- Japan’s commits Rs 3,500 crore for healthcare in India
- Landslide susceptibility mapping in Uttarakhand
- CSIR-CMERI develops World’s Largest Solar Tree
- Indian Railway Solarises more than 960 Stations
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
- The Govt. of Japan has committed Official Development Assistance loan of an amount of JPY50 billion (approx. Rs. 3,500 crore) for the COVID-19 Crisis Emergency Response Support.
- This programme loan aims to support India’s efforts in fighting COVID-19 and to prepare the health system to manage future epidemics and also to improve the resilience of India’s health systems against infectious diseases.
- In addition, Notes were also exchanged for Grant Assistance of an amount of JPY 1 billion (= approx. Rs. 70 crore) from Government of Japan.
- This Grant-in-aid from Government of Japan is for providing medical equipment to strengthen the public health and medical system in India.
- This further consolidates and strengthens the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan.
India – Japan Relations
- Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan, which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China and Korea.
- India and Japan, two of the largest and oldest democracies in Asia, having a high degree of congruence of political, economic and strategic interests, view each other as partners that have responsibility for, and are capable of, responding to global and regional challenges.
- Post Japan’s defeat in World War-II, a relatively well-known result of the two nations’ was in 1949, when India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
- Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations in 1950s.
- The British occupiers of India and Japan were enemies during World War II, but political relations between the two nations have remained warm since India’s independence.
- Japanese companies, such as Yamaha, Sony, Toyota, and Honda have manufacturing facilities in India, and with the growth of the Indian economy, India is a big market for Japanese firms.
- In 2006, India culminated in the signing of the “Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership”.
- Japan has helped finance many infrastructure projects in India, most notably the Delhi Metro system.
- In 2016, India and Japan signed the “Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy”, a landmark civil nuclear agreement, under which Japan will supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India. (India is the only non-signatory of NPT to receive an exemption from Japan.)
- India and Japan have shared interests in maintaining the security of sea-lanes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and in co-operation for fighting international crime, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- The two nations have frequently held joint military exercises and co-operate on technology.
Focus: GS-I Geography, GS-III Disaster Management
- Like most hill townships, Mussoorie, the popular hill station in Uttarakhand, has witnessed several landslides, probably resulting from an increased spate of developmental activities.
- The increased disaster hazard has led scientists to map the landslide susceptibility of Mussoorie and surrounding areas, showing that 15 percent of the region is highly susceptible to landslides.
- Scientists carried out the study in Mussoorie township and its surroundings covering 84 square km in the Lesser Himalaya.
- They found that dominant part of the area falling under very high and high landslide susceptible zone lies in the settlement areas and are covered by highly fractured Krol limestone exhibiting slope more than 60 degrees.
- The Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (LSM) published showed that about 29% of the area falls in the moderate landslide susceptible zone and 56% in low to very low landslide susceptible zone.
Introduction to Landslides
What are Landslides?
Landslides are physical mass movement of soil, rocks and debris down the mountain slope because of heavy rainfall, earthquake, gravity and other factors.
Why do Landslides Occur?
- Base of the huge mountains eroded by rivers or due to mining activities or erosion agents resulting in steep slopes.
- Increased industrialisation leading to climate change and weather disturbances.
- Change in river flow due to construction of dams, barriers, etc.
- Loose soil cover and sloping terrain.
2 Primary varieties of Landslides in India
- India has the highest mountain chain on earth, the Himalayas, which are formed due to collision of Indian and Eurasian plate, the northward movement of the Indian plate towards China causes continuous stress on the rocks rendering them friable, weak and prone to landslides and earthquakes.
- The Northeastern region is badly affected by landslide problems causing recurring economic losses worth billions of rupees.
II- Western Ghats
- A different variety of landslides, characterized by a lateritic cap (Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium , and is commonly considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas), pose constant threat to the Western Ghats in the South, along the steep slopes overlooking the Konkan coast besides Nilgiris, which is highly landslide prone.
The problem needs to be tackled for mitigation and management for which hazard zones have to be identified and specific slides to be stabilized and managed in addition to monitoring and early warning systems to be placed at selected sites.
Himalayas of Northwest and Northeast India and the Western Ghats are two regions of high vulnerability and are landslide prone.
Why are Landslides more frequent in the Himalayas than in the Western Ghats?
In the Himalayas, Landslides are very frequent because:
- Heavy snowfall in winter and melting in summer induces debris flow, which is carried in large quantity by numerous streams and rivers – which results in increases chances of Landslides.
- Himalayas are made of sedimentary rocks which can easily be eroded – hence, erosions contribute to more landslides.
- Drifting of Indian plate causes frequent earthquakes and resultant instability in the region.
- Man-made activities like grazing, construction and cultivation abet soil erosion and risks of landslides.
- Himalayas not yet reached its isostatic equilibrium which destabilizes the slopes causing landslides.
- Diurnal changes of temperature are much more in northern India than in southern slopes – weakening the rocks and increasing mass wasting and erosion.
In the Wester Ghats, Landslides are comparatively less frequent because:
- Western Ghats are eroded, denuded, aged, mature, worn out by exogenic forces and have a much lower height – hence, occurrence of Landslides is lesser.
- The Western Ghats are on more stable part of Indian plate, hence, there is a lesser occurrence of earthquakes and landslides.
- While steep slope on western side with high rainfall creates idea condition for landslide but gentle eastern slope with low rainfall and rivers in senile stage, counters the condition.
- Moving of Indian plates doesn’t affect the Western Ghats much (as they are old block mountains), hence the reduced number of landslides.
- Small & swift flowing streams of western side and big matured rivers on eastern side (like Krishna, Godavari, etc) cannot carry large amount of debris.
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology
Why in news?
CSIR-CMERI has developed the World’s Largest Solar Tree with the annual capacity to generate 12,000-14,000 units of Clean and Green Power.
- The Solar Tree has been designed in a manner to ensure maximum exposure of each Solar PV Panel to Sunlight and also creation of the least amount of shadow area beneath.
- The inclination of the arms holding the Solar PV Panels are flexible and can be adjusted as per requirement.
- These Solar Trees can be aligned with Agriculture for substituting price-volatile fossil fuels.
- Each Solar Tree has the potential to save 10-12 tons of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere as Greenhouse Gases when compared with fossil fuel fired energy generation.
- Besides, the surplus generated power can be fed into an Energy Grid.
- This Agricultural Model can provide a consistent economic return and help the farmers counter the effects of the uncertain variations in Agriculture related activities, thus, making farming an Economic and Energy Sustainable practice.
What is a Solar Tree?
- A solar tree is a structure incorporating solar energy technology on a single pillar, like a tree trunk. It may be a solar artwork or a functional power generator.
- Solar trees are intended to bring visibility to solar technology and to enhance the landscape and architecture they complement, usually in a commercial or public context.
- An objective of many solar tree installations is to promote awareness, understanding, and adoption of renewable energy.
- They are not typically used as a primary source of energy for a property—that role is accomplished by rooftop solar systems.
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
Indian Railways has solarised more than 960 stations till August 2020.
- In order to achieve its objective of becoming 100% self-sustainable for all its power needs and also to contribute to national solar power goals – Indian Railways has solarised more than 960 stations and orders have been placed for solar rooftops at 550 stations which are under execution.
- Indian Railways had recently organised a meet of leading solar power developers who had shared their expectations of being partners in the journey of Indian Railways to become “net zero carbon emitter” before 2030.
- Indian Railways is set to produce solar energy for meeting all its energy consumption needs of more than 33 billion units by 2030.
- About 51,000-hectare vacant land available with Indian Railways and is now ready to extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on Railway’s vacant un-encroached land.
- It may be noted that Railways is also set to achieve 100% electrification by the year 2023.
- The use of solar power will accelerate the Railways’ mission to achieve the goal of becoming ‘Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway’.