Hindu Notes from General Studies-02
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Safe havens to terrorists in Pakistn not acceptable to US: CIA
CIA chief Mike Pompeo has said that Pakistan continues to provide safe havens to terrorists which is not acceptable to America.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director said that,U.S. President Donald Trump has asked Pakistan to “cease” being a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the U.S.
The U.S. has suspended about $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terror network and dismantle their safe havens.
Hindu Notes from General Studies-03
Railways to deploy drones to monitor projects
Drones would now monitor railway projects, aid crowd management and oversee maintenance works across its zones, the West Central Railways was the first zone to procure such drone cameras.
The move assumes significance in the backdrop of the Elphinstone station road bridge tragedy in Mumbai, in which 23 people had died in a stampede on September 29 last year.
Why this news Important?
The West Central Railways, headquartered at Jabalpur (MP), is the first zonal railway to procure the drone cameras and it has already conducted a trial run of the cameras last week in all of its three divisions.
What is a Drone?
A drone is essentially a flying robot which can be remotely handled through software-controlled flight plans embedded in its system, working in conjunction with GPS.
The cameras (UAV/NETRA) would be used for various activities, especially project monitoring and maintenance of the tracks and other railway infrastructure, the national transporter said in a statement.
Directions have been given to the zonal railways to procure such cameras. This is in line with the railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations.
Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones would be deployed to monitor relief-and-rescue operations, projects, progress of important works, the condition of the tracks etc., the statement said.
These would also be used to assess the preparedness of the non-interlocking (NI) works, for crowd management during fairs, to identify scrap and also for an aerial survey of the station yards, it added.
The cameras would be instrumental in providing real-time inputs as regards the safety and maintenance of the tracks and other railway infrastructure.
Boost to gravitational wave study
David Reitze, executive director of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) said that ,India’s role in studying gravitational waves touted as one of the most important discoveries of the recent past will increase once the proposed gravitational wave observatory is set up in the country.
The observatory is expected to start functioning by 2025.
Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time, caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe such as merger of black holes or neutron stars.
Already, several physicists from Bengaluru-based International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) are an active part of the LIGO project.
At present, the LIGO detectors are sensitive to about 70 to 80 megaparsec (280 million to 300 million light years) for binary neutron stars and for binary black holes, the sensitivity is about 2 gigaparsec (approximately 3 billion light years).
With improved sensitivity, these detectors will be able to fetch information from farther distances in space.
Fatal crossings: tigers in 26 reserves under threat
On New Year’s eve, a fast-moving vehicle on Maharashtra’s National Highway 6 killed Bajirao, one of Bor Tiger Reserve’s charismatic, dominant male tigers.
The same day, a team of scientists published the findings from their latest research, roads with high traffic are sounding the death knell for the tiger in this part of the country.
Unplanned expansion of national highways without mitigation measures (such as underpasses created for wildlife) could greatly increase the probability of tiger extinction in Central India’s protected areas, home to one of the largest tiger populations.
According to the National Highways Authority of India, the country’s road network, at approximately 33 lakh km, is the second largest in the world.
Many of these roads including national and State highways cut through at least 26 tiger reserves, says a draft guidance document of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), framed to reduce the impact of roads and railway lines on wildlife.
Leopards, snakes, deer, desert fox, golden jackals, civets and critically endangered amphibians are among the wildlife that perish on roads in States as far flung as Assam, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
For tigers, like many other species, traversing large areas to move across habitats involves crossing of roads.
This is the only way they can ensure genetic diversity, which is vital for species survival.
When scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and other organisations extracted genetic material from the scat of 116 tigers to study genetic diversity across 11 protected areas, they found that human settlements and traffic intensity — which restrict tiger movement between populations , decreased genetic exchange the most.