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Hindu Notes from General Studies-01
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A rare confluence of events led to flooding in Kerala, says study
- A combination of four factors led to extreme flooding across Kerala in 2018, a study says.
- The four factors are: above normal seasonal (May-August) rainfall, extreme rainfall events occurring almost across the State during the season, over 90% reservoir storage even before the onset of extreme rainfall events, and finally, the unprecedented extreme rainfall in the catchment area of major reservoirs in the State.
- The summer monsoon rainfall in Kerala from May to August this year was 2,290 mm, which was 53% above normal. The average rainfall during the summer monsoon period (June-September) is about 1,619 mm. This makes 2018 Kerala’s third wettest year in the last 118 years (1901-2018); 1924 and 1961 were the wettest years with about 3,600 mm of annual rainfall.
- Second, till August 21, Kerala witnessed a few extreme rainfall events covering almost the entire State. These extreme rainfall events have very low probability of recurrence in any given year.
- Third, Kerala received 1634.5 mm rainfall during the period May 1 to August 7, which is more than the average rainfall (1619.37 mm) during the summer monsoon period (June-September). As a result, six of the seven major reservoirs in the State had over 90% storage before August 8, well before Kerala received the unprecedented extreme rainfall events.
- Finally, the catchment areas of major reservoirs in the State received extreme rainfall never before witnessed in the State. The role of other factors such changes in how infrastructure has grown at the expense of vegetation and drainage remains to be studied.
- Currently, forecast of cyclone and depression is available a few days in advance thus providing sufficient time for evacuation of people from low lying areas. Since extreme rainfall events have been a recent phenomenon, forecasts with such long lead time are currently not available.
- The extreme rainfall events on August 15-17 were unprecedented and therefore had very low probability of recurring in any given year. For instance, on August 15, the State received 120.2 mm of rain, making it an extreme rainfall event lasting for a single day.
- With over 90% storage, six of the seven major reservoirs had more than the normal storage before the extreme events could occur.
During the period May 1-August 21, the catchments upstream of the Idukki, Kakki, and Periyar reservoirs received unprecedented rainfall of 279%, 700%, and 420% respectively from their long-term means.
Less rain, humid weather cause dengue cases to rise
- Nearly 2,400 dengue-like cases and over 200 confirmed dengue cases have been recorded by the Brihan mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) this month so far.
- Doctors have noticed a rise, as the drop in rainfall and the humid weather make it favourable for the breeding of aedes aegypti, the dengue-spreading mosquito.
- The dengue virus plays a major role in haemoglobin rise leaving patients at the risk of developing a haemorrhage.
- The amount of fluid is advised depending on the patient’s condition and underlying diseases.
- Dengue is spread by an infected female aedes aegypti mosquito that mostly bites during the day and breeds in clean water. The BMC’s insecticide department has also undertaken a survey on the mosquito.
Hindu Notes from General Studies-02
French govt says its companies had full freedom to select Indian partners under Rafale deal
- The French government said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale fighter jet deal, asserting that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the contract.
- The statement by the French government came following a French media report which quoted former President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed the Anil Ambani-run Reliance Defenceas the partner for Dassault Aviation in the ₹ 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.
- Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfill offset obligations of the deal. The government has been maintaining it did not have any role in selection of the offset partner by Dassault.
- In a statement, Dassault Aviation said it has decided to make a partnership with the Reliance Defence in accordance with the policy of ‘Make in India’.
- The French government said the inter-governmental agreement it signed with India for supplying 36 Rafale aircraft concerns its obligations solely with regard to ensuring the delivery and quality of the aircraft.
- Under India’s offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.
- Ten days after India sealed the government-to-government agreement on the Rafale deal, Reliance Defence and Dassault had announced a joint venture (JV) in the aerospace sector and a year later, the foundation stone of a manufacturing facility was laid in Mihan, Nagpur.
India calls off New York meeting with Pakistan
- India blamed ‘Pakistan-based entities’ for killing of three special police officers in Kashmir and called off the planned meeting of foreign ministers in New York.
- The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said talks in the current circumstances would be futile and also cited stamps issued by Pakistan in July in memory of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani as a reasons for the cancellation.
- Apart from the killing of policemen and reported intimidation of serving police personnel by militants in Kashmir, India also took note of the postage stamps in memory of the slain militant Burhan Wani, that were issued by Pakistan. Sources said the MEA took note of the stamps.
- The sudden cancellation came a day after Delhi agreed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal for the talks, and announced that a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi would take place on the sidelines of the annual session of the UN General Assembly in the next few days.
- Announcement came even as India confirmed the murder of a BSF soldier by Pakistani elements.
- India’s decision drew swift response from Pakistan, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry telling reporter, “The entire world is watching that Pakistan stands for peace and dialogue and India is being led by extremist mindset.”
- President of Pakistan Arif Alvi described Delhi’s decision as “sad”.
- The MEA stated that the decision to go ahead with the meeting in New York was taken because the proposal from Prime Minister Imran Khan had indicated a desire to discuss ‘terrorism’ with India.
- Officials said the decision to cancel the meeting between the two ministers was taken after “wider consultation” in the MEA and with all stakeholders in the government.
The decision to cancel the talks was taken as India sensed the contradictions in Pakistan’s stated position and its unstated agenda.
Hindu Notes from General Studies-03
ISRO setting up launch pad for Gaganyaan mission
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is setting up a third launch pad at Sriharikota to undertake the Gaganyaan manned space flight programme, an ISRO official said.
- In addition, ISRO is scouting for a location on the western sea coast near Gujarat to set up another launch pad for Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV).
- In the Independence Day address this year from the Red Fort, Prime Minister had announced that an Indian will go to space by 2022.
- Following this, ISRO has announced an ambitious roadmap to put a three-man Indian crew in a low earth orbit for 5-7 days by the 75th Independence Day.
- ISRO will use its GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, which can carry the heavier payload of the Gaganyaan, and this will take off from the new launch pad.
- In addition to the third launch pad at Sriharikota, ISRO is also scouting for a new location near Gujarat for the SSLV.
- ISRO is developing the SSLV to offer affordable launch options for smaller satellites through Antrix, the space agency’s commercial arm. ISRO currently piggybacks smaller satellites on the PSLV and GSLV along with bigger satellites.
- The SSLV is expected to reduce the launch time as well as cost less to launch small satellites, which are much in demand.
- ISRO is ready to transfer the entire SSLV “as a whole” to the private industry while the agency would provide the initial hand-holding. The SSLV is expected to be cleared by next year.
Now, outsourced eco-impact checks
- The Union Environment Ministry proposes to allow research organisations and accredited agencies to monitor if companies are complying with environmental conditions.
- India’s environmental laws require project developers to submit themselves to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), under which an independent agency, commissioned by the project developer, ascertains the likely environmental impact of a proposed project.
- The preparation of an environment impact assessment report and an environment management plan ensures that the adverse environmental impact of projects and activities are assessed and studied and mitigation measures are taken in the implementation of the project to avoid or minimise the adverse environmental impact.
- Currently, depending on the size of projects, they are cleared or rejected with accompanying caveats that must be adhered to by the expert appraisal committees of the Central government and the States and the district environment impact assessment authorities.
- The process obligates the project proponent to file a six-monthly compliance report, and regional offices of the Ministry are supposed to check whether industries are complying with these norms.
- Independent observers describe the proposal as a “big shift” in how projects are appraised.
Japan releases rovers towards asteroid
- A Japanese space probe released a pair of exploring rovers towards an egg-shaped asteroid to collect mineral samples that may shed light on the origin of the solar system.
- The “Hayabusa2” probe jettisoned the round, cookie tin-shaped robots toward the Ryugu astroid, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
- If the mission is successful, the rovers will conduct the world’s first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid surface.
- Taking advantage of the asteroid’s low gravity, they will jump around on the surface soaring as high as 15 metres and staying in the air for as long as 15 minutes to survey the asteroid’s physical features with cameras and sensors.
- So far so good, but JAXA must wait for the Hayabusa2 probe to send data from the rovers to the earth in a day or two to assess whether the release has been a success, officials said.
- The cautious announcement came after a similar JAXA probe in 2005 released a rover which failed to reach its target asteroid.
- Next month, Hayabusa2 will deploy an “impactor” that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a two-kilo copper object into the surface to blast a crater a few metres in diameter.
- From this crater, the probe will collect “fresh” materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, hoping for answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on the earth.
- The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.
- Hayabusa2, about the size of a large fridge and equipped with solar panels, is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa Japanese for falcon.
- The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020.