Daily Current Affairs

To The Point Notes

Governance

1. Post Office Act 2023 Comes into Force

Introduction

The Post Office Act 2023 has replaced the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, coming into effect on June 18th, 2024.

Objectives

  • Simplified Framework: The Act streamlines postal service regulations, eliminating exclusive rights for letter collection, processing, and delivery.
  • Ease of Doing Business: By removing unnecessary restrictions, the Act fosters a more business-friendly environment.
  • Ease of Living: It aims to ensure citizens have seamless access to essential postal services.

Key Features

  • No Penalties: Unlike its predecessor, the new Act does not include penal provisions.
  • Addressing Standards: The Act establishes a framework for setting standards related to addressing items, using postcodes, and identifying addresses.

Background: Postal Services in India

  • The Constitution of India (Schedule VII, Union List) designates postal services as a central government responsibility.
  • The Indian Post Office Act, 1898 governed postal services offered by India Post, a department under the Union government.
    • Previously, the Act granted the Union government exclusive rights over letter delivery.
  • Post offices have evolved beyond solely distributing letters, now serving as hubs for various financial and other services.
  • India boasts an extensive postal network with over 1.5 lakh post offices, with more than 1.29 lakh located in rural areas.

 

 

 

Economy

2. Bitumen

What is Bitumen?

  • Heaviest material obtained from fractional distillation of crude oil.
  • Black or brown color with waterproofing and adhesive properties.
  • Primary use: Binding surfaces of paved roads.

Bitumen in India:

  • Consumption increasing significantly due to rising road construction activity.
  • India currently imports about half of its annual bitumen requirement.
  • The target is to replace these imports with bio-bitumen within the next 10 years.

Bio-Bitumen:

  • Made from biomass or agricultural waste.
  • A more sustainable alternative to bitumen derived from crude oil.
  • Large-scale production of bio-bitumen is planned in India.

 

 

 

Environment

3. Miyawaki Method for Afforestation

What is the Miyawaki Method?

  • A Japanese approach to ecological restoration and creating forests.
  • Pioneered by Akira Miyawaki in the 1970s.
  • Involves planting native trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants very densely.

Benefits of Miyawaki Method:

  • Creates dense, native forests with high biodiversity in a short time.
  • Trees grow ten times faster than traditional methods.
  • Acts as a sound and dust barrier.
  • Improves air and soil quality.
  • Promotes biodiversity conservation.
  • Rapidly increases green cover.
  • Efficiently absorbs carbon dioxide.
  • Restores soil health.
  • Creates habitat for local wildlife.
  • Retains groundwater and helps recharge aquifers.

Adoption in India:

  • NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) will plant Miyawaki forests along national highways.

 

 

 

Environment

4. Nature Restoration Law (NRL) by the EU

Context:

  • Adopted by the EU Environmental Council to rehabilitate ecosystems.

Background:

  • Proposed by the European Commission in 2022 as part of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, aligned with the European Green Deal.

Ecosystems Covered:

  • Terrestrial: Wetlands, grasslands, forests.
  • Freshwater: Rivers and lakes.
  • Marine: Seagrass, sponge beds, and coral beds.

Key Regulations:

  • Restoration Targets:
    • 20% of EU’s land and sea area by 2030.
    • All ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
  • Pollinator Decline Reversal: Specific measures required by 2030 to reverse the decline of pollinator populations.

 

 

 

Economy

5. Kenya’s Eco Levy

Context:

  • Kenya’s Finance Bill 2024 proposes an Eco Levy to promote eco-friendly practices and improve waste management.
  • The tax targets various household and office products, including plastics, electronics, and office machines.

About the Eco Levy:

  • Aimed at reducing micro-pollution and improving waste management.
  • Introduces fees on a range of products.

Justification for the Eco Levy:

  • Addresses inefficacy of existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations.
  • Funds waste management programs.
  • Promotes sustainable practices.

Manufacturers’ Concerns:

  • Double Taxation: The levy might be seen as an additional burden on top of existing regulations.
  • Price Increase: Potential rise in product prices impacting household budgets.
  • Job Losses: Fear of job losses in manufacturing due to decreased competitiveness.

India’s Similar Initiatives:

  • Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: Manufacturers manage plastic waste collection.
  • E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016: Extended producer responsibility for e-waste management.
  • Green Tax on Vehicles: Discourages older, polluting vehicles.

Key Points:

  • Kenya seeks to balance environmental protection with economic considerations.
  • The Eco Levy’s effectiveness depends on managing costs and ensuring transparency in waste management programs.
  • Learning from India’s experiences with similar regulations can be beneficial for Kenya.

 

 

Environment

6. World Crocodile Day

Importance of World Crocodile Day:

  • Raises awareness about the plight of crocodiles and their importance to ecosystems.

Threats to Crocodiles in India (Pre-1970s):

  • Indiscriminate hunting for commercial purposes.
  • Habitat loss.

India’s Crocodile Conservation Project (1975):

  • Launched in Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha.
  • Aimed at:
    • Protecting crocodile habitat.
    • Revive crocodile populations through captive breeding (low survival rate in wild).
  • Success: Increased saltwater crocodile population to 1,811 (2024 census).

Challenges:

  • Increasing human-crocodile conflict.

Crocodile Species in India:

  1. Estuarine Crocodile (Least Concern):
    • Largest living reptile.
    • Found in Bhitarkanika, Sundarbans, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
    • Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
  2. Mugger Crocodile (Vulnerable):
    • Found in freshwater habitats (rivers, lakes, etc.).
    • Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
  3. Gharial (Critically Endangered):
    • Found in Chambal, Girwa Ghagra, and Gandak rivers.
    • Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha:

  • Located in Kendrapara district.
  • Estuaries and Ramsar site.
  • Rivers: Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, Pathsala.
  • Second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
  • Gahirmatha Beach separates the park from the Bay of Bengal.
  • Rich flora and fauna (crocodiles, pythons, king cobras, birds).

Constitutional Provisions for Wildlife Protection:

  • Article 51A(g): Fundamental duty to protect wildlife.
  • Article 48A: State’s responsibility to protect wildlife and environment.

 

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