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15 May, 2020

32 Min Read

Keeping Asia-Pacific afloat-Solutions for sustainable Marine Economy


Keeping Asia-Pacific afloat

By, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is Executive Secretary of ESCAP

Thriving marine environment

For generations, the Asia-Pacific region has thrived on our seas.

The seas provide food, livelihoods and a sense of identity, especially for coastal communities in the Pacific island states.

Escalating strains on the marine environment are threatening to drown progress and our way of life.

Threats to Marine Environment

  1. In less than a century, climate change and unsustainable resource management have degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity.
  2. Levels of overfishing have exponentially increased, leaving fish stocks and food systems vulnerable.
  3. Marine plastic pollution coursing through the region’s rivers has contributed to most of the debris flooding the ocean.
  4. Asia and the Pacific produces nearly half of global plastic by volume, of which it consumes 38%.
  5. Plastics represent a double burden for the ocean: their production generates CO2 absorbed by the ocean, and as a final product enters the ocean as pollution.
  6. Environmental decline is also affecting fish stocks. Our region’s position as the world’s largest producer of fish has come at the cost of over-exploitation.
  7. The percentage of stocks fished at unsustainable levels has increased threefold from 10% in 1974 to 33% in 2015.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced pollution, this should not be a moment of reprieve. Rather, recovery efforts need to build a new reality, embedded in sustainability.

Lack of data

Insights from ‘Changing Sails: Accelerating Regional Actions for Sustainable Oceans in Asia and the Pacific’, the theme study of this year’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), reveal that without data, we are swimming in the dark.

Data are available for only two out of ten targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.

Due to limitations in methodology and national statistical systems, information gaps have persisted at uneven levels across countries.


  1. Effective national policies and re-thinking production cycles.
  2. Generating complete data on fish stocks, fighting illicit fishing activity and conserving marine areas must remain a priority.
  3. While the most connected shipping economies are in Asia, the small island developing States of the Pacific experience much lower levels of connectivity, leaving them relatively isolated from the global economy.
  4. Closing the maritime connectivity gap must be placed at the centre of regional transport cooperation efforts.
  5. We must also work with the shipping community to navigate toward green shipping. Enforcing sustainable shipping policies is essential.
  6. Trans-boundary ocean management and linking ocean data call for close cooperation among countries in the region.
  7. Harnessing ocean statistics through strong national statistical systems will serve as a compass guiding countries to monitor trends, devise timely responses and clear blind spots.
  8. ESCAP is working with member states to implement International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements.
  9. Keeping the ocean plastic-free will depend on policies that promote a circular economy approach.

Way Ahead

Through the Ocean Accounts Partnership, ESCAP is working with countries to harmonise ocean data and provide a space for regular dialogue.Translating international agreements and standards into national action.

Our oceans keep our economy and our lives above the waves. In the post-COVID-19 era, we must use the years ahead to steer our collective fleets toward sustainable oceans.

Source: TH

Post-lockdown guidelines | Work from home may stay for government staff

GS-II : Governance Policies and Programmes

Post-lockdown guidelines | Work from home may stay for government staff

In a post-lockdown scenario, the Centre will continue with staggered and variable work hours and the Personnel Ministry has floated a draft consultation paper to adopt the best work from home practices for Central government employees.

Draft guidelines

  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) may provide an option for work from home to the eligible officers/staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy.
  • However, “classified papers/files” cannot be processed while working from home.
  • Therefore, classified files shall not be processed in the e-office during work from home.
  • The National Informatics Centre may evaluate the existing security protocol for remote access of classified file/ information in consultation with the Home Ministry and propose suitable guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for handling classified information in the e-office.
  • Classified files shall be processed on standalone computers only as specified in the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure (CSMOP).
  • Employees will be provided with laptops or desktops.
  • Employees will be reimbursed for the internet charges while working from home.

Source: TH

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)


Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  1. Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  2. Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  3. Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
  4. Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.


The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers.

Note: A slum is defined as a compact area of at least 300 people or about 60 - 70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.

  • Beneficiaries include Economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups (LIGs) and Middle Income Groups (MIGs). (The annual income cap is up to Rs 3 lakh for EWS, Rs 3 to 6 lakh for LIG and Rs 6 to18 lakhs for MIG. EWS category of beneficiaries is eligible for assistance in all four verticals of the Missions whereas LIG and MIG categories are eligible under only Credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) component of the Mission.)
  • For identification as a EWS or LIG beneficiary under the scheme, an individual loan applicant will submit self-certificate/ affidavit as proof of income.
  • A beneficiary family will comprise husband, wife, unmarried sons and/or unmarried daughters.
  • The beneficiary family should not own a pucca house either in his/her name or in the name of any member of his/her family in any part of India to be eligible to receive central assistance under the mission.
  • States/UTs, at their discretion, may decide a cut-off date on which beneficiaries need to be resident of that urban area for being eligible to take benefits under the scheme.

At the slum decadal growth rate of 34%, the slum households are projected to go upto 18 million. 2 million non-slum urban poor households are proposed to be covered under the Mission. Hence, total housing shortage envisaged to be addressed through the new mission is 20 million.


“Housing for All” Mission for urban area is being implemented during 2015-2022 .

Mission will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.

Mission with all its component has become effective from the date 17.06.2015 and will be implemented upto 31.03.2022.


Chitra GeneLAMP-N


Chitra GeneLAMP-N

  • The Chitra GeneLAMP-N was developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram
  • The Chitra technology uses a method called Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).
  • The objective, like that of the gold-standard RT-PCR tests, is the same: to detect the presence of viral RNA. Both achieve this via a series of chemical transformations.
  • The LAMP method is said to be faster but is a relatively newer technology, more complicated in its design and has not been tested extensively for COVID-19 detection.

N gene test

  • Most RT-PCR kits focus on two different genes, the E (envelope) gene and the RdRP (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) gene.
  • The World Health Organization recommends an E and RdRP test, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires an N gene test.
  • The N gene test is a confirmatory test and is widely employed in Germany and China, among other countries.
  • However, the design of it is complicated and can be expensive.
  • The CDC protocol says three regions of the N gene must be analysed but the Chitra-model tests two to confirm the identity of the virus.

Source: TH

Poumai Naga Tribe

GS-I :

Poumai Naga Tribe

  • The Poumai Naga is one of the major Naga tribes in the northeastern state of Manipur in India.
  • The Poumai predominantly live in the Senapati District of Manipur, though there are villages in Nagaland state.
  • The Poumai speak their own language, Paula, and are generally Christians.
  • They celebrate Thounii Festival

Source: TH

6.5-km two-lane tunnel road to Wayanad


6.5-km two-lane tunnel road to Wayanad gets the nod

  • The government has given the nod for a ?658-crore two-lane tunnel road in the Anakkampoyil-Kalladi-Meppadi corridor that would run parallel to the landslip-prone Thamarassery pass that links Kozhikode to Wayanad.
  • The 6.5-km tunnel will be the third longest in the country. The largest tunnel in India is the Chenani-Nashri tunnel (Patnitop tunnel) which runs 9.28 km.
  • Approach roads and a 70-metre bridge over the Iranjipuzha river are part of the project.
  • Kerala’s longest is the 962-metre tunnel at Kuthiran, between Thrissur and Palakkad.
  • The Konkan Railway Corporation, which prepared the detailed project report, will execute the project

Source: TH

Perumon bridge and Naluchira bridge


Perumon bridge and Naluchira bridge

  • The Cabinet has also given the nod for a 39.9-crore Perumon bridge across Ashtamudi Lake in the Kollam district.
  • The proposed bridge will link Perumon and Munrothuruthu.
  • The 34.39 crore Naluchira bridge across the Pampa river to link Thottappally and Naluchira in Alappuzha district has also got approval.

Source: TH

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