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23 March – Prelims Booster

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State Wildlife Board clears railway line

The Karnataka State Wildlife Board has cleared the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line project at its meeting in Bengaluru recently.

About Hubballi-Ankola railway line project –

  • The proposed rail line from Kirwatti to Yellapur junction near Ankola goes through ecologically very valuable forests.
  • Between Kirwatti and Yellapur, it is moist deciduous forests with annual rainfall varying from 1,200 to 1,800 mm.
  • The proposed alignment from Yellapur to Sunksal is through steep rising hills and valleys with altitude ranging from 150 to 450 metres above sea level and rainfall varying from 1,800 to 2,500 mm.
  • The track comprises of wonderful evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of endemic tree species such as Myristica malabarica, Polyaalthia fragrans, Cinnamomum macrocarpum, Holigarna graham and Hopea ponga, etc.
  • The last 30-km stretch between Sunksal and Ankola is in the foothills of the Western Ghats and is also hilly, with altitude varying from 18 to 150 metres above sea level, and is dominated by secondary moist deciduous forests and semi-evergreen forests.

About National Board for Wildlife –

  • The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is constituted by the Central Government under Section 5 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).
  • The National Board may, at its discretion, constitute a Standing Committee under sub-section (1) of Section 5B.
  • The Standing Committee shall consist of the Vice-Chairperson (Union Minister in charge of Forests and Wildlife), the Member Secretary and not more than ten members to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson from amongst the members of the National Board.
  • The WLPA mandates that without the approval/recommendation of the NBWL, construction of tourist lodges, alteration of the boundaries of PAs, destruction or diversion of wildlife habitat and de-notification of Tiger Reserves, cannot be done.
  • National Board for Wildlife is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.

Finland is again world’s happiest

Recently, the experts at the UN declared Finland to be the World’s happiest nation for the third consecutive year.

About World Happiness Report –

  • It is released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations by the UN General Assembly.
  • It is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.

About 2020 Report –

  • This is the eighth World Happiness Report.
  • Researchers for the world Happiness Report asked people in 156 countries to evaluate their own levels of happiness and took into account measures such as GDP, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each nation a happiness score.

About SDSN –

  • It was launched in 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilise global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development and implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Following their adoption, SDSN is now committed to supporting the implementation of the SDGs at national and international levels.
  • SDSN aims to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the separation of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.
  • SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.
  • The organisation and governance of SDSN enables leaders from all regions to participate in the development of the network, while at the same time ensuring effective structures for decision making and accountability.

Coal Bed Methane

The Ministry of Coal has asked Coal India Limited (CIL) to produce 2 MMSCB (million metric standard cubic meters) per day of coal bed methane (CBM) gas in next 2 to 3 years.

About Coal Bed Methane –

  • CBM is an unconventional form of natural gas found in Coal deposits. 
  • It is considered as an alternative source for augmenting India’s energy resource. 

Coal Bed Methane in India –

  • India’s CBM resources are estimated at around 92 trillion cubic feet (TCF) or 2,600 billion cubic metres (BCM).
  • India has the 5th largest proven Coal Reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM.
  • The country’s coal and CBM reserves are found in 12 states of India, with the Gondwana sediments of Eastern India holding the bulk.
  • The Damodar Koel Valley and the Son Valley are prospective areas for CBM development.

Lok Sabha passes bill on national importance tag for IITs

The Lok Sabha passed a bill to confer the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) on five more Indian Institutes of Information Technology.

Details –

  • The bill proposes to bring the five institutions- located in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala, and Raichur – under the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017, similar to the other 15 IIITs established under the scheme through Public-Partnership.
  • These five IIITs, along with the 15 others, will be able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Ph.D degrees.
  • The status will also help the institutes attract students required to develop a strong research base in information technology.

About Institutes of National Importance –

  • Institute of National Importance (INI) is a status that may be conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of Parliament of India, an institution which “serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state”. 
  • Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.

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