WESTERN GHATS

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) held a Video Conference to discuss issues relating to notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) pertaining to Western Ghats.

Details of Declaring Western Ghats as ESA

  • To conserve and protect the bio diversity of Western Ghats while allowing for sustainable and inclusive development of the region, Government of India had constituted a High-Level Working Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Kasturirangan.
  • The Committee had recommended that identified geographical areas falling in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu may be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
  • A draft notification was issued in October 2018 mentioning the areas to be notified in the ESA.

States’ Views

  • There is need to ensure protection of the western Ghats, however, the states expressed their views as regards activities and extent of area mentioned in the said notification.
  • It was decided that state specific issues shall be further deliberated so as to arrive at a consensus on the issue.

What does Declaration of Western Ghats as ESA mean?

  • In the ESA, all kinds of mining activities, thermal power plants and highly polluting industries would no longer be allowed.
  • The existing mines shall be phased out within five years from the issue of final notification or on the expiry of the existing mining lease, whichever is earlier.
  • All new ‘Red’ category industries and the expansion of such existing industries shall be banned.
  • Other kinds of projects and activities, like operation of hydropower plants, and ‘orange’ category of industries, will be strictly regulated in the ESA.
  • New expansion projects of building and construction with built-up area of 20,000 square meters and above shall be prohibited too.

Western Ghats

  • The Western Ghats, also known as Sahyadri are a mountain range that covers an area of 140,000 square kilometres parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula.
  • It traverses the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.
  • According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas.

Prelims Fact Bits on Western Ghats

  1. Western Ghats are continuous range of mountains (Gaps exist, but not like the Eastern Ghats)
  2. Major gaps in the range are the Goa Gap, between the Maharashtra and Karnataka sections, and the Palghat Gap on the Tamil Nadu and Kerala border between the Nilgiri Hills and the Anaimalai Hills.
  3. The Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats at the Nilgiri mountains in north-western Tamil Nadu.
  4. Evergreen Forests are found here.
  5. Anaimudi is the highest peak.
  6. Western Ghats are older than Himalayas.
  7. Nilgiri Biosphere is the most famous Biosphere reserve in WG.
  8. Local Names for western ghats are: Sahyadri in Maharashtra, Nilgiri hills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Anaimalai hills and Cardamom hills in Kerala.

Importance of Western Ghats

  • A total of thirty-nine areas in the Western Ghats, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests, were designated as world heritage sites in 2012 – twenty in Kerala, ten in Karnataka, five in Tamil Nadu and four in Maharashtra.
  • They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.
  • The dense forests also contribute to the precipitation of the area by acting as a substrate for condensation of moist rising orographic winds from the sea.
  • The northern portion of the narrow coastal plain between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is known as the Konkan, the central portion is called Kanara and the southern portion is called Malabar.
  • The Western Ghats form one of the four watersheds of India, feeding the perennial rivers of India.
  • The major river systems originating in the Western Ghats are the Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, Thamiraparani and Tungabhadra rivers.

TEXTILES COMMITTEE: INDIGENOUS PPE TESTING EQUIPMENT

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

The Textiles Committee will now test and certify PPE body coveralls required for healthcare workers and other COVID-19 warriors.

Details

  • The inclusion of Textiles Committee as the ninth approved laboratory to test and certify body coveralls has been announced by the Ministry of Textiles on 20th May.
  • The Ministry of Textiles has been taking several steps to ensure that both quality and quantity of PPE coveralls going up to the desired levels within a very short span of time of two months, thereby catapulting India into the world’s second largest manufacturer of body coveralls, next only to China.
  • A Unique Certification Code (UCC) is issued for each passed / cleared prototype sample submitted by the manufacturers of the PPE Coveralls.

About Textiles Committee

  • The Textiles Committee is a Statutory Body established in 1963, by enactment of Textiles Committee Act, 1963.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles.
  • It has been formed to ensure the quality of textiles and textile machinery both for internal consumption and export purpose.
  • The Committee is tasked with the functions of establishing laboratories for the testing of textiles and textile machinery and providing for their inspection and examination, besides other functions which flow from the main objective of ensuring quality of textiles products and textiles machinery.

GENES TO ELIMINATE RICE CROP RESIDUE BURNING

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

The Scientists at Pune based Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have mapped two alternative dwarfing genes Rht14 and Rht18 in wheat.

These genes are associated with better seedling vigour and longer coleoptiles (sheath protecting the young shoot tip).

Details

  • Scientists ARI have mapped the dwarfing genes on chromosome 6A in durum wheat.
  • The DNA-based markers will help wheat breeders to precisely select wheat lines carrying these alternative dwarfing genes from a massive pool of wheat breeding lines.
  • These DNA based markers are being used at ARI for marker-assisted transfer of these genes in Indian wheat varieties, so as to make them suitable for sowing under rice stubble-retained conditions and dry environments.

Why is this significant for the environment?

  • In India, close to twenty-three million tonnes of leftover rice residues are annually burnt by farmers to get rid of the straw and prepare their fields for sowing wheat, which is the next crop, resulting in air pollution
  • Also, dry environments pose a challenge for the germination of wheat varieties with short coleoptile.
  • Burning of leftover rice crop residue has serious implications for the environment, soil, and human health.
  • Therefore, there is a need to include alternative dwarfing genes in wheat improvement programs.

IIT GUWAHATI: NEW WAY PREVENT ALZHEIMER MEMORY LOSS

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has worked on out-of-the-box ideas that can help prevent or reduce short-term memory losses associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Details

  • The Research explored new ways to prevent accumulation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain that are associated with short-term memory loss.
  • The scientists found that application of a low-voltage, safe electrical field can reduce the formation and accumulation of toxic neurodegenerative molecules that cause short-term memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • They found that external electric/magnetic field modulates the structure of these peptide molecules, thereby preventing aggregation.

Significance

  • India has the third highest number of Alzheimer’s patients in the world, after China and US.
  • In India more than four million people falling prey to the memory loss associated with it.
  • Current treatments only alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, there is no disruptive therapeutic approach yet that can treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.
  • This research has provided a different path that may extend the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gradually worsens over time.
  • It is the cause of 60–70% of cases of dementia.
  • The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events.
  • The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is poorly understood, about 70% of the risk is believed to be inherited from a person’s parents, with many genes usually involved.
  • Other risk factors include a history of head injuries, depression, and hypertension.
  • No treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms.
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