News: June 21, 2020

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Physics And Chemistry
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 1/9

COVID Control

Drugs

  • Dexamethasone
    • Is an anti-inflammatory drug, and has gained traction for its success against corona virus
    • UK's 'RECOVERY Trial' study showed success with low doses of Dexamethasone to target lung inflammation
    • As per Clinical Management Protocol, it can be used as an alternative to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases.
    • Dexamethasone is part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
    • Anti-malarial drug, which was seen as part of preventive treatment against COVID
      • WHO in June said HCQ shows very limited success in reducing mortality rate of COVID patients. Following this, India lifted all bans on its export.
    • Cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use
  • Methylprednisolone - anti-inflammatory drug used in COVID-19 treatment
  • Favipiravir
    • Sold under brand FabiFflu, is an anti-viral drug for COVID-19 patients from age group 18-75 with mild to moderate symptoms
    • Originally developed to treat influenza
  • Itolizumab 
    • From biocon, approved by ICMR for patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress
    • Normally used to cure skin ailment psoriasis
  • Remdesivir
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use for patients in moderate stage requiring oxygen support
    • As part of the agreements, the drugmakers will receive technology transfer of the manufacturing process for Remdesivir, and get to set their own prices for the generic product they produce.
    • The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19 or until an alternative is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, whichever is earlier.
  • Tocilizumab
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients with moderate disease with progressively increasing oxygen requirements and in mechanically ventilated patients not improving despite use of steroids
    • Thwarts pro-inflammatory cytokines released by immune system
  • Covaxin
    • Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) has permitted phase-I and II of human clinical trials of ‘Covaxin’, the country’s first vaccine candidate for COVID-19, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR-National Institute of Virology
    • It is an inactivated vaccine, wherein a dead virus is injected into the body to generate an antibody response
  • Sputnik V
    • The vaccine is based on an adenoviral vector which normally causes respiratory viral infections. Vectors are vehicles, which can induce a genetic material from another virus into a cell.
    • The gene from adenovirus, which causes the infection is removed, while a gene with the code of a protein from another virus spike is inserted. This inserted element is safe for the body but still helps the immune system to react and produce antibodies, which protect us from the infection.
    • Sputnik V uses two vaccines using two different vectors, the second vaccination takes place in 21 days for long lasting immunity

Initiatives

  • Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19
    • By Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
    • Symptoms - fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat and diarrhoea. They have also complained of loss of smell (anosmia) or loss of taste (ageusia)
    • Risk factors - For ages more than 60 years, and in those with underlying non-communicable disease like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrest, etc.
    • Treatment
      • Mild COVID-19 cases - may be given symptomatic treatment such as antipyretic (Paracetamol) for fever and pain.
      • Moderate COVID019 cases - patients will be isolated in Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) or District hospital or Medical College hospitals.
      • Severe - Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) may be considered for any of those having high risk features for severe disease
  • Policy Responses to COVID19: Policy tracker by International Monetary Fund, summarizes the key economic responses, governments are taking to limit the human and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Index (CESI)
    • By Columbia University and World Bank, the index standardises the economic responses taken by governments, thus allowing use to study cross-country differences in policies
    • The two main components of index are: fiscal stimulus package (as a percentage of GDP) and the interest rate cut by the monetary policy authority 

Terminology

  • Pre-symptomatic spread - Pre-symptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who don't look or feel sick, but will eventually get symptoms later. 
  • Asymptomatic spread  - Asymptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who do not have symptoms and will never get symptoms from their infection.
  • Spike protein / S protein - A protein that protrudes from the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus that attaches it to human enzyme ACE2 receptor, after which the virus enters the cell and makes multiple copies of itself.

Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay antibody test (ELISA)
    • developed by National Institute of Virology in Pune along with Zydus Cadila. 
    • The blood sample is placed inside the small wells of an ELISA plate. These plates are coated with the antigen or the inactivated form of the virus. If the blood contains antibodies, it binds to the antigen and a substrate solution is added to the well. The reaction usually produces a colour change, thus detecting antibodies.
    • In India, the ELISA test for Covid-19 is only approved for serosurveys - which estimate the proportion of the population exposed to infection, and for surveys in high-risk areas and segments like containment zones
  • Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT)
    • Approved by ICMR. RADT checks for antigen production from a nasal swab.
      • An antigen means any toxin in the body which produces an immune response.
    • It takes about 30 minutes to give result. However rapid test has been found to have a higher chance of false negatives.
  • Real Time Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)
    • Real time RT–PCR is one of the most precise (and expensive) laboratory methods for detecting the COVID-19 virus.
    • Cleared by ICMR, it takes about 1 day to get result
    • Once the swab is taken, RT–PCR checks for virus's RNA
    • RT–PCR cannot be used for detecting past infections, only for active infections.
  • TrueNat
    • Commonly used for tuberculosis and HIV 
    • Cleared by ICMR, it works on same principle of RT-PCR. It involves taking nasal or oral swabs
    • The TrueNat machine is small and portable, mostly running on batteries, and provides result within 60 minutes.

A positive result from ELISA or rapid antibody test may not mean the person needs isolation or is infectious; it may simply mean the person was exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies. These two tests, being cheaper than RT-PCR, are employed in large-scale population surveys

Treatment

  • Convalescent plasma therapy
    • Convalescent plasma therapy is a passive immunisation process. It is simply the transfusion of plasma containing antibodies from immune survivors of infectious diseases to the affected individuals
    • As per protocol by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare , Convalescent plasma therapy may be considered for patients with moderate illness with no improvement in condition despite the use of steroids.

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • SARS-COVID 2, COVID-19
    • Drug approvals
  • July, 20
    • Russian vaccine clears first phase clinical trial.
    • ICMR cautions itolizumab, tocilizumab over claims of significantly reducing mortality rates
    • A new research shows spike protein changing its shape to hairpin form after attaching to ACE2 receptors
  • Aug, 20
    • Russia registers first COVID-19 vaccine

Sub: Politics
Topic: Constitution
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 2/9

Rajya Sabha

  • The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories
  • Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and can not be dissolved

Election

  • The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha, are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies, based on proportional representation with single transferable vote.
  • The representatives of union territory in the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college specially constituted for the purpose.
  • The member needs to be at least 30 years of age
  • Representation of the People Act (1951) provides for term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha to be six years. Elections are held every two years with one third members retiring.
  • Candidates fielded by political parties have to be proposed by at least 10 members of the Assembly or 10% of the party’s strength in the House, whichever is less. For independents, there should be 10 proposers, all of whom should be members of the Assembly.
  • Polling is held only if the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies. Polling is done by the system of "open ballot", where members of state legislative assemblies show their marked ballot to the party agents. There is no option of NOTA
  • In addition to provisions in Constitution, Representation of the People Act (1951) provides for
    • candidate contesting an election to the Rajya Sabha from a particular state to be an elector in that particular state
    • candidate to be a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe in any state or union territory, if he wants to contest a seat reserved for them.

Disqualification

  • President has the final authority over disqualification of member.
  • If a disqualified person is elected to the Parliament, the Constitution lays down no procedure to declare the election void. This matter is dealt by the Representation of the People Act (1951), which enables the high court to declare an election void if a disqualified candidate is elected. The aggrieved party can appeal to the Supreme Court against the order of the high court in this regard.
  • He should not hold any office of profit in state (except that of a minister or any other office exempted by Parliament).
  • In addition to provisions in Constitution, Representation of the People Act (1951) provides for
    • He must not have been found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
    • He must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years
    • He must not be a director or managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25 per cent share
    • He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
  • Disqualification on Ground of Defection: The Constitution also lays down that a person shall be disqualified from being a member of Parliament if he is so disqualified on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule. A member incurs disqualification under the defection law:
    • if he voluntary gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he is elected to the House
    • if he votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction given by his political party
    • if any independently elected member joins any political party
    • if any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months

Others

  • Double Membership: A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament at the same time. Thus, the Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the following:
    • If a person is elected to both the Houses of Parliament, he must intimate within 10 days in which House he desires to serve. In default of such intimation, his seat in the Rajya Sabha becomes vacant. 
    • If a sitting member of one House is also elected to the other House, his seat in the first House becomes vacant.
    • If a person is elected to two seats in a House, he should exercise his option for one. Otherwise, both seats become vacant. 
    • A person cannot be a member of both the Parliament and the state legislature at the same time. If a person is so elected, his seat in Parliament becomes vacant if he does not resign his seat in the state legislature within 14 days
  • Resignation - A member may resign his seat by writing to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. However, the Chairman/Speaker may not accept the resignation if he is satisfied that it is not voluntary or genuine.
  • Absence - A House can declare the seat of a member vacant if he is absent from all its meetings for a period of sixty days without its permission.
  • A member has to vacate his seat in the Parliament:
    • If his election is declared void by the court
    • If he is expelled by the House
    • If he is elected to the office of President or Vice-President; and
    • If he is appointed to the office of governor of a state.

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • Rajya Sabha elections

Sub: Politics
Topic: Judiciary
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 3/9

Cases And Committees In Focus

Committees

  • Justice Verma Committee, 2013
    • On amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.  
    • Recommended insertion of Section 53A in the Indian Evidence Act wherein previous good character should become irrelevant in criminal proceedings.
  • V.S. Malimath Committee, 2003: reforms in the criminal justice system 
    • The panel recommended a modification to Article 20 (3) of the Constitution that protects the accused from being compelled to be a witness against himself/herself. The Committee suggested that the court be given freedom to question the accused to elicit information and draw an adverse inference against the accused in case the latter refuses to answer
    • The panel recommends replacing "proof beyond reasonable doubt" with "if the court is convinced that it is true" as basis to convict accused in criminal cases
    • Recommended setting up of a National Security Commission and State Security Commissions
  • M.R. Shamshad committee - Delhi riots
  • Kris Gopalakrishnan committee - The committee was formed by ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) , to formulate a framework for Non-personal data (NPD)

Cases

  • Constitution
    • Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu, 1992: Judicial review for member disqualification is only available after final decision by the Speaker/Chairman. Till then he acts as a tribunal.
  • Information Technology
    • Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India, 2020  - Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir under the pretext of Section 144
  • Police Reforms
    • Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006) - Supreme Court pushing for legislation for governing police forces. Grievance redressal was a key component
    • Joginder Kumar v. State of UP, and D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal - Guidelines for right to life and right to know. To ensure that an accused person is made aware of all critical information regarding her arrest and also convey this to friends and family immediately in the event of being taken in custody.
  • Sexual assault 
    • Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Shubra Chakraborty - suggest that a large number of women still fail to report rapes to the police 
    • Mahmood Farooqui v. NCT of Delhi (2017) - On consent in relationship
  • Torture
    • Raghbir Singh v. State of Haryana (1980), Francis Coralie Mullin v. Union Territory of Delhi (1981)
    • Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra (1987) : Court condemned cruelty and torture as violative of Article 21
    • DK Basu v. State of West Bengal: Prisoners and detainees are not deprived of their Fundamental Rights under Article 21 barring restrictions permitted by law
    • Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa: Supreme Court made sure that the state could no longer escape liability in public law and had to be compelled to pay compensation

[In News]

  • July, 20
    • Madhya Pradesh Council of Ministers exceeding prescribed limit
    • Controversy over Justice Krishna Dixit's “misogynistic” remarks
    • "Committee for the Reform of Criminal Laws" created by Ministry of Home Affairs. Its consultation exercise would start on July 4 and go on for the next three months.
    • Non-personal data committee invites public comments on framework
    • Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu, 1992 case in judicial review powers of high court

Sub: International Relations
Topic: Internal Security Operations and Initiatives
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 4/9

Rescue operations in focus

Government Initiatives

  • Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)
    • Under this mission, Ministry of Civil Aviation is coordinating with Ministry of External Affairs and state Governments for bringing Indians back to their homeland
    • Priority will be given to those facing medical emergencies, death in family, pregnant women, elderly, students, deportees, laid off workers and stranded tourists.
    • Passengers need to bear fare and register with Indian embassies. They will also have to take an undertaking to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days on arrival in India at their own cost 
    • Air India flights were used in first phase, and private flights were started from fourth phase

India Navy Initiatives

  • Operation Samudra Setu - to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas using INS Jalashwa, Magar, and Airavat

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • INS Jalashwa set sail for colombo
    • INS Airavat set sail from Male in the Maldives

 

Sub: Politics
Topic: Governance Policies and Welfare schemes
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 5/9

CAA and NRC

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

  • History
    • The National Register of Citizens was first prepared in Assam in 1951.
    • The 1951 NRC is said to have covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 in Assam.
    • The demands to update the NRC in Assam were first raised by the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) in 1975 which ended with signing of  Assam Accord in 1985. As per accord, an Assamese citizen is one who:
      • had entered the state before 1966
      • came between 1966 and March 25, 1971. They would be disenfranchised for 10 years.
      • had their names in 1951 NRC
    • In 1997 Election Commission decided to add 'D' (D voters) against names of voters whose claim to Indian citizenship is doubtful.
    • In 2013, Supreme Court directed Centre to update NRC. A NRC State Coordinator Office was set up and updated NRC was finally released in 2019.
    • Those excluded from list could apply to the foreigners' tribunals.
      • Foreigners' Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners' Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners' Act, 1946
  • Assam is the only state that has implemented NRC.

Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA (CAA)

Citizenship Act, 1955 

  • Regulated who may acquire Indian citizenship on grounds of birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and incorporation of territory
  • A natural citizen is one who has stayed in India for at least 11 years

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

  • The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. Illegal migrants are foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel document, or stay beyond the permitted time.  
  • The Act provides that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants.
    • In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.
    • The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passport, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India. 
    • The provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. 
  • The Act reduces period to five years for citizenship by naturalization
  • On acquiring citizenship all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
  • The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on grounds of registration through fraud, showing disaffection to the Constitution, engaging with the enemy during war, necessity in the interest of State, or if within five years of registration the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more.

Illegal migrants can be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. 

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • India rejects US religious freedom report that takes note of CAA, NRC and Article 370
  • Aug, 20
    • Home Ministry has sought an extension of three months to frame the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

Sub: Geography
Topic: Environment Pollution
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 6/9

Indian pollution initiatives in focus

Bodies

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation constituted in 1974 under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • CPCB is entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
  • Its primary functions include -  (i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and (ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
  • National Air Monitoring Programme  (NAMP): For determining present air quality status and trends, and to regulate pollution from industries and other source to meet the air quality standards
  • National Water Quality Monitoring (WQM):  Monitoring stations established by CPCB on aquatic resources across the country.

Policies

Bharat stage emission standards (BSES)

Bharat stage emission standards are the standards set up by the Indian government which specify the amount of air that vehicles can emit. If these emit more pollutants than the prescribed limit, they don’t get a clearance to be sold in an open market.

  • Bharat Stage Emission Standards have been instituted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), under Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change. 
  • History - Vehicle emission norms were introduced in India in 1991 for petrol and in 1992 for diesel vehicles. Since 2000, Euro norms are followed in India under the name Bharat Stage

Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI)

  • Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norm came into force from April 1, 2020 across the country. 
  • While the BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, the BS-VI grade fuel only has 10 ppm sulphur content.
  • Also, the harmful NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars can be brought down by nearly 70%. In the petrol cars, they can be reduced by 25%.
  • However, when we talk air pollution, particulate matter like PM 2.5 and PM 10 are the most harmful components and the BS VI will bring the cancer causing particulate matter in diesel cars by a phenomenal 80%. 

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission date extension
  • Aug, 20
    • CPCB: Delhi’s air quality have started deteriorating again as lockdown eases.

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Biology
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 7/9

Immunology

The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). Primary parts of the immune system include the bone marrow and thymus. All of body’s blood cells (including B-lymphocyte and T-lymphocyte, or B cells and T cells) originate in bone marrow. B cells stay in bone marrow and become plasma cells that recognises antigens and produces antibodies to fight them. T cells leave bone marrow and mature in Thymus gland. Using these memory cells (B cells and T cells), the immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated. This means it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.

The two main classes of the immune system are:

  1. Innate immune system
    • The innate immune system is the general first line of defence  against infection that gets activated immediately once a pathogen attacks. The innate immune includes physical barriers like skin, hair, respiratory tract; defense mechanism like secretion, mucous, bile, gastric acid, tears; and general immune response like inflammation, or non-specific cellular response.
    • When infected white blood cells - Phagocytes, Macrophages, Mast cells, and Neutrophils
      • Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that helps heal damaged tissues and resolve infections
  2. Adaptive immune system (acquired immunity)
    • There are two main mechanisms of immunity within the adaptive immune system
      1. Humoral
        • In Humoral immunity B cells, stimulated by 'Helper T cells', will differentiate into plasma B cells that produces immunoglobulin (antibodies) - IgG and IgM against a specific antigen
        • B cells express receptors (BCRs) allow B cells to detect pathogens and release further antibodies to fight the infection.
      2. Cellular
        • Cellular immunity occurs inside infected cells and is mediated by T cells. Helper T cells release cytokines that help activated T cells bind to the infected cells
          • Cytokines: Cytokines are various small regulatory proteins (polypeptides) that regulate the cells of the immune system. Some cytokines act to make disease worse (proinflammatory cytokines), whereas others serve to reduce inflammation and promote healing (anti-inflammatory cytokines).

[In news]

  • Convalescent plasma (transfusion) therapy for COVID-19
  • Cellular immunity
  • A few countries, including the U.K., were toying with the idea of issuing some form of a certificate to people who have been infected with novel corona virus and recovered subsequently, as such people were assumed to be resistant to reinfection. 

Sub: Geography
Topic: Environment Ecosystem Biodiversity
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 8/9

Species in focus

Animal Species 

  • Asiatic lion
    • IUCN status: Endangered
    • Found in Saurashtra region
    • There number have risen to 674
  • Common Leopard / Panthera pardus 
    • IUCN status: Near Threatened
    • Found in India near shivaliks, Egypt
  • Gangetic river dolphin
    • IUCN status: Endangered
    • Listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife (Protection), Act, 1972
    • India's national Aquatic Animal
    • It is primarily found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra, in fresh waters. The dolphin uses echolocation as they are effectively blind.
  • Gee's golden langur
    • IUCN status: Endangered
    • Found only in Assam and Bhutan
  • Golden birdwing butterfly
    • IUCN status: Least Concern
    • endemic to himalayan region, China, South Asia
    • Became largest butterfly in India in 2020, breaking 88 year old record
  • Indian Gaur / Indian Bison
    • IUCN status: Vulnerable
    • Native to South and Southeast Asia,
    • Found in evergreen forests or semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests
  • Indian Pangolin
    • IUCN status: Endangered
    • Of the eight extant species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata and Chinese Pangolin M. pentadactyla are found in India.
  • Indian rhinoceros /  Greater one-horned rhinos
    • IUCN status: Vulnerable, CITES appendix I
    • Found only in South Asia and South East Asia
      • Of the 2000 rhinos living, 1800 are in two places; Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India and Chitwan National Park, Nepal
    • Indian Rhino Mission 2020: Started in 2005 by Assam government, International Rhino Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Bodoland Territorial Council to attain the rhino population of at least 3000 in seven protected areas of Assam by the year 2020
  • Pashmina goat / Changthangi
    • Found in Tibet, Burma, Ladakh
    • Reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh
  • Tibetan antelope / Chiru Goat
    • IUCN status: Near Threatened 
    • They are hunted for their fur - shahtoosh

Plant Species

  • Globbaandersonii / "Dancing ladies"
    • IUCN status: Critically endangered
    • Usually grows in a dense colony as a lithophyte (plant growing on a bare rock or stone) on rocky slopes in the outskirts of evergreen forests

[In News: Latest]

  • July, 20
    • A Himalayan butterfly named golden birdwing is now India’s largest butterfly
    • Assam floods
  • Aug, 20
    • Gang smuggling pangolin scales arrested
    • Leopard poaching by a study by TRAFFIC is highest in Uttarakhand, Maharashtra

Sub: Geography
Topic: Environment
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 9/9

Environmental Bodies In India

Acts

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)

  • EPA was introduced as an umbrella legislation that provides a holistic framework for the protection and improvement to the environment.
  • Environment Protection Act, 1986 was passed and enacted under Article 253 of constitution
  • It clearly defined the term ‘environment’ as a reference for all undertakings that were concerned with the environment 
  • EPA allowed for formulation of guidelines for the management of hazardous substances and national environmental standards.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Environmental impact assessment is a planning process to predict, assess, and mitigate the potential impacts of project development on the biophysical and human environment. In 1994, the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, promulgated EIA notification, making Environmental Clearance (EC) mandatory for expansion or modernization of any activity or for setting up new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification. An EIA notification is issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act.

draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2020

Released by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), EIA Notification 2020 is to replace and supersede EIA Notification 2006.

  • Categorization of projects and activities: All projects are divided into three categories
    • Category ‘A’: Category ‘A’ projects, including expansion and modernization shall require prior Environment Clearance from the Ministry
    • Category ‘B1’: Category ‘B1’ projects, including expansion and modernization of existing projects, excluding those near sensitive or protected zones (Polluted areas, protected areas, inter state boundaries, etc), shall require prior Environment Clearance from State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) or Union Territory Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (UTEIAA)
    • Category ‘B2’: Category ‘B2’ projects that are required to be placed before Appraisal Committee as specified in the Schedule, shall require prior Environment Clearance from SEIAA or UTEIAA. Such projects shall not require any Scoping
  • Linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas (100km from boundary) will not require any public hearing
  • All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways will be exempted from public clearance.
  • Post-facto clearance: Starting a project before obtaining environmental approvals will no longer be a violation, and it can be regularised post-facto. 
  • Reduces public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days, and reduces response submission during public hearing to 20 days
  • For environment assessment, baseline data will be collected once (twice for river valley projects)
  • Section 14 provides exemption from public consultation, also limiting the scope of public involvement to the districts concerned, in the case of national parks and sanctuaries where pipeline infrastructure will pass.
  • Section 26 provides a list of projects that would not attract environmental clearance or permission, including coal mining and seismic surveys for oil, methane and shale gas on some lands

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

To provide for prevention, control and abatement of water pollution and the maintenance or restoration of the wholesomeness of water. The Act provides for constitution of central and State Boards for preventing water pollution

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • CPCB is a statutory organisation, constituted in 1974, under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. 
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
  • CPCB is under mandate - to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution; and to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution.
  • Recent Initiatives
    • CPCB will classify railway stations under the red, orange and green categories based on the quantity of waste water generated.

Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • National Green Tribunal was set under National Green Tribunal Act 2010, for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources
  • NGT is guided by principles of natural justice. NGT is vested with the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure for discharging its functions. NGT does not have suo moto power to take a case.
  • NGT has original jurisdiction over all civil cases involving a substantial question relating to environment 
    • Substantial questions are those which affect the community at large, and not just individuals or groups of individuals.
  • NGT consist of both judicial and expert members. Judicial members must have been judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts. Chairperson should either be a judge of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of High Court
  • 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 are:
    1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
    2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
    3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
    4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
    5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)
    6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
    7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • EPA, TERI - Baghjan oil field fire in Tinsukia district, Assam
    • NGT imposes fine on Karnataka government over pollution in Kithiganahalli Lake
    • NGT imposes fine on LG chem for Visakhapatnam gas leak
  • July, 20
    • Parliamentary panel to discuss draft EIA
  • Aug, 20
    • NGT orders OIL to disburse compensation ranging from ₹2.5 lakh to ₹25 lakh to those affected by the oil well blowout in Assam’s Tinsukia

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