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Prelim Bits 07-06-2023 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

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June 07, 2023

Vibrio Bacteria in Seaweed

Clusters of brown Sargassum seaweed reported to be infested by Vibrio bacteria, a flesh-eating bacterium, were found awash in Florida.

  • Pathogen storm - A new study revealed that the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt could become overrun with species of Vibrio bacteria.
  • This bacteria can cling to the surface of plastic waste which gets entwined in the large mass of seaweed and poses significant health risks.
  • This study says that this could create a perfect pathogen storm.

sargassum

Sargassum is a genus of large brown seaweed (a type of algae) that floats in island-like masses and never attaches to the seafloor.

Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt

  • It is a 5,000 mile-wide thicket of seaweed.
  • This floating habitat provides food and protection for fishes, mammals, marine birds, crabs, and more.
  • When the Sargassum piling up on beaches and decomposes it releases hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas.

gREAT aTLANTIC SEAWEED

Vibrio Bacteria

  • Vibrios are aquatic microorganisms.
  • Some species of which cause serious diseases in humans and other animals.
  • Vibrios are microbiologically characterized as gram-negative, highly motile, facultative anaerobes (not requiring oxygen).
  • People can get infected by Vibrio by eating raw or uncooked seafood.
  • Contact with an open wound could cause necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria infection.
  • The infection can lead to amputation or death.
  • Amplification - Scientists discovered a set of genes called ‘zot’ genes, which causes leaky gut syndrome.
  • If a fish eats a piece of plastic and gets infected by this Vibrio, which then results in a leaky gut and diarrhea.
  • It’s going to release waste nutrients such nitrogen and phosphate that could stimulate Sargassum growth and other surrounding organisms.

 

Reference

Hindustan Times | Flesh-eating bacteria in seaweed on Florida beaches

Kakhovka Dam

Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine was collapsed recently, causing extensive flooding.

  • The dam is built on Ukraine’s Dnipro River.
  • Dnipro River – It separates Ukraine into two parts — east and west.
  • It flows north to south connecting the capital, Kiev, to the Black Sea.
  • It was built in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
  • The reservoir it contains holds water of about the same volume as the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
  • Bursting the dam could send a wall of water flooding settlements below it, including Kherson.
  • Water from the reservoir supplies the Crimean peninsula to the south, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as well as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, to the north.
  • It also helps power the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant.

kaKHOVKA DAM

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

  • It is situated in the Southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
  • The nuclear power plant has 6 nuclear reactors and one of the 4 operating nuclear power plants in the country.
  • It generates up to 42 billion kWh of electricity, accounting for about 40% of the total electricity generated by all the Ukrainian NPPs and 1/5th of Ukraine's annual electricity production.
  • Ukrainian and UN experts said that the kakhovka dam collapse does not pose an immediate threat to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) but will have long-term implications for its future.

 

Reference

Indian Express | Kakhovka-dam-ukraine-russia-war

The Energy Progress Report 2023

The World is still off-track from achieving universal energy access (SDG 7) to all, says UN report.

  • Since 2018, the report envisages to track the Sustainable Development Goal-7 (SDG7).
  • Aim - It aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
  • It is produced annually by 5 of the custodian agencies responsible for tracking global progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).
  • Custodian Agencies
    • The International Energy Agency (IEA),
    • The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA),
    • The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD),
    • The World Bank, and
    • The World Health Organization (WHO)

Highlights of the report

  • Despite some progress across the indicators, the current pace is not adequate to achieve any of the 2030 targets.
  • Among the major economic factors delaying the realization of SDG7 globally are
    • The uncertain macroeconomic outlook,
    • High levels of inflation,
    • Currency fluctuations,
    • Debt distress in a growing number of countries,
    • Lack of financing,
    • Supply chain bottlenecks,
    • Tighter fiscal circumstances, and
    • Soaring prices for materials.
  • The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the steady rise in energy prices since summer 2021 are expected to be a further drag on progress, particularly in the most vulnerable countries.
  • This particularly concerns lacking universal access to electricity and clean cooking in developing economies, with projections indicating that SDG 7 will not be reached by 2030.
  • The uptake of renewable energy has grown since 2010, but efforts must be scaled up substantially, the UN bodies found.
  • The rate of improvement in energy efficiency is not on track to double by 2030, with the current trend of 1.8% falling short of the targeted increase of 2.6 % each year between 2010-2030, the report said.
  • To support clean energy in developing countries, international public financial flows should be increased but it is declining even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Financial flows have shrinked for the 3rd year in a row but they have become increasingly focused in some small number of countries, the UN bodies further said.
  • The decreasing trend in international public financial flows may delay the achievement of SDG 7, especially for the least-developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.

 

Reference

Downtoearth | Universal energy access to all, UN report

Fattah or Conqueror

Iran unveils a hypersonic missile, able to beat air defences amid tensions with U.S.

  • It is the first-ever domestically-made hypersonic ballistic missile created by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran.
  • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - It is a multi-service (ground, naval, and air forces) primary branch of the Iranian Armed Forces.
  • Speed – Mach 15
  • Range – Upto 1400 kms
  • It is named by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 'Fattah' in Farsi, which means conqueror.
  • It can bypass the most advanced anti-ballistic missile systems.

Hypersonic Missiles

  • Hypersonic missiles are manoeuvrable, unlike the ballistic missiles that follows a set course or a ballistic trajectory.
  • It moves at 5 times the speed of sound or greater and are manoeuvrable, making them difficult for defence systems and radars to target.
  • Like traditional ballistic missiles, they can deliver nuclear weapons.

FATTAH

 

Reference

The Hindu | Iran unveils what it calls a hypersonic missile

Manual Scavenging

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment report says that only 66% districts in country is free of manual scavenging.

  • The International Labour Organization describes 3 forms of manual scavenging in India
  1. Removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines (meaning simple pit latrines without a water seal, but not dry toilets in general),
  2. Cleaning septic tanks,
  3. Cleaning gutters and sewers.
  • India banned the practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR).
  • The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.
  • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.
  • The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a dehumanizing practice and cites a need to correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.

Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)

  • It was introduced in 2007.
  • Objective - To rehabilitate the remaining manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations by March, 2009.
  • Ministry - Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE).
  • The scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers (SRMS) has now been merged with the NAMASTE scheme.
  • The FY 2023-24 Union Budget showed no allocation for the rehabilitation scheme and Rs. 100 crore allocation for the NAMASTE scheme.

National Action for Mechanized Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE) Scheme

  • It is a central sector scheme for improving the living standards of sanitation workers in urban areas.
  • It is a joint initiative of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • Objectives - It envisages safety and dignity of sanitation workers in urban India by
  • Recognising sanitation workers as one of the key contributors in the maintenance of sanitation infrastructure
  • Providing them with sustainable livelihood
  • Enhancing their occupational safety through capacity building and improved access to safety gear and machines
  • It aims at provide alternative livelihoods support and entitlements to reduce their vulnerabilities.

 

References

1. The Hindu | Only 66% districts in country free of manual scavenging

2. Indian Express | What is Manual Scavenging

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