10th February 2021

Rajya Sabha passes Bill extending protection to illegal constructions

  • The Rajya Sabha recently passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
  • Housing and Urban Affairs Minister had introduced the Bill
  • The Bill extended the protections from punitive action for certain kinds of unauthorised constructions by three years.
  • The Bill replaced an ordinance brought by the government in December 2020.
  • The existing protections from sealing and demolition of illegal constructions, including unauthorised colonies,were set to end on December 31.
  • It is a matter of fact which is undisputable that Indian cities are virtually turning into slums and worst is that their boundaries are increasing with every passing day.
  • Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 had been enacted by Parliament to protect certain forms of encroachment and unauthorised development from punitive action, namely, demolition, sealing, displacement, etc
  • The Ordinance amended this to provide that the unauthorised colonies will be identified for regularisation in accordance with the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Act, 2019 and the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Regulations, 2019.
  • The unauthorised colonies that existed as on June 1, 2014 and had witnessed 50 percent development as on January 1, 2015 will be eligible for regularisation.

 

Govt. looks for new agency to do pollution source study

  • Last year, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi had taken a decision to cancel a study, which was being done by the University of Washington in St. Louis for the Delhi government at a cost of ?1.2 crore.
  • The government had paid over ?50 lakh to the university but decided to cancel the study as a government-appointed committee had raised red flags about the study.
  • In a bid to study and combat pollution sources in Delhi, Chief Minister recently held a meeting with researchers of IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, and TERI.
  • It was decided that the Delhi government will work with teams of researchers and launch ‘Real-time Source Apportionment’ project in Delhi, along with setting up an advanced monitoring system of real-time pollution sources.
  • This technology will also clarify the factors responsible for the spike in air pollution at a particular spot.
  •  It will also help to study the real-time effect of vehicles, dust, and smoke from factories.
  • IIT Kanpur has submitted a proposal for a study that will cost about ?11 crore. An expert panel is examining the proposal.
  • Delhi government has initiated an electric vehicles policy and is also running a ‘Switch Delhi’ campaign to encourage citizens of Delhi to switch from polluting fuel-run cars to EVs.

Centre objects to plea against Special Marriage Act

  • The Centre has objected to a petition seeking to discontinue with the provision of inviting objection from public while applying for marriage registration under the Special Marriage Act (SMA).
  • According to the Ministry of Law and Justice , the intention behind the provision in SMA was to “keep adequate safeguards to the interest of various parties involved”.

SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT, 1954:

  • An Act of the Parliament of India with provision for civil marriage (or “registered marriage”) for people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  • The Act originated from a piece of legislation proposed during the late 19th century. Marriages solemnized under Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 replaced the old Act III, 1872. The new enactment had three major objectives-
  1. to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases,
  2. to provide for registration of certain marriages and,
  3. to provide for divorce.

GESTATION PERIOD

  • All marriages done under the SMA requires publication of the names of the couple for inviting objections from public for 30 days.
  • Within this period, anyone can object to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in section 4 of the SMA.
  • Some of the conditions include neither party has a spouse living; either of them is of unsound mind, incapable of giving a valid consent; and the man has completed twenty-one years and the woman eighteen years.
  • The provision was challenged by an inter-faith couple on the ground that the 30 days gestation period was not warranted as the same objective can be mitigated on the basis of certificates issued by government hospitals and on the basis of undertaking by them.

STATEMENT FROM THE LAW MINISTRY

  • If any person raises objection to the said marriage within a period of 30 days, the marriage officer shall not solemnise the marriage until he has enquired into the matter of objection.
  • It may not be possible to verify the credibility of such person if at least thirty days period is not given.
  • The procedure laid down in this Act for registration of marriage is fair and reasonable.
  • Advocate, who had appeared for the couple, argued that the question with regard to whether either party has a living spouse can arise in other religious marriage also, but they are exempted from 30 days’ notice period.

SMA SECTIONS:

  • The petition has sought to quash section 6 and 7 of SMA, which mandates publication of the public notice, on the ground that it is unreasonable and arbitrary.
  • The 30-day period offers an opportunity to kin of the couple to discourage an inter-caste or inter-religion marriage.

Bengaluru scientists develop a new marigold variety

  • New variety of marigold developed by the Hessarghatta-based Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) will fetch money even if they get spoilt as it can be used for extraction of crude carotene, which is mainly used in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Generally, flowers lose their value if they get spoilt either due to rain or delay in harvest.

CAROTENE

  • All marigolds have a carotene content of up to 1.4%.
  • Arka Shubha variety of marigold has a carotene content of 2.8%, which is the highest content from a plant source.
  • These flowers can be sold for ornamental purpose too. Farmers consider this variety purely for extraction of carotene.
  • There is always a high demand for carotene in the pharma sector. Presently, India imports most of its carotene from China and other countries.
  • It is better to take up the carotene extraction venture through farmers’ groups as a large area is needed for marigold cultivation. This also provides scope for exports.
  • The Arka Shubha variety is of use in the poultry sector as well.
  • Its petals could be used as feed to get quality yolk, she said. It is used as feed for sheep too.

Ladakh will get India’s first geothermal power project

  • India’s first geothermal power project to tap the potential of natural geysers dotting the Puga area, 170 km east of Leh and not far from the China border, in Changthang plain.
  • The first phase, ONGC will drill upto 500 metres to tap the steam and hot sulphur water spewing out of the geysers for running a power plant with a capacity of one MW (megawatt).
  • In the second phase, deeper drilling will be done to explore the potential of the thermal reservoir.
  • A commercial scale power plant will be set up in the third phase.
  • Ladakh L-G R K Mathur reckons the area can support a power generation capacity of 250 MW.
  • The project will be completed in four phases.
  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish and implement the first phase was signed on 6th February, 2021 between ONGC Energy; LAHDC, Leh and the Power Department of UT Ladakh
  • This geothermal project is known as Geothermal Field Development Project.
  • It will be commission by the end of 2022.
  • It has also been requested to ONGC to speed up the project and scale up to 200 MW capacity for appreciable gain.
  • This project will provide continuous power supply and also the hot water from springs can be used for building hot swimming pools for the tourist and can be used for space-heating.

Puga Village of Ladakh 

  • In the Puga Village, scientists have discovered a potential of more than 100 mw of geothermal energies.
  • It lies in the south-eastern part of Ladakh.
  • The village is a part of the Himalayan geothermal belt.
  •  The region has shown the evidence of geothermal activity in various form including the mud pools, hot springs, sulphur deposits and borax deposits.
  •  The talk of the potential geothermal project in the Puja Village has been into news since 2008.
  • The region has the potential to produce about 40% of the energy requirements.
  • Geothermal energy is clean energy which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Geothermal power plants have average availabilities of 90% or higher, compared with about 75% of the coal plants.

The world smallest reptile and how it compares to other reptiles.

  • A chameleon discovered in the island country of Madagascar by scientists from Germany and Madagascar may be the world’s smallest adult reptile.
  • The chameleon species Brookesia micra was thought to be the smallest. The average length of adults of this species is 16 mm (29 mm with tail), while the smallest adult male has been recorded at 15.3 mm
  • The male has a length (snout to vent) of 13.5 mm and a total length of 21.6 mm when the tail is included. a six-inch ruler (150 mm) would accommodate almost seven of these males in a row, tails outstretched. The female is slightly longer at 28.9 mm.
  • Reptiles come in a wide size range. The longest, the reticulated python, at 6.25 m is almost as long as 289 Brookesia nanas.
  • The gharial is more than 200 Brookesia nanas long, while the king cobra can measure up to nearly 180 Brookesia nanas.
  • The smaller size, the gecko Sphaerodactylus ariasae of the Caribbean is almost as small as the Brookesia micra, or about 20-25% longer than the Brookesia nana.
  • The gopher tortoise is equivalent to 12 Brookesia nanas, and the veiled chameleon to about 18 specimens of the newly reported Madagascar species.
  • Brookesia micra is a species of chameleons from the islet of Nosy Hara in Antsiranana, Madagascar.
  • It was the smallest known chameleon and among the smallest reptiles, until the discovery in 2021 of the even-smaller B. nana.

Madagascar is home to tiny lizards

  • Madagascar is home to tiny lizards:and also the smallest species of snakes. One possible reason for such small species is the so-called “island effect” that causes species on small islands to get smaller.
  • The new chameleon occurs in a rainforest. “These forests are quite well connected (for the time being) with others across northern Madagascar, and so this tiny new chameleon violates the pattern of the smallest species being found on small islands.

Distribution and habitat:

  • The Brookesia micra, together with three other species, were found in north Madagascar sometime between 2003 and 2007.
  • This species was discovered on a small, uninhabited island in the Nosy Hara archipelago off the coast of Madagascar.
  • They typically reside in leaf litter during the day, and climb up into tree branches as high as 10 cm (3.9 in) at night to sleep.
  • The micra lives in an area subject to illegal logging, which may make the species “sensitive to habitat destruction.
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