INDUS SUTURE ZONE (ISZ)
The issue in news
The suture zone of the Himalayas or the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ) in the Ladakh region where Indian and Asian Plates are joined has been found to be tectonically active, as against current understanding that it is a locked zone.
- This could have major implications in terms of earthquake study, prediction, understanding the seismic structure of the mountain chains well as its evolution.
- Himalayas were known to be made up of north dipping thrusts like the Main Central Thrust (MCT), the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT), and the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT).
- As per the established models, all of these thrusts except MFT are locked, and overall deformation in Himalaya is being accommodated only along with the MFT.
- The new findings, which suggest a more remote fault at the suture zone being neo-tectonically active, could call for a serious relook into the existing evolutionary models using new techniques and a larger geological database
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- India to sign geo-spatial cooperation deal with U.S.
The issue in news
The Defence Ministry has said that India and the U.S. will sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
2+2 ministerial dialogue
- It is a format of dialogue where the defense and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country.
- The 2+2 dialogue is the highest-level (Ministerial) institutional mechanism between India and the USA.
- It is aimed at bringing together the perspectives of both the countries on issues relating to foreign policy, defence and other strategic issues.
- India also holds such dialogues with Japan, With Australia, the 2+2 dialogue is held at the foreign secretary and defence secretary level.
- India has already signed three foundational military communication agreements with the US. They are:
- The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
- The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018.
- General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) – GSOMIA, signed in 2002, paved the way for greater technology cooperation in the military sector.
- An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue (2019).
- The Defence Minister of India and the U.S. Secretary of Defence reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning “military-to-military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing, defence trade and industrial issues”.
- Ways to take bilateral cooperation forward were also discussed.
What is BECA?
- BECA is the last of four foundational agreements for strengthening defence ties between India and the US.
- The agreement pertains to exchange of Geospatial-Intelligence information for use by the governments for defence and other purposes.
- Under the agreement, the US would exchange technical and procedural information about standardisation of methods, specifications and formats for the collection, processing and production of geo-intelligence information with India.
- It shall also include the tools and models to process GPS data and transform Latitude, Longitude and Height coordinates across various reference frames and others.
How will it help India?
- It would enhance the geospatial cooperation between the countries. o It will allow India and the US to share geospatial and satellite data with each other.
- It is likely to help in improving the accuracy of missile systems of India.
- BECA is an important precursor to India acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator-B from the US.
Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
- Centre promises law to check stubble burning
The issue in news
The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it would bring in a law to address air pollution and check stubble burning in Delhi as well as the surrounding National Capital Region.
- It will be an ordinance for tackling air pollution in NCR and the adjoining areas.
- The ordinance is being drafted by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.
- With an increase in stubble burning, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has been tasked with funding the use of subsidised combine harvesters and machinery to dissuade the farmers.
- Stubble burning is the burning of rice straw by farmers to clear fields for sowing.
- The paddy residue is not used as fodder as it’s unfit and hence farmers burn both the paddy stalk and straw close to autumn every year which is a key contributing factor of pollution causing breathing problems in the northern region.
- Paddy is a Kharif (monsoon) crop.
- In Punjab and Haryana, the harvesting of paddy crop is usually done between the first week of October till October end.
- The wheat residue is used as fodder for cattle and it’s only the stalk that is set on fire.
- Wheat is a Rabi (winter) crop.
- It is sown from late October to December while the harvesting usually starts from mid- April onwards.
Other measures taken to tackle the menace:
- The states have put in efforts towards raising awareness of the ill-effects of stubble burning.
- Farmers are being educated by the agriculture department regularly about the bad effects of burning fields which kills several crop-friendly insects and causes pollution.
- Penalties are being imposed on farmers as there’s a ban on burning the residue.
- To check stubble burning this Kharif (summer) season, the Punjab government has appointed 8,000 nodal officers in villages that grow paddy.
- Over 23,000 crop residue management machines are being given to farmers for on-site management of straw.
- The state had been pressing the Centre to give 100 per quintal to farmers for managing the paddy straw without burning.
While there are measure and several laws in place for checking pollution, the states lack adequate infrastructure at the level of state and municipal bodies to implement them.
Better enforcement is the need of the hour.
The Delhi NCR has a Graded Response Action Plan, which is overseen by the Environment Pollution Authority.
It has specified a number of measures that governments must take: from banning diesel gensets to restricting vehicle movement, depending on the degree of pollution.