- Parliament passes ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’
- Capacity building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’
- UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- Parliamentary Panel raps government over MSMEs, urges larger economic package
- Monkey Pox
- New Policy on Pneumonia to Reduce Infant Mortality
1.Parliament passes ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’
#GS2 #Government Policies #GS3 #Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc
Context: Recently, the Parliament has passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021. The bill seeks to replace the Lighthouse Act, 1927.
- This initiative is part of the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways’ proactive approach by repealing colonial laws as well as replacing them with legislations catering to the maritime industry’s modern and contemporary requirements.
- Until now, the administration and management of Lighthouse and Lightships in India is governed by Lighthouse Act 1927 for safe navigation.
- Lighthouses serve two main purposes viz. as a navigational aid and to warn boats of dangerous areas.
- With the evolution of technology, Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) came into existence which uses radar and other sensors.
- Vessel traffic service is defined as a service to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment.
- The need for enactment of a new Act is necessitated to provide an appropriate statutory framework which reflects the modern role of marine aids to navigation.
Highlights of the Bill:
- Main Objectives: Incorporating the global best practices, technological developments and India’s International obligations under
- International Convention for the safety of Life at sea,1974.
- International Association of Marine Aids and Lighthouse Authorities Maritime Buoyage system.
- Making the legislative framework user-friendly,
- Promoting ease of doing business.
- Application: The Bill applies to the whole of India including various maritime zones including territorial waters, continental shelf, and exclusive economic zone.
- Aid to navigation: The Bill defines aid to navigation as a device, system, or service, external to the vessels designed and operated to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation of vessels and vessel traffic.
- A vessel includes a ship, boat, sailing vessel, fishing vessel, submersible, and mobile offshore drilling units.
- Director General of Aids to Navigation: The Bill provides that the central government will appoint: (i) a Director General, (ii) Deputy Director Generals, and (iii) Directors for districts (which the centre may demarcate).
- The Director General will advise the central government on matters related to aids to navigation, among others.
- Central Advisory Committee: The central government may appoint a Central Advisory Committee (CAC) consisting of persons representing the interests affected by the Bill, or having special knowledge of the sector.
- The government may consult the CAC on matters including:
- establishment of aids to navigation,
- additions, alteration, or removal of, any such aids,
- cost of any proposal relating to such aids, or
- appointment of any sub-committee.
- Further, the CAC may also appoint sub-committees for additional advice on these matters.
- Management of General Aids to Navigation and vessel traffic services: The central government will be responsible for the development, maintenance, and management of all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.
- Training and certification: The Bill provide that no person shall be allowed to operate on any aid to navigation (including any ancillary activities), or any vessel traffic service in any place unless he holds a valid training certificate.
- Heritage Lighthouse: The central government may designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse.
- In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.
- Penalties: The Bill provides certain offences and penalties for intentionally causing obstruction or damage to any aid to navigation or vessel traffic services.
Other Intended Benefits:
- It will enhance the safety and efficiency of shipping and to protect the environment.
- Skill development through Training and Certification at par with international standards.
- Marking of “Wreck” in general waters to identify sunken / stranded vessels for safe and efficient navigation.
- Lighthouses have been globally identified as a major tourist attraction as they are located in scenic locations and because of their heritage value and typical architecture. So, this would tap the tourism potential of coastal regions and contribute to their economy.
- Capacity building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’
#GS2 #Government Policies #GS3 # Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation
Context: Recently, a new capacity building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’ aimed at improving river health/flows was launched by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
About the Initiative:
- A water sensitive city is based on the idea of holistic management of the water cycle to deliver basic services of supply and sanitation, while mitigating flood risk and protecting and enhancing the health of receiving waterways.
- The Objective of the program is capacity building and action research for promoting sustainable urban water management for improved river health in Ganga basin cities.
- Key Focus Areas of the programme will be,
- Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning.
- Urban Water Efficiency and Conservation.
- Decentralized Wastewater Treatment and Local Reuse.
- Urban Groundwater Management.
- Urban Water Bodies/Lake Management.
- Under this initiative there will be more than 40 training programs supported with development of learning material/ practitioner’s guides and spread over a period of 3 years.
- This will include residential trainings, online trainings, field visits and webinars etc.
- Initially, the project will be implemented in 3-4 pilot cities in the Ganga basin.
Significance of the Initiative:
- This initiative is part of the series of ongoing efforts by NMCG aimed at ensuring convergence of Namami Gange Mission with national flagship urban missions (AMRUT, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY, NULM) and other missions (Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, Jal Shakti Mission) at state /city level across Ganga basin states.
- The program will engage all the stakeholders which including, SPMGs (State Program Management Group, Namami Gange), Municipal corporations, Technical & research constants, international organizations and local grassroot communities.
- The intensity of rain has increased over the years but the number of rainy days has reduced, making water management a crucial subject.
- So, there is a need of returning to roots and bringing back the traditional knowledge of rain water harvesting like the Alhar – Pyne system of Bihar, wells in forts of Rajasthan and Cascade tanks of South India etc.
- This will help in bringing river sensitive approaches to mainstream while planning for the cities.
- There is a need for a framework for integration between Urban Built Form including landscape and urban water cycle.
- Cities have largely been held responsible for the deteriorated state of rivers, and therefore, will need to play a vital role in the rejuvenation efforts as well.
Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning: It is an emerging urban development paradigm aimed to minimise hydrological impacts of urban development on the environment. This includes:
- The method of planning and designing urban areas for optimum utilisation of water.
- Reducing the harm caused to our rivers and creeks.
- Focuses on the management of entire water systems (drinking water, storm water run-off, waterway health, sewerage treatment and recycling).
Other Related Initiatives:
- There is a paradigm shift in planning for River Cities.
- The “River Cities Alliance” will provide a unique platform for river cities to collaborate for collectively achieving river rejuvenation through sustainable development and capacity building.
- The Jal Shakti Ministry’s ‘Catch the Rain’ initiative launched for rainwater harvesting has nudged all stake-holders to create Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable for the climatic conditions and subsoil strata to store rainwater.
- UNESCO World Heritage sites:
#GS1 # Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times # Salient features of Indian Society
Context: Recently, Dholavira, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city has been named in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
- The site had been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
- It is the first site of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to be included on the coveted list.
- India has 40 world heritage sites overall, which includes 32 cultural, 7 natural and one mixed property. Ramappa Temple (Telangana) was India’s 39th World Heritage Site.
- Apart from India, only Italy, Spain, Germany, China and France have 40 or more World Heritage sites.
- It is a Harappan-era city sprawled over 100 hectares on Khadir bet island in the Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the Great Rann of Kachchh.
- It dates from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
- It was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
- It is located on the Tropic of Cancer.
- Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
- The site contains ruins of an ancient IVC/Harappan city. It comprises two parts: a walled city and a cemetery to the west of the city.
- The walled city consists of a fortified Castle with attached fortified Bailey and Ceremonial Ground, and a fortified Middletown and a Lower Town.
- A series of reservoirs are found to the east and south of the Citadel.
- It has two seasonal streams, Mansar and Manhar.
- This was strategic to harness different mineral and raw material sources (copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, banded limestone, among others).
- It also facilitated internal as well as external trade to the Magan (modern Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.
- Terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns, and some imported vessels were some of the artifacts found.
- Remains of a copper smelter indicate they knew metallurgy.
- It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate and used to export timber.
- 10 large stone inscriptions, carved in Indus Valley script, perhaps the world’s earliest sign board.
- Near the ancient city is a fossil park where wood fossils are preserved.
- Unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.
- The water management system, multi-layered defensive mechanisms, extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures are some of the unique aspects of Dholavira.
- Dholavira houses a cascading series of water reservoirs believed to be part of a water harvesting system.
- Dholavira has a fortified citadel, a middle town and a lower town with walls made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks as in other Harappan sites.
- Dholavira had an enormous outer fortification running on all four sides.
- The funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas— are a unique feature of Dholavira.
- There are remains of two open-air stadiums.
Decline of Dholavira:
- Its decline also coincided with the collapse of Mesopotamia, indicating the integration of economies.
- Harappans, who were maritime people, lost a huge market, affecting the local mining, manufacturing, marketing and export businesses once Mesopotamia fell.
- From 2000 BC, Dholavira entered a phase of severe aridity due to climate change and rivers like Saraswati drying up. Because of a drought-like situation, people started migrating toward the Ganges valley or towards south Gujarat and further beyond in Maharashtra.
- Parliamentary Panel raps government over MSMEs, urges larger economic package
#GS3 # Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment # Government Budgeting
Context: The Parliamentary Panel studying the impact of Covid-19 on Micro, Small &Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) noted in its report that the stimulus package announced by the government is “inadequate”.
- The measures were more of loan offerings and long term, instead of improving the cash flow to generate demand as immediate relief.
- It mooted fresh measures to help them stay afloat.
Issues faced by MSMEs:
- Non availability of credit facilities and working capital
- High informality
- Low financial resilience
- Raw material availability
- Supply chain disruptions, delayed payments and global recession during Covid-19 pandemic have negatively affected MSMEs.
- Larger economic package aimed at bolstering demand, investment, exports and employment generation to help the economy.
- Report sought a detailed study of the actual losses suffered by small enterprises since the onset of the pandemic, noting that no such intensive assessment had been done by the MSME Ministry.
- A national evaluation of units funded by the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) found that 88% of beneficiaries had been negatively affected by the pandemic.
- The committee advised the government to keep in mind the micro and small enterprises, that constitute most of the MSMEs, contrary to medium and large enterprises which was the focus of previous package.
- Government should take extra efforts to deliver the fruits of the economic package to the lower levels of MSME sector.
- Recommending stricter penal provisions for delayed payments, the panel stressed that MSMEs work on thin margins and limited cash flows.
- Government’s assurance in May 2020, under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat programme, that MSMEs’ dues would be cleared by central public sector firms within 45 days, yielded ‘some positive results’, but many firms had still not released payments.
- A new National Employment policy may be considered along with the exploring the feasibility of establishing a National Electronic Employment Exchange.
- Concentrated efforts to create awareness regarding the launch of a new Udyam Registration portal.
MSMEs in India:
- MSMEs have always played a vital role in the Indian economy.
- 3 crore MSMEs in India contribute one-third to the GDP of the country.
- They also contribute about 40% of overall exports.
- Moreover, the sector is a critical source of livelihood and provides nearly 110 million jobs. Therefore, with the current emphasis on Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, these MSMEs have become even more significant to India’s economic and financial strategy.
#GS2 #ISuues related to Health #GS3 #Disaster and Disaster Management
Context: Recently, the United States started surveillance on people travelling from Nigeria, who may have had contact with the individuals infected with Monkeypox.
- A case was detected in Texas, marking the first such cases recorded in the state, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About Monkey Pox:
- Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease – that is transmitted to humans from animals.
- It is caused by monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the monkeypox virus is similar to human smallpox.
- Although monkeypox is much milder than smallpox, it can be fatal with a mortality rate of between one and 10 per cent, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
- The first case of monkeypox was identified in Nigeria in 2017. Since then, there have been sporadic cases of it in Nigeria.
- Subsequently, the disease has been reported in many West and Central African countries.
- Animals known to be sources of Monkeypox virus include monkeys and apes, a variety of rodents (including rats, mice, squirrels and prairie dogs) and rabbits.
- Although monkeypox is considered a zoonotic disease, the wildlife reservoir has not been determined.
- During an outbreak of monkeypox in human in 2003 in the USA, exposure was traced to contact with pet prairie dogs that had been co-housed with monkey poxvirus-infected African rodents, imported from Ghana.
- Contact with wild animals (including live animals, meat for consumption, and other products) are known potential risk factors in enzootic countries. Prolonged contact with an infected person can also result in person-to-person transmission.
- The Monkeypox infection usually occurs after direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or skin lesions of an infected animal.
- In Africa, human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats and squirrels.
- Eating the inadequately cooked meat of an infected animal is a risk.
- Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
- According to CDC, after 12 days of contracting the virus one can experience fever, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
- The body starts developing rashes after 3 days of contact, with fever kicking in. The rashes spread throughout the body and can be extremely itchy, which goes through different stages while healing, forming a scab, and then falls off.
- The lesions can lead to scarring. The symptoms and illness last up to 2 to 4 weeks and are reduced on their own.
- In the early stage of the disease, Monkeypox can be distinguished from smallpox because the lymph gland gets enlarged.
- It spreads rapidly and can cause one out of ten deaths if infected.
- As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of now, there is no specific cure for the illness, however, it can be controlled with smallpox vaccine cidofovir, ST-246, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG)
- In the past, the anti-smallpox vaccine was shown to be 85% effective in preventing Monkeypox.
- Currently, there is no global system in place to manage the spread of Monkeypox, with each country struggling to contain any outbreak whenever it occurs.
- Improved surveillance and response, raise awareness of the disease and avoid contact with wild animals, especially monkeys.
- It is important to refocus attention on other diseases. There is a drop in the number of reported cases of endemic diseases as people are not seeking care in health facilities, owing to Covid-19.
- Refocus on Childhood vaccinations for other diseases.
6.New Policy on Pneumonia to Reduce Infant Mortality
#GS2 # Government Policies and Interventions #Issues related to Health and Children
Context: As per Sample Registration System Report (2010-13) of Registrar General of India, Pneumonia contributes 16.9% of infant deaths and it is the 2nd highest cause of infant mortality.
- Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs.
- The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.
- Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
- Pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children worldwide.
- Children whose immune systems are immature (i.e. newborns) or weakened – such as by undernourishment, or diseases like HIV – are more vulnerable to pneumonia.
- Pneumonia kills an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five years every year – more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
The most common causes are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae – the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children;
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia;
- Respiratory syncytial virus is the most common viral cause of pneumonia;
- In infants infected with HIV, Pneumocystis jiroveci is one of the commonest causes of pneumonia, responsible for at least one quarter of all pneumonia deaths in HIV-infected infants.
- The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled.
- They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. In addition, pneumonia may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth.
- Pneumonia caused by bacteria is easily preventable with vaccines. 3 doses of the primary vaccine (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) to prevent it are recommended.
- A new vaccine for one of the main viral causes of pneumonia is under development.
- India has introduced nationwide rollout of PCV under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
Initiatives Related to Pneumonia:
- Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully (SAANS): The aim is to reduce child mortality due to pneumonia, which contributes to around 15% of deaths of children under the age of five annually.
- The government aims to achieve a target of reducing pneumonia deaths among children to less than three per 1,000 live births by 2025.
- In 2014, India launched ‘Integrated Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (IAPPD)’ to undertake collaborative efforts towards prevention of diarrhoea and Pneumonia related under-five deaths.
- WHO and UNICEF launched the Global action plan for the prevention and control of pneumonia (GAPP)
- The aim is to accelerate pneumonia control with a combination of interventions to protect, prevent, and treat pneumonia in children.