UPSC CA: 23rd September 2020

TRAI recommends body to monitor net neutrality

Context:

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended the creation of a multi-stakeholder body (MSB) to ensure that Internet access providers adhere to the provisions of net neutrality.

Key points:

  • The MSB could include telecom service providers, Internet service providers, content providers, researchers, academic and technical community, civil society organisations, and the government.
  • It is recommended that it be set up as a non-profit entity.
  • The role of the MSB shall be to provide advice and support to the DoT in the monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles.
  • The MSB may also be required to investigate complaints regarding the violation of net neutrality.
  • TRAI also suggested that the MSB help DoT in the maintenance of a repository of reasonable traffic management practices.

Net Neutrality:

  • Net Neutrality is a principle which states that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally and there should be no discrimination by telecommunication companies/Internet Service Providers.
  • The service providers should not differentiate this service with different forms and categories of traffic on the internet.
  • The net neutrality principles adopted by DoT were technology-neutral and would apply equally to 5G technology, the telecom regulator clarified.

 

Cyanobacteria killed more than 300 African elephants

Context: 

  • Recently neuro-toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 African elephants in the Okavango delta region, Botswana (country in Southern Africa).

Key points:

  • Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms found naturally in soils and all types of water.
  • These single-celled organisms (bacteria) live in fresh, brackish (combined salt and freshwater), and marine water.
  • These organisms use sunlight to make their own food.
  • In warm, nutrient-rich (high in phosphorus and nitrogen) environments, cyanobacteria can multiply quickly.
  • Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.
  • Toxic blue-green algae thrive in warm, slow-moving water.
  • Warmer water due to climate change might favor harmful algae.
  • Warmer temperatures prevent water from mixing, allowing algae to grow thicker and faster.
  • Algae need carbon dioxide to survive, higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air and water can lead to rapid growth of algae, especially toxic blue-green algae that can float to the surface of the water.
  • Neuro-toxins are substances that damage, destroy, or impair the functioning of neural tissue.

 

Stubble Burning: SC appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority 

Context:

  • The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has written to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana urging them to address the issue of stubble burning urgently.

Key points:

  • Paddy residue is not used as fodder as it’s unfit and hence farmers burn both the paddy stalk and straw close to autumn every year which is a key contributing factor of pollution causing breathing problems in the northern region.
  • Early burning of crop residue has begun in the states of Punjab and Haryana.
  • According to a SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research under the Central government) estimate, based on harmonising the INSAT-3, 3D and NASA satellite, EPCA noted that Punjab has seen 42 fire counts in a single day.
  • In 2019, about 9.8 million tonnes of the total estimated crop residue of 20 million tonnes were burnt in Punjab. In Haryana, of a total of 7 million tonnes, 1.24 million tonnes of stubble was burnt.

INSAT-3D:

  • INSAT-3D is an advanced weather satellite of India configured with an improved Imaging System and Atmospheric Sounder.
  • INSAT-3D is designed for enhanced meteorological observations, monitoring of land and ocean surfaces, generating a vertical profile of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and humidity for weather forecasting and disaster warning.
  • Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA):
    • Environment Pollution Control Authority is a Supreme Court-mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region).
    • The body is constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
    • It is mandated to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region).

 

Union Government empowered NIA to investigate offences

In News:

  • The government has empowered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Key points:

  • As per a notification issued by the Revenue Department in the Ministry of Finance, NIA officers of inspector rank and above have been vested with the same powers as an officer in charge of a police station under the 1985 NDPS law.
  • The change had been operationalised after consultations with State governments.
  • The latest development is to ensure that the agency need not rely on local police to unravel drug trade ties that emerge during counter-terrorism operations.

National Investigation Agency:

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central counter-terrorism agency functioning under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

 

Scientists warned about ‘Medicanes’

Context: 

  • Recently Scientists have warned that ‘Medicanes’ could become more frequent due to human-induced climate change.

Key points:

  • Medicanes are tropical-like cyclones formed over the Mediterranean Sea.
  • With the surrounding dry climate and the relatively shallow waters of the sea, the occurrence of tropical-like cyclones is infrequent.
  • They typically form in the fall or winter months and occur once or twice a year.
  • On September 2020, a medicane named Lanos made landfall along the coast of Greece and caused heavy rainfall and flooding in Greece and surrounding islands.
  • Due to global warming, warmer sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean can allow the storms to take on more tropical appearances and characteristics, increasing the wind speeds and making the storms more intense and cause heavier rainfall.
  • Increase in frequency of medicanes will be a threat for already vulnerable populations living in North Africa, possibly triggering human migration.
  • They could also be a menace for European countries like Italy and Greece.