CURRENT AFFAIRS 23-11-2021
- Brazil’s Amazon Deforestation
- ‘Lateral entry’ into bureaucracy: reason, process, and the controversy:
- Fly Ash: the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS)
- The UV-C technology
- Swachh Survekshan Awards, 2021
1. Brazil’s Amazon Deforestation
#GS3-Environmental Pollution & Degradation
- After a 22 percent increase from the previous year, the area deforested in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high (2020).
- An earlier study revealed that Amazon forests have begun to exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than absorb it.
- Growing temperatures and altering rain patterns in the Amazon will almost certainly result from global climate change and increased deforestation over time, affecting the region’s forests, water availability, biodiversity, agriculture, and human health.
In depth information
Deforestation in the Amazon: What’s Driving It?
- Beef consumption is linked to one of the primary causes of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.
- To make pasture land for grazing cattle, large tracts of forest are cleared by cutting down trees and burning the forest down.
- Brazil is a major beef exporter to nations such as the United States and China, with 1.82 million tonnes exported in 2019.
- Agriculture on a Small Scale:
- It has long been blamed for causing deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.
- Small-scale agriculture, like ranching, necessitates “slashing and burning” of the forest to clear the area for crops and various sorts of grazing.
- Fires: The Amazon, unlike other types of woods, did not evolve to burn.
- Deforestation can also contribute to flames in the Amazon basin. Rainforests, as their name implies, have a lot of moisture, which helps to protect them from fire.
- Agriculture Operations in the Industrial Sector:
- In the Amazon Rainforest, industrial agriculture practises are becoming more common.
- Other reasons include:
- More damage to the Amazon jungle is caused by mining operations for sought-after minerals such as gold.
- Government incentives, such as loans and infrastructure spending, such as roads and dams, have been increased.
The Amazon Rainforest in Facts
- The Amazon Basin covers 7,000,000 km2 (2,700,000 sq mi), with the rainforest covering 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi).
- Brazil has 60 percent of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13 percent, Colombia with ten percent, and minor quantities in Venezuela, French Guiana, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Suriname.
- The Amazon is home to more than 30 million people from 350 distinct ethnic groups, organised into nine different national governmental systems and 3,344 federally recognised indigenous territory.
- The Bodélé depression in Northern Chad, in the Sahara desert, provides more than 56 percent of the dust that fertilises the Amazon rainforest. The dust is high in phosphorus, which is necessary for plant growth.
- About 2.5 million bug species, tens of thousands of plants, and 2,000 birds and mammals live in the region. In the region, scientists have categorised at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles.
The Amazon Rainforest’s Importance
- The Amazon rainforest is crucial in managing the global oxygen and carbon cycles. It produces about 6% of the world’s oxygen and has long been assumed to operate as a carbon sink, absorbing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere quickly.
- However, when trees are cut down and the forest is burned, massive amounts of carbon are released into the sky. According to recent studies, these trees may be producing more carbon dioxide than they are absorbing. Fortunately, experts believe that if we can save substantial portions of the fragile ecosystem, we may be able to recover its function as a carbon sink.
- In its vegetation and soil, the Amazon rainforest stores a massive amount of carbon. If all of the carbon was released into the atmosphere by burning plants, efforts to prevent climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from motor cars and industrial activities would be futile.
Initiatives to Combat Deforestation:
- During the COP26 climate summit, Brazil was one of several countries that pledged to cease and reverse deforestation by 2030.
- At the Leaders Summit on Climate in 2021, the LEAF (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) Coalition was announced.
- Initiatives within the REDD+ programme: It is one of the climate change mitigation alternatives in poor nations for preserving forest carbon stocks, managing forests sustainably, and lowering emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
2. ‘Lateral entry’ into bureaucracy: reason, process, and the controversy:
#GS2- Role of civil services in a democracy.
- The Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) recent proposal of 31 applicants for induction into senior and mid-level positions in various union ministries is the second such initiative to integrate expertise from the private sector into the senior and intermediate levels of bureaucracy. In 2019, nine lateral entrants from the private sector were also inducted.
In depth information
What is the problem that specialists have identified?
- Experts have expressed concern about the recruitment process.
- According to them, meritocracy requires that professional recruitment procedures pass the merit test in a fair and transparent manner.
- The foundation of modern merit-based bureaucracy is the fair selection and appointment of government officials.
- As a result, any modification from the established approach must also meet the requirements of a fair recruitment procedure.
The necessity of the hour:
- The recruitment procedure for induction of lateral candidates should be launched in the parliament to be constitutionally correct and to strengthen the legitimacy of the motion.
- A complete legal approach would not only assist bring clarity to different facets of lateral entry recruiting, but it will also legitimise the practise and give it greater political support.
- What does it mean to have a ‘Lateral Entry’ into government?
- In 2017, the NITI Aayog advised that personnel at the middle and high management levels in the central government be inducted.
- These ‘lateral entrants’ will work in the central secretariat, which normally only employs career bureaucrats from the All India Services and Central Civil Services.
What ranks are invited to participate in this competition?
- The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) appoints a Joint Secretary, who is the Department’s third-highest rank (after Secretary and Additional Secretary).
- It serves as the administrative head of a Department wing.
- Directors are a lower-ranking position than Joint Secretary.
What is the government’s justification for allowing lateral entry?
- Lateral recruiting aims to accomplish the dual goals of bringing in new talent while also increasing personnel availability.
- Government has nominated several renowned people for specific government positions from time to time, based on their specialised knowledge and expertise in the relevant field.
- Indeed, as early as 1965, the first ARC emphasised the importance of specialisation.
- In 2003 and 2004, the Surinder Nath Committee and the Hota Committee, as well as the second ARC, followed suit.
- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) suggested in 2005 that lateral entry be institutionalised and transparent at both the federal and state levels.
- The Indian civil service need change. There isn’t much debate on this.
- In India, these are not altogether new.
- Domain specialists from outside the services have been appointed to lead different committees, advisory groups, and organisations.
- Internal reforms, such as protection from political pressure and career routes based on specialty, work in tandem with exterior reforms, such as lateral entrance.
- Since every policy change in our country is met with opposition, pushback is unavoidable.
- It’s a workaround for the civil service’s structural flaws as well as an antidote to the complacency that may creep into a career-based job.
- Incorporating components of a position-based system where lateral entrance and specialisation are widespread is both conceivable and desirable, according to the second ARC report.
3. Fly Ash: the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS)
#GS3: Air Pollution related issues.
- Fly ash from the North Chennai Thermal Power Station has been found in the Kosasthalaiyar, according to activists and fishermen (NCTPS). A leak in the pipeline bringing ash to the ash pond caused this.
In depth information
What exactly is Fly Ash?
- It is a coal combustion product known as flue ash or pulverised fuel ash.
- Composition: Made up of the particles and flue gases that are ejected from coal-fired boilers.
- The components of fly ash vary depending on the source and content of the coal being burned, but all fly ash contains significant levels of silicon dioxide (SiO2), aluminium oxide (Al2O3), and calcium oxide (CaO), the major mineral constituents in coal-bearing rock strata.
- Arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, as well as dioxins and PAH compounds, are minor ingredients. It also contains carbon that hasn’t been burned.
Hazards to human health and the environment:
- Harmful heavy metals are present: Nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, and other heavy metals found in fly ash are all toxic in nature. They are tiny, toxic particles that build up in the respiratory tract and cause poisoning over time.
- Fly ash carries a hundred times more radiation than nuclear waste stored in a dry cask or in water for the same quantity of electricity generated.
- Water pollution: In India, ash dykes are routinely breached, resulting in ash leaks that pollute a huge number of water bodies.
- The destruction of mangroves, significant reductions in crop yields, and pollution of groundwater in the Rann of Kutch due to ash sludge from nearby coal power stations have all been extensively documented.
Fly ash, on the other hand, can be used in the following ways:
- Sand is used in concrete manufacturing as a substitute for Portland cement.
- Fly-ash pellets can be used in place of regular aggregate in concrete mixes.
- Fills in the form of embankments and other structural elements.
- Production of cement clinker – (as a substitute material for clay).
- Soft soil stabilisation.
- Construction of the road’s subbase.
- As a substitute for aggregate (e.g. for brick production).
- Soil amendment, fertiliser, cow feeders, soil stabilisation in stock feed yards, and agricultural stakes are all examples of agricultural usage.
- To melt ice, use a loose application on rivers.
- For ice control, use a loose application on roadways and parking lots.
4. The UV-C technology
GS3- Science & technology, and developing new technology.
- One of the most effective methods for disinfecting water is UV-C water purification. Special “germicidal” UV-C lamps that emit high-intensity ultraviolet light purify the water without the use of harsh chemicals that are damaging to the environment are used in this procedure.
In depth information
- UV light from the sun has shorter wavelengths than visible light and is therefore invisible to the naked eye.
- The whole spectrum of UV radiation is emitted by the sun and is divided into UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays based on their wavelength.
- Their biological activity and the depth to which they can penetrate the skin are different.
- UV radiation is more damaging the shorter the wavelength.
- Shorter wavelength UV light, on the other hand, has a lower ability to enter the skin.
- UV radiation kills cells, according to research, and increased exposure can make cells carcinogenic (cancerous) and raise the risk of cancer.
What is the purpose of it?
- UV rays are commonly employed to kill bacteria and other microbes.
- UV-C, commonly known as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), is a disinfection treatment that kills or inactivates bacteria by destroying their nucleic acids and altering their DNA, rendering them unable to perform important biological tasks and stopping their replication.
- UVGI is used in a range of disinfection applications, including food, air, and water.
Is it suitable for human consumption?
- The device was created exclusively to sterilise non-living objects, according to the researchers. As a result, the UV-C radiation employed in this device could be damaging to living beings’ skin and eyes.
5. Swachh Survekshan Awards, 2021
#GS2- Government Policies
- The recipients of India’s cleanest cities were recently honoured by the President of India at the ‘Swachh Amrit Mahotsav,’ which was held as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
In depth information
The Swachh Survekshan Awards will be held in 2021.
- The award ceremony was held to celebrate the good work done for Swachhata by towns/cities, states, and union territories under the Swachh Bharat Mission’s different programmes (Urban).
- The awards are divided into a number of categories based on the population of the city.
- For nearly a month, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs surveyed 4,320 cities and received feedback from 4.2 crore people.
- Findigs: India’s cleanest city is Indore, Madhya Pradesh, for the fifth year running, followed by Surat, Gujarat, and Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
- For the third year in a row, Chhattisgarh has been named the cleanest state in the category of “States with more than 100 urban local bodies.”
- Varanasi is the cleanest ‘Ganga city.’