Daily Current Affairs: UPSC Exams

Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall

  • Researchers have found one more reason why urgent steps have to be taken to stop deforestation in the Western Ghats.
  • The dense vegetation in the Western Ghats determines the amount of rainfall that Tamil Nadu gets during the summer monsoon.
  • A team from the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T) Bombay has found that dense forests of the Western Ghats contribute as much as 40% of moisture to the southwest monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu during normal monsoon years.
  • The average contribution is 25-30%. But during monsoon deficit years, the contribution increases to as high as 50%.
  • The study found the forests of Western Ghats contribute as much as 3 mm per day of rainfall during August and September over a “majority of locations in Tamil Nadu and 1 mm per day during June and July.

The study also found that deforestation of the Ghats led to 0.25 degree C increase in surface temperature across the State.

Cyclonic circulation in Haryana could have set off dust storms

A cyclonic circulation over Haryana was the trigger for the deadly dust storm that swept parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, weather experts said, estimating that the wind speed during the storm might have gone up to 100 kms per hour.

  • The winds were so violent that a number of houses collapsed and electricity poles and trees got uprooted, as the severe dust storm swept parts of these states.
  • The phenomenon was restricted to these two states, largely because of external and domestic reasons.
  • There were primarily four reasons that lead to the thunderstorm — excessive heating, availability of moisture, instability in atmosphere and a trigger for the storm.
  1.     The cold winds from the western disturbance was making atmosphere unstable.
  2.  This led to the formation of two cloud patches.
  3.  In case of a dust storm, due to excessive heating, the water from the clouds evaporates before it could land. So soil is dry and the severe winds lift up this soil up to 500 metres above the land.

Hawaii volcano erupts; county issues evacuation orders for 10,000 people

Up to 10,000 people have been asked to leave their homes on Hawaii’s Big Island following the eruption of the Kilauea volcano that came after a series of recent earthquakes

  • County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate, as an eruption would give little warning.


Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States of America, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central.

The eruption comes after days of earthquakes rattled the area’s Puna district.

The Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse, triggering a series of earthquakes and pushing the lava into new underground chambers.

  •  The collapse caused magma to push more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) down slope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island.
  • USGS geologist said the magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point.
  • Most of Kilauea’s activity has been non-explosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 10-ton (9-metric ton) rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.

Puu Oo’s 1983 eruption resulted in lava fountains soaring over 1,500 feet high. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried dozens of square miles (kilometers) of land and destroyed many homes.

Preliminary enquiry not a must for every complaint under SC/ST Act, says Supreme Court

  • Only anti-Dalit atrocities’ complaints which are felt “absurd” or “absolutely” frivolous need to be probed by the police before proceeding to arrest the perpetrator, Justice qualified the apex court’s March 20 judgment which led to widespread unrest and violence across the country.
  • Preliminary enquiry is not a “must” in the case of every complaint under the anti-Dalit atrocities law Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.
  •  The March 20 judgment by the Supreme Court had banned immediate arrest on the basis of complaints of atrocities committed on Dalits. The court had ordered that a preliminary enquiry should be conducted before such arrests.
  •  The judgment further required prior sanction to be procured from appointing authority before arrest if the suspect is a government servant and permission of Deputy Commissioner if the accused is a private individual.
  • Justice Lalit reasoned that the court’s judgment does not ban the police from registering an FIR, nor does it impose a particular line of action and nor does it say that an accused, if guilty, should not be punished.

U.S. warns of consequences for China’s SCS militarisation

The United States had raised concerns with China about its latest militarisation of the South China Sea (SCS) and there would be near-term and long-term consequences, the White House said.

news network CNBC reported that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the SCS. It cited sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence had seen some signs that China had moved some weapons systems to the Spratly Islands in the past month or so, but offered no details.

CNBC quoted unnamed sources as saying that according to U.S. intelligence assessments, the missiles were moved to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands within the past 30 days.

They would be the first Chinese missile deployments in the Spratlys, where several Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan have rival claims.

Foreign Minister of U.S. ally Australia said the reports, if accurate, would be a concern as the actions would be contrary to China’s stated aspiration not to militarize the features.

CNBC said the YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles allowed China to strike vessels within 295 nautical miles. It said the HQ-9B long-range; surface-to-air missiles could target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

Maharashtra to float multi-billion dollar fund for defence units

The state government is looking to float a multi-billion dollar fund to provide assistance to units looking to manufacture ingenuously-built defence products.

The government is looking to scale up the already announced corpus of ₹1,000 crore following positive response from the investors to its defence and aerospace policy, senior officials said.

The Centre is also likely to contribute. The government is in talks with financial institutions such as IDBI Bank, SBI Caps, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) for financial assistance.

Maharashtra’s Space and Defence Production Policy is aimed at empowering the MSMEs and help them “create competitive international standard skilled manpower”.

Last year the then defence minister had directed the state to declare the defence industry as an essential service under the Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance Act.

Much of the funding, officials confirmed, will be directed towards defence R&D, innovation, and testing centres.

The centres will be used to impart training and create jobs. Research and development (R&D) will also get a boost with assistance up to 50% of the project cost, excluding land and building, subject to a maximum of ₹10 crore. Additional FSI of 0.5 will be provided to eligible R&D units.

New snake found in Western Ghats

Just 40 cm long and iridescent brown, Bhupathy’s shield tail is the latest addition to the snake fauna of the Western Ghats.

  • The snake, currently observed only in the forests of the Anaikatty hills in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district, has been named Uropeltis bhupathyi, after the late herpetologist S. Bhupathy, for his contributions to the field.
  • The reptile belongs to a family of snakes found only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. They are non-venomous, burrowing and mostly earthworm-eating, and are called shield tails after the large, flat tips of their tails, which make them appear almost sliced off.
  •  Compared their specimens with those in museums and collections across both Europe and India, and analysed the new shieldtail’s DNA, which confirmed that it was a hitherto unknown species.
  • The discovery takes the number of known species of shield tails in India to 41. The country is home to more than 300 snake species.

Source:-The Hindu.

Leave a Reply