Uttarakhand Current Affairs

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Uttarakhand and Haryana Declared Open Defecation Free States

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G), rural Uttarakhand and rural Haryana have been declared as the 4th and 5th Open Defecation Free (ODF) States of India. Already, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, have been declared ODF.

As per the government sources, nationally the sanitation coverage has increased from 42% to over 64% since the launch of SBM. Uttarakhand has 13 districts, 95 blocks, 7256 gram panchayats and 15751 villages while Haryana has 21 districts, 124 blocks, and 6083 gram panchayats. All these have been declared as ODF. With this, the total number of ODF states in the country have increased to 5 covering more than 2 lakh villages and 147 districts across the country.

Background

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched in October 2014 to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation. The mission aims to achieve Swachh Bharat or make India clean by 2019, as a fitting tribute to the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The SBM consists of two sub-missions Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), implemented in rural areas, and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), implemented in urban areas. SBM-G seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by improving access to sanitation by ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction. It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.

Open defecation is an important factor for causing various diseases like intestinal worm infections, diarrhoea, polio, hepatitis etc.

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In a first, Uttarakhand deploys drones to monitor forest fires

In a first, the Uttarakhand Forest Department has deployed three drones for real-time monitoring of the forest fires. This is the first time that drones are used to monitor forest fires in India. Besides monitoring of forest fire, drones are already in use for wildlife conservation for nest status, aviation ethology, crocodile and water birds counting and monitoring.

Need

In India, Uttarakhand faces maximum incidents of forest fires. In 2016, about 2,000 incidents of forest fires destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest land in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand has about 71% of the total geographical area under forest cover. Thus, real time monitoring of forest fires will help in preventing the spread of forest fire. Though, the Forest Department employs both traditional method and modern methods with the help of satellite images, it is difficult to know about the forest fire in the Terai and Bhabar regions. The Terai region consists of fertile lowlands of the southern Himalayan, Shivalik foothills and north of Indo-Gangetic plains and the Bhabar region runs parallel to the north side of Terai.

Forest fires in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is known for human-induced forest fires since a long time. In 2016, the pine forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh caught fire. Most of the fires in Uttarakhand happen in the Chir pine (Pinus Rroxburghii) forests because leaves of this conifer tree catch fire easily. The forest fires in Uttarakhand have been predominantly intentional for the purpose of collection of forest resources such as resin, sal seeds, honey, timber etc. To collect resin easily, the surface fires are lit so that pine needles can be removed.

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NDMA conducts unique state level mock exercise on forest fire in Uttarakhand

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recently carried out first-of-its-kind State-level mock exercise on forest fire. The main objective of the mock exercise is to assess the efficacy of preparedness and response mechanisms available with the forest department and the district administration.

The exercise was conducted by NDMA in collaboration with the State Government. The exercise was conducted across all 13 districts covering different types of forests. Various agencies, such as fire, forest, Army, health, police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and civil defence took part in the drill.

Mock exercise on forest fire in Uttarakhand is significant as nearly 70% of the State’s geographical area comes under forests and incidents of forest fires are frequent.

NDMA so far has carried out more than 550 mock exercises across the country to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for various disaster situations.

Forest fires in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is known for human-induced forest fires since a long time. In 2016, the pine forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh caught fire. Most of the fires in Uttarakhand happen in the Chir pine (Pinus Rroxburghii) forests because leaves of this conifer tree catch fire easily. The forest fires in Uttarakhand have been predominantly intentional for the purpose of collection of forest resources such as resin, sal seeds, honey, timber etc. To collect resin easily, the surface fires are lit so that pine needles can be removed.

NDMA

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex Body for Disaster Management in India. It is responsible for laying down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.

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