The Ken-Betwa link project envisages diversion of surplus waters of Ken basin to water deficit Betwa basin.
The Union Water Resources Ministry, which is spearheading the Ken-Betwa river inter-linking project to irrigate six lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, has told the Union Environment Ministry that many measures are in place to ensure that territories and habitats of tigers and vultures in the region are not damaged.
The Ministry was responding to a report filed on Monday by wildlife experts, constituted by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), who warned of dangers to wildlife resident in the core region of the Panna tiger reserve.
NBWL clearance is necessary for the go-ahead and subsequent commissioning of the Rs 9,000-crore project that proposes to irrigate the drought-ravaged Bundelkhand region.
‘New water bodies’
The project involves building the 288-metre Daudhan dam, and transfer of surplus water from the Ken river basin to the Betwa basin. This will submerge nearly 4,141 hectares of the Panna tiger reserve — held as model of tiger conservation after its numbers fell from 35 in 2006 to zero in 2009, and rose again to at least 18 after seven years of conservation — and could also mean that one tigress and her cub and some of the vultures resident in the area may have to adjust to new surroundings.
On the contrary, water that will result in the region may lead to new water bodies that will draw herbivores and thus prey and carcasses for the tiger and the vultures.
The Madhya Pradesh government had promised 8,000 hectares of alternate forest land as compensation and much of it — currently barren — would be replenished with vegetation that had once existed in the region.
Inaugural of India-US Maritime Security Dialogue
Towards deepening the evolving partnership in the maritime domain, India and the U.S. held the first round of discussions under the recently-constituted maritime security dialogue between officials of Defence and External Affairs ministries and their U.S. counterparts.
Among the issues discussed were Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement.
The dialogue was one of the several new initiatives agreed between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter during the latter’s visit to India last month as part of the maritime security objectives under the India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.
They also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defence and State.
U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who participated in the discussions, noted that the creation of this dialogue “is a further sign of the growing relations between our two countries.”
The other initiatives agreed include the conclusion of a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic and Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.
US backs, but China opposes India’s NSG bid
The U.S. has reiterated its support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the face of opposition from China.
The 48-member NSG that regulates trade in nuclear technology and material will have its plenary next month in New York where it is expected to consider India’s admission into the exclusive club.
China, acting in concert with Pakistan, has thrown a spanner in the works for India, by linking New Delhi’s candidacy to Islamabad’s. NSG operates by consensus and all its current members are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Pakistan had earlier said it was coordinating with China to block India from the NSG. Bruised by the successful Indian diplomacy that recently stalled the U.S. sale of F-16 fighter planes to it, Pakistan has found an opportunity to hit back.
Responding to the developments, U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in Washington: “Well, first of all, I’m going to refer you to the governments of China and Pakistan with respect to their positions on India’s membership. Deliberations… about the prospects of new members joining the Nuclear Suppliers Groups are an internal matter among current members. And then I’d point you back to what the President said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the U.S. view was that India, ‘meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership.’”
India got an exemption from the NSG for nuclear imports in 2008, following the civil nuclear deal with the U.S., despite not being a signatory to the NPT. In 2010, the Obama administration declared its support for India’s “full membership” of the group, but things have not moved far since.
The NSG exemption in 2008 was the outcome of unqualified lobbying on India’s behalf by the then Bush administration. Several western countries also were opposed to the exemption. The non-proliferation enthusiasts remain sceptical of India’s record since 2008 in taking additional measures to limit proliferation. The Chinese intervention that equates India with Pakistan — which has an established history of nuclear proliferation — complicates the scenario further.
While the Obama administration remains in principle supportive of India’s admission to the NSG, its willingness and ability to push other countries will be tested next month. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar reportedly sought more forceful American intervention on India’s behalf during his interactions in April with U.S. interlocutors.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.Currently it has 48 members.
Ancient Buddhist site found in Amaravati
Archaeologists have found an ancient Buddhist site at Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh.
Three mounds studded with brickbats and pottery in red colour. The mounds were formed on huge boulders on which a brick-built stupa was raised.
Huge fragments of terracotta and brick tiles used to cover chaityas and viharas.
Few years ago, a relic casket with a gold leaf was also found at the same site.The bricks, used in the construction of stupas and viharas belongs to Satavahana era (1st Century B.C.).
The Buddhist remains like stupas, chaityas and viharas show that Buddhism existed from 1st Century B.C. to the 5th Century AD, but later the region came under the influence of Saivism in the Vishnukundin era, and under Vaishnavites between the 13th and 17th centuries AD.
Himalayan brown bears:-
The J&K Wildlife Department has recorded its first ever sighting of a group of eight Himalayan brown bears in Kargil’s Drass Sector. This is a rare record. In the recent past, no such sighting has ever been reported from J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where these animals are distributed. The sighting of such relatively large numbers of Himalayan brown bears in just one wildlife zone out of four major areas of Suru, Zanskar, Drass and Kargil in the Ladakh region is a positive indication. Brown bear is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ list of critically endangered animals.