Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Suspension of Operation Agreement
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Suspension of Operation Agreement
Context : Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on June 26 said Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured that the Centre would ensure the implementation of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with Kuki insurgent groups in the hill areas. The pact requires the insurgent groups to remain in designated camps with weapons behind lock and key. The Chief Minister has alleged that the Kuki insurgent groups violated ground rules of the SoO pact and instigated violence.
What is the Suspension of Operations pact?
- There are nearly 30 Kuki insurgent groups in Manipur, of which 25 are under tripartite Suspension of Operations (SoO) with the Government of India and the state. As many as 17 are under the umbrella group Kuki National Organisation (KNO), and eight are under the United People’s Front (UPF).
- The SoO pact was signed on August 22, 2008, with the primary objective of initiating political dialogue. Talks are ongoing under AB Mathur, former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), as the interlocutor. The Kuki outfits who were initially demanding a separate Kuki state have come down to a ‘Kukiland territorial council’, which would have financial and administrative powers independent of the Manipur Assembly and government.
What are the terms of the SoO pact?
- While the period of the Suspension of Operation agreement is one year, it is extendable according to the progress of its implementation.
- To oversee the effective implementation of the SoO pact, a committee called the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), with representatives from all the signatories, has been formed.
- The important terms under the pact are that security forces, including state and central forces, are not to launch any operations, nor can the underground groups.
- The signatories of UPF and KNO shall abide by the Constitution of India, the laws of the land and the territorial integrity of Manipur. They are prohibited from committing all kinds of atrocities, extortion, among others.
- The militant cadres are to be confined in designated camps identified by the Government. Arms are deposited in a safe room under a double-locking system. The groups are given arms only to guard their camps and protect their leaders.
- As a rehabilitation package, the UG cadres living in the designated camps are given a monthly stipend of Rs 5000. Financial assistance is also being provided to maintain the designated camps.
2 . Flash Flood
Context : Hundreds of commuters, including tourists, were stranded in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh as the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway was blocked following flash floods and landslips, officials said on Monday.
What are flash floods, and how are they different from floods in general?
- Excessive or continuous rainfall over a period of days, or during particular seasons can lead to stagnation of water and cause flooding.
- Flash floods occur when heavy rainfall exceeds the ability of the ground to absorb it.
- They also occur when water fills normally dry creeks or streams or enough water accumulates for streams to overtop their banks, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time.
- They can happen within minutes of the causative rainfall, limiting the time available to warn and protect the public.
- In India, flash floods are often associated with cloudbursts – sudden, intense rainfall in a short period of time.
Areas prone to flash floods
- Himalayan states face the challenge of overflowing glacial lakes, formed due to the melting of glaciers, and their numbers have been increasing in the last few years.
- Flash flooding commonly happens more where rivers are narrow and steep, so they flow more quickly.
- They can occur in urban areas located near small rivers, since hard surfaces such as roads and concrete do not allow the water to absorb into the ground.
How common are flash floods and floods?
- According to government data from a project by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, India is the worst flood-affected country in the world after Bangladesh and accounts for one-fifth of the global death count due to floods.
- Flash floods have been commonly witnessed in cities like Chennai and Mumbai. Depression and cyclonic storms in the coastal areas of Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and others also cause flash floods.
- Further, data from the National Disaster Management Authority states that one of the reasons for flood situations occurring so frequently is that nearly 75 per cent of the total Indian rainfall is concentrated over a short monsoon season of four months (June to September). As a result, the rivers witness a heavy discharge during these months.
- Flash floods may in the future, begin to take place after wildfires that have been taking place more frequently.
- This is because wildfires destroy forests and other vegetation, which in turn weakens the soil and makes it less permeable for water to seep through.
- One way of dealing with the current situation is a comprehensive strategy of monitoring ground in hilly areas, planning development works in a way that is sensitive to the region’s ecology, and mitigation to reduce the extent of damages.
3 . Landslides
- A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.
- Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.
- The term “landslide” encompasses five modes of slope movement: falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows. These are further subdivided by the type of geologic material (bedrock, debris, or earth). Debris flows (commonly referred to as mudflows or mudslides) and rock falls are examples of common landslide types.
Landslides have three major causes: geology, morphology, and human activity.
- Geology refers to characteristics of the material itself. The earth or rock might be weak or fractured, or different layers may have different strengths and stiffness.
- Morphology refers to the structure of the land. For example, slopes that lose their vegetation to fire or drought are more vulnerable to landslides. Vegetation holds soil in place, and without the root systems of trees, bushes, and other plants, the land is more likely to slide away. A classic morphological cause of landslides is erosion, or weakening of earth due to water.
- Human activity, such as agriculture and construction, can increase the risk of landslide. Irrigation, deforestation, excavation, and water leakage are some of the common activities that can help destabilize, or weaken, a slope.
Types of landslides
- Landslides are generally classified by type of movement (slides, flows, spreads, topples, or falls) and type of material (rock, debris, or earth).
- Sometimes more than one type of movement occurs within a single landslide.
Type of Movement
- Slides : Rockslides and other types of slides involve the displacement of material along one or more discrete shearing surfaces. The sliding can extend downward and outward along a broadly planar surface (a translational slide), or it can be rotational along a concave-upward set of shear surfaces (a slump). A translational slide is sometimes called a mud slide. If the overlying material moves as a single, little-deformed mass, it is called a block slide.
- Flow : A type of landslide in which the distribution of particle velocities resembles that of a viscous fluid is called a flow.
- Lateral Spread : Lateral spreads are distinctive because they usually occur on very gentle slopes or flat terrain. The dominant mode of movement is lateral extension accompanied by shear or tensile fractures. The failure is caused by liquefaction, the process whereby saturated, loose, cohesionless sediments (usually sands and silts) are transformed from a solid into a liquefied state. Failure is usually triggered by rapid ground motion, such as that experienced during an earthquake, but can also be artificially induced.
- Topples : Rotation of a mass of rock, debris, or earth outward from a steep slope face is called toppling. This type of movement can subsequently cause the mass to fall or slide.
Consequences of Landslides
- Considered among the most frequent natural disasters, landslides are extremely hazardous, posing a threat to human and animal lives, damaging property, roads and bridges, disrupting communication lines and snapping power lines.
Landslide mitigation and prevention
- Hazards are mitigated mainly through precautionary means such as
- by restricting or even removing populations from areas with a history of landslides
- by restricting certain types of land use where slope stability is in question
- by installing early warning systems based on the monitoring of ground conditions such as strain in rocks and soils, slope displacement, and groundwater levels.
- There are also various direct methods of preventing landslides; these include
- modifying slope geometry
- using chemical agents to reinforce slope material
- installing structures such as piles and retaining walls
- grouting rock joints and fissures
- diverting debris pathways
- rerouting surface and underwater drainage.
How are landslides are classified and Mapped?
- Landslides are broadly classified based on the type of materials involved (rock, debris, soil, loose mud), type of movement of the material (fall, topple, slide, rotational slide or translational slide), and type of flow of the material. Another category is landslides that spread laterally. Landslides mapped in the ISRO atlas are mainly event-based and season-based.
- ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, has created a database of landslide-prone regions of India based on events during 1998 – 2022, primarily along the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.
How prone is India to landslides?
- India is considered among the top five landslide-prone countries globally, where at least one death per 100 sq km is reported in a year due to a landslide event. Rainfall variability pattern is the single biggest cause for landslides in the country, with the Himalayas and the Western Ghats remaining highly vulnerable.
- Excluding snow covered areas, approximately 12.6 per cent of the country’s geographical land area (0.42 million sq km) is prone to landslides. As many as 66.5 per cent of the landslides are reported from the North-western Himalayas, about 18.8 per cent from the North-eastern Himalayas, and about 14.7 per cent from the Western Ghats.
- Nearly half of the country’s landslide-prone area (0.18 sq km) is located in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland. Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir cover 0.14 million sq km of the total landslide-prone areas, whereas Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu account for 0.09 million sq km. A relatively small area (0.01 million sq km) of the Araku region in Andhra Pradesh along the Eastern Ghats, too, reports landslide events.
- In the Western Ghats, despite fewer events, landslides were found to be making inhabitants significantly vulnerable to fatalities, especially in Kerala.
What does the landslide atlas suggest?
- Uttarakhand, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh reported the highest number of landslides during 1998 – 2022.
- Mizoram topped the list, recording 12,385 landslide events in the past 25 years, of which 8,926 were recorded in 2017 alone. Likewise, 2,071 events of the total 2,132 landslides reported in Nagaland during this period occurred during the 2017 monsoon season. Manipur, too, showed a similar trend, wherein 4,559 out of 5,494 landslide events were experienced during the rainy season of 2017. Of the total 690, Tamil Nadu suffered 603 landslide events in 2018 alone.
- Among all these states, an alarming situation is emerging from Uttarakhand and Kerala.
- While Uttarakhand’s fragility was recently exposed during the land subsidence events reported from Joshimath since January, this Himalayan state has experienced the second highest number (11,219) of landslides since 1998, all events since occurring post 2000. The year-wise number of landslide events in the state is: 2003 (32), 2010 (307), 2012 (473), 2013 (6,610), 2017 (1), 2021 (329) and 2022 (1).
- The number of districts with the maximum landslide exposure are in Arunachal Pradesh (16), Kerala (14), Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir (13 each), Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra (11 each), Mizoram (8) and Nagaland (7).
- Kerala has been consistently reporting massive landslides since it suffered the century’s worst floods in 2018. The year-wise landslide events here are 2018 (5,191), 2019 (756), 2020 (9) and 2021 (29).
- From the events and images obtained, the NRSC ranked Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand at the top of 147 vulnerable districts. It has the highest landslide density in the country, along with having the highest exposure to total population and number of houses
4 . Facts for Prelims
- Spirals occur frequently in nature and can be seen in plant leaves, animal shells and even in the double helix of our DNA.
- In most cases, these spirals relate to the Fibonacci sequence – a set of numbers where each is the sum of the two numbers that precede it (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on).
- These patterns are particularly widespread in plants and can even be recognised with the naked eye.
- In a studythat analysed 6,000 pinecones, Fibonacci spirals were found in 97% of the examined cones. Fibonacci spirals are not just found in pine cones. They are common in other plant organs such as leaves and flowers.