News: A Himalayan butterfly named golden birdwing is now India’s largest, a record the southern birdwing held for 88 years.
With a wingspan of 194 mm, the female of the species is marginally larger than the southern birdwing (190 mm) that Brigadier William Harry Evans, a British military officer and lepidopterist, recorded in 1932.
But the male golden birdwing (Troides aeacus) is much smaller at 106 mm.
While the female golden birdwing was recorded from Didihat in Uttarakhand, the largest male was from the Wankhar Butterfly Museum in Shillong.
According to the authors, the only measurement used in the study of Lepidoptera is wingspan — a simple concept with various interpretations of the term.
The smallest butterly is the quaker (Neopithecops zalmora) with a wingspan of 18 mm and forewing length of a mere 8 mm.
2. BORDER ROADS ORGANISATION (BRO)
News: Defence Minister Rajanth Singh on Tuesday directed the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) that work on the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) road be completed by October, a defence source said.
About Border Roads Organisation (BRO):
The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India’s borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country.
In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman.
Today, the board exercises the financial and other powers of a Department of Government of India and is chaired by the Raksha Rajya Mantri (RRM).
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment (on Deputation).
Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometers of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
Presently, BRO is also involved in the construction of a tunnel at the Rohtang pass which is estimated to be ready by 2020 September.
Himank, also styled Project HIMANK, is a project of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the Ladakh region of northernmost India that started in August 1985.
Himank is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads and related infrastructure including the world’s highest motorable roads across the Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La passes.
Himank’s work ensures access to sensitive military areas including the world’s highest battle-ground at the Siachen Glacier and Pangong Tso Lake (at 14500 ft) whose waters span the de facto India-China border.
Nicknamed “The Mountain Tamers”, Himank’s personnel battling tough terrain and extreme climatic conditions and are constrained in most areas to work within a short working season of four months as roads get blocked by heavy snow and extreme cold temperatures.
Most of the manual labourers are from Bihar, not from Ladakh. They are nicknamed Dumkas after a village where many of the original Himank workers were recruited.
Himank constructed the world’s highest 86 km motorable road in Ladakh region, between Chisumle and Demchok villages, passing through Umlingla Top at a height of over 19,300 feet.
Himank constructed the world’s highest Bailey bridge at Khardung La, though this has been subsequently replaced by a causeway.
Himank’s opening of the Srinagar-to -Leh highway in May 1999 was a crucial factor in Operation Vijay allowing India to make a timely military response in the Kargil war.
The Sasoma–Saser La Road will be the “world’s first glaciated motorable road” once completed.
3. ARCTIC FUEL SPILL
News: Russia’s state environmental watchdog said on Monday that metals giant Norilsk Nickel should pay an unprecedented $2 billion in damages over a huge Arctic fuel spill.
About Norilsk Nickel:
Controlled by Russia’s richest man Vladimir Potanin, the company is the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium.
Nickel is a chemical element with the symbol Ni and atomic number 28.
It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge.
Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel, powdered to maximize the reactive surface area, shows a significant chemical activity, but larger pieces are slow to react with air under standard conditions because an oxide layer forms on the surface and prevents further corrosion (passivation).
Even so, pure native nickel is found in Earth’s crust only in tiny amounts, usually in ultramafic rocks, and in the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites that were not exposed to oxygen when outside Earth’s atmosphere.
Use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel–iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BCE.
Nickel is one of four elements (the others are iron, cobalt, and gadolinium) that are ferromagnetic at approximately room temperature.
Nickel is an essential nutrient for some microorganisms and plants that have enzymes with nickel as an active site.
About 68% of the production is used for making stainless steel.
About Arctic region:
The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.
The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States) , Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Northern Canada, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost (permanently frozen underground ice) containing tundra.
Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.
The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth’s ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions.
Life in the Arctic includes zooplankton and phytoplankton, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants and human societies.
Arctic land is bordered by the subarctic.
The Arctic’s climate is characterized by cold winters and cool summers.
Arctic vegetation is composed of plants such as dwarf shrubs, graminoids, herbs, lichens, and mosses, which all grow relatively close to the ground, forming tundra.
Trees cannot grow in the Arctic, but in its warmest parts, shrubs are common and can reach 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in height; sedges, mosses and lichens can form thick layers.
About Arctic Council:
The eight Arctic nations (Canada, Kingdom of Denmark [Greenland & The Faroe Islands], Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and USA) are all members of the Arctic Council, as are organizations representing six indigenous populations.
The Council operates on consensus basis, mostly dealing with environmental treaties and not addressing boundary or resource disputes.
No country owns the geographic North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it.
About Oil Spill Clean up methods:
Bioremediation: use of microorganisms or biological agents to break down or remove oil; such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris.
Bioremediation Accelerator: a binder molecule that moves hydrocarbons out of water and into gels, when combined with nutrients, encourages natural bioremediation. Oleophilic, hydrophobic chemical, containing no bacteria, which chemically and physically bonds to both soluble and insoluble hydrocarbons.
The accelerator acts as a herding agent in water and on the surface, floating molecules such as phenol and BTEX to the surface of the wate, forming gel-like agglomerations.
Undetectable levels of hydrocarbons can be obtained in produced water and manageable water columns.
By overspraying sheen with bioremediation accelerator, sheen is eliminated within minutes.
Whether applied on land or on water, the nutrient-rich emulsion creates a bloom of local, indigenous, pre-existing, hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria.
Those specific bacteria break down the hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide, with EPA tests showing 98% of alkanes biodegraded in 28 days; and aromatics being biodegraded 200 times faster than in nature they also sometimes use the hydrofireboom to clean the oil up by taking it away from most of the oil and burning it.
Controlled burning:It can effectively reduce the amount of oil in water, if done properly. But it can only be done in low wind, and can cause air pollution.
Dispersants: It can be used to dissipate oil slicks. A dispersant is either a non-surface active polymer or a surface-active substance added to a suspension, usually a colloid, to improve the separation of particles and to prevent settling or clumping.
They may rapidly disperse large amounts of certain oil types from the sea surface by transferring it into the water column.
4. FACTS FOR STATE SERVICES
Idlib Province: Syria
L&T Infrastructure Finance Company ltd.(LTIF) is the first Non – Banking Financial company in India to receive loan from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Equalisation Levy: Equalisation Levy was introduced in India in 2016, with the intention of taxing the digital transactions i.e. the income accruing to foreign e-commerce companies from India. It is aimed at taxing business to business transactions. It is a direct tax applicable only to non – residential service providers.