Daily Current Affairs for 1st January 2020

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Indore, Jamshedpur lead Swachh 2020 table

GS Paper II

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Mains: steps needed to make India swachh bharat

What’s the News?

The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) on Tuesday announced the results of the first and second quarters of the Swachh Survekshan 2020.

What is Swachh Shukravar

The Swachh Shukravar (or Clean Friday) is an enterprising initiative by the district administration of Peddapalli and it essentially entails engaging all government officials – regardless of their rank and posting – to spare a few hours every Friday and give their labour towards cleaning the villages of the district. Not only does this energises the official machinery to achieve its cleanliness targets but also motivates the common public to maintain those standards.

Swachh Survekshans

  • This provides national ranking of all districts and States of India on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation (Swachhata) parameters.
  • The primary goal of all Swachh Survekshans is to encourage large scale citizen participation and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.
  • Additionally, these surveys also intend to foster a spirit of healthy competition on among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, and thus steadily moving towards creating cleaner citi


  • Kolkata remained at the bottom of the ranking of 49 major cities across both quarters as West Bengal did not participate in the nationwide exercise.
  • Jamshedpur in Jharkhand got the top rank in both quarters. New Delhi fell from second position in the first quarter to sixth position in the second quarter and was replaced by Chandrapur in Maharashtra at second place.
  • A national-level survey of cleanliness of cities will begin from January 4, leading to the final Swachh Survekshan 2020 rankings.

Steps taken to become cleanest district:

  • Apart from an extensive drive to build individual toilets in the villages, the administration launched special drives to build common soak pits and village garbage dumping yards.
  • The common soak pits were constructed where water stagnation was noticed which led to mosquito breeding and therefore spread of diseases like dengue.
  • Households letting out water onto the roads or unauthorized drains were a big problem so we covered up the drains and planted trees on them while providing the households proper drainage connections.
  • A village sanitation committee under the local sarpanch oversees segregation of plastic, dry, and wet waste. While advising villagers to reduce the use of plastic we have entrusted the task of collecting plastic waste to women of Self Help Groups.
  • They collect plastic by paying Rs 2 per kg from the villages and sell it for Rs 4 per kg to a granules manufacturing unit in Peddapalli town. We want to totally ban the use of plastic in the coming days.
  • To fund much of the sanitation work, cleanliness campaign and digging holes for plantation and afforestation drives, the district effectively used funds allotted under the MGNREGS. The 262 community toilets were built at a cost of Rs 4.30 crore.
  • By engaging women and other villagers in the committees for sanitation, greenery, cleanliness campaign, they are getting the villagers’ participation without which this change would not be possible.


The focus of government should be on replicating these initiatives across India. The government should focus not only on sustaining the momentum but on accelerating the pace further through innovative, game changing approaches, continuous capacity building of Urban Local bodies, along with a strong regulatory and legal framework and strict enforcement.

One-fifth of country’s forests prone to fires: study

GS Paper I

Topic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.


Mains: Forest fires and their global impact

What’s the news?

About 21.40% of forest cover in India is prone to fires, with forests in the northeastern region and central India being the most vulnerable, the 2019 report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has said.


  • Extremely fire prone areas account for 3.89% of total forest cover, very highly fire prone areas account for 6.01% and highly fire prone areas for 11.50%. Together, the three categories come to 21.40 % of forest cover.
  • The total number of alerts issued for each state based on MODIS data from November 2018 to June 2019 were 29,547 and interestingly, Mizoram, a small State, recorded the highest number of fire alerts (2,795).
  • The seven States of the north-eastern region accounted for 10,210 fire alerts, which make up about one-third of alerts in the country.


  • One of the major reasons for forest fires in the north-east is slash-and-burn cultivation, commonly called ‘jhoom’ or ‘jhum’ cultivation.
  • The fires happen between the months of January and March. The north-east has tropical evergreen forests and unlike the dry deciduous forests of central India, these are not likely to catch fire easily.
  • Central Indian States also recorded a high number of forest fire alerts, with Madhya Pradesh accounting for 2,723 alerts; Maharashtra 2,516; Odisha 2,213 and Chattisgarh 1,008 alerts between November 2018 to June 2019.
  • The reasons for fires here are manmade, particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.
  • In cases of natural reasons, the scientist pointed to thunderstorms as the most likely cause.

Green cover:

  • While the overall green cover has increased in the country, it has decreased in the north-east, particularly in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

Importance of forests:

Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and producing oxygen, upon which all animals depend for survival.

  • Forests help stabilize the world’s climate:

Rainforests help stabilize the world’s climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists have shown that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities is contributing to climate change. Therefore, living rainforests have an important role in mitigating climate change, but when rainforests are chopped down and burned, the carbon stored in their wood and leaves is released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

Rainforests also affect local weather conditions by creating rainfall and moderating temperatures.

  • Provide a home to many plants and animals: Rainforests are home to a large number of the world’s plant and animals species, including many endangered species. As forests are cut down, many species are doomed to extinction.
  • Maintain the water cycle: The role of rainforests in the water cycle is to add water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration (in which plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis). This moisture contributes to the formation of rain clouds, which release the water back onto the rainforest. In the Amazon, 50-80 percent of moisture remains in the ecosystem’s water cycle. When forests are cut down, less moisture goes into the atmosphere and rainfall declines, sometimes leading to drought.
  • Protect against flood, drought, and erosion: The roots of rainforest trees and vegetation help anchor the soil. When trees are cut down there is no longer anything to protect the ground, and soils are quickly washed away with rain. The process of washing away of soil is known as erosion. On steep hillsides, loss of forest can trigger landslides

Forests also play an important role in reducing damage from flooding by reducing the rate of water runoff.

During the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, areas where mangrove forests had been cut down suffered more devastation than areas where healthy mangrove forests remained as a buffer. Mangroves also help protect against coastal erosion.

Integrated forest protection: The main objective of this scheme to control forest fires and strengthen the forest protection.  The works like fire-line clearing, assistance to Joint Forest Management committees, creating water bodies, purchase of vehicles and communication equipments, purchase of firefighting tools, etc., are being undertaken under this.

Way Forward:

  • Continued destruction of intact tropical forests is a ticking time bomb for carbon emissions. There is an urgent need to safeguard these landscapes because they play an indispensable role in stabilising the climate.
  • The international community must put aside their differences and come together to solve the problem of raging fire in the Amazon.
  • If the steps are not taken immediately, the future generation will suffer due to the overwhelming impacts of climate change and global warming.

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