Today’s News Updates – 13.January 2018

Urban heat island

Every winter, the whole of north India is covered by dense fog. But a phenomenon called urban heat island is burning holes in this grey shroud over New Delhi and other cities on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, says a new study.

Impacts:

The urban heat island effect is so strong in Delhi, the largest city in the region, that it saw 50% less fog than surrounding areas. In Delhi, the heat island effect also appears to be suppressing the very formation of fog. Scientists found that while areas outside Delhi have seen a 20 per cent increase in fog in the period 2012-2016 compared with 2000-2004, Delhi itself did not see an increase.

Reasons behind this:

The analysis found a correlation between the size of the urban population and that of the fog hole. Population size has been shown to be related to the intensity of urban heat islands since they are an indicator of urban growth.

Way ahead:

The findings from the study are important since dense and polluted winter fog envelopes north India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh every year from December to January severely affecting air quality and disrupting air, rail and road traffic. The study will be very useful in understanding the process of why fog occurs and ultimately to predict its occurrence.

What is urban heat island effect?

The urban heat island is a phenomenon when the heat gets trapped near the earth’s surface as a result of a decline in green cover, rapid urbanisation, energy-intensive activities, and concrete structures.

Concerns:

Urban heat islands can have worse air and water quality than their rural neighbours. UHIs often have lower air quality because there are more pollutants (waste products from vehicles, industry, and people) being pumped into the air. These pollutants are blocked from scattering and becoming less toxic by the urban landscape: buildings, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. Water quality also suffers. When warm water from the UHI ends up flowing into local streams, it stresses the native species that have adapted to life in a cooler aquatic environment.

Source: thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/the-urban-heat-island-effect/article21908732.ece


Model code

The Election Commission (EC) has set up a 14-member committee to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, which prohibits poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading to voting, in the wake of media expansion. The committee, chaired by Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha, will submit its report within three months.

Terms of reference:

Apart from suggesting modifications to the election law, the committee will also study the impact of new media and social media during the “silence period” and its implication in view of Section 126 and suggest changes to the model code of conduct (MCC) accordingly.
It has also been tasked to examine the difficulties faced in regulating media platforms during the prohibitory 48 hours in a multi-phase election.

Need for review:

Election Commission is of the considered view that due to multifold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations.

Model Code of Conduct(MCC):

What is MCC? These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.

Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.

When it comes into force? The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

Status: The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.

Evolution: The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.

What it contains? The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.


Saksham-2018:

What is it? Saksham (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is an annual flagship event of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India , with active involvement of the Oil & Gas PSUs along with other stakeholders like State Governments, for creating focused attention on fuel conservation through people centric activities and to sensitize the masses about the conservation and efficient use of petroleum products leading to better health and environment.

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