8th December 2020

Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) Technique

Recently, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited has decided to adopt Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique for the preparation of Detailed Project Report for the proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor.

  • The alignment or ground survey is a crucial activity for any linear infrastructure project as the survey provides accurate details of areas around the alignment.
  • The technique uses a combination of Laser data, GPS data, flight parameters and actual photographs to give accurate survey data.
  • The aerial LiDAR survey technique, for the first time for any railway project in India, was adopted for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor primarily because of its high accuracy.

LiDAR Technique

  • It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
  • The Airplanes and Helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring lidar data over broad areas.
  • The two types of LiDAR are topographic and bathymetric.
    • Topographic LiDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land.
    • Bathymetric LiDAR uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
  • The LiDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility.
  • It follows a simple principle i.e. throw laser light at an object on the earth surface and calculate the time it takes to return to the LiDAR source.

Application of LiDAR Technique

  • It is used to measure the exact depth of the ocean’s surface to locate any object in the case of a maritime accident or for research purposes.
  • It is also used for calculating phytoplankton fluorescence and biomass in the ocean surface.
  • The terrain elevations play a crucial role during the construction of roads, large buildings and bridges.
    • LiDAR technology has x, y and z coordinates, which makes it incredibly easy to produce the 3D representation of elevations to ensure that concerned parties can draw necessary conclusions more easily.
  • The applications of LiDAR technology in the agriculture sector include analysis of yield rates, crop scouting and seed dispersions.

 

Separate Category in Prisoner Data for Transgender

Recently, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that a communication has been issued to all the states and union territories to include data of transgender prisoners under a separate gender in prison statistics reports from 2020 onwards.

  • The decision was made in response to a PIL seeking a direction to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to make requisite policy and format amendment to include the data on transgender prisoners in the prison statistics reports.
  • The NCRB intends to include transgender in the gender classification of prisoners from PSI-2020 onwards.
    • Accordingly, gender classification of the prisoners will be classified as Male, Female and Transgender in the PSU proforma and Annexures.
  • The NCRB has now directed the state and UT authorities to direct the concerned officials to prepare for collection of transgender data in the gender classification of prisoners while collecting data for Prison Statistics India-2020.

Why Special Category of Prisoner Data for Transgender is needed?

  • Currently, only two genders appear in the Prisons Statistics India report published by NCRB i.e. male and female, to the complete exclusion of the third gender.
  • The transgenders have been recognized as third gender in other publications like ‘Crimes in India’ and ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’ by NCRB.
  • The petition also argued that the absence of proper statistics on the number of transgender prisoners in India raises grave concerns on the treatment of such prisoners.
  • The categorisation was needed to ensure their equality and protection under Articles 14 (equality before law), 15 (pertaining to discrimination of Indians on basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), 19 (freedom of speech and expression), and 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution of India.

Challenges faced by Transgender in Prison

  • It is not uncommon to learn about incidents of atrocities in jails with transgenders, and without the transparency/recognition of transgenders in the Prison Statistics India, these atrocities are only likely to increase exponentially.
  • The petitioner argued that without recognising the transgender inmates, the Supreme Court’s guidelines on the community could not be fully implemented.
  • The Transgender people face specific and unique difficulty in prisons and jails due to ignorance, discrimination, and violence from guards and other prisoners.
  • The transgender and intersex prisoners often end up in segregation against their will, sometimes as punishment, sometimes for protection and sometimes because prison officials cannot decide what gender they should consider the person.

 

Declaration of Wildlife Sanctuary

Recently, the State Board for Wildlife in Maharashtra (SBWL) has decided to declare ten new conservation reserves (CRs) along with a new sanctuary i.e. Kanhargaon sanctuary (the state’s 50th) in Chandrapur district.

  • The Board decided to establish 10 CRs at Mahendri, Amboli-Dodamarg (Sindhudurg), Jor-Jambhli (Satara), Muniya (Nagpur) and Chandgad, Panhalgad, Vishalgad, Gaganbawda, Mayni and Ajra-Bhudargad.
  • The experts have argued that CR status makes little sense from the wildlife protection point-of-view as the 65-sq km reserved forest (RF) was an important wildlife corridor between Bor and Melghat tiger reserves.

Reserve Forest (RF)

  • The Reserve Forest (RF) can be directly notified as a sanctuary as there is no question of any grazing or firewood rights of people there.
  • Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) authorizes the Collector and not the Forest Department, to open dialogue with people for rehabilitation of villages included in the sanctuary.
  • The Reserved forests are protected by the respective state governments unlike wildlife sanctuaries and national parks which are supervised by the Government of India.

Criteria to declare Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The State Government may, by notification, declare its intention to constitute any area other than area comprised with any reserve forest or the territorial waters as a sanctuary if it considers that such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural. or zoological significance.
  • The collector shall inquire into, and determine the existence, nature and extent of the rights of any person in or over the land comprised within the limits of the sanctuary.
  • No right shall be acquired in, or over the land comprised within the limits of the area specified in such notification, except by succession, testamentary or intestate.

Conservation Reserves (CRs)

  • The Conservation Reserves and community reserves in India are terms denoting protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones.
  • It also acts as connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.
  • Such areas are designated as conservation areas if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the Government of India but used for subsistence by communities and community areas if part of the land is privately owned.

 

Havana Syndrome

Recently, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found directed microwave radiation to be the “plausible” cause of the Havana Syndrome.

Havana Syndrome

  • In 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported felt ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.

NAS Report on Havana Syndrome

  • The NAS report, titled “An assessment of illness in US government employees and their families at overseas embassies” examined four possibilities to explain the symptoms i.e.  Infection, chemicals, psychological factors and microwave energy.
  • The report concluded that directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.
  • The report mentions that the immediate symptoms that patients reported i.e. sensations of pain and buzzing sound which apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.
  • The report also mentions that the committee cannot rule out other possible mechanisms and considers it likely that a multiplicity of factors explains some cases and the differences between others.
  • The report also warns about the possibility of future episodes and recommends that the State Department establish a response mechanism for similar incidents.

 

Himachal Pradesh wants GI status for five products

Recently, the Himachal Pradesh government is trying to obtain Geographical Indication for five products i.e. Karsog Kulth, Thangi of Pangi, Chamba Metal Crafts, Chamba Chukh, and Rajmah of Bharmour.

Geographical Indication

  • The World Intellectual Property Organisation defines a GI as a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • The GIs are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, handicrafts, industrial products, wines and spirit drinks.
  • Internationally, GIs are covered as an element of intellectual property rights under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
  • The GIs are also covered under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

Five Products from Himachal Pradesh

  • Karsog Kulth: Kulthi or Kulth (horse gram) is a legume grown as a Kharif crop in Himachal Pradesh.
    • Kulth grown in the Karsog area of Mandi district is believed to be particularly rich in amino acids.
  • Pangi ki Thangi: It is a type of hazelnut which grows in Pangi valley located in the northwestern edge of Himachal.
    • It is known for its unique flavour and sweetness.
  • Chamba metal crafts: These include items such as metal idols and brass utensils which, historically, were made by skilled artisans in the courts of kings of Chamba.
    • There are efforts to revive the trade, and a plate made from a brass-like alloy and having carvings of gods and goddesses is still popular.
  • Chamba Chukh: It is a chutney made from green and red chillies grown in Chamba, and prepared in traditional and unique ways.
    • The practice has largely declined in rural households of Chamba, but survives to some extent at the small-scale industrial level.
  • Bharmouri Rajmah: It is more specifically called the Kugtalu Rajmah, since it grows in the area around Kugti Pass in the Bharmour region of Chamba district. It is rich in proteins and has a unique flavour.

 

Hayabusa2 Mission

Recently, a small capsule from Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully landed in a sparsely populated desert in the Australian Outback.

  • It was launched in December 2014 when the spacecraft was sent on a six-year-long voyage to study the asteroid Ryugu and collect samples that it is now bringing back to the Earth.
  • The spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in mid-2018 after which it deployed two rovers and a small lander onto the surface.
  • In 2019, the spacecraft fired an impactor into the asteroid’s surface to create an artificial crater with a diametre of a little more than 10 metres, which allowed it to collect the samples.

Significance of Asteroid Sample

  • The scientists say the samples, especially ones taken from under the asteroid’s surface, contain data from 46 billion years ago unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.
  • The mission is interested in studying organic materials in the samples to learn about how they are distributed in the solar system and if or how they are related to life on Earth.

 

Operation Nigha

Recently, the officials of the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) and the police have conducted raids under ‘Operation Nigha’.

  • It is an operation to check sand, liquor and ganja smuggling, and arrack manufacturing units, besides checking the vehicles at the borders.
  • The operation was carried out by Andhra Pradesh police in support from Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB).
  • Under Op Nigha, the police conducted raids in villages, mangrove forests, island villages and some lodges.
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