Daily Current Affairs : 7th September 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. India- Bangladesh River Pact
  2. National Clean Air Programme
  3. Satluj Yamuna Canal Link
  4. Nasal Vaccine
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . India – Bangladesh River Pact


Context: After holding bilateral talks with the Indian Prime Minister, the Bangladesh PM described India as the “most important and closest Neighbour” that is bound with Bangladesh through 54 common rivers and 4,000 km of border. The two sides signed seven agreements covering railways, science and technology, space cooperation, media, and water sharing.

Recent developments

  • India and Bangladesh had resolved many outstanding issues in the spirit of friendship and cooperation, and it is hoped that all outstanding issues, including Teesta Water Sharing Treaty, would be concluded at an early date.
  • The two sides made a significant beginning in river-water sharing by reaching an agreement — a first in 28 years — on drawing water from the common border river Kushiyara for supplying to parts of lower Assam as well as Sylhet in Bangladesh.

The river pact

  • The pact over the Kushiyara was the first river-related agreement that the two sides reached 28 years after the conclusion of the Ganga Waters Agreement of 1996.
    • India and Bangladesh had signed the Ganga water treaty in 1996 for sharing waters of the mighty river for a period of 30 years.
    • The treaty was signed by the then prime minister H D Deve Gowda and Hasina.
  • This will benefit Southern Assam in India and Sylhet region in Bangladesh.
  • There are 54 rivers that pass through the Indo-Bangladesh border and have been linked to the livelihood of the people of both countries for centuries.
  •  The plan to sign the river agreement was finalized last month when the India-Bangladesh joint river commission met in New Delhi after 12 years.
  • It was also agreed by both sides to expand cooperation to areas like addressing pollution in rivers.
  • India has been sharing real-time flood data with Bangladesh, the period of which has now been extended.
  • The long-pending pact to share the waters of the Teesta River continued to remain stuck.
    • The Teesta deal was set to be signed during in September 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections raised by West Bengal Chief Minister, who is still opposed to sharing the waters of the river with Bangladesh.
    • The Teesta River flows through Sikkim and then enters West Bengal before finally merging with the Brahmaputra in Assam and the Jamuna in Bangladesh
Kushiyara River

It is a distributary river in Bangladesh and Assam, India. It forms on the India-Bangladesh border as a branch of the Barak River, when the Barak separates into the Kushiyara and Surma. The waters of the Kushiyara thus originate in the state of Nagaland in India and pick up tributaries from Manipur, Mizoram and Assam.

Other agreements signed

  • The two sides seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs) include
    • withdrawal of water from the cross-border Kushiyara river
    • Cooperation in space technology
    • MoU between the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board), Government of India and the Ministry of Railways, Government of Bangladesh on the training of Bangladesh Railway personnel in India
    • Collaboration on IT systems used by railways in areas such as movement of freight.
      • Collaboration in IT systems such as FOIS and other IT applications for Bangladesh Railway.
    • MoU between the National Judicial Academy, India and the Supreme court of Bangladesh on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Bangladesh Judicial Officers in India.
    • MoU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India and Bangladesh Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (BCSIR), Bangladesh.
    • MoU on Cooperation in the Areas of Space Technology. MoU between the Prasar Bharti and Bangladesh Television (BTV) on Cooperation in Broadcasting.
  • Leaders of both the nations unveiled the first unit of the Maitree super thermal power project being built in Khulna division of Bangladesh with concessional funding from India.
    • The unit was synchronized with Bangladesh’s power grid in August, and the project will generate 1,320MW when it is completed.
  • They also inaugurated the 5.13-km Rupsha rail bridge, a key part of the 64.7-km Khulna-Mongla port broad gauge railway project.


2 . National Clean Air Programme


Context: An analysis by the environmental think tank, Centre for Science and Environment, reported “barely any difference” in trends in particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) between the group of cities under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and those outside its ambit.

 About National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The Central Government launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
  • The NCAP covers 132 of India’s most polluted or so-called non-attainment cities.
    • This is defined as a city whose air quality did not meet the national ambient air quality standards of 2011 to 2015.
  • The NCAP was launched in 2019 and it aims to bring a 20%-30% reduction in pollution levels from PM2.5 and PM10 particles by 2024, using 2017 pollution levels as a base.
  • Cities are required to quantify improvement starting 2020-21, which requires 15% and more reduction in the annual average PM10 concentration and a concurrent increase in “good air” days to at least 200.
  • Anything fewer will be considered ‘low’ and the funding consequently reduced.
  • For disbursing funds, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which coordinates the programme, only considers levels of PM10, the relatively larger, coarser particles.
    • However, PM2.5, the smaller, more dangerous particles, aren’t monitored as robustly in all cities, mostly due to the lack of equipment.
  • The city specific action plans have been prepared under it which include measures for strengthening the monitoring network, reducing vehicular/industrial emissions, increasing public awareness etc.
  • Implementation of the city specific action plans are regularly monitored by Committees at Central and State level namely Steering Committee, Monitoring Committee and Implementation Committee.
  • The Air quality of cities is monitored by State Pollution Control Boards which publishes their results from time to time.
  • Some Smart Cities have established Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCCs) which are also connected to Air Quality Monitors (AQMs) for effective monitoring.

 Analysis of CSE

  • The CSE in its national analysis of PM2.5 levels in cities for which data is available found that between 2019 and 2021, only 14 of 43 (NCAP) cities registered a 10% or more reduction in their PM2.5 level between 2019 and 2021.
  • Only 43 cities were considered as having adequate data to scientifically establish a long-term trend.
  • There is hardly any difference between the performance of NCAP and non-NCAP cities between 2019 and 2021.
  • Cities in Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra dominated the list of cities which registered a significant increase in PM2.5 levels between 2019 and 2021.
  • Chennai, Varanasi and Pune show the most improvement among NCAP cities.
  • But unlike cities with increasing pollution levels which have a very clear regional pattern, there was no regional pattern seen among cities reporting significant improvement in their air quality.


3 . Satluj Yamuna Canal Link


Context: The Supreme Court drew an assurance from the State of Punjab that its Chief Minister will meet his Haryana counterpart, “within this month” to discuss the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal which has been languishing for two decades.

About the Satluj Yamuna link canal

  • The Satluj Yamuna Link Canal is a proposed 214-kilometre-long canal connecting Sutlej and Yamuna rivers.
  • It was planned in 1966 after the state of Haryana was carved out of Punjab.
  • While the decision to share resources was taken, the terms on sharing waters of two rivers, Ravi and Beas, were left undecided.
  • The central government then issued a notification asking Punjab to provide a part of the water from the two rivers to Haryana.
  • Punjab argued that it was against the riparian principle, which says that the water of a river belongs only to states or countries it flows through.
  •  In India, “water resources” subject comes under the state list of the constitution. However, the union government has been given the authority to frame laws around inter-state rivers.

The timeline of the conflict

  • 1955: The centre assesses the total water flowing down the Ravi and Beas rivers at 15.85 million acre-feet (MAF) per year.
    • It allocates the water to three states. 8 MAF to Rajasthan, 7.20 MAF to Punjab and 0.65 MAF to Jammu & Kashmir, as reported by Indian Express (IE).
  • 1966: After Haryana is formed, Punjab is directed to give 3.5 MAF out of its share of 7.2 MAF to Haryana.
  • 1981: The two rivers are reassessed, and the water flowing is estimated at 17.17 MAF.
    • As much as 4.22 MAF is allocated to Punjab, 3.5 MAF to Haryana and 8.6 MAF to Rajasthan. The states agree to the amount.
  • 1982: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launches the construction of the SYL project at Kapoori village in Patiala.
    • Out of the 214-km canal, 122 km was to be constructed in Punjab and 92 in Haryana.
    • Soon, agitations under ‘Kapoori Morcha’ started across Punjab against the construction of the canal. The protests are mainly led by the Akalis.
  • 1985: After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Akali chief Sant Harchand Singh Longowal sign an agreement to appoint a new tribunal to assess the water sharing.
    • The Eradi tribunal led by Justice V Balakrishna Eradi is formed.
    • On August 20, less than a month after signing the accord, Longowal is killed by militants.
  • 1987: The Eradi tribunal recommends increasing the share of Punjab and Haryana to 5 MAF and 3.83 MAF.
  • 1990: Chief engineer ML Sekhri and superintendent engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh, executives involved in the canal’s construction, are killed by militants. In Majat village, several labourers are shot dead, and the construction comes to a halt.
    • Punjab leaders ask the centre not to raise the issue again.
  • 1996: The Haryana government moves Supreme Court to resolve the issue.
  • 2002-04: Supreme Court directs the Punjab government to complete the pending construction.
  • 2004: The Punjab assembly passes the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act (PTAA), terminating the water-sharing agreement. Amrinder Singh was the chief minister of Punjab at the time.
  • 2016: Supreme Court says that as Punjab backed out of its promise to share river water and the PTAA is invalid.
  • 2020: Courts asks the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to negotiate and the centre to mediate.
    • It is reported that the availability of water in the Ravi and Beas rivers has now fallen to 13.38 MAF from 17.17 MAF in 1981.
    • Now, Haryana claims that the construction of the 92 km stretch on its territory has been completed.


4 . Nasal Vaccine


Context: India’s first nasal COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, has been approved for primary immunisation in those 18 and above, Health Minister said.

About the intranasal vaccine

  • An intranasal vaccine stimulates a broad immune response – neutralizing IgG, mucosal IgA, and T cell responses.
  • Immune responses at the site of infection (in the nasal mucosa) – essential for blocking both infection and transmission of COVID-19.
  • The nasal route has excellent potential for vaccination due to the organized immune systems of the nasal mucosa.
  • Benefits:
    • Non-invasive, Needle-free.
    • Ease of administration – does not require trained health care workers.
    • Elimination of needle-associated risks (injuries and infections).
    • High compliance (Ideally suits for children and adults).
    • Scalable manufacturing – able to meet global demand.

About the iNCOVACC

  • It is called iNCOVACC and manufactured by Bharat Biotech, the company behind Covaxin.
  • The new vaccine has been approved for primary immunisation — it can be administered only to the unimmunised.
  • Officials said those who have already received the first and second doses of other vaccines will not be eligible to get iNCOVACC as the “precaution” third dose. 
  • Yet, approval by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is significant:
    • iNCOVACC will be delivered through the nasal route, which would potentially trigger an immune response in the mucosal membrane.
    • It has been designed to not only protect against infection but also reduce transmission of the virus.
  • The vaccine uses a modified chimpanzee adenovirus, which cannot replicate in the body, to carry the Covid spike protein to induce immunity.
  • Bharat Biotech developed the new vaccine in partnership with Washington University-St Louis.
    • While the US university developed the vector that carries the spike protein and evaluated it in pre-clinical studies, Bharat Biotech is handling product development and manufacturing.
  • The development of the vaccine was partly funded by the Department of Biotechnology’s Covid Suraksha programme.
  • iNCOVACC has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunization to protect from emerging variants of concern.
  • It is stable at 2-8°C, which makes it easy to store and distribute, the vaccine will be manufactured at multiple sites in the country, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Significance

  • Delivered through a nasal drop, the vaccine will do away with the need for needles and syringes that are currently required for all available Covid vaccines.
  • It will also reduce dependence on trained personnel to administer the shots.


5 . Facts for Prelims


Rear seat belt alarm

Context: The Union government is planning to make it mandatory for automakers to introduce a seat-belt alarm system for rear seats too according to Road Transport and Highways Minister.

About the seat-belt alarm system

  • At present, it is mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to provide seat-belt reminders only for front-seat passengers.
  • Though not wearing a seat belt by passengers sitting in the rear seats attracts a fine of ₹1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), most people are either unaware of this rule or just ignore the stipulation.
  • Even traffic policemen seldom impose penalty on passengers sitting on rear seats for not wearing seat belts.
  • According to a recent Road Ministry report, the number of persons killed and injured due to not wearing a seat belt during 2020 stood at 15,146 and 39,102, respectively.

National Centre for disease control

Context: Union Health Minister said that State branches of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will play a pivotal role in disease surveillance. The regional branches of NCDC will play a pivotal part and will provide a boost to public health infrastructure with prompt surveillance, rapid detection and monitoring of diseases thereby enabling early interventions. He virtually laid the foundation stone for NCDC branches in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

About National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

  • The National Centre for Disease Control (previously known as the National Institute of Communicable Diseases) is an institute under the Indian Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It was established in July 1963 for research in epidemiology and control of communicable diseases and to reorganize the activities of the Malaria Institute of India.
  • It has nine branches at Alwar, Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Calicut, Coonoor, Jagdalpur, Patna, Rajahmundry and Varanasi to advise the respective state governments on public health.
  • The headquarters are in Sham Nath Marg, in New Delhi.
  • Functions:
    • It functions as the nodal agency in the country for disease surveillance facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases.
    • In coordination with the State Governments, NCDC has the capacity and capability for disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, and rapid response to contain and combat outbreaks.
    • Entomological expertise is made available by a separate division dealing with entomology and vector management.
    • NCDC also deals with Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), an emerging area of concern with far-reaching consequences.
    • NCDC also provides referral diagnostic support, capacity building and technical support to States/UTs in the country.
  • The mandate of the Institute broadly covers three areas viz. services, trained health manpower development and research.

Keezhadi site

Context: A sense of ownership must be created among the local people about the importance of preserving the archaeological findings, particularly in less-known places, Tamil Nadu Minister for Industries, Tamil Development and Archaeology, said while launching The Hindu’s book The Wonder That Was Harappan Civilisation. Elaborating on the remarkable changes in archaeological explorations after the progress in the Keezhadi excavation, he said more research needs to be done on the possible links of Keezhadi with the Harappan civilisation.

About Keezhadi site

  • In 2013-14, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) carried out explorations in 293 sites along the Vaigai river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts.
  • Keezhadi in Sivaganga district was chosen for excavation and artefacts unearthed by the ASI in the second phase of the excavation at Pallichanthai Thidal of Keezhadi pointed to an ancient civilisation that thrived on the banks of the Vaigai.
  • Carbon dating of charcoal found at the Keezhadi site in February 2017 established that the settlement there belonged to 200 BC. The excavations thus proved that urban civilisation had existed in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam age.
  • A beautifully crafted earthen pot with leaf decoration was unearthed, adding to a repository of evidence pointing to the existence of an urban habitation closer to the erstwhile capital of Pandya kingdom.

Major Findings

  • Canals and sewage system: At the bottom of the settlement, there are buildings with a sewage canal facility made of ceramic tubes.
  • Ring wells and brick walls: ancient earthenware and ring wells have been found. Archaeologists said that this proves the ancient tradition of Tamils indicating that they used these wells in river shores and ponds for water. Brick buildings were considered rare in ancient times, but many brick buildings have been found.
  • Pottery: The rouletted, Arretine-type ceramics brought by merchants demonstrate business connections with the Roman Empire. It is noteworthy that such products have been discovered. Furthermore, black and red parchment fragments and white-coloured black, red papillae and reddish-pitted pieces have also been unearthed. There are Tamil words engraved on the potteries that mention the names of individuals like ‘Aathan’, ‘Uthiran’ and ‘Thiesan’.
  • Tamil-Brahmi script and graffiti marks: Tamil-Brahmi script were discovered at the site. Some of these artifacts have inscribed graffiti marks, similar to graffiti marks which some believe to have evolved from the Indus script. The artifacts found at Keezhadi excavation site may point to a link between the scripts of the Indus Valley civilization and Tamil-Brahmi.
  • Ornaments and antiquities: Ornaments have been found including sponges, marble, agate beads, green, yellow and blue glass beads. The findings also include elephant tusks, copper ointment and sheets of wire. Rare artifacts including iron edged corners, gold ornaments, stylus, terracotta stamps, diaphragm tiles, firefly toys have been found as well, along with other tools.

Kuno palpur

Context: The much-awaited arrival of African cheetahs to India may be timed to Prime Minister’s birthday on September 17.  The cheetahs are expected to arrive on that day, and a function will be  organised in Kuno Palpur.

About Kuno palpur

  • Kuno National Park is a national park in Madhya Pradesh, India, established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary with an area of 344.686 km2 in the Sheopur and Morena districts.
  • In 2018, it was given the status of a national park.
  • It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
  • In the 1990s, it was selected as a possible site to implement the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project, which aimed at establishing a second lion population in India.
    • Between 1998 and 2003, about 1,650 inhabitants of 24 villages were resettled to sites outside the protected area.
    • Most of the inhabitants were Saharia tribal people. The villages were also home to Jatav, Brahmin, Gujjar, Kushwaha and Yadav people.
    • An area of 924 km2 (357 sq mi) surrounding the wildlife sanctuary was added as a buffer zone to human settlements.
  • In 2009, Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was also proposed as a possible site for Cheetah reintroduction in India.
  • In December 2018 the state government changed the status of the wildlife sanctuary to Kuno National Park and enlarged the protected area by 413 km2 (159 sq mi).
  • In January 2022, environment minister launched the action plan for reintroducing cheetahs in India, starting with Kuno national park.

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