1. Tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir
- The all-weather connectivity between Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is a step closer to reality with an “escape tunnel” with a Rs 2,300-crore Z-Morh tunnel.
- This would connect Srinagar to Sonamarg during the winter months.
- It is another technological feat that would be achieved with the Rs 4,600-crore Zojila Tunnel that would further connect to Leh in the Ladakh region.
- Strategically built at 11,578 feet high altitude, the Zojila tunnel uses New Austrian Tunnel Method (NATM) technology that allows for ventilation and evacuation.
- The government-owned NHIDCL is the nodal agency for Z-Morh and Zojila tunnel projects.
- The 11,500 feet high Zojila tunnel is being vertically constructed because of the altitude.
- The Zojila project has a 5-km approach road and a 6.5-km tunnel.
- The tunnels also integrate Kargil to Kashmir valley.
- The Zojila tunnel is 14.15 km long, which is India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel.
2. National Mission on Cultural Mapping
- It was launched in 2017.
- It has now been handed over to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), which is gearing up for a trial run in 75 villages in October.
- The Culture Ministry had approved the mission in 2017 with a 469 crore budget from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020. However, the project had been slow to take off.
- No direct benefits or assistance has been extended through this Mission to the registered artists/institution.
- Ministry of culture was working on the cultural mapping mission to build a comprehensive database of artists, art forms.
- The work of creating a database for folk arts and mapping the heritage of villages would be carried out over five years.
- Teams of volunteers from the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghathan, the National Service Scheme, and students of sociology and social work would be deputed to visit villages and collect data on the art forms and heritage of the areas.
- One village in each State and UT will be selected
3. PM CARES Fund
- The PM CARES Fund is not a Government of India fund and the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on an honorary basis
- Its funds are audited by an auditor a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
- The Fund is a public charitable trust with the Prime Minister as its Chairman. Other Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister, and Finance Minister.
- The Fund enables micro-donations as a result of which a large number of people will be able to contribute with the smallest of denominations.
- The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that contributions by companies towards the PM-CARES Fund will count towards mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure.
- Under the Companies Act, 2013, companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or net profit of Rs 5 crore are required to spend at least 2% of their average profit for the previous three years on CSR activities every year.
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4. Weaver Services and Design Resource Centre
- Weaver Services and Design Resource Centre is to be set up in Kullu to encourage attractive handicraft products of Himachal
- It also aims to provide a better platform for the export of these products in the international market.
- It is announced during Seva and Samarpan campaign on the occasion of golden jubilee of the statehood of Himachal Pradesh at Kullu.
- More attention is needed to modernize the design, quality, packaging and marketing so that the weavers get better prices for their products in the international market.
- In order to facilitate online sales platforms for weavers, MoU had been signed with Flipkart for doing online sales of products
5. Multi-member ward system
- The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government took a decision to reintroduce the multi-member ward system for all municipal councils and corporations instead of the existing single-member ward system.
- The decision comes ahead of the municipal council and corporation elections to be held later this year and early next year.
What is the multi-member ward system?
- There will be a three-member ward system in municipal corporations and a two-member ward system in municipal councils.
- There will be no change in the number of wards or corporators; the wards will be bunched together only for the purpose of the election.
- Those contesting from the same party or alliance across the designated multi-member ward will campaign across the two or three wards, although they will file their nomination from individual wards.
- If elected, each will represent the individual ward only.
- Voters, however, will be able to select candidates in their own ward as well as in the other wards clubbed together in the multi-member ward.
- Although candidates from the same party/alliance in a multi-member ward will be called a “panel”, a voter does not really select a panel, but individual candidates, who can be from the same party or from different parties.
- A voter is also entitled to select just one candidate.
- But for this, the voter has to make a written submission to the presiding officer of the booth.
- This is to ensure documentary proof in case a party or candidate goes to court questioning how a candidate got fewer votes than others.
6. Electronic Park
- Uttar Pradesh government is gearing up to develop an ‘Electronic Park’ for electronic devices and accessories along the Yamuna Expressway near Noida,
- The Expressway already have seen the development of Toy Park, Film City, Medical Device Park, and Leather Park
- The park is expected to attract an investment of Rs 50,000 crore and will provide employment to thousands of local youths
- The park is likely to be developed in an area of 250 acres either in Sector 14 or Sector 10 of the YEIDA near Jewar Airport
- National and international companies making mobile phones, TVs and other electronic goods will establish their units in the park.
7. Dark energy
- Dark energy, the mysterious form of energy that makes up about 68% of the universe
- It has been noted as “the most profound mystery in all of science”.
- The XENON1T experiment is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy.
- Everything we see – the planets, moons, massive galaxies make up less than 5% of the universe.
- About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.
- While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe.
How did they make the detection?
- XENON1T experiment reported an unexpected signal.
- Energies around ~2 keV was been reported, this could be due to dark energy.
- This excess could in principle have been caused by dark energy rather than dark matter.
What if the signal was caused by some other force?
- The team constructed a physical model, which used a screening mechanism known as chameleon screening, to show that dark energy particles produced in the Sun’s strong magnetic fields could explain the signal seen in XENON1T.
- There are four fundamental forces in our universe, and speculative theories have proposed a fifth force – something that can’t be explained by the four forces.
- Imagine two people carrying something, one heavy object and another one a light object. The person with the light object will most likely make it further.
- Similarly, here the fifth force carried by this heavy chameleon in a dense environment doesn’t make it far
When can we get direct detection of dark energy?
The team is hopeful that upcoming upgrades to the XENON1T experiment and similar experiments such as LUX-Zeplin – a next-generation dark matter experiment located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and PandaX-xT – another project at China Jinping Underground Laboratory could help directly detect dark energy within the next decade.
8. Decision Support System (DSS)
- A newly developed DSS will attempt to determine the source of air pollutants in Delhi-NCR
- It will be a part of the existing air quality forecasting system this year.
- An air quality early warning system, developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, has been operational in Delhi-NCR since 2018.
- Based on forecasts, the system provides warnings on severe air quality events.
- The DSS, which is likely to be introduced for the first time this year, is an extension of the existing system.
- IITM began to develop DSS in February-March this year, with the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) having stated a requirement for it
- DSS can tell us which regions could be responsible for the pollution – how much of the pollution is coming from Delhi and how much from nearby districts
- Data on pollutants will be collected from 19 nearby districts including Jhajjar, Sonipat, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Panipat, Rohtak, Gorakhpur, Rewari, Meerut, Bulandshahr and Alwar.
- The data on PM 2.5 levels is collected from 43 stations of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and assimilated into the DSS and the air quality warning system.
- The forecast provided for the next five days will be based on numerical modeling, in addition to observational data from the stations.
- Satellite imagery is also used in the model to check for instances of stubble burning.
- An emission inventory has been drawn from TERI to track the regional distribution of emissions.
- The DSS also provides ‘real-time source apportionment’ information – it will provide emission contributions of different sectors within Delhi.
- Eight sectors have been factored into the system to check their contributions to emissions – energy, residential, transport, waste burning, construction, road dust, industries (in Delhi and peripheral ones), and ‘others.’
- The data from DSS can then help make policy-level interventions.
- This is the first time that source apportionment will be factored into the system to pinpoint the sources responsible for pollutants.
- The codes in the modeling system help segregate the pollutants as per contributions from various sectors and different districts.
- A ‘tracer’ approach, which is used in numerical modeling of atmospheric pollutants, is used in this case.
9. Rajaji Tiger Reserve issue on relaxations
- A Supreme Court-appointed committee has questioned relaxations given for the upgrade of a 4.7-km road in the buffer zone of Rajaji Tiger Reserve.
- The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) asked the state government why the length of an elevated road for the movement of animals was reduced to 400 meters from 1,410 meters
- 1,410 meters was suggested by an expert committee with members from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- The height of the passage was also revised down to 6 meters from 8 meters.
- The state government and MoEFCC have to reply to CEC’s questions within 15 days
National Board for Wildlife
- The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), the apex agency to clear projects in and around protected areas
- GOI had constituted an advisory body designated as the Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) in 1952.
- The Indian Board for Wildlife was chaired by the Prime Minister.
- The Minister in charge of the MoEF in GOI is the Vice-Chairperson.
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was enacted for providing special legal protection to wildlife.
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 laid special emphasis on endangered species of fauna.
- As per the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002, a provision was incorporated for the constitution of the National Board for Wildlife, replacing the Indian Board for Wildlife.
- Click here to know about the Wildlife Protection act
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was established in December 2005, following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganized management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
Click here to know about Rajaji tiger reserve
10. Judima Wine
- The Dimasa community prepares the beverage from rice and a certain herb
- Judima, the wine brewed by the Dimasa community in Assam, has been awarded the geographical indication (GI) tag.
- This wine made from rice and a certain herb is the first beverage from the northeast to earn this label.
- Judima is intrinsic to the social and cultural life of the Dimasas.
- The GI tag for the drink came 14 years after the ginger of the adjoining Karbi Anglong district received its geographical indication.
- Manipur saw two of its indigenous products get the GI tag. These were the Tamenglong orange and Hathei chilli grown in the hills.
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11. Naga Cucumber
- It is from Nagaland that gets the GI tag
- Naga cucumbers are juicy, soft, and sweet and are grown completely organically.
- They are low in calories but high in potassium and contain a high level of water & can serve as an alternative to consuming sports drinks.
- Cucumber has been traditionally cultivated by Naga farmers in their Jhum fields as a mixed crop mainly during the Kharif season (April –May).
- It is one of the important component crops in jhum cultivation.
- This is primarily grown as a cash crop along with paddy
- Some tribes like Konyak are found to grow cucumber all throughout the year by seed to seed method depending upon the soil type.
- Naga cucumbers are a kind of fruit that differ in taste, shape, and size from those available in other