Daily Current Affairs for 11th August 2020

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Protest against EIA needless: Javadekar


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said some critics of the proposed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA 2020) notification were indulging in needless protest.

What is EIA or Environment impact assessment?

  • EIA stands for Environmental Impact Assessment and it’s important because it’s basically a set of policies, processes and tools which is used to analyses the social and environmental impacts of any new development / infra / construction project before it’s given a go ahead.
  • if someone (a govt entity, a private company, an infra group) wants to move ahead with a new project (a dam, a road, a building etc.), it has to undergo this assessment to see what are the pros and cons of the project — will it damage local communities, what emissions will it cause, how are they going to mitigate the negative impacts, what’s the cost, will it destroy natural habitats and resources etc. If the damage being done is too high — the project shouldn’t get clearance. 

Environment Impact Assessment in India: changes so far.

  • A signatory to the Stockholm Declaration (1972) on Environment, India enacted laws to control water (1974) and air (1981) pollution soon after.
  • Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilize, and affect (pollute) natural resources.
  • Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since.
  • The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006.
  • The 2006 draft attempted to decentralize the process. It increased the number of projects that required an environmental clearance, but also created appraisal committees at the level of both the Centre and States, the recommendations of which were made a qualification for a sanctioning.
  • In early 2020, the government redrafted it again to incorporate the amendments and relevant court orders issued since 2006, and to make the EIA “process more transparent and expedient.”

Recent changes:

  • The new draft allows for post-facto approval for projects. It means that the clearances for projects can be awarded even if they have started construction or have been running phase without securing environmental clearances.
  • This also means that any environmental damage caused by the project is likely to be waived off as the violations get legitimized.
  • As the only remedy would be to impose a fine or punishment; but that would not reverse the detrimental consequences on the environment.
  • Post facto approval is the derogation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence and violation of the“precautionary principle,” which is a principle of environmental sustainability.

Balance of payments will be strong this year, says Goyal


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The Commerce and Industry Minister has asserted that India’s balance of payments this year is going to be “very very strong” with significant improvement in exports and a fall in imports.

Key Details:

  • Good green shoots were visible in the economy and exports have shown a good turnaround.
  • India’s exports fell for the fourth straight month in June 2020 as shipments of key segments like petroleum and textiles declined.
  • Trade turned surplus for the first time in 18 years as imports dropped by a steeper 47.59%.
  • India posted a trade surplus of $0.79 billion in June 2020.

Steps taken by the Government:

  • To support and promote domestic manufacturing and industry.
  • Any unfair treatment meted out to the Indian industry across the world is taken up at the highest levels on the domestic industry’s behalf.
  • Certain restrictions have been imposed on some products to encourage domestic manufacturing example India has recently imposed import curbs on products such as television sets and tyres.

What is Balance of Payments (BOP):

  • The balance of payments (BOP) is a statement of all transactions made between entities in one country and the rest of the world over a defined period of time (such as a year).
  • The balance of payments includes both the current account and the capital account.
  • The current account includes a nation’s net trade in goods and services, its net earnings on cross-border investments, and its net transfer payments.
  • The capital account consists of a nation’s imports and exports of capital and foreign aid.

Sunspots, and why they occasionally spark worry


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News?

A massive Sunspot group, AR2770, was observed last week, spaceweather.com claimed using images of the Sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) which has not caused anything major other than “minor waves of ionization to ripple through Earth’s upper atmosphere”.

Sunspots: what are they?

  • A Sunspot is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than surrounding parts.
  • These spots, some as large as 50,000 km in diameter, are the visible markers of the Sun’s magnetic field, which forms a blanket that protects the solar system from harmful cosmic radiation.

Key Details

  • On the photosphere– the outer surface of the Sun which radiates heat and light– Sunspots are the areas where the star’s magnetic field is the strongest.
  • Most Sunspots appear in groups that have their own magnetic field, whose polarity reverses during every solar cycle, which takes around 11 years.
  • In every such cycle, the number of Sunspots increases and decreases.

Why Sunspots appear dark

  • Sunspots have high magnetic pressure.
  • The atmospheric pressure in the surrounding photosphere reduces, inhibiting the flow of hot gases from inside the Sun to the surface, Due to this, the temperatures of Sunspots are thousands of degrees lower than the surrounding photosphere, which has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin.
  • Sunspots temperatures are around 3,800 degrees Kelvin.
  • All these factors stop the convective flow of heat and light, Sunspots appear dark.

Why they occasionally spark worry

  • When a Sunspot reaches up to 50,000 km in diameter, it may release a huge amount of energy that can lead to solar flares.
  • At times, solar flares are accompanied by Coronal Mass Ejections (CME)– large bubbles of radiation and particles emitted by the Sun that explode into space at high speed.
  • CMEs can trigger intense light in the sky on Earth, called auroras.
  • The solar flare explosion’s energy can be equivalent to a trillion ‘Little boy’ atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
  • Solar flares can have a major effect on radio communications, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) connectivity, power grids, and satellites.

Impact of Solar flares

  • In 1967, a major solar flare almost led to a nuclear war during the Cold War, as per a space.com report.
  • In May that year, the US Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radar sites in Alaska, Greenland and the UK got jammed due to the flare, causing US officials to mistakenly hold the Soviet Union responsible for the radar failures.

PM Modi launches submarine cable connectivity to Andaman & Nicobar Islands


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The Prime Minister of India has recently launched the submarine Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) connecting Andaman & Nicobar Islands to the mainland through video conferencing. The foundation stone for this project was laid by PM Modi on Dec 30,2018 at port Blair. As part of the project, 2,300-km submarine cable was laid.

Submarine communications cable:

  • A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the seabedbetween land-based stations to transmit telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea.
  • The submarine OFC link will deliver bandwidth of 2 x 200 Gigabits per second (Gbps) between Chennai and Port Blair, and 2 x 100 Gbps between Port Blair and the other islands


  • The link is expected to provide a big boost to the economy of the Island.
  • The high impact projects are being expanded in 12 islands of Andaman and Nicobar.
  • This will resolve a major problem of mobile and internet connectivity in the region.
  • Physical connectivity through road, air and water will be strengthened.
  • Tourism in Andaman will reap a huge benefit of this facility.
  • The link is from Chennai to Port Blair, Port Blair to Little Andaman and Port Blair to Swaraj Island.
  • India following the new policy and practice of trade and cooperation in Indo-Pacific, the importance of our islands including Andaman and Nicobar has increased further.

big ships will be able to dock once the ports in the region are developed further. This will increase India’s share in maritime trade and give more opportunities to the youth.

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