Current Affairs 6th May 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
River-Cities Alliance (RCA)
Context: National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) had organized the ‘River-Cities Alliance (RCA) Global Seminar: Partnership for Building International River-Sensitive Cities’.
About River-Cities Alliance (RCA)
- It was launched in 2021, by Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India in partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Govt. of India.
- RCA is a dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers.
- It focuses on three broad themes: Networking, Capacity Building and Technical Support.
- Aim: Exchange information on aspects that are vital for sustainable management of urban rivers such as minimizing their water footprint, reducing impacts on river and water bodies, capitalizing on natural, intangible, architectural heritage and associated services and develop self-sufficient, self-sustainable water resources through recycle, reuse strategy.
- The Alliance cities will work towards adopting and localizing national policies and instruments with key river-related directions, prepare their Urban River Management Plans and develop city-specific sectoral strategies that are required for sustainable urban river management.
- Beginning with 30 member cities in November 2021, the Alliance has expanded to 109 river cities across India and one international member city from Denmark.
Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport project (KMTTP)
Context: Waterway component of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport project (KMTTP) is set to become operational from June, 2023.
About Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport project (KMTTP)
- It is piloted by the Ministry of External Affairs and first approved in 2008.
- Aim: Boosting trade and commerce between India and Myanmar and easing access to other South Asian countries.
- Objective: To provide alternative connectivity to the North East region from Kolkata Port through Sittwe Port up to Paletwa in Myanmar by waterway and Paletwa to Zorinpui by road in Mizoram.
- Connectivity Map: KMTTP connects Kolkata to Sittwe port, which is further linked to Paletwa in Myanmar through a waterway route along the river Kaladan.
- From Paletwa, a 110 km road is being built to connect to Zorinpui at Mizoram on the Indo-Myanmar border.
- Zorinpui is connected to Lawngtlai through a 100 km road.
- From Lawngtlai, an existing highway connects it to Aizawl, which in turn is linked to other north-eastern cities including Guwahati.
Significance of KMTTP
- It will provide a strategic alternate link connecting the landlocked north-eastern states to the rest of India and easing the pressure on the existing narrow Siliguri corridor.
- The Port will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Myanmar, particularly the Rakhine State and further enhance trade and commerce between the two countries and the wider region.
- Sittwe Port has been developed under a framework agreement between India and Myanmar for the construction and operation of a Multimodal Transit Transport Facility on Kaladan river connecting the Sittwe port in Myanmar with the state of Mizoram in India.
- Sittwe port is located at the mouth of the Kaladan in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
- It is developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) — an autonomous organisation under the Union shipping ministry.
Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS)
Context: Indian Army’s new Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS) under Project Sanjay is in the process of being deployed.
About Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS)
- It is among a series of automation projects being rolled out to cumulatively improve operational efficiency, enhance battlefield awareness for commanders on the ground.
- Bharat Electronics Limited, Ghaziabad, is the project’s system integrator.
- It will result in the setting up of surveillance centres in the army’s field formations by December 2025.
- It provides functional efficiency for human resource management, logistics, inventory management, medical services and other administrative functions.
- It will integrates data on the movements of India’s adversaries received from various sources across borders, including sensors, satellites, UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles, and patrols.
- It will allow commanders and authorized staff to have a common picture with regard to bringing in a synergy for informed and faster conceptualization of events.
- It will also complete the sensor-to-shooter grid in integration with the ACCCS (Artillery Combat Command and Control and Communication System).
ACCCS or Project Shakti
- It involves the upgradation of the army’s oldest and most successful operational information system with defence series maps.
- It will optimize its functioning and enable application of artificial intelligence and machine learning on data aggregated through its exploitation.
Conservation of Cheetah
Context: With the cheetah project taking off in India, cheetah conservation efforts are generating attention once again.
- Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals; the cheetah is the only cat without retractable claws; the grip helps it accelerate faster than any sports car (0-100 km/hr in 3 seconds). Cheetahs are not aggressive towards humans, and they have been tamed since the ancient era.
- Distribution: There are only 40-50 Asiatic cheetahs left, found only in Iran. In comparison there are around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
- Status in India: The country’s last spotted cheetah died in Sal forests of Chhattisgarh’s Koriya district in 1948 and the wild animal was declared extinct in the country in 1952.
- 1st plan to reintroduce the cheetah: First solid steps were taken in the 1970s, during negotiations with Iran, to exchange Asiatic lions for Asiatic cheetahs.
- IUCN status: The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List.
- Threats: The cheetah is threatened by several factors such as habitat loss, conflict with humans, poaching and high susceptibility to diseases. They don’t breed well in captivity which makes reintroduction efforts challenging.
Recent Conservation Efforts :
- Project Cheetah: The introduction of cheetahs in India is being done under Project Cheetah, which is the world’s first intercontinental large wild carnivore translocation project. India has opted for the Coexistence approach where for the first time cheetahs will be reintroduced in an unfenced protected area (PA). Last year (2021), the Supreme Court lifted its seven-year-long stay on a proposal to introduce African Cheetahs from Namibia into India.
- Cheetah Translocation program: Recently, the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years. The action plan was launched at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- In 2023, eight cheetahs landed in Gwalior from Namibia’s capital Windhoek and were reintroduced in Kuno National Park.
- Significance: The reintroduction of cheetahs in India is significant as it will restore open forest and grassland ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and create livelihood opportunities through eco-development and ecotourism activities. It is also a flagship species whose conservation will preserve other grassland species in the predator food chain.
- Challenges: The reintroduction of cheetahs to Kuno-Palpur National Park poses several challenges, including competition with tigers and leopards, adaptation to a different vegetation type, a specific prey base, and potential delays to the Asiatic lion project due to village relocation.
Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve
Context: MT-4, the only tigress in Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve has recently died.
About Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve
- Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve consists of Mukundra Hills National Park, Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary, National Chambal Sanctuary, and Jawahar Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and is spread across Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar & Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan.
- The reserve is situated in a valley formed by two parallel mountains viz. Mukundra and Gargola.
- Previously, the reserve was the royal hunting ground of the Maharaja of Kota.
- Flora and Fauna:
- Tigers, Leopards, Wild Boars, Hyena, Sloth Bears, Deer, Wolves, Chinkara & Antelopes, gharial and mugger are some of the major fauna.
- The area is made up of dry deciduous trees and grasslands. It is located in Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests.
- Hydrology: Chambal River, Kali river, Ahu river, Ramzan river drain the region. The Chambal River flows on the west of the reserve.
Other Tiger Reserves in Rajasthan:
- Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
- Sariska Tiger Reserve
- Ramgarh Vishdhari Tiger Reserve
Special Leave Petition (SLP)
Context: Hill Areas Committee Chairperson and others filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the March 27 order of the Manipur High Court on Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community, which is at the centre of escalating tensions in the State.
What is a Special Leave Petition (SLP)?
- Special Leave Petition (SLP) is a legal remedy available to a litigant to appeal to the Supreme Court of India against any order or judgment passed by any court or tribunal in India.
- It is a discretionary power exercised by the Supreme Court, which is not a matter of right for a litigant.
- The expression “special leave to appeal” was taken from the Government of India Act, 1935.
When can an SLP be made?
- The appeal can be made in a case where a substantial question of law is involved or where gross injustice has been observed.
- The judgment, decree or order against which the appeal is being made must have the character of judicial adjudication. This implies that purely administrative or executive order or ruling cannot be a matter of appeal.
- The Special Leave Petition shall not apply to any judgment or order handed down by any court or tribunal involving the armed forces.
What is “special” about SLP?
- It is not just restricted to appeals against judgments, decrees and final orders of the High court but it can also be granted against the judgments of lower courts.
- The judgments, decrees or orders do not have to be final in nature and appeals are allowed even against interlocutory and interim judgments and they may be from cases or matters of either criminal or civil nature or otherwise.
- SLP can be filed against any judgement of High Court within 90 days from the date of the judgement. However, there is flexibility at the discretion of the SC.
- Or it can be filed within 60 days against the order of the HC refusing to grant the certificate of fitness for appeal to SC.
Scope of Article 136
- Article 136 bestows the Supreme Court discretion to entertain appeals in suitable situations, not otherwise provided for in the Constitution.
- The SC may exercise this discretionary power to grant special leave to appeal any judgment or decree or may refuse to grant the leave since this is not a matter of right.
- Thus, the nature of this power of the SC is of residuary nature and its definition is not limited.
Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA)
Context: The Government has notified that the practicing-chartered accountants (CA), Company Secretary (CS) and Cost and Works Accountancy (CWAs) are covered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) if financial transactions are executed on behalf of a client.
More on the News
- In accordance with Section 2(1) (sa) (vi) of the PMLA, the Central Government notified a select few activities when they are performed for or on behalf of another natural or legal person.
- Firstly, buying and selling of any immovable property.
- Secondly, managing client money, securities, or other assets.
- Thirdly, management of bank, savings, or securities accounts.
- Fourthly, organization of contributions for the creation, operation, or management of companies.
- Lastly, the creation, operation, or management of companies, limited liability partnerships or trusts, and buying and selling of business entities.
About the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA)
- Money laundering is a process of making illegally obtained money (“dirty money”) appear to have originated from a legitimate source.
- It is a criminal offence in India and charges in this instance refer to statutory provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
- The PMLA was enacted in response to India’s global commitment (Vienna Convention) to combat the issue of economic crimes like money laundering. The other conventions include:
- United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988.
- Basle Statement of Principles, 1989.
- Forty Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, 1990.
- Political Declaration and Global Program of Action adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990.
- The PMLA is applicable to all persons which include individuals, companies, firms, partnership firms, associations of persons or incorporations and any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by any of the above-mentioned persons.
Important provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
- Definition of money laundering: The PMLA defines money laundering as any process or activity that involves the proceeds of crime and conceals or disguises its true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to, or ownership of property, knowing or should have known the nature of such proceeds.
- Criminalization of money laundering: The PMLA criminalizes money laundering and provides for imprisonment for a term of up to seven years and a fine for those convicted of such offenses.
- Establishment of the ED: The PMLA establishes the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) as a specialized agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting money laundering cases.
- Powers of the ED: The ED has the power to freeze and seize assets and bank accounts of those who are involved in money laundering activities.
- Reporting obligations: The PMLA imposes reporting obligations on certain entities such as banks, financial institutions, and intermediaries to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) in a prescribed manner. Failure to comply with these reporting requirements can result in penalties and punishments.
- Offences by companies: The PMLA also provides for the imposition of penalties and fines on companies that are found to be involved in money laundering activities.