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Rapid Fire Current Affairs

  • 30 Mar 2023
  • 5 min read

NGT Imposes Penalty on Kerala Govt. for Failing to Protect Ramsar Sites

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 10 crore on the Kerala government for failing to protect two wetlands, Vembanad and Ashtamudi lakes, which are included in the Ramsar list of wetlands. The wetlands have become polluted due to the dumping of pharmaceutical waste, plastic waste, household waste, and slaughterhouse waste.

Vembanad, Kerala’s largest wetland ecosystem was designated as a Ramsar site back in 2002. According to a recent study by the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Vembanad lake’s water retention capacity has decreased by 85% in the last 120 years due to encroachment and devastation of its ecology.

Ashtamudi lake, home to several plant and bird species, was included in the Ramsar list in August 2002. Since then, little has been done to safeguard the site which is currently experiencing a notable build-up of waste.

The Kerala Legislative Assembly’s Environment Committee has listed several proposals, including the formation of the Ashtamudi Wetland Management Authority, to protect the site. It recommended immediate regulations to control unlawful demolition and dumping of boats in the lake and directed the state pollution control board to check the coliform bacteria and oxygen levels in the lake every three months.

Read More: Ramsar Sites.

Saudi Arabia Joins Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a Dialogue Partner

Saudi Arabia has approved to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner.

The SCO was formed in 2001 by Russia, China, and former Soviet states in Central Asia, and has since expanded to include India and Pakistan. It aims to play a bigger role as a counterweight to Western influence in the region.

Iran also signed documents for full membership in 2022. The dialogue partner status for Saudi Arabia will be a first step within the organisation before granting the kingdom full membership in the mid-term.

Countries belonging to the organisation plan to hold a joint "counter-terrorism exercise" in Russia's Chelyabinsk region in August 2023.

Indian Coast Guard’s Regional Search and Rescue Exercise

The Indian Coast Guard recently conducted a Regional Search and Rescue exercise in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, to simulate a real-time maritime distress scenario and highlight the functioning of the Search and Rescue organization (SAR) for a mass rescue operation.

The exercise involved all stakeholders and effectively used available resources towards Maritime Search and Rescue contingency efficiently.

Sea area off Kakinada was chosen as the venue for the exercise considering the large-scale exploration and production activities in the Krishna Godavari basin which makes the area potential for emergencies necessitating large scale SAR response.

Read More: Indian Coast Guard

Upward Lightning

Researchers in Brazil have captured images of "upward lightning" or "upward flashes".

This phenomenon occurs when a self-initiated lightning streak develops from a tall object and travels upward towards an electrified storm cloud. The phenomenon requires storm electrification and the presence of a cloud charge region.

The vertical elevation of a tall object emphasises the electric field locally on the ground, resulting in conditions favourable for the initiation of an upward streak from a tall object.

The process is also triggered by the development of a stepped leader, which is a channel of negative charge that travels downward in a zigzag pattern from a cloud, leading to an intensification of the positive charge on the ground.

The negatively charged, downward-moving stepped leader makes contact with one of the developing positively charged upward streamers, completing the lightning channel, and causing charges to flow rapidly from the cloud towards the ground.

Read More: Lightning Streak

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