Why in news? Union government has inaugurated the Zojila tunnel project.
The Zojila tunnel project:
The Zojila tunnel project will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
At 14.2 km it will be the country’s longest road tunnel.
The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the 3.5 hours to 15 minutes.
It will also be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel and will be built at a cost of ₹6,809 crore.
It is expected to be completed in five years.
The pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 ft on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall, which cuts off Ladakh region from Kashmir.
The Centre and the state government are working together to take the development work forward.
Many local people will get employment opportunities during the development of the tunnel.
The tunnel will have a transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, pedestrian cross passages at every 250 metres, as well as emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets at every 125 metres.
FACT # 2
INTERNATIONAL BIO-DIVERSITY DAY
Why in news? The Convention on Biological Diversity is celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, 2018.
International Day for Biological Diversity:
The United Nations proclaimed May 22 ‘The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB)’ to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
The Convention on Biological Diversity is celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, 2018, with the theme “Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity”.
The celebration comes with an aim to highlight the progress made in the achievement of its objectives at the national and global levels on biodiversity.
The aim to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity is to make people aware of the importance of biodiversity issues.
There have been different themes of celebrations every year.
The Convention has three goals:
the global conservation of biodiversity
its sustainable use
the equitable sharing of its benefits
Achieving these objectives is integral to meet goals for sustainable development.
Protecting and restoring ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services are necessary for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change.
Protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.
From 2018 onwards, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people.
FACT # 3
Why in news? The Himalayan trillium is in danger of local extinction in India
A common herb of the Himalayas, the Himalayan trillium, could soon go locally extinct in many parts of its range in India if its excessive harvests are not regulated.
The Himalayan trillium is found across India, Bhutan, Nepal and China.
It is a natural source of steroidal saponins which are important components of steroidal drugs.
The plant is popular in traditional Chinese medicine.
Increased demands over the last decade has made its illegal collection from the wild a rather lucrative business in India: a kilogram fetches about Rs.3,000-5,000.
The current gathering practices are entirely destructive as a single team uproots all plants in an area lest other collecting teams get to them later.
The trilliums growing mostly in moist hill slopes with dense tree cover.
Mature plants (which can live to 30 years or more) usually produce only one flower per year and vegetative reproduction through tubers occurs only in very old plants.
Unregulated harvests combined with such low levels of reproduction and other pressures like grazing could cause local extinction of the plant in many regions.