1. Clean Energy related
    1. Energy: Solar cooperative farms
    2. Energy: Hydel
  2. Agriculture and Food
    1. Bread Carcinogens
    2. Wheat Blast
  3. Flora Fauna
    1. Marine Biodiversity
    2. Earth, Climate Change, Disasters
  4. Mains GS3: Pollution
    1. Salt Pan workers &Law commission
    2. Silicosis and Supreme Court
  5. Science Technology
    1. Resuable space shuttle
    2. Atomic Force Microscope


  • In the previous part, we saw polity related current affairs from May-2016.
  • This part contains Environment and science technology related current affairs from May-2016.

Clean Energy Related

Energy: Solar cooperative farms

solar cooperative Gujarat

Solar Cooperative in Kheda District, Gujarat

  • SPICE: Solar Pump irrigator cooperative enterprise
  • Farmers in Dhundi village of Kheda district of Gujarat, have started SPICE- solar cooperative, wherein they install solar irrigation pump in their farm with state government subsidy.
  • Excess electricity is sold off to Madhya Gujarat Vij Ltd. For Rs. 4.63 /unit. For 25 years’ contract.
  • Company can also sell off renewable energy certificates (REC) based on this purchase.
  • A farmer with 1 ht. land can hope to earn Rs.60,000/- per year from selling excess solar electricity.
  • Farmer can also cultivate cash crops like spinach, carrot, garlic, beet and medicinal plants in the shadow below the solar panels. Thus optimal landuse.

Energy: Hydel

Arunanchal Hydropower
  • 2008: National Hydro power policy 2008: Arunanchal has ~50,000 out of ~1.5 lakh MW total hydropower potential of India.
  • 2015: Dibang Multi purpose project (2880MW): India’s largest hydropower project – it was given clearance by government of India in 2015.
  • May 2016: Anti-dam protests in Tawang. A Buddhist monk died in Police firing.
Athirapally Hydel project
  • It is to be constructed on Kerala’s Chalakkudi river in Thrissur district.
  • New LDF government wishes to construct but tribal and coalition partners are opposed.
Energy Misc. developments in May 2016
Ujala LED scheme
  • By Gujarat state government
  • LED bulb to be sold @ concessional rate of Rs.80 (household) and Rs.90 (Commercial purpose).
Energy Bank India Nepal are planning to setup energy bank to help each other during power shortage issues.
Pachai Tamizhagam
  • Meaning “Green Tamilnadu“. This is the ‘first’ Green party of TN, floated by one of the anti-nuke protestors.
  • Their Election symbol is “Pot”.

Agriculture and Food

Bread Carcinogens

  • Potassium bromate (KBrO3):- oxidizing agent, used in flour treatment to make bread white, fluffy, soft and elastic. Causes cancer.
  • Potassium iodate (KIO3):flour treatment agent, causes thyroid disorders.
  • Many 1st world countries prohibit use of these chemicals in bread.
  • But Centre for science and environment (CSE) has found these chemicals in major bread/pizza/burger brands of India.

Wheat Blast- Bangladeshi worry, Indian neednot

  • Fungal disease originated from Brazil. It affects heads of the wheat stalk, and difficult to be treated by fungicides.
  • Widespread in Bangladesh after they imported wheat seeds from Brazil without proper quality check.
  • Bangladesh Government advised farmers to burn down the crop, and not to sow seeds from infected plots.
  • India need not worry since our wheat harvest season mostly over, so less chances of disease spread.
Misc. developments in May-2016
Gaushala meet
  • National conference on “Gaushalas” (Cowsheds), organized jointly by Agriculture and Environment ministries at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan.
GM compulsory licensing
  • Earlier government had notified that GM-technology Licensor can’t refuse license to any seed company to use its technology in their hybrid varieties.
  • GM Tech-Companies opposed this notification, and just like EPFO fiasco, here too government withdrew the notification.

Flora Fauna

Black necked crane
  • Black necked cranes are considered to be embodiment of 6th  Dalai Lama.
  • Nyamjang Chhu river in Tawan region of Arunanchal is one of their Wintering site.
  • NGT ordered government to conduct a study here on impact of hydel project.
  • At present IUCN  “Near Threatened Category”. But a group of researchers gave data of their declined population and demanded “Vulnerable” status.
Man eater lions
  • Lions have now settled in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of Saurashtra region of Gujarat. According to the 2015 census, there are 523 lions in the region.
  • In recent times they’ll killed and eaten more than 4 humans
  • Forest department has encaged ~13 lions.
  • MicroRNA is a small non-coding RNA molecule- that is not translated into a protein.
  • Researchers studying the microRNA of Lizard because it plays important role in regeneration of its tail.
Spirit of Freedom
  • This is a project by an International NGO to rescue circus lions and other caged animals from South America and rehabilitate them to South Africa via “airlift” but without Akshay Kumar
  • Scientists found a new species of wasp (Conobregma bradpitti) and named it after Hollywood actor Brad Pitt.

Marine Biodiversity

El-Nino & Coral Bleaching

  • New study says El Nino→ hot water→ more stress on corals, ultimately they become white and vulnerable to diseases. 30% of Great barrier reef’s coral destroyed by Coral bleaching.
  • Corollary to that, Hurricane/storms → cold water → less stress on corals
  • For more about Coral bleaching- watch Rajtanil’s lecture G5/P2

Palau Jellyfish Lake

  • It’s a group of islands in W.Pacific ocean. They’re part of UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Earlier tourist attraction for “Jellyfish lake” for presence of Golden jellyfish which don’t sting, so you can swim without worry.
  • But suddenly all jellyfish gone! Researcher blame it to climate change → Less rainlake became more salty → uninhabitable for this particular species of jellyfish.

Wetland draft rules

  • Government has sought public comments on new draft rules 2016 for Wetland conversation. They’ll replace 2010’s old rules.
  • India has 26 of the total 169 Ramsar wetland sites. Ramsar agreement was signed in 1971 in Iran’s Ramsar.
  • Notable wetlands in India: Wular Lake-Jammu Kashmir, Ashtamudi- Kerala, Deepor Beel- Assam and Nal Sarovar- Gujarat.
  • More you can read in Indianexpress Q&A series (although as such no point, because these are still ‘draft’ rule. After they’re officially publish, you should worry.)

Earth, Climate Change, Disasters

earth wobbling and climate change

Earth wobbling
  • Scientists say Earth’s watermass is shifting because of global warming, droughts and melting of glaciers.
  • And consequently, the earth’s spin axis is drifting towards Canada. See above image.
  • Relevance in MCQ– Which of the following factors can affect earth’s spin axis?
29th May Everest Day
Cyclone Roanu Hit Bangladesh’s southern coast. >20 killed, >5 lakh evacuated.
Drought 13 states and 25% population of India is affected by drought but inter-linking of rivers can solve the problem, says Rural development minister in parliament.
Forest Fire
  • Uttrakhand forest fire- main reason dry chir pine needles. Jim Corbett and Rajaji National Park destroyed.
  • MI-17 helicopters used for collecting water from Koteshwar dam in Srinagar to douze the fire.
Lightning hotspot
  • Venezula’s Maracibo Lighthouse is called “Lightning capital” of the world, because it recieves lightening strikes during 80% of the year.
Mount Sinabung
  • This volcano erupted. Location: North Sumatra, Indonesia
  • 7 years ago, Satellite imagery detected formation of new land mass near Mumbai sea.
  • Size of this land piece: – 15 sqkm, it is formed via natural sedimentation.
  • Now’s its part of official Mumbai, but will be treated as a “Natural area”- no construction permitted.
  • Army concerned, that early onset of summer and less snowfall this year- will increase terrorist infiltration.

Mains GS3: Pollution

Salt Pan workers &Law commission

Salt Production World Ranking: USA > China > India. And within India- Gujarat> TN> Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh

Salt pan workers suffer from following occupational diseases
Disease Reason(s)
Skin ulcer/chronic dermatitis
  • Due to constant exposure to sharp salt crystals. Gloves, boots not given.
  • Legs abnormally thin- don’t burn in pyre →legs buried in graves, separately.
Pterygia- loss of vision
  • Exposure to white reflected light & dust. Eye-googles not given.
  • Salt particles/aerosols inhaled. Masks not given
Respiratory disorders
  • Heat-sealing of salt in plastic bags.
  • Makeshift hemlets without LPG/kerosene. Firewood used.
  • Non-iodised salt used for domestic consumption.
  • Topic in news: because Gujarat State law commission chief Justice MB Shah (SC-Black money SIT fame) took suo-moto notice and criticized government for violation of Art. 21 and Art. 42.
  • Ultimately, 1st May (International Labour day), Government of Gujarat initiated some reforms.

Silicosis and Supreme Court

  • Silicosis is an occupational disease in quartz and stone crushing industries.
  • Inhaled silica crystals scar your lunch tissues, breathing becomes difficult. There is no cure for it.
  • SC orders Gujarat government to pay Rs.7 crore compensation to Silicosis victims in Godhara. Most of them poor migrants from Madhya Pradesh.
  • SC also issued bailable warrant against chief of Central pollution control board in this case.
Pollution related developments in May-2016
Commercial vehicles
  • Truck, bus, taxi, van etc  are examples of commercial vehicles, at present there is no deadline on their usage- just regulary they’ve to produce fitness certificate.
  • GoM of state minister recommends that commercial vehicles should not to be allowed to operate for more than eight years.
Diesel Taxis
  • Union request SC to reconsider the ban on diesel vehicles in Delhi because they provide transport facility to BPO employees- which generates lot of employment and GDP.
Diesel vehicles
  • NGT bans 10 years old diesel vehicles in 6 cities of Kerala.
Most polluted city
  • WHO urban air quality database 2016: Iran’s Zabol replaces Delhi as the most polluted city on PM 2.5 particles.
  • Other UPSC toppers are – Gwalio, Allahabad, Riyadh and Al Jubali (S.Arabia), Patna, Raipur.
  • This data is based on 2012-14 records, before AAP’s odd-even experiment.

Science Technology

Resuable space shuttle (RSV)

reusable space shuttle

Image taken from Indianexpress

  • To launch a satellite Payload, we need a “Launch vehicle”.
  • Two major types of Launch Vehicles are PSLV and GSLV. Read my old notes for more on them
  • But these launch vehicles get burnt on re-entry into the atmosphere.
  • So, to minimize the cost and increase the frequency of launches, ISRO came up with idea of Reusable launch vehicle and conducted a technology demonstration in 2016, May.
  • Criticism: its R&D and mfg. cost is far exceeding the cost of existing non-reusable launch vehicles.

Atomic Force Microscope

  • Electron microscopes use electron beams to illuminate object for observation.
  • Atomic Force Microscopes use sharp needle with dimensions of few nanometers. This needle ‘feels’ the geometry of the object and creates its picture.
  • Problem: needles have to be replaced frequently.
Misc. terms: 2016, May from newspapers
Kepler Mission
  • 2009: NASA launched Keper Mission to find terrestrial planets with habitable zones and possible life forms.
  • At present Kepler found 1,200 more planets and NASA analyzing its data.
Wilson’s Disease Genetic disorder. Extra copper accumulation in tissues that damages neurons and liver.
Solar Kids Nickname of two brothers in Pakistan, who become paralyzed every day after sunset.
GBS Gullian Barre Syndrome – body’s immune system attacks nervous system.

Next Part: IR, Defense, Internal security developments in May 2016.