Lakshadweep Current Affairs
STAPCOR 2018: International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs held at Bangaram Island, Lakshadweep
International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) was held at Bangaram Island, Union Territory of Lakshadweep from 22nd to 24th October, 2018. The theme of the conference was “Reef for Life”. It was inaugurated by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
STAPCOR – 2018
It was jointly organized by Department of Environment and Forest, Union Territory of Lakshadweep Administration with the technical support of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and in association with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Environmental Information System (ENVIS) in consonance with declaration of year 2018 as 3rd decadal International year of Reefs. About 150 delegates both international and national had participated in this mega event. The delegates and keynote speakers for technical deliberations in this conference were from United State of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Kuwait, Italy, France, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
International Year of the Reef
International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has declared year 2018 as International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2018). It is designed to raise awareness about the threats to coral reefs and the associated ecosystem.
It is underwater marine ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect them. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. Coral belongs to class Anthozoa in animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Corals are often called “rainforests of the sea” as they form some of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems. They occupy less than 0.1% of world’s ocean area, but provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species.
Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas. Great Barrier Reef, located in Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia is largest Coral reef in the world. The major reef formations in India are restricted to Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kachchh, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. Coral reefs are fragile, partly because they are sensitive to water conditions.
Conditions required for their growth: Warm tropical oceans located between 30 degree north and 25 degree south latitudes where a minimum temperature of 20 degree is found and this temperature favour the growth of coral organisms, oceanic water free of sedimentation, transparent parts of ocean bodies, relatively low salinity ocean bodies.
Threats: They are under threat from excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), rising temperatures due to global warming, oceanic acidification, sunscreen use overuse, overfishing (eg. from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba),and harmful land-use practices, including runoff and seeps (e.g., from injection wells and cesspools).
The second meeting of Island Development Agency (IDA) was held in New Delhi. It was chaired by Rajnath Singh. It reviewed concept development plans and detailed master plans for holistic development of 9 islands.
These 9 islands include four in Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Smith, Ross, Long, Avis) and five in Lakshadweep (Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli).
In the meeting, it was decided that Naval air station at Shibpur near Diglipur in northern Andaman & Nicobar Islands will be co-used as Joint User Airport. It was also decided to develop PPP package including airport (Joint User Airport) at Minicoy Island, to unlock the tourism potential.
It was agreed to promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep. All concerned agencies were directed to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in islands and develop community based tourism in consultation with local stakeholders.
NITI Aayog was also asked to drive the formulation of PPP projects and proposed detailed guidelines to boost private sector participation. It aims at promoting and implementing development based on sustainable approach to building thriving maritime economy of project islands.
Island Development Agency (IDA)
The IDA was set up in June 2017 following Prime Minister’s review meeting for the holistic development of islands. Its first meeting was held in July 2017 were directions were given to identify and execute infrastructure and connectivity projects together with provisioning of water and electricity.
The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister. Members of IDA include cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, forests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare).