Odisha Current Affairs - 2020

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Mines Ministry organises Workshop on Effective utilization of Red Mud

Union Ministry of Mines organized an interactive workshop called ‘Waste to Wealth’ in New Delhi for discussing productive utilisation of bauxite residue, commonly known as Red Mud. The workshop was presided over by Dr K. Rajeswara Rao, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Mines and was organised in association with Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and Design Centre (JNARDDC) Nagpur.

Key Highlights

In workshop discussions were held regarding present status of generation, safe disposal and utilization of Red Mud. Mines Ministry urged all stake holders to work in synergy to find a lasting solution for productive utilisation of red mud.

Prepare a Roadmap: Deliberations were held to focus all efforts for effective bulk utilization of red mud with necessary government support, which will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved and based on these deliberations, a roadmap will be prepared for productive utilization of red mud.

Participants: Workshop was widely attended by representatives from organisations including Union Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Odisha State Pollution Control Board, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), Union Ministry of Road Transport, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Engineer-in-Chief of Army. Top executives from all 3 primary Aluminium producing companies in  India namely- NALCO, VEDANTA & HINDALCO and user industries like cement and ceramic industry also participated.

What is Red Mud?

It is a solid waste generated during Aluminium (Al) production process.

It is of high environmental concern due to presence of impurities like caustic soda and others minerals.

Globally of red mud is over 150 million tons and there exists a global inventory of over 3 billion tons. Red mud generation in India is around 9 million tons per year.

26 million year old Species of Vine Snake found in Western Ghats

Team of researchers, from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru while attempting to study and classify snakes in Western Ghats discovered Proahaetulla antiqua, a new vine snake species. This is an ancient species which is endemic to southern Western Ghats is thought to have evolved around 26 million years ago during the mid-Oligocene.

Key Highlights

Study Funded: The study describing unique features of this snake was published in journal PLOS ONE in collaboration with researchers from Chennai Snake Park, Chennai and Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Study was funded by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), DBT-IISc Partnership Programme and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

Vine Snakes: Vine snakes get their names due to their slender bodies and vine-like appearances. Although there are similar species in South America and Africa but Asian vine snakes, distributed throughout Asia, belong to the genus Ahaetulla. In India particularly there are 4 species of commonly distributed vine snakes, and another one was discovered in Odisha recently.

About Proahaetulla antiqua

They are named after Latin words ‘antiqua’, which means- old or ancient. The common name suggested for these individuals is ‘keeled vine snake’.

While studying evolutionary tree of Proahaetulla antiqua, researchers discovered that this species diverged from other vine snakes about 26 million years ago. Thus, they are not only a new species but also belong to a new genus. The new species faces no major extinction threats at the moment.

It was found in protected habitats of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala (both located in the southern Western Ghats).

Significance: Discovery would not only help know more about evolution of vine snakes but also evolutionary history of Western Ghats, a landmass older than Himalayas.