25th December 2020

Tso Kar Wetland Complex

Recently, the Tso Kar Wetland Complex of Ladakh has been declared as Wetland of International Importance under Ramsar Site Convention.

  • It is the 42nd Ramsar Site of India and second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies i.e. Startsapuk Tso and Tso Kar.
    • Startsapuk Tso is a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south.
    • Tso Kar is a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.
    • It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.
  • The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India.
  • It is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus) and Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus).

Importance of declaring Ramsar Wetland

  • The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity.
  • It called for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • Wetlands are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.


Enforcement of Mandatory FASTag

Recently, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways has announced that FASTag is being made mandatory for all vehicles in the country from 1st January 2021.


  • It is a reloadable tag that automatically deducts toll charges and allows a vehicle to pass through a toll gate without stopping for the payment.
  • It uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to make cashless payments through a prepaid account linked to it.
  • The tag is fixed to the windscreen of a vehicle and an RFID antenna in the canopy of the toll gate scans the QR code.
  • It is valid for five years and different colours of FASTags are assigned to a particular category of vehicles.
  • The NHAI also has a mobile application for FASTag that allows users to buy and recharge these tags as well as seek information on toll rates on different routes.
  • These are some following objectives of NETC:
    • FASTag will help to reduce the waiting time at the plaza
    • Accommodating the increasing traffic without additional lanes
    • Eliminating the acceleration and idling, harmful vehicular emissions and air using FASTag
    • Reducing congestion around plazas
    • Pollution reduction
    • To save fuel for the future which will also help to reduce the operating cost of the vehicles
    • To provide customers the flexibility of paying their plaza bills with RFID Tag
    • Reduce cash handling which aids in enhanced audit control by centralising user accounts
    • Enhancing data collection, information such as vehicle count of the day

Swachhata Abhiyan Mobile Application is in the news?

Recently, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a Mobile Application “Swachhata Abhiyan”.

Swachhata Abhiyan Mobile Application

  • It has been developed to identify and geotag the data of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers.
  • It will provide information that insanitary latrines can be replaced with sanitary latrines and rehabilitate all the manual scavengers to provide dignity of life to them.
  • It aims to provide the authentic data base regarding the location of insanitary latrines and decided to seek the help of NGOs, Social Organisations and general public for collection and compilation of the data.


Innovation Challenge for Developing Portable Devices for Water Testing

Recently, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has launched an innovation challenge to develop portable devices for water testing.

  • Nearly, 2.90 Crore households have been provided tap water connections since the announcement of National Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • The mission has increased the tap water supply from 3.23 Crore (17%) in August, 2019 to 6.13 Crore (32%) rural households of the country.
  • People receiving piped water supply in their homes do not have any means to test the potability of water coming from their taps.

Innovation Challenge

  • It is an initiative under National Jal Jeevan Mission n partnership with Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
  • The main objective of the exercise is to bring an innovative, modular, and cost-effective solution to develop portable devices that can be used at the household level to test the drinking water quality instantly, easily and accurately. 
    • Water quality testing is one of the priority areas under Jal Jeevan Mission, the flagship programme of Union Government.
  • The aim of the innovation challenge is to ensure that water sources are tested at various locations and helping the policy framers to design programs which address the water contamination issues.
  • The National Jal Jeevan Mission invites applicants to join the Innovation Challenge to develop portable devices for water testing and become a part of this life changing Jan Aandolan.

National Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission is under implementation in partnership with the States to enable every rural home to have tap water connection by 2024.
  • The aim of the mission is to provide every rural household potable tap water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis.
  • Under this mission, the creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission is based on a community approach and includes extensive Information, Education and Communication as a key component.
  • The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
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