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BharatNet project UPSC Current affairs

UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 03rd July-2021

Topics

  • BharatNet project
  • LEAF Coalition
  • Heat Dome
  • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium
  • NATIONAL HORTICULTURE BOARD (NHB)
  • Taal Volcano

 

  1. BharatNet project

#GS3 #Infrastructure #GovernmentPoliciesandIntervention

Context: Union Cabinet has accorded approval for the revised implementation strategy of BharatNet project through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode in 16 States of the country.

Key Details of the Strategy:

  • New strategy to cover around 3, 60,000 villages at a total cost of Rs 29,430 crore. Of this, the government will provide Rs 19,041 crore as viability gap funding.
  • The states to be covered under the revised plan are Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Revised strategy, which aims to connect all the gram panchayats of the country through optic fibre for providing broadband services, will have two new components.
    • The first will be that BharatNet project will now extend up to all inhabited villages beyond the gram panchayats (GPs) in the said states.
    • Second, the revised strategy includes creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet project by the concessionaire who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process
  • With this additional allocation of Rs 19,041 crore for the project, the total outlay for it has increased to Rs 61,109 crore, which includes the already approved amount of Rs 42,068 crore in 2017.
  • However, this does not strain the government’s finances in anyway as funds for BharatNet project are provided from the universal service obligation fund where around Rs 55,000 crore is lying unutilised.
BharatNet project
BharatNet project

Significance:

  • The PPP model will leverage private sector efficiency for operation, maintenance, utilisation and revenue generation, and is expected to result in a faster rollout of BharatNet project.
  • Extension of BharatNet project to all inhabited villages with reliable, quality, high speed broadband will enable better access of e-services offered by various central and state government agencies.
  • BharatNet project will also enable online education, telemedicine, skill development, e-commerce and other applications of broadband.
  • BharatNet project is expected that revenue will be generated from different sources, including proliferation of broadband connections to individuals and institutions, sale of dark fibre, fiberisation of mobile towers, e-commerce, etc.

About BharatNet:

  • BharatNet is a flagship mission implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL).
    • It is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up by the Government of India under the Companies Act, 1956 with an authorized capital of Rs 1000 crore.
    • Initially, it was under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which was bifurcated into the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in July 2016.
    • Currently, it is being implemented by the Department of Telecommunication under the Ministry of Communications.
  • BharatNet Project was originally launched in 2011 as the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) and renamed as Bharat-Net in 2015.
  • BharatNet project seeks to provide connectivity to 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre.
  • The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.
  • The project is a Centre-State collaborative project, with the states contributing free Rights of Way for establishing the Optical Fibre Network.
  • The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • Till date, 1.56 lakh out of the 2.5 lakh village panchayats have been connected with broadband.
Dark Fibre BharatNet project
Dark Fibre

 

  1. LEAF Coalition

#GS3 #Environment and Ecology #Conservation #Pollution and Degradation

Context: LEAF (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) Coalition was announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate, 2021.

  • The implementation of the coalition’s plan will help pump in fresh rigour among developing countries like India, that are reluctant to recognise the contributions of their forest dwelling populations in mitigating climate change

About LEAF Coalition:

  • The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition aims to mobilize at least $1 billion in financing, kicking off what is expected to become one of the largest ever public-private efforts to protect tropical forests, to the benefit of billions of people depending on them, and to support sustainable development.
  • It is a collective of the governments of the USA, United Kingdom and Norway.
  • As it is a public-private effort, thus also supported by transnational corporations (TNCs) like Unilever plc, Amazon.com, Nestle, Airbnb etc.
  • A country willing to participate would need to fulfil certain predetermined conditions laid down by the Coalition.
  • The results-based financing model will be used in LEAF.

Significance:

  • Tropical forests around the world are under threat. The world lost more than 10 million hectares of primary tropical forest cover last year, an area roughly the size of Switzerland.
  • Ending tropical and subtropical forest loss by 2030 is a crucial part of meeting global climate, biodiversity and sustainable development goals. Protecting tropical forests offers one of the biggest opportunities for climate action in the coming decade.
  • The LEAF Coalition can help reverse the trend by providing unprecedented financial support to tropical forest governments implementing forest protection, contributing to green and resilient growth through sustainable investments.
  • The LEAF Coalition empowers tropical and subtropical forest countries to move more rapidly towards ending deforestation, while supporting them in achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
  • Reductions in emissions are made across entire countries or large states and provinces (“jurisdictions”) through programs that involve all key stakeholders, including Indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • It provides platform for private leadership in conservation process
  • It is a step towards concretising the aims and objectives of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation | BharatNet project
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
  • Such a financial impetus is crucial as it incentivises developing countries to capture extensive deforestation and provide livelihood opportunities to forest-dependent populations.

Scenario in India:

  • India’s total forests is 24.56% of the geographical area of the country.
  • Observations made by the Global Forest Watch:
    • India lost nearly 38.5 thousand hectares (Kha) of tropical forest between 2019 and 2020 making up nearly 14% loss of its tree cover.
    • In India from 2001 to 2019, 3.8% of tree cover loss occurred in areas where the dominant drivers of loss resulted in deforestation.
    • Meanwhile, the total tropical forest area in India fell by 0.38%.
    • Indian forests play a crucial role in supporting livelihoods.
    • Non-timber forest products like fruits are the largest unorganized economic sector in India with a turnover of more than 788 million USD , supporting the livelihoods of 250 million people.
    • Forest loss impacts India’s carbon emissions.
    • Forest Survey of India estimates show that India has a carbon stock of 7.1 gigatons that has been increasing over the years with net tree cover gain.
    • According to GFW, loss of tree cover in India releases an average of 0.037 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. This is equivalent to emissions produced by the consumption of 4 billion gallons of gasoline.
    • The increase in stock means that the carbon loss is compensated for by carbon sequestration, but further reduced deforestation could make India’s forests a larger carbon sink.

Conservation Steps Taken:

  • Indian Forest Policy, 1952: It became conscious about the need to increase the forest cover to one-third of the total land area.
  • National Forest Policy, 1988: The ultimate objective of the National Forest policy was to maintain environmental stability and ecological balance through conservation of forests as a natural heritage.
  • The National Forest Policy in 1988 made a very significant and categorical shift from commercial concerns to focus on the ecological role of the forests and participatory management.
  • Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, (CAMPA Funds): For every time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes such as mining or industry, the user agency pays for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land, or when such land is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land.
India forest cover | BharatNet project
India forest cover

 

  1. Heat Dome

#GS1 #Physical Geography #GS3 #Climate Change #Disaster Management

Context: Recently, the Pacific Northwest and some parts of Canada recorded temperatures around 47 degrees, causing a “historic” heat wave. This is a result of a phenomenon referred to as a “heat dome”.

  • Oregon in the US reported 63 deaths linked to the heatwave while in British Columbia, at least 486 sudden deaths were reported over five days.

What is a Heat Dome?

  • A heat dome occurs when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid or cap.
  • The phenomenon begins when there is a strong change (or gradient) in ocean temperatures.
  • In the process known as convection, the gradient causes more warm air, heated by the ocean surface, to rise over the ocean surface.
  • As prevailing winds move the hot air east, the northern shifts of the jet stream trap the air and move it toward land, where it sinks, resulting in heat waves.
  • The unprecedented heatwave is being attributed to the creation of a heat dome in the region, which has trapped heat and blocked other weather systems from moving in.
  • A heat dome typically lasts a week.
  • The western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.
  • HD also prevents clouds from forming, allowing for more radiation from the sun to hit the ground.
  • A heat dome is effectively what it sounds like – an area of high pressure that parks over a region like a lid on a pot, trapping heat. They are more likely to form during La Niña years like 2021, when waters are cool in the eastern Pacific and warm in the western Pacific.
  • To compare, the reason that the planet Venus is the hottest in the Solar System is because its thick, dense cloud cover traps the heat at the surface, leading to temperatures as high as 471 degree Celsius.

Heat Wave:

  • The World Meteorological Organization defines a heatwave as five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius accompanied by high humidity from time to time, especially in oceanic climate countries.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • The heatwave is also called a “silent disaster” as it occurs at a slow pace, but still inflicts large-scale casualties on humans and animals alike
The heat dome | BharatNet project
The Heat Dome

Are heat waves dangerous?

  • Based on noted studies, If a person is at rest, wearing minimal clothing in a very dry room with about 10 per cent relative humidity, and is drinking water constantly (so that sweat can be produced), they can avoid overheating at temperatures as high as 46 degree Celsius.
  • So as long as the body is producing sweat, which is then able to evaporate quickly, the body will be able to remain cool even under high temperatures.
  • But there is a limit to this, a limit called the wet-bulb temperature
  • It is limit that considers heat and humidity, beyond which humans cannot tolerate high temperatures.
  • Some heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sunburn and heat rashes. Sometimes, heat-related illnesses can prove fatal.
  • The trapping of heat can also damage crops, dry out vegetation and result in droughts.
  • The heat domes can also act as fuel to wildfires, which destroys a lot of land area in the US every year.

Is the Dome created by Climate change?

  • It has been established that rising temperatures would lead to hotter weather and human-made climatic changes are leading to dangerous weather trends across the world.
  • Heatwaves have been a regular phenomenon on land. However, global warming has caused them to be hotter with a longer duration and an increased frequency.
  • According to a 2017 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) survey, average US temperatures have increased since the late 19th century.
  • However, Scientists are usually wary of linking climate change to any contemporary event mainly because of the difficulty in completely ruling out the possibility of the event having been caused by some other reason.

 

  1. Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

#GS2 #International Relations # Bilateral Grouping #GS3 Disaster Management

Context: The 7th edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a biennial event, was hosted by the French Navy at La Réunion from 28 June to 01 July 2021.

About:

  • Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy, participated virtually in the inaugural session of the event and provided his congratulatory remarks to the Outgoing and Incoming Chairmen.
  • France has assumed the Chairmanship on 29 Jun 21 for a two-year tenure.

IONS:

  • The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008 which seeks to enhance maritime cooperation among Navies of the littoral states of the IOR by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues that would lead to common understanding on the way ahead.
  • It also serves to develop an effective response mechanism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) against natural disasters.
  • The chairmanship of IONS has been held by India (2008-10), UAE (2010-12), South Africa (2012-14), Australia (2014-16), Bangladesh (2016-18) and Islamic Republic of Iran (2018-21).
  • France has assumed the Chairmanship in June 2021 for a two-year tenure.
  • IONS Conclave of Chiefs (CoC) is the decision-making body at the level of Chiefs of Navies, which meets biennially. 6th IONS and CoC was conducted by Iran Navy in April 2018 at Tehran. Owing to the pandemic, the CoC 2021, will be hosted by French Navy later this year.

Members:

  • IONS includes 24 member nations that touch or lie within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), and 8 observer nations.
  • The members have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:
  • South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
  • West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
  • East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
  • South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium | BharatNet project
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

Significance For India:

  • IONS fits into India’s three-fold ambitions in the region:
    • Strengthening and deepening the relations with the Indian Ocean littoral states;
    • Establishing its leadership potential and aspirations of being a net-security provider; and
    • Fulfilling India’s vision of a rules-based and stable maritime order in the IOR.
  • It will help India to consolidate its sphere of influence from the Straits of Malacca to Hormuz.
  • IONS can be a facilitator for India’s vision of a rules-based maritime order in the region.
  • IONS can be used to counter-balance the increasing presence of China in the region.
  • The wide and inclusive membership of IONS provides India with a platform that can be used to reach out to a range of IOR states and at the same time strengthen and deepen its existing partnerships in the region.
  • India can use IONS to unite the regional states on shared principles and strategies without antagonising any state at the cost of block politics.
    • IONS’s productivity as a non-controversial platform for the management of security issues in the region has been further advanced by the jointly held Search and Rescue naval drill by India and China at the height of the Doklam crisis, under the aegis of the Bangladesh Navy.

 

  1. NATIONAL HORTICULTURE BOARD (NHB)

#GS3 #Agriculture and Allied activities #Infrastructure #food security

Context: Union Agriculture Minister inaugurated the new Centre of National Horticulture Board (NHB) at Gwalior in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Key Details:

About NHB:

  • National Horticulture Board (NHB) was set up by Government of India in April 1984 on the basis of recommendations of the “Group on Perishable Agricultural Commodities”, headed by Dr M. S. Swaminathan.
  • It is Autonomous organization under the administrative control of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and registered under Societies Registration Act 1860, thereafter, re-registered under the Haryana Registration and Regulation of Societies Act, 2012, with its headquarters at Gurugarm and 29 field offices located all over the country.
  • NHB is mandated for integrated development of hi-tech commercial horticulture and post-harvest management/cold chain infrastructure in the country.
  • It is having centers/offices at various locations of the country and atleast one centre is there almost in each state for implementation, monitoring and coordination of its various Schemes and activities.
  • Some of the bigger states like UP and Maharashtra are having more than one centre due to their geography and higher quantum of work.

Aims & Objectives of NHB Schemes:

  • The main objectives of the NHB are to improve integrated development of Horticulture industry and to help in coordinating, sustaining the production and processing of fruits and vegetables.
  • Development of hi-tech commercial horticulture in identified belts and make such areas vibrant with horticultural activity, which in turn will act as hubs for development of horticulture.
  • Development of modern post-harvest management infrastructure as an integral part of area expansion projects or as common facility for cluster of projects.
  • Development of integrated, energy efficient cold chain infrastructure for fresh horticulture produce.
  • Popularization of identified new technologies / tools / techniques for commercialization / adoption, after carrying out technology and need assessment.
  • Promotion and market development of fresh horticulture produce.
  • Transfer of technology to producers/farmers and service providers such as gardeners, nurserymen, farm level skilled workers, operators in cold storages, work force carrying out post harvest management including processing of fresh horticulture produce and to the master trainers.
  • Promotion of consumption of horticulture produce and products.

Promoting long distance transport solution for bulk movement of horticulture produce through rail etc.

Significance for Madhya Pradesh:

  • Madhya Pradesh, which is the second largest state in the Country, is rapidly diversifying into horticulture sector for the last few years. It is the third largest producers of vegetables in the country and 5th largest producers in Fruits.
  • Gwalior Division of Madhya Pradesh is geographically located in Northern part of the State. Gwalior and Chambal divisions correspond to the Gird region of Madhya Pradesh.
  • With the opening of new Centre of NHB at Gwalior, farmers from 21 districts of Northern Madhya Pradesh including Grid region of Gwalior and Chambal will be benefited under the Schemes of National Horticulture Board.
Major Horticulture Producing States | BharatNet project
Major Horticulture Producing States

 

  1. Taal Volcano

#GS1 #Volcanoes #Geographical formations

Context: Recently, the Philippines increased the alert level on Taal Volcano to level 3 on a five-level scale after a Phreatomagmatic Eruption (PE) occurred that generated a dark grayish plume, one kilometer high.

Key Details:

  • Taal Volcano is Situated on the island of Luzon, 50 km from Manila, Philippines.
  • The Philippines is situated at the boundaries of two tectonic plates – the Philippines Sea Plate and the Eurasian plate – thus susceptible to earthquakes and volcanism.
  • Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” – a zone of intense seismic activity.
  • The last eruption in January 2020 shot ash 15 kilometres (nine miles) high and spewed red-hot lava, crushing scores of homes, killing livestock and sending over 135,000 people into shelters.
  • Taal burst to life again recently with a “short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume” that rose a kilometre into the air.
  • Taal volcano, which sits in a picturesque lake, has been belching sulphur dioxide for several days, creating a thick haze over the Manila and several surrounding provinces, and prompting health warnings

Dangers:

  • Possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents (clouds of hot gas, ash, and other volcanic debris) and volcanic tsunami.
  • It is classified as a “complex” volcano by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
    • A complex volcano, also called a compound volcano, is defined as one that doesn’t have just one main vent or cone but several eruption points. Another such example is Mount Vesuvius on the west coast of Italy.
  • Taal has erupted more than 30 times in the last few centuries, the most recent was in 2020.
Major Volcanoes of the Philippines | BharatNet project
Major Volcanoes of the Philippines

 

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