Prelims Sure Shot

  1. Indian Pangolin

Why in news

  • A rare pangolin (Mannis crassiscaudata) was rescued from suspected smugglers in an undercover operation by the Forest Department in Andhra Pradesh.

Indian Pangolin:

  • It is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.  It is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.



  • Of the eight extant species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata and the Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla occur in India.


Conservation Issues:

  • Major threats to pangolins in India are hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade, for its meat and scales in East and Southeast Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam.
  • Conservation Initiatives: TRAFFIC (Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network) is mapping pangolin trade hubs, conduits, transportation, high poaching areas and drivers in relation to poaching and illegal trafficking of pangolins.
  • In 2015, TRAFFIC, in partnership with WWF-India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) launched a social media campaign to create awareness and divert efforts towards curbing illegal trade in pangolins.


  1. Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has approved the Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone to pave the way for faster execution of Char Dham Road Project.


Key Points


  • In 2012, the MoEF&CC issued a gazette notification declaring the watershed area along the stretch of river Bhagirathi, covering 4,179.59 sq km from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
  • ESZs are the ecologically important areas designated to be protected from industrial pollution and unregulated development under the Environment Protection Act of 1986.
  • The 2012 notification was issued keeping in view the requirements of the local people without affecting their rights and privileges and also ensuring eco-friendly development for their livelihood security.
  • It sought to protect the entire fragile Himalayan region by restricting hydropower projects of over 2 MW, riverbed mining and change of land use. However, it was amended in 2018 following Uttarakhand government’s objection that the notification was ‘anti-development.’
  • The 2018 amendment approved land use change to meet the local needs including civic amenities and other infrastructure development in larger public interest and national security with the prior approval of State Government with due study of environmental impacts.
  • It also allowed cutting of hills in eco-sensitive areas with proper study and construction on steep slopes in exceptional cases for the benefit of the community.


Zonal Master Plan (ZMP):

  • The Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone notification mandates the State Government of Uttarakhand to prepare ZMP to be implemented under the supervision of the Monitoring Committee.
  • The ZMP is based on watershed approach and includes governance in the area of forest and wildlife, watershed management, irrigation, energy, tourism, public health and sanitation, road infrastructure, etc.
  • Watershed development approach is based on participatory planning following a bottom-up approach for developing a context appropriate plan for execution, strengthening of local level institution, conservation and appropriate management of watershed’s natural
  • Watershed is a geo-hydrological unit draining into a common point by a system of drains. The approval of ZMP is expected to give a boost to conservation and ecology of the area and also to undertake developmental activities as permitted under ZMP.


Char Dham Road Project:

  • The Char Dham project proposes to provide all-weather connectivity to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, and has 53 projects of 826 km length, involving an investment of Rs. 12,000 crore. Bhagirathi is the source stream of Ganga. It emanates from Gangotri glacier at Gaumukh at an elevation of 3,892 m.



  • In a report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster (2015), the Geological Survey of India stated that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the ‘toe of the natural slope of the hill’.
  • The Himalayas is the region where Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian tectonic plate.
  • Himalayas are in seismic zone V, thus a major earthquake can happen anytime.


  1. Challenge to Anti Defection Law

Why in News

Recently, the 19 rebel MLAs of Rajasthan’s ruling party (Congress) have filed a petition before the High Court challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker under Anti Defection Law.

The disqualification notice was issued on MLAs’ absence from successive Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meetings and a “conspiracy to bring down the government”.


Key Points

Rebel MLAs Arguments:

  • In their writ petition, citing violation of their freedom of speech and expression the legislators argued that they had neither given up their membership of the House nor did their failure to attend the two CLP meetings render them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection.
  • Therefore they challenged Clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, and the validity of the Rajasthan Assembly Members (Disqualification on the Grounds of Changing Party) Rules, 1989. Clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule states that a member may be disqualified “if he has voluntarily given up his membership” of a political
  • They also contended that they could not be disqualified merely for disagreeing with the decisions and policies of some leaders outside the Assembly.


Supreme Court’s Ruling:

  • The Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu and Others, 1992 has said that judicial review cannot be available at a stage prior to the making of a decision by the Speaker/Chairman.
  • Nor would interference be permissible at an interlocutory stage of the proceedings. The only exception for any interlocutory interference (decree or judgment) being cases of interlocutory disqualifications or suspensions which may have grave, immediate and irreversible repercussions and consequences.
  • Therefore, Constitutional courts cannot judicially review disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution until the Speaker or Chairman makes a final decision on

Reason for Limited Role of Courts:

  • The Bench explained that the reason for limiting the role of courts in ongoing defection proceedings is that the office of the Speaker is held in the highest respect and esteem in parliamentary traditions.
  • Judicial Review: It had said that even the scope of judicial review against an order of a Speaker or Chairman in anti-defection proceedings would be confined to jurisdictional errors, that is infirmities based on violation of constitutional mandate, mala fide actions and non-compliance with rules of natural justice.

Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule

  • The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52 amendment to the Constitution. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”. According to it, a member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House, if:
  • He voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party; or He votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.

Exceptions to the Disqualification on the Ground of Defection

  • If a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party. A merger takes place when two-thirds of the members of the party have agreed to such a merger.
  • If a member, after being elected as the presiding officer of the House, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office. This exemption has been provided in view of the dignity and impartiality of the office.

Powers of Speaker with regard to Anti-Defection Law

  • Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House


  1. ASPIRE Portal for Automotive Industry: ICAT

Why in News

The International Centre of Automotive Technology (ICAT) is developing a technology platform for the automotive industry called ASPIRE – Automotive Solutions Portal for Industry, Research and Education.

The Portal envisages Make in India and Atmanirbhar vision of the Government of India.


Key Points

  • The Portal is being developed in line with the initiative by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.
  • DHI has taken an initiative to promote innovation and to develop the related ecosystem.
  • Objective: To enhance the technological capability of Indian automotive sector through exchange of knowledge & expertise, in order to make them self reliant and to facilitate the growth of the automobile sector and overall socio-economic progress of the country.
  • Functioning: It will facilitate the Indian auto industry, R&D institutions and academia (colleges & universities) to come together for R&D, technology development, shop floor/quality/warranty issue’s resolution, expert opinions on issues involving technology advancements.
  • The portal will also host grand challenges in line with the need of the industry as will be identified from time to time, for development of key automotive technologies.

International Centre for Automotive Technology

  • ICAT is a leading world class automotive testing, certification and R&D service provider under the aegis of NATRiP (National Automotive Testing and R&d Infrastructure Project), Government of India. NATRiP is a fully Government of India funded project with a total project cost of Rs. 3727.30 crore.
  • The vision is to create state-of-art research and testing infrastructure to drive India into the future of global automotive excellence. It was established in 2006 at Manesar, Haryana.

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