Daily Current Affairs : 30th September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Second national sero-survey
  2. Green Strategic Partnership
  3. Forest Rights Act
  4. Eco Sensitive Zone
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Second National Sero Survey

Context : Findings of the Second National Sero Survey has been released

Key Finding of the Survey

  • Around 7% of India’s adult population may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus till the last fortnight of August. This is roughly a 10-fold jump in numbers from the first sero-survey conducted by the Council across 70 districts in 21 States that sought to estimate the likely number of infected until early May.
  • The people tested in the second survey were drawn from the same villages and clusters as the first, in which the scientists said that 0.73% of adults — or about 6.4 million — across the country were likely infected.
  • No figures were shared on the likely number of infections but 7% of the population works out to about 62 million people.
  • During the first survey, it emerged that there were 82-130 infections for every confirmed COVID-19 positive case. That number has now dropped to 26-32 infections.
  • One in fifteen individuals above 10 were exposed to the virus by August and there was no difference by age group and gender.


  • The numbers also suggest that the country still has an overwhelming majority of its population yet to be exposed to the virus and therefore, is far from any peak or herd immunity levels. These refer to approximate estimates that show what percentage of the population needs to be exposed to the virus so that its spread is curtailed.

How Sero Surveys are conducted

  • Sero-surveys are conducted by drawing blood samples and checking for a specific class of antibodies called IgG that appear within two weeks of an infection. Because it is yet unclear how long antibodies detectably persist in the body, their presence only indicates past exposure to — and not presence of — the virus.

2 . Green Strategic Partnership

Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen agreed to elevate India-Denmark relations to a Green Strategic Partnership.

About the Partnership

  • Partnership would build on and consolidate the existing agreement establishing a Joint Commission for Cooperation (signed 6 February 2009) between India and Denmark which envisaged cooperation within the political field; economic and commercial field; science and technology; environment; energy; education and culture. In addition, it builds on and complements the existing Joint Working Groups on Renewable Energy, Urban Development, Environment, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Food Processing, Science, Technology and Innovation, Shipping, Labour Mobility and Digitization.
  • The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to advance political cooperation, expand economic relations and green growth, create jobs and strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges and opportunities; with focus on an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Under the Green Strategic Partnership India and Denmark will cooperate through relevant Ministries, institutions and stakeholders.

Energy and Climate Change : The Strategic Sector Cooperation on offshore wind and renewable energy, as well as the India-Denmark Energy Partnership (INDEP) on capacity building, knowledge-sharing and technology transfer on wind energy; energy modeling and integration of renewable energy illustrate the shared commitment to address some of the common global challenges on the path towards global energy transition, green growth and sustainable development. The two sides envisage the energy partnership to be further strengthened over the coming years.

Environment/Water and Circular Economy : They agreed to cooperate in water efficiency and non-revenue water (water loss) and in this context tasked the Indian Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food to develop a Work Plan for an initial period of three years (2021-23). The two Prime Ministers expressed their joint wish to enhance cooperation in the specific areas of water supply, water distribution, wastewater treatment, sewerage systems, re-use of treated wastewater, water management and energy optimization in the water sector through the Indo-Danish Water Technology Alliance.

Sustainable Urban Development including Smart Cities : Both sides noted the holding of 2nd India-Denmark JWG on Sustainable Urban Development virtually on 26 June, 2020 and agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in sustainable urban development, including in smart cities through the Urban Living Lab in Goa. Both sides also agreed to strengthen existing City-to-City cooperation between Udaipur and Aarhus and Tumakuru and Aalborg.

Business, Trade and Shipping : The two Prime Ministers welcomed the idea of developing partnerships between Governments, institutions and businesses of the two countries with special focus on green and climate-friendly technologies. They recognized the importance of regulatory framework conditions to support public and private investments in green energy. India and Denmark confirmed the emerging cooperation in Intellectual Property Rights, which will help to modernize and strengthen their national intellectual property systems to promote innovation, creativity and technological advancement.

Science, Technology, Innovation and Digitization : India and Denmark recognize the importance of promoting and facilitating investments in science, technology and innovation (STI) via strong public-private partnerships as an important way to accelerate technology development and the implementation of new solutions. Collaboration in STI supports the Green Strategic Partnership by promoting and strengthening relations between authorities, small and large companies and research and higher education institutions in India and Denmark. The two sides agree to build on existing strong bilateral STI partnerships with joint calls for projects in areas such as energy, water, bio-resources and ICT. The two leaders recognized their shared interest in digitization and digital solutions and business models in the green transition and decided to collaborate for enhancement of development, innovation and demonstration in the field of digital technologies to support green sustainable growth.

Health and Life Science : Both sides confirmed their interest in expanding dialogue and sharing best practices on health policy issues, including on epidemics and vaccines, especially to combat Covid-19 and future pandemics. They agreed to work on expanding commercial opportunities for businesses by creating more favorable environments for the life science sector, including research collaborations.

3 . Forest Rights Act

Context : Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on issued a notification modifying the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006

About the Notification

  • Notification will enable tribals and other traditional forest dwelling families to build houses in the neighbourhood forest areas.
  • The move aims to prevent the migration of forest-dwelling families outside their native villages and provide them housing areas by extending the village site into forest land in their neighbourhood.
  • The notification has been issued by the Governor using his powers under sub paragraph (1) of paragraph 5 of the Schedule V of the Constitution, according to a statement issued by Raj Bhavan.


  • The decision is likely to provide a major relief to Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest-dwelling families residing in the scheduled areas of the State.

Paragraph 5 of the Schedule V : Law applicable to Scheduled Areas

  • Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the Governor may by public notification direct that any particular Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State shall not apply to a Scheduled Area or any part thereof in the State or shall apply to a Scheduled Area or any part thereof in the State subject to such exceptions and modifications as he may specify in the notification and any direction given under this sub-paragraph may be given so as to have retrospective effect.
  • The Governor may make regulations for the peace and good government of any area in a State which is for the time being a Scheduled Area. In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such regulations may—
    • Prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the Scheduled Tribes in such area;
    • Regulate the allotment of land to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such area;
    • Regulate the carrying on of business as money-lender by persons who lend money to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such area.
  • In making any such regulation as is referred to in sub-paragraph of this paragraph, the Governor 1 may repeal or amend any Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State or any existing law which is for the time being applicable to the area in question.
  • All regulations made under this paragraph shall be submitted forthwith to the President and, until assented to by him, shall have no effect.
  • No regulation shall be made under this paragraph unless the Governor making the regulation has, in the case where there is a Tribes Advisory Council for the State, consulted such Council

4 . Eco-sensitive zone (ESZ)

Context : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern after six states asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to whittle down the size of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) under the ecologically fragile Western Ghats by 6,386.65 sq km.

About the News

  • The Western Ghats cover six states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The K Kasturirangan Committee had in 2012 earmarked around 60,000 sq km as ESZ.
  • In 2014, the then MoEF issued a draft notification declaring 56,825 sq km in the Western Ghats as ESZ.
  • Since then, it has issued three more draft notifications and has yet to take a final call on the classification.
  • Of the six states that have suggested reduction in ESZ, Maharashtra has sought the highest exemption at 2,570.88 sq km, followed by Kerala (1,337.24 sq km), Karnataka (1,571 sq km), Goa (754 sq km), Gujarat (129 sq km) and Tamil Nadu (24.53 sq km). Maharashtra has also suggested a separate area spread over 1,740 sq km to be included in ESZ.


  • Acknowledging that the Western Ghats are a global biodiversity hotspot, and hence needed to be conserved to protect the unique biodiversity the Union Government in 2010 had set up the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by Dr Madhav Gadgil.
  • In his report submitted in 2011, Dr Gadgil had recommended that large swathes of areas falling within the Western Ghats be marked as ecologically sensitive areas and excluded from damaging activities.
  • However, owing to opposition from states, the MoEF set up another committee in August 2012 called the High Level Working Group headed by former ISRO Chief Dr K Kasturirangan who further reduced the area to be notified as ESAs. However, this report too was rejected by many states.
  • Despite several deadlines by the NGT, the finalization of the notification of ESZs is pending for the last eight years since the Gadgil report was submitted in 2011 with several states including Goa dragging their feet on the issue.

About Eco Sensitive Zone

  • Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas ,National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”. However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.
  • Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area, maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants for an area, environmentally compatible land use, and proximity to protected areas. The above two clauses have been effectively used by the government to declare ESZs or EFAs.
  • Environmentally destructive activities like mining and quarrying, thermal power plants, red category industries residential complexes exceeding 20,000 square metres, etc are to be prohibited in areas that are notified as ESAs. However, hydropower projects, orange category industries and other existing activities were to be allowed.

Concerns by States

  • The notification has been hanging fire for more than a decade, as many states and the Centre believe that once areas under the Ghats are classified as ESZ, development activities will be off-limits.
  • There is also concern of the States about prohibition of certain activities having implications on medical care, health care and education,” MoEFCC said in an affidavit to NGT.
  • Some states are concerned that two committee reports on delineation of the Western Ghats were based on the 2001 census.

5 . Facts for Prelims

India’s existing strategic petroleum reserve facilities

  • India’s existing strategic petroleum reserve facilities are located in Visakhapatnam (1.3 MT), Mangaluru (1.5 MT) and Padur (2.5 MT).

Mumbai Biodiversity Map

  • In a first-of-its-kind attempt to visually empower Mumbai’s citizens with the resources they share the city with, a biodiversity map of the city to showcase the wildlife hotspots, mangrove forests, urban green spaces and over 90 species that can be spotted in the city has been illustrated.
  • Rohan Chakravarty, popularly known for his work under the title of Green Humour, is the man behind the map “that will serve as a reminder to Mumbaikars that they must act to protect Mumbai’s biodiversity, which has been under threat due to unsustainable development”.
  • This is part of a campaign Biodiversity by the Bay, initiated by the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic, a citizen’s collective comprising Mumbaikars who wish to bring the issue of protecting biodiversity to the forefront.

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