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In news:

  • Scientists have reported on another devastating biological disaster, caused by a patch of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean known as ‘the Blob’.
  • This concentrated marine heatwave lingered in the northeast Pacific between 2013 and 2016, and researchers now think it was largely responsible for the death of almost a million common murres (Uriaaalge), amongst other wildlife. This makes it the largest seabird die-off in recorded history

About news:

  • Scientists reviewed studies of fish and plankton collected by fisheries during the time the blob was at its peak
  • The warmer temperatures in the water had increased the metabolism of these cold-blooded ocean dwellers
  • That meant predatory fish would have been eating more than usual, and that’s likely to have caused pressure on the top of the food chain.
  • In the end, the schools of forage fish that murres rely on would’ve become very hard to find.
  • Thus high Food demands lead to mass biological disaster
  • A study released by the University of Washington found the birds, probably died of starvation caused by warming winds from El Niño during 2015 and 2016
  • Localised ocean heatwave blobs have become more common over the last century, and are expected to further increase in frequency as the planet warms up.
  • As far as the researchers behind this latest study are concerned, the toll taken on the murre population is a warning of what’s to come as climate change takes hold – in other words, the next die-off could be even worse.

Green Credit Scheme

In news:

The Forest Advisory Committee has approved a scheme that could allow “forests” to be traded as a commodity. It allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.

About news:

  • The scheme was first developed by the Gujarat state government and was pending for approval from the MoEF&CC since 2013.
  • It allows agencies – private companies, village forest communities , to identify land and begin growing plantations.
  • After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Forest Department’s criteria.
  • An industry needing forest land could then approach the agency and pay it for parcels of such forested land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department and be recorded as forest land.
  • The participating agency will be free to trade its asset, that is plantation, in parcels, with project proponents who need forest land.
  • In 2015, a ‘Green Credit Scheme’ for degraded forest land with public-private participation was recommended, but it was not approved by the Union Environment Minister, the final authority.

Forest Advisory Committee:

  • It is the statutory body constituted under the Forest Conservation Act 1980.
  • It is under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and is responsible for regulating forest diversion
  • FAC is an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends

Under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980:

  • Each time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes like mining or industry, the project developer is supposed to identify land and pay for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land, or when that is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land.

UN Lowers India Growth Forecast

In News:

UN lowers India’s growth forecast for FY20 to 5.7%.

In Brief:

  • UN lowered its GDP growth estimate for India for the next fiscal to 6.6 per cent from 7.4 percent earlier.
  • According to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2020, a growth rate of 2.5 per cent is possible in 2020, but a flare up of trade tensions, financial turmoil, or an escalation of geopolitical tensions could derail a recovery.

Operation Twist

In news:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced the simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities worth Rs 10,000 crore each through fourth special open market operation (OMOs) on January 23.

About OMO:

  • The RBI manages and controls the liquidity, rupee strength and monetary management through purchase and sale of government securities (G-Secs) in a monetary tool called Open market Operations.
  • OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale and purchase of G-Secs to and from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis.
  • When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.


The Indian Army conducted its biggest airborne exercise called the ‘Winged Raider’ comprising of more than 500 Special Forces troops parachuting from C-130 Hercules and C-17 globe master transport aircraft.