Natural

Animal kingdom declared as legal entity

The Uttarakhand High Court declared the entire animal kingdom including birds and aquatic animals a legal entity with rights of a living person. “The entity acts like a natural person but only through a designated person, whose acts are processed within the ambit of law,” said HC. Hence, the animal kingdom could be represented by a custodian.

Uranium in Rajasthan groundwater

Many parts of Rajasthan may have high uranium levels in their groundwater. The main source of uranium contamination was “natural,” but human factors such as groundwater table decline and nitrate pollution could be worsening the problem. Uranium is not included in the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ Drinking Water Specifications.

HP govt to promote organic farming

The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to promote organic farming in a big way and plans to adopt an integrated approach for promoting organic and zero budget natural farming system. The government has introduced ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushhaal Kisaan Yojana’ (PKKKY). PKKKY will enhance agricultural income by adopting low-cost climate-resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming System.

US and Philippines began military exercises

US and Philippine forces have begun their largest annual military exercises named Balikatan on 7th May. The Balikatan exercises involved combat drills in mock urban settings to train special forces in battling terrorists. In 2017, Balikatan focused mainly on honing humanitarian responses to the Philippines’ frequent natural disasters.

Australia to help save the koala

Australia unveiled a US$34-million plan to help bring its koala population back from the brink, following a rapid decline in the furry marsupial’s fortunes. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates there may be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the wild. Under the Aus$45 million plan, thousands of hectares will be set aside to preserve the marsupial’s natural habitat.

DoT releases draft National Telecom Policy

The draft of National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 aka National Digital Communications Policy 2018 has been uploaded for public consultations on the Department of Telecom’s (DoT). One of the key strategies in the draft talks of recognising spectrum as a key natural resource for public benefit The draft proposes one Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.

Core sector growth slows to 4.1% in March

2 : The growth of eight core sectors slowed to a three-month low of 4.1% in March due to weak performance in six sectors including coal, crude oil and natural gas. The other sectors which showed slower growth rates were refinery products, steel and electricity. The Index of Eight Core Industries consists- coal, steel, cement, crude oil, natural gas, fertilizers, electricity & refinery products.

First bank to roll out AI-run voicebot

Kotak Mahindra Bank has launched the country’s first artificial intelligence-powered voice-bot ‘Keya’ in the banking sector.Keya uses automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech technology. The voice-bot uses natural language understanding to navigate the customer directly to the destination where he can get his issue resolved.

States allowed to set up crop insurance firms

2 : The Centre has allowed states to set up their own insurance companies for implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).Launched in April 2016, PMFBY provides comprehensive crop insurance from pre-sowing to post-harvest against non-preventable natural risks. Presently, five public sector insurers and 13 private insurance companies are empanelled for implementation of the scheme.

Google Doodle honors Japanese geochemist

Google on 21st March honored Japanese geochemist ‘Katsuko Saruhashi’ on her birth anniversary with a doodle. She was one of the 1st to study and measure the levels of carbon dioxide in seawater. She also measured the spread and fallout from nuclear testing. She established the Saruhashi Prize, given each year to a Japanese woman who has made contributions to the field of natural sciences.

MoU Signed between BSI and NHM, UK

Botanical Survey of India & Natural History Museum have signed a MoU for cooperation in the field of genetic studies, research, training & conservation in India.NHM will help in capacity building in areas of systematic botany & long-term conservation of plant genetic resources. BSI is an organization for survey, research & conservation of plant resources, flora & endangered species of India

1500 km gas pipeline in Assam

5 major oil and natural gas PSUs would set up a joint company for a 1500-km gas pipeline at an estimated cost of Rs 6000 crore.The pipeline will run from Guwahati to Tinsukia via Numaligarh to supply gas to the eight North East states.The five PSUs that would form the company are ONGC, Oil India Limited, Indian Oil Corporation, Numaligarh Refinery Limited and GAIL.

Prince Harry Named President of ACG

Prince Harry has been named the president of African Parks, a conservation group that manages a dozen wildlife areas across the continent.Prince Harry will contribute to its effort to protect Africa’s natural heritage and support both wildlife and communities. ACF’s goal is to support and link African conservation initiatives, groups and NGOs.

2nd best UNESCO world heritage site

The Taj Mahal in Agra, is the second best UNESCO world heritage site in the world, according to a new survey.With over 8 million visitors per year, the monument of love built by mughal emperor Shah Jahan is rated after Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.Conducted by online travel portal TripAdvisor, the survey lists the UNESCO Cultural & Natural heritage sites best rated by travellers around the globe

New ant species in the Western Ghats

Researchers have discovered a new species of ant in the Western Ghats. The new species was found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The research, published in the latest issue of journal Zootaxa, was undertaken by Kalesh Sadasivan and Manoj Kripakaran, members of the NGO Travancore Natural History Society’s Ant Research Group.

International Day for Preventing Envt.

On 6th November 2017, International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict was observed all over the world. This was declared on 5th November 2001. This day is an opportunity to take steps to reduce the damage from conflicts and protect the natural resources that are crucial for sustainable development.

Fats Domino, rock ‘n’ roll pioneer died

Singer Fats Domino died due to natural causes in New Orleans, United States. His first recorded song is The Fat Man (1949). He became one of the first black performers to feature on pop music television shows. Domino was one of the first ever inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1998 he was the first rock’n’roll musician to be awarded the National Medal for the Arts.

Odisha’s first PNG supply in Bhubaneswar

On October 19, 2017, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated Odisha’s first PNG (Piped Natural Gas) project in Bhubaneswar. This PNG supply project is a part of ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’ pipeline project. The target of the project is to provide one crore PNG connections in the state by 2020.

DIPP launches logo contest

A contest has been launched for designing a common logo and tagline for Geographical Indications. A Geographical Indication is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts & industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness.

China imposes limit on oil supply

China has announced that it will limit oil exports to North Korea under UN sanctions over its nuclear & missile development. Exports of refined petroleum to North Korea will be limited to 2mn barrels per year & sales of liquefied natural gas will be banned outright, effective Jan 1. China will also ban textile imports from Korea which is one of North’s last major sources of foreign revenue.

First LPG Panchayat in Gandhinagar

Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan will inaugurate LPG Panchayat, aimed at encouraging rural communities to turn to clean fuel. The first LPG Panchayat will be held in Gandhinagar, where Pradhan will preside over interaction b/w women using LPG under PMUY & the companies. The Centre plans to organise one lakh LPG Panchayats across the country.

Puducherry to ban plastic bags

The Puducherry government decided to ban manufacture and use of plastic packaging materials of less than 51 microns. The government also advised hotel and restaurant owners to abstain from packing ‘ready to eat’ food items in ‘butter paper’ or such plastic transparent sheets. Alternatively, the shop owners have been asked to use plantain leaf or any such natural products for such packaging

ONGC discovers oil

Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) has made a significant oil discovery to the west of its prime Mumbai High fields in the Arabian sea. The discovery in the well WO-24-3 is estimated to hold an in-place reserve of about 20 million tonnes. Mumbai High, India’s biggest oil field, currently produces 205,000 barrels of oil per day

BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise

The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) will be conducted by NDRF as the lead agency in Delhi & NCR. It will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction, strengthening regional response among BIMSTEC member countries. Majority of BIMSTEC countries are situated in South Asian Region, prone to natural disasters.

Inter-Governmental Commission meeting

Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan will be visiting Kazakhstan to co-chair the 13th Meeting of Inter-Governmental Commission. The meeting aims to follow up on the agenda set b/w India & Kazakhstan during the 2 visits of PM Modi to Kazakhstan. Two sides are expected to finalize a roadmap for expanding trade, economic & investment cooperation b/w the 2 countries.

Jane Austen 10-pound note launched

A new plastic 10 pound note featuring renowned author Jane Austen has gone into circulation in Britain. Austen is the first female writer to feature on a British banknote, replacing a paper 10 pound note which featured a portrait of naturalist Charles Darwin. The new Jane Austen 10 pound note joins the Winston Churchill five pound note in the first series of polymer Bank of England banknotes

India has 27312 elephants

Preliminary results from the first ever synchronised all India Elephant Population Estimation pegs India’s Asian elephant population at 27312. According to the report, released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Aug12, Karnataka has the highest number of elephants, followed by Assam & Kerala. The survey was carried out by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation

Mats that could treat arthritis

Scientists from IIT Guwahati have synthesized mats made of silk-proteins & bioactive glass fibres that can repair worn-out joint in arthritis patient Current treatment methods are limited by lack of viable tissue substitutes to aid the repair process Silk is used to fabricate electrospun mats to mimic cartilage portion & bioactive glass to develop composite material similar to natural tissue

China produces gas from ‘flammable ice’

China has produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as flammable ice in an experimental project in South China Sea. A drilling platform deployed off the coast of Zhuhai for 60 days produced 309,000 m³ of natural gas. Flammable ice consists of methane trapped within water crystals, has been identified as a new gas source for China. Japan reported a similar production test in May.

Eight core sectors growth slips

The growth of eight core sectors slowed to 3.6% in May 2017 due to fall in output of coal and fertilisers. It was 5.2% in May 2016. In April 2017, these eight sectors had recorded a growth rate of 2.8%. In India, there are eight core sectors comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.

First human antibodies to fight Ebola.

The first natural human antibodies that can neutralise and protect animals against all three major disease-causing Ebola viruses have been discovered. Ebola infections are usually severe, and often fatal. There are no vaccines or treatments approved for treating these viruses. The virus killed 11000 people in West Africa during 2013-16. The findings were published in the journal, Cell.

BNHS announces third common bird count

The Bombay Natural History Society had invited bird watchers, NGOs, ornithologists etc to participate in the exercise that started on April 9. After successfully completing bird counts in monsoon and winter seasons, the BNHS has announced the bird count for summer season. BNHS, founded on 15 Sep, 1883, is non-govt organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research.