Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 22, 2021

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List of Today’s Factly Articles

  1. Why Cherrapunji is receiving low rainfall?
  2. DRDO conducted successful trial of “Anti-tank missiles Helina and Dhruvastra”
  3. Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry launches “SAKSHAM campaign”
  4. WCCB receives “Asia Environmental Enforcement Award-2020”
  5. NITI Aayog’s “Governing Council” reconstituted.
  6. 100% tap water connections to schools under “100-day Special Campaign”
  7. A study on the cost of ensuring “WASH” in healthcare facilities

Why Cherrapunji is receiving low rainfall?

What is the News?

According to a study, Mawsynram(Meghalaya) become the wettest place in the World. It has replaced Cherrapunji(Meghalaya) from the top spot. Mawsynram receives over 10,000 MM of rain in a year.

About the study:

  • The study looked at the rainfall pattern of the past 119 years (period of 1901–2019).It found a decreasing rainfall trend at Cherrapunji and nearby areas.
  • The 1973–2019 period shows a decrease of about 0.42 mm per decade in rainfall. This trend was statistically significant at seven stations (Agartala, Cherrapunji, Guwahati, Kailashahar, Pasighat, Shillong and Silchar).

What was the need for this study?

  • Northeast India is highly sensitive to changes in regional and global climate. The first signs of the effect of climate change will be evident in extreme cases such as the rainfall at Cherrapunji.
  • Northeast India also has the highest vegetation cover in India. It includes 18 biodiversity hotspots of the world,
  • Thus, it is important in terms of its greenery and climate-change sensitivity.

Reasons for decreasing trend of rainfall:

  • Changes in Temperature: The changes in the Indian Ocean temperature have a huge effect on the rainfall in the NorthEast region.
  • Reduction in Vegetation Area: Satellite data analysis shows a reduction in the vegetation area in northeast India. Lesser vegetation results in changing rainfall patterns.
  • Increase in Cropland Area and Deforestation: Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation in the region has contributed to deforestation and increase in crop land area.

Jhum Cultivation:

  • Jhum Cultivation also known as shifting cultivation. It is a slash-and-burn agricultural practice that is widely practiced among the indigenous communities of Northeast India.
  • Under this cultivation, the farmers grow the crops by first clearing the land of trees and vegetation and burning them thereafter. The burnt soil contains potash which increases the nutrient content of the soil.

Source: The Hindu

DRDO conducted successful trial of “Anti-tank missiles Helina and Dhruvastra”

What is the news?

The government recently conducted successful user trials for Helina and Dhruv Astra Missile Systems. The tests were carried out from the Advanced Light Helicopter(ALH) platform in desert ranges.

About Helina and Dhruv Astra Missile Systems:

  • These are third generation fire and forget Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM). Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) indigenously designed and developed these missiles.
  • Helina (Helicopter-launched Nag) is the army version of the missile, whereas Dhruva Astra is the air force version.

Key Features of the Missiles:

  • The Missiles operate on lock-on-before launch mode which helps extend their strike range.
  • Top Attack Mode: The missile is required to climb sharply after launch. Further, it travels at a certain altitude, then plunge on top of the target.
  • Direct Attack Mode: The missile travels at a lower altitude, directly striking the target.
  • The missiles have all-weather day and night capability. They can defeat battle tanks with conventional armour as well as with explosive reactive armour. 

Click Here to Read about NAG missile

 Source: PIB

Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry launches “SAKSHAM campaign”

What is the News?

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched a month-long mass awareness campaign ‘SAKSHAM’.

About Saksham Campaign:

  • Saksham is a fuel conservation campaign. Petroleum Conservation Research Association(PCRA) organized it.
  • Aim: It will sensitize the masses about conservation and efficient use of petroleum products which will lead towards better health and environment.


  • The campaign aims to convince consumers to switch to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioral change to use fossil fuel intelligently. The campaign will include various pan-India activities such as cyclothon, farmer workshops, seminars, etc.
  • It has also spread awareness about 7 key drivers that collectively would help India move towards cleaner energy. The key drivers include:
    1. Moving towards a gas-based economy
    2. Cleaner use of fossil fuels
    3. Greater reliance on domestic sources to drive biofuels
    4. Achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines
    5. Increased use of electric vehicles to decarbonize mobility
    6. Increased use of cleaner fuels like Hydrogen and
    7. Digital innovation across all energy systems.

About PCRA:

  • It is a registered non-profit society under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. It was set up in 1978.
  • Functions:
    • It is a national government agency, promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of the economy.
    • Furthermore, it helps the government in proposing policies and strategies for petroleum conservation. It aims at reducing excessive dependence of the country on oil requirements.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi

Source: AIR

WCCB receives “Asia Environmental Enforcement Award-2020”

What is the News?

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has received the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award-2020.

About Asia Environmental Enforcement Award:

  • It is given by the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) in partnership with UNDP, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), CITES, INTERPOL, and World Customs Organisation(WCO).
  • Purpose: The award publicly recognises excellence in controlling transboundary environmental crime. Government officials and institutions or teams can be awarded for the enforcement.
  • The award covers any transboundary environmental crime such as illegal trade in wildlife and illegal trade in chemical or waste including plastic.

Why was WCCB awarded?

  • WCCB was awarded under the category ‘Innovation’. It was awarded for “Operation WILDNET-II” or  ‘Innovation’ for planning and conducting a multispecies enforcement operation.
    • Operation WILDNET: The purpose of the Operation was to control the ever-growing illegal wildlife trade on the Internet, through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
  • Significance: This is the second time WCCB is receiving this award. Earlier, it received this award in 2018.

Click Here to Read about WCCB

 Source: AIR

NITI Aayog’s “Governing Council” reconstituted.

What is the News?

The Centre has reconstituted the governing council of the NITI Aayog to include the Union Territory of Ladakh for the first time.

About Niti Aayog:

  • National Institution for Transforming India also called NITI Aayog was formed through cabinet resolution in 2015. It had replaced the erstwhile Planning Commission.
  • NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India. It provides both directional and policy inputs.

Click Here to Read about Functions of Niti Aayog

 NITI Aayog’s Governing Council:

  • It is the premier body tasked with a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States.
  • The governing council presents a platform to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues.
  • Chairperson: Prime Minister.
  • Full-Time Members: The full-time members to the council are Chief ministers of all states and of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Puducherry
  • Special Invitees: The Lieutenant Governors of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ladakh, and the administrators of Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep are the special invitees of the governing council.

Source: TOI

100% tap water connections to schools under “100-day Special Campaign”

What is the news?

Telangana has achieved 100% tap water connections to all schools and Angan Wadi Centres (AWCs) under 100 day Special Campaign.

The other states like Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Haryana and Tamil Nadu, also achieved this target.

Centre’s 100-day Special Campaign:

  • On 2nd October 2020, Ministry of Jal Shakti had launched the 100-day Special Campaign. It was to ensure piped safe water to all schools and anganwadis under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • The campaign was launched in order to ensure safe potable piped water for children.  Children are more susceptible to water-borne diseases.

What has been achieved so far?

  • So far, 1.82 lakh grey water management structures and 1.42 lakh rain water harvesting structures had been constructed in all schools and AWCs.
  • In all, 5.21 lakh schools and 4.71 lakh AWCs had been provided with piped water supply and around 8.24 lakh assets in these institutions had been geo-tagged.

Mission Bhagiratha:

  • It is a flagship programme of the Telangana government.It is aimed at providing safe drinking water to every household.

Click Here to read about Jal Jeevan Mission

 Source: The Hindu

A study on the cost of ensuring “WASH” in healthcare facilities

What is the News?

A study was conducted to estimate the cost of ensuring WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in healthcare facilities for one year across India. The study was published in  BMJ Global Health journal.

What is WASH?

  • The term “WASH in health care facilities” refers to the provision of water, sanitation, health care waste management, hygiene and environmental cleaning infrastructure, and services across all parts of a facility.

Key Findings of the study:

  • The study estimates that improving WASH across the public healthcare facilities in India and maintaining this for a year would cost $354 million in capital costs. Further, it will need $289 millions as a recurrent expense (all payments other than for capital expenses like maintenance, electricity, rent, etc).
  • The most costly interventions were providing clean water, linen reprocessing, and sanitation. Similarly, the least expensive were hand hygiene, medical device reprocessing, and environmental surface cleaning.

Impact  of  Poor WASH Facilities:

  • A 2019 joint global baseline report by WHO and UNICEF had pointed out that globally, one in four healthcare facilities lacked basic water servicing. Further, one in five health care facilities had no sanitation service and 42% had no hygiene facilities.

Significance of providing WASH facilities:

  • WASH will reduce deaths: Approximately, the death of 3 lakh children under five years can be prevented each year.
  • Achieving SDGs: The status of WASH in healthcare facilities is an important issue in development. Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation is one of the 2030 sustainable development goals.
  • Infection prevention and control: The WASH interventions can help reduce healthcare-associated infections. Especially among the mother and neonates across the Indian healthcare system.
  • Cost-effective intervention: In 2012, the WHO report calculated ‘For every dollar invested in sanitation, there will be a $5.50 gain’. This will be in the form of lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths, etc.

Source: The Hindu

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