Why in news? Odisha Special Task Force (STF) has launched drive to bust an international syndicate that peddles ‘endangered’ pangolin, one of the world’s most illegally traded mammals.
Pangolins or scaly ant eaters are mammals of the order Pholidota.
Pangolins have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin; they are the only known mammals with this feature.
They live in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species.
Pangolins are nocturnal, and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites, which they capture using their long tongues.
They tend to be solitary animals, meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring, which are raised for about two years.
Pangolins are threatened by poaching (for their meat and scales) and heavy deforestation of their natural habitats, and are the most trafficked mammals in the world.
Of the eight species of pangolin, four are listed as vulnerable, two are listed as endangered, and two are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
The scales of the pangolin are sold raw or fried in Asia for as much as $500 per kilogram for treating asthma and migraines.
FACT # 2
Bhiku Ramji Idate Commission
Why in news? Bhiku Ramji Idate Commission has recently submitted its report on DNT, NT, SNT communities.
DNT, NT, SNT communities:
The DNT, NT, SNT communities have been identified as the most marginalised by several commissions set up since Independence.
The community has for long not been enumerated in the Census data.
The Renke Commission report of 2008 had arrived at a rough estimate of their population being between 10-12 crore but none of its recommendations were implemented.
Denotified tribes are those that were labelled as criminals through a legislation by British government and were denotified post-independence, the Nomadic tribes maintain constant geographical mobility while semi-nomads are those who are on the move but return to a fixed habitations once a year, mainly for occupational reasons.
Bhiku Ramji Idate Commission:
It has proposed to set up a permanent commission for Denotified (DNT), Semi Nomadic (SNT), and Nomadic Tribes (NT) on the lines of similar commissions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes.
Such a permanent commission should have a prominent community leader as its chairperson, and a senior Union government bureaucrat, an anthropologist, and a sociologist as members.
Also, a separate Working Group for framing Vision 2030 for development of these communities as per the UN Sustainable Development Goal be set up.
The working group could be look into various policy issues relating to the communities.
It also supports lowering tuition fees and relaxing admission conditions for children from the communities, and easy allotment of land and housing for members of the community in which 90 per cent or more are landless.
The Niti Aayog has also supported the panel’s suggestion to form a dedicated National Finance Development Corporation for DNT, SNT and NTs.
Other major recommendations of the panel include granting Constitutional protection to these communities under a separate third schedule after Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, making them eligible for reservation, and extending the protective cover of Prevention of Atrocities Act to them.
FACT # 3
Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project
Why in news? Five public sector oil and natural gas companies have signed a joint venture agreement to implement a Rs 6000-crore pipeline grid in the northeast region , which is being implemented under Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project.
Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project:
Urja Ganga gas pipeline project consists of a pipeline of length 2540km which is planned to be laid across the states from Uttar Pradesh to Odisha.
The project is committed to provide the household members health safety by providing clean fuel with the piped gas to the locals of Varanasi and later to Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
The seven main station cities include the following as the major beneficiaries of the project.
The government also plans to create 25 industrial clusters in these states which can utilise the gas as fuel and generate employment in these areas.
A lot of population lives in these states where cooking gas is scarcely available in the remote areas.
An estimation to serve 50,000 households is planned to get PNG and almost 20,000 vehicles will be able to get CNG gas per year.
It encompasses 40 districts and 2600 villages which will get the direct benefit.
The project is estimated to get complete in 2020, after which people can get gas supply at their houses itself.
It can also give lot of benefits to help renewal of a number of declining fertiliser industrialised units and other sectors like Power and Automotive.
In this scheme not only households but about half a million vehicles may switch over to CNG mode so that the problem of fuel in the country could be resolved.