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13 Jul, 2021

45 Min Read

India’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility Project at Leh

GS-III : Economic Issues Renewable energy

India’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility Project at Leh

  • Leh is soon to become India's first city to implement a green hydrogen-based mobility project with zero emission.
  • NTPC, Maharatna PSU under the Ministry of Power signed an MoU with UT of Ladakh and LAHDC to set up the country’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility project, strengthening PM Shri Narendra Modi’s vision to ensure a carbon-free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen.
  • REL, a 100% subsidiary of NTPC, signed an MoU with the Union Territory of Ladakh, today, to set up the country’s first green Hydrogen Mobility project in the region.
  • The signing of the MoU was also marked by the inauguration of NTPC’s first solar installations in Leh in form of solar trees and a solar carport.
  • The MoU will enable NTPC to help Ladakh develop a carbon-free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen. This is also in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of a ‘carbon neutral’ Ladakh. LG mentioned that he would like Ladakh to become a hydrogen state and is happy to partner with NTPC to achieve this long term goal.
  • NTPC has planned to ply 5 hydrogen buses, to start with, in the region and the company will be setting up a solar plant and a green hydrogen generation unit in Leh towards this end. This will put Leh as the first city in the country to implement a green hydrogen-based mobility project. This would be zero-emission mobility in the true sense.
  • NTPC has been aggressively pushing for greening its portfolio and the green hydrogen project is another step towards achieving a low carbon footprint. NTPC has also been promoting the usage of green hydrogen-based solutions in sectors like mobility, energy, chemical, fertilizer, steel etc.
  • NTPC has recently revised its target of achieving 60GW renewables capacity by 2032, almost doubling the earlier target.
  • Recently, NTPC commissioned India’s largest floating solar project of 10MW at Vishakhapatnam.

Source: PIB

Red Sanders

GS-I : Human Geography Vegetation

Red Sanders

  • Red sanders or red sandalwood is a species endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India.
  • It is a rare kind of sandalwood that is in high demand in the international market and costs around Rs.1,500 to Rs.2,000 a kg.
  • The major markets for wood are China, Japan, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • This tree is valued for the rich red colour of its wood. The wood is not aromatic. The tree is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
  • Pterocarpus santalinus is listed as an Endangered species by the IUCN, because of overexploitation of its timber in South India.
  • It is also listed in appendix II of the CITES, which means that a certificate is required in order to export it, which should only be granted if the trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species.

Source: TH

Protests in Cuba

GS-II : International Relations Major protest of the world

CUBA Protests

Thousands of people in the small island nation of Cuba took to the streets on Sunday against the country’s communist government collapsing economy and the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and shortage of food and lack of some basic medicines

Why’s the economy falling?

  • Cuba's economy is struggling as Tourism, one of the most important sectors has been devastated by the restrictions on travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Sugar, which is mostly exported, is another key earner for Cuba. However, 2021's harvest has been much worse than expected.
  • The shortfall was to blame on a number of factors, including a lack of fuel and the breakdown of machinery which made bringing in the harvest difficult, as well as natural factors such as humidity in the fields.
  • Consequently, the government's reserves of foreign currency are depleted, meaning it cannot buy imported goods to supplement shortages.
  • President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, blamed the unrest on the USA, an old Cold War foe.
  • In recent years, the US has tightened its trade embargo on Cuba.
  • He called its tight sanctions on Cuba - which have been in place in various forms since 1962 - a "policy of economic suffocation".
  • Allegedly, it is also manipulating social media campaigns and is sending “mercenaries” on the ground to provoke protests.
  • Thousands of protestors have gathered in Havana, chanting “Fidel” and are demanding the stepping down of Diaz-Canel.

About Cuba-


  • Cuba, a country of the West Indies, the largest single island of the archipelago, and one of the more influential states of the Caribbean region.
  • The country is situated in the western West Indies, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, south of Florida and The Bahamas, and north of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
  • Cuba shares maritime borders with The Bahamas, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and the United States.
  • Cuba is one of the islands of the Greater Antilles archipelago, the others are Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.
  • The island nation has a population of 11.4 million (official estimate 2014); capital and largest city is Havana (Habana); official language is Spanish.
  • Its per capita GDP is roughly $8,000 and it has a majority population of Christians.

Cuban Revolution, 1959

  • Fidel Castro established a revolutionary socialist state in Cuba after he and a group of guerrilla fighters successfully revolt against President Fulgencio Batista who had been supported by the U.S. government for his anticommunist stance.

Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

  • U.S. spy satellites discover that Cuba has allowed the Soviet Union to build nuclear missile bases on the island.
  • With the threat of nuclear war on the horizon, the United States negotiates with the USSR via back channels.
  • As the crisis nears its third week, the US secretly agrees to withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey within a few months if the Soviet Union withdraws its missiles from Cuba.
  • US also pledges not to invade Cuba.
  • Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev accepts the deal and announces that he will order the missiles removed.
  • USA prohibited U.S. nationals from traveling to Cuba.

Read about Cuba’s Political Developments in the Cold War Era

India-Cuba Relations:


  • India was amongst the first countries to extend recognition to Cuba after the 1959 Revolution.
  • Both countries have maintained close contact with each other in various international fora, such as the United Nations (UN), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), World Trade Organization (WTO), etc.
  • India has been supporting Cuba against US-supported resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and also consistently voted in favour of Cuban-sponsored resolutions in the UN General Assembly calling for a lifting of US sanctions against Cuba.
  • Cuba supports India’s inclusion as a permanent member in the restructured UN Security Council.
  • Cuba also voted in favour of India’s candidature for Non- Seat in UNSC.
  • Cuba has also joined the International Solar Alliance, an India-France initiative.


  • Bilateral trade between India and Cuba stands at USD 38.81 Million (as of 2017).
  • India and Cuba agreed to collaborate in the areas of Biotechnology, Homeopathy and the traditional system of medicine during the visit of the President of India to Cuba in 2019.
  • India provides development assistance to Cuba in various sectors, and in January 2019 made a donation of 60 tractors with accessories, medicines and medical equipment to the island.


  • In Cuba, Yoga and Vipassana meditation are practiced. Interest in Ayurveda and Indian Naturopathy is increasing.
  • Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary is celebrated every year.
  • In May, 2007, a bust of Rabindranath Tagore donated by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was unveiled in Old Havana.
  • There is a bust of Mahatma Gandhi and a statue of Mother Teresa in Havana.
  • Cuba also celebrated the International Day of Yoga, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Source: TH

Climate Change Impact on Health

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Climate Change

Climate Change Impact on Health

With the monsoon making a revival over several parts of India, there is a rise in lightning-linked deaths. Over the years, the Home Ministry’s statistics consistently cited lightning as the biggest natural disaster-linked killer in India.

  • The recent statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau, from 2019, said that year, there were 8,145 deaths in the country attributable to forces of nature.
  • Of these, 35.3% deaths were reported due to ‘lightning’, 15.6% deaths due to ‘heat/sun stroke’ and 11.6% deaths due to ‘flood’.
  • Most of those who died due to accidents caused by forces of nature were reported to be belonging to the age-group of 30-45 (25.3%) and 45-60 (24.9%) together.
  • Under ‘lightning’, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh reported the maximum number of victims.
  • Experts have warned of a rise in lightning disasters partly due to the cascading effects of global warming.

Health and Climate Change

Global climate change

  • Over the last 50 years, the global climate is changing as the Earth becomes warmer.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of both natural and man-made gases have been rising over the last few centuries due to the industrial revolution. Human activities have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases to affect the global climate.

Greenhouse Gases

  • Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Many greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, and nitrous oxide, while others are synthetic.
  • Those that are man-made include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).
  • Emissions of these gases have risen because of the increased use of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and natural gas).

Climate Change

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
  • In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85oC. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • There are significant impacts of climate change in the form of changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, melting of glaciers, forest fires, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather events, such as Kashmir floods (2014), Uttarakhand flash floods (2013), Tsunami (2004) are some vivid examples. Globally an estimated 12.6 million deaths are caused by avoidable environmental risk factors every year.

Impact of climate change on human health:

Who is at risk?

  • All populations are affected by climate change, but certain regions and groups have higher susceptibility to climate-sensitive health impacts owing to their age (children and elderly), gender (particularly pregnant women), social marginalization (associated in some areas with indigenous populations, poverty or migration status), or pre-existing medical conditions or other health conditions like HIV.
  • People living in small island developing states (group of small island countries that tend to share similar sustainable development challenges) and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are more vulnerable to climate change.
  • In developing countries with weak health infrastructure, damage due to climate change is more and they need assistance to prepare and respond.

Climate change can affect human health in number of ways:

  • Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter- for instance changing the severity and frequency of health problems already exiting in that area, creating unanticipated health problems in places where they have not previously occurred, disturbing food-producing ecosystem and increasing the frequency of extreme weather events.
  • Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

Water problems and increased risks of water borne diseases:

  • Water borne diseases are sensitive to climate and also show seasonal variation.
  • Diarrheal diseases are more common during rainy season.
  • Increasingly variable rainfall patterns due to climate change are likely to affect the supply of fresh water. Globally, water scarcity already affects 4 out of 10 people.
  • A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increases the risk of diarrhoeal diseases (which kills approximately 2.2 million people every year), trachoma (an eye infection that can lead to blindness) and other illnesses.
  • People are forced to carry water from long distances and store supplies in their homes. House hold water storage can further increase the risk of contamination of water.
  • In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine. By the late 21st century, climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought at regional and global scale.
  • Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity. Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, and increase the risk of water-borne diseases. Both drought and floods are risk factor for water borne diseases (cholera, and various diarrhoeal diseases).
  • When floodwaters become contaminated with animal waste, outbreaks of leptospirosis may occur. Outbreaks of rotavirus, cholera are also reported in past after floods.
  • Lack of basic sanitation is also a contributory factor for increase in water borne diseases.

Changes in vector ecology and vector borne diseases:

  • India is afflicted with six major vector borne diseases (VBDs) namely malaria, dengue, chikungunya, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis and leishmaniasis.
  • A vector is any organism – such as fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes – that can transmit a pathogen, or infectious agent, from one host to another.
  • Climate change enhances the transmission season and expands the geographical distribution of vector-borne diseases (like dengue, malaria), as warmer temperature and humidity favours the breeding of insect vectors and also alters the geographic distribution of existing vectors.
  • Warmer average temperatures can mean longer warm seasons, earlier spring seasons, shorter and milder winters, and hotter summers, conditions might become more favourable for many carriers of vector-borne diseases.
  • Malaria which is transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes is strongly influenced by climate, collection of stagnant water provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes. These conditions are potentially aiding in the spread of malaria.
  • The Aedes mosquito, vector of dengue and chikungunya fever is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue.
  • Climate change might also affect other vector borne diseases endemic to South Asia.
  • These include parasitic diseases such as leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, and tick-borne diseases and the effect is due to the impact of climate on the relevant vector populations.
  • Climatic factors might also influence human plague, a bacterial disease carried by rodents and transmitted by fleas.

Effects of extreme temperatures:

  • Climate change including heat waves, cold spells, and other extreme events will bring new and emerging health issues.
  • Heat stress can make working conditions unfavaroubale and increase the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and renal diseases and heat related illnesses. With 1.5°C warming, 350 million more people could be exposed to deadly heat stress by 2050.
  • Air pollution and increasing aeroallergen levels are also high in extreme heat that can trigger asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  • Climate change may affect human health by increasing ground-level ozone and/or particulate matter air pollution. Ground-level ozone (a key component of smog) is associated with many health problems, including diminished lung function, increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for asthma, and increases in premature deaths.
  • Fossil fuel combustion (for power, transportation and industry) responsible for climate change is also a major contributor to air pollution, which causes 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
  • Black carbon, produced by inefficient combustion in sources such as cook stoves and diesel engines, is the second greatest contributor to global warming.
  • Over 90% of the urban population of the world breathes air that exceeds WHO’s (World Health Organisation) guideline levels for outdoor air pollution.

Food supply problems:

  • Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions.
  • This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition. These were highlighted as a concern for a number of developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the impacts of climate change on food security, particularly in relation to floods and drought.
  • The meat and dairy industries contribute to approximately 15% of greenhouse gas emissions and diets that are high in meat and dairy increase risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Severe weather events:

  • An increase in frequency of extreme events such as storms, floods, droughts, and cyclone directly affects the human health in terms of loss of life and injury (physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorders) and affects indirectly through loss of houses; population displacement; contamination of water supplies; loss of food production; increased risk of epidemics of infectious diseases and damage to infrastructure for provision of health services.

Forced migration:

  • It is estimated that 22.5 million people are displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters, and these figures are expected to increase in the future.
  • Climate-induced human mobility has a socioeconomic cost with mental and social problems to individual and community.

The human cost:

  • Climate and weather have direct and indirect impacts on human life. The most disadvantaged, vulnerable and poor populations are expected to be disproportionately affected by climate change, with rising food and water insecurity, higher food prices, loss of income and livelihood opportunities, negative health effects, and population displacement (including forced migration).

Protecting health from climate change

  • Climate change is a global challenge that needs the action from all people. In late 2015, to address climate change, more than 190 countries approved Paris Agreement at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.
  • In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to make best efforts to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone.
  • In 2017 WHO launched a Special Initiative on Climate Change and Health in Small Island Developing States. While these countries contribute very little to causes of climate change, they are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
  • India laid strong foundations for greater global cooperation on climate action through its pledge for Paris Agreement. India has committed to cut its emission intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) by 33-35% of 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Promotion of renewable energy by Indian government is a strong commitment towards climate change. There's a lot we can also do in our daily life to prevent climate change including use of climate friendly transportation, save energy, go solar, harvest rain water, reduce waste and promote urban green spaces.

We have a much better future in store if we act quickly and make significant changes in our lifestyle. Rising global temperature, record levels of greenhouse emissions, and increasing impacts of climate change require urgent and measurable action on the part of everyone.

Source: National Health Portal & The Hindu

Assam's Prevention of Cattle Bill- Provisions & Critical Analysis

GS-II : Important Bills Important Bills

Assam's Prevention of Cattle Bill- Provisions & Critical Analysis

The Assam government introduced the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill 2021 to bring in more stringent measures to check the slaughter of cattle in the state.

Assam already has existing cow protection laws. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1951 (Later amended to Assam Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1962) lays down provisions for bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes, and buffalo calves

The new bill’s key proposals can be summarised as follows:

  • Obtaining “fit for slaughter certificate” from a Veterinary Officer
  • Such a certificate cannot be given for cows.
  • It also protects heifer or calves under the age of 14 years. Other types of cattle can be slaughtered only if they are over 14 years of age, or have become permanently incapacitated from work, breeding, accidental injury or deformity.
  • The Veterinary Officer is required to maintain records of reason for refusal to grant permission for slaughter for future reference and inspection by a “prescribed authority” appointed by the state government.
  • This prescribed authority has been granted wide powers under section 5 of this Bill to “at any time for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of such certificate or order for refusal or such certificate issued by a Veterinary Officer under this section, call for the examination of the record of any case and may pass orders thereon as it deems fit.”
  • Cattle for which a certificate has been granted can only be slaughtered at a licensed slaughterhouse recognised under a Central or State Act.
  • The state government can exempt certain places of worship or certain occasions for the slaughter of cattle (other than cow, heifer or calves) for religious purposes.

Transportation of cattle

  • A valid permit is required to transfer cattle within Assam as well as across state lines.
  • Transportation of cattle from outside the state or within the state to a place within the state where cattle slaughter is punishable under the Act is prohibited.
  • Cattle transportation must be carried in accordance with provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • Exceptions are made for transporting cattle for grazing, agriculture, animal husbandry purposes or sale in an animal market.
  • A permit has to be obtained for transport of cattle for agricultural or animal husbandry purposes
  • A record of all permit issued and reasons for rejection will be maintained for future reference and inspection by the state government or any officer appointed by it.
  • A person will be deemed to be transporting cattle for the purpose of slaughter unless contrary is proved to the satisfaction of the concerned authority or officer, by the person who has to show that he has obtained the permit for transportation for agricultural or animal husbandry purposes.
  • In case of violation of these provisions, the transporter can be detained and his vehicle seized.

Purchase and sale of beef

  • Purchase or sale of beef is prohibited in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jian, Sikh or other non-beef eating communities.
  • Purchase or sale of beef is prohibited within a 5 km radius of a temple, satra or religious institutions belonging to Hindu religion or any other institution or area as may be prescribed by the competent authority.

Punishment for violation of provisions

  • No person accused of an offense punishable under this Act, if in custody, can be released on bail or on his own bond, unless the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on the application for such release.
  • Those found guilty can be incarcerated for 3- 8 years, and also fined between Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs.
    Repeat offenders can expect to be faced with double the penalty.

Problematic elements in the new Bill

  • This Bill has certain provisions that can be misused to harass people, particularly those hailing from beef-eating communities.
  • If a new temple or satra is built in any area, automatically a 5 km radius around it becomes a no-beef zone, thus causing inconvenience to beef-eating residents of the area. This can once again be used as a strategy to push beef-eating communities into ghettos and further marginalise them.
  • Placing the burden of proof that cattle are being transported for agriculture or animal husbandry on the transporter of the cattle also makes them vulnerable to surveillance or even attacks by cow-protection groups.
  • The Bill also gives wide powers to the police to enter and inspect premises where they suspect any offense under the Act is being committed. This can be used as an intimidation tactic against minorities.
  • Imprisonment for 3-8 years appears harsh and a fine of Rs 3-5 lakhs is rather steep. Dairy farmers cant be expected to pay such large amounts as fines
  • Finally, Assam shares its border with Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, states where beef is consumed. If cattle transporters passing through Assam are under constant scrutiny, this could affect beef supply in these neighbouring states.

Source: TH

US-Canada Heat Waves

GS-I : Physical Geography Climatology

While heatwaves are quite common during the summer months, the scorching heatwave hitting parts of western Canada and the US has been particularly devastating – with temperature records shattered and hundreds of people falling victim to the extreme heat.

  • Canada broke its temperature record for a third consecutive day: recording a whopping 49.6°C on 29 June in Lytton, a village northeast of Vancouver, in British Columbia.
  • The persistent heat over parts of western Canada and parts of the US has been caused by a heat dome stretching from California to the Arctic.
  • Temperatures have been easing in coastal areas, but there has been little respite for the inland regions.

What is a Heat Dome?

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that to understand what causes a heat dome, one should liken the Pacific ocean to a large swimming pool in which the heater is turned on.
  • Once the heater is on, the portions of the pool close to the heating jets will warm up faster and therefore, the temperature in that area will be higher. In the same way, the western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.
  • This strong change in ocean temperature from the west to the east is what a team of scientists believe is the reason for the heat dome, which is when the atmosphere traps heat at the surface, which encourages the formation of a heat wave.
  • To compare, the reason that the planet Venus is the hottest in the Solar System is because its thick, dense cloud cover traps the heat at the surface, leading to temperatures as high as 471 degree Celsius.
  • The phenomenon causing the scorching heat is called a “heat dome.”
  • Hot air is trapped by high-pressure fronts, and as it is pushed back to the ground, it heats up even more.
  • The condition also prevents clouds from forming, allowing for more radiation from the sun to hit the ground.

Heat Wave:

  • A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that lasts for more than two days.
  • Heat waves typically occur between May and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Heat waves can occur with or without high humidity and have the potential to cover a large area, “exposing a high number of people to hazardous heat.”

Effects of Heat Dome:

  • Those living without an air conditioner see the temperatures of their homes rising to unbearably high, leading to sudden fatalities.
  • The trapping of heat can also damage crops, dry out vegetation and result in droughts.
  • The sweltering heat wave will alsolead to rise in energy demand, especially electricity, leading to pushing up rates.
  • The heat domes can also act as fuel to wildfires,which destroys a lot of land area in the US every year.
  • Heat dome is more likely to form during La Niña years like 2021, when waters are cool in the eastern Pacific and warm in the western Pacific.

Is it all linked to climate change?

  • It’s challenging to link any one specific weather event with climate change, but over time the trend is showing longer-lasting, more intense heat.
  • Climate change certainly influences hot weather: It is making heat more extreme and such extreme heat will occur more frequently.
  • In Russia, cities as far north as the Arctic circle broke heat records this month.

Source: TH, AFP, BBC

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