SPR 2021: Places in News

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Table of Contents

 

 

Places in News- India

The lesser-known important places: 

Agatti island

  • Context: 
    • Recently, the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has granted an interim stay on the felling of coconut trees on Agatti Island in Lakshadweep.
  • About:
    • Agatti Island is a 7.6 km long island, situated on a coral atoll called Agatti atoll in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, India.
    • It is at a distance of 459 km from Kochi (Kerala) and is located to the west of Kavaratti Island (capital of Lakshadweep).
    • It has an area of 3.84 sq km and has a northeast, southwest trend with a long tail on the south.
    • The lagoon area of this island is 17.50 sq km and there is plenty of coral growth and multicoloured coral fishes in the lagoons.
    • Fishing is the most important industry of Agatti which is perhaps the only island besides Minicoy getting surplus fish. Next to fishing, coir (coconut fibre) and copra (dried meat or kernel of the coconut) are the main industries.

Zabarwan Range

  • Context: 
    • Tulip festival was recently organized at the much-hyped Tulip Garden, located at the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain range. 
  • About: 
    • It is a short (32 km long) sub-mountain range between Pir Panjal and the Great Himalayan Range in the central part of the Kashmir Valley in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in India. 
    • It borders the central part of the Kashmir Valley in the east.
    • It is the mountain range between Sind Valley and Lidder Valley on the north and south, and between the Zanskar Range and Jehlum Valley on the east and west, respectively.
    • Specifically, the range is known to be what overlooks the Dal Lake and holds the Mughal gardens of Srinagar.
    • The Shankaracharya Temple is built on the edge of the central part of the Zabarwan Range. The highest peak of this range is Mahadev Peak at 3,966 m.
    • The Dachigam National Park, spread over 141 km2, is the main feature of the range. The national park holds the last viable population of Kashmir stag (Hangul) and the largest population of black bears in Asia.
    • The range is also home to musk deer, leopard, Himalayan brown bear, leopard cat, jungle cat, red fox, jackal, Himalayan wolf, serow, Himalayan yellow-throated marten, long-tailed marmot, Indian porcupine, Himalayan mouse-hare, langur and Himalayan weasel.

Mahendragiri Hill

  • Context: 
    • The Odisha government has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri, a hill ecosystem having a rich biodiversity.
    • The 5,569-square kilometre Similipal Biosphere Reserve is Odisha’s first such reserve and was notified May 20, 1996.
  • About: 
    • Mahendragiri is a mountain in the Rayagada subdivision of the district of Gajapati, Odisha, India.
    • It is situated amongst the Eastern Ghats at an elevation of 1,501 metres. 
    • This is the second-highest mountain peak of Odisha after Deomali in the Koraput district. 
    • Mahendragiri is inhabited by the Soura people, a particularly vulnerable tribal group as well as the Kandha tribe.
    • The hill and its surrounding areas are recognized as a biodiversity hot spot due to numerous medicinal plants and other species that are found here.
    • The area of the proposed Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is around 470,955 hectares and is spread over Gajapati and Ganjam districts in the Eastern Ghats.
    • The hill ecosystem acts as a transitional zone between the flora and fauna of southern India and the Himalayas, making the region an ecological estuary of genetic diversities.
    • The rich flora in Mahendragiri represents 40% of the reported flora of Odisha, with around 1,358 species of plants.

Dzukou valley

  • Context:
    • A huge wildfire in Dzukou valley located on the Manipur-Nagaland border caused severe damage to the environment.
  • About:
    • This valley, also popularly known as the ‘valley of flowers', is located at the borders of Nagaland and Manipur.
    • Situated at an altitude of 2,438 metres behind the Japfu mountain range, it is one of the most popular trekking spots in the North East.
    • Dzukou valley and Japfu peak are located adjacent to the Pulie Badze Wildlife Sanctuary (Kohima, Nagaland).
    • There are no human habitations within the forests, but they are home to rare and ‘vulnerable’ (as per the IUCN Red List) birds – Blyth’s Tragopan (Nagaland’s state bird), the Rufous-necked Hornbill and the Dark-rumped Swift, among many others. Also found in the forests are endangered Western Hoolock Gibbons.
    • It is famous for its wide range of flowers in every season. Rare Dzükou Lily is found only in this valley.
    • It is home to the Angami people.

Dholavira

Context:

  • Recently, UNESCO has announced the Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat as India’s 40th world heritage site. It is the first site of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to be included on the coveted list.

About:

  • The ancient city of Dholavira is an archaeological site at Kachchh District, in the state of Gujarat, which dates from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • Dholavira’s location is on the Tropic of Cancer. It is located on Khadir bet island in the Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the Great Rann of Kachchh.
  • It is one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia and was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
  • With this successful nomination, India now enters the Super-40 club for World Heritage Site inscriptions- Italy, Spain, Germany, China and France have 40 or more World Heritage sites.
  • India has 40 world heritage sites overall, which includes 32 cultural, 7 natural and one mixed property. 
  • After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
  • The site contains ruins of an ancient IVC/Harappan city. It comprises two parts: a walled city and a cemetery to the west of the city.
  • The walled city consists of a fortified Castle with attached fortified Bailey and Ceremonial Ground, and a fortified Middle Town and a Lower Town.
  • A series of reservoirs are found to the east and south of the Citadel.
  • Unlike other Harappan antecedent towns normally located near to rivers and perennial sources of water, the location of Dholavira in the island of Khadir bet.
  • This was strategic to harness different mineral and raw material sources (copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, banded limestone, among others).
  • It also facilitated internal as well as external trade to the Magan (modern Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.

Rammapppa Temple

Context: 

  • The majestic Ramappa temple at Palampet village, 210 km north-east of Hyderabad, bagged the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site tag along Dholavira.

About:

  • The ruins of the temple, built in the 13th century by the Kakatiya line of kings (regarded as one of the brightest periods of Telugu history), is the first site in the state and the 39th in the country to get the honour.
  • It is the best known of the Kakatiya temples with its decorative pillars, exquisitely carved ceilings and the celebrated figures of dancers and musicians.
  • The temple dedicated to Shiva is often described as the brightest star in the galaxy of the medieval temples of the Deccan.
  • It reflects a repository of Kakatiyan creative genius, with its intricate carvings adorning the walls, pillars and ceilings of the marvelous edifice.
  • It was built in 1213 AD by Recharla Rudra, the general of King Ganapathi Deva.
  • Though the presiding deity here is Ramalingeswara Swamy, the temple was named after the sculptor Ramappa, who completed the task in 14 years.
  • Built with sandstone and a sandbox foundation, the temple has decorated beams and columns made of granite stone.
  • The heritage site status also now implies a new beginning for conservation and management for both Rammapppa Tmeple and Dholavira. 

Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Context:
    • Recently, Odisha lost more than six elephants due to Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS) in two weeks in the Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • About:
    • It is located in the Kalahandi district of Odisha.
    • It is home to a plethora of wildlife animals and birds such as leopard, gaur, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, mouse deer, soft claws Ottawa, a wide variety of birds and reptiles.
    • The sanctuary was first notified in 1969 by the conservator of Forest and was formally notified under the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 in 1992.
    • It lies within Eastern Highlands moist deciduous forests eco-region.
    • The forest consists of flora like Sal, Bija, Asan, Harida, Amala, Bahada, and Bamboo and varieties of medicinal plants.
    • There are several small and big waterfalls inside the sanctuary like Phurlijharan, Ghusrigudi, Dumnijhola, Kamalajharan, Koyirupa, Kuang, and Raja Rani.

Haemorrhagic septicaemia

  • It is a disease that infects animals that come in contact with contaminated water or soil by a contagious bacteria (Pasteurella multocida).
  • In this disease the respiratory tract and lungs of the animals are affected, leading to severe pneumonia.
  • It mainly affects water buffalo, cattle and bison with a high mortality rate in infected animals.
  • The disease generally spreads in the period right before and after the monsoons. 

 


Pakke Tiger Reserve

  • Context:
    • Indian Prime Minister will inaugurate the Ro-Pax terminal at Hazira and flag off the Ro-Pax service between Hazira and Ghogha in Gujarat on Sunday.
  • About:
    • Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve.
    • It is located in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
    • Towards the south and southeast, the sanctuary adjoins Nameri National Park of Assam. To the east lies the Pakke River and to the west, the park is bounded by the Bhareli or Kameng River.
    • It is home to over 2000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, etc. Many species of the flora and fauna are globally threatened, and PTR is one of the last remaining strongholds left for these species.
    • It is known for its amazing sightings of four resident hornbill species.
    • The great hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and it is ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Context:
    • Too many cattle robbing rhinos of nutrition in ‘Mini Kaziranga’.
    • This has been confirmed by the death of two rhinos whose alimentary canals had a high load of worms because of nutritional stress caused by dry reeds and other such “junk food” of the wilderness.
  • About:
    • Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is also known as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ due to its similar landscape and vegetation.
    • It is a wildlife sanctuary on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra in the Morigaon district in Assam.
    • The natural boundary of the Pobitara wildlife sanctuary is the Garanga Beel on the south and the river Brahmaputra on the North.
    • It has the second-highest concentration of endangered one-horned Rhinos in Assam after Kaziranga National Park.
    • It is home to mammals such as Leopard, Leopard cat, Fishing cat, Jungle cat, Feral Buffalo, Wild pigs, Chinese pangolins, etc.
    • It is an Important Bird Area and home to more than 2000 migratory birds and various reptiles.
    • About 72% of Pobitora Sanctuary consists of wet savannah grasses like Arundo donax and Saccharum. The remaining area is covered by water bodies.
    • Water hyacinth (an invasive aquatic plant) is a major problem to the area especially to waterfowl, as it forms thick mats on the water surface.

Mansar Lake

  • Context:
    • Union Minister for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has inaugurated the Comprehensive Mansar Lake Rejuvenation/Development Plan.
    • It is a comprehensive plan that aims to holistically develop the sacred Lake of Manser as the second biggest tourist destination in the Jammu region and also to preserve the lake, its ecology and heritage.
  • About:
    • It is situated 62 km from Jammu.
    • Surinsar Lake and Mansar Lake are considered to be twin lakes.
    • Surinsar is rain-fed without permanent discharge, and Mansar is primarily fed by surface runoff and partially by mineralized water through paddy fields, with inflow increasing in the rainy season.
    • Mansar is of immense importance from the Pilgrimage as well Heritage point of view beyond being the most scenic attraction due to vast Mansar Lake and its flora and fauna.
    • It is one of the 26 Ramsar Sites designated as Wetlands of International importance located in Jammu & Kashmir.
    • The Surinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary is nestled in the midst of both lakes.
    • The site is socially and culturally very important with many temples around owing to its mythical origin from the Mahabharata period.

 


Umngot


Context:

  • Stiff resistance from at least 12 villages in Meghalaya has cast a cloud on a 210 MW hydroelectric project on Umngot, considered India’s clearest river.

About:

  • It is a river in Meghalaya.
  • It is considered to be India’s clearest river.
  • The river attracts many tourists to Dawki bordering Bangladesh.
  • The river is the natural boundary between Ri Pnar (of Jaintia Hills) with Hima Khyrim (of Khasi Hills).
  • Dawki Bridge is a suspension bridge over the Umngot River.

 


Melghat tiger reserve

  • Context: 
    • The Maharashtra forest department has imparted skill development training to over 200 youth from 25 villages located near Melghat tiger reserve in Amravati to help them get jobs and have a sustainable livelihood.
  • About:
    • Located in the Amaravati district of Maharashtra.
    • It is on the southern offshoot of the Satpura Hill Range in Central India, called Gavilgarh Hill/Ridge.
    • The Tapti River and the Gawilgadh ridge form the boundaries of the reserve.
    • It was declared a tiger reserve in 1974. It was among the first nine tiger reserves notified in 1973-74 under Project Tiger.
    • It was the first tiger reserve of Maharashtra.
    • The name 'Melghat' means the confluence of various 'ghats' or valleys as is typical from the landscape of this Tiger Reserve.
    • The main fauna found here are the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Sloth Bear, Indian Gaur, Sambar deer, Nilgais, etc. The endangered and 'back from extinction' Forest Owlet is also found in various areas of Melghat.

Maguri Motapung Wetland

  • Context:
    • This wetland is 500m away from the oil well that exploded in June 2020.
  • About:
    • Maguri Motapung Beel is less than 10 km south of the more famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and part of the Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve.
    • The wetland derives its name from ‘Magur’, the local word for the catfish Clarius batrachus, once found here in abundance.
    • Motapung is a village nearby, and Beel is the Assamese word for the wetland.
    • It was declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) in 1996.
    • This reserve connects the national park in Assam to Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh, creating a big wildlife corridor of immense importance in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot.
    • The reserve is located within the Brahmaputra’s floodplains and is limited by the Lohit river in the north and the Dibru in the south. 
    • Important species: Golden Mahaseer, vulnerable species (like the Swamp Francolin and the Marsh Babbler), two endangered (Greater Adjutant and Pallas’s Fish-eagle), and six critically endangered (like Baer’s Pochard, Red-headed Vulture and White-bellied Heron).

Sumdorong Chu

  • Context:
    • In 1986–87, a military standoff took place between India and China in the Sumdorong Chu Valley bordering the Tawang district, Arunachal Pradesh and Cona County, Tibet.
    • The standoff was the first military confrontation along the disputed McMahon Line after the 1962 war and gave rise to fears of escalation.
  • About:
    • Sumdorong Chu (referred to as Sangduoluo He in the Chinese media), is a tributary of the Nyamjang Chu river that flows along the disputed Sino-Indian border between the Cona County of Tibet and the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • It originates in the Tokpo Shiri Glacier on top of the eastern watershed range of Nyamjang Chu and flows down to join Nyamjang Chu after over a distance of 7–10 kilometres.

Naku La

  • Context:
    • Recently, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a temporary and short duration face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Naku La (Sikkim) and near Pangong Tso Lake (Eastern Ladakh).
  • About:
    • Naku La sector is a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in the state of Sikkim.
    • It is located ahead of Muguthang or Cho Lhamu (source of River Teesta).
    • At Muguthang, the road on the Chinese side is motorable, and on the Indian side, it is a remote area.
    • The other passes located in the state of Sikkim are Nathu La Pass, Donkia Pass, Chiwabhanjang Pass and Jelep La Pass.
  • Pangong Tso Lake:
    • Pangong Lake is located in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
    • It is situated at a height of almost 4,350m and is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
    • Extending to almost 160km, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.

Other Important Places:

Nathu La 


  • Context:
    • Recently, the Indian Army rescued several tourists caught in a snowstorm at Nathu La on the India-China border in Sikkim.
  • About:
    • Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas connecting Sikkim with the Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau in China.
    • It is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal, and China.
    • Nathu means 'listening ears', and La means 'pass’.

Khardungla 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrated its 88th Anniversary on 8th Oct, and in order to commemorate this event, the IAF achieved a new record of the highest Skydive Landing at Khardungla Pass.
  • About Khardungla Pass:
    • It is known as the gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valleys in the union territory of Ladakh.
    • It is the highest motorable pass in the world.
    • Khardung La Pass is positioned on the Ladakh range, which is 40 km from Leh, at an altitude of 18,379 ft (5602 m).
    • The tourists are required to carry the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to pass through Khardung La.
    • The roads at Khardungla Pass are maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
    • It is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia.
    • It is located on the western side of the Aksai Chin.

Chusul 

  • Context:
    • India and China recently held the fourth round of Corps Commanders talks at Chushul.
  • About:
    • It is a village in the Leh district of Ladakh, India.
    • It is located in the Durbuk tehsil, in the area known as “Chushul valley”.
    • It is close to Rezang La and Pangong Lake at a height of 4,360 metres.
    • Chushul is one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People's Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies to improve relations.
    • This place is famous for the Indian Army who fought to the 'last man, last round' at Rezang La (Chushul) on November 18, 1962. Without this crucial victory, the territory might have been captured by China.

Nimo/Nimoo

  • Context:
    • Recently Prime Minister travelled to Nimu in Ladakh to interact with Indian troops.
    • Nimu is the reserve brigade headquarter of the Indian Army.
    • Its significance can also be ascertained from the fact that the Border Road Organisation (BRO) is constructing a road from Padum in the Zanskar Valley to Nimu.
  • About:
    • Nimu is a village located in the south-eastern part of the Ladakh region.
    • It is surrounded by the Zanskar range.
    • It is famous for offering a view of the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers.
    • Magnet Hill is a gravity-defying road 7.5 km southeast of Nimoo. Due to the surrounding geographical features, it has an optical illusion where vehicles seem to roll uphill in defiance of gravity when they are, in fact, rolling downhill.

Demchok sector

  • Context:
    • Chinese soldier who strayed across LAC in Ladakh’s Demchok sector released.
  • About:
    • It is a disputed region centred on the villages of Demchok, Ladakh, and Dêmqog, Ngari Prefecture, situated near the confluence of the Charding Nullah and Indus River.
    • It is part of the greater Sino-Indian border dispute between China and India.
    • Both India and China claim the disputed region, with a Line of Actual Control between the two nations situated along the Charding Nullah.

Dhauliganga

  • Context:
    • Recently, a glacial break in the Tapovan-Reni area of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand led to a massive Flash Flood in Dhauli Ganga and Alaknanda Rivers, damaging houses and the nearby Rishiganga power project.
  • About Dhauliganga:
    • Originating from Vasudhara Tal, perhaps the largest glacial lake in Uttarakhand, the Dhauliganga flows in a meandering course, which takes it through the Nanda Devi National Park.
    • Dhauliganga is one of the important tributaries of Alaknanda, the other being the Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi.
    • Dhauliganga is joined by the Rishiganga river at Raini.
    • It merges with the Alaknanda at Vishnuprayag.
    • There it loses its identity and the Alaknanda flows southwest through Chamoli, Maithana, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag until it meets the Mandakini river, coming from the north at Rudraprayag.
    • After subsuming Mandakini, the Alaknanda carries on past Srinagar, before joining the Ganga at Devprayag.
    • Alaknanda then disappears and the mighty Ganga carries on its journey, first flowing south then west through important pilgrimage centres such as Rishikesh and finally descending into the Indo-Gangetic plains at Haridwar.
Place  Confluence of Rivers
Devaprayag Bhagirathi + Alaknanda
Rudraprayag Mandakini + Alaknanda
Karnaprayag Pinder + Alaknanda
Nandprayag Nandakini + Dhauliganga
Vishnuprayag

Dhauliganga + Alaknanda

  • Nanda Devi National Park:
    • It is situated around the peak of Nanda Devi (7816 m) in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India.
    • The park encompasses the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by a ring of peaks, and drained by the Rishi Ganga through the Rishi Ganga Gorge.
    • The Park was established as Sanjay Gandhi National Park by Notification in 1982 but was later renamed Nanda Devi National Park.
    • It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1988.
    • Some 312 floral species that include 17 rare species have been found here. Fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper are the main flora. Himalayan black bear, Snow leopard, Himalayan Musk Deer, etc are main fauna.
  • Tapovan hydropower project:
    • The Tapovan Vishnugad power plant is a 520MW run-of-river project which is being constructed on the Dhauliganga River in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand.

Jiadhal River

  • Context:
    • Thousands descended on the National Highway-15 to protest against the state government’s alleged tardiness to control the erratic flooding of the Jiadhal river.

  • About:
    • It is a Northern Sub-tributary of the river Brahmaputra originates in the sub-Himalayan mountains of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • After passing through a narrow gorge in Arunachal Pradesh, the river enters the plains of Assam in Dhemaji district where it flows in braided channels.
    • The river is known as ‘Kumotiya’ from the Railway line to the Gogamukh – Ghilamara P.W.D. road wherefrom it is known as the river ‘Sampara’.
    • The river used to debouch into the river Brahmaputra near Selamukh.
    • But after the construction of the embankment over the Kherkutiya Suti of the Brahmaputra, the river falls into the Subansiri River.

Nag river

  • Context:
    • The industrialisation has reduced Nag river to a cursed lady, Bombay High Court said recently
  • About:
    • The Nag River is a river flowing through the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra, India.
    • It is known for providing the etymology for the name Nagpur.
    • Forming a part of the Kanhan-Pench river system, the Nag River originates in Lava hills near wadi.

Sambhar Lake

  • Context: 
    • Illegal salt mining is threatening the wetland ecosystem of Sambhar Lake.
  • About: 
    • It is the largest inland salt lake in India. It represents the depression of the Aravalli Range.
    • Situated about 80 km southwest of Jaipur, in east-central Rajasthan.
    • The lake’s salt supply was worked by the Mughal dynasty (1526–1857) and it was later owned jointly by the Jaipur and Jodhpur princely states.
    • It is a wetland of ‘international importance’ under the Ramsar Convention, declared in 1990.
    • The Lake forms part of the desert circuit in the Centre’s Swadesh Darshan Scheme. The Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2014 -15 for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country.
    • The area occupied by this lake differs from season to season, so roughly it is between 190 and 230 sq km.
    • Also, being an extensive saline wetland, the depth of the lake also fluctuates from season to season. During peak summers (dry time), the depth measures as low as 60 cm but during the monsoons, it goes up to 3 m.
    •  It receives water from six rivers, namely Samaod, Khari, Mantha, Khandela, Medtha, and Roopangarh.
    • The vegetation present in the catchment area is mostly xerophytic type. Xerophyte is a plant adapted for growth under dry conditions.
    • Flamingoes, pelicans and waterfowls are commonly sighted at Sambhar Lake.
    • In 2019, almost 22,000 migratory birds died at the Lake due to avian botulism, a neuromuscular illness.

Vembanad Lake

 

  • Context:
    • During Mann ki Baat's address, Prime Minister has praised the efforts of a Kerala man. He engages in cleaning the Vembanad Lake despite his physical challenges.
  • About:
    • Vembanad Lake is also known as Vembanad Kayal, Vembanad Kol, Punnamada Lake (in Kuttanad) and Kochi Lake (in Kochi).
    • It is the longest lake in India and the largest lake in the state of Kerala. The lake is situated at sea level and is separated from the Laccadive Sea by a narrow barrier island.
    • Vallam Kali (a.k.a Nehru Trophy Boat Race) is a Snake Boat Race held every year in the month of August in Vembanad Lake.
    • In 2002, the lake was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention. It is the second-largest Ramsar site in India, only after the Sunderbans in West Bengal.
    • The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake.
    • The unique characteristic of the lake is the Thanneermukkom saltwater barrier. It was constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme to prevent tidal action and intrusion of saltwater into the Kuttanad low-lands.

 


Lonar Lake

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Meteor lake at Lonar in Buldhana district of Maharashtra and the Soor Sarovar at Agra have been declared Ramsar sites.
  • About Lonar Lake:
    • The Lonar lake, situated in the Deccan Plateau’s volcanic basalt rock, was created by the impact of a meteor 35,000 to 50,000 years ago.
    • The lake is part of Lonar Wildlife Sanctuary which falls under the unified control of the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR).
    • It is also known as Lonar crater and is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument.
    • Geo-heritage refers to the geological features which are inherently or culturally significant offering insight to earth’s evolution or history to earth science or that can be utilized for education.
    • It is the second Ramsar site in Maharashtra after Nandur Madhmeshwar Bird Sanctuary in the Nashik district.
    • The water in the lake is highly saline and alkaline, containing special microorganisms like anaerobes, Cyanobacteria and phytoplankton.

Chittaura Lake

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Prime Minister has announced that he will lay the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial and the development work of Chittaura Lake.
  • About:
    • Chittaura Jheel or lake is a Hindu pilgrimage site, centred around a pond in Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh, India.
    • It is also known as Ashtwarka jheel.
    • River Teri Nadi flows from this lake.
    • The site is believed to be the place where the fight between Raja Sukhdeo and Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud took place in June 1033.
    • Ashtwarka Muni, the Guru of Maharaja Janak used to live here in his ashram. Every year, a fair is organized here on Basant Panchami.
  • Maharaja Suheldev:
    • He is said to be an 11th-century ruler of Sarasvati, located in present-day Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich district.
    • He is popularly known to have defeated and killed the Ghaznavid general Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud at Bahraich in 1034 CE.
    • The 17th-century Persian-language historical romance ‘Mirat-i-Masudi’ has mentioned Maharaja Suheldev.
    • It was written by Abd-ur-Rahman Chishti during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir.

Shivalik Elephant Reserve

  • Context:
    • The Uttarakhand government issued a stay on its earlier government order (GO) to denotify the Shivalik Elephant Reserve.
  • About:
    • Covering both Kumaon and Garhwal regions, Shivalik Elephant Reserve is the premier and only elephant reserve of Uttarakhand.
    • It was notified in 2002 under the ‘Project Elephant’.
    • The Kansora-Barkot Elephant Corridor is located near to it.
    • Shivalik is home to over 2,000 elephants and has around a dozen elephant corridors.
    • It is considered to have one of the highest densities of elephants found in India.
    • The elephant is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
    • It is ‘Endangered’ as per the IUCN Red List.

Panna Biosphere Reserve

  • Context:
    • UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme has included Panna Biosphere Reserve to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
  • About:
    • It is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
    • Panna is characterized by forests and marshy vegetation, with an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forestry products such as Kattha, gum and resins.
    • It is a critical tiger habitat area and hosts the Panna Tiger Reserve, as well as the World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
    • Ken river (a tributary of the Yamuna River) flows through the reserve.
    • The region is also famous for Panna diamond mining.

Papum Reserve Forest

  • Context:
    • A study based on satellite data has flagged a high rate of deforestation in this area which is also a major hornbill habitat in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Papum RF is a nesting habitat of three species of the large, colourful fruit-eating hornbills: Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied.
  • About:
    • It is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Located between two IBAs, Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary to the east and Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary to the west.
    • The Reserve Forest forms part of the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area.

Haiderpur Wetland

  • Context:
    • Recently a large group of Swamp Deer, which have been included in the IUCN’s Threatened species Red List, were spotted in the wetland.
    • Due to the extensive biodiversity of the wetland, UP state authorities are taking ef
      forts and have developed a formal proposal to convert the wetland into a Ramsar site. 
  • About:
    • Located at Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh within the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Fed by the Ganga and Solani rivers.
    • The wetland came into existence in 1984 after the construction of the Madhya Ganga Barrage on the Ganga.
    • It is spread over 1,214 hectares.
    • The Haiderpur wetland has been identified as a model wetland along the Ganga under the Namami Gange programme launched by the Government of India in 2014.
    • In February 2020, World Wide Fund for Nature, India (WWF India) organized the Haiderpur Bird Festival in association with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

Kaziranga National Park

  • Context:  
    • Kaziranga National Park was recently closed due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. 
  • About:
    • It is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of  Assam.
    • It is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
    • It was declared as a National Park in 1974. It has been declared a tiger reserve since 2007.
    • It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
    • It is recognized as an Important Bird Area Kaziranga National Park by BirdLife International.
    • Much of the focus of conservation efforts in Kaziranga is focused on the 'big four' species- rhino, elephant, Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic water buffalo.
    • Kaziranga is also home to 9 of the 14 species of primates found in the Indian subcontinent.
    •  
    • The National Highway 37 passes through the area.
    • The park also has more than 250 seasonal water bodies, besides the Diphlu River running through it.

Atal Tunnel 

  • Context:
    • Prime Minister inaugurated the Atal Tunnel (earlier called Rohtang tunnel) at Rohtang at an altitude of above 3,000 metres in Himachal Pradesh to provide new strength to the country’s border infrastructure.
  • About:
    • The 9.02 km-long tunnel, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is the world’s longest highway tunnel and connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley.
    • The South Portal (SP) of the Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres.
    • The North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 Metres.
    • It provides all-weather connectivity to the landlocked valley of Lahaul-Spiti, which remains cut off for nearly six months in a year as the Rohtang Pass is usually snowbound between November and April.
    • The tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the PirPanjal range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 metres from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
    • The tunnel was constructed using drill and blast NATM (New Austria Tunnelling Method) techniques.
  • Significance:
    • Round-the-year connectivity
    • Reduction in distance
    • Better connectivity to the armed forces
    • Tourism Boost

Shinkun La Tunnel

  • Context:
    • Recently, the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) under the Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways has speeded up the detailed project report (DPR) work on Shinkun La Tunnel beneath the Shinkun La (Shingo La) pass.
  • About:
    • Shinkun La is a mountain pass in India, on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, the tunnel is proposed beneath it.
    • It will be World’s Longest High-Altitude Tunnel (13.5 Km long).
    • Built by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) under the Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways.
    • The tunnel at Shinkhun La will link the NH-3 from the Himachal Pradesh side with Darcha-Padam-Nimu road to Leh. This axis away from the border of China and Pakistan.
    • It will provide all-weather road connectivity between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh in Zanskar valley. On completion of this tunnel, the Manali – Kargil highway will remain open throughout the year.

Zozilla tunnel

  • Context:
    • Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways will initiate the first blasting for Zozila Tunnel in J&K.
  • About:
    • Zozilla tunnel involves the construction of a 14.15 Km long tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass.
    • The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh (Ladakh plateau) on NH- 1 and will bring about an all-around economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu & Kashmir.
    • Zoji La is a high mountain pass in the Himalayas in the Indian union territory of Ladakh.
    • Located in the Drass, the pass connects the Kashmir Valley to its west with the Drass and Suru valleys to its northeast and the Indus valley further east.

Baralacha Pass

 

  • Context:
    • For the first time ever, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started work on reopening the crucial Baralacha Pass in Himachal Pradesh much before schedule to restore connectivity to Leh in Ladakh.
  • About:
    • Bara-lacha la also known as Bara-lacha Pass is a high mountain pass in the Zanskar range, connecting Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to the Leh district in Ladakh, situated along the Leh– Manali Highway.
    • The pass also acts as a water divide between the Bhaga river and the Yunam river.
    • The Bhaga river, a tributary of the Chenab river, originates from Surya taal lake, which is situated a few kilometres from the pass towards Manali.

Mullaperiyar dam

 

  • Context:
    • The Supreme Court has recently issued a warning to Tamil Nadu in the Mullaperiyar case.
  • About:
    • The Mullaperiyar, a 123-year-old dam, is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers in Kerala’s Idukki district.
    • The dam stands at a height of 53.66 metres and 365.85 metres in length.
    • It is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu for meeting the drinking water and irrigation requirements of five of its southern districts.
    • According to a 999-year lease agreement made during the British rule the operational rights were handed over to Tamil Nadu.
    • The dam intends to divert the waters of the west-flowing river Periyar eastward to the arid rain shadow regions of Tamil Nadu.

Pong Dam

 

 

  • Context:
    • Nepal and China have announced the revised height of Mount Everest as 8,848.86 metres. The new height is 86 cm more than the previous measurement.
  • About:
    • The Pong Dam is also known as the Beas Dam.
    • It is an earth-fill embankment dam on the Beas River in Himachal Pradesh.
    • The lake created by the dam, Maharana Pratap Sagar, is a renowned bird sanctuary.
    • The purpose of the dam is water storage for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Bhadar dam

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Dam Safety Organisation of the Central Water Commission has recommended the replacement of floodgates of Bhadar dam which were damaged in the flash flood of 2015.
  • About:
    • Bhadar dam is located in Rajkot and is the second largest in Saurashtra region after Shetrunji dam.
    • Bhadar dam is on the Bhadar River in Saurashtra region in Gujarat.
    • The construction work for this dam started in 1952 and water for irrigation from it was given to farmers for the first time in 1963.
    • The Bhadar Dam and Shetrunji Dam are constructed across Shetrunji and Bhadar rivers. Shetrunji Dam and River
    • It originates from the Amreli district of Rajkot.
    • Its tributaries are Satali, Thebi, Gagario, Rajaval, Kharo, Shel, Khari and Talaji.
  • Bhadar River:
    • The Bhadar is one of the major rivers of the Kathiawar (Saurashtra) peninsula in Gujarat.
    • It originates near Vaddi in Rajkot district at an elevation of 261 m above mean sea level.
    • It flows through the Saurashtra region and finally confluences with the Arabian sea at Naviobandar (Porbandar).
    • The total length of this river is 198 km. It drains about 1/7th of the area of Saurashtra.

Feni bridge

  • Context:
    • Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the 1.8 kilometres long Feni bridge connecting Sabrum in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh will be completed by December this year.
  • About:
    • Feni Bridge is known as Maitree Setu in Chattogram.
    • The bridge is being built over the Feni River and will connect Tripura with Chittagong port of Bangladesh.
    • The foundation of the bridge was laid in 2015 jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The project is scheduled to be completed by April next year.
    • The bridge is being constructed by the National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd of the Ministry of Road and Transport Highways, Government of India.
  • Feni River:
    • It originates in the South Tripura district, passes through Sabroom town on the Indian side, and meets the Bay of Bengal after it flows into Bangladesh.
    • It forms part of the India-Bangladesh border.

Luhri Hydropower Project

  • Context:
    • Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved funding for the 210 megawatts (MW) Luhri hydropower project.
  • About:
    • Located on the Satluj river in Himachal Pradesh.
    • The project is located in Shimla and Kullu districts.
  • Significance:
    • This project will generate 758.20 million units of electricity annually, which will help in providing grid stability and improve the power supply position.
    • Besides adding valuable renewable energy to the grid, the project would also lead to a reduction of 6.1 lakh tons of carbon dioxide from the environment annually, thus contributing to an improvement in air quality and reducing air pollution.

Devika River Project: J&K

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region has asked for suggestions for the Devika River project in Udhampur, J&K.
    • This project is compared with the Namami Gange Project.
  • About Devika River:
    • Devika river originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the Ravi river.
    • The river holds religious significance as it is revered by Hindus as the sister of the river Ganga.
    • In June 2020, Devika Bridge was inaugurated in Udhampur. Apart from taking care of traffic congestion, the Devika Bridge was also meant to help smooth the passage of Army convoys and vehicles.

Dagmara Hydro-Electric Project: Bihar

  • Context:
    • Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited and Bihar State Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (BSHPC) for Implementation of Dagmara Hydro-Electric Project, Supaul, Bihar.
    • The project is located near village Dagmara on the right bank and Simri on the left bank, about 22.5 km downstream of Bhimnagar barrage on Kosi river.
    • It is a Run-of-the-River scheme. Run-of-river hydro projects use the natural downward flow of rivers and microturbine generators to capture the kinetic energy carried by water.
  • About Kosi River:
    • The Kosi is a transboundary river that flows through Tibet, Nepal and India.
    • It has its source in Tibet that includes the world's highest upland; it then drains a large part of Nepal before emerging onto the Gangetic plains.
    • Its three major tributaries, the Sun Kosi, Arun and Tamur meet at one point just upstream of a 10 km gorge cut through the Himalayan foothills.
    • The river crosses into northern Bihar, India where it branches into distributaries before joining the Ganges near Kursela in Katihar district.
    • Its unstable nature has been attributed to course changes and the heavy silt it carries during the monsoon season, and flooding in India has extreme effects.
    • The Kosi carries the maximum amount of silt and sand after the Brahmaputra in India.
    • It is also known as the “Sorrow of Bihar” as the annual floods affect about 21,000 km2 of fertile agricultural lands thereby disturbing the rural economy.

Paradip Port

  • Context:
    • Cabinet approves Deepening and Optimization of Inner Harbour Facilities at Paradip Port.
  • About:
    • Paradip Port is a natural, deep-water port on the East coast of India in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.
    • It is situated at the confluence of the Mahanadi river and the Bay of Bengal.
    • The port is administered by the Paradip Port Trust (PPT), an autonomous corporation under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 functioning under the Ministry of Shipping.
  • Significance of the project: 
    • On commissioning of the project, it shall cater to the requirement of coal & limestone imports besides export of granulated slag & finished steel products.
    • The project shall also facilitate (i) de-congestion of the Port, (ii) reduce Sea freight making coal imports cheaper, and (iii) boost the industrial economy in the hinterland of the port leading to the creation of jobs opportunities.

Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge

 

  • Context:
    • The Prime Minister of India will virtually launch the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra Programme and lay the foundation stone of Dhubri Phulbari Bridge and Majuli Bridge in Assam.
  • Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge:
    • A 19-km-long four-lane Bridge between Dhubri (Assam) and Phulbari (Meghalaya) over river Brahmaputra on NH-127B will be constructed.
    • Once completed in 2028, it will be India's longest bridge.
    • This bridge will reduce travel time between Assam and Meghalaya by 6 hours, and distance to 19 km from 200 km.
    • Through this bridge, Assam and Meghalaya will have a direct connection with West Bengal.
    • It will provide a third alternative link to Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Barak valley region of Assam with the rest of the Country.
  • Majuli-Jorhat Bridge:
    • A 6.8 km-long two-lane major bridge is being constructed over the Brahmaputra between Majuli (north bank) and Jorhat (south bank) on NH-715K.
    • The project has been awarded to UP State Bridge Corporation Limited. It will be constructed by March 2025.
    • This bridge will provide all-time access to the people living in Majuli town with the rest of Assam to meet their health, education, and day-to-day development activities.
    • The construction of this bridge also provides safe evacuation access to the people of Majuli Island during a flood in the Brahmaputra River.

Donimalai Iron Ore Mine

  • Context:
    • NMDC Restarts Work At Donimalai Mines In Karnataka.
  • About:
    • Commissioned in 1977, the mine is located in the Bellary region of Karnataka.
    • It produces 4 million tonnes of Run of Mine (“ROM” means ore in its natural, unprocessed state) ore per year.
    • The average grade of ore extracted has 65% Iron.
  • Port of Export:
    • Chennai outer harbour, Tamil Nadu: linked by 532km Rail.
    • Marmagao Port, Goa: linked by 370 km Rail.
    • It is being mined by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC).
    • Few other major Iron Ore mines in Karnataka are Kudremukh, Bababudan, Kumaraswamy, and Ramandurg.

Pakal Dul Hydro Electric Project

Context: 

  • Recently, Pakistan raised objections to the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants in Jammu and Kashmir.

About:

  • The Pakal Dul Hydro Electric Project (1,000 MW) is proposed on the Marusudar river, a tributary of the Chenab river, in the Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It is anticipated to produce around 3,330 million units (MU) of energy a year.
  • Estimated to cost Rs 81.12bn ($1.18bn), the project will be the biggest hydroelectric project in the state and the first storage project, upon completion.
  • It is part of the prime minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for J&K and is expected to enhance the region’s power generation.
  • Chenab Valley Power Projects Limited (CVPPL) is constructing the project. It is expected to start operations from March 2024.

Glistening ‘blue tide’ along Mumbai

  • Context:
    • The tide that produces a fluorescent blue hue- bioluminescence- made an appearance on Juhu beach in Mumbai and Devgad beach in Sindhudurg along with Maharashtra’s coastline.
       
  • About:
    • The blue hue, also known as bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism.
    • The natural phenomenon is characterised by the emission of light produced by phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants), commonly known as dinoflagellates.
    • The light is produced through a series of chemical reactions due to luciferase (oxidative enzymes) protein.
    • Bioluminescence has been an annual occurrence along the west coast since 2016 during the months of November and December.

 

Places in News- World

The lesser-known important places: 

 

Disputed Islands in the South China Sea

Spratly Islands/Nansha Islands & Paracel Islands

About:

  • In the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, China is busy increasing its presence in the South China Sea.
  • This has again brought the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands to the fore.
  • Both these islands are in the middle of the South China Sea waters, between the territory of Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Very recently, Beijing unilaterally renamed 80 islands and other geographical features in the area.
  • This drew criticism from neighbouring countries who have also laid claim to the same territory.
  • The Spratly Islands dispute is among China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. 
  • Paracel Islands,  also known as the Xisha Islands, is a collection of 130 islands and coral reefs.
  • This is almost equidistant from China and Vietnam. Both China and Vietnam claim ownership o these islands. 
  • Importance: The islands have no indigenous inhabitants, but offer rich fishing grounds, may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves, and are close to strategically important shipping lanes.

Scarborough Shoal

  • About:
    • The Philippines has accused China of blocking coastguard patrols near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, just days after Beijing announced its seasonal fishing ban over the resource-rich waterway.
    • Scarborough Shoal (also called Panatag Shoal or Huangyan Island) and Democracy Reef, are two rocks in a shoal located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon in the South China Sea.
    • The nearest landmass from it is Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines.
    • It is a disputed territory claimed by the Philippines, China and Taiwan. 

Pratas islands

  • About:
    • Prates islands also known as Dongsha Islands have emerged as a new flashpoint in the South China Sea.
    • Islands are located in the northern part of SCS under the jurisdiction of Taiwan.
    • If China controlled the Pratas Islands, the islands could function as a gatekeeper to monitor the U.S. and other countries’ ships and aircraft entering the South China Sea from the Pacific Ocean.

Senkaku Islands

  • About: 
    • The Senkaku Islands dispute, or Diaoyu Islands dispute, concerns a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, the Diaoyu Islands in China and Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan.
    • Eight uninhabited islands lie in the East China Sea. They have a total area of about 7 sq km and lie northeast of Taiwan.
    • Importance: Islands are close to strategically important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and are thought to contain oil deposits.
    • The Senkakus island chain has been administered by Japan since 1972, but its legal status has remained disputed until now.

Aegean Sea

  • Context:
    • Recently, a strong earthquake of magnitude 7.0 strikes the Aegean Sea, shaking Turkey and Greece.
  • About:
    • It is known as Greek Aigaíon Pélagos or Turkish Ege Deniz, which is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea.
    • It is located between the Greek peninsula on the west and Asia Minor on the east.
    • The Aegean is connected through the straits of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus to the Black Sea, while the island of Crete can be taken as marking its boundary on the south.
    • The rocks making up the floor of the Aegean are mainly limestone.
    • It is positioned between Greece and Turkey and also includes the Sea of Crete and the Thracian Sea.

Sea of Galilee

  • Context:
    • The Sea of Galilee has swelled up due to recent rains, according to reports in the Israeli media.
  • About:
    • The lake lies in northern Israel, between the occupied Golan Heights and the Galilee region.
    • It is fed by underground springs but its major source is the Jordan River.
    • The lake, also known as Lake Tiberias or Kinneret, is Israel’s largest freshwater body.
    • The Jordan flows into the lake and then exits it before ending in the Dead Sea, the saltiest and the lowest point on the planet.
    • The region the lake is located in had been suffering from drought till 2018.
    • Water is not extracted from the Sea of Galilee. But it is considered to be an important barometer of the water situation in Israel.

Lake Chad

  • Context:
    • India has expressed serious concern over the security situation in the Sahel and Lake Chad region in West Africa.
    • India also condemned terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and by Islamic State in West Africa.
  • About:
    • Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in central Africa, which has varied in size over the centuries.
    • The freshwater lake is located in the Sahelian zone of West-central Africa. Lake Chad is mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering on northeastern Nigeria.
    • Lake Chad provides water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria) on the central part of the Sahel.
    • It is the largest lake in the Chad Basin.
    • The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone, provides over 90% of the lake's water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.
    • Despite high levels of evaporation, the lake is fresh water.

Afghanistan

  • Context:
    • Following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over the country by force. 
  • About: 
    • Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.
    • It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast. It shares its longest land border (the Durand Line) with Pakistan.
    • The country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and southwest.
    • It is inhabited by 31.4 million people as of 2020, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Kabul serves as its capital and largest city.
    • An estimated 99.7% of the Afghan population is Muslim and most are thought to adhere to the Sunni Hanafi school.
    • The country has high levels of terrorism, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption.
    • It is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Non-Aligned Movement. 
    • Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world.
    • The Amu Darya rises at the north of the Hindu Kush, while the nearby Hari Rud flows west towards Herat, and the Arghandab River from the central region southwards.
    • To the south and west of the Hindu Kush flow a number of streams that are tributaries of the Indus River, such as the Helmand River.
    • One exception is the Kabul River which flows in an easterly direction to the Indus ending at the Indian Ocean.
    • Since 15 August 2021, the governance of Afghanistan has been in a state of flux following the effective collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces, and the subsequent re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which now exercises de facto control over most of the country.

New Caledonia

  • Context:
    • The French territory of New Caledonia voted against independence from France in a referendum held recently.
  • About:
    • Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, to the south of Vanuatu, about 1,210 km east of Australia.
    • The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets.
    • It is part of Zealandia.
    • The Diahot River is the longest river in New Caledonia.
    • New Caledonia was classified as an overseas territory beginning in 1946 but as a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, it gained a special status in 1999.

Catalonia

  • Context:
    • Spain's Catalonia voted in an election overshadowed by the pandemic and which Madrid hopes will unseat the region's ruling separatists more than three years after a failed bid to break away from Spain.
  • About:
    • Catalonia is an autonomous community in the north-eastern corner of Spain.
    • Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
    • It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south.

Agalega Islands

  • Context:
    • The small, remote Mauritian island of North Agalega, is currently a hive of construction activity. North Aglega is the island where India is building its military base. 
  • About:
    • Agaléga are two outer islands (North Island and South Island) of Mauritius located in the south-western Indian Ocean, about 1,000 kilometres north of Mauritius island. 
    • India sought access to the islands in 2015 to develop as an air and naval staging point for surveillance of the southwest Indian Ocean. Six years after India and Mauritius signed the agreement, the base, shrouded in secrecy, is slowly taking shape on the North Island. 
    • North Agalega Island is some 12 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide, with a total population of fewer than 300 people. 
    • The island sits in the middle of the south-west Indian Ocean, with Seychelles to its north, the Maldives and the US military base in Diego Garcia to its east, and Madagascar and the east coast of Africa to its west.
    • It has Reunion island to its south controlled by the French and Djibouti Island Chinese base in the far north. 

Eswatini

  • Context:
    • Eswatini's Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini died recently after testing positive for Covid-19.
  • About:
    • It is a landlocked country in Southern Africa.
    • It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south.
    • It was formerly and still commonly known in English as Swaziland.
    • It was officially renamed in 2018.

Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu)

  • Context:
    • On 9 January 2021, a Boeing 737-500 (PK-CLC) operating Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 went missing after taking off from Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta Airport on route to Pontianak Supadio Airport. The aircraft crashed near the Thousand Islands.
  • About:
    • Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) are a chain of islands north of Jakarta’s coast, Indonesia.
    • There are exactly 110 islands that together form a District, encompassing the Pulau Seribu National Marine Park.
    • These islands are initially caused by volcanoes.
    • Later, the shifting of tectonic plates results in their consolidation as a grouping of small islands in a relatively small area.

Crete Island

  • Context:
    • Turkey’s Foreign Minister has renewed the call for dialogue with rival Greece that would lead to the fair sharing of resources in the eastern Mediterranean, where the two countries are locked in a tense standoff.
  • About:
    • Both countries’ forces have been conducting military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
    • The standoff was sparked when Turkey sent its research vessel, Oruc Reis, accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves.
    • Crete became part of Greece in December 1913.
    • It is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands.
    • It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea.

Estonia

  • Context:
    • Government of India to open three missions in Estonia, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic in 2021.
  • About:
    • It is the northernmost of the three Baltic states.
    • Baltic states, the northeastern region of Europe containing the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.
    • The Baltic region is not rich in natural resources. Though Estonia is an important producer of oil shale, a large share of mineral and energy resources is imported.
    • Significance: Opening of Indian Missions in these countries will help expand India’s diplomatic footprint, deepen political relations, enable the growth of bilateral trade, investment, and economic engagements, facilitate stronger people-to-people contacts, bolster political outreach in multilateral fora and help garner support for India’s foreign policy objectives.

Paraguay

  • About:
    • It is a landlocked country in south-central South America.
    • Rivers provide access to the Atlantic Ocean and serve as sites for the hydroelectric power plants that have made Paraguay one of the world’s largest exporters of hydropower.
    • Paraguay is a member of MERCOSUR.
    • The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials) is a regional integration process, initially established by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and subsequently joined by Venezuela and Bolivia.
    • India has a preferential trade agreement with MERCOSUR.

Dominican Republic

  • About:
    • It is a country of the West Indies that occupies the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, the second-largest island of the Greater Antilles chain in the Caribbean Sea.
    • It had set up its mission in Delhi in 2006.
    • India’s exports to the Dominican Republic are small but growing. Bilateral two-way trade stands at around USD 120 million.
    • The main items of India’s exports are cotton textiles and readymade garments, drugs and pharmaceuticals, furniture, transport equipment, manufactures of metals, chemicals, plastic and linoleum products, tea, processed foods, and marine products.

Bhashan Char island

  • Context:
    • Rohingya refugees on this island will not be allowed to leave unless they agree to return home, Bangladesh authorities said recently.
  • About:
    • It is also known as Char Piya.
    • It is an island of Bangladesh, located in the Bay of Bengal.
    • The island was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006.
    • It spans 40 km².

Pantanal Wetland

  • Context:
    • Pantanal Wetland is currently suffering its worst fires in more than two decades with nearly 12% of its vegetation reportedly already lost.
  • About:
    • It is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
    • It is located mostly within Brazil but it extends into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay.
    • In 2000, part of this ecoregion, the ‘Pantanal Conservation Area’ representing 1.3% of the Brazilian Pantanal was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
    • In the same year, a part of Pantanal Wetland was named as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
    • The Pantanal Biosphere Reserve is home to a diversity of flora and fauna that is particularly valuable containing at least 4,700 described species.

Etosha Pan

  • Context:
    • NASA has captured images depicting the wet and dry cycles of Etosha Pan in Africa.
  • About:
    • The 4730 km2 Etosha Pan is a huge, pristine oval-shaped salt pan situated in northern Namibia. 
    • It is protected as part of Etosha National Park, Namibia’s second-largest wildlife park. It is an endorheic basin, also designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
  • Endorheic Basin:
    • It is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water such as rivers or oceans but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal, that equilibrate through evaporation.

Kilauea Volcano

  • Context:
    • The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has recently erupted according to the US Geological Survey.
  • About:
    • Kilauea, also called Mount Kilauea (“Much Spreading” in Hawaiian), is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the southeastern part of the island of Hawaii, U.S.A.
    • It ranks among the world's most active volcanoes.
  • Volcanoes in India:
    • Barren Island, Andaman Islands (India's only active volcano)
    • Narcondam, Andaman Islands
    • Baratang, Andaman Islands
    • Deccan Traps, Maharashtra
    • Dhinodhar Hills, Gujarat
    • Dhosi Hill, Haryana

Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier

  • Context:
    • A massive chunk of ice of the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier has broken off because of warmer temperatures in Greenland.
    • Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier sometimes referred to as “79 N Glacier is located in Northeast Greenland.
    • It is the Arctic’s largest ice shelf.
  • Other Glaciers in News:
    • Thwaites Glacier (or Doomsday glacier): It is located in western Antarctica and flows into Pine Island Bay, a part of the Amundsen Sea.
    • Okjökull (Ok glacier): It was a glacier located in western Iceland on top of the shield volcano Ok. It is the first glacier lost to climate change in the world.

Other Important Places:

Red Sea

  • Context:
    • An Iranian freighter was hit by Israel in the Red Sea in retaliation for past Iranian strikes on its vessels. The blast struck the Iranian commercial vessel MV Saviz off the coast of Djibouti.
    • The attack came as Iranian officials gathered in Vienna to negotiate the restoration of a 2015 deal Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities.
  • About:
    • The Red Sea is a semi-enclosed tropical basin, bounded by northeastern Africa, to the west, and the Arabian peninsula, to the east.
    • The elongated and narrow-sh1aped basin extends between the Mediterranean Sea, to the north-west, and the Indian Ocean, to the south-east.
    • At the northern end, it separates into the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez, which is connected to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.
    • At the southern end, it is connected to the Gulf of Aden, and the outer Indian Ocean, via the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.
    • It is surrounded by desert or semi-desert areas, with no major freshwater inflow.
    • The Red sea acquired its present shape over the past 4 to 5 million years, by slow seafloor spreading, a fact that makes it a geologically recent opening and one of the youngest oceanic zones on Earth.
    • The six countries bordering the Red Sea proper are:
      1. Saudi Arabia
      2. Egypt
      3. Sudan
      4. Eritrea
      5. Djibouti
      6. Yemen

The Mediterranean Sea

  • Context: Russian Navy is Expanding Presence in the Mediterranean Sea, Africa.
  • About:
    • The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land.
    • The Mediterranean Sea connects:
      • to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west.
      • to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, by the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus respectively, in the east.
      • to the southeast, it is connected with the Red Sea by the Suez Canal.
    • It has often been called the incubator of Western civilization. 
    • The countries with coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea are: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Tukey.

Sittwe port

  • Context:
    • India and Myanmar have agreed to work towards the operationalization of the Sittwe port.
  • About:
    • It is a deepwater port constructed by India in 2016 at Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Myanmar.
    • The port is situated at the mouth of the Kaladan River and is being financed by India as a part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project.

Strait of Malacca

  • Context: 
    • The Navy is scheduled to hold a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the U.S. Navy Aircraft carrier group on October 12.
    • The USS Nimitz was returning from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca where it undertook Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP).
  • About:
    • It connects the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) and the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean).
    • It is the longest straits in the world and facilitates not just shipping and the movement of people in the surrounding communities but is a confluence of trade, cultures, ideas, and knowledge between the East and the West.
    • it runs between the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the West and peninsular (West) Malaysia and extreme southern Thailand to the east.
    • Strait of Malacca is the shortest sea route between India and China and hence is one of the most heavily travelled shipping channels in the world.

Strait of Gibraltar

  • Context:
    • Hours before the Brexit transition period ended on New Year’s Eve, Spain announced it had struck a deal with the UK to maintain free movement to and from Gibraltar.
  • Gibraltar: 
    • Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. 
    • It is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. it is bordered to the north by Spain.
    • In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. 
  • Strait of Gibraltar:
    • It is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Gibraltar and Peninsular Spain in Europe from Morocco and Ceuta (Spain) in Africa.
    • The two continents are separated by 13 kilometres of the ocean at the Strait's narrowest point between Point Marroquí in Spain and Point Cires in Morocco.
    • Due to its location, the Strait is commonly used for illegal immigration from Africa to Europe.

Suez Canal

 

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Suez Canal has been blocked after a large cargo ship ran aground while passing through it, bringing traffic on the busy trade route to a halt.
  • About:
    • The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.
    • It is a human-made waterway and is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, carrying over 12% of world trade by volume.
    • It was built in 1869 to provide a major shortcut for ships moving between Europe and Asia.
    • The 150-year-old canal was controlled by British and French interests in its initial years but was nationalised in 1956 by Egypt.

 


English Channel

  • Context:
    • Recently, Google Doodle celebrates the birth anniversary of Arati Saha, the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel.
  • About:
    • It is a narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean separating the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France.
    • It tapers eastward to its junction with the North Sea at the Strait of Dover.
    • It is the busiest shipping area in the world.
    • It connects the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea and from respective waters of which are rich in warm- and cold-water plankton, the English Channel is favoured from the latter with cod, herring, and whiting and from the former with hake, pilchard, and mullet.

Libya

  • Context:
    • Rival parties in Libya announced a historic ceasefire followed by five days of the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC) talks in Geneva, giving way to the possibility that the long-drawn conflict might be coming to an end.
  • About:
    • Libya, officially the State of Libya, is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa.
    • Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad to the south, Niger to the southwest, Algeria to the west, and Tunisia to the northwest.
    • Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa and is the 16th largest country in the world.
    • It has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world.
    • The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is in western Libya.

Turkey

  • Context:
    • Relations between France and Turkey, two NATO members, hit a new low this month after Racetap Tayyip Erdogan launched a personal attack on his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron following the latter's call for reforming Islam.
  • About:
    • Turkey is a country that occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe.
    • It acts as a barrier and a bridge between two continents.
    • It is situated at the crossroads of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean.
    • It is bounded on the North by the Black Sea, on the Northeast by Georgia and Armenia, on the east by Azerbaijan and Iran, on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the Southwest and west by the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, and on the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria.
    • The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles are collectively known as the Turkish Straits.

Sanaa

  • Context:
    • A Saudi-led military coalition mounted airstrikes on Yemen’s Houthi-controlled capital Sana’a after it intercepted 10 drones launched by the Iran-backed rebels.
  • About:
    • Sanaa also spelt Sanaʽa or Sana, is the largest city in Yemen.
    • Under the Yemeni constitution, Sanaʽa is the capital of the country, although the seat of the Yemeni government moved to Aden, the former capital of South Yemen in the aftermath of the Houthi occupation.
    • Aden was declared as the temporary capital by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in March 2015.
    • It is located next to the Sarawat Mountains of Jabal An-Nabi Shu'ayb and Jabal Tiyal, considered to be the highest mountains in the country and amongst the highest in the region.
    • The Old City of Sanaʽa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a distinctive architectural character, most notably expressed in its multi-story buildings decorated with geometric patterns.

Botswana

  • Context:
    • Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The cause is yet to be established.
  • About:
    • Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa.
    • Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70% of its territory being the Kalahari Desert.
    • Botswana is currently home to more elephants than any other African country, and southern Africa remains a stronghold for 293,000, or 70%, of the estimated remaining African elephants.
    • The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014.
    • It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, Zimbabwe to the northeast, and Zambia to the north.

Kyrgyzstan

  • Context:
    • Street protests erupted in Kyrgyzstan earlier this week following the recent parliamentary election. The opposition has alleged that the vote was rigged.
  • About:
    • Often referred to as ‘Central Asia’s only democracy.
    • Capital- Bishkek.
    • It is a landlocked Central Asian country.
    • Shares a long border with China.
    • China has built road and rail networks with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
    • It is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation and hosts a Russian airbase.

Ethiopia’s Tigray region

  • Context:
    • Recently, the United Nations has warned that nine million people risk displacement from an escalating conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
  • About:
    • Tigray is the northernmost of the nine regions of Ethiopia.
    • Tigray is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob and Kunama people.
    • Tigray is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, the Amhara Region to the south and the Afar Region to the east and south-east.
    • According to observers of the Horn of Africa, the Tigray region is wealthier than other parts of the country and has a well-trained army.
    • The structure of Ethiopia’s federal system allows the country’s ten regions significant autonomy and these regions also have their own parliaments, their own security forces, and the right to a referendum for independent rule.

Beirut

  • Context:
    • A huge explosion recently devastated the port area of the capital Beirut The blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse.
  • About:
    • It is the capital and largest city of Lebanon.
    • Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, Beirut is an important regional seaport.

Idlib

  • Context:
    • Syrian and Russian planes have carried out deadly aerial strikes on schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib province. UN investigators have termed these attacks as war crimes.
  • About:
    • Idlib is a city in northwestern Syria, 59 kilometres southwest of Aleppo, which is the capital of the Idlib Governorate. 
    • Idlib is the last stronghold of the rebels and jihadist groups in Syria and has witnessed eight years of bloody fighting with the Syrian government.
    • The province of northwestern Syria has now become the epicentre of gross human rights violations, regular air bombardments and space where profound superpower rivalries play out.
    • Idlib is home to more than 3 million people and has been controlled by different rebel factions at different periods of time.
    • Idlib fell into rebel control in 2015 and even became the seat of the Syrian Salvation Government.
    • However, since 2019, the most dominant rebel faction, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham or HTS, took control of Idlib through a violent takeover. The HTS is an alliance of jihadist groups that formally split from Al-Qaeda in 2016.

Taiwan Strait

  • Context: 
    • Armenia and Azerbaijan vowed to keep fighting and rejected international calls for negotiations as clashes over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region raged for the fourth day.
  • About:
    • The Taiwan Strait, also known as the Formosa Strait.
    • It separates Taiwan and mainland China.
    • The Strait is currently a part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea.

 


Magway & Meiktila

  • Context: 
    • Two air force bases in central Myanmar were recently attacked- in the central cities of Magway and Meiktila. 
  • Magway: 
    • Magway is the capital city of Magway Region of Myanmar and situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. 
  • Meiktila: 
    • Meiktila is a town in central Myanmar on Meiktila Lake in the Mandalay Region.
    • Meiktila Lake is an ancient irrigation reservoir, which legend says was begun by the grandfather of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The name Meiktila comes from Mithila, the name of an ancient Indian kingdom.

Nagorno-Karabakh region

  • Context:
    • The landlocked mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan, in which it lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority, backed by neighbouring Armenia.
  • About:
    • Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, within the mountainous range of Karabakh.
    • It is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Natanz

  • Context:
    • Recently, a fire broke out at Natanz, an Underground Nuclear Facility of Iran used for enriching uranium.
  • About:
    • Located in Iran’s central Isfahan province in Tehran, Natanz hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. It is known as the first Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant of Iran.
    • It is among the sites monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Hagia Sophia

  • Context:
    • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared Istanbul's
    • Hagia Sophia opens to Muslim worship after a top court ruled that the building's conversion to a museum by modern Turkey's founding statesman was illegal.
  • About:
    • It was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
    • It is a historic house of worship located in Istanbul.
    • It is revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
    • In 1935, in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it became a museum.
    • It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Galapagos archipelago

  • Context: 
    • COVID-19 brings tourism, science to a stop on Galapagos Islands.
  • About:
    • The Galapagos Islands, spread over almost 60,000 sq km, are a part of Ecuador and are located in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km away from the South American continent.
    • The giant tortoises found here – ‘Galápagos’ in old Spanish– give the islands its name.
    • Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959.
    • In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.
    • Charles Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.

Mount Sinabung 

  • Context: 
    • The Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupted on August 10, 2020 morning spouting ash at least 5,000 metres high into the sky.
  • About:
    • It is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano of andesite and dacite in the Karo plateau of Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia, 40 kilometres from Lake Toba supervolcano
    • The volcano lies in the Sunda Arc, which is created by the subduction of the Indo-Australian Plate under the Eurasian Plate.
    • The Andaman Islands are on the North-Northwest bound of the arc while the Banda Arc is on the East.

Supervolcano

  • A supervolcano is a large volcano that has had an eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8, the largest recorded value on the index. 
  • Supervolcanoes occur when magma in the mantle rises into the crust but is unable to break through it and pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure.
  • This can occur at hotspots (for example, Yellowstone Caldera) or at subduction zones (for example, Toba)

 


Mount Ili Lewotolok

  • Context:
    • Mount Ili Lewotolok erupted recently.
  • About:
    • It is located on Lembata island of East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia.
    • The 5,423-meter (17,790-foot) mountain is one of the three currently erupting in Indonesia along with Merapi on Java Island and Sinabung on Sumatra Island.
    • Mount Ili Lewotolok has been erupting on and off since October 2017.

Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Context:
    • Recently, a fire had broken out on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.
  • About:
    • Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain at about 5,895 meters.
    • It is also the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world, meaning it is not part of a mountain range.
    • Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano or composite volcano.
    • The mountain is also known for its snow-capped peak which might disappear within the next 20 years or so as per the warnings by scientists.

Mount Etna

  • Context:
    • Recently, Mount Etna has awed seasoned volcanologists with spectacular spurts of lava lighting up the Sicilian sky each night.
  • About:
    • It is the highest and most active volcano in Europe.
    • It is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Metropolitan City of Catania, between the cities of Messina and Catania.
    • It is associated with the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate.

Mont Blanc

  • Context:
    • A melting glacier at Europe’s Mont Blanc mountain range recently disentombed Indian newspapers buried there for 54 years –- some of them carrying headlines such as “India’s First Woman Prime Minister”, referring to Indira Gandhi’s election win in 1966.
    • The newspapers are among the remains of Air India Flight 101, a Boeing 707 plane that on January 24, 1966, crashed into Mont Blanc.
    • Among the 177 dead was Homi Bhabha, the founding leader of India’s nuclear programme.
  • About:
    • Mont Blanc is the second-highest mountain in Europe after Mount Elbrus.
    • It is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe.
    • The mountain stands in a range called the Graian Alps, between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France.
    • Its epithet the “Roof of Europe”.
    • It is also known as White Mountain in French.
    • The border between Italy and France passes through the summit of Mont Blanc, making it both French and Italian.

 


Whitsun Reef

  • Context: 
    • China’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea has found a new ground, Whitsun Reef, where 220 Chinese vessels are currently anchored under the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
    • China claims the reef under their nine-dash line.
  • About: 
    • Whitsun Reef is a reef at the northeast extreme limit of the Union Banks in the Spratly Islands of the West Philippine Sea.
    • It is the largest reef of the Union Banks.
    • The reef is V-shaped with an area of about 10 sq. km.
    • Until at least the 1990s it was submerged most of the time and was visible above the water only during the low tide, at other times the reef could be detected due to the pattern of breaking waves.
    • At the end of the 20th-century small sand dunes had developed on the reef making a territorial claim possible (an International Court of Justice judgment in 2012 stated that “low-tide elevations cannot be appropriated”).
    • The development of the dunes could have occurred naturally, but the rumours had it that the island was being built up by Vietnam and China.
    • The Philippines considers the reef to be a part of its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and protested the Chinese presence.

Puerto Rico

  • Context: 
    • For the third time in ten years, the United States territory of Puerto Rico has voted in favour of statehood, and thus be treated at par with the current 50 states of the country.
  • About:
    • It is an unincorporated territory of the United States.
    • Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917 and can move freely between the island and the mainland.
    • As it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the U.S. Congress, which governs the unincorporated territory with jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950.
    • It is located in the northeast Caribbean Sea. 
    • It includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques.
    • The capital and most populous city is San Juan.
    • Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493.
    • In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, which remains an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world’s oldest colony.

Arun River

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Nepal government has decided to award the contract for the construction of the lower Arun Hydro Project to India's Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN).
  • Arun River:
    • It is the largest trans-Himalayan river passing through Nepal.
    • It has the greatest snow- and ice-covered area of any Nepalese river basin.
    • It drains more than half of the area contributing to the Sapt Kosi river system but provides only about a quarter of the total discharge.
    • In Tibet, the river is known as the Men Qu (Moinqu) in its upper reaches north of Xixabangma and then as the Peng Qu (Pumqu) for most of its course north of the Himalayan crests.

Pripyat River

  • Context:
    • Recently World-Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature has warned that the dredging of the Pripyat River could wreak havoc on an estimated 28 million people in Ukraine.
  • About Pripyat River:
    • The Pripyat river flows from northwestern Ukraine to its confluence with the Dnieper river, Ukraine’s most important river, on which its capital city of Kyiv is located.
    • The Pripyat river passes through the exclusion zone established around the site.
    • The river rises in north-western Ukraine near the Polish border and flows eastward in Ukraine and then Belarus through a flat, forested, and swampy basin known as the Pripet Marshes to Mazyr; there it turns south-eastward, re-enters Ukraine, and joins the Dnieper in the Kyiv Reservoir.
    • The Pripyat river is being dredged as part of the restoration of a bilateral waterway between Ukraine and Belarus and is being seen as the first step of the much larger E40 project.

 


Duqm Port

  • Context:
    • India and Oman finalized an agreement that will see India gain access to the strategically located port of Duqm. 
  • About:
    • The port is located on Oman’s southern coast and also provides access onward into the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aden.
    • The port is near the Chabahar and Gwadar ports.
    • The Indian Navy will be able to use the port for logistics and thereby allowing it to sustain long-term operations in the western Indian Ocean.
    • Moreover, a dry dock will be available to the Indian Navy at Duqm thereby allowing for maintenance without returning vessels to India-based shipyards.
    • A cause of concern for India would be that the SEZ in Duqm is being financed and has a considerable presence in China.
    • The Duqm port would enhance the sustainable security network of India in the Indian Ocean region against piracy and the growing presence of China.

Azad Pattan hydel power project

  • Context:
    • Pakistan and China have signed an agreement on this under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • About:
    • The 700MW power project is on the Jhelum river in the Sudhoti district of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
    • India has protested the construction of dams and other infrastructure in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, which are territories claimed by it as part of Jammu & Kashmir.
    • Earlier India had also objected to the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam (on the Indus river) in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of the PoK.
  • Other projects in the region:
    • 1,100 MW Kohala project– on Jhelum near Muzaffarabad.
    • Karot Hydropower station– on the Jhelum is on the boundaries of Kotli district in PoK and Rawalpindi district in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
    • Two hydel projects are planned in Gilgit Baltistan – Phandar Hydro Power, and Gilgit KIU. 

Kra Canal

  • Context:
    • Thailand has announced that it has decided to scrap a Chinese-led-KRA canal project.
  • About the Kra Canal:
    • Kra Canal also is known as the Thai Canal or Kra Isthmus Canal refers to a proposed canal project that aims to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea across the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand.
    • The canal would provide an alternative to transit through the Straits of Malacca and shorten transit for shipments of oil to Japan and China by 1,200 km.

Chattogram Port

  • Context:
    • First trial container ship flagged off from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port (also called Chittagong) of Bangladesh.
    • The ship has been launched under the Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for the movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh.
  • About:
    • Located in the Bangladeshi port city of Chattogram and on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the port of Chattogram handles 90% of Bangladesh's export-import trade and has been used by India, Nepal and Bhutan to join for transhipment.
    • The port is one of the oldest in the world.

Haldibari-Chilahati rail link

  • Context:
    • Ours and Bangladeshi PM has jointly inaugurated a railway link between Haldibari in India and Chilahati in Bangladesh.
  • About:
    • This rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links.
  • Significance:
    • This rail link is expected to enhance the connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh.
    • It will enhance rail network access to the main ports, dry ports, and land borders to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage the economic and social development of the region.
      • The other rail links which are operational between India and Bangladesh are:
        • Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh)
        • Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh)
        • Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh)
        • Radhikapur (India)–Birol (Bangladesh)

Port Louis

  • Context:
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the new Supreme Court built in Port Louis with Indian grant assistance.
  • About:
    • It is the capital city of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. It's known for its French colonial architecture. 
    • Port Louis was founded about 1736 by the French as a calling place for ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) on the passage between Asia and Europe.
    • British occupation of the island during the Napoleonic Wars (1800–15) was a strategic factor in securing control of the Indian Ocean. 

Port Said

  • Context:
    • It was in news recently as a huge container ship has run aground and is blocking traffic in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest waterways and the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
  • About: 
    • Port Said is a city that lies in northeast Egypt extending about 30 kilometres along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal. The city was established in 1859 during the building of the Suez Canal.
    • Its twin city is Port Fuad, which lies on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. The two cities coexist, to the extent that there is hardly any town centre in Port Fuad.
    • The cities are connected by free ferries running all through the day, and together they form a metropolitan area with over a million residents that extends both on the African and the Asian sides of the Suez Canal.
    • The only other metropolitan area in the world that also spans two continents is Istanbul.

Shahtoot Dam

  • Context:
    • India set to build Shahtoot Dam in Afghanistan.
  • Location:
    • The dam would come upon the Maidan river tributary of the Kabul river.
    • It will provide drinking water for 2 million residents of Kabul.

Port of Jingtang

  • Context:
    • China has cited COVID-19 regulations for denying departure to a stranded Indian merchant ship loaded with Australian coal. The ship named Jag Anand has been awaiting anchorage at the Chinese port Jingtang near Tangshan in China's Hebei province since June this year.
  • About:
    • The Port of Jingtang is an artificial deep-water international seaport on the coast of Tangshan Municipality, Hebei, in Northern China.
    • It is part of the Tangshan port complex, which consists of Jingtang, Caofedian and Fengnan ports. Combined, they constitute the 9th largest port in China.
    • Jingtang port is located in Bohai bay (Bohai sea) close to the port of Tianjin.

Kowloon peninsula


Context:

  • Hong Kong is set to grant a site on the western Kowloon peninsula, to China’s national security office for its permanent base in the city.

About:

  • The Kowloon Peninsula is a peninsula that forms the southern part of the main landmass in the territory of Hong Kong, alongside Victoria Harbour and facing toward Hong Kong island.
  • The Kowloon Peninsula and the area of New Kowloon are collectively known as Kowloon.
  • Geographically, the term “Kowloon Peninsula” may also refer to the area south of the mountain ranges of Beacon Hill, Lion Rock, Tate's Cairn, Kowloon Peak, etc.
  • The peninsula covers five of the eighteen districts of Hong Kong.
  • Kowloon Bay is located northeast of the peninsula.



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