Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – October 13

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Q.1)Recently, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the SardarSarovar Dam in Gujarat. In this context, throw some light on the project? What is Narmada BachaoAndolan? Is it correct to say that the costs of the project outweigh it’s benefits? GS-3

What is SardarSarovar Project?

  • The SardarSarovar project was a vision of the first deputy prime minister of India, SardarVallabhbhai Patel.
  • The foundation stone of the project was laid out by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on April 5, 1961
  • The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity.
  • The SardarSarovar Project is an inter-state project with a terminal dam on river Narmada at Kevadia in Gujarat. It is meant to benefit the 4 states Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. It is a multipurpose project with irrigation, power and drinking water benefits, which was accorded environmental clearance in 1987.

What is Narmada BachaoAndolan?

Narmada BachaoAndolan (NBA) is a social movement consisting of adivasis, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists against the number of large dams being built across the Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, all over India. SardarSarovar Dam in Gujarat is one of the biggest dams on the river and was one of the first focal points of the movement. It is one of the many dams under the Narmada Dam Project. The main aim of the project is to provide irrigation and electricity to people in these states.

Their mode of campaign includes court actions, hunger strikes, rallies, and garnering support from notable film and art personalities. Narmada BachaoAndolan, with its leading spokespersons MedhaPatkar and Baba Amte, who have received the Right Livelihood Award Cost-benefit  Analysis

Costs:

  • Social and environmental impacts have gone far beyond what was estimated at the outset when the project was cleared in the late 1980s. Rehabilitation of even the submergence-affected population is about 80% incomplete
  • Sea water from the Bay of Khambhat has intruded up to 40 kilometres eastwards into the Narmada” affecting “10,000 hectares of agricultural land.
  • The SSP received an environmental clearance in 1987 with requirements for detailed surveys and studies. A rehabilitation plan was to be completed “ahead of reservoir filling”. But even today, the families residing in the proposed submergence area are not assured of their rightful rehabilitation.
  • Thousands of families along the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh are at risk of getting displaced with the closing of gates of SardarSarovar Dam and resultant rise in the water level in its catchment area
  • The Narmada BachaoAndolan group claims that 40,000 families in 192 villages in Madhya Pradesh would be displaced when the reservoir is filled to its optimum capacity.
  • Large dams have forced the displacement of millions of India’s small farmers and landless peasants from across the country, forcing them into urban slums and breaking apart families Downstream habitat change and impacting biodiversity.
  • The Narmada estuary has become increasingly saline because of the decrease in fresh water flow
  • Siltation is one of the biggest challenges faced by dams worldwide, and giant dams such as the SardarSarovar cannot be easily desilted.

Benefits:

  • The basic justification offered for the SSP by the Gujarat government from the time of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal in the 1970s was that there is no alternative to SSP waters for the drought-prone areas of Kutch, Saurashtra and north Gujarat.
  • It will provide drinking water to 4 crore people and help irrigate 2.2 million hectares of land.
  • The irrigation benefits will help in doubling the farmers income by 2022.
  • The Narmada canal will also irrigate lands in the desert districts of Barmer and Jalore of Rajasthan.
  • Project has successfully brought water to the dry Kutch district, where the armed forces are guarding the nation.
  • Provide flood protection to riverine reaches
  • Wild life sanctuaries viz. “Shoolpaneshewar wild life sanctuary”, Wild Ass Sanctuary, Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, NalSarovar Bird Sanctuary and many others will be benefited.
  • Benefits of fisheries development and recreational facilities

Q.2) What are geostationary Satellites? What are the uses of Geostationary satellites? GS-3

Geostationary satellites: these satellites orbit very high above the earth at an altitude of 35,800 km and take the same time to orbit the earth as the earth takes to revolve once. From earth, therefore, the satellite appears to stay still always above the same region all the time.

These satellites give ‘real-time’ images and hence, a series of photographs from these satellites can be displayed in a sequence to show cloud movement.

Uses:

  • Radiation measurement from earth surface
  • Fishermen can find out valuable information about the temperature of the sea from measurements of these satellites.
  • Infrared sensors on satellites can monitor crop conditions, areas of deforestation and regions of drought.
  • Satellites can detect volcanic eruptions and the motion of ash clouds.
  • Ice-mapping, snow storms in the Arctic and Antarctica and the mountain chains-Monitoring of Global Warming
  • Observation of Auroras
  • Water and air pollution can be pinpointed
  • Oil spills can be detected.

Q.3)  What are Wetlands? How are wetlands important for the ecosystem? How the new Wetlands (Conservation and Management Rules), 2017 is different from the previous one? GS-3

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate has rolled out new Wetlands Rules 2017.The new rules will dilute the rules of 2010 version.  

About Wetlands:

  • Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
  • Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species.
  • Wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation and other factors, including human disturbance.
  • It is to be noted that there are 115 wetlands officially identified by Central Government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention.

How are wetlands important for the ecosystem?

  1. Wetlands important for primary products such as pastures, timber and fish and support recreational and tourist activities.
  2. Wetlands help reduce the impacts from storm damage and flooding, maintain good water quality in rivers, recharge groundwater, store carbon, help stabilise climatic conditions and control pests.
  3. Wetlands reduce the risk of flooding by slowing down the movement of floodwaters along rivers and releasing water over time.
  4. Wetlands support agricultural activities by providing a source of water for irrigation and livestock and for domestic consumption.
  5. Wetlands also support sustainable forestry.

Wetlands(Conservation and Management Rules), 2017:

  1. According to the new rule, the wetlands has a different definition.
  • It is described as an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.
  1. As per the new rules, the court said that 2, 01,503 wetlands in the country would continue to be protected by the government.
  • These wetlands had been identified using ISRO’s satellite imagery, after which the apex court had asked the Centre to inventories, protect and notify them in consultation with state governments.
  1. The new rules stipulate in setting up of State Wetlands Authority in each State/UTs headed by State’s environment minister and include range of government officials.

How are the new Rules different from the 2010 rules?

1. The new rules differ from the 2010 rules in the following manner:

  • The new Rules instead state that wetlands are limited to and do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones.
  • They apply to (a) wetlands categorised as “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention and (b) wetlands as notified by the central government, state government and UT administration.

2. Restriction on activities in wetlands now no longer includes reclamation.

  • The Rules provide no timelines for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands.

3. Under ‘Restrictions of activities in wetlands’, the new Rules say conservation and management would be in accordance with the principle of ‘wise use’ as determined by the Wetlands Authority.

  • This ‘wise use’ is nothing but the maintenance of ecological character, achieved through implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development.

4. The 2010 Rules said that any person aggrieved by the decision of the Authority (CWRA) may prefer an appeal to the National Green Tribunal within a period of sixty days from the date of such decision. This provision does not exist in the 2017 Rules.

 

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