- Government allows wild pig culling in Uttarakhand for year
- The environment ministry has declared wild pigas ‘vermin’ in Uttarakhand, paving the way for the animal’s culling for one year with immediate effect. The step is intended to save farmers from losing their standing crops and other properties. Wildlife conservationists, however, have found the move unscientific and counterproductive.
- The declaration as ‘vermin’ will allow Uttarakhand authorities to carry out extermination of wild pigs on a large scale in certain identified areas (tehsils) of 13 districts in the state without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The central government has considered it necessary to balance local population of this species to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and other properties of the state for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forests.
- Culling will be allowed in all ‘tehsils’ of four districts – Tehri, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh and Champawat. In the remaining nine districts, the ministry has identified some ‘tehsils’ for this exercise.
- Wild pigs are a protected species under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. However, if any wild animal poses a danger to human life or property, the law allows for it to be hunted by declaring it vermin for a specific period.
· International Mountain Day observed on December 11
- The Theme for the 2018 edition of the International Mountain Day is: “#MountainsMatter”.
- It is celebrated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to spread awareness about the contribution of mountains in the biodiversity as it consists of approximately a quarter of the terrestrial biological diversity.
- To commemorate the day, there will be an IMD side event on “Mountain adaptation: Vulnerable peaks and people” at UNFCCC COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
· Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela
- Russia has sent two Tu-160, strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to Venezuela in an apparent show of support to President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
- Russia is a majorpolitical ally of Venezuela, which has become increasingly isolated in the world under growing sanctions led by the United States and the European Union, which accuse Maduro of undermining democratic institutions to hold onto power while overseeing an economic and political crisis that is worse than the Great Depression.
· Myanmar to grant visa-on-arrival to Indians
- Myanmar will provide visa-on-arrival to Indian tourists entering the country through the international airports of Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalayto further people-to-people interactions.
- President Kovind called Myanmar a key partner of India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies.
· India and ADB Sign $31 Million Loan Agreement for Tamil Nadu
- The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)signed in New Delhi a Loan Agreement for $31 million to build-up the State Tourism Industry and boost visitor arrivals in Tamil Nadu.
- The signatories to the tranche 4 loan for Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism (IDIPT) were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed for the Government of India, and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director for ADB in India, who signed for ADB.
· MoU with Google for flood prediction ð Placing five States, including Assam, in the ‘extreme flood situation’ category, India has signed an agreement with Google for better flood management for the first time.
- The Central Water Commission (CWC) has signed a collaboration agreement with Google for improving the flood prediction system. As per the agreement, the CWC and Google will share technical expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and geo-spatial mapping, said Union Water Resources, Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
- The MoU covers analysis of hydrological observation data to collaborate on improving the flood prediction systems, which will help provide location-targeted, actionable flood warnings, a high priority research project utilising the Google Earth engine to help visualise and improve flood management and a cultural project to build online exhibitions on the rivers of India.
- According to the CWC, the States affected by floods till October, 2018 include Tripura, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka (extreme flood situation), Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, NCT Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (severe flood situation).
· Shaktikanta Das appointed as the new RBI Governor
- Former economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das was named the 25th governor of the Reserve Bank of India to succeed Urjit Patel, who quit abruptly on December 10 amid a bitter dispute over the regulator’s autonomy.
- The appointment will be for three
- He is a 1980 batch IAS officerof the Tamil Nadu cadre and is currently a member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission. Das also represents India at the G-20 in the role of a sherpa.