Current Affairs - September, 2018

NITI Aayog calls for clear policy on shifting cultivation

NITI Aayog in its recently report has recommended that Ministry of Agriculture to take up mission on shifting cultivation to ensure inter-ministerial convergence between different ministries. The report was titled “Mission on Shifting Cultivation: Towards a Transformational Approach”.

Key Highlights of report

Central, State government departments of forests and environment, agriculture and allied departments have divergent approaches towards shifting cultivation. This creates confusion among grass-roots level workers and jhum farmer.

It calls for policy coherence and recognising land for shifting cultivation as agricultural land where farmers practise agro-forestry for production of food rather than as forestland. It also suggests that shifting cultivation fallows must be legally perceived and categorised as ‘regenerating fallows’ and credit facilities be extended to those who practise shifting cultivation.

It also addresses issue of food and nutritional security of communities involved in jhum cultivation during transition and transformation by broadening public distribution system (PDS) to ensure widespread access to cereals and other basic food items. It also noted that between 2000 and 2010, land under shifting cultivation dropped by 70 %.

Shifting Cultivation

It is traditional agricultural practice that involves clearing vegetative forest cover on land and slopes of hills, drying and burning it before onset of monsoon and cropping on it thereafter. After harvest, this land is left fallow and vegetative regeneration is allowed on it till the plot becomes reusable for same purpose in cycle.

In north east India, it is called as jhum cultivation. People involved in such cultivation are called Jhumia. Shifting cultivation is considered as important mainstay of food production for considerable population in northeast India in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur.

Shifting cultivation causes in long term causes problem of land degradation and threat to ecology of the region at large. Burning of forests provide temporary nutrients like potash to soil. Burning of forests results in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as CO2, NO2. It also increases surface run off of rainwater leading to soil erosion.

Month: Categories: Environment Current Affairs 2018

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India’s first ‘smart fence’ pilot project inaugurated along Indo-Pak border

India’s first ‘smart fence’ pilot project was inaugurated along two 5-km each patches of India-Pakistan International Border Jammu and Kashmir. It was launched by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh from Border Security Force (BSF) Headquarters in Ploura, J&K.

Smart fence pilot project

The initiative has been taken up by BSF as part of comprehensive integrated border management system (CIBMS). The pilot project involves deploying of laser-activated fences and technology-enabled barriers to plug vulnerable gaps along the frontiers.

It uses number of devices for surveillance, communication and data storage. It also comprises automated surveillance technology and alarm detection systems. It also has sensors like thermal imager, underground sensors, fiber optical sensors, radar and sonar mounted on different platforms like aerostat, tower and poles as part of the smart fence

The smart fences along with other gadgets are integrated with CCTV-live feed which is routed to BSF post so that immediate action can be taken against any intrusion or infiltration attempt. The shortcomings of this pilot project will be addressed to make Comprehensive Integrated Border Management system fool proof before it is extended to other areas.

Significance

Smart fence system is technological solution devised to make security system at borders more strong and effective. It will help to provide round-the-clock surveillance along the border, even in harsh weather conditions such dust storm, fog or rain. It is expected to be massive boon for monitoring security situations in border areas. It will make virtually impossible for terrorists to infiltrate into Indian side of border.

Background

Earlier this year, BSF had operationalised first smart fence on riverine stretch of Indian border with Bangladesh in Assam. The riverine stretch where first smart fence was put up was previously patrolled by BSF speedboats. Due to its geographical features, no outpost was erected in area which often led to incidents like illegal migrations, smuggling etc. going unchecked. The introduction of the fence was done to bring down such instances.

Month: Categories: Defence Current Affairs 2018

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