Current Affair – April 14, 2021

WHO Guidelines on Zoonotic Diseases

  • The World Health Organization (WHO),World Organization for Animal Health and the United Nations Environment Programme have laid down fresh guidelines for governments to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens to humans in food production and marketing chains.

What is Zoonotic disease?

  • A zoonosis is an infectious disease that jumps from a non-human animal to humans.
  • Zoonotic pathogens may be bacterial, viral or parasitic.
  • They can spread to humans through direct contact or through food, water and the environment.

What are the guidelines?

  1. Suspension of trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding, as well as a shut down of food markets that sell them.
  2. Strengthening the regulatory basis for improving standards of hygiene and sanitation in traditional food markets.
  3. Additional measures for crowd control and physical distancing, hand washing and sanitising stations should be introduced in market settings.
  4. Conducting risk assessments to provide the evidence base for developing regulations to control the risks of transmission of zoonotic microorganisms from farmed wild animals and caught wild animals that are intended to be placed on the market for human consumption.
  5. Ensuring that food inspectors are adequately trained to ensure that businesses comply with regulations to protect consumers’ health and are held accountable.
  6. Strengthening animal health surveillance systems for zoonotic pathogens to include both domestic and wild animals.
  7. Developing and implementing food safety information campaigns for market traders, stall holders, consumers and the wide general public. These campaigns should communicate the principles of food safety and the risks of transmission of zoonotic pathogens at the human-animal interface and the risks associated with the consumption and trade of wildlife.
Source: Downtoearth
The textile units are engaged in desizing (chemical removal of sizing material from fabric), mercerising (a finishing treatment to enhance lustre and dye affinity) and bleaching processes. Caustic soda and sodium hypochloride are used in mercerising and bleaching, respectively.    

NGT Report on pollution of Luni river

  • The joint committee was set up following an NGT order dated December 7, 2020 to probe the capacity of the common effluent treatment plant (CETP). It was asked to take a final decision by March 2021.
  • The joint comprised members from MoEF&CC, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB). CPCBwas appointed the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.
  • RSPCB collected samples from five randomly selected units February 18, 2021 and the committee’s observation was based on the analysis of these samples. 
  • The report was recently made public.

Report Findings

  • Textile units at Bhituja Industrial Area in Rajasthan’s Barmer district continues to pollute groundwater and the adjoining Luni river.
  • The area’s common effluent treatment plant (CETP) was unfit to treat the effluents from the bleaching units, the committee found. It was unable to comply with the prescribed discharge standards notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in 2016.
  • After treatment, the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the effluents was nearly eight times higher than the prescribed BOD of 30 milligram per litre (mg / l).
  • The chemical oxygen demand (COD) was over five times the prescribed standard of 250 mg / l.
  • Further, there is no treatment available to reduce the total dissolved solids (TDS) to the prescribed norms.
  • The pre-effluent treatment (settling tanks) provided by each unit was unable to control the total suspended solids (TSS). The sludge from the tanks was pumped out and flown into the CETP, increasing the latter’s TSS load. It resulted in solid deposition in the plant’s waste stabilisation ponds.
  • Partially treated effluent was also found to be illegally pumped out to nearby land, the committee found. 

Action taken/ Recommendations

  • The waste treatment facility at Bhituja was being improved to handle the load from the textile industry, the committee observed.
  • There should not be any relaxation in the prescribed standards for total/fixed dissolved solids to prevent further damage to Luni, the committee recommended.
  • NGT had also ordered rejuvenation of Luni by controlling hazardous industrial and sewage sludge discharge.
Source: Downtoearth

WWF Report on Illegal trade of sturgeon

  • Sturgeon is one of the most endangered fish species in the world.
  • Sturgeons have existed since the time of dinosaurs, for about 200 million years. Some of the species can grow up to eight metre in length and live more than a century. They are called ‘living fossils’ because their appearance has altered very little over the years.
  • The report is the first market survey that quantifies the scale of the illegal trade.
  • The researchers collected 145 sturgeon samples from supermarkets, local shops, online stores, fishermen, restaurants and bars in the four countries where the species still swim about and reproduce between 2016 and 2020.

Report Findings

  1. Illegal sale of sturgeon, is rampant in the lower Danube region, especially in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.
  2. The fish species are poached for their meat and caviar, which is considered a delicacy.
  3. It found that almost 20% (27 samples) were wild-caught sturgeon and did not come from farms.
  4. Many of the sturgeon mean and caviar samples had misleading labels, the authors wrote. Some claimed to have been cultivated in farms but were actually wild-caught. More worryingly, some products claimed to wild-caught but were actually developed in farms, indicating that there is a demand for the former.
  5. Because the sturgeons live for so many years, mature late and spawn with long intervals, they take long to recover from environmental and human pressures, according to WWF. This makes them great indicators for the health of the river and other ecological parameters.
  6. As many as 214 cases of poaching incidents were recorded in Romania (82 cases), Bulgaria (82 cases) and Ukraine (50 cases) during the period of the survey.This is despite a complete ban on fishing and trading of wild sturgeon species in these three countries.

Report recommendations:

  • Enhanced controls of domestic trade;
  • Control of CITES caviar labelling requirements;
  • Improved inter-agency cooperation and coordination;
  • Increased border controls;
  • Use of State-of-the-art forensic analysis; and
  • Conducting more and recurrent market surveys.

What is Danube region?

  • The area covered by the Danube Region is mainly the basin of the 2.857 km long Danube River, including also the parts of the mountain ranges where its tributaries originate (like the Alps, or the Carpathians).
  • It stretches from the Black Forest (Germany) to the Black Sea (Romania-Moldova-Ukraine).
Source: Downtoearth

Currency Chest

  • The theft to the tune of Rs 4.04 crore by a private security guard

from the currency chest of Axis Bank in Chandigarh’s Sector 34 has put the affairs of currency chests in the spotlight.

What is currency chest?

  • Currency chest is a place where the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stocks the money meant for banks and ATMs.
  • These chests are usually situated on the premises of different banks but administrated by the RBI.
  • Representatives of the RBI inspect currency chests time-to-time, and update their senior officers about it. The money present in the currency chest belongs to the RBI and the money, kept in the strong room outside the currency chest belongs to the bank.

How is the loss recovered in case of a crime resulting in loss of cash?

  • As per the set guidelines, the bank, in which the currency chest is situated is liable to fulfill the loss of the currency chest. In the present case, Axis Bank will have to fulfill the loss from its account. There are certain categories of the loss.
  • But in the cases of thefts, robberies and fraud from the currency chests situated within the bank premises, the bank is considered to be responsible.
Source: Indian Express

Muon g–2: landmark study challenges rulebook of particle physics

  • Newly published results of an international experiment hint at the possibility of new physics governing the laws of nature.
  • The experiment studied a subatomic particle called the muon.
  • The results of the experiment do not match the predictions of the Standard Model, on which all particle physics is based, and instead reconfirm a discrepancy that had been detected in an experiment 20 years previously.
  • The physics we know cannot alone explain the results measured. The study has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

What is the Standard Model?

  • The Standard Model is a rigorous theory that predicts the behaviour of the building blocks of the universe.
  •  It lays out the rules for six types of quarks, six leptons, the Higgs boson, three fundamental forces, and how the subatomic particles behave under the influence of electromagnetic forces.


  • The muon is one of the leptons.
  • It is similar to the electron, but 200 times larger, and much more unstable, surviving for a fraction of a second.
  •  The experiment, called Muon g–2 (g minus two), was conducted at the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).

About the experiment

  • It measured a quantity relating to the muon, following up a previous experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory, under the US Department of Energy. Concluded in 2001, the Brookhaven experiment came up with results that did not identically match predictions by the Standard Model.
  • The Muon g–2 experiment measured this quantity with greater accuracy.
  • It sought to find out whether the discrepancy would persist, or whether the new results would be closer to predictions. As it turned out, there was a discrepancy again, although smaller.
Source: Indian Express

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