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20-March-2024-Daily-Current-Affairs

March 20 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

DELHI MOST POLLUTED CAPITAL IN WORLD, SAYS SWISS REPORT

TOPIC: (GS3) ENVIRONMENT – SOURCE: THE TRIBUNE

The World Air Quality Report for 2023 revealed alarming statistics regarding Delhi’s air pollution crisis, as it retained its status as the most polluted capital city globally and the third most polluted city in India. Compiled by IQ Air, the report utilized data from various monitoring stations worldwide, shedding light on the severity of the situation.

Dismal PM2.5 Levels in Delhi:

  • Delhi recorded an alarming annual average PM2.5 level of 92.7 µg/m3 in 2023, surpassing 114 other capital cities globally.
  • Dhaka in Bangladesh closely followed Delhi with a PM2.5 level of 80.2 µg/m3, emphasizing the severity of Delhi’s pollution crisis.
  • According to WHO guidelines, annual average PM2.5 levels should not exceed 5 µg/m3, underscoring the magnitude of Delhi’s pollution problem.

Comparative Analysis within India:

  • Despite global notoriety, Delhi faced stiff competition domestically as Begusarai in Bihar and Guwahati in Assam reported even higher annual average PM2.5 levels in 2023.
  • Begusarai recorded an alarming average of 118.9 µg/m3, while Guwahati registered 105.4 µg/m3, surpassing Delhi in pollution levels.

Trends Over Time:

  • Delhi’s air quality deteriorated in 2023 compared to 2022, with a 10% rise in average annual PM2.5 concentration.
  • November and December stood out as the most polluted months in 2023, with PM2.5 levels soaring to alarming levels.

National and Global Context:

  • India ranked third globally in terms of annual average PM2.5 levels, with a staggering 54.4 µg/m3, trailing behind Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • Delhi experienced PM2.5 levels exceeding WHO guidelines by over tenfold for a significant portion of the year, highlighting the pervasive nature of the pollution crisis.

Conclusion:

  • Exposure to PM2.5 particles is linked to various health problems, necessitating urgent action to address Delhi’s air pollution crisis.
  • Efforts must focus on implementing effective mitigation measures and policies to safeguard public health and the environment.

Government Initiatives to Control Delhi’s Pollution

Green War Room:

  • Monitors actions against pollution by 20 government agencies in real-time.
  • Comprises a nine-member team.

Anti-Pollution Campaign (Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh):

  • Recently launched by the Delhi Government.
  • Includes initiatives like tree transplantation.

Green Delhi App:

  • Allows citizens to report pollution instances like garbage burning and traffic congestion.
  • Enhances citizen participation in pollution control.

Bio-Decomposer:

  • Developed by PUSA Institute.
  • Helps farmers decompose crop residue without burning it.
  • Government offers free spraying in Delhi’s farmlands.

Water Sprinklers:

  • Utilized to reduce dust and particulate matter in the air.
  • Includes mechanized road sweeping machines and anti-smog guns.

Industry Pollution Monitoring:

  • Monitors industrial sites to ensure use of clean fuel.
  • Extends piped natural gas (PNG) to industries.

PUC Certificates:

  • Enforces pollution under control (PUC) certificates for vehicles.
  • Bans trucks carrying non-essential goods.
  • Augments public transport with 1,000 private CNG vehicles.

Smog Towers:

  • Installed to purify air using large fans and filters.
  • First tower set up at Connaught Place, showing positive effects.

Pollution Hotspots:

  • Identifies and monitors 21 pollution hotspots in Delhi.
  • Special teams deployed to mitigate pollution sources in these areas.

WMO: 2023 HOTTEST YEAR GLOBALLY, SET CLIMATE INDICATOR RECORDS

TOPIC: (GS3) ENVIRONMENT – SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently released its State of the Climate Report, revealing alarming findings about global warming trends. 2023 emerged as the warmest year on record globally, marking the culmination of a decade characterized by unprecedented warmth.

The report sheds light on rising greenhouse gas concentrations, oceanic impact, and the severity of the climate crisis.

Rising Greenhouse Gas Concentrations:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide concentrations reached record highs in 2022.
  • Carbon dioxide levels rose to 417.9 parts per million, methane to 1,923 parts per billion, and nitrous oxide to 335.8 parts per billion.
  • These increases exacerbate the ongoing climate crisis, contributing to global warming and environmental instability.

Oceanic Impact and Heat Content:

  • Oceans absorb excess energy and carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change.
  • Ocean heat content in 2023 reached a 65-year high, indicating alarming ocean warming trends.
  • Unusual warmth was observed in the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean, exacerbated by El Nino conditions.

Marine Heatwaves and Climate Events:

  • Marine heatwaves, akin to land-based heatwaves, persisted in various oceanic regions, notably the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • Around 32% of global oceans experienced daily marine heatwaves in 2023, impacting marine ecosystems and climate patterns significantly.

WMO’s Assessment and Outlook:

  • WMO Secretary-General, Celeste Saulo, highlighted the severity of the climate crisis, calling it a defining challenge for humanity.
  • Urgent action is imperative to address rising greenhouse gas concentrations, record ocean heat content, and persistent marine heatwaves.

What is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)?

  • The WMO is an intergovernmental organization comprising 192 Member States and Territories, including India.
  • Originating from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), established after the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
  • Established as the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology, operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences by the ratification of the WMO Convention on March 23, 1950.
  • Headquarters located in Geneva, Switzerland, the WMO plays a crucial role in global meteorological efforts, addressing weather, climate, and related environmental challenges.

FIVE-DAY 41ST STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING OF INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR HYDROGEN AND FUEL CELLS

TOPIC: (GS3) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – SOURCE: PIB

The 41st IPHE Steering Committee Meeting held in New Delhi from March 18-22, 2024, centered on academic outreach at IIT Delhi.

Discussions emphasized the significance of research and development (R&D) and innovation to enhance the cleanliness and affordability of hydrogen, particularly green hydrogen, in combating climate change challenges.

Need for R&D and Innovation in Green Hydrogen:

  • Green hydrogen, produced via electrolysis using renewable energy, holds promise for decarbonizing sectors like transportation and industry.
  • R&D efforts aim to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and scale up production of green hydrogen.
  • Innovation in electrolysis methods, such as proton exchange membrane (PEM) and alkaline electrolyzers, seeks to enhance performance and lower capital expenditures.
  • Advancements in renewable energy sources contribute to sustainable green hydrogen production.
  • Collaboration among governments, industries, and research institutions is crucial for accelerating green hydrogen technology development and deployment.
  • Green hydrogen’s potential to store excess renewable energy enhances grid balancing and energy security.
  • Investment in R&D drives economic growth by creating new applications for green hydrogen, fostering job creation and innovation.

Importance of Transitioning to Green Hydrogen for India:

  • Climate Mitigation: Green hydrogen reduces India’s carbon footprint, aligning with global climate goals.
  • Energy Security: Domestic production of green hydrogen decreases reliance on imported fossil fuels, enhancing energy independence.
  • Economic Growth: Investment in green hydrogen industry stimulates economic development and creates job opportunities.
  • Air Quality Improvement: Adoption of green hydrogen reduces air pollution in transportation and industry, improving public health.

Challenges:

  • Cost: High upfront costs hinder widespread adoption of green hydrogen infrastructure and technology.
  • Scale-Up: Significant investment is required to scale up green hydrogen production to meet India’s energy demand.
  • Renewable Energy Integration: Reliable access to renewable energy for electrolysis poses integration challenges.
  • Technological Innovation: Continued R&D is necessary to overcome technical barriers in green hydrogen production and utilization.
  • Policy Support: Clear policy frameworks and incentives are needed to stimulate investment and create an enabling environment for green hydrogen deployment in India.

TIES THAT EPITOMISE INDIA’S NEIGHBOURHOOD FIRST POLICY

TOPIC: (GS2) INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS – SOURCE: THE HINDU

India and Bhutan, despite vast differences in size, share a close and enduring relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and cooperation. This partnership is exemplified through various initiatives like the Gelephu Mindfulness City Project, diplomatic engagement, and hydropower cooperation.

Gelephu Mindfulness City Project:

  • Bhutan’s vision for the Gelephu Mindfulness City as a Special Economic Zone showcases its commitment to sustainable economic growth.
  • India’s anticipated significant role in the project highlights the collaborative nature of their partnership.
  • The project aims to attract foreign investment while prioritizing sustainability, well-being, and environmental concerns.
  • Emphasis on yoga, spa therapies, and mental relaxation reflects a holistic approach to human well-being.

Diplomatic Engagement:

  • High-level visits between leaders of both countries underscore their commitment to nurturing the bilateral relationship.
  • Recent visits by the Prime Ministers signify the importance of regular dialogue and cooperation, aligning with India’s Neighbourhood First policy.
  • Consistent engagement strengthens bilateral ties, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation.

Hydropower Cooperation:

  • Hydropower cooperation is a cornerstone of India-Bhutan relations, providing clean electricity to India and revenue to Bhutan.
  • Challenges in implementing new joint venture models for hydroprojects require reevaluation despite past successes.
  • India’s significant contribution to Bhutan’s development assistance prioritizes Bhutanese needs, enhancing bilateral cooperation.

Future Measures:

  • India’s involvement in the Gelephu Mindfulness City project may include initiating direct flights, technology sharing, and encouraging Indian investments.
  • Gelephu’s proximity to remote areas highlights potential socio-economic benefits for neighboring regions.
  • The success of the project would further exemplify the mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Bhutan.

India – Bhutan Relations Overview:

  • Hydropower Cooperation: India assists Bhutan in harnessing hydropower potential, fostering mutually beneficial energy cooperation.
  • Development Assistance: India provides significant aid to Bhutan, focusing on education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
  • Cultural Exchange: Strong cultural ties promote understanding and friendship between the two nations.
  • Security Cooperation: India supports Bhutan’s security needs, ensuring sovereignty and cooperation in border security.
  • Trade and Economic Ties: Bilateral trade growth enhances economic cooperation, with India as Bhutan’s largest trading partner.
  • Tourism: India contributes significantly to Bhutan’s tourism sector, boosting its economy.
  • Environmental Conservation: Joint efforts preserve the Himalayan ecosystem, reflecting shared environmental concerns.
  • Connectivity: Infrastructure development facilitates trade and people-to-people contact, enhancing regional connectivity.
  • Regional and International Forums: Collaboration addresses common challenges and promotes shared interests in regional and international forums.

PEATLANDS

TOPIC: (GS3) ENVIRONMENT – SOURCE: DOWN TO EARTH

Canals used to drain peatlands in Southeast Asia are identified as hotspots for greenhouse gas emissions.

About Peatlands:

  • Peatlands are wetland ecosystems where waterlogged conditions prevent complete decomposition of plant material, resulting in the accumulation of peat.
  • They cover 4.23 million km2, making up 2.84% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface.
  • Predominantly found in boreal and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Europe, North America, and Russia.
  • Peatlands vary in their state, from actively accumulating peat to those used for economic purposes like agriculture and forestry.
  • Around 84% of peatlands are in natural or near-natural conditions, while drained peatlands constitute about 16% of total peatlands.

Carbon Storage in Peatlands:

  • Peatlands are rich in carbon and act as the largest natural terrestrial carbon store globally.
  • They store more carbon than all other vegetation types combined.
  • Damaged peatlands contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for nearly 5% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TRADING SCHEME

TOPIC: (GS2) INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS – SOURCE: THE HINDU

Exporters seeking duty concessions on shipments to the UK must adhere to the new British rules under DCTS.

Compliance with DCTS regulations is essential for exporters to avail of duty concessions and maintain trade relations with the UK.

 Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS):

  • Introduced by the UK Government to aid developing countries integrate into the global economy, foster trade partnerships, and strengthen supply chains.
  • Aims to simplify and enhance preferential trading, reducing or eliminating tariffs on imports from eligible developing nations into the UK.
  • Designed to bolster trade, support development, and offer consumers access to a wider range of products at lower costs.
  • Applicable to 65 countries, including least developed countries (LDCs) defined by the UN, low-income countries (LICs), and lower middle-income countries (LMICs) defined by the World Bank.

Key Features:

  • Provides duty-free, quota-free trade to LDCs on all goods except arms.
  • Offers duty-free, quota-free trade on 85% of eligible goods to most LICs and LMICs.
  • Excludes countries deemed ‘upper-middle income’ for three consecutive years by the World Bank and those with a free trade agreement (FTA) with the UK from benefiting under DCTS.

BUGUN LIOCICHLA

TOPIC: (GS3) ENVIRONMENT – SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS

Bugun Liocichla, a small babbler species discovered in 2006, is a major attraction for birdwatchers, found only in Arunachal Pradesh’s Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • Critically endangered, with only 14 individuals spotted so far, efforts for its protection have intensified.
  • The Bugun tribe, living adjacent to the sanctuary, donated 1,470 hectares of forest land to the state forest department, aiding conservation efforts.

Braiduah Community Reserve:

  • Notified under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Braiduah Community Reserve is crucial for Bugun Liocichla’s habitat conservation.
  • Located near Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, it provides additional protection to the avian species’ habitat.

Bugun Tribe:

  • Originating from Tibet, the Bugun tribe migrated to Arunachal Pradesh and established their own geographical boundaries.
  • They speak Khowa, their distinct language, and are traditionally known as “Shisung-Rubai.”
  • Buguns maintain a strong connection with nature, relying on forests and biodiversity for their daily lives.
  • Skilled farmers, they extract oil from local wood species and build houses using bamboo and wood with stone bases.
  • The Bugun community has its socio-political administrative body called Nimiang, which governs community affairs.
  • They celebrate the annual festival called “Pham-Kho” and generally practice endogamy, marrying within their community for cultural preservation.

Details

Date:
March 20
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: