Current Affair – May 3, 2021

0
CURRENT AFFAIRS

Climate Change changing Earth’s axis

  • A study published in Geophysical Research Letters of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) says that due to the significant melting of glaciers because of global temperature rise, our planet’s axis of rotation has been moving more than usual since the 1990s.
  • While this change is not expected to affect daily life, it can change the length of the day by a few milliseconds.

How the Earth’s axis shifts

  • The Earth’s axis of rotation is the line along which it spins around itself as it revolves around the Sun.
  • The points on which the axis intersects the planet’s surface are the geographical north and south poles.
  • The location of the poles is not fixed, however, as the axis moves due to changes in how the Earth’s mass is distributed around the planet.
  • Thus, the poles move when the axis moves, and the movement is called “polar motion”.

Polar motion

  • According to NASA, data from the 20th century shows that the spin axis drifted about 10 centimetres per year. It means over a century, polar motion exceeds 10 metres.
  • Generally, polar motion is caused by changes in the hydrosphere, atmosphere, oceans, or solid Earth.
  •  But now, climate change is adding to the degree with which the poles wander.

Findings of study

  • Since the 1990s, climate change has caused billions of tonnes of glacial ice to melt into oceans. This has caused the Earth’s poles to move in new directions.
  • North pole has shifted in a new eastward direction since the 1990s, because of changes in the hydrosphere (meaning the way in which water is stored on Earth).
  • From 1995 to 2020, the average speed of drift was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995. Also, in the last four decades, the poles moved by about 4 metres in distance.

Causes for increased polar motion

  • The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s.
  • The other possible causes are (terrestrial water storage) change in non‐glacial regions due to climate change and unsustainable consumption of groundwater for irrigation and other anthropogenic activities.
  • Groundwater depletion also adds to the phenomenon. As millions of tonnes of water from below the land is pumped out every year for drinking, industries or agriculture, most of it eventually joins the sea, thus redistributing the planet’s mass.
Source: Indian Express

Deepak’s Wood snake – ‘Xylophisdeepaki’

  • A tiny snake of just 20 cm length with iridescent scales ­has been discovered in Western Ghats.
  • The species is named in honour of Indian herpe­tologist Deepak Veerappan for his contribution in erect­ing a new subfamily Xylophi­inae to accommodate wood snakes.
  • The new find increases the total number of current­ly recognised wood snakes to five species.

About the snake

  • It is an endemic species of Ta­mil Nadu and has been sight­ed in a few locations in the southern part of the Western Ghats.
  • This new species is found in the drier regions and in lower altitudes around Agas­thyamalai hills. The other Xylophis were reported from cold higher altitudes, of 1,700 m and above, in the Nilgiris and the Anaimalai.
  • The species had a broader off­white col­lar and more ventral scales. It is  a close relative to X. captaini.
  • Its close relative, Captain’s wood snake, is known from the western slopes of the Western Ghats in the Kera­la.

About Wood snakes

  • Wood snakes are harmless, sub­fossorial and often found while digging soil in farms and under the logs in the

Western Ghat forests.

  • They feed on earthworms and possibly other inverte­brates.Interestingly, their close relatives are found in northeast

 India and South­ east Asia and are known to be arboreal.

Source: The Hindu

State Disaster Response Fund

  • The Centre has released the first instalment of the State Disaster

Response Fund (SDRF) to the States. It is in the wake of the second wave of COVID­19 that has claimed thousands of lives since April.

  • Department of Ex­penditure, Ministry of Fi­nance, at the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has released in advance of the normal schedule the first in­stalment of the Central share of SDRF for 2021­-22 to all the States.
  • Normally, the first instalment is released in June as per the recommen­dations of the Finance Com­mission.

About SDRF

  • SDRF has been constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • The SDRF is the primary fund available with the State governments as part of their response to notified disas­ters to meet expenditure on immediate relief to victims.
  • The Centre contributes 75% of the allocation for general category States and Union Territories and 90% for spe­cial category States (north­ eastern,  Sikkim, Uttarak­hand, Himachal Pradesh and J&K).
  • The annual Central contribution is released in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
Source: The Hindu

Fire safety Norms in India

  • Over the past year, there have been deadly fires in hospital buildings, including those treating COVID­19 patients. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says 330 people died in commercial building fires in 2019, while fatalities for residential or dwelling buildings were at 6,329.
  • Electrical faults are cited as the leading cause of fires.
  • State governments are widely criticised for being lax with building safety laws and for failing to equip public buildings with modern technology.
    • Hospitals come under the institutional category.  Hospital ICUs (intensive care units) are a great fire risk because they are oxygensuffused, and need to meet high standards.


·         Part 4 of the National Building Code (NBC) deals with Fire and Life Safety.
·         NBC provides specifications and guidelines for design and materials that reduce the threat of destructive fires.
·         Under the Code, all existing and new buildings are classified by nature of use, such as residential, educational, institutional, assembly (like cinemas and auditoria), business, mercantile, industrial, storage and hazardo
·         Hospitals come under the institutional category.

National Building Code

  • NBC recommends the location of buildings by type of use in specific zones to ensure that industrial and hazardous structures do not coexist with residential, institutional, office and business buildings.
  • It specifies, among other things, the technical requirements for special buildings, high rises, educational and institutional buildings higher than 9 metres, and those with an area of over 300 square metres.
  • It drills down into the specifics of fire resistance based on the materials used.
  • Technologies to sound alerts in case of a fire and also to fight it are expected to be incorporated into buildings.
  • However, in case of practical difficulty or to avoid unnecessary hardship, without sacrificing reasonable safety, local head, fire services may consider exemptions from the Code

Do State governments follow the Code?

Maharashtra

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
    • The NDMA has also stipulated requirements for fire safety in public buildings, including hospitals, which incorporate elements of the NBC, besides design guidelines on maintaining minimum open safety space, protected exit mechanisms, dedicated staircases, and crucial drills to carry out evacuations.
      Maharashtra has a Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act since 2008. Section 3 of the Act makes the provisions of the NBC mandatory and Schedule I of the State’s law is borrowed from the Code.
  • However, reports in the wake of recent fire accidents indicate that the authorities have been unable to keep up with inspection requirements for thousands of building.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
·         The NDMA has also stipulated requirements for fire safety in public buildings, including hospitals, which incorporate elements of the NBC, besides design guidelines on maintaining minimum open safety space, protected exit mechanisms, dedicated staircases, and crucial drills to carry out evacuations.

Kerala

  • Obtaining an NOC [no­objectioncertificate] from the fire department, given in form H­3 for hospitals that are between 15 metres and 24 metres high, requires furnishing exhaustive information on design and infrastructure.
  • The rules prescribe fire fighting equipment and installations that meet “Indian Standards”, but do not contain a direct reference to the NBC.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu’s form for a fire licence, required under the Fire Service Act read with municipal law, is even broader, and no reference is found for compliance with the Code.

Way forward

  • In December 2020, Supreme Court directed all States to carry out fire safety audits of dedicated COVID­19 hospitals.
  • It has become evident that State forces lack the manpower to inspect and ensure compliance with safety codes, including the NBC, where it is mandatory.
  • One option is to make heavy fire liability insurance compulsory for all public buildings, which would offer protection to occupants and visitors and bring about external inspection of safety.
Source: The Hindu

P81 aircraft

  • The U.S. State Department has approved the pro­posed sale of six P­8I patrol aircraft and related equip­ment to India.
  • The deal is estimated to cost $2.42 billion.
  • The possible sale through the Foreign Military Sale route and requires that the U.S. Congress be noti­fied, a process that was com­pleted on Friday. Lawmakers have a statutory 30 days to raise any objections.   In November 2019, the De­fence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of the long­ range maritime surveillance aircraft manufactured by Boeing.

The possible sale through the Foreign Military Sale route and requires that the U.S. Congress be noti­fied, a process that was com­pleted on Friday. Lawmakers have a statutory 30 days to raise any objections

P81 in Indian Navy

  • The P-8 is designed to conduct long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The P-8s also has a bomb bay that can drop sonobuoys and torpedoes, as well as hardpoints on its wings for anti-ship missiles.
  • The P­8I is based on the Boeing 737 commercial air­craft and India was its first in­ternational customer.
  • The Indian Navy bought eight P-8I aircraft in 2009 and contracted for four more aircraft in 2016.
  • The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
  • With India having signed the Communications Com­patibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) foundational agreement with the U.S., the six aircraft will come fitted with en­crypted systems.
Source: The Hindu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts