The Meghalaya Cabinet has approved a draft water policy to address water usages, issues of conservation and protection of water sources in the State.
With this, Meghalaya will become the 1st state in India to ensure the conservation of water and have its own State Water Policy.
The policy’s objective is to recognize water resources as a common pool resource, to provide hygienic water for drinking, domestic needs, sanitation and livelihood development.
The policy includes measures like building check dams to conserve rainwater, rainwater harvesting systems, controlling inappropriate use of groundwater and maintaining the quality of water.
Botanical Survey of India has come up with the first comprehensive census of orchids of India- key highlights:
The total number of orchid species or taxa is 1,256.
Orchids can be broadly categorized into three life forms:
epiphytic (plants growing on other plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte).
terrestrial (plants growing on land and climbers).
mycoheterotrophic (plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant).
About 60% of all orchids found in the country, which is 757 species, are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.
The epiphytic orchids are abundant up to 1800 m above the sea level and their occurrence decreases with the increase in altitude.
Terrestrial orchids, which grow directly on soil, are found in large numbers in temperate and alpine region whereas mycoheterotrophic orchids, mostly associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, are found in temperate regions, or are found growing with parasites in tropical regions.
Himalayas, North-East parts of the country and Western Ghats are the hot-spots of the beautiful plant species.
The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim 560 species and West Bengal; Darjeeling Himalayas have also high species concentration, with 479 species.
While north-east India rank at the top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
Kerala has 111 of these endemic species while Tamil Nadu has 92 of them.
Among the 10 bio geographic zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Protection: The entire orchid family is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and hence any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.
Context: The second round of talks with Pakistan on the modalities for operationalization of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was recently held at Wagah, Pakistan.
Pakistan has agreed in principle to allow visa-free, year-long travel to the Sikh shrine.
Concerns raised by India:
India conveyed its concerns to Pakistan on the possible attempts by individuals and groups to disrupt the Kartarpur Sahib pilgrimage and the possible flooding of the Dera Baba Nanak due to earth-filled embankment road or a causeway proposed by Islamabad.
What is the “Kartarpur Corridor” project?
The corridor – often dubbed as the “Road to Peace” – will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district. The construction of the corridor will allow visa-free access to pilgrims from India. The proposal for the corridor has been on the table since 1988, but tense relations between the two countries led to the delay.
The Union Cabinet has already approved the building and development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border, in order to facilitate pilgrims from India to visitGurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river, in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Devjispent eighteen years.
The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with the Government of India funding, to provide smooth and easy passage, with all the modern amenities.
The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.
It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view.
Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.
Context: A weak El Nino prevailing in the Pacific Ocean since the start of this year is beginning to dissipate. Over the next two months, a fully neutral condition is likely to be restored in the Pacific Ocean, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Climate Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US.
What is ENSO?
ENSO is nothing but El Nino Southern Oscillation. As the name suggests, it is an irregularly periodic variation of wind and sea surface temperature that occurs over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.
ENSO affects the tropics (the regions surrounding the equator) and the subtropics (the regions adjacent to or bordering the tropics).
The warming phase of ENSO is called El Nino, while the cooling phase is known as La Nina.
What is El Nino?
El Nino is a climatic cycle characterized by the high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern.
In normal conditions, strong trade winds travel from east to west across the tropical Pacific, pushing the warm surface waters towards the western Pacific. The surface temperature could witness an increase of 8 degrees Celsius in Asian waters. At the same time, cooler waters rise up towards the surface in the eastern Pacific on the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. This process called upwelling aids in the development of a rich ecosystem.
What causes El Nino?
El Nino sets in when there is an anomaly in the pattern. The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America. The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition. The temperature of the water could rise up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Warmer surface waters increase precipitation and bring above-normal rainfall in South America, and droughts to Indonesia and Australia.