Current Affairs – December 2015

Union Cabinet approves Raptor MoU for conservation of migratory birds of prey

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia.

This MoU is also called as the ‘Raptor MoU’ under the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). With signing it, India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU.

About Raptor MoU

  • It is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and is not legally binding on signatory parties.
  • The MoU seeks willingness of the signatory states for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats.
  • The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out and an action plan has been formulated that envisages the conservation action for Raptor species.

Of the total 76 species of birds that fall in Raptor MoU, 46 species occur in India including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc.

Benefits of singing ‘Raptor MoU’

  • Help India to gain knowledge in effectively managing the habitats of to 76 species of birds under ambit of it.
  • It is also in conformity with the provisions of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 wherein the birds have been accorded protection in India.
  • Concert trans-boundary efforts for conservation of migratory birds through interaction with other signatory countries of the MoU with the CMS.

Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)

The CMS (also known as Bonn Convention) under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. India had become a party to the CMS since 1st November 1983. Pakistan and Nepal are the Indian neighbours who are signatories to this MoU.

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Union Cabinet gives nod for India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal that came into force on November 13, 2015.

The deal along with the administrative arrangement for implementing the accord will bolster India’s energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in the country.

Background

  • India and Australia had started talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after Australia had lifted the long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.
  • The cooperation agreement was signed between two countries in September 2014 to sell uranium as a nuclear fuel for peaceful power generation.
  • India-Australia Nuclear Cooperation deal follows similar agreements signed by India with the US and France after western sanctions were lifted in 2008.

Currently, India has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia, Kazakhstan and Canada (since December 2015). Australia has about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves and annually exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel. It is third largest uranium producing country after Kazakhstan and Canada.

Nuclear Energy in India

Presently, nuclear energy just contributes 3 per cent of electricity generation in India. The energy starved country has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW of its total power capacity. India is seeking to diversify its electricity generation and is planning to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 new reactors.

Comment

With this, India became India the first country to buy Uranium from Australia without being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). It also marks India’s step toward achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the NPT.

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