Current Affairs (29th June 2021)
Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for Covid-hit sector
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of economic relief measures to boost the pandemic-hit economy of the country. She has announced about eight economic relief measures, of which four are absolutely new and one is specific to health infrastructure.
- 1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for Covid-affected sectors has been announced, including health sector, which includes guarantee cover for expansion or for new projects.
- Besides, an additional Rs 1.5 lakh crore limit enhancement was also announced for Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) scheme expanding the existing limit of Rs 3 lakh crore by 50%.
- Government will provide free visas to 5 lakh tourists visiting India and that financial support would be provided to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides, travel and tourism stakeholders.
- Rs 50,000 crore for health sector. A guarantee coverage of 50% for expansion of health related projects and 75% for new projects.
- A 50% guarantee coverage for aspirational districts in case of both expansion and new projects.
- Up to Rs 100 crore loan at 7.95% to health sector.
- Rs 23,220 crore to be provided for paediatric care/paediatric beds at hospitals.
- As many as 25 lakh people will be benefitted under ECLGS. A maximum Rs 1.25 lakhs amount will be lent to the smallest borrowers by micro-finance institutions. Focus is on new lending & not on repayment of old loans.
- Government will also extend Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana to foot employer, employee’s share of post-retiral benefit of new hires by private companies
- Free foodgrain to poor till November 2021 to take total cost of Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana to Rs 2.27 lakh crore
- Additional Rs 14,775 cr fertilizer subsidy to be provided over and above Rs 85,413 cr budgeted.
- Recently, Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.
- The need for an anti-drone system shielding critical installations in the country came under sharp focus after this incident.
- While the Jammu attack was the first such instance in India where a drone was weaponised, the most high-profile incident in recent times involving a drone, perhaps, was the targeted bombing of two key oil facilities inside Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in 2019.
- Over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition, and drugs into Indian territory.Drones fly low and therefore cannot be detected by any radar system.
- With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.
- Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.
- Drones have also been increasingly used in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, by the US to carry out targeted assassinations.
- In 2020, Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the most powerful figure in Iran after its supreme leader, was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq.
- In 2018, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also claimed he survived an assassination attempt involving drones rigged with explosives.
- Drones have developed significantly and acquired massive leaps in capability.
- Weaponised drones were first used by the Islamic State in northern Iraq in 2016 and then in Syria.
- They have wreaked havoc on Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations in Afghanistan and other hotspots, used for targeted and precise eliminations by both Israelis and Americans.
- In the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan drones swooped down on their targets such as the formidable Russian S300 Air defence system before such systems had the time to react.
- What makes drones particularly dangerous is the fact that they fly very low making them undetectable to radar and leaving little by way of reaction time once detected.
How to counter the drone threat?
- Several private defence contractors, over the years, have begun to offer off-the-shelf anti-drone tech to counter hostile Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones.
- Companies, predominantly based out of Israel, US, and even China, have developed anti-drone systems using existing technologies such as radars, frequency jammers, optic, and thermal sensors etc.
How do these systems stand apart?
- It comes down to the range and the manner in which the threat is assessed and neutralised. Some systems simply monitor and alert the presence of a drone, while others are equipped with ballistics and even lasers.
What are the existing anti-drone systems?
- Rafael, the defence company behind Israel’s famed Iron Dome missile system, has also developed something called the Drone Dome.
- Like the Iron Dome, which identifies and intercepts incoming missiles, the Drone Dome detects and intercepts drones.
- Besides the collection of static radars, radio frequency sensors, and cameras it uses to offer “a 360-degree coverage”, the Drone Dome is also capable of jamming the commands being sent to a hostile drone and blocking visuals, if any, that are being transmitted back to the drone operator. Its highlight, however, is the precision with which it can shoot high-powered laser beams to bring down targets.
Is there an indigenous solution for India?
- The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an ‘Anti Drone System’ and it will be deployed this year.
Illegal Prawn Farms in Bhitarkanika National Park
- Orissa High court had directed the district administration of Kendrapara to dismantle all illegal prawn farms in Bhitarkanika National Park.
- All the shrimp farms around the park were illegal as this violated the Coastal Regulation Zone and the rulings of the Supreme Court.
- The forest department will plant mangrove saplings over the dismantled prawn farms to convert the area into mangrove forest.
- Farmers cultivating shrimp without registering with the Coastal Aquaculture Authority are liable to be imprisoned for three years and levied a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
- Concerns – Prawn farm owners dump the effluents of the farms into the nearby rivers and ponds. They pollute the groundwater sources in the villages. This is destroying the fertile agricultural lands.
- Illegal prawn farms pose a direct threat to the nearby mangrove forests.
Bhitarkanika National Park
- In 2015, the Union Environment Ministry declared 192 villages around Bhitarkanika as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities.
- ESZs prohibit any shrimp farming within 2 kms from Bhitarkanika. For this, the administration should demolish all illegal prawn farms.
- To know more about the Bhitarkanika National Park, which houses 70% of India’s salt water crocodiles
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U)
- The Government approved 708 proposals for construction of 3.61 lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U). With this, as on date, the total number of sanctioned houses under PMAY(U) is now 112.4 of which 48.31 lakh have been completed/delivered.
PMAY- U Awards 2021 – 100 Days Challenge
- In addition, ‘PMAY- U Awards 2021 – 100 Days Challenge’ was also launched by Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) .
- The awards are given to recognize and celebrate the outstanding performances by States, Union Territories (UTs), Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and beneficiaries for successful implementation of the Mission.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (URBAN)
- Implementation period: The Mission will be implemented during 2015-2022.
- Mission: To achieve the goal of Housing for All in Urban areas by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
- Features: Under it, central assistance will be provided to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for:
- In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation
- Credit Linked Subsidy
- Affordable Housing in Partnership
- Subsidy for Beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement.
- Funding: Credit linked subsidy component will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme while other three components will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
- Eligibility: All statutory towns as per Census 2011 and towns notified subsequently would be eligible for coverage under the Mission.
Dead fish floating in Guwahati tank
- At least 400 dead fish were found floating in a Guwahati tank.
- The fish mortality was due to a sudden dip in oxygen level.
- The death of fish was not due to poisoning but due to environmental degradation.
- Non-penetration of sunlight due to a layer of algae has also been a factor behind the fish death.
- Water was showered over the tank as a short-term measure with pumps to increase the oxygen level.
- Paddle boating, spanking the water with bamboo, creating wave action through mechanised boats can increase the dissolved oxygen (DO) in the tank.
Effects of organic pollution in freshwaters:
- Organic pollution occurs with large quantities of organic compounds in water bodies.
- During the decomposition process, the dissolved oxygen in the water body would be used up at a greater rate than it can be replenished, causing oxygen depletion.
- It contains large quantities of suspended solids which by increasing the turbidity of the water, does not allow the sunlight to pass through the water surface. This reduces the light available to photosynthetic organisms.
- Organic wastes also settle out on the bottom of the stream. This could alter the characteristics of the substratum.
- Dissolved Oxygen is one of the most important factors for the maintenance of biodiversity in a pond.
- The atmosphere has about 20% oxygen or 2,00,000 parts per million (ppm) but only about 1,00,000 ppm gets dissolved in water.
- DO concentration below 3 ppm can kill the water animals (here, fish).